Thursday, December 25, 2008

How to Face an Interview

You’ve been sending cover letters after cover letters and résumés after résumés and finally the telephone rings or you get an e-mail asking you to come in for an interview. Well pat yourself on the back and congratulate yourself! But don’t start dreaming about how you are going to spend your new salary or about how you are going to show off your new job, because you’ve got a lot of work to do BEFORE all that. You still have to face the ‘Interview’!
So now let’s get onto figuring how you can market yourself to a prospective employer on this first meeting!
1. Homework to be done
Doing some research about the company before you go to the interview can help you show off your knowledge during the interview. This will make the interviewer feel good about you.
2. Know the place
Make sure you know where you are heading and where the office is and how to get there. Get an idea of how long it will take to get there and don’t forget to get the name and phone number of the person you are supposed to meet.
Look your absolute best on the day of the interview; neat clothing, well ironed and professional looking. Get a haircut if necessary and have clean well groomed nails too.
4. Have pre-prepared answers
Have answers to common questions ready on hand. They could be for questions like: Tell me a bit about yourself? What do you think are your positives and negatives? Why did you choose us? Why do you think we should hire you? and so on…You could even ask a friend to come over and pretend to interview you.
5. Ready up those references
Find at least two to three people who could be your former boss, colleagues, instructors or even teachers who would put in a good word to your prospective employer. Get their permission before hand and be SURE that they won’t speak ill of you.
6. Come EARLY!
Come into the interview at least 15 minutes before your given time. Go to the restroom and do a double-check on your appearance.
7. Bring in the needed papers
The night or day before the interview make a checklist of documents that you need to take with you and put them in a good looking file cover or in a small briefcase. Some hints - extra copies of your résumé, your driver’s license, educational certificates, certificates of professional experience.
8. Follow up!
As a post-interview procedure, it’d be great if you sent a handwritten note or a friendly email thanking the interviewer for the opportunity. If you don’t get any new news after a week, you can always ring up and politely ask when the final decision will come in.
Just remember that every interview is a great learning experience and even if you don’t get the upcoming job, you’ll be a step ahead for the next interview…Good luck!

Resume Writing

The purpose of your resume is to make the reader want to interview you. Resumes should be informative, concise, consistent, and should highlight intriguing skills and experience. They should grab attention early and provide a concentrated, convincing argument that you perfectly match the position at hand.
The basics Those who have been in the workforce for several years would customarily list professional experience first, followed by education and other elements such as publications or skills. Most resumes use reverse chronological order, listing the most recent experience first with the rest following chronologically. This type of resume gives a prospective employer a sense of where your career is headed and how it evolved into what it is today.
For entrepreneurs, sales personnel, recent graduates, and others with less-than-standard experience, an alternative format called the functional approach might make more sense. This format puts an emphasis on your abilities and achievements, categorizing your experience by industry, type of position, skill, and what you did rather than when you did it.
There is no right or wrong way to write a resume. Whatever sets you apart from the masses while requiring a minimum of effort for the recruiter will probably be your best bet. Here are some general guidelines to follow.
Be concise. Unless you have been working for a long time, stick to one page. Even with extensive experience, a resume should rarely exceed two pages.
Use vivid language. Include hard facts showing your impact on the company. Employers want to know what you did and how closely that experience matches their needs. Use action verbs and eliminate pronouns. Be grammatically consistent and proofread rigorously for mistakes.
Go easy on the eye. Graphics in a resume should make it easy to read. Use topic headings and lots of space. Forget clip art. Use one typeface. Pull the reader in from the top. Be creative, but clean with the layout.
Tell them what they need to know Resumes should start with your name, address, e-mail, and phone numbers. Include your education, accomplishments, and related experience. List unique talents or specialized skills in hot demand, like those related to computers.
Objective. Write one line stating your career direction and the job title you seek. It will direct your resume to the proper department and provide a key to interpreting the contents. This statement will be of greater strategic value if you have a specific focus or are in the midst of a career change rather than if you are just starting out and unsure of your career path.
Education. List schools, years attended, graduation dates, degrees, majors or concentrations, and awards. Highlight a master's thesis topic or academic honors. Put your most recent or most impressive educational achievement first. If it is not your highest degree, leave out high school unless it's extraordinary.
Experience. List your employers, job location, employment dates, job titles, and descriptions of your tasks, accomplishments and skills. Use statistics.
Skills. Highlight your computer, language, or other technical skills. List software you have worked with including any unique programs or expertise. For an Internet job, list any certifications or Web programs and computer languages you are familiar with.
Title the sections of your resume as you prefer, but remain consistent grammatically.
The order of the resume should reflect the position being sought. If your computer experience is more relevant to the job than your work history, put your computer skills first. If your educational achievements outweigh your actual experience, put them up higher. List other personal information at the bottom.

The Weakness Question

You're sitting in a conference room or office, face-to-face with the person you most want to impress - your prospective boss - and he or she is asking you, "What is your biggest weakness?" How do you answer a question like that?
The good news is, it's a job interview, not a confessional. No one expects you to demonize yourself in hopes of appearing forthright. After all, you are selling yourself and you want the interviewer to buy, not pass.
You could try stalling - think hard for a minute or two and answer something to the effect of, "I can't really think of any aspect of my personality that has compromised my performance at work. All of my performance reviews have been positive and I've never had any problems with past employers." The problem with this approach, though, is that you run the risk of appearing smug.
A better approach to take with the weakness question is to answer it honestly in a way that makes you look positive. Try to come up with a problem or difficulty you had at work a long time ago - the farther back, the better. Explain how that one minor flaw affected your performance in a way that enabled you to correct the problem and learn from it. This will show your employer how you have learned from a mistake.
"The classic 'weakness' answers are those where the weakness is a strength in disguise," said Jenn Schraut, Human Resources and Compensation Associate at "But avoid the blatant, overused ones, like, 'My problem is, I work too hard'," she said.
With the weakness question, you'd better be prepared. If you think of something on the spot, your example might have flaws you don't have time to think about.
- Brian Braiker, contributor

Monday, September 15, 2008

Career Education Corporation Appoints Brian R. Williams, Culinary Business Unit Senior Vice President

Career Education Corporation (NASDAQ: CECO) today announced that Brian R. Williams has been selected as Senior Vice President for the company’s Culinary Strategic Business Unit. In that capacity, Williams is responsible for the leadership and growth of CEC’s nationwide culinary campuses, including Le Cordon Bleu Schools North America and Kitchen Academy.
Williams joined Career Education Corporation in 1999 and has served in several leadership roles within the company, most recently as Vice President of Operations for the Culinary Strategic Business Unit. Over the last decade, Williams served as President of two CEC culinary schools; as Vice-President of Operations and Managing Director for CEC regions that included as many as nine campuses; and managed the admissions function for American InterContinental University Online. Williams began his career as a regional director for Red Lion Hotels, which later became Promise Hotels.
"Brian has demonstrated outstanding leadership, a deep knowledge of the industry and success in managing and growing our schools," said Gary E. McCullough, President and CEO of Career Education. "We are confident that he will continue to enhance the educational programs and student service at our culinary schools, laying the foundation for future growth in this business unit.”
"I am thrilled to have the opportunity to lead the CEC culinary schools,” said Williams. "I am excited about our mission and confident in our promise to build the next generation of culinary professionals.”
About Career Education Corporation
The colleges, schools, and universities that are part of the Career Education Corporation (CEC) family offer high quality education to a diverse population of approximately 90,000 students across the world in a variety of career-oriented disciplines. The more than 75 campuses that serve these students are located throughout the U.S. and in France, Italy, and the United Kingdom, and offer doctoral, master's, bachelor's, and associate degrees and diploma and certificate programs. Approximately one third of students attend the web-based virtual campuses of American InterContinental University Online and Colorado Technical University Online.
CEC is an industry leader whose gold-standard brands are recognized globally. Those brands include Le Cordon Bleu Schools North America; Harrington College of Design; Brooks Institute; International Academy of Design & Technology; American InterContinental University; Colorado Technical University and Sanford-Brown Institutes and Colleges. Through its schools, CEC is committed to providing quality education, enabling students to graduate and pursue rewarding careers.
For more information, see the company's website at The company's website includes a detailed listing of individual campus locations and web links to its more than 75 colleges, schools, and universities.

The Secret to a Successful Job Interview

No matter what avenue you pursue in the quest for a meaningful and rewarding job, sooner or later your success will depend entirely on your performance in a job interview. And by the time you get to the job interview, your experience and expertise will take a back seat to the only factor that truly matters at this stage of the game: your preparation.
This is equally true for academic and nonacademic job interviews, but the advice I offer in this column refers to jobs outside of higher education. (Academic job interviewing is a very different animal, and I recommend reviewing information and guidance found elsewhere on this Web site. Mary Morris Heiberger and Julia Miller Vick's The Academic Job Search Handbook is an excellent source of advice as well.)
The job interview gives employers the chance to find out more about you than just the experience listed on your résumé. An employer will use an interview to assess such factors as your "fit" with the corporate culture, your personal communication and style, and your judgment. In other words, in the interview, specific qualifications for the job matter far less than the candidate's personal impact. This can put graduate students in an awkward position, since they often have had little exposure to communication styles outside academe. That's why advanced preparation can arm a job candidate with compelling answers and the ability to communicate clearly and effectively with the interviewer.
You need to prepare for an interview in two ways: physically and intellectually. Physical preparation includes the logistics of the interview (when, where, who), what to bring with you, and what to wear. Intellectual preparation includes researching the company, anticipating lines of questioning, thinking through answers, and practicing your responses.
Well before you receive the coveted invite to an interview, you should ensure that you have proper attire on hand and ready to wear on an hour's notice (it is indeed possible to be invited for an interview the same day). Even in this era of business-casual workplaces, it is usually best to err on the side of conservatism when it comes to dressing for an interview -- go with the suit. If the work environment in which you're interviewing is extremely informal and wearing a suit seems particularly awkward, then you may wish to dress more casually for second-round interviews.
Other practical elements: Remember to bring a copy of your résumé with you, along with a pad of paper and a pen. Unless you are interviewing for a creative position where a portfolio of design work has been requested, you should not usually plan to bring anything else. You will want to be prompt, but not too early -- you don't want to appear overly eager. Finally, make sure to ask for business cards from anyone who interviews you so that you can send thank-you notes. If you can't get business cards, at least try to learn the correct spellings of their names.
The intellectual preparation for an interview is far less straightforward than the logistics. Yet, making the effort can truly mean the difference between landing the job or walking away empty-handed. Research is the backbone of this preparation. Employ your well-honed research skills to learn as much as you can about the industry, the company, and the specific role for which you are being considered. It will be your responsibility to learn what the employer needs and relate your skills, interests, and experiences in a way that meets those needs.
At every point in an interview, the employer is thinking about not just the roles and functions of the specific job for which you may be hired, but also for your potential to be promoted, your compatibility with other members of the work team, and your suitability as a representative of the company. To that end, not only is it important to understand the qualifications for the specific job, but also to craft your responses in a way that highlights your people skills and general approaches to problem-solving.
Beyond the initial task of researching the company, hardly anything about a job interview comes easily to most Ph.D.'s. In an academic environment, especially from a graduate student's perspective, modesty and understatement are typical modes of discourse. Inside the ivory tower, usually it is best to have your talents recognized by others (thus the whole culture of recommendation letters) and talk about yourself in more objective tones. Yet in a job interview (even in an academic interview), you need to be your strongest advocate. Modesty and humility are better off checked at the door. I have often suggested to graduate students that they pretend to be their own best friend just for the sake of interviewing effectively -- how would your best friend or biggest admirer describe your qualities? That's how you'll need to approach the interview.
One advantage you may have in the interview is your experience leading classroom discussions. Remember to listen to the interviewer carefully, just the way you would listen to a student's question in a seminar, to make sure that your response actually addresses the interviewer's underlying concern.
So how can you serve as a compelling advocate for yourself and yet not come across as an overeducated snob who would never fit in the work team environment of company X? The secret comes in the form of preparing "success stories" to serve as responses to interviewers' questions. A success story is a reasonably detailed description of an experience you have had. However you define the "success" of the story, you and your actions and ideas should play the central role. Preparing in advance about five different success stories will allow you to speak more confidently about your experiences and strengths. You'll want to make sure that you have stories that address a variety of experiences, including even extracurricular experiences where you may have had a chance to demonstrate leadership or creativity. Your work preparing success stories will pay off when you get to the interview and you're asked a typical question. Here's an example:
Interview question: Can you give me an example of a challenging situation you've faced?
Prepared answer: Certainly. Three years ago I was elected to represent the classics department on the graduate-student council. Usually this is not a huge responsibility -- you go to monthly meetings and help try to win some social funds for a department party. Well, that year the rights of graduate teaching fellows emerged as an issue, and all of a sudden the graduate student council became the central focus of a debate on unionization. Everywhere I went classmates and professors were cornering me to discuss the issue and see where I stood. There was a lot of pressure. I went to the department chairman and suggested the department host a town meeting for all of the graduate students to discuss the issue. This would allow me to better understand my constituents' feelings on the matter and make sure everyone had a chance to express their views. The chairman was reluctant to add fuel to the flames, but I convinced him that it would be far better to approach this openly than to allow the informal caucusing to persist. After the session many classmates expressed their appreciation for having a formal forum to discuss this issue. We now host town meetings each semester in the department to air student concerns. The unionization issue has still not been resolved on the campus, but the classics department has not suffered nearly as much from the rancor and discontent being displayed elsewhere on campus.
This answer is effective for a number of reasons. First of all, open questions like the one above can leave an unprepared candidate grasping for a good example. Here the candidate was able to launch quickly into an answer without appearing at all flustered. The story was also effective because it demonstrated with sufficient detail that the candidate is well-respected, comfortable dealing with peers and supervisors alike, and cares about fostering an open and democratic approach to communication. These are all traits that translate positively to the workplace. Additionally, the candidate was able to show a long-term effect of her actions. Finally, note that the interview question's use of "challenging" could have prompted a response that emphasized a negative event that had no positive resolution. The well-prepared candidate sidesteps this trick entirely to present a very positive story. The story would have been just as effective as a response to a direct question about organizational or communication skills.
What matters is not the size of the success in the success story, but rather the point you make with it. Being a graduate-student council representative is not an extraordinary accomplishment, yet this story paints a memorable picture of the candidate as someone who will probably work well in a team, handle pressure well, and be able to express her ideas persuasively. And it also does not over-inflate the level of responsibility or accomplishment.
Once you have identified some success stories to use in interviews, think about the different ways in which you might use them -- to talk about a challenge or setback you faced, to highlight an important accomplishment, or to provide details on a specific experience listed on your résumé, for instance. And then practice telling your stories out loud -- to a mirror, to your friends, and to your family.
There are many sources of information available for help with a job search, and especially with the interview process. One of my favorite books for graduate students is Martin Yate's Knock 'Em Dead (Adams Media, 2000). His advice on interviewing includes all sorts of questions and the strategies for addressing interviewers' concerns. Another great place to turn for advice on interviewing, as well as the whole job search, is Richard Nelson Bolles' What Color is your Parachute? (Ten Speed Press, 2000). Both books are available in libraries and at most bookshops.
Robin Wagner is associate director for graduate services in the career and placement-services office of the University of Chicago.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Job Search Process

Every person has an aim in life that how he can achieve his goal. How he can be an executive in future. I will give you some process about getting good and honorable job.

Of all the things you do in life, few are more important than getting job. Whether it involves your first job or one further down your career path, job seeking is directly related to your success and happiness. It is vital that you conduct the job search properly—that you prepare wisely and carefully and proceed diligently. The following process is below—

1. Building a network of contacts.
2. Identifying appropriate jobs
3. Finding your employer
4. Preparing application document
5. Preparing for interviews
6. Writing follow-up message
7. Continuing job search activities

Now I will describe about the strategies of build career—

1. Who are you and how do you want to be perceived?
2. Consider type of resume.
3. Language is important!
4. Sell it…don’t tell it.
5. Consider categories carefully!
6. Remember visual appeal matters.
7. Be confident.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Career Blogs

Job hunting is a full time job itself. Whether you're looking for a job or just taking a look at what's out there, you can collect a great deal of practical information from these career-related blogs. From interview tips to understanding employee rights to ranting about your co-workers, these individual, collective and sometimes even anonymous blogs offer relevant news and honest advice, often based on very personal experiences. --Samantha Soga