Monthly Archives: April 2013

The “Don’t Ask!” List

It’s good to ask questions during an interview, even if you’re the one being interviewed. It shows you’re interested in learning more about the company and the position, and it’s a chance for you to reinforce some of your best characteristics. However, there are some questions you just don’t ask of the interviewer. They’ll put you in a very negative light! Here are some of those questions:

1. How long until I can get promoted?
Although it shows you are motivated, it also shows you are not focused on the opportunity at hand.

2. How much vacation do I get?
3. What will my salary be?
4. Will I get health insurance with this?Your questions should show your interest in the position, not the benefits that go with it.

5. When was your company/school/organization founded?
6. Who is your biggest competitor?
7. Who is your CEO/President/Founder?Superintendent?
You should go in knowing some things about the place you are interviewing to work for. Questions like these shows you haven’t done your research, which in turn, shows you haven’t put much effort into preparing.

8. Can I work from home?
Working from home, if it’s expected of you, should be explained right up front. By asking about it, it may seem to the interviewer that you don’t want to interact with other people in the office.

9. Is there a drug test?
Well… think about it. That puts up a red flag that you have something to hide!

10. Did I get the job? When do I start?
It’s great to be eager and enthusiastic, don’t get me wrong! However, by phrasing it like this, you sound presumptuous. Don’t assume the job is yours until you get the official word from them.

What other questions do you think are not the best questions to ask in the interview? Don’t worry, next week we’ll go over questions you SHOULD ask, so be on the lookout!

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The Cover Letter Burger

Yes, you read that right. A cover letter burger. Veggie, cheese, turkey, extra bacon bleu cheese- and cover letter.

When I work with students, I find it’s easier for them to understand a not-so-everyday-concept if it’s put in the context of an everyday item. Hence, the Cover Letter Burger was born.

The seeds on top of the bun are the little things that are necessary to include in a formal business letter: contact information, salutation, thank you, and indicating there is an attachment or enclosure. It’s that little extra touch to show how professional you are.

Then comes the top bun. No one likes a lot of bun, right? It gets in the way of the burger. So, just like we want a small bun, we also want a small introduction paragraph. Introduce yourself, explain how you found the job/internship, and say something nice about their company/organization/school to personalize it.

Your toppings, instead of lettuce, pickle, and extra ketchup, will be information about you that may not be particularly relevant. Your campus involvement, volunteer work, a study abroad experience where you took gen ed classes, a job that has transferable skills. Good information to add some insight, but not the main focus.

Now we get to the “meat” of the cover letter (get it?). This is all about you and your relevant information. Highlight the things that make you perfect for this job. Your internship, your tutoring in your major classes, related courses and any big academic projects, your thesis- they all count. Just be sure to use good judgment on how relevant they are to the job at hand.

Finally, we get down to the bottom bun. Still, not many people are huge fans, so we’ll keep our closing paragraph short and sweet, too. Let them know you look forward to talking more with them and you’ll be in touch with them again in the near future. Encourage them to reach out to you with questions and to set up an interview. And of course, thank them for their consideration.

How’s that for an unconventional burger? What tips do you have for writing a cover letter?

Using Keywords to Boost Your Views on LinkedIn

Using Keywords to Boost Your Views on LinkedIn

Our friends at USA Today College put together a nice article on using keywords to boost your views and the number of times you come up in search results on LinkedIn. Which prompts the question, what keywords do you use? Do they accurately describe you and where you want to go?