Tag Archives: job search

What should I wear to a campus interview? (Men’s version)

I over-use the Bell Curve when describing averages. Though it’s so applicable in so many and varied situations that I can’t help myself. And believe it or not, what people wear to a campus interview falls into the standard deviations laid out in the Bell Curve.

We all know the curve. The bulk of the curve, the hump, represents 70% of the populace. They’re all within expected norms of this measure. In this case, it means 70% of campus interview candidates dress alike. This is true. It also means that 15% of candidates dress impressively, while 15% dress unfortunately. This is also true. And while some may argue that there are more nuances and degrees of appropriateness, there aren’t. There really aren’t.

So let’s take a look at the three different groupings of male attire for campus interviews. I’m not necessarily going to recommend anything, but at least I’ll highlight what’s happening with the competition.

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Should I print personal business cards?

I fielded this question a few months ago at an event for job-seekers in Minneapolis: “Should I get personal business cards to hand out at job interviews?” Unfortunately for those in attendance, I didn’t give the best answer. In fact, I think I gave what amounts to a non-answer. Something like “every situation is different.” Oh, great response. Thanks for the insight, Charlie.

Sample card from moo.com

But now that I’ve had some time to think about it, and after consulting my friends at BrazenCareerist, I’ve solidified my position. It’s always a good idea to have a personal business card.

After posing this question to probably 50 different people in the last month, I heard three main objections, valid or otherwise. Actually, they were all invalid as far as I’m concerned. Here they are–the reasons not to print personal business cards:  Continue reading

The tale of a man who tried to quit his job

So you want to leave your job. Searching for greener pastures? A boss who listens? More money? That’s cool–but it’s a tough row to hoe right now, given that there are few jobs available and scores of qualified and over-qualified candidates spamming their resumes all over the Internet. Here’s what happened to an acquaintance of mine a few months ago when he tried to quit.

This is posted with permission, because we both think it’s a good lesson and an even better story, though I’ve changed all the names and taken some liberty with the dialog to clarify the story (and because nobody recorded anything).

The Man Who Tried to Quit His Job

For 6 months or more, Eric was unhappy with his job. His responsibilities remained the same as they were when he started, 2 1/2 years prior. As a good employee who received average to high marks on his employee reviews, he felt he deserved a raise, a promotion, or both. He even asked the boss for different responsibilities to break the monotony of his day-to-day.

I met with Eric a couple of times during this period of unrest, and each time he expressed dismay at the unchanging state of his job and career. I let him vent for a while before we moved on to other topics, like fantasy football or the books we were reading. We didn’t dive deep into his work trouble–just typical responses to “How’s work?”

The last time I saw him, though, he had a different answer.

Charlie: “How’s work? Any better?” Eric: “Actually, it’s funny you ask. It is getting better.”
“What changed?”
“I quit.”
“I went in to my boss’s office one Monday morning last month and told him I quit.”

(This is where it gets interesting.)

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Is higher education debt impacting your career decisions?

(Update: Two very related articles published in my hometown newspaper on Feb. 16–two days after this post. College debt meets real life, and Students rally against tuition hikes at Capitol.)

It seems everyone is questioning the value of a college education. Is it worth $140,000? Is it even worth $30,000? It’s a good question, because in the last few years, the rising cost of education has significantly outpaced changes in the economy, making the value equation balance differently than it did before.

Unfortunately, the Consumer Price Index doesn’t line-item the cost of higher education in the CPI data we see every day. (Kidding–who sees this data every day?) Though if you keep clicking and reading, you’ll find it a little deeper in the Education and Communication group. The cost of education in December 2010 was up 3.9 percent from November 2009. (Full PDF report.) Meanwhile, the CPI for All Items Less Food and Energy has been declining since mid-2006, and hasn’t topped 3.0 percent in more than ten years (I didn’t look at data from before 2000). So the cost of higher education is growing faster than the cost of every day goods, and that must be why I’ve seen so much press on this topic. Continue reading

I can’t believe what I found on Facebook

The only acceptable Facebook privacy setting when job searching.

Everyone knows to check their Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, Twitter feeds, and Naymz profiles while they’re job searching right? Doesn’t seem that way. And once you have a job, it’s okay to relax a little, right? Wrong. Despite thousands of articles and tip lists imploring us to clean up our social media closets, we still don’t. I’m beginning to wonder if the problem isn’t awareness, it’s perspective. We know we should be careful, but we don’t see a problem. Like the guy who’s six beers into the night and doesn’t think he’s drunk, too many people think their witty political statements, bikini photos, and raging against the machine won’t make an impact on our careers. Huh.

Before I hire someone, I search everything online. Like a drug screen or a background check, this is becoming routine across companies. Different companies and roles have different hot buttons (especially if you work with children or heavy machinery), but here are some of the things I’ve uncovered that may be considered negative by some employers:

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Of the traits I look for in new employees, intelligence is not in the top three

Shocked?  I was, too.  But last week I was ranking a group of traits, and I found intelligence consistently falling somewhere between 3 and 8, depending on the granularity of the list.  Wow.  I look at it this way: There’s no such thing as too hard-working.  There is such thing as too smart.

The most common failing I’ve seen in consultants, both senior and junior, is hubris.  Hubris’ co-pilot is usually intelligence (or, more accurately, perceived intelligence).  Confidence is important, but only when balanced by humility.  I’ve known far too many people who combine intelligence with confidence and attitude and stop working hard.  Instead of prolific production of amazing work, these people work hard only when absolutely necessary and otherwise find ways to do the minimum level required to succeed.   Continue reading

When Senior People Apply for Junior-level Jobs

Though the employment index climbed to its highest level in two years (and that’s good news), from a  job-search perspective, it’s still a jungle out there.  Not only are companies still reluctant to resume hiring to any meaningful degree, overqualified candidates continue to compete with recent grads for jobs in the 0 – 5 year range.  How do you handle an interview when you suspect the competition has you beat by ten years? Continue reading