checkI was asked today after making a comment on salary negotiations, “How do you answer the money question?” I thought it funny at first as I reflected on the question and took a moment to think about the current state of the employment sector and a lot of talk that I have been hearing as of late.

After taking time to sit and ponder, this is what I came up with in the big picture… First, it’s nothing new that the economy has tanked in this country and there are more unemployed people now than we have had in quite some time. With all the people looking, it only increases the competition when searching for a job.

So while you are out there conducting your search; I want to provide you with all the starting tools necessary in order to be most competitive on your search. Through my years of experience in assisting hundreds of individuals find, locate and secure career opportunities; I have narrowed the field down to what I think and have found to be a winning strategy:

1. Searching – most positions are not listed. Network in local groups and with other professionals, utilize social media, call everyone you know regardless of title and let them know you are on the market and ask who they know that could use you, be proactive with the telephone – make calls. If you’re sitting on the couch waiting for your CareerBuilder or Monster jobs update every other day; you are wrong.

2. Confidence – be confident in yourself and your skills; go in with your head held high and turn your comfort level up 2-3 notches. You don’t have to make a million dollars a year, but you can act like it.

3. Attitude – have a smile on your face, make good eye contact, and provide a firm handshake to all. Let your personality shine through in a nice professional manner. People hire those they like, not the most qualified for the position.

4. Dress to impress – be the best dressed in the room at all times; suit and conservative tie at all times. Leave the vinyl pants with the short sleeve shirt and Bugs Bunny Tie you received for Christmas at home.

5. Prepare – anticipate what questions will come up and have your answers ready. There are tons of interview guides on the internet for questions of all sorts; nothing worse than not being able to answer a question or giving a vague answer and having the deer in the headlights look on your face.

6. Research – perform research on the company, the interviewer, the people, etc. When asked, “What do you know about our company?” – The incorrect response is, “Nothing, I just need a job.”

7. Take notes – items to bring into the interview: self, a professional portfolio, a pad, a working pen, and several nice crisp copies of your resume. When appropriate, ask if it’s okay to take notes during the interview. Note to you – do not have pen in your shirt pocket in case it leaks.

8. Conversation – speak clear, concise, and to the point – don’t blab endlessly. Time and time again the first question from the interviewer is “Tell me about yourself” and an hour later the interviewer is still on question one.

9. Close – finish the interview strong; let your interest be known by saying it – Example: “Bob, Thank you for having me in today. I enjoyed the conversation and hearing your thoughts. I want to let you know that I am very interested in this opportunity. What would be the next step for myself?”

10. Thank you – send a thank you letter in the mail to those with who you interviewed. The active debate is by email or snail mail – why not both.

11. Follow up – allow adequate time, but ensure you follow up. People get busy and things come up; allow ample time and if you don’t hear from the company – give them a call re-stating your interest in the position and that you hope to hear from them soon.

12. Complete the circle – once you have landed, contact everyone you spoke with and that helped you along the way and let them know you have successfully landed a new role. Help those who are looking as well. Nothing more annoying to call someone that is looking with a lead only to find out they accepted a position a month ago.



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