Articles by Doris Articles by Doris

WOMEN – GOALS AND SUCCESS

By Doris Appelbaum

 A woman will get only what she seeks. Choose your goals carefully. Know what you like and what you do not like. Be critical about what you can do well and what you cannot do well. Choose a career or lifestyle that interests you and work hard to make it a success, but also have fun in what you do. Be honest with people and help them if you can, but don’t depend on anyone to make life easy or happy for you (only you can do that for yourself). Be strong and decisive but remain sensitive.

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YOU HAVE AN INTERVIEW!

YOU HAVE AN INTERVIEW!
By Doris Appelbaum

Being Nervous

Almost everyone gets nervous before and during an interview. Allow yourself to feel nervous, even expect it. It is okay and normal. You'll do much better during the interview if you aren't tied up in knots fighting yourself. Remember that the situation is difficult for most interviewers also. Try to be as upbeat as possible and never be negative. It's acceptable to acknowledge your nervousness during the interview. You'll score points for honesty and candor!

How to Dress for Work and Interviews

Unless your job requires you to wear a uniform (as you have done in the military), choosing clothing for work can be difficult. There are basic industry standards, such as navy blue or black suits for accountants and bankers. What do you wear, however, if you work in an industry where there really isn't a typical style of dress? Many companies allow more casual attire. How do you keep from crossing over the line from casual to sloppy? You want to look your professional best, but you also want to appear as if you "fit in". Here are some hints:

Whatever you wear, your clothes should be neat and clean, and your shoes should be in good condition.
Male or Female: Your hair should be neatly styled. Women: makeup and accessories should be subtle.
Nails should be clean, neat, and of reasonable length.
Dress for the job you want in the future. If you hope to become a manager, dress like managers in your company.

In theory many people love the idea of not having to wear a suit or dress to work; however, they are often confused by the casual dress policies some employers have instituted in recent years. Here are some simple rules:

Casual doesn't mean sloppy. Your clothing should still be neat, clean and the right size. (see above) - Casual could mean khakis and a sport shirt or a nice sweater for men. If you are going to a meeting or making a presentation, professional attire may be a good idea.

When you go on a job interview you want to give the impression that you fit in. Dress like employees of the company. If you can, hang out in the parking lot or in front of the building when employees are arriving for or leaving from work, and observe what they are wearing. (This is, of course, difficult in the winter!) Even if you see people dressed in casual attire, remember to take it up a notch. An interview requires more formal dress. While men may not have to wear a suit and tie, men should wear dress pants and a blazer or sport jacket. For women, pantsuits are becoming as favorable as suits with skirts. Pants with a flat front and straight leg with matching jacket are most acceptable. If you wear a skirt, choose one that is stylishly long or just above the knee rather than shorter.

Don't throw away those business outfits you no longer want. If you have determined that it’s time to overhaul your wardrobe, there is an organization that needs your help. Dress For Success is a New York City based program that provides business attire to women who are looking for work but can't afford appropriate interview attire. Look for them on a search engine.

Here is bad interview behavior we have heard about: The candidate picked up his cell phone after answering a few interview questions and called his wife to let her know how the interview was going.

Handling Inappropriate Interview Questions

Most interview questions that require illegal or inappropriate information are asked in ignorance of what is acceptable or legal. Often they are an attempt to be friendly. Reacting strongly in this situation could hurt your chances of getting a really good job. For example: When asked what the candidate was currently earning, he replied, "I really don’t think that's any of your business."

Here are several better ways to handle this uncomfortable situation:

You can answer honestly if you feel the truth won't hurt you.
You can diplomatically inform the interviewer of the error in questioning
You can steer your answer to your qualifications and ability to do the job.
If you are truly offended, you can politely end the interview and thank them for their time.

Trick Question

Some questions almost seem like trick questions -- do you answer them honestly or not? One such question involves your interviewer asking you what changes you would make if you came on board. Beware – this question can disrupt your interview and your chances of getting hired. You can't possibly know the right actions to take in a position before you settle into it. You must get to know the position's strengths, weaknesses, key people, financial condition, and methods of operation. Be careful. Say that you would not want to shoot from the hip but rather, you'll want to get a good hard look at everything before making any judgments.

And remember this: Don't squat with your spurs on. - Will Rogers


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Working Mothers

Working Mothers
By Doris Appelbaum

Working mothers have been told for years,, "You can't have your cake and eat it too." My Dad used to say, "You can’t dance at two weddings at the same time." In other words, you can be there for your children, or you can advance in your career, but you certainly cannot do both. Wrong!!!

Only Clark Kent was Superman, but every working mother is a Superwoman. For success at home and at work, women want and need the right amount of support. Things are beginning to change, and women are slowly finding that they can balance work and family.

At home, strive to have a family dinner as frequently as possible. Get a cookbook that contains easily prepared recipes. Double the recipe and freeze half for another meal. If you make a salad, make twice as much and save half for the next night. Keep casseroles and other one-dish meals in the freezer for nights when you don’t feel like cooking. Designate a hectic night as order-out night (pizza, Chinese, etc). Ask your older children to make dinner one night a week. Plan a family movie night on a regular schedule. Schedule a group outing for the weekend. Take everyone in the family to a child’s theater or sporting event.

Make time for yourself, and take care of yourself. Moms tend to put themselves last on the list. Regenerating your own inner strength and peace will go a long way toward giving you the energy you need to be a mom. Go to the gym or exercise, visit a museum, meet a friend for lunch or coffee, join a volunteer organization, and/or work on you hobby. Negotiate with your spouse for a deal witch will allow each of you one night a week to do your own thing.

Be a couple! Get a babysitter frequently and go out together. It does not have to be a fancy outing. Even a trip to the local bookstore will help the two of you remember what it is like to be adults together.

Here are several employment-related tips to help you:
Be a Valuable Team Member at Work
"Set standards for excellence," said the deputy director of Women Work! - The National Network for Women's Employment. "Distinguish yourself as someone really special." Become valuable to your employer; it then will be much easier to stand up for what you need. Always frame your needs in terms of how your company might benefit (value added) from your proposal.

Get Recognition for the Work You Do as a Telecommuter
Lack of face-to-face time may influence a manager's perception of how hard you are working as a telecommuter. The sight of people hunkered down at their desks sends the "hard worker" message, even if what they're really doing is paying their bills or looking for cruise destinations.

Be Creative
Be sure you get credit for a job well done. Propose initially how you plan to keep in touch, and then stick to your plan, whether it's calling in frequently, sending regular emails, logging your hours or asking for quarterly reviews. Since you've asked for flexibility from your employer, be flexible in return. If some vital meeting arises on a morning you weren't supposed to be in the office, be there anyway.

Does a Prospective Employer Offer Time, Money and Resources?
Some employers are going to be more sympathetic to your situation than others. According to the experts, working mothers need the following: time to deal with family responsibilities, a decent wage, and access to quality care-giving resources, such as an on-site daycare program. Employers who do this have a better bottom line, and the main reason for that is employee loyalty. These practices cut down enormously on turnover.

Research Your Co-Workers
If you've decided to ask your company for a policy change on flextime, brainstorm with other people who feel the way you do. Come up with a plan together. Before you make your pitch to the boss, plan a strategy and answers to difficult questions. Practice, rehearse and be prepared. Make good use of the power in anticipating what you might be asked and in being prepared with answers.

Practice Fortitude
With the ever-growing number of working moms in the workforce, companies are taking another look at how business gets done. But women should also know that changes won't take place overnight. It will be even tougher for working mothers who don't have a well-established track record on the job before they start making demands. Hang in there. Build references for yourself. Notice how the workplace continues to evolve. In the meantime, your best strategy is to be a great employee. Get the job done; show in every way that you're going the extra mile. Don’t ask for breaks, leniency and special treatment; instead, offer solutions and you're much likelier to get what you want and need.

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Cover Letters Introduce Your Resume

Cover Letters Introduce Your Resume
By Doris Appelbaum

Did you ever receive a promotional sales letter but were unsure about what the company was actually selling? If the marketer's message is unclear, the campaign will probably be unsuccessful. The same goes for your cover letter and resume, which are really sales pieces designed to market your credentials so you will outperform your competitors. To maximize the success of your campaign, your cover letter and resume should address the needs of your potential employer.

Consider your cover letter an introduction to your resume. It provides information that will peak interest without giving the entire story away. A cover letter explains your story briefly and makes employers keen on finding out more about you. After employers read your cover letter, they will be eager to read the rest of the story in your resume. They will then decide whether your story merits further investigation and/or an interview.

Introduce Yourself

Cover letters are very effective tools to introduce yourself to future employers. They will see your name and many of your qualifications. Remember that your cover letter is your entre to giving a good first impression. If an employer is unimpressed by your cover letter, your resume may not have a chance. Use the cover letter to tell a potential employer why you are especially interested in his or her company. Cover letters should always be addressed to a specific person. Your cover letter shows that you are actively pursuing a new job. The essential function of the cover letter is to convey to the potential employer your qualifications, the fact that you will be in touch, and that you are extremely interested in obtaining a position with this particular company.

Explain Yourself

A cover letter can be particularly effective when it you are trying to explain a unique situation to future employers. For example, if you are in the process of relocating to New York, but you are still living in Milwaukee, your resume is only going to have your old address on it. You can easily explain in your cover letter that you are moving to the company`s city and that you have heard that their company is one of the finest places to work: "I have heard from various colleagues that your company offers the best opportunities for growth and training." Cover letters also give you an opportunity to mention referrals and/or contacts from inside the company. If your friend, relative, or professional colleague told you about an opening in the company and suggested you check it out, mention his or her name and that he/she referred you to the company in your cover letter. If you met a representative from the company at a Career Fair or professional society meeting, let your future employer in on your current connections to the company. You could say, " Bob Smith, your Sales Manager, suggested that I apply for the open position in your marketing department based on my qualifications." It automatically gives the employer a reference for you, and it shows motivation to follow up on advice.

Make a Change

A cover letter can also convey that you are interested in expanding and changing your career. If your resume is full of the same types of positions, employers will not be able to tell that you are interested in choosing a new profession. Highlight your accomplishments and skills and indicate how they might contribute to the company`s success after they hire you.

If your cover letter is not impressive, employers may never read your resume, no matter how dynamic your resume is. Be concise, accurate and enthusiastic. You do not want to give away too much information. You just want to entice them to read a little further. With a colorful cover that promises to be a good read, you should have no problem getting any potential employer to take the next step and read your carefully crafted resume.

Beware, however, of common cover letter mistakes and blunders. These include, but are not limited to,
  1. Unrelated career goals
  2. Comparisons and clichés
  3. Wasted space
  4. Form letters/mass mailings
  5. Inappropriate stationery
  6. Amusing anecdotes
  7. Erroneous company information
  8. Desperation
  9. Personal photos
  10. Confessed shortcomings
  11. Misrepresentation
  12. Demanding statements
  13. Missing résumé
  14. Personal information
  15. Use of third person
  16. Tense trouble
  17. Gimmicks
  18. Typographical errors
  19. Messy corrections
  20. Omitted signature
Remember to send your cover letter and resume to a specific person. The correct name and spelling of the person's name is imperative, even if you have to call your potential employer to get it.

Be sure to end your cover letter with a strong closing which indicates the action you desire. Take the initiative by requesting an interview and/or stating your intention to call in a week or two.


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