Four Magic Words for the Interview

The four magic words are: “I want the job.”

If you’ve done all your research on the company and you like the person interviewing you and you know you want to work there, then you have to speak up and say so. Don’t end the interview by saying, “I think this would be a great place to work. Thanks for the wonderful interview.” That’s too weak. You have come right out and say, “Thank you for the interview. I want the job. What are the next steps?”

As you do so, leave the door open so you can follow up with them rather than them having to follow up with you. You could say, “I’ll follow up with you in a week.” Chances are that because they’re interviewing many people and are overwhelmed, they’ll tell you not to follow up – that they’ll take care of it. But follow up anyway. You’ll never know what’s happening on a job’s status unless you follow up with the person.

Know What You Want

If you don’t know what you want, how can you find it? The floundering that job seekers do in terms of not knowing what they really want to do in life takes them off on some time-consuming tangents. If you don’t know what you’re good at or what you want to do “when you grow up,” then get tested. Many state unemployment offices and colleges offer career testing so you can know what fields might be a good match for you.

If you’re one of those people who applies to any job you can find, you’re never really going to find what you want. Rather, you have to go with a clear cut goal of what you’re looking for. Think of it like digging for oil. If you know the oil is there and you dig five wells that are shallow, you’re probably not going to get to your goal no matter how many holes you dig. But if you take that same energy and dig one really deep well, then you’re going to hit black gold.

Fluttering around dilutes your energy. And energy management is so important when looking for a job because job hunting is depleting of your psychic and your physical energy, particularly if you have a family and you’re depending on that income.

Building Your Resume

Build a Resume that Stands Out

No matter what kind of position you’re applying for – from entry level to executive level – the resume is important. These days a resume can be either hard copy or electronic. Which you send depends on what the company has asked for in their employment ad. Whether they say to email or mail a resume, or to apply online, do exactly as they say. And when you do apply online, be sure you fill out every box and complete every field. Do every single thing the prospective employer asks for. If you don’t, you’ll get automatically disqualified because the potential employer will think you can’t follow directions. In fact, that’s the number one first test of many employers – “Do they follow instructions?”

If you’re mailing in a resume, pick a white or off-white paper. Unless you’re in the arts, don’t do anything wild with your resume. Make sure your font choice is readable both on and off screen. Font that is too tiny or too elaborate will not get read. Finally, there is never any excuse for an error on your resume. So if you’re not good at proofing, find someone who is…and then find someone else who’ll proof it again. You just can’t be too cautious.

Thinking of Using a Temp? Know the Company You’re Working With

Choose a temp service basked on a referral from another business professional you trust, if possible. If you can’t get a referral, then you have to do your own due diligence. Generally speaking, the internal workings of a temporary placement firm vary from place to place. Unless you are working with a franchise, the only way to find out how the firm works is to ask. Therefore, contact some local temporary help companies and ask them such question as:

• How long have you been doing business in the local market?
• Do you belong to any national associations?
• What kind of testing do your temps go through?
• What kind of reference checking do you do?
• What’s your firm’s area of specialization?

Be honest with the company. If you have called other temp services or have had a bad experience in the past, let them know. Also, take into consideration the specialist you speak with. Does the person seem knowledgeable and caring, or is the person just trying to sell you on the idea of working with them? Remember, the person needs to be listening twice as much as they talk. True professionals are interested in getting a feel for your credibility, as you are theirs. Since the goal is to create a long-term relationship, you want to feel comfortable with your main point of contact.

There’s Not Enough to Do

Dear Jean,

My boss only has enough work for me to keep me busy from about 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m., but my hours are 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.  So I just sit there for half of the day.  I have asked for more work, but she says there isn’t anything else for me to do.


How boring!  You are doing the right thing by asking what to do, but go ahead and start looking for another job.  Sooner or later your boss or your boss’s boss will realize that there is not enough work to keep you or anyone else busy in that job.  Once that fact is realized, your job will be in jeopardy.

If you really love the people you work for, maybe you can work for them in the mornings.  That way you can find yourself another job in the afternoon.  However, if you are a whiz kid and you are doing eight hours of work in two, find yourself another job.  You’re too bright for this one.

Get Me Off the Speakerphone!

Dear Jean:

I have a personal pet peeve – speakerphones.  I can’t stand to listen to someone who is receiving my call on a speakerphone.  It usually cuts off most of the first word and some of the last word, and the echoes hurt my ears.  What is a tactful way to ask someone not to use the speakerphone with me?


When I want to be tactful, I might say, “Will you please pick up the receiver?  I’m having trouble hearing you.”  When I am in an ornery mood, I might say, “Better pick up the receiver – I’m getting ready to say something you might consider confidential!”

No Travel, Please

Dear Jean,

I’m in line for a position that is not only a better job, it also pays more.  There is one problem.  I will have to do some traveling – too much, really.  Could I try to stipulate “no travel” when my boss offers me the new job?  How would you handle this, Jean?


In most cases, there are legitimate reasons for specific requirements on job descriptions.  When travel is required, it is because the business to be conducted requires you to be in the city where the transaction will take place.  To request “no travel” on a position which requires travel is like requesting, “no keyboarding” on a position which requires computer savvy.

Long-Winded Jerk

Dear Jean,

The other day, I was out in my car and I received a phone call from a long-winded jerk I never wanted to talk with in the first place.  My new admin had given him my phone number.  I can’t believe she gave this clown my cell!  Shouldn’t she automatically know not to give out my private numbers?


It’s not her fault – it’s yours. Nope, she shouldn’t automatically know how you want your calls handled.  There is a likely chance that her previous boss had different preferences where the phone is concerned.  I suggest you have an informal meeting to discuss the procedures you prefer.  Explain exactly how you want her to respond to your callers.

While you are on the topic, it would be a good time to talk about other preferences, for instance, what kind of calls you consider important and how you want her to handle solicitation calls.  I have also found it extremely helpful to provide the names of my close friends and family members.

What I am suggesting is a “win-win” situation.  As a result of having this information, she will be more efficient in handling your callers, and you will not have to deal with this frustration again.

You Don’t Have to Lie

Dear Jean,

One of my co-workers always wants me to lie when certain people call her on the phone.  Is this right?  Should I continue to lie?


You don’t have to lie for anyone, and if the “certain people” you spoke of in your question happen to be supervisors, you could be in serious trouble.  Before another day goes by, meet with her in private and explain your feelings.  Avoid judging her behavior.  Just say something such as, “When I mislead your callers, I feel uncomfortable, and I’m not willing to put myself in that position any longer.”  This will reduce your stress and make it clear to your co-worker that lying for her crosses your value system and you won’t continue to do it.

Boss in Hospital

Dear Jean,

My boss was hospitalized recently.  Should I go visit?


That depends.  I use the Platinum Rule in this situation.  “Do unto others as they want to be done unto.”  That means just because you would like visitors at your hospital bed does not mean your boss wants visitors.  Many people aren’t up to entertaining in their bedclothes.  Check with a family member and ask if your boss is receiving nonfamily visitors.  Usually, a steady stream of clever cards and get-well wishes is enough.  Flowers couldn’t hurt.