Category Archives: Careers

Desperate For a Job? How Far Would You Go to Get One?

If you follow this blog religiously, you probably know that I have been looking for a full-time job since graduating in December. Well, I am glad to announce that I have been conditionally offered a job! However, the job location isn’t quite what I wanted. Technically, when you apply for some Government jobs, you have to choose three different locations that you would want to work. We live in the DC area and obviously, that was my first choice. My other two choices were for places in Pennsylvania which really would not work for us. I bet you can guess where I am going with this. The position I was hired for is in Pennsylvania and about 2 1/2 hours away. The other kicker is that my fiancee has great job security here in Maryland and we do not want to give that up.

There is still the opportunity that a position will open up in DC but nothing is guaranteed. The job is exactly what I was looking for (other than the location) and I know that I can succeed in the position. After discussing it with my fiancee, we decided that it was best for me to accept the position regardless of the location. If we need to make it work we will. We have family about an hour from the PA location and if I have to stay with them during the week, I will. Hopefully then, something will open up in the DC office where I can transfer.

So, you can see that we are pretty desperate for additional income in our household. We are so desperate that we are willing to uproot our lives during weekdays. So, my question to you is:

How far would you go or what would you do if you were desperate for a job?

14 Things to Avoid Saying in an Interview

Well, I just completed my interview with the IRS last week. I know what your are thinking, what loser would want to work for the IRS and take all of that heat? Well, I do! Times are rough in the job market and this is a viable option for me. First, I love taxes and talking with individuals about them. Second, it is well within my expertise and I know I will be great at it.

Before the interview took place, I was brushing up on my responses to typical interview questions. It got me thinking about things that you should absolutely NOT say during an interview. I thought I would share with you some common interview questions and what not to say (as well as what a good response should be).

Common Interview Questions

1. Tell me a little more about yourself…

Bad Answer: Well, as you know, my name is Adam. I grew up in Connecticut in a wealthy household and pretty much had everything taken care of for me. Upon graduating high school, I went to Princeton for 6 years because my father is a professor there. I didn’t really like it but I graduated with a degree in liberal studies. Since Princeton, I have been living at home and working on my comic book career.

Good Answer: This question allows a lot of flexibility in your answer. You should talk about your past such as where you grew up and went to college. You should also talk about some of your career accomplishments and hobbies that are related to the job you are applying for.

2. What made you apply for this job?

Bad Answer: I think it will look great on my resume and I just cannot get over how well it pays!

Good Answer: Talk about how your skills and past experiences fit well with the position. You should make sure that you know as much about the position as you possibly can before going into the interview

3. What is your biggest strength?

Bad Answer: I would have to say that my biggest strength is my ability to chat with my coworkers.

Good Answer: Make sure your answer is related to the position. If you are good at communicating with customers and the position calls for it, make sure you mention it.

4. What is your biggest weakness?

Bad Answer: My biggest weakness has to be my inability to talk to customers. I am just so deathly afraid that I am going to say something wrong.

Good Answer: With this question you should focus on a weakness that can also be portrayed as a strength. A good example would be saying that you can sometimes take too long on projects because you are very detail oriented. Many interviews will see this as a good thing because you will be required to do good work.

5. Why did you leave your previous job?

Bad Answer: Well, I left because I really did not like anyone there. Everyone was always asking me to do too many things and I just cannot handle many things at once. Besides, the pay was bad and I wasn’t really qualified for the position anyway.

Good Answer: Talk about how the position that you are applying for better fits your goals and qualifications.

6. Tell me about your previous boss…

Bad Answer: He was just a real jerk. He hated everyone in the company and was always looking down upon his workers. I really hope that I never see him again because I am not sure what I would do to him.

Good Answer: Do not bash your former boss. This questions is just a setup for you to do so. Talk about how they encouraged you to be better at your job and if they would recommend you, say so.

7. Where do you see yourself in 1, 5, and 10 years?

Bad Answer: I see myself starting my own business in this industry.

Good Answer:With this question, make sure you take the approach that the company wants to hear. Talk about how you see yourself working in that company possible in a more responsible position. Never talk about how you want to be one of their biggest competitors in the future.

8. What do you know about our company?

Bad Answer: Well, I only found out about this job through a friend. I really never heard of you before yesterday.

Good Answer: It is in your best interest to know everything that you possibly can about the company you are hoping to work for. Look at their website and ask around about the company!

9. What are your interests outside of work?

Bad Answer: Well, my wife and I thoroughly enjoy going to Star Trek and World of Warcraft conferences. We even get dressed up in the appropriate costumes!

Good Answer: When talking about interests outside of work, make sure you make it something that is low key (like playing with your grand kids) or something that is relevant to the position you are applying to. Typically, when I am asked this question I say that I enjoy writing about personal finance. Now that’s relevant!

10. What are your goals in life?

Bad Answer: I strive to be a millionaire by the age of 30 and I plan on walking on the moon someday.

Good Answer: Keep your goals relevant and in-line with the position you are applying for. For example, if you are applying to become a financial planner, you may want to say that your goal is to be managing $10 million by the time you are 40.

11. Have you ever done this kind of work before?

Bad Answer: I have never done this work before and frankly, I never saw myself doing it. This position is just too laborious for me.

Good Answer: If you have done the type of work before, talk about it and explain your accomplishments in doing so. If you have not, talk about how you are a fast learner and can pick up on positions very easily.

12. Why was there a large gap in your resume?

Bad Answer: During that time I was just relaxing around the pool trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. Most of it was a blur.

Good Answer: Obviously, if you have a good answer use it here. If you were studying or learning a new trade, explain how it will help you in the position.

13. Wouldn’t this job represent a step down for you?

Bad Answer: Well, it would because I am used to a lot more money. My previous jobs have also had less responsibility.

Good Answer: Talk about how having the position will not be a step down in your mind. Say how passionate you are about the position and that it will be your honor to work in the field (and have a job in general).

14. What are your salary requirements?

Bad Answer: I require $xx,xxx in salary. I will take no less than that.

Good Answer: This is an area that you have to tread carefully. If at all possible, you want them to make the first offer so you can negotiate from there. If they will just not give you a figure, put a number out there that is within your acceptable range. If they cannot afford that, they will just come out and say it.

Well, there you have it! If you have an interview coming up, make sure you avoid those horribly bad interview responses.

Have Jobs Become Disposable?

I have held over a dozen jobs in my lifetime¬†and I cannot name all of the companies. Kind of sounds like a Job Hoppers Anonymous group doesn’t it? I guess you could argue that it’s not that high of a number. However, I must tell you that I am only 25 years old. Yes, they have only been part-time jobs but why did I change them so much? Was it because I hated the work or did I just get bored and need something else? Will it mean that I will jump from job to job my whole life?

I know this is kind of a non-issue right now with the economy. In other words,¬†if you have a job right now, you are happy with it no matter what. However, before this whole recession thing, people seemed to have a certain attitude about their jobs. They thought, “If I don’t like my job, I’ll just quit and find a better one.” Has our love for disposable goods traveled into our jobs?

Do Careers at Large Companies Still Exist?

Long gone are the days when you find a job and then spend the next 50 years of your life doing it. Companies no longer provide pensions, retirement healthcare, etc unless they are required to by union contracts. Is that the reason we change jobs so often, because companies seem to not care about their employees?

Do Careers in General Still Exist?

There are some companies (small businesses too) out there that seem to care about their employees. However, many people still leave those jobs in search of something different. What do companies have to do again in order to have employees want to stay there for 50 years? Anyone have some suggestions?

When I think about a career, I think about something that I make from scratch. Whether it’s making a career out of blogging (maybe one day) or starting your own ice cream shop. I just don’t think that there are careers (jobs that I would LOVE) out there anymore. Is that just me and my generation speaking? The world may never know!

What are you thoughts on this issue? I know I put a lot of questions in the post so this is meant to be an article with great conversation in the comments. I look forward to responding!

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Laid Off Recently? Turn It Into Something Amazing

Lost your job recently? Feeling in the dumps? Well, here is some good news. Many great business founders started their businesses after being laid off. Time to turn that frown upside down and get out there to make things happen. Although I wrote the post 10 Things to Do When You Graduate Without a Job for recent college grads, most of the imformation applies to anyone searching for a job. Head over there and apply those steps and get searching.

Use Your Layoff to Do What Your Employer Did Bad

One of the tips dealt with finding alternative ways to generate income. So, why not start your own business? If you enjoyed your last career, why not start a business in the same field that does something your original employer did wrong? I will be doing this next year. While working at my current job, I have been very observant. I now know what not to do when I start my own business. I know what to charge that is competetive and I know what people are looking for.

Didn’t really like your last career? Why not start something that you have always been passionate about? There are plenty of businesses out there that you can start for almost nothing. Want some inspiration? Here are some individuals who started their businesses after being laid off:

Tom Stemberg

Tom was let go from a supermarket chain names Finast-Edwards in 1985 when his division was sold. He then founded Staples, the office supply giant which has over 40,000 employees. His estimated net worth is over $200 million. Not to bad for starting a business that sells pens and paper!

Michael Bloomberg

Michael was laid off from Salomon Brothers only to start the financial news service that bears his name. He is also the mayor of New York City.

Get Going Now

Recessions can be the best time to start a business. When everyone else thinks it’s the worst time to start a business, it’s sometime the best time. Sort of like in the stock market. Now may be the best time to start a business that helps individuals find jobs or helps them find other sources of income so they do not foreclose on their home. Just sit down and brainstorm. You will be surprised with what you come up with!

10 Things to Do When You Graduate Without a Job

When I graduated in December, I did not have a job. It was one of the worst job markets for me to graduate in. You would think that a master’s degree in financial planning would help, but most firms (ones that I would want to work for) just were not hiring. I guess the losses in the market amounted to losses in their revenue.

Because of not having a job in December, I thought of some ways to help others in my position. These are just some quick tips in order for you to stay in the game. Staying in the game (or hunt) is the best advice I can give you.

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1. Stay Positive

It’s not the end of the world! You need to relax, be positive and focus on the long run. You may not be able to find something right this instant, but if you keep your mind to it and follow some of these tips, something is bound to open up somewhere. Hopefully, it will be the job of your dreams!

2. Get a Part-time Gig

Bills still need to be paid and you cannot just sit at home on the couch. This is especially true if you are supporting someone else. Even if it’s only temporary, you need to get some type of part-time job that keeps you from going insane. If at all possible, find a job in a field that closely relates to the one you graduated in. For example, I am working part-time at H&R Block for the tax season. It’s obviously not the career path I want, but it relates closely.

3. Set Goals and Visualize

This is where you want to firmly state your goals. If your goal is to work at a top 50 ranked hospital, write it down. Visualize yourself working there and you will work even harder at that goal. As for other goals, list them and then start off with the easier ones and work your way down the list until you have reached them all. These goals can deal with your personal life as well as your career.

4. Network, Network, Network

This is a big one. Networking is a major part of finding your dream job. Knowing people who know the right people will help you get ahead in this world. I know that sounds bad and unfair but it’s the truth. I imagine many of you can agree with that. A great way to network is to join an organization in your community. Rotary is a great place to start as many business owners in your community attend these meetings. Not that great of a speaker? Start attending a local Toastmaster’s meeting. There you can work on your public speaking skills as well as meet local entrepreneurs.

5. Go a Knocking

I will be honest with you in saying that I do not trust web-related job searches. There is something about submitting my resume online that makes me feel like I lost control of my destiny. I know many companies have now gone solely to online submissions but they are just the big companies. Most of the small businesses (where most new jobs come from) still look for people the old fashioned way. I recommend you search around for the company that you would best want to work for, even if they are not hiring. Then, you should just pop in the business and introduce yourself. Bring along your resume as well! This will surely make a great impression on the business owner and if you are qualified enough, they may even make a position for you!

6. Be Willing to Make the Move

Chances are you will not find your dream job in Localtown, USA. You need to be able to say that you are willing to go anywhere. If there is a job open in a neighboring state, go for it! I know you want to stay close to family, but believe me, your future is much more important. Your family cannot support you forever.

7. Do Something Involving Your Field of Study

Another great way to stay involved in your field of study is to volunteer. Many of you may not have that option. It depends on your career choice. For example, I doubt I am going to be able to volunteer my time at the local financial planning office. However, if you are in the medical field you can visit the local nursing home or hospital. Not only will you be around the career that you love, you will also be able to NETWORK!

8. Continue Educating Yourself

I know you just probably graduated and you thought you were done with school. WRONG! In these times, you need to be constantly educating yourself. Things change in an instant now and you should always be at the top of your game. I did this when I decided to attend graduate school. Even if you have reached your peak in terms of education, start reading things in your field of expertise. Go to your local library for a list of good books. You can also search for journals that may be of interest to you. There is no better way to read about your career choice than from the individuals that are already doing it. Those are the people who contribute to journals.

9. Find Alternative Ways to Make Money In Your Field

Have you ever had an idea about something in your field that has not been done before? I sure have. This would make a great opportunity to start a small business. If your idea is great, it could turn into something amazing. Even if you do not have financial ability to start a business, if the idea is good enough you can find some financial backers. You may even want to start a blog about it. When I started this blog I had no idea that you could make money doing it. I just wanted to do it to share my knowledge to the world. Of course my blog is to new to make money but I still love doing it. It also keeps me up-to-date with my profession as I am constantly writing and reading about things in financial planning.

10. Be Frugal

Learning to become frugal is very important when one does not have a job. My fiance and I are working very hard at that right now. Without a steady income, some things are just going to have to wait until you get the right career. Now is not the time to be buying a car, renting that big condo, getting the sports package on TV, etc. You need to learn to buckle down and only live on the necessities. You will find that it will help you later on in your life as well. You will be want to be debt free and you will ultimately have a lot of money in the bank!

What Color Is Your Parachute? 2009: A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers is a great book if you are searching for a job. It’s good for new job seekers as well as the seasoned ones.