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    1st Steps In The Hunt: A Free Online Daily for Online Job Hunters

    Lying Vs. Selling

    November 20, 1998

    Estimates regarding the percentage of resumes with out and out lies on them usually fall in the 20-40% range. Employers and HR managers know these figures, so don't count on them accepting everything you say on your resume as a matter of fact. Generally, it is during reference checking that these discrepancies surface, and it's not a pretty sight.

    While HR managers may allow some leeway for differing perceptions of past events by you and your previous supervisor, they are under enormous pressure to find the elusive 'right hire'. Hiring the wrong candidate can cost the company hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost revenue due to a myriad of problems. If you, as a new hire, materially upset the work team's chemistry, the company (especially smaller firms) may need months (or years) to recover.

    Therefore, Hiring Managers are evaluating not only your abilities to perform the tasks required for this Job, but also your character. In effect, "Can they trust you?" Since you are asking to become part of a work relationship, evidence of dishonesty on your resume is a surefire way to end the relationship before it begins.

    How closely you are scrutinized is a function of "How quickly do we need to fill this position, and how many Job candidates do we have to pick from?" Remember, the person with the power to hire you has been in your shoes before, and most likely during a time when Jobseekers had a whole lot less leverage than they do now. If you get stuck in an awkward moment, claiming to have accomplished tasks that you were only partially responsible for, resort to absolute honesty and humility. Credit your colleagues, and remind your Interviewer of what life was like when they were on the other side of the desk.

    'Selling' yourself is tolerated, even encouraged. Odds are you will be selling something or someone in your new Job. Link your (slightly!) exaggerated abilities on your resume to factual evidence. Employers will expect there to be a transition period where you 'learn their system'. It is during this phase when you will have to develop your passing familiarity (real ability) into a working knowledge (claimed ability). If you stick to ambitious descriptions of your past duties and accomplishments, and your references have your current resume to remind them of your good deeds, then everyone will regard your resume as just good advertising.

    No one sells lemonade by reminding everyone how sour lemons are.

    -Mark Poppen

    Gateway Sites: Riley's

    November 19, 1998

    Using the Internet as a tool in your Jobhunt can be time consuming and frustrating. By now you are probably used to seeing 404 file not found errors, and many sites are just thinly disguised advertising pitches promoting Dr Seward's Employment Tonic - just enter your credit card number and that Job is as good as yours.

    What makes all the time spent searching the web for useful information is when you finally hit the Mother Lode. Margaret Riley's wonderful website is one of these user friendly, information rich sites. If I had to recommend only one site to Jobhunters as a link for useful Jobhunting tips, this would be it. Located at, this site has it all. One of my favorite sections explains ten reasons for using the Internet in your Job Search. This is a must read for Jobhunters:

    Riley suggests the following step by step process in the Jobhunt:

    1. Visit the large information databases first. These include virtual libraries and large recruiting sites like America's Job Bank. Looks for links to information in your chosen field or industry. Repeat this search every few days, like Monday and Thursday.
    2. Move on to the smaller, more exclusive resources and services, including online resource guides
    3. and sites dedicated to your field or industry. You want to find links to employers or collected information in your field which can give you leads or networking contacts. Repeat this search every few days, say Tuesday and Friday.
    4. Use the major search engines to locate new and hidden resources specific to your occupation and field. If you have a company you are interested in, search on the company name, any variations or nicknames it is known by, and names of its major products. Repeat this search every few days, maybe Wednesday and Saturday.
    5. Finally, shut off the computer and spend some time with your family, friends, and yourself. Take the seventh day and relax, do some reading, walk outside, and remind yourself that there is a world out there and people to talk to. Play with your dog or scratch the cat, and if you don't have a dog or cat, substitute whatever pet you have. All work and no play makes every one of us completely stressed out and candidates for heart attacks which are total bummers and will keep us out of work for a long time.
    This kind of site is referred to as a 'gateway' site. It leads to a wealth of Internet resources at other locations. This site, and others like it, are not only useful to beginning online Jobhunters, but to experienced Jobseekers and Jobchangers as well. If you already know which field you are seeking employment in, a good start is with the Bureau of Labor's occupational handbook. It is at For an index of possible fields to consider for future employment, try and go to their list of job categories(job search guide).

    Good websites are like good references - they lead to other avenues of opportunity.

    -Mark Poppen


    November 18, 1998

    If you've been to a number of Interviews and you are left with the impression that your skill set is insufficient to satisfy prospective employers' needs, consider taking classes online. As employers look more and more toward your abilities, and away from your educational pedigree, developing skills via online classes becomes an obvious choice.

    Last year a study by Cal State Northridge indicated that students who took classes online did 20% better than students who physically attended class. While there are some classes where 'hands-on' training is surely more appropriate, online classes may be the next logical step in your Jobhunt. Which classes you take depends on:

    • What your Jobhunt research has revealed about skills that are in demand
    • What new skills dovetail with your own Job preferences
    • What you enjoy doing for work
    • What the classes cost in terms of time and money.
    There are several approaches you can take to online training. You can choose your topic/field from a large directory, like Yahoo's or you can look up one of the available online schools directly. Ziff-Davis offers a wide selection of online classes that focus on computer related skills. Having more than a passing familiarity with Microsoft Office, HTML, and NT is becoming a litmus test for many clerical and administrative Jobs.

    Some online classes are prohibitively expensive, and are targeted toward IT employees looking to upgrade their skills for promotions or Job mobility. Many classes, though, are either free or relatively inexpensive. And often you can study & take exams when it is convenient for you to do so, at your own pace. The largest Employer in the US, Manpower, offers training for it's temp staff at

    Get used to retraining online. Job security rests not with your current employer, but with your current abilities. Your perspective needs to change from "I'm doing this search to find a Job", to "I'm learning how to Jobsearch because I'll be looking for a new Employer again. And again." Updating your skills before the next wave of downsizing makes you invaluable to some Employer, somewhere.

    -Mark Poppen


    November 17, 1998

    During the process of researching which firms you'd really like to work for, don't forget to find out about their Mentoring programs. One of the scariest parts of interviewing for a job is the gnawing suspicion that you may not be able to do the Job at the level of competence your Employer demands. Fear of failure can doom your efforts before you even begin (you bomb the Interview), and it can also lead to ineffectiveness once you've been hired.

    Some innovative firms have programs in place that help new workers develop professionally by assigning experienced employees to them for guidance in their new Job tasks. The new Hire and their Mentor will meet periodically to discuss career goals, Job guidelines, company subcultures, and mutual expectations. And, of course, details on what the Job entails, and how it is accomplished here. Employers are hopeful that Mentoring programs will cut down on Employee attrition - Retaining employees is a lot cheaper than hiring and training new people.

    Just because a firm has Mentoring programs on the books does not mean they are committed to them. See if you can talk to a few Employees that used the program. What are their experiences with it? Do they feel that the Company is fully committed to the program and helping their newest Employees survive their first three months on the Job? If you continually take Jobs that don't encourage and nurture your success, you may find yourself in the position of having to continually explain to Interviewers why you only lasted a few months with many of your previous Employers. Live and Learn is a motto, not a guarantee. Moving up the Learning Curve in a new position can be a difficult and frustrating experience, especially when you are attempting to pick up on so many other factors: the social dynamics of your coworkers and supervisors, turf wars, pay inequities, etc. And most Supervisors are not trained to be teachers. They have only a fuzzy understanding of how to adjust tasks so that Employee's frustration levels are high enough to keep them motivated to learn, but not so high that new Employees give up or resort to blameshifting.

    While you certainly don't want to indicate in Hiring Interview that "I can't possibly do this Job without someone telling me what to do", you can approach the question of Professional Development. Employers drool over themselves when you convince them that you are motivated, have initiative, and are self-directed - how can they be confident that you can step in and do the Job if you don't believe it either? Find out about company Mentoring programs before the Hiring Interview, and use this information in weighing your future chances for success at this particular Job.

    -Mark Poppen

    Take Home Pay

    November 16, 1998

    Pay is not always in the form of an hourly wage, or the number written on your paycheck at the end of every pay period. Compensation comes in many forms, from Health Care Benefits to Pension Plans, from Flextime to Day Care. In some situations you may want to lower the amount you are being paid so that your tax consequences won't be so severe at the beginning of next year. Avoided expenses (or dollars saved) are worth more than taxable income (dollars earned).

    These topics are good fodder when first negotiating your salary. Your Prospective Employer may be stuck with budgetary constraints imposed from above. You will rarely be paid more than someone on a higher level of the Corporate ladder, but it is worth considering what other perks are available. Perhaps you can get enough work done each week by making calls while in transition to and from work to take Friday afternoons off. Turning commute time into work credit could make a huge difference in your week.

    Employers, especially of small companies, would rather have your salary lower (surprise, surprise) so they don't have to make such large matching payments for unemployment insurance, social security, and withholding taxes. Taking company stock, products and/or services, even use of company vehicles are all good ways to lower your salary while still getting paid the amount you need.

    After you determine how much you need to live on, try to determine how much you can get. Somewhere between these two figures is a fair, living wage. If the new position is preparing you for your next level up, then you might be willing to forego pushing for the highest possible wage. Two resources below list salary ranges for a number of Jobs: has over 150 different categories with salary averages. also lists salaries for a wide variety of positions.

    Finally, don't be afraid to simply ask people how much they earn at their Job. What form is their compensation in? How do they compare the benefits to cash in hand (or deductions from taxable income)? Part of Informational Interviewing when researching what field you're trying to break into should focus on pay, form of compensation, and the ingenious ways your future colleagues are improving their quality of life and take home pay, without pricing themselves out of their respective Jobs.

    -Mark Poppen


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