Why CEO’s Should Require HR to Reply to Follow-up Emails

Many know the feeling. You interview for your dream job and think it couldn’t have gone any better. You get a tour of the department, meet the team and talk specifics about salary & benefits. You ask how soon they expect to make a decision and they reply immediately. Excited about the inevitable offer, you send a handwritten thank-you note later that day, and then wait for the good news.

A week passes, and you hear nothing. Though you are a little less confident, you convince yourself not to read anything in to the lack of response. You send an email to the HR department to check the status of filling the position and anxiously await some sort of reply. And again, nothing. With each passing day, your excitement diminishes and is replaced with frustration.

Frustration

Don’t Take It Personally

You shouldn’t. This is standard operating procedure for many company’s HR departments, large and small. They are inundated with email. They are overworked, often times stressed out performing multiple roles within the company from dealing with disgruntled employees, to handling complicated insurance reforms, to training new hires, to enforcing policies and procedures. That’s just to name a few. They can’t possibly reply to every single job candidate who is following up.

Or can they? Should they?

Why It’s Important to Respond

In a time when advertising budgets are decreasing, more and more companies are opting for a good public relations strategy. PR is a cost-effective way to gain credibility, to gain and maintain a favorable public image for a company and to build a great brand. The Public Relations Society of America defines PR this way… “Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”

Organizations spend countless hours crafting their PR plans. They identify their target audience, write press releases, host events, sponsor little league teams, support non-profits, update websites, and/or utilize social media all in an effort to engage with the public and generate a favorable public image.

But, are they overlooking something? They may have identified key influencers – writers and bloggers, for instance, but they often forget about those individuals who have had direct interaction with their HR departments and been left with a bad taste in their mouth. Just one annoyed job candidate with a large social media network can taint a company’s image.

How Replying Can Be an Effective PR Strategy

With a little bit of effort, and minimal expense, a company can actually encourage a more favorable image just by having a policy in place of replying to job candidates’ follow-up emails. Even if the news isn’t good, candidates appreciate someone taking the time to get back with them. It doesn’t have to come from the overworked HR manager. It can be a role for an administrative staffer, for example, that simply acknowledges receipt of the email and gives a polite, personal response.

It’s not complicated. It’s simply an easy opportunity to give an individual a positive impression of a company, and potentially diffuse any negative word-of-mouth, which in this day and time, can be a highly effective PR strategy.

Should You Be Worried About Background Checks?

Should I even care about Background Check

In almost all cases, if you are asked to give permission to have your personal background checked, this is a very good sign that you are the candidate that the business is looking for. A business is certainly not going to put someone they are not interested in through a background check…these checks cost money. So, if asked to sign a release, you are definitely in the final stages of the hiring process.

What Will Employers Find Out About Me?

Once you have signed the release, you will probably be wondering what employers can find out from a background check. Generally they will be able to see your former places of employment, your former addresses, past education, criminal history and possibly credit history, depending on where you live. Some things that they will not be able to see, unless you specifically give them permission, are your past salaries, reason for termination, your past employee reviews, your grades and a criminal history over 10 years old.

What are Employers Looking For?

Many candidates will also wonder what employers are actually looking for when they run background checks. Essentially they are looking to make sure that candidates are being truthful with them about their background and experience. Did you really attend that college? Was your job title really what you said it was? Do you really not have a criminal background? All of these things can be determined through a background check. Though it is true that you may be an upstanding citizen, and you may feel offended that they don’t believe what you say, employers weren’t born yesterday. Way too many people lie on resumes, and as you can see, it affects us all, one way or another.

Red Flags and Concerns

You may have something in your background that is concerning to you or that may be a red flag to an employer. In this situation, it is imperative that you are upfront and honest with your potential employer. This includes a criminal history, the fact that you may have taken classes but not earned a degree and of course always be honest about past job titles. You can be certain that an employer is going to appreciate the honesty that you give them much more than a lie.

Background checks are a practice that is here to stay, so if you are going to be in the work force, you will need to get used to them…as they can be a very valuable tool for employers to find their ideal candidates.

Michael Klazema

About the author:

Michael Klazema has been developing products for pre-employment screening and improving online customer experiences in the background screening industry since 2009. He is the lead author and editor for Backgroundchecks.com. He lives in Dallas, TX with his family and enjoys the rich culinary histories of various old and new world countries.

Get an Education That Leads to a Real, Money-Making Career

businessman with horseshoe magnet collecting money , eps10 vecto

Deciding where to go to college and what to major in is an exciting time. After years of taking classes that were selected by school administrators and not by you, now you get to choose where to go and, for the most part, which classes to take. We all know the advice to “follow your passion” while pursuing a college diploma or trade certification, and yes, it’s a noble idea. But it’s also a pretty good idea to think about the financial benefits of your future job—the world doesn’t need another barista with multiple degrees. Take the time to select a program that will not only make you happy, but will also help you earn a decent salary. The following programs can help you find a lucrative position:

Pharmacy Technician

Pharmacy techs help pharmacists fill prescriptions, update and manage customer records and deal with insurance companies. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the job outlook for this field is growing at a “faster than average” rate, and the average pharmacy tech earned $29,320 per year in 2012. According to the online career school Penn Foster, which offers a pharmacy technician career diploma, most graduates go on to work at companies like Rite Aid, Wal-Mart and CVS pharmacies.

Photo by bartsz via Flickr

Aircraft Mechanics

If you’re mechanically inclined and like the idea of working on airplanes, this job might be for you. The Federal Aviation Administration lists the basic requirements on its website, but prepare to to take a series of exams and have a year and a half of practical experience first. The average salary for this job paid $55,230 a year in 2012, according to the BLS.

Auto Insurance Appraisers

Insurance appraisers determine the extent of damage done to a vehicle and whether the company should pay the claim. Appraisers must complete a certificate program in auto damage appraisal to learn how to correctly assess vehicle damage. Appraisers’ annual salaries averaged $59,850 in 2012, according to the BLS.

Commercial Pilot

This well-paying profession is perfect for people who want to fly a helicopter or plane on a more flexible schedule. This includes traffic helicopter pilots, pilots who transport people to the hospital, those who spray crops or other fields with herbicides, and more. Salaries for commercial pilots vary widely, but according to the BLS, the median salary is in the ballpark of $70,000 a year. This career requires a pilot’s license, which may be acquired by working with a private teacher or a civilian or military flight school.

Photo by elias_daniel via Flickr

Petroleum Engineer

Smithsonian Magazine notes that eight of the 10 college majors that lead to high-paying careers have the word “engineering” in them. Petroleum engineers earned an average annual salary of $130,280 in 2012, the BLS reports, making it the most lucrative bachelor’s degree a college student can earn. Other engineering-related college degrees that can lead to high paying jobs include aerospace engineering, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering and mining and mineral engineering.

Scammers Prey on New Job Seekers – Learn How to Avoid Becoming a Victim

In 2014, job seeking has far more to do with sending lots of email traffic than pounding pavement. The prevalance of electronic communication allows job seekers to send resume/CV information to numerous employers, without so much as stepping foot out the front door.

This convenience does not come without risk however, and there are some common behavioral pitfalls that modern job seekers should avoid. Below are a few things to look out for to ensure you don’t fall for a job scam.

1) Never send Personally Identifying Information out through Email

Personal information of this kind refers to Social Security numbers, a driver’s license, or banking account numbers. At some point you will need to provide an employer this type of personal info, but the key factor is timing. If the employer emails you an application that has an entry space for your SSN or other personally identifying information, just leave those spaces blank and inform your employer you’re not comfortable divulging that information just yet.

The proper time to supply an SSN or similar information is much further along in the hiring process. Once you’ve had one or more face-to-face interviews and it appears that they view you as a likely candidate to fill the position opening. At that time an employer may have a legitimate reason to request your SSN for background check and/or payment processing purposes. The important thing to remember is this request for information should be done in person, not through an email stream.

2) Always research the company you’re applying to

Most good job candidates will do this anyways in order to prepare themselves for a potential interview, but it’s good practice to mitigate risk of scams too. Are you familiar with this potential employer? Even if you are, run a quick search on the company you’re applying to, as that extra five minutes can tell you a lot. If this is a commonly used scam, there will more than likely be message boards and other hits on your search that will tip you off about other job seekers being scammed by this particular “employer.” Even if it is a legitimate business, doing a search will no doubt reveal consumer reviews, which may give you insight into the company’s business practices.

3) Craigslist can be your best friend or worst enemy

Craigslist is one of the most common places job seekers go to find employment opportunities. The reasons for it’s popularity are easy enough to postulate – it’s widely used and completely free. This means potentially limitless exposure to employment opportunities, but it also means exposure to scammers, hackers, and other internet thieves. Exercise extreme caution when applying for jobs on this page. Not sure about a post? Check out the email address. Does it match the handle that contacts use on the actual company website? Is there a company website to be found? Is there other information, such as contact info, or a physical address? If you have trouble finding these things, that could be a good indication that the posting is actually a scam. For more ideas on how to avoid Craigslist scams, visit their “avoiding scams” webpage, or check out the latest news from a prominent anti-identity theft company.

Now That You’ve Graduated: Best States For Young Adult Employment

With fewer jobs available and tuition rates rising, the pressure to quickly find employment and pay off student loans appears worse than ever in U.S. history. Seven in 10 students graduate with loan debt, with an average value of nearly $30,000, according to ProjectonStudentDebt.org. The key to getting a job may not be your degree, however. It may be where you live. What states maximize the chances of getting a job upon graduation?

North Dakota

The oil boom of the Bakken shale formation in North Dakota (as well as Montana and parts of Canada) has created a huge upswing in the state’s economy. It’s not the first oil boom in America’s history and likely won’t be the last, but it’s similar to many others in the nation’s history as having higher average wages make employers drive up their salaries in order to attract qualified workers. The rise in wages has gotten so high that Wal-Mart is offering associates $14 per hour (twice the federal minimum wage that their employees get in nearly every other state) and still having trouble stocking shelves. An educational background in petroleum engineering or organic chemistry can lead to six-figure wages upon graduation, but other fields like middle management, accounting and marketing all have positions that need to be filled as soon as possible.

Photo by Vaughan Weather via Wikimedia Commons

Colorado

The Centennial State has made the headlines in the last year for their legalization of marijuana, but it’s not just recreational cannabis that’s causing the good financial times in Colorado. Moody’s reports that the Colorado economy ranks fifth in overall growth in the nation, well beating out the national average with housing prices only slightly higher than the national average. Hospitality management is a great career choice for those wanting to move to Colorado, since hotels and resorts need skilled managers and operators in order to accommodate the millions of visitors who come to the state each year for skiing, hiking, white-water rafting, rock climbing and mountain biking. When you’re looking at your first place to live after four years in the dorms, there are many affordable living options for apartments in Denver and other major cities. Since the Denver metro area is the largest in the state and centrally located, you can conveniently live in the city even if you work elsewhere in the state.

Photo by Ken Lund via Flickr

Florida

A huge number of industries come together in the Sunshine State, ranging from orange farming to commercial shipping. Miami, Jacksonville and Tampa Bay all fall within the top-25 busiest port cities in the nation. Florida’s a growing destination for younger adults after being known as the “retirement home” for elder Americans for decades. More recent graduates and young professionals search out warmer climates and rewarding, alternative careers. Moving to the largest peninsula in the lower 48 is fairly easy, since the Florida housing market has been heating up and more people are looking for new units and new vacancies. In fact, pursuing a career as a realtor in Florida can be quite rewarding. Those with degrees in property management, real estate or property law can find themselves not only living for less, but profiting from the state’s housing market.

Photo by Ellen Levy Finch via Wikimedia Commons

Sneaky Tips for Building an Affordable Business Wardrobe

Smiling Business woman hold white shopping bag.

You might have the mandatory three years of experience in your intended field beyond your degree, but it’s a good bet everyone behind you in line for the same job has it too.

The clothing you wear can make or break your job interview. Dressing up is mandatory in today’s job market. The competition for a limited number of jobs is just too intense to show up looking too casual. Make yourself stand out from the pack by dressing the part of a business professional from day one.

Interchangeable Parts

As long as you have a few standard pieces that coordinate well together, no one need ever know you don’t have a large wardrobe. If you stick with neutral colors — white, black, gray, tan, or cream — you can mix and match your wardrobe pieces accordingly. Use accessories to add color — a red tie, a patterned scarf or a colorful choker that matches your sensible heels. Following this format will net you a decent business wardrobe without breaking the bank. The closet of every busy executive should have the following pieces at minimum:

  • Several Neutral-Color Dress Shirts or Tops
  • Suit Jacket or Blazer in Black, Gray or Navy Blue
  • Several Pair of Dress Slacks, Pants or Fingertip-or-Longer Length Skirt
  • One Pair Each of Heels, Flats and Dress Boots
  • Trouser socks or Pantyhose
  • Fun Accessories

If you stock your closet with these basics, getting through a work week without doing laundry should be a breeze.

Thrifty Spending

Use your time off to shop online and in-store for great deals on business attire. Retailers such as Macy’s and other local department stores often run seasonal sales on famous brand clothing. Use the change of seasons to stock up on cute, affordable basics at a fraction of the regular cost. Signing up for online and mobile coupon alerts can also save you big bucks on your business wardrobe.

  • RetailMeNot: This self-proclaimed digital coupon marketplace now features a mobile app in addition to its online printed coupons. Sign up for free and get the skinny on great exclusive deals at your favorite retailers.
  • Ebates: This shopping site pays you money back for every dollar you spend shopping its online partner stores. If you time it right, you can get as much as 8 percent back on your clothing purchases through your favorite retailers when you shop online through Ebates.

Custom Navigation

According to Michael Glassman, creative director at O Magazine, the perimeters of the store offers up the best deals. Store managers are keen to the fact that customers tend to walk straight into the center of a store to shop. Accordingly, this is where they merchandise all the latest, greatest and most expensive fashions. By shopping the store perimeters first, you’ll find all the best sale and clearance racks and save yourself a ton of money in the process.

Outlets as an Outlet

Famous brand outlet stores often feature the same clothing you’ll find in designer shops for much less. It may be that the sizing is off, the buttons are sewn on crooked or the manufacturer used the wrong color of thread. More often than not, the flaws you’ll find when buying seconds are indistinguishable to the naked eye. And if you can’t see the flaw up close, your co-workers certainly aren’t going to spot it across the conference room. Meanwhile, you’ll save big bucks. Using the local outlets as a resource for building a dream business wardrobe makes good sense.

The Top Tools & Resources to Land an Awesome Job

The average American job hunt currently takes about 36 weeks, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. If you’re facing nine months of lost wages, invest in a solid strategy to shorten your job search. Focus on these key areas to increase your odds of finding a job:

Career Guidance

It’s harder to find a job when you’re not sure what you’re looking for. More than half of Americans want to switch careers, a Harris survey found, and only 14 percent feel they have found their dream job. Among employees in their 20s, 80 percent want to change careers. By the time workers reach their 40s, 54 percent still want a career change. This lack of direction makes it hard to focus a job hunt.

Get career guidance to steer you in the right direction. If you’re still in school or have alumni privileges, you can use your school’s career counseling resources and job placement opportunities. If you’re out of school, you can find similar guidance from career counselors and centers. You can also use online resources, such as vocational and personality tests. Some tests are free, while others provide premium career assessment for as little as $9.95—well worth the investment, we think.

Your Skills

As you gain career guidance, you may find you need to continue your education to achieve your goals. In some cases this may involve going back to school to earn a degree. In others, it may mean attending a workshop, taking one class or reading a book to pick up a specific skill set.

To help finance your educational endeavors, the U.S. Department of Education administers the federal student aid website. Several types of financing options are available, including federal programs and private funding sources. Begin with the FAFSA (the Free Application for Federal Student Aid). Examples of private funding options include school channel loans and direct-to-consumer loans. You may be able to raise the necessary capital by selling your future structured settlement or annuity payments to a company like J.G. Wentworth.

Keep in mind that many universities now offer free massive open online courses (MOOCs) which you can use to build and enhance your skill set, too.

Polish Your Resume

The quality of your resume is a key factor in determining whether your applications and inquiries result in interviews. Consider contacting a professional resume writer to help you develop a professional resume. You can contact experienced resume writers through an individual writer’s website or through a professional organization such as the National Resume Writers’ Association.

Prepare for Interviews

The success of your job hunt ultimately stands or falls on the strength of your interview. Be prepared. In addition to buying formal clothes, you might consider buying a quality webcam for virtual interviews—a survey by the staffing agency Manpower found that 18 percent of job seekers were interviewed via Skype in 2013. You can buy a high-definition webcam with good audio for under $40.

Wearing Glasses to an Interview May Give You an Edge

You’ve got the qualifications to do the job perfectly; unfortunately, so do 50 other people for every job you interview for. According to one study, 75 percent of America’s work force is either actively seeking or open to a new job. That’s a lot of competition, so even tiny improvements that impress hiring managers are worth doing to distinguish yourself from the pack. Wearing glasses to an interview is a proven method for giving yourself a signature look, making yourself memorable in the eyes of any interviewer.

Down to Business

Wearing a pair of glasses can signal to a hiring professional that you’re here for serious business and won’t indulge in frivolous behavior. A good portion of adults believe wearing glasses makes you look more professional. No matter what your eyesight situation, you’ll be perceived as not taking the time for vain concepts like contact lenses, but instead prefer to concentrate on the important details such as intelligently handling the job.

Look Smarter

Sure, we all know it’s a myth. People of all intelligence levels have different types of eyesight problems, or lack of them. Needing glasses has absolutely nothing to do with how brainy you are. No matter how much we may know it in our heads, people with glasses still look smarter than those without. It’s cultural conditioning and very hard to break. Give yourself an advantage in a job interview situation by donning a pair of glasses. The odds are good that you’ll be taken more seriously as an intelligent applicant, and thus more able to perform your job duties.

Look Current

Many modern workplaces like their employees to look current and up-to-date, and glasses have been a hot fashion accessory for years. Check out Hollywood stories with pictures of your favorite stars and you’re bound to see a lot of them sporting glasses on their time off. Optometry manufacturers know this and produce lines of glasses frames with designers from old-school classics like Armani and Coach to newer stars like Tory Burch and Maui Jim. Brightly colored frames that match outfits are all the rage, as are super-serious Buddy Holly clones with anti-style chic.

Don’t Usually Wear Them?

What if your eyesight is perfect or you usually wear contact lenses? It’s perfectly fine to buy a pair of glasses frames with clear lenses and wear them, just as you would a necklace or any other fashion accessory. You can buy your contacts from Visiondirect.com as usual, then add glasses with clear glass lenses that won’t affect your vision. Don’t make the mistake of trying to go cheaper and wearing frames with no lenses. That just ends up looking like a costume. Clear plastic or glass lenses are very inexpensive and worth the cost for the professional look you’ll portray.

Have a Criminal Record? Here’s How to Deal with it with Employers

white collar 2It is always good for the potential employee to perform their own background check prior to applying for a job. Having a criminal record can haunt a person for the rest of his or her life. More and more people are running background checks as a precautionary measure before they proceed with any dealings with a person. This is especially true in an employment situation. Employers will run a routine background check on a person to make sure that there are not any red flags raised. Worker turnover is one of the most expensive aspects of a business and running background checks prior to hiring an employee helps to mitigate this risk to a large degree.

There are Options

Having a criminal record is not the end of the world though. There are steps that employers as well as volunteer and sports organizations can take to help increase the chances or hiring the right person. The first step that should always be taken is to be forthcoming with information regarding the criminal record. The employers, volunteer and sports organizations are going to run a background check anyway so do not wait for them to find out before addressing the issue. Waiting for them to find the criminal record can reflect even more negatively on the person because they may feel that the potential employee is trying to hide this information. If they are trying to hide this information, then what else might they try to hide?

Be Upfront

The best thing to do is to address the issue head on. During the interview process, be up front and clear about what is on the criminal record. Give a detailed list of all of the information that is on the criminal record and then offer explanations as to how this happened. The employer can take this additional information given and then make a clearer evaluation on whether or not to make the hire. If they feel that the crime was accidental or just something that is out of normal character for the potential employee, they may be willing to look past that.

One thing to keep in mind is the possibility of getting parts of the criminal record expunged before applying for a job. Always review your own criminal background check report to see if records are eligible for expungement. If they are eligible then take the steps to get them expunged before applying for the job.

Benefits of Expungement

There are more benefits beyond getting a job that make expungement appealing. One of those is loans. There are some lenders that will look poorly on a criminal record as they believe it to be evidence of a failure to pay back a loan. Expunging a record will make that process easier on the individual.

Living arrangements are another area where people can benefit from expungement. It is not uncommon for apartments or landlords to have a background checks on their tenants. By having a record expunged, it can make it much easier to omit a past criminal record.

There is often a stigma that can come with a criminal record. By choosing to eliminate a criminal record, it can provide a peace of mind for the individual.

About the Author

Michael KlazemaMichael Klazema has been developing products for pre-employment screening and improving online customer experiences in the background screening industry since 2009. He is the lead author and editor for a background checks blog and community. He lives in Dallas, TX with his family and enjoys the rich culinary histories of various old and new world countries.

Stand Out in the Crowd at the Next Networking Event

It’s not uncommon for you to get a job because of networking or get a connection a job because of your referral. Entrepreneur reported on a 2012 Referral Institute survey that states “92 percent of 12,000 people said that networking played an important role in their success.” Build your networking skills and enhance how you interact with people face-to-face while job searching or promoting your business by using these pointers.

Take It Offline

In this age of digital communication, it’s easy to spend hours in front of the computer emailing, chatting and using social media to stay in touch. Once you make a connection in your industry, take your professional contact offline as soon as you can. Offer to meet for coffee and chat about business. Suggest meeting at a local networking event. Get yourself physically in front of the person as soon as you can to build a relationship — this is where networking truly begins.

Share Business Cards

Always have business cards with you, and use a business card holder so they stay clean. As you prepare for design and business card printing, keep in mind that white card stock and blank backgrounds have a positive aesthetic effect. It also creates a space for people to make notes. Start with standard fonts and no more than two colors — minimalism is eye-catching. The goal is not to impress people with elaborate design skills. The goal is to provide easy-to-access contact information.

Also, include a unique title on your business card and use it as a conversation starter. For instance, replace “graphics design artist” with “graphics design collaborator.” Its edginess will compel people to inquire about your specialties and experience.

Practice Your Pitch

The 30-second elevator speech is your first impression. At a minimum, it should cover your name, title, what role you perform, and the impact of your expertise. Keep it under 30 seconds. Practice it in front of the mirror until it flows easily and effortlessly. If you can deliver it flawlessly in response to someone asking you, “So, what do you do?” then you’re already selling yourself. Your goal is to interest people and have them invest in you.

Listen More Than You Speak

As you network, engage people by listening intently, says Michael Leimbach, Ph.D., in Training Magazine. People remember (and respect) good listeners more than those who egotistically dominate a conversation. Your interest and curiosity about another person, their job and their company fosters good rapport and invites you to become part of someone else’s network.

Offer to Help

Leave an impression by offering a way to help a new connection. Present yourself as a giver, rather than a taker. Avoid statements such as, “Let me know if any jobs become available in your company,” which can be off-putting and a turn off. Before a networking event or meetup, ask yourself what value you can provide to others.