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.

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.

What Not to Do When Applying for Jobs

Graduating from college is an exciting first step into the real world. It opens the door to finally pursue your desired career path. Starting down that path isn’t as simple as it seems. Landing a job can be as challenging as surviving final exams.

Job seekers can sabotage their chances for being hired through making avoidable mistakes while applying for a job. Going from college grad to working professional starts by creating a road map for success.

Resumes and Cover Letters

You make your first impression with a hiring manager through a resume or cover letter. If either document is littered with typos, poor grammar or meaningless filler, the only impression you will make is a bad one.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics noted that hiring managers and recruiters spend as little as 30 seconds reviewing each resume and cover letter they receive. That is a small window to draw their attention for the right reasons.

A cover letter should only contain essential nuts and bolts. Limit it to 3-4 paragraphs describing why you are sending the letter, how you heard about the job opening and why you are qualified for this particular job.

Resumes should contain your contact information at the top of the page. It should be no longer than one page and should contain your objective, work experience, education and any applicable skills, honors, awards and licenses.

Avoid including meaningless filler. If information has nothing to do with the job at hand, a hiring manager or recruiter will not care about it.

Online Reputation

Posting photos from a wild sorority mixer or an outrageous spring break trip on a social media account may seem harmless. The only problem is hiring managers and recruiters also use social media. Seeing those things will make them to think twice about bringing you aboard — no matter how good your resume looks.

Monster notes that how you portray yourself online and how others portray you can limit your job prospects if it puts you in a bad light.

Cleaning up your online reputation matters when you start into a job search. You want to eradicate the bad things that might turn up in search engine results. If you need assistance in wiping your slate clean, getting professional help can make the difference.

smiling businesswoman interviewing with businessman in office

Companies such as Reputation.com protect and improve online reputations for both individuals and businesses through creating, optimizing and monitoring their online information.

Job Interviews

Appearance and attitude are everything in a job interview. It feels comfortable to hang out all day a bathrobe and slippers. Showing up to an interview in that outfit, on the other hand, isn’t the smartest course of action.

Forbes reported that employers usually decide if a candidate is right for the job within the first 10 seconds of meeting them. Dress for success. Avoid wearing disheveled or revealing clothing. A clean and professional outfit gives an impression that your personality matches your attire.

A good attitude is essential during an interview. If you come across as arrogant about past accomplishments and current skills, interviewers may not see you as a team member. Failure to research the company or offer details about your education and experience give an impression that you are too unprepared or lazy to function well as an employee.

22 Questions to Ask, Answer & Avoid in Every Interview

Direct Marketing Crucial For Small Business Growth

An interview is a short period of time jam packed with information that will inevitably decide whether you’re offered a job or not. While employers are busy trying to gather details about your skills and personality, you should come prepared to do the same. To show that you’re an ideal candidate and to learn if the company is a good fit for you be prepared to ask, answer and avoid these questions in an interview:

Questions to Ask:

Instead of just preparing to answer questions, you should come ready to ask some yourself. Be careful not to overtake the interview, but do ask questions about topics that are unclear or forgotten. An employer/employee relationship should be give and take. While you want to show you’re a good fit for the position, you need to ask questions to know if you truly are. A dull candidate is easily forgotten an interactive one will be remembered, and know what’s expected of them if they get the call.

  • What are the day to day duties of the job?
  • Are there weeks or months that will be busier than others?
  • What are some of the biggest challenges in the role?
  • What are your expectations for the person you’re hiring?
  • What kind of training opportunities are available?
  • Does the company promote from within?
  • How would you describe the company’s culture?
  • What is your experience or background with the company?

Questions to Answer:

Even if, they aren’t asked, you need to answer questions that make it clear you’re the perfect candidate for the position. When you apply for jobs online, it’s easy to look good on paper. Show employers you have even better communication skills in person. Naturally work the answers to these questions into your conversation with the hiring managers throughout your interview. If necessary, find an appropriate time at the end of the interview to reiterate what you’ve said or demonstrate what you have to offer, even if they didn’t ask.

  • What makes you a good fit for this company?
  • What kind of background and skills can you offer us?
  • Are you consistent, reliable and a team player?
  • What are your biggest strengths?
  • Why should we pick you above any other candidate?

Questions to Avoid Asking or Answering:

Nothing screams like a siren or waves like a red flag than an interviewee asking how much he’ll get paid or when she can take time off. Employers aren’t interested in candidates who are only worried about themselves. Wait for the employer to bring up salary or hours.

  • What does your company do?
  • Do you do background checks?
  • How many sick days do I get off?
  • How quickly can I be promoted?
  • Is it easy to get away with stuff around here?
  • Can I borrow your phone to call my ride?
  • Are you a U.S. citizen?
  • Are you married?
  • Is English your first language?

Likewise, if a hiring manager asks pointed questions about your retirement plan, legal status, religious practices or personal life, you don’t always have to answer. In some cases, it’s just a misdirected way of trying to create small talk or even satisfy curiosity, but many times it could be an illegal way of discriminating you because of your age, race, religion or sexual orientation. Avoid asking or answering these questions in an interview, and possibly reconsider if the company is still somewhere you’re interested in working.

Talk Less, Listen More

Recently while I was eating lunch at Salsaritas, I sat next to a young man, maybe 25, being interviewed for a job by two older men, in their 30’s, I’d guess.

This particular conversation was so annoying that it inspired me to write about what NOT to do in a job interview, and what to avoid in a boss.

Between the young man being interviewed and the main guy doing the interview, there wasn’t a split second of silence. The two kept talking over each other as if it were a competition. I can’t imagine how frustrated the 3rd guy was, assuming he was there to ask questions, too.

As a job candidate, this is the last thing you want to do in an interview. If you tend to be a “talker”, practice beforehand and make a real conscious effort to talk less and listen more. You don’t ever want to talk over the person doing the interview. It’s obnoxious. If they start to interject something while you’re giving an answer, pause long enough for them to do so.  They may even interrupt you repeatedly, and that’s okay. They’re the boss, or in this case, the potential boss, so no matter how many times they interject or interrupt, always stop talking and listen intently to their comments or questions.

Now, if it gets to a point that the person doing the interviewing is talking too much, and if you don’t know already, find out if you’ll be reporting to that person, because you may want to think long and hard before you go to work for someone who talks incessantly.  A boss that talks too much in an interview might do the same thing at work, and that may distract you, or keep you from doing your best job. It also reveals they aren’t very professional and thus, reflects poorly on the business they represent.

This may seem like common sense, but I’ve experienced it in the past. Talking just to hear yourself talk, or because you think talking that much shows you’re the smartest person in the room does nothing but make you look self-centered.

Tips for First Time Job Seekers

Thinking about looking for your first job?  Knowing how to go about it can be a bit intimidating but as with so many endeavors, get your ducks in a row, research, be prepared, and your search will go so much smoother.

First, explore options and identify what types of jobs you’d be interested in doing, or do you want to start your own business?   There are probably more options for teens than you might think.

Some common options for businesses or positions that require little or no experience are….

Retail positions (clothing stores, hardware stores, grocery stores, etc), Fast food, Restaurants (host, hostess, waiter, waitress, busboy), Day care centers, Vet offices, Fitness clubs, Amusement parks, Summer camps, Recreational facilities (lifeguard, concession stands)

Or, you may chose to start your own service.  It can be as simple as….

Babysitting, Petsitting, Housesitting, Yardwork, Errand running, Cleaning houses, or Tutoring.

Or, you may want to explore becoming a bonafied teenager entreprenuer. Business ideas might include things like….

Making jewelry and selling online;  gathering unwanted stuff from friends and relatives then selling on Ebay; or becoming a social media consultant.   The sky is the limit. Here’s an article from Business Insider with more ideas.

If you decide you want to apply for a job, find out what your state age requirements are.  Some states require working papers, or an employment/age certificate, if you are under the age of eighteen.

Help Wanted signMost places will require you fill out a job application, so it’s a good idea to print some applications off at home and fill them out as practice before you start applying for real.

For traditional job applications, use blue or black inkWrite legibily.  For any application, traditional or online, double-check SPELLING. (Don’t abbreviate or use text-speak).  Ensure dates and details are ACCURATE. Know the dates you attended school and the addresses of the schools.  Never embellish or lie.  Be prepared to list your hours/days of availability, when you can start, and desired position and pay.  (Not all will ask but it’s good to be prepared.)  Have a list of three references with contact information for each.  References don’t have to be professional.  They can be from somewhere you’ve volunteered before, church, neighbors, coaches, or whoever you think will speak to your character and work ethic.

Next, you can search for openings by checking with your school guidance office, looking at help wanted ads (online and in newspapers or publications), using social media, ie, post on Facebook that you’re looking and ask if anyone has any leads, networking with family, friends, peers,  and of course, hit the pavement.  Drive (or walk) around looking for Help Wanted signs or drop in places and inquire.  Don’t ever be afraid to ask.  Potential employers love teens who show initiative and what better way to demonstrate your friendliness and confidence than by walking into a business, requesting to speak to a manager, introducing yourself (with a firm handshake and eye contact), and asking if they are hiring.

For teens applying online for jobs, Snag-a-job is a comprehensive resource for a variety of openings and you can sign-up for email alerts.  Or, you may have a specific place in mind. Visit the company’s website and search for available positions.  Even if you do apply for a job online, it’s a good idea to follow-up in person.   Fill out a second traditional job application, apply Application Bling, and hand it to the manager.  Nothing beats seeing a potential employee face-to-face, and repetition is often good, too, as long as it respects the manager’s time and doesn’t get annoying.

Finally, be prepared to talk to a manager on the spot should they decide to interview you right then and there.  Practice with your brother, sister, friend, or parent ahead of time.  Practice with yourself in the mirror.  What are your strengths?  How do you express your weaknesses so that they sound like strengths?  What is your goal?  If you want to earn your own money for a car, or college, or whatever, be sure to say that. Employers of teens love motivated, goal-driven employees.  Also, they will be more likely to hire teens with specific qualities that set them apart from the crowd, like the ability to take ownership.  Adults often perceive teens as shucking off responsibility and blaming others when things don’t go well.  Owning a problem and being accountable are qualities that reflect very well on a teen’s character.

Lastly, be sure to take the time to make up some Application Bling® to apply to your job applications.  Click on the CREATE YOUR CLING menu above for additional ideas on how to word and what qualities to include.  Many times, when someone comes in to turn in an application, the employee who accepts it simply chunks it into a pile of job applications that all look the same.  When bling is applied, it immediately grabs attention and the employee may take it straight to the hiring manager.  If they don’t, it’s sure to grab the manager’s attention when they go through the pile!

Be sure to comment below if you have additional ideas of suggestions, or if you try using Application Bling, let us know how it works.  Good luck!