How to get a job (or not)

Birdjaguar

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Since many of you are or will be looking for work, I thought a thread of Q&A, advice or stories might be fun and helpful. Anyone can ask and anyone can answer. I am only the thread starter.

Asking good questions during an interview is a very strong strategy and few do it well. Here are 20 to consider asking for your next at your job interview. They are not original with me, though I have used some of them and would be impressed if I were asked any of them. Choose four or five that seem the most appropriate for the position or company in question.

Twenty best questions to ask your interviewer:

1. What's the biggest change your group has gone through in the last year? Does your group feel like the recession is over and things are getting better, or are things still pretty bleak?
2. If I get the job, how do I earn a "gold star" on my performance review? What are the key accomplishments you'd like to see in this role over the next year?
3. What's your (or my future boss') leadership style?
4. About which competitor are you most worried?
5. How does sales/operations/technology/marketing/finance work around here? (I.e., groups other than the one you're looking to work in.)
6. What types of people are successful here? What types of people are not?
7. What's one thing that's key to this company's success that somebody from outside the company wouldn't know about?
8. How did you get your start in this industry? Why do you stay?
9. What are your group's best and worst working relationships with other groups in the company?
10. What keeps you up at night? What's your biggest worry these days?
11. What's the timeline for making a decision on this position? When should I get back in touch with you?
12. These are tough economic times, and every position is precious when it comes to the budget. Why did you decide to hire somebody for this position instead of the many other roles / jobs you could have hired for? What about this position made your prioritize it over others?
13. What is your reward system? Is it a star system / team-oriented / equity-based/bonus-based/ "attaboy!"-based? Why is that your reward system? What do you guys hope to get out of it, and what actually happens when you put it into practice? What are the positives and the negatives of your reward system? If you could change any one thing, what would it be?
14. What information is shared with the employees (revenues, costs, operating metrics)? Is this an open-book shop, or do you play it closer to the vest? How is information shared? How do I get access to the information I need to be successful in this job?
15. If we have a very successful 2012, what would that look like? What will have happened over the next 12 months? How does this position help achieve that?
16. How does the company / my future boss do performance reviews? How do I make the most of the performance review process to ensure that I'm doing the best I can for the company?
17. What is the rhythm to the work around here? Is there a time of year that it's all hands on deck and we're pulling all-nighters, or is it pretty consistent throughout the year? How about during the week / month? Is it pretty evenly spread throughout the week/month, or are there crunch days?
18. What type of industry/functional/skills-based experience and background are you looking for in the person who will fill this position? What would the "perfect" candidate look like? How do you assess my experience in comparison? What gaps do you see?
19. In my career, I've primarily enjoyed working with big/small/growing/independent/private/public/ family-run companies. If that's the case, how successful will I be at your firm?
20. Who are the heroes at your company? What characteristics do the people who are most celebrated have in common with each other? Conversely, what are the characteristics that are common to the promising people you hired, but who then flamed out and failed or left? As I'm considering whether or not I'd be successful here, how should I think about the experiences of the heroes and of the flame-outs?
21. What can I do to help you (my future boss) get a gold star on your review next year?
 
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downtown

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I was thinking about adding something like BirdJag.

I work in the staffing industry, and am the first guy that reads resumes for my company. I can answer other questions others may have about the hiring process
 

Synobun

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For a 17 year old writer, what is the best method to become noticed and/or produce successful works? Do you go the free publishing route online (where you advertise yourself), or do you go the hopeful route and send it in to a publishing house (which likely comes with a hefty fee and no guarantee of success)? Any tips and tricks?
 

Integral

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I was thinking about adding something like BirdJag.

I work in the staffing industry, and am the first guy that reads resumes for my company. I can answer other questions others may have about the hiring process

Top 5 things that make you throw a resume in the "insta-reject" pile.

Top 5 things that make you put the resume in the "we definitely need to give this person an interview" pile.
 

Archbob

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For a 17 year old writer, what is the best method to become noticed and/or produce successful works? Do you go the free publishing route online (where you advertise yourself), or do you go the hopeful route and send it in to a publishing house (which likely comes with a hefty fee and no guarantee of success)? Any tips and tricks?

Are you writing books or something? If your just looking to make a few bucks, I'd go to places like digital point and do some really cheap work first(like 1 penny per word for cheap fast-to-write articles).

Then I would try to land some better paying ones on sites like:

http://www.freelancewritinggigs.com/2011/11/freelance-writing-jobs-for-november-4-2011/
 

GenMarshall

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I was thinking about adding something like BirdJag.

I work in the staffing industry, and am the first guy that reads resumes for my company. I can answer other questions others may have about the hiring process
Functional Resumes for the long term unemployed. Is it more advantaged to use it over the traditional resume?
 

Synobun

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Are you writing books or something? If your just looking to make a few bucks, I'd go to places like digital point and do some really cheap work first(like 1 penny per word for cheap fast-to-write articles).

Then I would try to land some better paying ones on sites like:

http://www.freelancewritinggigs.com/2011/11/freelance-writing-jobs-for-november-4-2011/

Writing novels, yes.

I tried freelance writing for a long time, and didn't land a single one no matter what I did. I got close one time because a college speaker needed a speech writer, but he never contacted me on the date he said he would.

That's why I made sure to specify publication.
 

Birdjaguar

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Writing novels, yes.

I tried freelance writing for a long time, and didn't land a single one no matter what I did. I got close one time because a college speaker needed a speech writer, but he never contacted me on the date he said he would.

That's why I made sure to specify publication.

Have you tried elance.com?
 

squall78

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I'm pretty glad I don't have to write resumes no more. When I was looking for a part time job as a student a couple months ago it was tough. Craiglist postings, checking out all the big name companies, and I even went to the state hiring agency. Filled out my share of apps, and nothing. I had my resume looked over by the career counseling place in my college. I even had a couple of employee references as well...

Yeah it's tough out there.
 

Birdjaguar

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How did you land your current job?
 

squall78

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How did you land your current job?

by willing to be a grunt :)

I enlisted in the air guard to pay for school while I wait to get hired as a controller for the FAA. You get picked based on your qualifications, and you have to through an academy + OJT, and resumes aren't a huge thing.

If that doesn't work out, I'll probably commission as an officer for active duty.
 

Synobun

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Have you tried elance.com?

Hm, no I haven't, I've never heard of this site. Which is surprising because I trawled through Google results of freelance writing sites and had signed up on at least 8 except for one that required a fee (money is not a luxury I have).

I'll take a quick peek at this.

- - -

Watched the intro video, and took a very short gander at the Find Work section. Seems to show some promise. I am not hopeful that I'll get anything, but I suppose whenever I am not working on my novel and not doing life things (such as surgery), I could get signed up on this and see if I can find anything for a quick buck. Money would be a cool thing to have, regardless of what I'm doing.

However I am still very much primarily interested in novel publishing.

Edit: Just scrolled through the User Agreement and I can't even get on here unless I am eighteen years old. Oh well, thanks anyways.
 

Dreadnought

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I asked this in a previous thread and got some good answers, but I'll ask it again here because downtown specifically mentioned interviews and resumes.

Is someone with a BA in Economics viewed less highly than one with a BS in Economics?
 

Valka D'Ur

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It may seem trivial to some people, but... spelling counts (in resumes and cover letters). If you can't spell the company's name, or you single-space everything on your resume - the way Birdjaguar did in the OP - I would immediately toss said application in the garbage (and did, on a couple of occasions).
 

downtown

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For a 17 year old writer, what is the best method to become noticed and/or produce successful works? Do you go the free publishing route online (where you advertise yourself), or do you go the hopeful route and send it in to a publishing house (which likely comes with a hefty fee and no guarantee of success)? Any tips and tricks?

I was only a little older when I got my first published work. If you write fiction, the chances of you getting an actual publishing house to take a novel of yours unsolicited and with no previous experience are almost nil. I wrote to some newspapers and magazines to get work as a "stringer", which is an easy way to get clips (where you write articles or op-eds for very little money). For fiction, I think your best bet is to try some lit journals. Some specialize in young authors. Every large university has one, but give the Googlemobile a try and see if any come up for HS age kids.

Online freelancing is a decent way to make some extra money, but I don't think it is typically very helpful for building an audience.

Top 5 things that make you throw a resume in the "insta-reject" pile.

Top 5 things that make you put the resume in the "we definitely need to give this person an interview" pile.
Here is what everybody needs to remember. The first HR guy who reads your resume is going to spend a MAX of 30 seconds on it. He is checking to see if you meet the min requirements, live close enough, and have any glaring red flags. With that in mind...

1) Using dumb fonts or extra colors. I'll just laugh at you.
2) Writing WAAAAY too much. Your resume CAN be longer than 1 page, but some people, particularly IT professionals, send out 3-5 pagers. Sorry, that's tl;dr.
3) Not writing enough. A one sentence blurb explaining what you did isn't enough, and sometimes people don't even give me that.
four) Swearing on your resume. Don't laugh, I've had multiple people do this.

The best thing you can do is demonstrate, quickly, how awesome you are. Don't just tell me what you did...use data to demonstrate how you did it well. People who can do that are going to get a call back.
I asked this in a previous thread and got some good answers, but I'll ask it again here because downtown specifically mentioned interviews and resumes.

Is someone with a BA in Economics viewed less highly than one with a BS in Economics?
It doesn't matter at all. Where you went and how did you did matter WAY more than BA/BS.
Is it legal for potential employers to ask your date of birth during the interview? If it is not legal, is this governed at the state or federal level?
It usually is, depending on the job. If for some reason it isn't, it's very easy for an employer to get out of that...they could just have every applicant fill out an online application before the interview. You need DOB to run background checks, so it would be perfectly legal for somebody to give it before the interview. I know every candidate I talk to's DOB before I get them on the phone.
 

warpus

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If you are looking for a job, I would recommend NOT sending in all of your applications using sites like Monster.ca or uhh.. whatever else there is out there. Maybe do your research there, but apply in person or fax.. or email if you have to. Find out who is responsible for hiring in the department you are interested in and apply directly through that person. Applying through job sites will usually get you nowhere.
 

downtown

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If you are looking for a job, I would recommend NOT sending in all of your applications using sites like Monster.ca or uhh.. whatever else there is out there. Maybe do your research there, but apply in person or fax.. or email if you have to. Find out who is responsible for hiring in the department you are interested in and apply directly through that person. Applying through job sites will usually get you nowhere.

This is actually not always a good idea, especially if you are applying to a large company. Larger firms do all of their recruiting/staffing using specific software that is often connected with Monster/Careerbuilder/InDeed, or their own online application. My firm can't even process paper applications, and if somebody emails me directly, I have to redirect them to our website. If you're processing hundreds of resumes a day, you don't want paper works, or ones in personal emails, and from Careerbuilder, AND from your website...too messy...

What you should do instead, if you have to apply online, is follow up with the company after a week, either with a phone call or email (unless they specifically tell you not to). The ugly truth is that resumes get lost ALL THE TIME, so a little reminder, or check in, really doesn't hurt anybody.
 

warpus

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This is actually not always a good idea, especially if you are applying to a large company. Larger firms do all of their recruiting/staffing using specific software that is often connected with Monster/Careerbuilder/InDeed, or their own online application. My firm can't even process paper applications, and if somebody emails me directly, I have to redirect them to our website. If you're processing hundreds of resumes a day, you don't want paper works, or ones in personal emails, and from Careerbuilder, AND from your website...too messy...

What you should do instead, if you have to apply online, is follow up with the company after a week, either with a phone call or email (unless they specifically tell you not to). The ugly truth is that resumes get lost ALL THE TIME, so a little reminder, or check in, really doesn't hurt anybody.

Really? I have had such a low hit rate using sites like that and have heard similar things from other people who have used them that I figured that they are pretty much worthless. I have had much better luck applying directly via email or through a company's website.
 

Ziggy Stardust

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The thing I noticed when I was looking for a job is that personal contact through phone or face to face made all the difference. When you present yourself to your potential future employer he sees you're not afraid to introduce yourself, and he can place a voice/face to the application.

Every interview I got, I got through contacting the company on the phone, or dropping in. I was surprised that many personnel managers were willing to free up some time without having made an appointment
 
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