PostHeaderIcon What Interviewers Really think During Job Interviews

What Interviewers REALLY Think During Job Interviews

Feb 24, 2015

Jeff Haden

In the best job interviews the candidate says a lot and the interviewer very little – after all, the interview is about the candidate, not the interviewer.

But there are some things interviewers would love to tell job candidates well before the interview starts.

1. “I really want you to stand out.”

A sad truth of interviewing is that later we often don’t recall, unless we refer to our notes, a tremendous amount about some of the candidates. (Unfair? Sure. Reality? Absolutely.)

That means the more people we interview for a job, and the more spread out those interviews, the more likely we are to remember certain candidates by impressions rather than by a long list of facts.

So when we meet with other people to discuss and decide on the best candidate, we might initially refer to someone as, “the guy with the purple suede shoes,” or “the woman who rides dressage,” or “Duke grad who speaks four languages.”

In short, we may remember you by “hooks” – whether flattering or unflattering – so use that fact to your advantage. While your hook could be your clothing, an outside interest, or an unusual fact about your upbringing or career, a much better hook is the project you pulled off in half the expected time or the improbably huge sale you made.

Instead of letting me choose how we’ll remember you, make sure you give us one or two notable reasons we’ll never forget you.

2. “But I don’t want you to stand out for being negative.”

Again, there’s no way we will remember everything you say. But we will definitely remember negative sound bites: like the candidates who complain about their current employer, their coworkers, or their customers.

So if for example you hate being micro-managed, instead say you’re eager to earn more responsibility and authority. We get there are reasons you want a new job, but we want to hear why you really want this job instead of why you just want to escape your old job.

Never forget that an interview is like a first date. We know we’re seeing the best possible version of “you.”

So if you whine and complain and grumble now… we know you’ll be a real treat to work with a few months from when the honeymoon is over.

3. “But I hope you don’t start by telling me how much you want the job.”

We do want you to want the job — but not before you really know what the job entails. We may need you to work 60-hour weeks, or travel more than half the time, or report to someone with less experience than you. So sit tight.

No matter how much research you’ve done, you can’t truly know you want the job until you know everything possible about the job. (One good way to know you really want the job is to ask really smart questions.)

4. “I really want you to ask questions that are truly important to you.”

We need to know whether we should hire you, but just as importantly we need you to make sure our job is a great fit for you.

So we want you to ask the right questions: what we expect you to accomplish early on, what attributes make our top performers outstanding, what you can do to truly drive results, how you’ll be evaluated – all the things that matter to you… and as a result to us.

Bottom line, you know what makes work meaningful and enjoyable to you. We don’t. There’s no other way to really know whether you want the job unless you ask great questions. So we want you to ask great questions.

5. “But I wish you wouldn’t ask questions that have little to do with work.”

We know you want a positive work-life balance. Everyone does. Still, save all your questions about vacation sign-up policies, and whether it’s okay to take an extra half hour at lunch every day if you also stay a half hour late, and whether we’ve considered setting up an in-house childcare facility because that would be really awesome for you.

First let’s find out if you’re the right person for the job, and whether the tasks, responsibilities, duties, etc. are right for you.

Then we can talk about the rest.

6. “I really want you to be likeable.”

Obvious? Sure, but also critical. Skills and qualifications are important, but we all want to work with people we like… and who in turn like us.

So we want you to smile. We want you to make eye contact, sit forward in your chair, and be enthusiastic. (Here are other ways to be incredibly likeable.) The employer-employee relationship truly is a relationship — and that relationship starts with the interview (if not before.)

A candidate who makes a great first impression and sparks a real connection instantly becomes a big fish in a very small short-list pond. You may have solid qualifications, but if we don’t think we’ll enjoy working with you, we’re probably not going to hire you.

Life is too short to work with people we don’t like.

7. “I love when you show you can hit the ground running.”

We expect you to do a little research about the company. That’s a given.

To really impress us, use the research you’ve done to describe how you will hit the ground running and contribute right away – the bigger the impact the better. If you bring a specific skill, show how we can immediately leverage that skill.

Think about it from our side of the table. We have to start paying your salary the first day, so we love to see an immediate return on that investment starting the first day.

In short, we’re happy to help you develop into a superstar… but we love when you’re already a star.

8. “Now I want you to tell me you want the job – and why.

By the end of the interview you should have a good sense of whether you want the job. If you need more information, tell us so we can figure out how to get you what you need to make a decision.

If you don’t need more information, do what great salespeople do: ask for the job.

One, we’ll like the fact you asked. We want you to really want the job – but we also want to know why you want the job. So tell us why: You thrive in unsupervised roles, or you love working with different teams, or you like frequent travel, or you do your best work when….

Ask us for the job and prove to us, objectively, that it’s a great fit for you.

9. “I like when you follow up, especially when it’s genuine.”

Every interviewer appreciates a brief follow-up note. If nothing else, saying you enjoyed meeting us and are happy to answer any other questions is a polite gesture.

But “polite” may not separate you from the pack.

What we really like – and remember – is when you follow up based on something we discussed. Maybe we talked about data collection techniques so you send information about a set of tools you strongly recommend. Maybe we talked about quality so you send a process checklist you developed that we could adapt to use in our company. Or maybe we both like motorcycle racing, so you send a photo of you standing beside Valentino Rossi before a MotoGP race in Mugello (and I’m totally jealous.)

The more closely you listened during the interview, the easier it is to think of ways to follow up in a natural and unforced way.

Remember, an interview is hopefully the start of a longer relationship — and even the most professional of relationships are still based on genuine interactions.

PostHeaderIcon Steve Jobs: The Ultimate Human Resource

Written by:  Eric LipkindYoung Steve Jobs

On October 5th another jobs report was released.   This report was the overwhelming sadness and tributes shown following the passing of Chairman and Founder of Apple, Steve Jobs.

Steve Jobs was like no other Human Resource in recent times.  He has been compared to Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, and many other true innovators.    Why was Steve Jobs the ultimate Human Resource?  Well, from a hiring manager, recruiter, or HR perspective, his resume would read as follows:

·         No college degree — although completed one semester at Reed College
·         Co-founder of Apple Computer, but fired after nine years

How would most employers view a resume with such details?   I am going to take a guess that this would not be the ideal candidate to hire on paper.  Hence the importance of digging deeper and not solely relying on a resume when evaluating a candidate.

Steve Jobs was an Entrepreneur, an Innovator, a Charismatic Leader, and customer service-focused professional.  These are items which are not shown on the resume highlights above which would be red flags for most recruiters.  I still remember going downtown in New York City with my father to 47th Street photo in 1982 to buy a brand new Apple II+ computer.   Oh how I miss 5 1/4 inch floppy disks and the ability to make them double sided by using a hole puncher.   Ok, I don’t really miss them, but I certainly showed my innovation and resourcefulness skills back in high school.   That was my first foray into Apple products.  I wrote some of the best programs in BASIC and was the master of the For-Next loop.  I also remember such classic games as Castle Wolfenstein and Olympic Decathlon.  Specifically, I recall banging on the space bar and arrows to throw the javelin in Olympic Decathlon.

However, the next two decades took me down a different path and I became a PC guy.  My wife had her Mac for Graphic design, but Microsoft and Windows was for me.  Then came the Ipod.  A real game changer.  I thought I was happy with my Sony Disc-man.   It played CD’s which were so much more portable than cassette tapes for the Sony Walkman.   However, now it appeared time for me to go back to Apple.   I have now owned three different versions of Ipods and can’t imagine how we possibly listened to music on CD’s and tapes.  Thank you Steve Jobs.   Not only did you innovate and create a game-changer for music enthusiasts, but you saved my back and sciatica from carrying around CD’s.  Steve, you were a true Human Resource.

Investors, employees, and consumers anxiously awaited the regular new product release conferences where Steve Jobs would ultimately have ‘just one more thing’.   His ‘one more thing’ was always more innovation.   His charisma made these speeches not only entertaining, but something to which to look forward.  Steve, you were a true Human Resource.

As far a customer service, culture is spread from the top down.   A perfect example of exemplary (and unexpected customer service) would be what happened to me last week.   I purchased the Ipad2 the day it was released about 6 months ago.  Last week I noticed a hairline crack across the screen.   Yikes!   $800 down the drain.   I took the Ipad into the Apple store (not where it was purchased), and was handed a brand new Ipad –not a refurbished one, but a brand new one no questions asked.   This is something I will not soon forget.  Other customers feel the same.  Such customer service skills were certainly taught by Steve Jobs.   Steve, you were a true Human Resource.

The lesson to be learned is that top people/producers in any company who innovate, deliver top product, and are customer service oriented will succeed.   Successful people aren’t only defined by what is written on a resume, or actually what is not written on a resume. They are also defined based upon what is potentially still to come.    Some people just need to be given the chance to shine as Steve Jobs did.

And one more thing….despite my XBox and Wii, I still miss the javelin throw of Olympic Decathlon and my worn out keyboard.   Steve, you were a true Human Resource.

And that is today’s Jobs report.

Written by:  Eric Lipkind is a Partner with Vaco, a top national recruiting and consulting firm specializing in finance, accounting, technology, and administration.

PostHeaderIcon The 10 Worst Things to Put in Your Cover Letter

By Sindhu Sundar

It’s never too early to make a bad impression.
A cover letter or introductory email is often the first thing a potential employer sees when reviewing a job applicant. It’s the first opportunity to impress recruiters and hiring managers and, therefore, the first opportunity to disappoint them. Everything from copy mistakes to inappropriate jokes in a cover letter could derail an application.
Here are the top ten worst things to put on a cover letter:
1. Next to Nothing
While writing something that’s too long is a common cover letter mistake, what can be even more damaging is a cover letter that’s too short.
Bruce Hurwitz, President of Hurwitz Strategic Staffing, Ltd., a New York-based staffing firm recalls a cover letter he received a few months ago for an entry-level IT sales position. It read simply, “Here’s my resume. Call me. [Phone number].”
“I cracked up,” Hurwitz says. “This person had only just graduated with a Bachelor’s degree. It was ridiculous.”
A good cover letter should be somewhere between 200 to 250 words, Hurwitz says, and should answer the question of why a recruiter should look at the resume. “The key is to highlight one success,” Hurwitz says. “For example, ‘I successfully increased sales 500% over two years, resulting in increased, sustained revenue of $25 million.’ Once I read that, I look at the resume.”
2. Criticism of a Prospective Employer, a San Francisco-based site that connects customers with small business services, asked potential employees to submit in their cover letters feedback about their website. One candidate, a contender for an entry-level position in April, didn’t pull any punches.
“The engineering of your site looks lazy and ineffective,” the applicant wrote, proceeding to describe the color scheme of the site as “disconcerting to my eyes.”
Needless to say, he was not considered for the position, though not before the hiring manager got in some laughs around the water cooler at his expense.
“We forwarded the cover letter to our managers sort of as a joke,” says Sander Daniels, co-founder of the site. “It was the most caustic feedback we received. But we responded kindly to him — we didn’t suggest any improvements to him in approaching other employers. We don’t see it as our role to counsel failed candidates.”
Daniels observed that while many strong candidates turn in well-written cover letters, some have let the demand for engineers get to their heads, as Silicon Valley romances them with six-figure salaries and other job perks.
“Maybe they think they can get away with it — but in our company, culture is a very important factor.” Daniels says. “Even if Facebook’s best engineer came to us, we wouldn’t hire him if he was a jerk.”
3. Personal Stories
While employers are sometimes interested in personal stories, especially if they give some idea about work ethic, it’s best to save these stories for the interview, says Lindsay Olson of New York-based Paradigm Staffing, who specializes in recruiting communications and marketing professionals.
“I think my favorite of all time was the salesperson who poetically told me about how he decided to run a marathon, climbed to reach glaciers to have a taste of pure water, ran at heights of 5,000 meters in Peru, and biked down the world’s most dangerous road and survived (over 300,000 have not),” says Olson, of a candidate who was applying for a business development position at a recruiting firm in June last year. “All this in his opening paragraph.”
If you are asked in an interview about your hobbies and adventures, be prepared with a strong answer, says Olson. “What a [job candidate] likes to do outside of work might show how they are in their job,” she says. “As a hiring manager, what you don’t like to hear is, ‘I just like to sit around at home and read books all day.’”
4. Awkward LanguageThumbs Down
Rachel Levy, director of marketing at Just Military Loans, a Wilmington, Del.-based personal loan service for military personnel, got a letter last week from a candidate who seemed to be expressing lukewarm interest in an IT analyst position.
“My name is xxx. I am pretty interested in the IT analyst position at Just Military Loans,” the letter began.
Levy says she sees many applications, especially for IT jobs, to have grammatical and other language flaws. “What I’ve noticed is that there are a lot of people applying to these jobs, for whom English is a second language,” Levy says. “So the connotations of certain words and phrases may not be clear to them. Which is fine, but they should get someone to help word their intentions correctly.”
In this case, Levy thinks the applicant meant “very” instead of “pretty,” but she’ll never know because that applicant didn’t get an interview.
5. Someone Else’s Words
Frank Risalvato, a recruiting officer for Inter-Regional Executive Search Inc., is deluged with cover letters from different candidates that all obviously use the same template from the same career coaches.
“Some of these [cover letters] we see are very obviously not written by the individual,” says Risalvato. “We get 15 to 20 of these a month, and it sounds disingenuous and insincere, seeing these cover letters from Seattle one week, Chicago another, and it’s all the same style.”
Some career experts also warn against the tired stand-by opening lines in a cover letter. “Opening a letter with a passive and clichéd statement such as ‘Enclosed please find my resume highlighting my experience and skills that would help your company to grow and succeed,’” is a no-no, says Ann Baehr, certified professional resume writer and president of New York-based Best Resumes. “It’s best to use something catchy and more specific such as, “If your company could benefit from the expertise of a hard-charging sales producer with a flawless record of success for closing tier-one Fortune 500 prospects in the healthcare technology market and capturing millions of dollars in revenue, please take a moment to review the attached resume.”
If you’re uncomfortable with that approach, make your cover letter unique to you with insights about the company you’re applying to, advises Darrell Gurney, Los Angeles-based founder of career coaching site and author of Backdoor Job Search: Never Apply For A Job Again!.
“Put in a note saying something like, ‘I’ve been following your company’s progress in the last year and in February and I noticed your company was mentioned in the Journal of such and such,’” Gurney says. “That’s the amazing thing about the Internet. You can spend 15 minutes online and look like you’ve been following them for a year.”
Gurney reminds applicants to do their full research on the company if they do get called in for an interview after.
6. Irrelevant Experience
As noteworthy as an impressive Girl Scout cookies sales record may be, it’s not worth trumpeting that experience when trying to break into a field like software sales. Rich DeMatteo, co-founder of Philadelphia-based Social Media Marketing firm Bad Rhino, remembers a candidate who did just that when he was working as a corporate recruiter at a software company.
“I was recruiting for a software sales position and one candidate was sure she was qualified because of her success selling Girl Scout cookies when she was a young girl,” DeMatteo says. “I think she was young and didn’t realize how important it is to state the right experience. Younger applicants tend to reach for skills, and try to find them anywhere in their life.”
Some candidates take it even further, acknowledging they have no relevant skills, but pushing to be hired anyway.
“I read one for an IT analyst position that says, ‘Although my qualifications do not exactly match your needs, the close proximity to my home is a big bonus for me,’” Levy of Just Military Loans recalls. “You have a lot of underqualified people just out of college just throwing resumes at the wall, and hoping something sticks.”
DeMatteo suggests trying to focus on specifc sales figures or experience in relevant projects. “A lot of sales, for instance, is numbers-based. Stick to that.”
7. Arrogance
It’s one thing to promote yourself favorably in a cover letter, but watch that it doesn’t degenerate into overt bragging.
This is especially true when it comes to ambiguous skills, says Jennifer Fremont-Smith, CEO of Smarterer, a Boston-based tech startup aimed at helping IT applicants improve their resumes.
“People claim to have things like, ’superior Internet skills.’ What does that even mean?” says Fremont-Smith. “I saw an application from a Web developer about a month ago where he described himself as a ‘rockstar in design tools,’ and an ‘expert in developer tools.’ That kind of inflated language doesn’t really tell your employer much about your skills.”
Fremont-Smith recommends carefully personalizing your cover letter to the employer and listing the most relevant of skills for the job you want, and why you want it. “The cover letter is the place to tell your story about why it is that you’re the right person for the company,” she says. “It’s about really crafting a narrative that answers the question of why the employer should talk to you.”
8. Wrong Company Name/Wrong Cover Letter
Talk about mistakes that are easy to avoid.
“The biggest mistake I see on a regular basis is that candidates either misspell the name of the company or get the name wrong,” says Gary Hewing of Houston-based Bert Martinez Communications LLC. “If it’s a small misspelling like ‘Burt’ instead of ‘Bert’, I’d be willing to overlook that. But the big, unforgivable mistake is when someone copies and pastes a cover letter without the name or address to the correct company. That, to me, is someone who’s lazy and not paying attention.”
Hewing says sometimes it’s hard to tell if a cover letter was meant for a particular job, even if the candidate got the company name and position right, if they talk about disconnected experience without explaining themselves.
“We’re a sales organization, but at least twice a month, we’ll get a cover letter with someone talking about their banking background instead of sales,” says Hewing. “It’s a complete disconnect to the job description and it doesn’t even explain if the candidate is seeking a career change. It tells me that they’re just not paying attention.”
9. Cultural Preferences
Job hunting is often compared to dating: It’s about finding the right match; and success hinges on staying cool under pressure and masking anxieties to appear confident instead of desperate. But a few candidates take the dating analogy too far, subjecting hiring managers to long lists of personal likes and dislikes in cover letters.
“This one guy wrote the first part of his cover letter talking about his interests like it was an ad for an online dating site,” Olson of Paradigm Staffing says, about an applicant trying for a PR job. “He likes all types of music, but ‘never got into country.’”
While potentially charming to a possible mate, those tidbits are not helpful in a cover letter.
10. Jokes
Breaking the ice with humor isn’t necessarily a bad idea, but jokes in cover letters are usually a turn-off for busy employers, say recruiters. It might be better to save them for the interview, if they are to be used at all. Olson recalled a candidate for a communications executive position who rubbed an employer the wrong way with an off-color joke.
“She decided in her interview, for some reason, to compare kids to Nazis,” says Olson. “She thought she was being funny, but the interviewer happened to be Jewish and didn’t think she was very funny.”
Recruiters agree that it’s best to stick with tried-and-true unfunny, but effective conventional pitches about your education and work experience.
“The thing with trying to be chummy and funny is that you lose credibility,” says Gurney of “It looks desperate. And the worst thing you can do in job-seeking is looking desperate or needy

PostHeaderIcon 7 Things that Will Get You Fired


By Allen Teal


  • Lying about important personal facts will get you fired.
  • Stealing is a reason that many people are let go.
  • Poor attendance is one of the leading causes of employee termination.
Very few people get fired for strange and unusual reasons. Almost everyone who gets fired does so for one or more of these same few causes. Getting fired is not the same as losing your job due to outsourcing or downsizing. Getting fired is the result of something specific happening that could have been avoided in most cases. In theory, getting fired is always the outcome of an employees failure to live up to the standards set by the employer.People get fired for not coming to work.Missing work is one of them common reasons for people to lose their job. Excessive absenteeism or tardiness will always cost you your job. The amount that you are allowed to miss can range from none to a week or more per year. However, many people miss 10 or more days per year without even realizing that they have bad attendance. If you miss one day per month or more, it will eventually get you fired from most companies. If you want to keep your job, you need to miss less than 5 days per year unless it is an unavoidable extreme emergency. Set the bar high for what you will allow to keep you from going to work.Doing poor work will cost you a job.You are being paid money to produce a service or product. Your employer has a right to expect you to do what you are paid to do. If you cannot or will not do it, you will almost always be asked to move on. You may have your job description changed. If you do not quit, your employer has the right to expect you to do the new job or jobs. You will be expected to do them well. If not, find a new job because this one is going away.Failure to get along with supervisors and coworkers will get you fired.Besides being at work and doing a good job, employers want employees to contribute to the overall morale of the workplace. Employees who like to antagonize coworkers and constantly complain to the boss will rarely be tolerated for long. You may be fired for some other cause, but the reason will be that you simply do not fit into the mix at the workplace. You need to try to get along and be a positive force on your job to keep your job.Stealing will get you terminated.Some companies will fire you for taking an ink pen home. While most of them will overlook a few office supplies, stealing on the job is always considered a reason for termination. Even unemployment claims will be denied if theft is proved. Do not steal from your employer or coworkers.Abuse of company equipment will result in being fired.Companies have lots of expensive equipment to produce and deliver their service or product. They depend on this equipment to remain in service to produce revenue and profit. Large repair bills, machine down time, and equipment replacement cost can erode a company’s profits very quickly. Employees are expected to help keep the equipment in running condition or at least not cause it to fail because of a deliberate act. When companies begin to see an employee as a liability and not an asset, they will eliminate the cause of the cost by getting rid of the employee.Lying about your qualifications or job history can cost you employment.Honesty is an important quality in society. Companies depend on employees to be honest. When an employee is found to have lied about some significant personal fact, it will usually result in a firing. The same is true for employees who lie about coworkers or clients. An employee who lacks integrity is not considered a good thing for a company.Undermining the boss will get you fired.If your boss decides that you are doing things to try to hurt their career, you will be fired. Not only will that not be favorable for your boss, but any other supervisor or manager who hears of it will not consider you for future employment. The reason for this is that most employees who sabotage their own boss will usually not have the company’s best interest in mind either.


Good Attitude Trumps Perfect Skills

in Recruitment ProcessGoodAttitudeinInterview

By: Geoff Newman

New research has revealed that showing the right attitude during the recruitment process can sometimes work to a candidate’s benefit more than the skills on their CV.

In a survey of 1,000 employers carried out by recruitment group Reed, 96 per cent said that they would opt for a candidate who may not have the complete set of skills they were looking for but had a perfect mindset, over one who ticked every skill box but whose attitude was not quite right.

Firing also reflected similar priorities as hiring. When the employers were asked about who they would let go first if they were forced to reduce their workforce, two-thirds said that they would prefer to keep someone with the right attitude over someone with a perfect skill set.

Geoff Newman from flat fee recruitment agency believes the survey’s findings are nothing new.

“Companies have always hired and fired based on attitude. Likewise candidates have also resigned because of a poor managers’ attitude rather than a poor company. Ultimately someone with a great attitude always makes up for lack of skills, product or industry knowledge. They inspire confidence to train and invest in, as well as making the business environment better.”

One of the employers surveyed – Saville Row tailor, Richard Anderson – said the results of the survey were a very accurate reflection of what he had experienced.

“We get inundated by young people asking for work experience and applying for jobs,” he said. “I look at the guys who come back and like badgering me. If they are enthusiastic and committed then we have something to work with.”

The employers ranked the top six key attitude qualities as “commitment, honesty, trustworthiness, adaptability, accountability, and loyalty.”

PostHeaderIcon 9 Steps to Acing a Job Phone Interview

Person on PhoneJoke

Phone interviews are a common occurrence during a job search. Sadly, most people spend very little time preparing for this opportunity. This 9 step program is a “how to” do it successfully. A good pointer, NEVER go to the bathroom during the interview but if you must, don’t FLUSH :-)

How To Ace a Telephone Interview

PostHeaderIcon 6 Unusual College Degrees

Puppet2( — Do you ever wonder who decided potato chips should come in such a loud, crinkly package? And why a bag of chips? Why not a box? Or a can? Someone had to decide. Luckily, you can take comfort in knowing that the “bag of chips” decision was made by an expert.

Packaging, the art of developing appropriate vehicles for consumer goods to arrive safely at our homes in, is actually a major at multiple colleges in the U.S. And packaging isn’t even the strangest college degree out there.

We rounded up some of the most unique and interesting degrees offered at colleges and universities around the country, and then went a step further to find out what, exactly, people do with these degrees when they graduate.

Here, a look at some of the nation’s most interesting college programs, and the post-grad job possibilities.

1. Race Track Management

The Race Track Industry Program at the University of Arizona is the only program of its kind, providing students with the background necessary for a number of career paths in the horse racing industry. Should students choose the “animal path,” they will graduate prepared to work as a horse trainer or breeder.

Those opting for the “business path`” will be suited to work on the management side of the industry. So how do students fare in the real world after graduating from such a unique program?

According to Douglas Reed, the program’s director, graduates do pretty well.

“We have a placement rate in excess of 80 percent immediately upon graduation and [students] receive jobs in all facets of the industry due to the nature of the two paths and the broad based knowledge they receive,” Reed says.

“Some students start at a racetrack in mid-level management or entry level jobs, others work with the horses either on farms or at the track for a trainer. Still others enter the business in related companies [like those] that process wagers or service the industry.”

Interested in finding out more about what can be done with the degree? A list of alum can be found on the program’s website.

2. Packaging

Students who enroll in one of the nation’s few undergraduate packaging programs don’t spend four years learning to think outside the box. They learn to think about the box. A degree in packaging teaches students how to create the most economically, aesthetically, environmentally and technically sound packages for the good we use on a daily basis.

According to the University of Wisconsin-Stout, graduates of its packaging program go on to work for companies like Snap-on Tools, Frito-Lay, Kohler and FedEx.

In a survey on 2009 graduates of the UWS program, in the months following graduation, 95 percent of packaging graduates were employed, 90 percent in a field related to their major.

3. Viticulture and enology

In laymen’s terms, Cornell University’s Viticulture and Enology Program is it’s school of Grapes and Wine. Though the school began offering coursework in the discipline in the early 1990s, Viticulture and Enology only recently became an official major at Cornell.

According to Kari Richards, Cornell’s Viticulture and Enology Major Coordinator, there are currently about 35 students enrolled in the major and 20 enrolled in the minor.

“Of the approximately 20 graduates over the past five years, the majority are involved in the industry,” Richards says. “Some have continued enology-related studies in graduate school, others travel worldwide to gain experience in harvest and crush, [and a] few will or have returned to the home winery/vineyard.”

4. Puppetry

The University of Connecticut is one of only two schools in the country to offer an undergraduate degree in puppetry arts, and the only school in the country offering a Master’s program.

According to the program’s website, enrollment is limited to only 22 students, who take classes like “Trends in Contemporary American Puppetry” and “Marionette Construction.”

According to the site, “graduates of the program perform and design for theatres around the world; appear in, build for and manage internationally recognized television programs and films; write books; design toys; teach children; and direct prominent schools and museums.”

5. Decision making

Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business offers a Doctorate degree in decision sciences, a program literally designed to help future business leaders analyze and make decisions. Though the name may make this degree sound like fluff, the course of study is quite rigorous.

According to the program’s website, “Decision Sciences is devoted to the study of quantitative methods used to aid decision making in business environments. Using mathematical models and analytical reasoning, students examine problems … and learn how to solve these problems by using a number of mathematical techniques, including optimization methods (linear, integer, nonlinear), computer simulation, decision analysis, artificial intelligence and more.”

6. Turfgrass management

Michigan State University is one of a handful of schools in the country that offers a turfgrass specialization.

Under its College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, students in the MSU program learn to maintain golf-course greens, athletic fields and parks by taking classes like “Golf turf irrigation,”"Management of turfgrass weeds” and “Plant genetics.”

Graduates of the program have nabbed some pretty notable jobs, too.

According to Jill Cords, a career consultant with the college, two alumni actually faced off at last year’s World Series. One alumnus was a groundskeeper for the Texas Rangers, and another was working for the San Francisco Giants.

Kaitlin Madden is a writer and blogger for

PostHeaderIcon The Myths About Applicant Tracking Systems and Black Holes


Risky Business Newsletter
By: Roger Lear

If you are in the middle of a job search and use job boards, most likely you get frustrated when you decide to apply to a job and the apply link goes to an appli tracking system (ATS). Most major companies have this technology in place to collect your career information, resume and ask you a few questions. Once you complete the process, the computer will “score” your information and you will be graded against the job for which you applied. If you pass this phase of the process, you will automatically be emailed to the human resource department or the hiring manager for further consideration.

In talking to numerous job seekers over the few years they indicated applicant tracking systems are challenging because:

  1. The application process is very difficult and time consuming. Many of the questions being asked on these applications require information like past employer’s names, email addresses and phone numbers that you may not have. For some ATS’s, these are required fields, therefore the application cannot be completed.
  2. Job seekers never received any feedback from the employers. (We call this the black hole.)
  3. Once connected to the ATS, they could not find the job they wanted to apply to.
  4. Technical issues that prevented an applicant from applying. (The system times out.)

You will find most an ATS at major companies like Darden (Allstate and Liberty Mutual) and Disney. In smaller companies, it is still good old-fashioned email. ATS’s are here to stay so if you understand how to use them, you will increase your chances of being “career optimized” in the computer’s mind.

In a recent survey we just completed, jobs posted on the internet are getting over 100 applicants per job. The competition is fierce so here are a few tips to make sure your ATS application is viable:

  1. Apply to the job that you are most qualified for. Do not apply to multiple jobs. This will not help.
  2. Make sure your resume has the SAME KEYWORDS as the job description. IF YOUR BACKROUND DOES NOT MATCH the keywords in the job description, most likely you are not qualified for the position This is not a time to lie. More often than not, you do have the experience but need to tweak your resume to match the job. For example, your current title is account manager and you are applying to an administrative position. However, your current job is really an administrative job. If you don’t change your resume, the ATS system will spit you into the black hole.
  3. Many ATS will ask you additional questions about your background. For example, a question for managers would be, “Do you have at least four consecutive years of managerial experience?” What if you have three and half years? Answer the question correctly and hopefully your resume score will get some human eyes on your application. If you did say “yes” in this case, once in the interview process, this may be a huge negative.
  4. “I never hear back!” The black hole. You do everything correctly and are certain that you are qualified but never hear back from the company. This is a MAJOR issue we speak to employers about all the time. The company has to fix this issue and send at least an email back to you letting you know that you are not being considered. After all, the way you are treated whether you’re qualified or not is a true reflection on a company. You may be a stock holder, customer or future employee and it would be in the company’s best interest to treat you with professional respect.

ATS’s are not going anywhere. When applying, don’t be in a hurry, tweak your resume for keywords and make sure that the position you are applying to fits your background. Anything else is a waste of time in high unemployment.

question: Is there any way around these Applicant tracking Systems?

answer: Yes and No.  The best way around these systems is to know someone at the company you are applying and have them personally hand your resume to HR or even better the hiring authority.  In most cases, you will not know anyone so you can use LinkedIn to see if you can find someone at the hiring company that you may be able to contact by email or phone.  Word of caution: If you find someone in LinkedIn or Google who you think might be the hiring authority, call them and let them know that you have an interest in the job.  You may be surprised what happens!

PostHeaderIcon Your Spit May Hold the Key to Predicting Burnout

February 22, 2011


From Wednesday’s Globe and Mail

New test can show ’stress hormone’ cortisol levels, and help doctors avoid misdiagnosis

Go ahead: Spit if you feel frustrated about your job. What your saliva reveals could alert doctors to whether you’re at risk of burnout at work, according to new Canadian research.

And testing saliva could also help people with symptoms of burnout avoid being put on medication that might actually make the condition worse, said Robert-Paul Juster, a doctoral student at McGill University in Montreal who helped design the research.

A clue that someone is suffering burnout is lowered levels of cortisol, often referred to as the “stress hormone” because it is secreted when we feel anxious or agitated. But if we are under continual stress, our bodies can shut down production of the hormone rather than try to keep up with the constant demand.

“We wanted to … find a simple way to find low levels of the hormone showing up in people who have not yet had problems, and how that may predict risk of burnout,” Mr. Juster said.

Normally, cortisol tends to spike in the morning as people wake up, which is the body’s way of revving up after a night’s sleep. Levels usually decline during the day. “But we find that people with high stress don’t have that boost of cortisol in the morning,” Mr. Juster said. “They report feeling exhausted in the morning, even though they’ve had a full night’s sleep.”

Burnout, clinical depression, or anxiety-related issues in the workplace affect at least 10 per cent of North Americans and Europeans, according to estimates prepared by the International Labour Organization.

The Montreal research included a random sample of 30 middle-aged workers in a variety of professions. They took samples of their saliva at home and at work a total of five times a day; using a questionnaire, they also rated their stress levels and any physical symptoms they were experiencing.

About half of the participants reported facing a high level of stress and physical symptoms such as fatigue and irritability in their workplace. In their saliva tests, this showed up as either lower or higher than average levels of cortisol.

The difference is significant, because although burnout and depression have similar symptoms, burnout typically reduces cortisol levels in the body, while depression increases levels of cortisol, noted the study’s supervisor, Sonia Lupien, of the Centre for Studies on Human Stress of Louis-H. Lafontaine Hospital in Montreal, who is an associate professor of psychiatry at the Université de Montréal.

If a person goes to see a psychiatrist complaining of fatigue and irritability, and is feeling cynical and not highly motivated, the doctor might think that the person is depressed and prescribe antidepressants, which have the effect of lowering cortisol levels, Dr. Lupien explained. But if the person is already suffering from low cortisol levels, the medication could reduce the levels even more and potentially put him or her at higher risk of spiralling into burnout.

The saliva test requires laboratory analysis, so it is not as simple as monitoring insulin levels with a glucose strip. “But [the test] is as simple as spitting in a tube and putting it in a refrigerator, and the questionnaire takes five minutes to complete,” Mr. Juster said.

“Saliva will tell you things that the blood samples won’t tell you. Because you can easily take the tests through the day, it will give a dynamic of how the stress hormone varies through the day,” he said.

The researchers are now planning a larger follow-up study aiming to find specific levels of cortisol that point to a high risk of imminent burnout. This could help employees realize they need to amend their lives to reduce their stress, and help doctors steer patients at risk into stress reduction programs, Mr. Juster suggested.

“As it stands now, there are no norms for cortisol; the only values are for risk of pituitary tumours.

“What we’re suggesting is in the future, is that it would be important for physicians and psychiatrists to do a series of cortisol tests to find risks. If you are starting to see you have really high or really low levels, that is a warning of potential burnout and also risk of mental health issues in general,” Mr. Juster said.

The research is to appear in a coming issue of the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology.

PostHeaderIcon Study: Cellphones Trigger Brain Response

Man on Cell Phone
Wall Street Journal, FEBRUARY 22, 2011


Cellphone use appears to increase brain activity in regions close to where the phone antenna is held against the head, according to a new study, but researchers said the health implications are still unknown.

The study is the first to demonstrate that radiation from the devices has a direct impact on some brain cells, and is likely to fuel a long-running debate over the safety of cellular phones.

“This study shows that the human brain is sensitive to electromagnetic radiation coming out of cellphones,” said Nora Volkow, an author on the study and a scientist at the National Institutes of Health. “That is something we need to face.”

Shirley Wang has details of a just-released study indicating that cell phone use does have a direct impact on brain activity.

However, “our finding does not tell us if this is harmful or not,” said Dr. Volkow, who is also the head of the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Some medical experts have been concerned for years about the possible long-term health consequences of frequent cellphone use. The city of San Francisco voted in June to require cellphone retailers to post the amount of radiation emitted by each phone because of the concern.

But results from studies looking at the health effects have been mixed. Some large-scale studies have found a link between cellphone use and brain cancer, but they haven’t been able to show the cancer was caused by cellphone radiation.

The main concern is that radiation from phones could cause DNA mutations or changes in the brain, leading to tumors or cognitive decline. But to date there is no known evidence that the frequency of the waves emitted from phones is powerful enough to cause such changes, according to Reto Huber, a professor at the University Children’s Hospital Zurich who has published several studies on electromagnetic fields and cellphones. He wasn’t involved in this latest study.

In Tuesday’s study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers from the National Institutes of Health and Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York examined the impact of cellphone use on brain activity by measuring the glucose metabolism—how much sugar a cell takes in to fuel activity—of 47 adults, the largest study of its kind to date. They conducted scans while subjects had cellphones held to their left and right sides for 50 minutes. The researchers found that some brain regions near the antenna became significantly more active when a cellphone was turned on and held to the ear, even though the participants didn’t actually speak or listen to a conversation.

The increase in brain activity in those regions was comparable to the increase in level of glucose metabolism used by the visual cortex when someone talks—about 8% to 10%, according to Dr. Volkow.

Dr. Huber’s group in Switzerland has conducted similar studies by measuring blood flow to brain regions—another indicator of brain activity—and found that there is an increase in flow to regions close to where the cellphone was held.

Mitchel Berger, a neuro-oncologist at the University of California, San Francisco, called the findings “very interesting and provocative” but said they don’t increase his concerns about the safety of cellphones.

“You could get confused very rapidly and think this finding is equated with a health hazard,” said Dr. Berger, who wasn’t part of the study. “What it tells us is at the frequencies these phones currently generate, there are [brain] regions that are hyperactive.”

Nevertheless, “I think until we really understand the very long-term effects with these newer phones it’s not unreasonable to ask people to use headphones or speakers,” said Dr. Berger.

If there aren’t negative long-term effects, cellphones could be used as a non-invasive way to stimulate parts of the brain in a therapeutic sense, such as for depression treatment, said Dr. Volkow.

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