Dear Tina

I know that I am not supposed to say anything negative about former employers on a job application, but how do I explain being wrongfully terminated without saying anything negative? Are you allowed to just say advancement, which makes no sense because I am unemployed or what else can I say that will at least get me considered for the position?

Signed,
Help! in Philadelphia


Dear Help!

I'm sorry to hear about your employment situation.  The best way to address it when asked is to say that the company went through a "restructuring".  Avoid the Noid, er I mean, avoid using the term "wrongfully terminated". It rings of bitterness and drama and possibly a lawsuit. Believe it or not potential employers like to stay far away from lawsuits.

During your interview, you may be asked what you liked most and least about your previous job - focus on the POSITION, not the company. Try having at least one positive thing that you can say about working there- even if it's just how your experience strengthened due to projects that you've worked on. That way you won't come across as bitter/upset so they won't think twice about the "restructuring" that left you unemployed.

Now time for a shameless plug: Need a job?  Be sure to check out the postings on Jobology - positions updated daily!



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Dear Tina

After being handpicked to be hired by the CEO of [my organization], I've been with them for about 9 months. While it's a great work environment,  I think that I want to move on from local to international non-profit development.  I found a position that fits my exact interests, so I applied for it and it looks promising.

What are your thoughts on leaving a job in under a year? How would I tell my boss without her being offended? I want to tread carefully and not ruin the relationship we have. Any advice on how to navigate the awkwardness?

Signed,
B in Chicago, IL


Dear B

I'm not sure of your age, but frequently exploring new careers paths or "job hopping" can be very common for young professionals under 35.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that you will average 11 jobs/careers by the time you're 32.  And while it may have once been seen as the kiss of death during the resume screening process, career changers can also be very desirable candidates if they manage their changes strategically.

You are responsible for taking a proactive approach to your professional growth and you should always be in a constant state of progression at this stage in your career.  Before making a decision to leave an employer, ask yourself if you've made a significant impact/contribution while you were there that would make yourself marketable to prospective employers as well as have your current employer feel like you've yet to live up to why they hired you.  This will allow you to build a strong network which when paired with significant and measurable accomplishments makes you the bee's knees.

Something to consider - does your current employer have an international branch or sect that you could tap into? Perhaps you could suggest a department or location transfer which will still allow you the opportunity to get the global experience that you're seeking without leaving a company that you admittedly like. If there is no room for internal movement, use this during your discussions with your boss when you're leaving.

Finally, should you get the job, be sure to write a stellar resignation letter that will help your boss understand your career aspirations.  Show her that you're appreciative of the personal and professional growth that your position has afforded you, you do not want to pass up this excellent opportunity. Close the letter with an open invitation to do business again in the future and this should keep you from burning any bridges.




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Dear Tina,

It's hot as Hades outside and I'm sure companies know that.  You think I can wear sandals to my interview without it being a big deal?

Signed,
"Hot Foot" in Lubbock, TX


Dear Hot Foot

In a word... no.  This is your first face to face impression where you should be presenting your professional self.  Sandals, flip flops, water shoes, sneakers and the like are casual and should be saved for your day off when you can let your little piggies breathe freely.  I'm pretty sure that wearing closed toe, sensible yet fashionable shoes for a few hours won't cause your feet to spontaneously combust. 

And just in case it does remember to stop, drop and roll.


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Dear Tina,

If you are looking for employment in another state, how do you stand out from the other local candidates?

Signed,
TD in Philadelphia

Dear TD

Depending on the position, many companies are only looking for local talent due to cuts in their recruiting budgets so you'll need a few tips on ways to mingle amongst the locals from miles away. 

One of the first things that you can do is remove your current address from your resume.  Long gone are the days when employers would send you that little "thanks, but no thanks" post card, so the only contact information that you need are an email address and phone number.  Although your area code may not raise any red flags since people tend to keep cell phone numbers regardless of location, you may want to get a Google Voicenumber with the area code of your desired city.  It's a free service that will forward calls made to that number to any landline or mobile phone of your choice. 

Your cover letter is a great way to sell yourself to a company when you're out of the area.  In the letter explain that you are relocating and give them an estimated date that you will expect to be available to both interview and start work.  If you won't be able to do in person interviews, offer to do the interview via Skype.

One last thing that you should discuss in both your cover letter and in your interview are the benefits that you would bring from a different city. For example, if you're in sales or account management, highlight your current client relationships and how you may bring a national perspective to their sales philosophy.  Regardless of the industry, innovation  is always welcomed within a company and being able to bring a fresh set of eyes to the region may really set you apart from the local talent.  This way, even if you're seeking relocation assistance, they will see you as an investment rather than an unnecessary cost.


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Dear Tina,

How do I set myself apart from other candidates during the interview process? I'm 33 and I have almost 10 years of experience in management, but in this day and age, a lot of people with my kind of experience are interviewing too.  What can I do to make sure that I get called back for a second interview?

Signed,
J.B. in New York


Dear J.B.

The interview is an opportunity to show an employer that you have the skills and experience that best fits the role, and how you'll fit into company. Here are a few steps that will help you get snag that second interview:
  • Remember to be confident before, during and after your interview.  It starts from the moment that you leave your home.  You never know if the person that cut you off that morning and caused you to shake your fist (or other appendage) at them is your interviewer, so keep that in mind as you head to the office.  Arrive 10-15 minutes early, leave your cell phone in the car and avoid smoking.
  • Utilize the initial job description and answer the interviewer's questions based on how you fit the description.  If the description prefers that candidates "think outside of the box", talk about innovative projects that you've worked on...
 
 
Dear Tina,

I'm 22 and a recent grad from [name withheld] University.  I have an interview on Friday and I really want to impress them, but I don't want them to see me as just some kid.  I was thinking about wearing some of my dad's cologne so that I'll seem more mature instead of my body sprays.  What do you think?

Signed,
To Brut or Not To Brut in Cleveland



Dear To Brut...

Remember how Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson would ask if you could smell what he was cooking?  Well, generally that meant bad news for the smell-er and that concept also applies in the case of interviews.  Less is always more when it comes to the olfactory system.  On your interview you should wear VERY little (a dab) or no cologne/perfume at all.  You never know how sensitive your interviewer may be and you don't want to overpower them with a potentially offensive odor.  Impress them with your skills, experience and attitude. Not with dad's Old Spice.


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