How Should I Follow Up After an Interview?

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You had a great interview, and you’re anxious to get an offer—now what?  Following up with the employer is essential. If the company took the time to meet with you, then you’re a qualified candidate and the employer will appreciate your interest in the position. Your follow up is a great opportunity to make any points that you forgot to mention in the interview, and remind the hiring manager why you are a great candidate.

FIND OUT WHAT’S NEXT

When you’re wrapping up the interview, find out when the company expects to make a decision about second interviews and/or filling the position. You should always ask questions during an interview, and understanding the company’s hiring process is essential for making the appropriate follow up.  If you don’t hear from them by the timeframe they give you, you can contact them again to find out their hiring status. Make sure you have the necessary contact information before leaving the interview.

ACT QUICKLY

Send your follow up e-mail and/or letter ASAP. Some employers may be in a hurry to fill the position, and you want to be at the top of their list. Don’t send a generic note; follow up with specifics from the interview, and indicate why you are interested in the job.  If you interviewed with multiple people, reach out to them individually. Thank them for their time, and express your enthusiasm for the position.

Laurie Berenson, President and Founder of Sterling Career Concepts, LLC, offers the following advice to job seekers:

“The most effective follow up letter is not simply a thank for the meeting, but rather a letter that addresses any gaps or concerns that the interviewer may have from your conversation and reiterates why you feel you are a strong candidate for the role. The best way to do this to pull detail in from your conversation to substantiate. If you feel that you could have addressed a question better during the interview, this is your opportunity to do so.”

TRY AGAIN

Be persistent, without being too aggressive.  If you haven’t heard back during the expected timeframe, send a quick follow up e-mail:

Hi Mark,

You mentioned that you expected to make a decision on the Account Executive position by the end of the month, so I wanted to check in with you.  I’m still very interested in the role, so please let me know if I can provide any additional information, or if you have any updates on your hiring timeline moving forward.

Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,

Beth

If you reach out via e-mail and don’t get a response, try leaving a voicemail.  Laney Lyons, author of Don’t Be A Yes Chick!, says “A candidate should follow up from an interview by email, phone and mail unless specifically instructed otherwise. Every hiring manager or business owner responds to mail, email and phone calls differently so you want to follow up using all three methods.“

Don’t harass the employer, but make it clear that you are serious about getting the job.

STAY POSITIVE

Always be friendly and professional when reaching out to a potential employer. You may be frustrated if you aren’t getting a response, but you could still be a potential candidate. Double-check your e-mails for any grammatical or spelling errors. Even if you are no longer being considered for the position you interviewed for, there might be other opportunities or future openings at the company and you want to remain in good standing.

Rebecca West, Owner and Principal Designer at Rivalee Design, agrees: “I also highly recommend sending a thank you when you do not get a position you really wanted. Something short, gracious, and positive can open up a door to another opportunity, either at that company, or by being referred to someone else looking for a great employee.”

What other follow up steps would you suggest?

 

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How to Disclose Salary Requirements in a Cover Letter

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In a game of poker, showing your cards to your opponents would put you at a great disadvantage. No surprise, then, that when an employer asks you to list your salary requirements in a cover letter, you feel a tad vulnerable.

But there is a simple logic behind this standard request: If you require compensation far beyond what a company is prepared to pay for the position, it doesn’t want to waste its time—or yours—going through the interview process. So if you’re asked for salary requirements, especially if applications without them won’t be considered, it’s time to tip your hand.

BENCHMARK
Websites like Salary.com and Glassdoor can show you what you can expect to earn based on your industry, location, skill set, and experience. If you have industry contacts, inquire what entry-level employees typically make. Or go straight to the source, says Ellen Gordon Reeves, author of Can I Wear My Nose Ring to the Interview? “You can call the HR department of a company and simply say, ‘I saw a job advertised at your company and I’m wondering what the entry-level salary is for this department.’”

SET A RANGE
Your benchmarking should help you determine a bottom line—the absolute minimum you’ll accept. But rather than a single figure, present your requirements in a ten-thousand-dollar range. This increases the chances that your expectations and the employer’s budget will overlap and gives you some room to negotiate later on. Reeves suggests writing, “My salary requirements are in the $30,000 to $40,000 range, depending on the type and scope of responsibilities.”

WIGGLE ROOM
Unless the employer is feeling generous, you’ll probably be offered a salary on the low end of your range. But you still have some wiggle room. Salary is only one part of an employer’s offer; employee benefits also carry a lot of weight, and can be used as leverage. If you feel the salary is on the low side given the responsibilities of the position, it can’t hurt to bluff a bit and say that you expected more comprehensive employee benefits and will need a higher salary to offset this.

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Should Social Media Be Allowed At Work?

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Over recent years, social media has quickly integrated its way into the every day life of Millennials.

Social media is no longer just a tool of connecting with friends and family, but also it has become a strategy for building relationships at work. An astounding eight out of 10 Millennials are connected to at least one social media network — and 90 percent of Millennials even use Facebook for personal and work-related reasons.

Millennials don’t want to just have a job these days, they want to have a career where they can make a difference. Millennials are creative thinkers and innovators — so of course, they are going to want to implement technology into their daily lives at work. Social media allows Millennials to engage with coworkers, build relationships with clients, and simply stay connected throughout the work day. While social media has both its advantages and disadvantages, it’s transforming the workplace into a more creative and social environment.

Social media boosts employee morale.

Allowing social media in the workplace is a great way for employers to boost employee morale. It presents employers with the opportunity to build a sense of community while also giving employees the freedom to stay connected during the work day. Employers can create Facebook groups to help employees stay connected and inform them about internal events within the company. Social media can also serve as a virtual water cooler, which can help build the culture of your company. Overall, embracing social media in the workplace builds trust between the employer and their employees. This type of trust shows employees that management trusts them to be productive while simultaneously having the freedom to use social media on the job.

It’s an essential tool for Gen Y.

Social networking has become an essential communication tool for Millennials. Not only does social media allow Millennials connect with friends, family, and coworkers, but it has become the center of much their day-to-day activities. Fifty-six percent of Millennials use social media as a source of communication and 26 percent of Millennials check social networking sites during their breaks at work. Social media in the workplace is essential for Gen Y’ers because it creates transparency and allows them to stay connected, even when they’re at the office. Plus, employers who hire social-savvy Millennials can boost the communication process internally, as well.

Gen Y can educate their company about social media.

Employers who welcome social media in the workplace can definitely grow their company internally and externally. Social media has a huge impact on sales, consumer relations, and the overall brand for a company. By allowing Gen Y employees to bring their knowledge of different social networking tools to the workplace, you can grow your company, reach new customers, and improve employee engagement.

However, social media can decrease productivity for employees.

Whether you’d like to think you’re good at multitasking, you really aren’t. Surprisingly, only two percent of the population can successfully multitask. This means that the other 98 percent of you cannot and social media is often a cause for poor multitasking. Social media can create a distraction for employees, especially when 61 percent of workers spend approximately 15 minutes per day in the office checking Facebook. Although social media is a great way to stay connected, it can create a barrier between accomplishing tasks and productivity in the workplace.

It can also stir up inappropriate online behavior.

This year, we have see many employee blunders on social media. Probably the most memorable employee incident with social media was the Taco Bell employee who posted a photo of himself licking taco shells on Instagram. Now, these silly mistakes aren’t the only ones that happen on social media. Some employees have also been accused of bad-mouthing coworkers or complaining about their jobs. Millennials need to remember that whatever you decide to say on social media, it will always come back to haunt you.

The bottom line, is employers need to embrace social media. 

Social media in the workplace isn’t just beneficial for employees alone, it can actually boost the company’s culture. This is a tool that allows companies to build a community within the workplace and encourage open communication between management and employees. Gen Y employees are quickly filling the workplace and employers need to embrace how social media is essential to their employees’ success.

Do you think social media should be allowed in the workplace? Share your thoughts below!

For this post, Doostang thanks our friends at Come Recommended.

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Show Me the Money: 5 Tips to Negotiate a Raise

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Asking for a raise can be a bit tricky. There’s that sentiment akin to asking your parents to tack on a few extra bucks to your allowance; and then there’s the walking-on-eggshells feeling you get in trying not to overstep your boundaries with your boss. But asking for a raise is OK, and it’s a two-way conversation that you can navigate tactfully if you keep a few things in mind:

Do Your Time

Although rightly deserved in some cases, a raise is not going to present itself on Day 2, no matter how convincing you are in presenting your case to your boss. The fact is, in order to rationalize paying you more money for the same work, an employer must see that you have made progress and remained loyal to the company. A company can find any old schmo off the street to do the work for a starting level salary. But go above and beyond, and they may be inclined to attach a few more dollar signs to your value.

Determine Your Reasons

In order to present a convincing case to your boss, it helps to understand why you are asking for a raise in the first place. Is it because your living expenses have gone up? Are you expecting a new addition to the family? Don’t misunderstand; simply desiring a higher salary for your excellent work is a completely valid point. But if you can present these motivations to your employer, you may find that they’re more likely to side with you on this one.

Be Reasonable

Of course you’re going to sound like a child when you put forth the whole “I want a million dollars” offer. That, and you’re going to get shut down very quickly. In order to be taken seriously, present a sensible figure to your boss, one that is on par with the work that you complete. This will get you much farther in negotiating with you boss.

Practice Savvy Negotiating Tactics

Alright, that said, you may want to present a number to your employer that is a bit higher than the actual raise you wish to receive. The boss didn’t get to where they are by being a pushover. They’ll likely try to bargain you down, trying to take you at your bottom limit. Before you propose anything, then, figure out what your bottom limit is. Give your boss a number that is higher than this – but not too high – and once negotiating begins, don’t allow yourself to go below this bottom line. Hopefully, the two of you will settle on something in the middle.

Understand Your Value

Logically, a company wishes to pay as little as they can while still employing reliable employees who complete great work. At the same time, their great wish is to keep their workers happy, which is equally – if not more – important to business. You may view a large corporation powerful and yourself lucky, in that they decided to give you a job in the first place. But it’s crucial to realize that you are equally as vital to them as they are to you. You are valuable and they know it. If you’re doing a great job, bring this up in a negotiation. Present numbers, graphs, or work samples when you go in to speak to your boss. Tell them that you’re worth it and show them why. Make them an offer they can’t refuse.

Keep these 5 things in mind when negotiating with your employer and you’ll be more likely to get your point across, make a favorable impression, and walk away with what you deserve.

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Entry-Level Finance Jobs: 5 Steps to Secure Your Future

Entry-Level Finance Jobs: 5 Steps to Secure Your Future

So you’ve landed your first job after graduation, and your finance career is preparing to launch, congratulations! Keep in mind that your first job is but one step toward a successful, long-term career in finance. Along with working hard on the job, you should take additional steps along the way to reach your goals.

1. Continue learning and achieving education toward additional degrees and/or certifications. Kudos to you for receiving your 4-year undergraduate degree, that’s one of the first steps that you need to take if you want to get ahead in the finance industry. But learning doesn’t stop with your first diploma.

Depending on which career path you’re traveling down, you will need additional coursework, degrees and certifications to advance to the top finance and accounting jobs. Want to secure that senior financial analyst gig? An MBA can help you get there. Is the certified public accountant (CPA) route in your future? Plan on studying for your CPA exam, now.

Interested in working in investments and selling securities? You’ll need to study for and pass your series 7 and 63 exams as required by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). Other finance jobs require additional certifications, too, and FINRA has clearly established guidelines and regulations for professionals working in these roles . Your employer typically will sponsor you and have a process in place to help you to attain these goals.

2. Strive to get assignments on high-profile projects and with the top teams. If you want to stand out, you need to continually prove yourself as someone who contributes in a big way. Those are the people who put in the long hours and are resourceful. Learn everything you possibly can about your employer’s business.

Do your research and find out what you can do to position yourself as a change maker who can get things done and contribute to the bottom line. Keep your ears open, ask questions and try to spend time with influencers so you hear about the hot projects or assignments first. That way you can raise your hand when teams are set up or assignments are dealt.

3. Build a strong digital presence and be visible online. It’s smart to make your mark at the organization where you start out, because it might put you in line for promotion. But if you plan to seek out opportunities with different companies in town or across the nation, you need to promote your personal brand online.

Take the time to develop a robust profile on LinkedIn and join groups for finance professionals. Post content, comment on group discussions and connect with people who work at companies you would like to associate with. Combine this with a professional Twitter profile and take part in online forums and discussions about the finance industry regularly. Just be visible. This is also a good time to clean up your digital profiles so your past life doesn’t come back to haunt you (you know those pictures we’re talking about).

4. Attend finance industry networking events on a regular basis. While what you know can help you get your foot in the door early in your finance career, it’s who you know that will help get you a promotion or a better job somewhere else.

Build your network of professional relationships outside of the office by attending networking events and volunteering to organize or help out at future get-togethers or charitable activities. Networking groups provide an excellent opportunity to meet new people in the finance industry and stay on top of the latest news.

5. Don’t burn bridges. Even some of the best and brightest people have been fired or left positions on “not the best of terms” – do the names Steve Jobs, mayor Michael Bloomberg or super bowl winning coach Bill Belichick ring a bell? Losing a job can happen to anyone. And just about everyone has dealt with some backstabbing at the office.

Take the high road and know that everything isn’t always going to come up daisies or go your way. If you have a negative experience with a company or individual, try to suck it up, keep any vitriol to yourself and move on. The pain will ease over time, and your grace under duress will impress.

Remembering the Golden Rule doesn’t hurt either. Treating everyone the way you would like to be treated is never a bad idea. The person you do a bad turn to today, may be the person who decides whether you get hired, fired or passed over tomorrow.

Photo Source: Shutterstock

Resources:

FINRA Registration and Examination Requirements. Financial Industry Regulatory Authority website. Available at http://www.finra.org/industry/compliance/registration/qualificationsexams/qualifications/p011051. Accessed Nov. 25, 2013.

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How to have a Successful Phone Interview

Phone Interview SkillsWith the increase in the amount of companies willing to hire the right candidates from outside of their region, as well as using phone interviews to avoid wasting valuable time on in-person meetings that aren’t worth it, interviewees are now seeing more and more requests for the initial interview to be over the phone.

Many job seekers find it difficult to be able to provide a quality phone interview, but with the right skills the process becomes easier. Whether it is because they can’t see the expressions of the interviewers after each answer, or because they’re worried about the possibility of a bad connection, there are ways to make sure that these mishaps are avoided.

In-person interviews give the interviewee the opportunity to gauge how the interviewers are feeling about them so far, and adjust accordingly. For example, if the job seeker gets the impression that the interviewer is confused by an answer based on their facial expression or body language, they can offer to explain it further. Phone interviews don’t allow you to pick up on these cues, but these interviews do have benefits.

Have everything in front of you

One of the most important things is to never be caught off guard. Print out your resume, as well as some notes that highlight your skills even further. Give yourself reminders about how your expertise made a difference in your previous positions, along with more in depth details about your previous tasks and responsibilities. Preparation is one of the many phone interview skills that can help you land your dream job.

Having notes will help you say everything you’d like to in order to prove you’re a great fit for the position. Keep in mind that although they cannot see you during the interview, you should avoid reading off sentence after sentence because it will make you seem rehearsed and inauthentic.

Utilize your computer

Have your computer ready, so you can pull up the company’s website, as well as have a search engine ready in case you are asked any unexpected questions.  The company’s website should always be up,  as you will likely be asked questions that test your company knowledge.

Be free of distractions

Whether you are at your office or at home, it is important to make sure that you are free of distractions. When you have noise in the background it can be difficult for both you and the interviewer to focus and they won’t want to waste their time conducting an interview that irritates them. Make sure you put the pets away, have someone monitoring the kids and create a quiet space that gives you the chance to enhance your phone interview skills.

Bring energy

It is easier to sound bored than it is to sound motivated and excited during a phone interview. It’s important for you to express your emotions verbally. Sound passionate about your work and how you can apply your skills to enhance their success. A great tip is to smile. Usually, when you smile your tone becomes energetic and the interviewers will pick up on that and note that if they hire you, you’ll bring positive energy into the office.

 

Many companies are choosing to do phone interviews prior to in-person interviews because they don’t want to waste their time on candidates that are clearly not a good fit for the company. Look at phone interviews as a screening process; you have to utilize your phone interview skills to convince them that you are worth making it to the next round. Be professional, prepare yourself and give them as many reasons as possible for why you should take over the position.

 

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Should I Take a Job Offer with a Low Salary?

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You can use all the tips you want to negotiate a higher starting salary for a new job. But sometimes, even the best negotiator runs up against a company’s budget limit.

So, what do you do when you’ve got a potentially good job offer, but the salary just isn’t good enough? Many would cut and run, but some job seekers are leveraging the negotiations to ask for other benefits instead of higher pay.

Alex Gedaninik, founder of the tech company Problemio, needed a day job while building his company but wasn’t happy with the best salary offered by a potential employer. As CBS News reports:

When he saw that they couldn’t meet him halfway, Gedaninik requested something that would dramatically improve his quality of life (both personally and professionally) but would cost the company nothing. “I asked to have a four-day workweek, in addition to being able to choose my task, because many of the tasks of this job overlapped with my business. So essentially I ended up working four days a week with some of that time still devoted to my business.”

You can check out the full article here.

Would you consider taking a lower salary in exchange for better benefits? What would you ask for instead?

For this post, Doostang thanks our friends at Brazen Life

Brazen Life is a lifestyle and career blog for ambitious young professionals. Hosted by Brazen Careerist, we offer edgy and fun ideas for navigating the changing world of work. Be Brazen!

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Who Should I Put for My Job References?

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You will probably be asked for references before you receive a job offer—sometimes as early as at the screening interview, sometimes when you interview with the hiring manager, and sometimes only when an offer is extended “subject to a satisfactory check of references.”

It isn’t unusual, however, for people to be hired without a reference check, particularly if they come to the organization through a referral, if they’ve previously held a part-time job at the company, or if the hiring manager is in a hurry.

GET PERMISSION
In any case, your references are valuable to you, and you need to treat them with respect. Obviously, it’s a good idea to begin, early in your campaign, by asking potential references for permission to give their names. If they grant it, express your appreciation, offer to send them your résumé, and, if possible, meet with them or discuss your campaign strategy with them by phone.

You should try to develop a list of five or six references, although you may use only two or three of them in any one situation. These might be former managers, professors, friends of your family who know you well (but not family members), or people who know you through community service. Ministers, rabbis, and the like qualify if they can attest to your service to the community or the congregation or otherwise provide insight into your manner of overcoming obstacles.

Try to develop a list that can provide various perspectives on your accomplishments, and remember that what hiring managers are trying to assess is how you will perform and behave on the job.

MAINTAINING GOODWILL
Because your references are doing you a favor, you don’t want to abuse their goodwill. This means making sure they’re not called too frequently. If they have been called three times already, and you need to use them again, you should call them, thank them for their efforts on your behalf, apologize for any inconvenience, explain the circumstances, and ask whether they are still willing to help. This will help you avoid having your references go flat.

You should also take steps you can to prevent their overuse in the first place. If you’re asked for references early in the interviewing cycle, you can mention who you would use and what they can confirm about you, but say you would prefer that they not be contacted until a later stage in your discussions. Explain that you want to be fair to your references by not having them called too often and that you are having discussions with several organizations.

When the time does come to provide contact information, say that you wish to call the references first to provide them some understanding of the position you are discussing and to introduce the person who is calling.

This approach has multiple advantages. It gives you a chance to prime your references. It shows the hiring manager that you treat people with respect. It delays the reference checking until late in the process when the company already has decided you are the right choice. And it indicates that you are giving consideration to several companies and positions—raising your worth as a candidate.

MAKING THE FIRST CALL
When you do reach the stage of providing contact information, be sure to call each of the references you will give. Explain to them who might be calling, what the position is, why it relates to your goals, and what you think the person calling might be interested in knowing. You can also request that the reference confirm or emphasize certain characteristics.

A week later, ask your references if they received a call. If so, find out what the caller seemed to be interested in, and seek recommendations from your reference on what clarifications you should make with the employer.

For example, your reference might indicate that the caller said, “He seems likable, but I’m not sure he’s persistent enough to follow through when the going gets tough.” The reference might not have been able to address the caller’s concern based on what he knew about you, but you—now knowing the concern—could find a way to introduce more evidence regarding your persistence when the going gets tough.

If your references have not received a call after a week, check in with the hiring manager to see if there is anything you can do to make it easier to get through to your references—find out when they will be available or ask them to call the hiring manager on your behalf.

Bear in mind, though, that the hiring manager may already be satisfied that you’re the right person. Or on the other hand, the manager may be having discussions with another candidate and holding you in reserve. Either way, your thoughtful persistence will leave a positive impression.

DEALING WITH UNFAVORABLE REFERENCES
If you must provide a particular reference—your most recent manager, for example—but feel that the person may give you a mixed review, have a discussion with that person.

Find out what he or she sees as your strengths and weaknesses. Try to show them how you are making the most use of your strengths and that you are either working on your weaknesses or choosing a path that doesn’t emphasize them.

Ask for the person’s own suggestions. It’s pretty unusual for a person to give a weak endorsement of someone who is listening to his or her constructive suggestions.
At the same time, it’s important for you to prepare a hiring manager to hear an unfavorable reference if you think this may be a problem. By doing so, you get to tell your side of the story, and the manager won’t be hearing for the first time that someone thinks you made a mistake or didn’t handle your job or a particular situation well. Here’s an example:

“There is one reference I’m giving you that may not be as favorable as the others. Let me explain why. When I was hired by Security Services, I was told to notify my supervisor immediately if a dangerous situation seemed to be developing in the mall. I did so when after the July Fourth event, the crowds seemed to be getting thick, and a few troublemakers were starting to stir things up. I immediately told my supervisor of my concerns about the developing situation, but he took a wait-and-see attitude. Later, when trouble broke out, he seemed to want to pin the blame on me for not telling him soon enough. I don’t wish to make an issue of it, but I thought you should understand some of the background.”

Your ability to follow through and address outstanding issues will impress not only the recruiting manager, but also your references—smoothing the way for your next job search.

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How to Look for a New Job Without Losing Your Current One

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Interviewing for a new position while still employed can be tricky. Randomly showing up to work in a suit. Printing out resumes on the company printer. Inexplicably stepping out for personal calls. It all makes you look a bit erratic—and your intentions to move on could cause you to lose good standing with your current company.

After some careful reconnaissance of our own, we’d like to offer some critical advice for keeping your desire for greener pastures on the down low. Bear in mind: in the case you don’t land that job, you’ll still have to look your boss in the eye.

KEEP IT HUSH-HUSH

Discretion is the name of the game when it comes to communicating with potential employers and arranging interviews.  One cardinal rule of job seeking on the sly is to not give out your work email and phone number during the application process.  You should also be wary of checking your personal email at work, since many employers can now track every move made on their network. A good idea is to use your PDA to check email and speak with employers on your lunch break.

If a recruiter calls when you’re sitting in your cubicle, don’t mysteriously rush out to take it. “Let the call go to voicemail,” says Robin Ogden, career counselor and cofounder of FiredUP Careers. “If you’re not in a place where you can sell yourself in a professional way, whether it’s at work or a baseball game, you should not take the call.”

Another red flag that you’re looking to jump ship is dressing in a full suit when you’re usually more the business casual type. “There are only so many times you can say, ‘I just went to a funeral,’” says Lou Adler, president of The Adler Group, a training and consulting firm. “Make a quick change somewhere, and keep it confidential.”

CONSULT YOUR PLANNER

Arranging an interview during the workweek comes down to careful preparation and consideration. It’s generally best to take personal time so you’re focused and ready to perform.

If you can’t arrange to leave work, another option is to meet for a few hours before or after. And don’t be apprehensive about explaining that you don’t want to use your employer’s time to handle personal business—the interviewer will appreciate your discretion, and most likely accommodate your work schedule. “The employer that is interviewing you is making judgments about how you’re handling the whole situation, because you might be working for them soon,” says Ogden. Your tact in this situation will not go unnoticed.

HONESTY’S NOT ALWAYS THE BEST POLICY
There are very few times you need to be fully transparent with co-workers and reveal that you’re interviewing for other positions. One instance where you’ll have to disclose your intentions is if you need a reference for your current position. Both Adler and Ogden recommend using a trusted colleague who isn’t your direct manager. “Maybe there’s a manager in another department you are close with,” says Ogden. “If you feel they’re a confidant, you can ask them to be discreet and confidentially be your reference.” Always ask your reference to provide a private number for the recruiter to call, not just their work extension.

You may have to fully ’fess up, however, if your boss directly asks if you’re interviewing. In this case, you shouldn’t lie. Instead, it might be a good time to let him know why you’re searching for new jobs and why you’re unhappy in your current position. It’s a tough conversation to have, but could initiate a dialogue to help resolve problems that made you want to leave in the first place.

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