“Have You Ever Been Fired?”

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For some, the question “Have you ever been fired?” can inspire a pit in the stomach when the answer to that question is “Yes”.  You may be among an unfortunate bunch who had a horrific experience at a company (or with a certain coworker or boss), that did not end well.  And whether your termination was your fault or not, it can continue to haunt you in your search for future prospects.  So what is the best way to field this tough issue?

Be Honest

First things first:  don’t lie.  It may be tempting to dismiss the topic altogether, hoping that the company you’re interviewing with never finds out – but what happens if they do?  If they find out during the interview process, you’re certain not to get the job.  And if they find out a few years down the line, no matter how great an employee you are, they may still decide to let you go.  A second termination is not what you want on your record, so do yourself a favor and be upfront and honest from the get go.  It’s much safer, and you’ll stress about if far less in the long run.

Provide Some Context

Explain the circumstances surrounding the incident.  If it was a conflict of interest, let the interviewer know.  If it happened 15 years ago, tell them that you now have a lot of distance from the incident and that your stellar work performance since then speaks for itself.  If it occurred in the more recent past, explain that you have learned quite a bit from the incident, but don’t spend your time making excuses.  Lay down the facts, and focus on what you’ve done since and will do in the future to demonstrate that you are a valuable employee who understands what it takes to be an asset to a company.

Don’t Give Away Too Much

While it’s important to be forthcoming in your response to this question, you also don’t want to spend too much time addressing the matter.  Keep the focus of the interview on what makes you the ideal person to hire, and spend as little time as you can conveying what the interviewer needs to know about that particular incident.  People who feel the need to defend themselves tend to over-explain, and this can portray lack of confidence and lead you down the wrong road.  Certainly stray away from speaking ill of your former boss or company, remaining as objective and succinct as possible.

No one likes getting fired and everyone wants to find a new job.  Don’t let one obstacle in your past set the tone for the rest of your career.  Concentrate on what you need to do to land your next job and on the reasons you’re a perfect fit for it, and the rest will follow.

Have a wonderful day,

The Doostang Team

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Doostang Launches TopResume.com

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Doostang International Reaches Milestone of 1 Million Resume Evaluations and Launches TopResume.com.

Doostang.com, one of the world’s largest career networking platforms, today announced that it has completed over 1 million professional resume evaluations since launching its resume service last year. Each evaluation is conducted by a trained professional who specializes in identifying elements that hiring managers and Applicant Tracking Systems look for in a job seeker’s resume.

“The average employer spends less than 10 seconds reviewing each resume. We provide meaningful and actionable feedback to job seekers — feedback that has directly resulted in more job opportunities for our members in a very competitive market,” said Jeff Berger, CEO of Doostang.

Additionally, Doostang recently launched TopResume.com. “TopResume expands our ability to provide excellent resume evaluations and professionally written resumes. It’s a different product but ultimately, our goal is the same — to give job seekers the tools and confidence they need to accelerate their careers,” explains Berger.

About Doostang:

Founded in 2005, Doostang is an online career network that connects elite professionals with industry-leading organizations in finance, consulting, media, technology, entertainment and more. Doostang’s platform has allowed thousands of job seekers to successfully find new opportunities and advance their careers.

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10 Likely Interview Questions, and How to Answer Them

Anxious about an upcoming interview? No need to worry! If you do your company research, and practice your answers to some common interview questions in advance, you will be ready to handle anything that comes your way.  Set aside time to prepare for each interview, and you will be confident and poised on the big day.

Here a few common interview questions, and tips for how to answer them:

1. Tell me about yourself.

This question intimidates most job seekers, but it is a great opportunity to talk about your strengths and what sets you apart from other candidates. A strong answer will set a positive tone for the interview, and grab the interviewer’s attention. You know this question is coming, so prepare for it in advance, and your interview will be off to a great start.

2. What do you know about the company?

This is one of the easier questions you might be asked, as long as you are prepared to answer it. Do your research. Visit the company website, search for news mentions, and check out all of their social media accounts.  Make your answer personal. Don’t spout off facts you found online; explain what you like about the company and why you want to work there.

3. What is your greatest strength?

This is your opportunity to stand out from other applicants. The strengths you mention need to be relevant to the position, and you should provide specific examples of how you used them. Your strengths can be both personal and professional attributes, as long as they help prove why you are the ideal candidate for the job.

4. What is your greatest weakness?

Be honest. You don’t have to discuss all of your flaws, but focus on one or two things you could improve. Explain how you plan to address your weakness, and ways you can turn it into a strength. Don’t mention anything that will automatically disqualify you (for example: don’t say you’re bad with numbers if you want an accounting job), but be realistic about your abilities.

5. Describe a challenge or conflict you faced at work, and how you handled it.

Think of a specific challenge or conflict that was unique to you. A vague answer about having to balance projects will your bore your interviewer, and make you look unqualified.  Your answer should reflect your problem-solving skills and adaptability.

6. What is your dream job?

This question helps the interviewer determine if you are a good fit for the position. If you’re interviewing for a financial analyst position, don’t say you’re planning on applying to med school in the near future.  The job duties should align with your future goals.  Even if the position you are applying for is just a stepping stone for the job you really want, focus on why you would be a great addition to the team.

7. Why are you leaving your current job (….or Why did you quit your last job)?

Stay positive. Avoid saying anything negative about your current or previous employer when possible  Express enthusiasm for the position you hope to get, and indicate why you are a better fit for this role instead of the one you currently or previously had.

8. What do you like to do outside of work?

While your technical skills and work achievements are important, so is cultural fit. Always stay professional when discussing your personal life during an interview, but don’t be afraid to show your personality. Your unique hobby might impress the hiring manager, and you will connect over any shared interests.

9. What are your salary requirements?

Benchmark. Set a range. Be flexible. This is a tough question to answer, and one of the most important ones for the candidate to get right. Be prepared to explain how you reached your number (or ideally, your range), and to defend your answer.

10. Do you have any questions for us?

Yes! You should always ask questions at the end of the interview. Asking relevant, thoughtful questions will prove that you are truly interested in the position. Think of a few questions before your meeting, and be ready to adapt them based on the interview.

Good luck at your next interview, and don’t forget to follow up with the employer!

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Why Your Resume Won’t Get You Hired

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You have been working very hard at your resume and cover letter, posting them online and mailing them out. Yet nothing is happening for you. There have been no phone calls to request interviews; not even a phone interview. You realize the economy is not 100%, but it’s not that bad.

You really are qualified and your experience is extensive. Why are you getting passed over and not getting hired? You have excellent performance appraisals and recommendations. All of this is on your resume. Where is the disconnect?

What’s Wrong With My Resume?

  • Outlandish Objectives

Most professional resume writers would tell you not to include an objective at all. If you need to put something at the top of the page, make it an overview of your skills. Don’t write an objective that sounds like you can walk on water and solve every problem a company might have. Don’t use code words like ‘seasoned professional’. Everyone knows that means you have been in the workforce a long time. Don’t make it sound like you will just be using this job to get to the next one.

  • Experience that is Irrelevant

Do not list jobs that have no relevance to where you are in your career now. Do not list part time jobs unless you have never worked full time. Unless you are applying for an entry level position don’t list your high school job at McDonalds.

  • Faux Achievements

Achievements are important, really important. However, they need to be real and they need to be relevant. If you won the Betty Crocker Homemaker Award in high school, it is not relevant. If you won an honors scholarship in college that may be relevant. However, it is not relevant if you have been out of college and in the workforce for 20 years.

Relevant achievements are the money you saved your company last year. Don’t say “I saved money.”  Instead say, “Cut department’s expenses by 34% , saving the company over $50,000 in 2013.” These are the kind of achievements you want on your resume.

  • Pictures

Some people are advocating putting a picture of yourself on your resume. This is a very European thing to do and most American hiring managers will either not care or be put off by it. Play it safe. No pictures on your resume.

  • Personal Stuff

Don’t put any personal information on your resume. Don’t say you are married or divorced. Don’t say you have 3 children. Religion, political affiliation, or anything else that is purely personal does not belong on your resume and could be held against you. It is illegal for an employer to discriminate based on most of these things. That is why they will not ask you about them in the interview. Don’t volunteer the information.

  • Inappropriate Email Address

You do want to list an email address where the company can contact you. However, if the only email address you have is partynow@partydown.com, then get a new one. Use a Gmail or Yahoo address with your name or initials. Make it professional. This one item at the very top of your resume might be the one thing that costs you an interview.

  • Negative Comments and Stressing Weakness

Don’t offer negative comments or stress your own weaknesses. Don’t point out gaps in your employments unless you can explain them. Don’t ever state that you were fired from a job. Never make negative comments about a previous company or a previous boss.

Avoid these mistakes that will keep you from being hired.

About the Author: Gerald Buck is the editor of ejobapplications.com, a site offering job applications and resourceful information. He is passionate in providing advice to those seeking job opportunities.

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3 Interview Misconceptions

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When it comes to the job search process, job seekers often have false impressions about how things work.  The interview is no exception, and understanding a few common misconceptions about the process can help you do a much better job – and hopefully put your mind at ease!  Read on for 3 big interview myths:

The Most Qualified Candidate Gets the Job

Okay, this is untrue for a myriad of reasons, with jobs going to individuals who know people on the inside, to those who simply reach out at the right time, and so on.  Bear this in mind during your interview, because it’s important to understand that you need to be professional, personable, and on your A Game at all times.  You can be the most fabulous job candidate on paper and in reality, but if you don’t bring confidence to the table, the job could go to someone who had better people skills and impressed the interviewer.  Conversely, if you know your resume may be lacking in certain areas, make up for it by giving a winning interview.

The Interviewer is Prepared for…the Interview

There are several reasons why an interviewer may not be prepared for an interview.  For example, this could be their first time interviewing a candidate and they may be nervous.  Or they could be bogged down with extra work – perhaps the reason they are hiring someone in the first place – and so they haven’t devoted proper time to preparing for the interview.  Thus, the more prepared you are, the easier the interview is for everyone, and the better impression you create.  Decide what you want to tell the interviewer beforehand, and do your best to find ways to mention your past achievements and what you can bring to the table.

The Interviewer will Ask All the Necessary Questions

Again, the person interviewing you might be distracted and might miss some important points. Or you might be speaking with a hiring manager who doesn’t know as much about the job as the person you will be working for, so the interviewer may not ask all the appropriate questions.  Thus, it is your job to bring up skills and qualifications you have that are specifically pertinent to the job, so that the person interviewing you can report these back to the individual who makes the final decision.  If they are the person who makes the final call, make the choice easier for them by addressing every aspect of the job description in a way that paints you as the perfect candidate.  There may be things that you want to bring up that the interviewer never asks about – if this is the case, don’t brush them aside.  Find ways to work these points into the conversation.

Interviews can be nerve-racking for individuals on both sides of the table.  And at the end of the day, an interviewer is just another human being.  If you can enter the conversation confident, prepared, and personable, you’re sure to impress.

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Prove Your Best Skills During an Interview

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HOW TO PROVE YOUR BEST SKILLS DURING AN INTERVIEW

Whether you’ve recently entered the job market or you’ve been in the workforce for a while, when it comes to looking for a new job, preparation is key for interview success.

As you prepare for job interviews, you want to market your strengths and skills that make you the best candidate for the position. Every job interview is different, but one thing you can do is set yourself apart by selling your strengths. According to CBN.com, only 80 percent of job seekers can prove their skills to employers during job interviews. How can you prove your best skills during the interview?

Use accomplishment stories to illustrate your skills.

The best way to prove your skills during an interview is to use accomplishment stories to support your abilities and expertise. The goal of the interview is to clearly articulate your strengths to the employer. Use examples from prior work and internship experience where you had to apply your technical skills. When explaining your story, tell the interviewer how your expertise created success for your organization. This will help you sell your strengths and provide the interviewer with an idea of what you can accomplish as an employee.

Include your best work in your portfolio.

Your portfolio is another way to highlight your strengths during a job interview. When building your portfolio, it’s important to include your very best work to help you market your strongest skills. It’s also a good idea to include examples that support some of the accomplishment stories you’ll share during the interview. This way, you’ll be able to provide the interviewer with tangible examples of your work.

Never underestimate your abilities. 

Confidence is key when it comes to proving your strongest skills during a job interview. The best way to be confident during an interview is to make sure you include skills in your resume and cover letter that you can translate into accomplishments. By doing this, you won’t have to worry about explaining a skill that really isn’t one of your strengths. You want to make sure you can feel confident about your skills, so focus on your strengths and never underestimate those abilities.

Don’t forget to sell your soft skills.

Your soft skills are the qualities that can set you apart from other candidates during the job interview process. Whether you’re changing jobs or re-entering the workforce, your soft skills are the strengths your can transfer between different positions. Employers look for candidates who are strong communicators, leaders, and team players in the workplace. If you can demonstrate those qualities during an interview, the hiring manager is surely to be impressed with the soft skills you have to offer.

Remember, proving your strengths during a job interview means explaining how you can help the company or organization achieve success. If you fail to explain what makes you the best candidate for the position, then the employer will lose interest. Allow your strengths shine through with your confidence and, by doing this, you will be able to prove your best skills during your next job interview.

What are your tips for selling strengths during an interview?

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

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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How Do I Get a Job in Accounting?

accountingAs the global economy continues to recover, accounting is one of the fastest-growing fields. Increased hiring and a rise in mergers and restructuring in other fields, especially in financial services and health care, have necessitated growth in accounting to handle all the new activity. That growth, combined with senior employees retiring and leaving the workforce, has led to a robust job market for accountants.

What career options are available for job seekers with accounting degrees?

 The Big Four

KPMG. PricewaterhouseCoopers. Deloitte. Ernst & Young.

 These are the most prestigious employers for accounting grads. Why? Big Four clients work with Fortune 1000 companies, which means employees are exposed to complex accounting issues. A job with a Big Four firm is a great career move for someone entering the accounting profession. If, instead of moving up the ladder in your Big Four firm, you decide to work for another public accounting firm, take an in-house position in industry or government, or decide to hang out your own shingle, your Big Four experience will shine on your resume.

The central focus of the Big Four firms is audit services: verification of the accuracy of clients’ books. This also includes non-audit lines of business, including actuarial work (risk analysis and management), tax consulting, human resources management, and merger and acquisition advice.

Other Public Accounting Firms

Although the Big Four get most of the publicity, many smaller, less well-known national players and regional public accounting firms do plenty of hiring. Representative national firms include Grant Thornton, McGladrey & Pullen, BDO Seidman, and Moss Adams. There are also strong regional players around the country that usually affiliate themselves with some national network of similarly sized firms. Insiders tell us the hours are often a little better at these smaller firms than at the Big Four, the path to partner a little quicker, and the work more varied and interesting. If you go to a Big Four firm, your only responsibility for three months might be to audit the cash account at IBM. At a regional firm, you’ll be a bigger fish in a smaller pond, with a greater variety of job duties.

 In-House Accounting

Whether publicly traded or not, every company has internal accountants to set budgets, manage assets, and track payroll, accounts payable and receivable, and other financial matters. For mid-sized and large firms, the internal staff works closely with public auditors at the end of the fiscal year and with senior management and IT staff year-round.

Controllers and CFOs at smaller firms often enjoy even more important and influential roles in running and developing the business. These jobs are just as demanding as those in public accounting. Most accountants in the private sector stay in one place, in one job, working with the same colleagues, for extended periods. However, should you choose to move around, accounting skills are very portable.

 Government

The government hires a lot of people with accounting skills. Traditionally the biggest federal employers are the Department of Defense, the Government Accountability Office, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the Internal Revenue Service. In addition to monitoring individual and corporate tax returns, government accountants at the state and federal levels formulate and administer budgets, track costs, and analyze publicly funded programs.

Independent

You can always hang out your own shingle, individually or in partnership with other accountants, especially once you have your CPA. There is plenty of business preparing tax returns and advising small businesses, provided you have relevant expertise, such as a thorough knowledge of tax law. You also will need to market your services and manage your own business— time-consuming activities not everyone enjoys.

Some independent practitioners make a nice niche for themselves by specializing in a particular industry. For instance, an accountant specializing in tax prep for people in advertising and creative services may reap many referral benefits by virtue of their specialty. But beware: This kind of specialization can breed monotony because you’ll be working on the same types of issues day after day.

 

 

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Major Resume Myths

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1) Your Resume Can Only Be One Page

This is amongst the most common and hard to break myths surrounding resumes. The contemporary job applicant is dealing with filtering systems and various other unique technological advancements that were not in play within the recruitment field even 5 years ago. These variables have a direct impact on the response to this inquiry.

Resumes should be condensed and focused solely on key information that is from a relevant time span (ie. 10-15 years of recent experience). With that noted,resumes can absolutely expand beyond 1 page. From entry-level to C-level professionals, some applicants simply have too much information to effectively condense without hindering representation of their background. Additionally, inclusion of added content allows applicants to better optimize their document for Applicant Tracking Systems. Finally, certain industries, such as federal/government capacities, require more in-depth responses. For these reasons, 1-2 pages is now considered the standard amongst all recruiters.

2) Nobody Will Read Your Resume

While filtering systems are a reality of the contemporary workplace, simply filling a resume with keyword-optimized content isn’t doing an applicant any favors in the long run. Ensuring cohesive and seamless integration of keywords with professionally crafted content helps in all stages of recruitment, not just the earlier ones.

Make sure your resume passes the human test.

3) Your Resume Should Be Exhaustive

This is very common and one of the unfortunate mistakes made by the average applicant. Resumes are not intended to be exhaustive lists of past work experience. Instead, they should focus on the most 10-15 recent years of employment. Skills and accomplishments maintained during this time frame carry more significance for recruiters. Those are the positions that should command the most real estate on one’s resume, rather than referring to an older position over 15 years in age.

4) Your Resume Should Have an Objective Statement

Despite what may have been standard with past template-based resumes, objectives no longer have a place in the contemporary resume. Recruiters manage such a high volume of orders that they needn’t be told what the applicant is looking for in an employer. The recruiters want to know how you can benefit their company. Opt for a career summary, highlight achievements, and use this section to sell applicable skills.

About the Author: Sebastian King is a member of the Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches and a Doostang Resume Expert.

 

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