If you’re aching to leave your current job, you might be tempted to lunge at any seemingly reasonable job offer. But if you accept an offer without fully understanding its pros and cons, you might only end up jumping from the fire to the frying pan. Some questions to help you identify the advantages and disadvantages of a job offer: Do you really understand the opening? Many vacancy announcements for federal openings are written in vaguely generic terms that fail to specifically and realistically define the responsibilities of openings. And the demands and challenges of openings aren’t necessarily covered in…

The next time you prepare a job application, don’t hastily dash off a generic, sloppy cover letter in the last minute like most of your competitors will.  Instead, take the time and trouble to tailor a concise, error-free cover letter to your target job. Why? Because a great cover letter will probably make a great first impression to hiring managers and help you land an interview. One way to craft an A-plus cover letter is to include in it a fast-read table that proves that you meet the requirements of your target job. Here’s how to do so: Identify the…

1234 Yellow Brick Road City, State Zip Code June 4, 2016 Mr. John Doe Personnel Specialist U.S. Mint 801 9th Street NW Washington DC 20220 Dear Mr. Doe: Subject: Marketing Manager Position (HR-503-78) As a Marketing Specialist at ABC Marketing Corps since, 2012, I have been tracking the U.S. Mint’s record-breaking sales and marketing successes. I would welcome the opportunity to contribute to the Mint’s innovative marketing strategies.  YOUR NEEDS  MY QUALIFICATIONS Knowledge of business principles Seven years of experience as Marketing Specialist at ABC Marketing Corps managing sales accounts valued at $8.45 million annually, and a B.A. in Business…

If you’ve ever started a new job where you knew no one, you may have felt like a stranger in a strange land for some time. But when you hire new employees, you can probably transform them from strangers to integrated productive members of your team relatively quickly if you introduce them to their jobs thoughtfully and carefully. During the weeks before your new employee’s start date, make a concerted effort to inventory procedures, terms, acronyms, the nuances of key relationships with other organizations and lessons learned that you now rely on but would be helpful for your newcomer to…

The first rule about checking references of job applicants is to check references; don’t forgo reference checks on the assumption that speaking to a reference will automatically be analogous to speaking to the president of your applicant’s fan club. In reality, even enthusiastic references are often surprisingly candid about an applicant’s limitations. What’s more, reference checks may be the best way to flag professionals who are skilled at winning over hiring managers but can’t recruit good references because they have poor track records. A case in point: I know a mean-spirited scientist who had made it to the final cut…

If you’re a manager, your staff is one of your most valuable assets. You should screen applicants for each new opening on your staff to find the best applicant as carefully as panners sift through silt to find gold. A key component of your screening process is the interview stage, and here are some tips to help find the shine: Consider designing each interview as a more conversational, free-flowing exchange than a traditionally stilted interview. After all, the more relaxed an applicant is during an interview, the more forthcoming he will probably be. What’s more, canned questions are likely to…

As the saying goes, “If it’s not in writing, it didn’t happen.” For your work life, this means: The more you document an important event, the easier it will be for you to prove that it happened. Examples of the types of professional events that warrant careful documentation include the following: Your victories: Maintain a “success file” for storing documents that validate your success, such as your publications, positive news coverage of your work and records of impressive metrics that reflect your work. Also store positive evaluations of your work, such as annual reviews, evaluations of trainings you delivered, and…

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