Author Lily Whiteman

Lily Whiteman is a federal communications expert and author of “How to Land a Top-paying Federal Job,” and a trainer of career advancement skills and communication skills. Her website is IGotTheJob.net. Ask your career questions by email to lwhiteman@federaltimes.com or by Twitter to @Lilymwhiteman.

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…

My December column presented common job interview questions accompanied by examples of unimpressive (but common) answers and impressive answers to those questions. Some more: How do you handle stress? Unimpressive Answer: Any answer that reveals emotional weakness. (Don’t mention your stash of prescription tranquilizers!) Impressive Answer: Say that you get the job done and maintain grace under pressure no matter what—and that your references will support your answer. Cite your multitasking techniques, such as prioritizing, tracking progress, delegating if you have a staff, going the extra mile, and just taking a few deep breaths, when necessary. Describe the types of…

Most job-seekers leave job interviews feeling like they have just endured the working world’s version of enhanced interrogation. But you can reduce the torture of your next job interview and significantly improve your performance. Before your next interview, prepare answers to questions that you will probably be asked by interviewers, and role-play your answers with your trusted advisers. You will thereby boost your confidence and increase the wow-power of your interviews. To help you do so, here are good answers to some common interview questions. Tell me about yourself. Unimpressive answer: A rambling autobiography that includes irrelevant professional and personal…

Too many students and recent grads waste their summers flipping burgers when they could be working interesting, career-boosting jobs. But in this tough job market, how can young people—go-getters though they may be—afford to toss away their spatulas for meaningful jobs? By landing dynamic federal summer internships. Granted: Some federal internships are dominated by busywork. But one of the best kept secrets in government is that dozens of federal internship programs—located throughout the U.S.—are specially designed to offer incomparable opportunities to schmooze with power brokers, gain resume-stuffing experience, receive mentoring, network and earn competitive salaries. Some summer federal internship programs…

When you apply for jobs, remember that hiring managers won’t leisurely savor every word of your résumé while relaxing beside a cozy fire, as if they were reading a suspense novel. Instead, they will probably race through your resume, ruthlessly searching for any remotely acceptable reason to reject it in order to quickly whittle down the application pile, narrow down their hiring options, and wrap up the selection process. So to make the cut, craft your résumé to instantly win over hiring managers. Some ways to do so: Upload to your application a well-formatted, fast-read PDF version of a Microsoft…

In the musical chairs of life, you may eventually leave your job for a better one. When you do so, you should try to leave your job as gracefully and smoothly as possible. Some tips to help you move on without messing up: Don’t resign from your current job until you have received a final written agreement from your future employer (if you’re not retiring). Within reason, try to set your start date on your new job far away enough to give yourself enough time to tie up loose ends on your current job, say your goodbyes, and complete activities…

Even if you have the best boss in the world, you are, at most, only his second most important priority. So you can’t rely on him or anyone else to steer you around professional speed bumps and guide you toward career-boosting opportunities. You’re the only person in the world who has a 100-percent stake in your career, so it is up to you to manage your climb up the career ladder. Here are some tips to help you do so: The General Schedule salary table has 15 grades, representing successively higher levels of seniority and salary. In most cases, feds…

If you’re a fed working on the General Schedule  pay scale, you may, in most cases, be eligible for a grade increase once you’ve fulfilled your time-in-grade requirement, which is usually one year. Common ways to land a grade increase are to: Earn a promotion on a job that has promotion potential. Convince your supervisor to upgrade your current position if it doesn’t have promotion potential but has evolved into a higher level position since you were hired into it. Your supervisor may be able to justify such an upgrade on the basis of a so-called “accretion of duties.” Land…

Generally, you should — if possible — begin to seek greener pastures when your current job stops offering new intellectual, managerial and financial opportunities, and/or fails to provide a respectful/dignified work environment — and probably won’t do so in the foreseeable future. However, during my many years as a fed, I have known many intelligent, energetic and accomplished professionals who passively stayed at their jobs for many years after their positions had become hopelessly unrewarding or unpleasant, without attempting to seek new opportunities. Why? In many cases, because they were afraid of change. To keep advancing, your fear of not…

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