A work group that successfully collaborates on a project is analogous to an orchestra: Each musician in an orchestra produces a distinct, vital sound that harmoniously fuses with those of his fellow musicians into a symphony. Likewise, each member of an effective team produces a distinct, vital contribution that harmoniously integrates with those of his colleagues into an impressive final product. But just as one out-of-tune musician may cause a symphony to disintegrate into discordant tones, an uncooperative colleague can doom a team’s group project. So how should you deal with an uncooperative colleague who is fouling your…

Your interviewer will probably begin your next job interview with the standard opener: “Tell me about yourself.” How can you ace this question and make a great first impression with your interviewer? By answering in a way that quickly proves that you are well-qualified for your target job and passionate about it. The best way to achieve these goals is by crafting your answer before your interview instead of on-the-fly during it. The paradox of preparation for job interviews: The more you prepare and rehearse, the more spontaneously articulate you will sound. Some guiding principles for crafting impressive answers to…

When you’re applying for jobs, you will have only a precious few opportunities to win over hiring managers. One way to make the most of them: Introduce each of your job applications with a concise, zesty cover letter that summarizes your most relevant credentials. This strategy offers wow power because: Most of your competitors either won’t bother to write cover letters or will hastily zip off bad ones — approaches that scream of indifference. By taking the time and trouble to customize a cover letter to your target opening, you will help prove to hiring managers that you are among…

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. Whether you’re describing your achievements for job applications, interviews or activity summaries submitted to your supervisor, you’ll increase their wow power by quantifying them. Why? Because by supporting your achievements with statistics, counts and other metrics, you’ll make them sound more objective (whether or not they are) and therefore more credible, and more massive and therefore…

Government agencies don’t track “billable hours” as do consulting firms, therefore costs of staff time spent in government meetings are uncounted and usually ignored. This lack of cost accountability can help encourage unnecessary government meetings and unnecessarily long meetings. Any time you’re in an unproductive meeting, you may calculate some of its hidden costs by multiplying the approximate hourly salary of each meeting attendee by the meeting length, and adding together these salary costs. Shocking though the results of your calculations will probably be, they won’t even include the uncountable costs of delays on projects caused by the staff time…

Particularly if you use it strategically, the various forms of positive professional feedback you receive may help you accelerate your advancement and boost your salary. Here’s why: Outstanding evaluations may help you land promotions. Some federal job applications require submission of annual evaluations. So, the better your evaluation, the bigger boost it will give your application. But even if you’re applying for jobs that don’t require evaluations, brandish your outstanding evaluation anyway to strengthen your case. How? By uploading it to your application as an optional document and by including it in the success portfolio you bring to interviews. Also,…

The first thing you should do after ripping off your uncomfortable interview outfit when you get home after a job interview is to send a thank-you letter to your interviewer. You understandably may think that you — not your interviewer — deserve to be thanked. After all, you took the time and trouble to truck down to your interviewer’s office; you submitted to a cross examination from an interviewer or perhaps even a firing squad … I mean an interview panel. And you may have even graciously inventoried your weaknesses during your interview. But, unfair though it may be, your…

The next time you apply for federal jobs, you may be pleasantly surprised to discover that application procedures have improved in some important ways. First, you probably won’t have to write those odious knowledge, skills and abilities essays unless you’re applying for Senior Executive Service jobs. In addition, USAJOBS.com — the main portal for federal jobs — has been enhanced. For example, you may now save in your USAJOBS account many types of ancillary application documents, including academic transcripts, veterans’ preference documents, annual evaluations and cover letters. This storage feature makes it easier to find these documents when needed, and…

My July 11 column explained how to target your resumes so that they will generate job interviews. Here’s advice on how to similarly target your job interviews so that they will generate job offers. Research each interviewer: When you’re invited to an interview, request the names and titles of each interviewer who will attend the interview. Then, Google your interviewer, review his LinkedIn page, search for his profile on his agency’s website, and milk any knowledgeable associates you may have for insider information about him. In addition, you might be able to obtain his profile for a small fee from…

When you’re job hunting, you should target your application to each opening you aim for as assiduously as a dart player aims his darts at the bull’s-eye. Put another way: Hiring managers will probably reject a generic, untargeted application about as fast as you reject your junk mail — and for many of the same reasons. But they will probably give about as much attention to a targeted application — an extremely rare and valued commodity — as you would to a long-awaited letter that personally addresses you. Targeting tips: Your application should describe credentials that are required by your…

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