Dcworks has moved!!

Don’t worry, dcworks continues — but at a new home (a hosted site) and with new features and functionality.

Please check it out at: http://www.dcworks.info/

I will still be posting weekdays. And please keep sending ideas, questions, and job leads — either through the new site or to me at jodifs@verizon.net.

Happy hunting!



August 30, 2010 at 3:31 am 1 comment

How to Explain Why You Left

The question will inevitably come up — in different forms and at different times in a job search — and you should consider your answer well in advance: Just why did you leave that job? This is especially true when a hiring manager suspects a layoff, buyout or firing but they sometimes ask it in the case of a short-time stint, seemingly lateral move or when you left a prestigious-sounding job or workplace for something else.

Hiring experts give two pieces of advice here: Don’t address the issue yourself  but when they bring it up, give a solid, honest, makes-sense-to-me reason for your exit. Defensiveness will make them question you as a candidate but highlighting this can also hurt your chances of being considered for a position.

Here’s some specific tips for handling the question of why you left a previous job: (more…)

August 27, 2010 at 11:49 am Leave a comment

When Are They Asking for Too Much?

These days, job candidates who get an offer — or even a rejection letter — after only an interview or two can consider themselves fortunate that they got off easy. Many job seekers face a test, or sometimes a battery of them, plus a tryout, or perhaps must provide a critique of a publication and even write an essay about why you’d want to work there.

That’s all fine and well and most of the time, hiring managers would tell you to comply. If you refuse to take the test or prepare the critique, it’s a little like telling the nice policeman that you’re not interested in the Breathalyzer: They’ll wonder what you’ve got to hide. And that could very well be the end of the hiring process for you.

Yet increasingly, news organizations are asking candidates — sometimes after only a cursory interview — to give them pages-long beat reports, detailed story idea lists and critiques that mimic business plans. And this raises obvious questions for the candidate: What is the organization going to do with this? Will my ideas soon turn up on their Web site and in their pages? And will this really help me get the job?

It can be a tough call, but sometimes they may be asking for too much. Here are some suggestions about how to handle a request during the hiring process that you think goes too far: (more…)

August 26, 2010 at 1:45 am Leave a comment

How to Really Help a Friend Get a Job

Sometimes we wonder how to best help a friend who has been laid off or especially one who has been looking for a job for a while. For those of us who have been there, we know that all too often people who initially offer help and support vanish — and that it’s a rare friend who sticks by a job seeker through their search. Part of the reason people drop out is that they really don’t know what to do or how best to help.

So, if you really want to help someone be successful in their search (and you should — it’s not only the right thing to do but “what goes around, comes around” and the next time you’re looking, they may well be in a position to help you!) here are some thoughts on how to do so in a meaningful way: (more…)

August 25, 2010 at 11:38 am Leave a comment

What We Wish We’d Have Known

Today’s post is an answer to a smart, far-reaching question sent to me the other day by a recent J-school graduate: What do you wish you’d have known when you were just starting out in journalism, not only about the profession but about how to succeed?

Decades into my journalism career, I have a few thoughts, and I also checked with a few other long-time, successful journalists for their ideas. And while these tips and strategies are most applicable to those embarking on a career in  journalism, the words of wisdom here could be useful to any professional — especially those in a field undergoing rapid change.

So, here is what we wish we’d have known then, but figured out along the way: (more…)

August 24, 2010 at 11:34 am 1 comment

Promoting Your Emotional IQ in a Job Search

I recently heard from a job hunter who wondered if they were TOO brainy and not warm enough in a recent interview. This job seeker said he prepared well, had a good pitch for the position, asked smart questions and was professional and calm. Yet he didn’t get a second interview, and when asked what he could have done better, the hiring manager was vague. In retrospect, he says, he thinks he may have failed to make an emotional connection with the interviewer. “Yet, am I supposed to worry about that?” he asks in an email. “Do I have to work hard to make them like me, as well as respect my qualifications?”

Well, yes. While it may seem that it’s enough to wow a hiring manager with your skills, experience and knowledge of the organization and the field, it’s not. Human nature being what it is, those hiring want to feel a solid connection with a candidate and want to think you’d be a desirable person to have around the office. Now, if you’re not qualified or prepared, it doesn’t matter how much they may like you. But if you have the skills and experience and they don’t feel any warmth, you may have a problem — especially if another candidate is qualified as well as friendly and warm. This is what’s known as emotional intelligence, and heightening your emotional IQ is an important element in succeeding in  the interview process.

Emotional intelligence has gotten a lot of press lately, and there’s plenty of studies and anecdotal evidence that show it’s an important, demonstrable skill in the workplace. A recent book that’s not half bad posits the idea that even if you’re not a naturally warm and outgoing person, you can develop some skills and traits that can help you in a job hunt:

The Smart New Way to Get Hired – Use Emotional Intelligence and Land the Right Job

Meanwhile, here are some common-sense tips to help you promote your emotional IQ in a job search, and to avoid being viewed as cold and distant: (more…)

August 23, 2010 at 1:37 am Leave a comment

It Doesn’t Have to be Forever

We all know that employers have little, if any, loyalty to employees these days. Layoffs, reorganizations and buyouts in recent years have taught us that our jobs are continually vulnerable and (unless one has a secure contract or tenure) we can be replaced at any time, for almost any reason. Yet when hunting for jobs, we often act as though this decision is one we are making for the long term — and that a misstep could spell disaster and land us in a lousy situation that we’ll be living with for a very long time.

What if, instead, we made career choices based on the hard, cold facts — that most jobs, these days, last for an average of four years, and so only represent a small slice of one’s career. Wouldn’t that take some of the pressure off a job hunt? Also, because it has become commonplace to jump around in one’s career, even short-term stints don’t have the stigma they used to — so if it doesn’t work out, you won’t be penalized like you used to be, especially if you find something else relatively quickly. That opens up possibilities and allows one to take some risks.

While I’m certainly not advocating that one should adopt a cavalier attitude toward accepting a job, it’s also true that evidence indicates that our careers will be made up of many shorter-term positions with a number of employers. And rather than fighting that, what if we embraced it and took advantage of this reality?

Here are some ways that accepting the concept of “it doesn’t have to be forever” can help in managing your career: (more…)

August 20, 2010 at 11:32 am Leave a comment

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DC Works has moved!

I'm now blogging at dcworks.info. I hope you'll join me there!