Monday, August 17, 2009

Little things make a difference in today's job market

Commentary by Schatzie Brunner • August 17, 2009 If you aren't looking for a job at the moment, you may be concerned about needing to look for one in the near future. We've had some good economic news in the past two weeks, but none of us is being deceived into thinking that the unemployment rate can be fixed overnight. Instead, it may continue to climb a bit higher before retreating. New statewide numbers for Tennessee will be released on Thursday. If you are among the job seekers, it's worth knowing a few tricks that could nudge you ahead of the competition at interview time. With so much competition for so few jobs, company executives screening applicants are putting a higher premium on the little things, not just looking for talent. For instance, some executives will ask to ride in your car on the way to lunch. They want to see if your car is neat and clean and if it is in good running order. Some see the state of your car as an indication of your values and organizational skills. A month's worth of coffee cups strewn about the back seat will not impress. Another tip is when preparing or psyching up for an interview as you sit in the company parking lot in your car, don't decide to use the rear view mirror to check your teeth for evidence of last night's meal. Do that before you get to the interview session. You never know who is looking out the window to watch as you prepare to enter an office. Remember, as a job applicant, you are on stage from the moment you approach the front door. Once you are in the waiting room, hand your business card to the receptionist and say your name and the name of the person with whom you have an appointment. Then, smile as if the receptionist is the most important person in your life and sit down. Playing the waiting game Once you're seated in the reception area, read that day's edition of The Tennessean or The Wall Street Journal if it is within reach. Or check your calendar. Do anything except look bored or fidget; this isn't the time to sit and stare at the wall. Nor is it the best time to check in at home and discuss what you're planning for dinner. You'd be surprised how many recruiters call the receptionist back and ask what the job seeker was doing while waiting for show time. Finally, if you meet several people in the interviewing process, and someone makes a comment about one of the other people with whom you've interviewed, don't get pulled into agreeing or defending the person being talked about. Some recruiters see that as the sign of a poor team player and a sure-fire path to the exit. Schatzie Brunner worked at Turner Broadcasting as talent coordinator for Larry King Live and as a CNN news anchor. She now runs a consulting business, holding workshops on how to communicate clearly. She also is a keynote speaker. Visit her Web site at

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