President,  Berman Larson Kane
President, Berman Larson Kane


Comparisons between job hunting and dating are common, and never are they truer than when it comes to the follow-up after the initial interview or first date, according to an article

After either meeting, if you’re interested you want to let the other person know, but you don’t want to appear desperate. You also don’t want to feel foolish if the employer or the date had no intention of contacting you again.

On the other hand, what if the employer or the date is waiting for you to make the first call? If you don’t follow-up promptly, it might indicate a lack of interest and you might miss out on a great job or a great romance.

In the case of the interview, the article noted, you end up asking yourself many questions and imagining hypothetical situations. “If I follow up now, do I seem desperate? If I wait too long, will they think I’m lazy? What if I’m the front-runner but I bug them and they cross my name off the list? What if I’m tied with someone else and my initiative gives me the edge?” There are so many questions and no definite answers to any of them.

As with dating, job hunts don’t have rules set in stone and careful navigation is always key. At best, you need to do what feels right and see what happens; ultimately you have to use your judgment and hope for the best.

Here, from the article, are three possible methods for following up with an employer after an interview and ways to know if you’ve crossed the line from eager to annoying:

1. The thank-you note is necessary after an interview, and no job seeker can afford to forgo it. Thank-you notes tell hiring managers that you respect their time. They have packed schedules and can afford to spend time interviewing only a select group of applicants, so your note acknowledges how grateful you are to get some face time.


Appropriate: An e-mailed note on the same day of the interview shows that you are courteous and don’t dawdle. For most employers, e-mail is the acceptable form of thanks because e-mail is a part of everyday business life and arrives quickly. A handwritten letter can be sent as a supplement to the e-mail if you want to stress your gratitude or you know the interviewer is old-fashioned.


Overkill: If you’re going to follow up with a letter after your follow-up letter, think again. You already said thank you, so what else do you need to say? Both you and the hiring manager know that another letter is your way of asking, “Did I get the job?” So don’t clog the hiring manager’s inbox with more notes unless you want to be thought of as a pest.


2. The phone call is daunting and may not be the correct move in every job situation. In fact, many job postings specifically state, “No phone calls.” Unless you’re feeling brave, you might want to skip it.

Appropriate: Unless you were specifically instructed not to call the hiring manager or another contact, you can make the call after an appropriate amount of time has passed. In this case, if you were given a deadline for when a decision would be made, let it pass and wait a few extra days and then make the call.


Overkill: The phone call is one of the easiest ways to sabotage your image. Call once, when appropriate, and don’t call again unless you’ve been told to. Phone calls are a nuisance in a way that letters and e-mails aren’t. You can decline to open a message or just read it and ignore it. A phone call is harder to ignore if it requires the hiring manager to screen his or her calls once you become a repeat offender. If the company wants you, it probably won’t forget to call you.

 3. The pop-in visit causes you anxiety when your in-laws do it. Your place is a mess and suddenly you’re forced to entertain people who you might not like very much anyway. Don’t do that to an employer if you want to be considered for a job.


Appropriate: Stopping by to visit the company is rarely acceptable. Unless you have an explicit indication that you’re welcome to show up uninvited, which would actually imply that you are invited, showing up in person is inappropriate. This follow-up is one case where once is almost certainly too much.

Overkill: When you show up and the hiring manager or receptionist gives you a look that says, “Why are you here?” you’ll know you’ve crossed a line. Employers are busy — they have schedules, meetings, clients and tasks. By showing up unannounced, you not only disrupt their routine but also imply that you are more important than their obligations and deserve their immediate attention.

Of course, the article noted, you’re bound to meet someone who broke one of these rules and impressed the hiring manager by his or her audacity. Just be aware, though, that by doing so you’re risking your professional reputation and could be removing yourself from the running for a job where you were a top candidate.


Unemployed Interview Tips to Stand Out

Interview Tips to Help You Stand Out 

Bob Larson, CPC
Bob Larson, CPC

In today’s ultracompetitive job market, even getting an interview is a feat. Yet, according to an article in The Wall Street Journal, recruiters and hiring managers say many unemployed candidates blow the opportunity by appearing desperate or bitter about their situations—often without realizing it.

For example, recruiters have seen job candidates arrive up to an hour early for interviews. Other candidates have alluded to financial hardships while in the hot seat, and one person even distributed bound copies of documents describing projects he completed for past employers. All of these tactics, recruiters and hiring managers say, do more harm than good.

“People are becoming a lot more aggressive,” said Julie Loubaton, director of recruiting and talent management for the Atlanta-based Consolidated Container. “They often wind up hurting themselves.”

Here are a number of suggestions from recruiters and hiring managers to help job seekers stand out during interviews:

For starters, the article pointed out, you’ll need to leave your baggage and anxiety at the door. Wait until 10 minutes before your scheduled interview time to announce yourself. Arriving any sooner “shows that you’re not respectful of the time the hiring manager put aside for you,” Loubaton told the newspaper. “Companies really don’t want someone camped out in their lobby.”

Signal confidence by offering a firm handshake, added Wendy Alfus Rothman, president of Wenroth Consulting Inc., an executive coaching firm in New York. Focus your attention on the interviewer. Avoid looking around the room, tapping your fingers, or other nervous movements.

No matter how you’re feeling, keep your personal woes out of the interview process, asserts Alfus Rothman. Instead, always exude an upbeat attitude. For example, if you were laid off, instead of lamenting the situation, you might say the experience prompted you to assess your skills, and that’s what led you to here. “You want to demonstrate resilience in the face of unpredictable obstacles,” she said.

Meanwhile, show you’ve done your homework on the company by explaining how your background and track record relates to its current needs, added Deborah Marjus, founder of Columbus Advisors LLC, an executive-search firm in New York. This is particularly important if the firm is in a different industry than the one you worked in before. To stand out, you’ll need to look up more than just the basics of the company leadership and core businesses.

Also, be sure to show you’re a strong fit for the particular position you’re seeking, added Kathy Marsico, senior vice president of human resources at PDI Inc., a Saddle River, N.J. provider of sales and marketing services for pharmaceutical companies. Offer examples of past accomplishments – not just responsibilities you’ve held – and describe how they’re relevant to the opportunity.

Be careful not to go too far, though, in your quest to stand out. For example, it may be tempting to offer to work temporarily for free or to take a lesser salary than what the job pays. But experts say such bold moves often backfire on candidates. “Employers want value,” said Lee Miller, author of “Get More Money on Your Next Job…In Any Economy.” “They don’t want cheap.”

Your best bet is to wait until you’re extended a job offer before talking pay. “In a recession, employers are going to be very price sensitive,” said Miller. “The salary you ask for may impact their decision to move forward.” Come prepared having researched the average pay range for a position in case you’re pressured to name your price,” he added.

You might say, for example, that money isn’t a primary concern for you and that you’re just looking for something fair, suggested Miller. You can try turning the tables by asking interviewers what the company has budgeted for the position. In some cases, you may be looking just for a job to get you through so you might consider a less-than-perfect fit.

After an interview, take caution with your follow-up. If you’re in the running for multiple jobs at once, make sure to address thank-yous to the right people, career experts advised in the article. Also look closely for spelling and grammatical errors. In a competitive job market, employers have the luxury of choice, and even a minor faux pas can hurt your chances.

If all has gone well, don’t stalk the interviewer. Wait at least a week before checking on your candidacy, added Jose Tamaz, managing partner at Ausrtin-Michael LP, an executive-search firm in Golden, Colo. Call recruiters only at their office, even if their business card lists a home or cell number. And leave a message if you get voice mail. These days, recruiters typically have a caller ID and can tell if you’ve tried reaching them multiple times without leaving a voicemail. “There’s a fine line between enthusiasm and over-enthusiasm,” he said.

Fitness Goal will Enhance Your Job Search

Staying Fit for Your Job Search

Bob Larson, CPC
Bob Larson, CPC

Exercise is clearly a key for handling everyday stress, but with the downturn in the economy many of us are working more, trying to find a job or shifting in a new career direction — often paying less attention to staying fit. Lifestyle experts say, though, that it doesn’t have to be this way, according to an article published by the McClatchy Newspapers.

“Fitness should be something that is a habit, something that can’t be negotiated,” Marta Montenegro, editor-in-chief of SOBeFiT Magazine, told the syndicated news organization. Here, according to the article, are some simple steps that experts say can help balance work and fitness and some examples of how people are keeping exercise and healthy lifestyles part of their daily routines:

Create new habits. Montenegro said people often are too ambitious in their fitness goals. She started out small, making one change at a time. Whenever she feels stressed, she takes a 10-minute walk around the office or her neighborhood. “In just 10 minutes you can break a pattern.”

To create a habit of eating healthier, start with breakfast, she said. “Instead of having a muffin at Starbucks, order oatmeal.” Or fill your desk drawer, purse and car with healthy snacks. It’s easy to give excuses about why you didn’t exercise or eat right, she added. “The key is to make it a habit, a priority.”

Get moving. Walking and stretching are the easiest ways to cram exercise into a busy schedule. Both are something you can do with your spouse, friends or children.

Donna Marie Seffer, a schoolteacher, wears a pedometer to work every day and aims for 5,000 steps. While teaching, she walks around the classroom. During breaks, she walks through the halls. When she gets home she walks around the block. “When I walk, it releases my stress because I can just put my mind somewhere else,” she said.

Take advantage of employer wellness programs. More companies are embracing the wellness trend, realizing it’s less expensive to prevent rather than treat most medical conditions. Even as employers cut benefits, a growing number are offering on-site yoga classes or weight loss programs — some even offering incentives to participate.

Learn to relax: David Posen, a stress management expert, said in his “Little Book of Stress Relief,” that unlike the stress reaction, which is involuntary and triggers automatically, the relaxation response has to be brought forth voluntarily and intentionally.

Jodi Cross, who works from home as a director of a women’s organization, starts her day triggering the relaxation response by reading for 30 minutes by a pond in her backyard. She alternates with walking for 45 minutes around the neighborhood. Cross admits it takes discipline: “If I don’t do it first thing in the morning, and just figure that I will read a few e-mails first, the next thing I know it’s late afternoon and I’m much more stressed.”

Stop sacrificing sleep: Karen Koffler is a busy working mom. She’s also the medical director at a luxury hotel and health spa. Koffler often gets up early and rides her bike to work. But she also makes sure she goes to bed early, tucking herself in by 9 p.m. Koffler believes adults should get seven to 10 hours of sleep a night. “If you are shaving time from sleeping to get things done, you’re going to be less efficient in your day-to-day life.”

Consider fitness part of your job description: Exercise helps you take a global view of a situation or conflict. It can spur creativity and even help you find solutions that wouldn’t occur to you when you’re in front of a computer. Tadd Schwartz knows this all too well. That’s why he makes sure he takes time to run, even though his clients want more of his time because of the economic downturn. As a reminder, he puts his running shoes next to his bed to ensure he uses them each morning instead of gravitating toward his computer.

Check out the deals: The upside of the recession is that fitness professionals and health clubs are responding to new budgets — offering discounts and showing more willingness to bargain. Some fitness centers are offering free classes and short-term memberships for the newly unemployed.

“The best anti-depressant is exercise,” Cheryl Patella, a fitness expert, told McClatchy. Patella has been working with small groups of women at parks who come to exercise with their children. “Just do whatever your time will allow you to do,” she advised.

Making the Most of Your Lunch Hour


Bob Larson, CPC
Bob Larson, CPC

With increasing workloads, more employees are eating lunch at their desks or even forgoing it altogether, according to an article published by The Wall Street Journal. But passing up a proper midday break may not be a wise decision—either for your health or your workplace efficiency.

That because the attention it takes people to focus at work drains them of psychological, social and material reserves, leading to stress and lower productivity, said Chris Cunningham, professor of Industrial-Organizational and Occupational Health Psychology at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

“Taking a lunch break away from the desk lets people separate themselves from the source of that drain,” Dr. Cunningham told the newspaper. “And that offers the opportunity to build back some of those resources in the middle of the day—rather than just at the end when work is over.”

There is no hard data on how much of a break the body needs to fully recover its resources, Dr. Cunningham said. He believes, though, that it’s person-specific; some people might need a 10- minute break, while others might need an hour.


With so much research showing that parking in a chair all day puts a drag on productivity, mood and physical health, Dr. Cunningham suggests ditching the desk at least once at midday to do something energizing: “At least go for a walk down the hall.” If possible, he said, use the full break to switch focus to something uplifting—instead of, say, online shopping, reading email or running to the bank. “I wouldn’t call that a resource-replenishing moment,” he added.

Dr. Cunningham cites psychologist William James’s 19th-century concept of passive attention, which suggests that people can restock their inner resources by focusing on something that fascinates them and draws them in, seemingly without effort, according to the article.

The easiest way to replenish, research shows, is to interact with nature. “Just changing your environment relieves you of the need to decide what you want to attend to, and that in itself poses a sort of relief,” said Dr. Cunningham.

Studies have also shown that connecting to colleagues socially throughout the day can be very energizing. “If you’re a service rep or a call-center employee, I could understand why you wouldn’t want to take a social lunch,” said Dr. Cunningham, “but for some of us, it’s different enough from what we’ve been spending our day doing, and we get a lot out of it.”

He is a fan of going out with co-workers for lunch frequently—and not talking about work. “That is a resource-replenishing activity,” he told the newspaper. The only downside: “You can’t write that lunch off your taxes.”

In a recent exploratory study, Dr. Cunningham asked medical residents to rate the degree to which they found each of their daily activities to be stressful, resource-straining and resource-replenishing. “Eating during work hours was the one activity that was rated only as replenishing, and tremendously valuable to them,” he said.

According to the article, nutritionists have long asserted that eating small amounts throughout the day helps maintain a level metabolism. And most people have experienced the sluggishness that follows a heavy midday meal.


“It’s certainly not advised to have a Thanksgiving feast for lunch,” added Dr. Cunningham. “Then again, you should give yourself a chance to be fascinated with the world around you—and enjoying your food can do that.”

How to Attract Online Recruiters

How to Attract Online Recruiters

If you’re thinking of looking for a job this year, or are already searching for one, be warned: for some job seekers, the rules have changed. Technology and social media have clearly altered the way some employers consider candidates, as more emphasis is being placed on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook in the recruiting process, according to an article in The New York Times.

One of the most important questions that many job seekers can ask these days is this: How searchable am I? That can be especially noteworthy since some employers aren’t even bothering to post jobs, but are instead searching online for the right candidate, said Barbara Safani, owner of career management firm Career Solvers, in the article. Not having an Internet presence can be damaging to one’s career, she added.

Safani is among those who recommend that job seekers spend serious time detailing their skills and experience on commercial sites like LinkedIn (BLK LinkedIn Page ) and Twitter, with an eye toward making their names a magnet for search engines.

“Having a blog can be a good way to show that you are a thought leader,” while improving your professional visibility, she explained. And consider YouTube as a way to enhance your searchability, she added. If an employer comes across a video of you giving a speech or a training presentation you may gain advantage.

The article also pointed out that more companies are turning to Twitter as a way to broadcast job openings, so you should use it to follow recruiters, industry leaders and individual companies, said Alison Doyle, a job search specialist for She said that by linking to articles and sharing your expertise on Twitter, you can enhance your professional reputation – though you should beware of the site’s potential as a time drain.

On Facebook (BLK Facebook Page), “liking” a company can mean receiving early notice of job openings and other news, the article noted. But privacy concerns make Facebook tricky, Doyle said. Make sure you understand who is receiving which of your posts, or resolve to be thoroughly professional on Facebook at all times, she said. Be aware that hiring managers may see what you post on any major social media outlets.

And while old-fashioned, personal networking and targeted contact with companies can still be effective ways to land a job, online networking now supplements it in many fields, according to the article. Both Safani and Doyle pointed to LinkedIn as a very important Web tool for making these connections. The site offers premium services for a fee, but almost all of the main features for job seekers are free. Spend a few minutes on the site each day making new connections, Doyle advised, and keep your profile up to date.

To improve the chances that a connection request will be accepted, especially from someone you don’t know, send a personal message along with it, noting, say, your similar backgrounds, advised Nicole Williams, a consultant who works as a career expert for LinkedIn.

Share links and advice with people in your Linkedin network before asking for a favor like an introduction to a hiring manager. If you are seeking a particular position, Doyle said, you might say: “I’m interested in this job. Do you have any information that you can share with me?”

Joining industry groups on LinkedIn can build your visibility too. Also, make full use of the skills section of Linkedin, Williams advised, and the more specific you are, the better. Instead of saying that you have marketing skills, note the exact areas—direct mail campaigns, for example. LinkedIn can direct you to companies that are seeking these skills so you can follow them. Listing your skills could also bring you to the notice of a recruiter.

Be aware, too, that an employer may be viewing your application via a mobile phone, the article noted. Mobile traffic involving job search more than doubled in 2012 over 2011 at the employment site, said Rony Kahan, a co-founder and C.E.O of the organization. So make sure you know how your résumé and cover letter look on a small screen. Résumés should be in a PDF format so they can be viewed on a variety of phones.

Finally, according to the article, in the age of online applications, one school of thought holds that cover letters are a waste of time, but Doyle disagrees. Cover letters are still a great way to differentiate yourself from the competition, she said – and the rise of applications via cell phone just means they should be more concise, and specific to the job at hand.

Career Report March, 2006 — Issue 73

Bob Larson, CPC
Bob Larson, CPC

Disclosing Pay in the Job Search

When should you divulge your salary to a prospective employer? According to an article in The Wall Street Journal, many businesses want to know an applicants’ latest pay during the early stages of the hiring process. But that often can present a dilemma with no simple solution. If you dodge premature pay inquiries, you might be taken out of the running for being too secretive; if you divulge every cent you earn, you might risk being viewed as overqualified or inexperienced.

“There’s no way of knowing for sure if disclosing or withholding is the best strategy,” said Jack Chapman, author of Negotiating Your Salary: How to Make $1,000 a Minute, and a Wilmette, Ill, career coach. “You’re dealing with potential rejection either away.”

When weighing what to do, job seekers need to use their best judgment. In doing so, experts say, it helps to take into account the desired job’s level, the duration of the vacancy, the extent of rival contenders, the scarcity of your skills and your insight about the openings’ salary.

And candid money talk with outside recruiters is almost always a good idea, the article pointed out. “Blowing off the compensation question creates bad chemistry with the recruiter,” cautioned Patricia Cook, head of an executive-search firm in Bronxville, N.Y. Thirteen times during her recruiting career, Ms. Cook has encountered qualified prospects that refused to tell her their pay. When she presented the 12 women and one man to corporate clients, none became a finalist.

Before baring your bucks to a recruiter, though, try to persuade him to gauge your worth. You might ask, “What’s the most money that my skills would command in the marketplace? If the number falls short of your latest paycheck, you can provide solid reasons why you’re not being paid more. If you appear relatively underpaid, describe hefty raises and bonuses that you pocketed during boom times. Emphasize that bad business conditions rather than individual performance were to blame.

You can also turn the tables on a nosey hiring manager, according to the article. Inquire about the budgeted salary range for the targeted spot when the salary question comes up. Say whether that range matches your qualifications and personal needs; perhaps indicate your current salary range at this point or the range you are seeking. You could also consider expressing eagerness to negotiate your next package once it’s clear you’re the preferred pick. A good “postponing phrase speaks confidence in being hired,” Chapman’s book suggests.

But this ploy doesn’t always work. A corporate trainer wanted to avoid revealing his pay when he sought employment with a New York area information-services company. “I did try to get around it by saying, ‘I’m hoping for a fair offer,’” the Long Island resident told the newspaper. He also asked about the projected pay range.

Ignoring his query, the head of training insisted on learning his current salary. He said he was paid about $114,000 a year. Offered $118,000, he requested a slightly larger sum. The concern abruptly dropped its offer. “We’re not happy you asked for more money,” one official told him. The trainer now wonders whether he divulged his compensation too soon.

Taking all things into consideration, it can still be very tempting to exaggerate your pay package. Despite the potential pitfalls they can face, numerous job seekers inflate how much they make, typically by including their bonus target and the value of perquisites, the article noted.

On the other hand, during a difficult job market, Bill Davidson actually did the opposite to land job interviews. The former information-technology director applied to be a project manager at Postini in San Carlos, Calif., which was offering $88,000 for the position. He informed the e-mail filtering concern that his last cash compensation totaled about $100,000 when the real number was $140,000.

Davidson accepted the $88,000 post; a month after he joined Postini he said he admitted his deception—without repercussions.

As a rule, though, you should never fib your way into a new workplace, the article pointed out. “People will pull offers for a clear lie about pay,” warned Lee E. Miller, co-host of “Your,” an Internet radio show. And finding a lie about pay is quite easy. Job seekers should always keep in mind that some companies require final pay stubs or income-tax forms to verify salary.

News from BLK

We are very excited to announce that our new book, Aim, Shoot, Get Hired, is now available for purchase through our website. A compendium of the best of our monthly Career Report newsletters, this book offers valuable advice on a variety of employment topics.

On Tuesday evening, March 28th, MIS Network Associates (MNA), IT-Networking (IT NET), TENG, Monmouth Networking, Association of Women in Computing and Careers In Transition (CIT) will host a combined Recruiter Night Out dinner meeting for members, alumni, friends and guests at Villa Roberto in Rochelle Park, NJ. The Recruiter Night Out will include a dialogue with a panel of four recruiters and will be moderated by Bob Larson, president, Berman Larson Kane.