Career Center Blog

Archive: Karen Burns


Acing the phone interview, part 2

Last week, I offered some phone-interview tips. There are also quite a few things not to do. Most of them should go without saying, but I'll say them anyway: Don't make any bodily noises other than well-modulated speech. That includes...

Acing the phone interview, part 1

Many job interviews these days are conducted over the phone. A phone interview may even be your first contact with a potential employer. However, they are different from in-person interviews, and you may need to acquire a few new skills....

The shoot-yourself-in-the-foot thank-you letter

You would think that, short of misspelling the recipient's name, there would be very few ways to screw up a one-page thank-you letter. But any number of minor slip-ups can cost you a potential job opportunity. One that hiring managers...

The first thing to do after a layoff

When you lose your job, you lose more than a paycheck. You lose a large part -- maybe even all -- of your social network. Workplaces are like villages. Companies encourage this because a sense of community -- i.e., an...

10 tips for projecting a hard-working image

Are you projecting the image of a hard worker? You'd think it would be simple: work hard. However, it's possible to work very hard at your job without anyone noticing. In fact, you can even work more while looking as...

Staying motivated during a long job search

The longer you look for a job, the harder it becomes. Some days you may not even feel like getting out of bed. You probably have already developed some methods for staying motivated. For more, check out these time-tested suggestions:...

A job interview is simply a conversation

Last week, I covered tips for reducing anxiety while interviewing for a job, one of which was to think of the interview not as an interrogation, but as a conversation. This thought deserves a closer look, because successful job interviewing...

How to manage job-interview anxiety

Many career articles offer tips for eliminating job-interview anxiety. But the thing is, you can't eliminate job interview anxiety; you can only reduce it to a level where you do not display it. This is important, because displaying anxiety is...

How to tell your boss you're overworked

Are you doing the jobs that two (or even three) people used to do? If so, you're not alone. A lot of companies seem to have determined that it's more profitable to work existing employees to a frazzle than to...

Tips and tricks for telecommuting

The economy continues to get better, but let's face it -- it's still far from perfect. Companies continue to look for ways to maximize income and minimize "outgo." If you are a telecommuter, you may be at special risk. Why?...

8 reasons you're not finding a job

The good news is that the job market is improving, albeit slowly. The bad news is that you might still be looking. If so, maybe it's time for a little self-evaluation. Do any of these issues ring a bell? Your...

Get your co-workers to stop their $#%& swearing

Swearing has always been around, and for good reason. It helps to blow off steam and, indeed, is sometimes the only fitting response to a situation. But there is a time and a place. And that place should really not...

35 topics to avoid discussing at work

You spend most of your waking hours at work. You may even consider your boss and co-workers as friends. Which is nice. But never forget that you can't totally let your hair down at work. Why? Because the workplace is...

The key to everyday job happiness

The holidays are over, and maybe you feel a little let down. In fact, maybe it's more than a little. Maybe you dread going back to work because of "certain tasks." You know the ones -- the tasks that you...

The only career resolution you need to make

This is the time of year you see headlines like "10 New Year's resolutions for your career," followed by a list of pretty good suggestions such as, "I will answer all email within 24 hours," or "I will stop procrastinating,"...

A worker bee speaks up about annual reviews

Hey, boss: It's performance review time. And although you didn't ask (why not?), I, your loyal employee, would like to offer a few tips. Please don't surprise me. OK, maybe it's too late for this one, but nothing in an...

Turn a temp job into a permanent one

The holidays are prime time for snagging a temp job. Too bad these jobs often disappear the minute the New Year's confetti has settled. Would you like to hold on to a temp job? Here's how. Think of it as...

It's the most wonderful time of the year ... to job hunt

Life gets busier this time of year. No one would blame you if you, as a job seeker, decided to put the whole job-hunting project on hold until January. After all, conventional wisdom says that employers don't hire in December...

Have an attitude of gratitude on the job

What does gratitude have to do with your job? After all, employment is, at heart, a business arrangement -- i.e., you give employers your work, and in exchange they give you money. But if you think there isn't any room...

Job-hunting tips for older workers

The job market is improving overall, but it's still a tough row to hoe for 50-somethings. According to AARP, the length of the median job hunt for workers age 55 or older is nearly a year. If this is you,...

A good cover letter is not about you

Sounds counterintuitive, doesn't it? Of course your cover letter is going to be about you! But think: What is the best way to win the attention and interest and good regard of, well, just about anyone? You know the answer,...

When they say you're overqualified

Have you ever applied for a job and been told you were overqualified? It might sound weird, but employers are actually suspicious of employees with too many qualifications, even though you may have good reason to seek a "lesser" position....

Still worrying? How to stop it

Last week, I talked about ways to be happy at work. This is important, because if you are happy at work, you will do a better job, and if you do a better job, you will be a more valuable...

Don't worry, be happy (at work)

You spend a sizable portion of your waking hours at work. So why not try to optimize that time, happiness-wise? You've probably heard these tips before, but have you tried them all? Didn't think so. Perk up your workspace. If...

Listen your way to a successful career

You keep your qualifications current, you work diligently and you are willing to pay your dues. Should be enough to succeed at any job, right? Well, it's a start. You also need to be easy to work with. Because the...

30 ways to annoy your co-workers

You don't (usually) get to choose your co-workers -- yet you do have to spend considerable amounts of time with them, and you have to get along with them. Sometimes dealing with problem co-workers is your biggest job challenge. And...

Coping with the co-worker from hell

Last week's post talked about tips for surviving the boss from hell. Unfortunately, bosses aren't the only people who can make your working life hard to bear. An awful co-worker can make each day ... well, awful. Here are the...

Tips for surviving the boss from hell

You may tell yourself you should feel lucky to have a job -- but it's tough if that job comes with a bad boss. Herewith, seven ideas for everyday coping: Put everything in writing. It's good business practice anyway --...

How volunteering can help you get a job

You know that volunteering is good for your community. It's good for you, too. People who volunteer live longer, have lower rates of depression, enjoy better physical health, have more friends and are more self-confident. What you may not know...

A foolproof cure for job boredom

Summer's about over. Sigh. Maybe you had a great vacation. (Hope so.) And maybe now you are back on the job. (Hope so.) But are you bored silly? If you are, you're not alone. According to "State of the American...

25 more tips for managing workplace stress

In last week's post, I talked about good stress (the motivating kind that stimulates and energizes you) and bad stress (the debilitating kind that makes you angry, sad, crazy and/or sick). Both kinds regularly occur in the workplace. As much...

25 tips for managing workplace stress

Whether you love your job or are just glad to have a job, you will experience stress from time to time. It is inevitable. But before you get all stressed out about it, keep in mind that there's good stress...

Why you shouldn't care (too much) about your job title

Even when money is not tight, employers are always looking for ways to cut corners. If you are one of the many layoff "survivors" doing what used to be the work of two (or more) people, you don't need to...

Stop working when you're on vacation!

As crazy as it may sound, many people work during their vacations. You know who you are. You check email and voicemail. You call in every day. You might even bring work along with you. No doubt you have good...

The crucial question you won't get asked at job interviews

What is the one question a hiring manager will never ask, but that is crucial in whether or not you'll get the job? (Hint: It's a question the manager is asking himself or herself.) Give up? OK, here it is:...

Ace your job interview by getting specific

Too many job interviews are general, rather than specific. This is bad, because the best way to wow a potential employer is to specifically show him or her how your specific skills and experience relate, specifically, to that employer's needs....

10 things not to do after you lose a job

Job loss, even if you saw it coming, is a blow. You will feel emotional, there's no two ways about it. Here are some tips for what to expect and how to handle it. Don't be ashamed. If there's one...

The 7 sources of workplace power

People need power. Power means survival, and we are all hard-wired to gravitate to and want power. Even you. In most modern lives, nowhere is power more important than in the workplace. What? You don't think you have power at...

Why everyone needs to work like a freelancer

Whatever happened to the "secure" job you started after high school or college and then, 40-something years later, walked away from with a gold watch, a tidy pension and warm, fuzzy feelings? Gone, all gone. Today, your continued employment rests...

Are you looking for a job backward?

Too many people run their job hunts backward. Meaning they spend vast amounts of time and energy on the activities that are least likely to get them a job, leaving little or nothing left over for activities most likely to...

19 tips for acing the lunch interview

As if job hunting were not already stressful enough -- enter the lunchtime interview. Not only are you being judged on your skills, qualifications and experience, your table manners are being scrutinized, too! Fret not. You can wow a potential...

How to make an ordinary job extraordinary

You spend the better part of your day at work. You want to enjoy it. You want to love it. But what if your current job is "just a job"? And what if, for one reason or another, you need...

New grads: You don't have to love your job

Your job -- what's love got to do with it? Most of us are told, "Follow your passion"; "Do what you love and the money will follow"; "If you love your job you'll never have to work a day in...

An open letter to hiring managers

An open letter to hiring managers

Dear hiring manager: You ask a lot from job seekers. Well, turnabout is fair play. We'd like to ask a few things of you. Could you notify applicants when the position is filled? It's one thing to ignore a mailed-in...

Top time management tips and tricks

It's summertime (almost), and the living is easy (almost). You might be looking forward to a vacation. Or you might be dreading vacation because time off -- yours and your co-workers' -- creates such major logjams of work that the...

How to succeed at any job, anywhere, anytime

Here we are, graduation season again, and a fresh crop of job seekers is about to be let loose on society. Welcome, new grads! You get a lot of advice this time of year, and this column is going to...

The 10 trickiest job interview questions

If some interview questions seem like trick questions, it's because they are. Here are 10 common questions, along with ideas for handling them: "Tell me about yourself." Don't ramble. This is your chance to talk about how your specific skills...

Advice on advice: a quickie primer

Knowing where to find good career advice, and knowing how to tell good advice from bad, are huge life skills that can take years to master. Here are some tips to shorten your learning curve: Seek multiple advisers. No one...

What hiring managers are really looking for

To get a good job, you need the right skills, education and experience. But that's not all; employers are also looking for other, fuzzier qualities. Here are some of the biggies, in no particular order: Judgment. When interviewers ask, "Tell...

Cookie-cutter resumes don't cut it anymore

Job hunters obsess about resumes. And for good reason. There's so much to get right -- functional versus chronological, objective statements (pro and con), keywords, templates, references, font size, white space, action verbs, employment gaps, placement and style of bullets,...

Do you feel lucky? Well, do you? If not, learn how

If you've been job hunting for any length of time, you undoubtedly understand the importance of compelling cover letters, snazzy resumes, knock-'em-dead interviews, the all-important thank-you note and -- of course -- networking. However, if you've been pounding the pavement...

5 resume tips for job hoppers

Here's a depressing truth: When hiring managers consider a resume, the first thing they look for is a reason to eliminate it. And yes, even today, when staying at a firm long enough to earn a gold watch is practically...

How to work at home and still keep your job

Here in the digital age, we thought that working from home -- a beloved practice of introverts, parents with small children and the disabled -- was a secure "right." But if Yahoo's recent move to ban working from home is...

7 things bosses should never say to employees

Last week's post featured seven things employees should never say to their bosses. Well, it's a two-way street. Bosses, it's your turn: "I pay your salary. I'm the boss." Signing paychecks does not make you lord and master. It does...

7 things never to say to your boss

It's a no-brainer: Never allow your boss to think you dislike your work, or are incapable of doing your work. So why do many statements frequently heard around the workplace do exactly that? Here are seven of the most common....

Now's the time to get back to job-hunting basics

OK, so the stock market is posting record highs. Even more important, unemployment statistics are looking -- for the first time in a long time -- not that bad. This is good news if you are looking for work. So...

How to talk yourself into a job

Last week, we discussed how to "run" a job interview (in the event your job interviewer is unprepared, inexperienced or untrained). Most of the time, though, interviewers are reasonably competent and you will not need to manage your job interviews....

How to run your own job interview

It happens all the time. Job interviewers are unprepared. Or inexperienced. Or untrained. Or have poor social skills. In fact, many interviewers will appear to have never glanced at your resume. You may even arrive to find that they have...

Why you need to become a decent public speaker

You're at a funeral. Whom would you rather be: the person giving the eulogy or the person lying in the casket? If -- like a lot of us -- you say you fear public speaking more than you fear death,...

How to love a job you hate

Sure, the economy is getting better -- slowly. The key word here is "slowly." Getting a job can still be tough. Therefore, if you happen to already have a job, you should feel lucky. Right? Right. In theory. But what...

Resume buzzwords to avoid like the plague

"Goal-oriented." "Innovative." "Self-starter." "Dynamic." Are your eyes glazing over? Of course they are. Resume buzzwords are a turn-off for you as well as for potential employers. Buzzwords make your resume blend in rather than stand out. They are tired and...

Are you too "overqualified" to get a job?

The bad news: Employers are often suspicious of applicants with too many qualifications. They fear you'll want too much money. Or that you're slumming until something better comes along. Or that you'll resent being supervised by a younger or less-experienced...

How to be a classy quitter

Maybe one of your new year's resolutions is to quit your job. Congratulations! Just make sure you do it right. First, of course, be certain that your new job is absolutely positively nailed down. Don't be left out in the...

How to appear smarter than you really are

Wouldn't you like to be smarter? Even if you are already super-smart, you probably wouldn't mind goosing the old IQ a few points. Or at least making it look that way. Now, I'm not suggesting that you do anything ridiculous,...

A worker bee's letter to the boss

Your boss tells you to be a "self-starter," to follow through, to be flexible and patient and dependable and loyal. You're told there is no "I" in "team." You're told, "You should just be grateful you have a job." For...

9 career resolutions for 2013

A new year, a fresh beginning. That's the plan, anyway. Here are nine not-so-hard ideas to get you started: 1. Stop procrastinating. Seriously. You'll be amazed at how your productivity will soar. Your daily existence will become simpler and smoother,...

Conduct your own year-end career review

A lot of employers conduct year-end evaluations. That's because it's good to look back at the old before jumping forward into the new. But maybe your employer doesn't do this. Or maybe you don't have an employer. No problem; you...

New job? 9 things not to do your first week

You just landed a job -- finally! -- and you've got the jitters. Of course you do. It's not easy being a newbie. All those traumatic first-day-of-school memories come flooding back. What to do? I mean, beyond working really hard? I find it really...

Use the holidays to boost your career

Little-known fact: The holidays are a golden opportunity to give a boost to your career. Why? It's primo networking time! All you have to do is do a little more of what you're probably already doing. For example: Go...

Keep the 'work' in workplace holiday party

'Tis the season: Shopping, decorating, cooking, parties. Maybe even a party hosted by your employer. That's the good news, because you and your co-workers deserve a little something for a year's worth of hard work. The bad news? A workplace...

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Contributor

Karen Burns Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.

Lisa Quast Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.

Randy Woods Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.

Former contributors

Kristen Fife is a senior recruiter, career mentor, blogger and resume consultant.

Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.

Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.

Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."

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