Weekly business rail, with job-interview tips, a BBB warning about deceptive auto loan modification offers and more.
Tip of the Week
With the economy slowly healing after the financial crisis of 2008, competition for jobs is at an all-time high, making interview skills a vital tool for applicants. Here are some tips from Barbara Schafer, director of Career Services at Brown Mackie College – Boise, Idaho.
- Assess your skills and knowledge. Schafer recommends taking a systematic approach to the interview. "We sometimes have to force ourselves to think about our own skills and qualifications," she says. "Before you can express yourself intelligently, you must know exactly what points you want to make." To this end, Schafer suggests making a list of skills, accomplishments and education you want to highlight for a prospective employer.
- Practice your pitch. “It can be tough to assess your skills; however, writing helps to organize your thoughts. The goal is to be able to tell a potential employer within 30 seconds to a minute what you can do and why you're a good fit for their organization," Schafer says. After assessing your skills and experience, Schafer advises practicing your pitch with a friend or family member, especially if shyness is a concern.
- Dress professionally. Employers expect professionalism. After all, every employee represents the company. When customers or clients visit the company, they see the employees, not just the person at the front desk. First impressions do matter.
- Arrive 15 minutes early. Schafer suggests making a dry run to the company before the day of your interview. Knowing exactly where you're going and where you can park helps to alleviate anxiety. "Arrive 15 minutes early, and expect that once you hit the parking lot, the interview could be starting," she warns. "They could be watching out the window."
- Practice professional courtesy at all times. Your interview is with the entire organization. Professional behavior begins the way you treat the receptionist. "Everyone will have something to say about you after you leave," Schafer says. She recommends a pleasant greeting to the receptionist, a firm handshake upon meeting the interviewer and the importance of looking the people you meet in the eye.
- Showcase your skills and talents. Don't expect the employer will have your resume in hand. Take several copies with you to leave behind. "Creating a portfolio often helps to guide the discussion during an interview. Include transcripts, resumes, awards you've received, career achievements and even photos of projects you've been involved with," advises Schafer. She also recommends leaving behind a business card with your contact information.
- Follow up with a note of thanks. "Make sure you send a thank-you note after the interview," Schafer says. "It can often can make the difference between getting the job or not. If undecided, employers will hire the one who sent the note."
Ads on TV may promise to modify car loans and prevent a visit from the repo man, but some companies fail to carry through on their promises. The Better Business Bureau recommends that cash-strapped consumers save their money by trying to work out a deal with the lender directly before paying out hundreds in upfront fees to a loan modification company.
"Auto loan modification companies are following in the footsteps of dishonest mortgage modification companies, which have long targeted struggling families who are just trying to stay above water," said Steve J. Bernas of the Better Business Bureau. "Some companies may make it look like they are tossing out a life preserver, but they end up pulling many borrowers deeper underwater."
For more information on this topic and advice on managing personal finances, go to www.bbb.org.
Here are the world's highest-paid female athletes, according to Forbes.com:
1: Maria Sharapova
2: Serena Williams
3: Venus Williams
4: Danica Patrick
5: Kim Yu-Na
6: Annika Sorenstam
7: Ana Ivanovic
8: Jelena Jankovic
9: Paula Creamer
10: Lorena Ochoa
Number to Know
$62.5 million: Amount of money Barnes and Noble said it lost in the quarter that ended July 31. The company remained optimistic, however, noting that while book sales are down, the Nook e-reader is gaining steam.
Speaking of e-readers, Amazon.com quickly sold out of its new Kindles, and orders placed now won’t be filled until mid- or late September.
GateHouse News Service