Interview Advice – Just Be Yourself… As Long You’re Being A More Organised, Eloquent, Functioning Version Of Yourself That Is Better Than Your Actual Self In Pretty Much Every Single Way…

The interview process is brutal. I’ve never met anyone who looks forward to it or gets misty-eyed when it’s over. It helps to know you’re not alone and to see the humorous side of feeling exposed and vulnerable, as this post demonstrates so well. It’s so unfair really. In an environment where companies are competing for talent, shouldn’t prospective employees be conducting the interviews and assessing which company would best align with their career objectives?

Some Words That Say What I Think

Growing up and entering the real world can be a confusing and overwhelming process.

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A big part of becoming a fully-functioning adult is finding a job, which would be fine if it weren’t for the fact that finding a job can be quite hard.

Sometimes, looking for a job can feel like searching for a needle in a haystack and, when you finally locate the needle, another slightly more qualified person comes along with a big massive magnet.

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Other times, it can feel like trying to find Wally in a ‘Where’s Wally?’ book.

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But you’re up against a guy who already has contacts in the business.

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I have been looking for a graduate job for a while now and am therefore quite familiar with the application process.

A lot of job applications begin with a CV.

A CV is a summary of professional and academic achievements but it might be better described as a Verification…

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Keep your W2 forms forever

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I realize many of you who read this blog are too young to be thinking about Social Security. Additionally, we have all been admonished for assuming there will be any funding by the time we reach retirement age. However, if you are a U.S. citizen receiving W2 forms, I strongly urge you to never discard them. Learn from my experience. Here’s my story.

Every year, I scan through my Social Security earnings statement, found online when you register on http://www.socialsecurity.gov/. One day, I noticed that my earnings for two years in a row did not appear under the social security and medicare earnings columns. I don’t know why I never noticed the error before, but once I did, I began an expedition that I hope to help others avoid.

I was filled with dread from the beginning because the missing earnings were from 30 years ago. What I was not prepared for was five months of grueling phone calls, letters, faxes and interactions with people who put more effort into passing me off to someone else than helping me troubleshoot and correct the issue.

Image courtesy of jesadaphorn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Stated on the earnings record statement is the following instruction, which implies help is just a phone call away: “Call us right away at 1-800-772-1213…if any earnings for years before last year are shown incorrectly.” This was the start of my voyage into the sea of bureaucratic roadblocks, which led to the discovery of the error, but not immediate resolution. Apparently, my employer of 30 years ago had a system glitch that resulted in misreporting for some employees during the time period in question.

After learning of this injustice from the human resources department, HR said the best they could do was produce a letter stating my earnings, according to their payroll records, because they do not retain W2s dated that far back. Well, neither do I (lesson learned). After roughly one month of follow-ups and vague apologies, I finally received the promised letter. That’s when the fun really began. The Social Security Administration does not accept a letter as proof of earnings. I won’t bore you with the time invested and rudeness encountered as I exercised tenacity to get this resolved. Trust me, it was a painful process.

Now that I have closure, I feel compelled to caution others. I have heard varying opinions about the recommended time period to retain tax documents in case of an audit, but I have never heard an advisory to hold dearly all W2s received for social security purposes. If you haven’t heard this either, let me be the first to advise. If you destroy your tax papers, separate the W2s and keep them in a safe place – forever. If you are self-employed and receive 1099 forms, I suggest keeping the 1099s and accompanying tax forms as well. Additionally, check your Social Security earnings statement annually.

I know retirement may be far out on the horizon, but just like physical health, problems in earnings records are easier to resolve when caught early.

Keep your resume updated even after you land a job

Congratulations! You landed the job of your dreams, or perhaps a stepping stone in the right direction. Now you’re thinking, If I never write another resume again, it will be too soon. I know how you feel, but don’t be so quick to bury this job search tool in the bottom of a dusty drawer.

Though some believe the resume is dead, buried by LinkedIn and other sites that offer online profiles, traditional resumes still have value. They are requested by hiring managers for prospective employees as well as internal promotions even if you post your entire work history online. Updating it while details are fresh on your mind is the easiest way to keep it current. You never know when opportunity will strike, either within or outside the company.

The best resumes go beyond generic job functions, delineating key achievements. Add a section to your resume if not already present, entitled Key Achievements or Highlights. Then, when you are assigned to a special project or task team, earn an award for top customer service or sales results, or initiate an idea that improves processes or saves the company money, add a statement or two in that section. Also, remember to add a section for professional affiliations, industry-related enrichment courses and certifications.

An additional benefit to updating a resume is to ensure that career track changes are reflected on paper. For example, if you are a human resources practitioner who started out in recruiting, but veered off into the benefits function, add that dimension to your profile statement and work experience. Depending on your next career step, tweak the resume to place more emphasis on the portion of your job history that correlates with your targeted role.

Save the document to your desktop or a career folder, so it’s handy and not easily forgotten. Even if you hire a professional to develop it, having all the descriptions and dates recorded will expedite the process. Not only will documenting newly acquired knowledge, experiences and successes enhance your resume in real time, but it’s like giving yourself a pat on the back. We could all use a little reminder now and then of what we have accomplished.