Virtual Interviews

Lock-downs, sheltering in, and remote working have increased online and virtual interviews.  To prepare for this activity, consider these suggestions from career planning experts.

  • Some things haven’t changed. Maintain a professional appearance. Wear solid colors; stripes and patterns can be distracting.
  • Plan a quiet environment. Keep the door and windows closed; silence your cell phone. Close other sites on your computer to avoid pop-ups and maintain focus. Remove pets and children from the area to prevent distractions.
  • Select an appropriate background. Clutter and other home items should be out of sight. Set up a blank background that doesn’t clash with your clothing color.
  • Use a small chair. Check your lighting to avoid shadows and glares. Natural light is usually best, but beware of direct backlighting, like a window behind you.
  • Choose an appropriate camera angle so the interviewer can clearly see you. Avoid using a phone for a video interview.
  • Test in advance and practice. Try out the software, and install a backup copy on a second device. Do a test run before the interview day to verify that audio, video, and lighting are appropriate. Record your practice session to view how you might improve.
  • Check your time, especially if in a different time zone.
  • Maintain eye contact with the camera. Set notes on the wall behind the screen with reminders of key points and questions to ask.
  • Show energy and enthusiasm. Move around and do light exercises before you start.

LinkedIn has introduced software when preparing for a virtual interview. Artificial intelligence programs give feedback on practice answers for common questions. The critique includes an assessment on pacing, use of filler words, and phrases to avoid.

For additional information on virtual interviews, go to:

Article #1

Article #2

Teaching Suggestions

  • Have students practice their interview skills for a virtual interview.
  • Have students talk to others about methods used to prepare for an interview.

Discussion Questions 

  1. What are the main differences between an in-person and virtual interview?
  2. Describe benefits and drawback that might be present when using artificial intelligence to prepare for a virtual interview.

Avoiding Personal Finance Nonsense

Many personal finance reports are published with advice that may not provide the best guidance. In an effort to avoid buzzwords and troubling phrases, consider these suggestions:

  • determine who conducted the research; a company may sponsor a study that lacks the rigor of academic or government researchers.
  • be wary of research that reports feelings or predictions rather than actual behaviors and actions of respondents.
  • consider the number of people in the study and how the respondents were selected.
  • avoid generalizations that about a certain age group, such as Millennials, Baby Boomers, or Generation X.

Don’t revise your money management activities based on some survey or research report. If your current actions are working, then you are on the correct path.

For additional information on avoiding personal finance nonsense, click here.

Teaching Suggestions

  • Have students conduct online research to locate a recent personal finance study to evaluate the validity of the advice offered in the report.
  • Have students create a video presentation reporting both valid and nonsense personal finance advice.

Discussion Questions 

  1. What problems could occur if a person uses inappropriate financial advice?
  2. In addition to the suggestions in the article, what actions might a person take to determine the validity of personal finance advice?

Financial Planning for a Career Change

When considering a career change, the following financial suggestions are offered:

  • have an appropriate amount of savings for unexpected expenses during the transition.
  • create a budget to live frugally; cut living costs to be prepared for sudden expenses.
  • reassess your investment portfolio to reduce risk exposure and possibly eliminate fees.
  • seek advice from a financial advisor.
  • determine how a career switch might impact your ability to save.

For additional information on financial advice when changing careers, click here.

Teaching Suggestions

  • Have students talk to a person who recently changed jobs to obtain information about their experiences.
  • Have students create a video presentation with suggested actions when planning to change careers.

Discussion Questions 

  1. What relationship exists between a person’s career choice and money management activities?
  2. Describe additional financial planning actions that might be appropriate when considering a career change.

When A Robot Reads Your Resume

Before a person views your resume, it might be scanned by a computer to screen your qualifications.

Career experts suggest preparing your resume for three audiences: a computer screening program, a human resources specialist, and the hiring manager.

To pass the test of automatic resume scanners, consider these suggestions:

  • Be sure to include your contact information, and avoid putting required information in the heading where it might be missed by the scanner.
  • Avoid fancy formats and fonts. Use a professional presentation.  Bullets are suggested for an organized, easy-to-read appearance.
  • Emphasize keywords that reflect your competencies and experiences.
  • Connect to the job description. Use the requirements and responsibilities of an employment position as a guide for presenting your background, skills, and accomplishments. Avoid a generic resume; tailor your resume to the specific position. Especially look for keywords that are repeated in the job description.
  • Use clear job titles. Adapt and simplify previous job titles to fit generally-accepted labels in an industry.
  • Seek guidance. Ask for assistance from career development centers, professional colleagues, friends, and others who can help you prepare a resume appropriate for scanning software.

Of special note, job applicants with military experience should match job description keywords to their military service. They should also emphasize and communicate their background so the resume scanning software will easily recognize their employment competencies.

For additional information on automatic resume scanners, click here.

Teaching Suggestions

  • Have students create a resume for a specific job description to connect their background to the available position.
  • Have students talk to a few people to obtain suggestions for improving their resumes.

Discussion Questions 

  1. Based on selected job descriptions, name keywords that might be appropriate to use in a resume for those positions.
  2. List various sources that might be used to obtain resume preparation assistance.

Non-Financial Goals to Save Money

While many savings, investment, and retirement plans are available to achieve financial goals, other actions are possible to achieve personal ambitions. Financial advisors and counselors also recommend these actions:

  • Learn a new skill, which can result in time away from shopping or expanding your career and income potential.
  • Invest in friendships that does not involve a major monetary requirement as many free and low-cost activities are available.
  • Participate in a reading challenge at your local library or through a community organization.
  • Create art by getting involved with writing, photography, drawing, or sculpture through a community-based group.

Many activities are available to invest your time and energy without spending much money.

For additional information on non-financial goals, click here.

Teaching Suggestions

  • Have students list free and low-cost activities that can enhance personal and career development.
  • Have students talk to others for additional suggestions for free and cost-cost personal and career development activities.

Discussion Questions 

  1. What factors might a person consider when selecting an activity to enhance personal and career development?
  2. Describe personal development activities that could result in enhanced career and income potential.

How to Profit from the Ultra-Tight Job Market Right Now

“The war for talent that obsesses tech companies is intensifying and is about to spread economywide.”

This Fortune article is a must read for job seekers in today’s world, Geoff Colvin explains that after nine years of sluggish economic growth, the economy has turned the corner and creating jobs at a record pace.  The hiring boom is not only creating opportunities for unemployed workers, but also currently-employed workers who want to get a better or higher-paying jobs.

In the current job market, employers are seeking talented employees that have a great future.  Traits that include creativity, the willingness to work hard, and love of learning often help employers evaluate potential.  Digital skills are very important, but not restricted to just tech companies.  For example, many retailers are hiring workers who can use digital skills to reach customers in new ways.

Human skills are also more important than in the past.  Companies want workers to feel they’re part of the organization and a valued asset.  These “same people” skills are very important for workers applying for management positions.

For more information, click here.

Teaching Suggestions

You may want to use the information in this blog post and the original article to

  • Reinforce that employers want workers who have the knowledge and skills that they need, but also are willing to work hard, become part of the organization, and keep learning once they get the job.

Discussion Questions

  1. How do you develop the traits and skills so that employers are willing to pay you a salary?
  2. If you were an employer, how would you choose between job applicants applying for a customer service position at American Airlines? What traits and skills are most important?

Creating a Strong Interview Impression

Nearly everyone has minor stumbles in a job interview.  However, these flaws can be overcome with actions to engage the interviewer.  Some ways to make yourself memorable in an interview include:

  • Start the interview with a question or comment that reflects your preparation about the company.
  • As appropriate, answer the questions you are asked with a question. This approach is usually only valid when talking with operating staff, but not with a human resources person.
  • Remember to emphasize your awareness and potential contributions to the needs of the company, including ideas for addressing current concerns and market opportunities. Rather than a specific solution, communicate your sensitivity and awareness of their problems.
  • Show your humanness through humor, openness, and vulnerability.
  • Prepare with strong research on the company that allows you to better answer expected questions and to interact as you discuss your experiences and potential organizational contributions.
  • Think and talk like a consultant to communicate confidence and competency.

For additional information on strong interview impression, click here.

Teaching Suggestions

  • Have students role play situations interview situations that they might encounter when applying for a job.
  • Have students create responses to potential interview questions based on the suggestions in this article.

Discussion Questions 

  1. How might the advice offered in this article be used when you are in an interview situation?
  2. Describe some common mistakes people might make in interviews. Explain actions to overcome these mistakes.

Want to Work from Home?

“Letting Employees Work from Home Can Be a Win-Win for Employers and Staff Alike.”

For employees, the option to telecommute appeals to a vast majority of full-time workers.  Research by Global Workplace Analytics found that there are benefits for employees and employers when employees telecommute and work at home.  For employees, the chief advantages are

  • Reduced time commuting to work
  • Lower costs of commuting to the office
  • Less stress of juggling the demands of work and family

There are also benefits for employers including

  • Less office space is needed because not every employee works in the office every day
  • Lower expenses for rent or costs associated with ownership of office space
  • A new way to attract talent because employees like the option of working at home
  • Increased employee motivation and engagement because telecommuting is considered a benefit

The top five companies and organizations that encourage telecommuting are:

  1. United-Health Group
  2. Dell
  3. S. Department of Agriculture
  4. Xerox
  5. Humana

For more information about this article and a complete list of the top 20 companies for telecommuting,  click here.

Teaching Suggestions

  • You may want to use the information in this blog post and the original article to point out the benefits of telecommuting.

Discussion Questions

  1. Not everyone is a candidate to work at home. What traits and time management skills are needed if you obtain a job where you can work at home?
  2. Are there disadvantages to telecommuting and working at home?

Essential Career Questions

Career planning experts offer a wide variety of guidelines for moving forward in your employment situation.  Use of the following questions can help you develop an action plan for greater career success and personal satisfaction.

  1. What do you like to learn?
  2. What do you do in your spare time for fun?
  3. Are you creating a career for your parents, for society, from your own excitement, or for money?
  4. What is your definition of work?
  5. What challenge excites you the most in your life right now?
  6. What impact do you want to have on other people’s lives or in the world?
  7. Do you feel confident that you are exceptional at something?
  8. What do you want: more joy or more power?
  9. Do you want to be like your parents? Why or why not?
  10. What do you do that builds your confidence?
  11. How often are you bored
  12. Are you proactive about sharing your ideas with your team and managers?
  13. Whom do you admire most? Are they passionate and purpose driven by their work?
  14. When you make decisions about your career, do you often consider what other people will think of your decision?
  15. What advice would you give yourself today about where you are in your career based on where you want to go?
  16. What does success mean to you?

For additional information on essential career questions, click here.

Teaching Suggestions

  • Have students use one or more of these questions to talk to others about their career planning activities.
  • Have students prepare answers to several of these questions to help guide their career planning activities.

 Discussion Questions 

  1. Which of these questions are most valuable to you to guide your career planning activities?
  2. What are some additional questions that you might ask yourself or others to help guide their career planning?

Top Employee Benefits

Several companies provide benefits that go beyond the usual to serve their employees.  Some examples include:

  • IKEA offers as much as four months paid parental leave to both part-time and full-time employees after working for the company for a year.
  • Bain & Company sponsors an annual soccer tournament for employees in different locations around the world.
  • Facebook provides healthcare coverage and free housing for interns.
  • Starbucks provides full tuition reimbursement for employees for an online bachelor’s degree through Arizona State University.
  • Eventbrite offers a monthly $60 wellness stipend for use on expenses such as gym dues and juice cleanses.
  • Deloitte offers sabbatical programs. One is an unpaid one-month sabbatical, which can be taken for any reason. Another is a three- to six-month sabbatical for personal or professional growth with 40 percent pay.
  • Southwest offers employees and dependents access to Clear Skies, which provides confidential counseling and legal consultation.
  • Timberland employees can take up to 40 hours of paid time off per year to volunteer.

For additional information on unique employee benefits, click here.

Teaching Suggestions

  • Have students talk to others about the employee benefits they believe to be most valuable for their life situation.
  • Have students suggest employee benefits that would be of value for various household and life situations.

Discussion Questions 

  1. Describe family and life situations that would be helped by various employee benefits.
  2. What are factors people might consider when determining whether to take a job with an organization?