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Top 5 Interview Mistakes: #3 Is A Deal Killer

Have you ever had the feeling that you are shooting yourself in the foot? I have and a time or two it felt like I was shooting myself repeatedly. When you are job searching and getting invitations to interview but never getting the job, you may wonder what you aren’t doing well enough to receive an offer.

Here are the top 5 blunders that can sink your chances.

First up, Seeming distracted or disinterested in the interview, interviewer or the job. Sometimes when we are nervous and thinking we want to be anywhere but here, an attitude can come across to those around us. Try to appear confident even though you aren’t. Prepare for the interview as if you were going to have a conversation with a new acquaintance. Often interviewers are nervous,too. They have to find the best person for the open role and can face consequences if they don’t choose wisely. You help them and help yourself by appearing relaxed. Show interest in the company, the position, the interviewer, so that you can help your interviewer do her best.

Next no-no is talking negatively about a past employer. Even though you worked at a place that was disorganized, where they asked you to do too much for too little compensation; where the people were horrible and you couldn’t wait to leave: don’t mention it! Don’t bring your grudges to interviews. No matter how justified your feelings, speaking of them makes you appear to be a complainer, a disrupter, not someone that would be a good fit. Truth be told, the person hired may not be the most qualified for the job but the person the interviewer felt most comfortable with. If you are likeable and someone that he might enjoy having a conversation with over lunch you have an advantage.

Don’t whine. Put a positive spin on why you left (even if you were fired). You can say you maxed out the potential to grow the job. You can say that it became clear that the company culture wasn’t one where you felt comfortable. You can say you wanted to explore other opportunities. Whatever you say, keep it positive!

Number 3, the Deal Killer Appearing uninformed about the company or the role. Actually this probably should have been at the very top of the list. If you want the job you have to do the research. Even in a two-person shop you want to be armed with information. Use google, company websites, professional publications, competitors’ website, industry forums, conference agendas and presenters, bios and CVs to sus out details. You should know about the industry. Even if you’ve been working in this one for a while, read up on trends and projections, innovation, potential growth and who the players are. Read about the executives, see what is being said about them in the press, how they are viewed across the industry, their hobbies and habits, where they volunteer and to whom they donate. Get a snapshot of company culture. This list could go on forever.

You could be asked what you would prioritize if you were hired. You need to have context and a specific problem to address in your answer. To do that you have know what challenges the role, company and industry is faced with. If you don’t know, you will drop from contention.

The information requirement pertains to the person looking for a position selling greeting cards as well as an executive coach. If you are planning to work in a mall it would be handy to know if the mall has enough traffic to keep the store open or if there is a potential for taking the business online. Be sure you can demonstrate your engagement.

The fourth mistake is not having specific examples of your accomplishments that relate to the new role. This is where you have a few short stories to tell. If you’re asked about a particular item on your resume use the PAR (Problem, Action, Result) formula or the STAR (Situation, Task Action, Result) format. Give a brief description of what needed attention, your role in addressing it, what you did and the results. Use numbers where applicable to quantify the extent of the problem as well as any needed in your actions and finally in the result.

Here’s what I mean: ” We had invited 150 industry executives to a lunch meeting to discuss a supply problem. The caterer had a flood and cancelled at 10Am; I was asked to find lunch for all 150 people on a budget of $1000. I contacted few restaurants and found a deli that could put together box lunches including cookies decorated with our industry logo. I set up tables in the courtyard where we had a picnic. I received kudos for the unusual lunch and coming in $50 under budget”.

Prepare examples of your accomplishments that are flexible enough to serve for more than one kind of question. You’ll be glad you did!

Last but not least important is not asking good questions. If you don’t have any it will be assumed that you have no interest or aren’t paying attention. The most effective way to bring up questions is to do it in the course of the discussion. Ask for details, ask the speaker to tell you more. Keep the conversation going.

At the end of the interview you will want to ask about next steps, timing. You want to know if there is anything about you or your experience that they want more information on. Even better, ask if they have any concerns about your ability to do the job. If they do, you will be able to address their doubts before you leave the room.

Summary: An interview is a conversation in which you and the interviewer are trying to figure out if you can do the job and if hired will do the job. You both want to know if you like each other. Do you want to work for this company? Does the interviewer find you interesting and personable enough to fit into the company? Do you home work so that you are knowledgeable and bring your A-game. Make sure the interviewer feels she knows you, likes you and can trust you because her job may be on the line if she doesn’t hire the right person. The right person should be you!

Tuition Insurance?

Every now and then someone acts on an idea that we’ve been wondering about. tuition insurance may be a good purchase this year as colleges’ plans are up in the air and Covid-19 is spreading again. Here’s the article from Higher ED about GradGuard.

7 Good Questions To Ask The Interviewer

Some good questions to ask at the end of an interview include the following:

  1. What are the most important skills and qualities required to succeed in this job?
  2. What is a typical day or week for someone working on this job?
  3. What new innovations, changes, processes, systems, ideas or improvements do you expect the new staff to bring to this position?
  4. Is this a new position or a replacement?
  5. Who does this job report to and what is the preferred management style of the Supervisor?
  6. What do you like the most about this Company?
  7. What is the biggest challenge that someone in this position faces?
  8. How is performance evaluated or measured for this position?
  9. What is the biggest challenge that this organization is facing?
  10. Describe the company’s culture.
  11. What are the main goals or key priorities for the company for the next 5 years?
  12. What is the top priority or task that the new staff would have to accomplish within the first 30, 60 or 90 days?

Finally, also listen carefully during the course of an interview. Take some key notes and be able to comment or ask a question about something specific or important that the interviewer had mentioned earlier. This would show your attentiveness and attention to detail.

At the very end of an interview, close by saying that you are definitely interested in the job and then ask – What are the next steps in the interviewing pr

Before You answer An Interview Question Do This

Imagine you’re sitting in an interview for your dream job.
The interviewer asks you a big question, and your answer will make or break your chances of getting the job.
Everything’s on the line.
What’s the best way to answer so that you create a strong impression?
Not the way most people answer. Most folks list every reason they believe qualifies them for the job.
Why is that a bad strategy?
Shouldn’t you lay out all the reasons why you’re perfect the job?
Actually, no.
Consider this:
If I asked you to remember a nine-digit number, chances are you’d have a hard time recalling them all later. But if I asked you to remember a three-digit number, you’d have no problem.
So it goes with interviews.
If you lay all your cards on the table at once, it’s too much information. At the end of the day, an exhausted interviewer may have a few notes from your interview, but may not be able to remember much of what was actually said.
The key to giving memorable answers is ONLY responding with one or two clear points that directly answer the question and make a strong impression they won’t soon forget.
That’s where the “3-Second Rule” comes in:
Next time an interviewer asks you a question, resist the urge to share everything you think they need to hear. Instead, take three seconds and think to yourself: “What is the one big point I need to make to answer this question?”
After you’ve decided which card to play, then make your clear, compelling point and stop right there.
Your answer will be MUCH more memorable, and this will dramatically increase your chances of acing the interview.
How do you know which card to play?
It may sound obvious, but the key is crafting solid points ahead of time, and practicing your answers.
When you rehearse your answers before the interview, you’ll be able to stay cool under pressure. You’ll be able to take advantage of the “3-Second Rule” and choose your best, most succinct answer. And you’ll be able to make your one (or two at most) big points with confidence.

Clean Up Your Social Media Profile: People Are Looking!

What if I told you that we all have two resumes?

The first is the crisp white sheet sprinkled with bullet points and carefully-chosen verbs. On it are descriptions of our education, the positions we’ve held, and acquired skills. This one we reserve for job interviews.

And then there are our other “resumes:” the Instagram account that reveals our love for happy hour, the Twitter account turned gossip column, and the Facebook profile that has pictures that are just a bit too NSFW.

The reality is that hiring managers are looking at your social media just as thoroughly as your resume or cover letter. In fact, 45% of hiring managers use social media to learn more about potential candidates. Which means you want it to be just as pristine.

But cleaning up your online image doesn’t mean you need to change everything about who you are. It just means you may need to monitor how you post or what you share (and with whom).

Here are eight tips that’ll help you project your best online self—without sacrificing your personality.

1. Make Your Accounts Private

Let’s start here in case companies are already looking at your social media. Simply go to your settings and choose only “friends” to see your activity.

Also, if you really want your profiles to remain personal, maybe only accept friend requests from people you know and not anyone in your professional network, like old bosses or co-workers.

That said, if you want to remain public, you should…

2. Hide or Delete Any Inappropriate Posts

These posts don’t need to go away completely! You can always archive Instagram photos, save Snapchats to memories, hide content from your Facebook timeline, or set your settings to “Only me” so certain posts are private.

3. Deactivate Old Accounts

Like your middle school YouTube account that’s been floating on the internet for far too long. If you wouldn’t care to revisit your teenage self, you probably don’t want hiring managers to, either.

Even if you don’t think you have any, google yourself! You might be surprised what you forgot you signed up for.

4. Add the Right Photos

Your photo is literally the first thing hiring managers see when they find you online.

No need to get a professional headshot, but do make sure that your profile and cover photos are professional and easily visible (and actually have one, none of that Twitter egg nonsense).

5. Add a Professional Bio

This is the best way to explain who you are, what makes you unique, and why you’re the perfect hire.

Not sure how to write one? Here’s an article that can help you craft the perfect bio for each platform.

6. Edit Your Handles and URLs

Because a custom url takes less than a minute to create, and looks far more intentional.

7. Post Industry-Related News, Quotes, or Articles

Post, share, or retweet anything related to the industry you’re in or want to be a part of. When a hiring manager sees that the mission of their company falls in line with your own brand, they’re even more likely to consider you for a position.

8. Follow Inspiring People and Companies

Blogs, news sources, and any other website you love count, too! This tells managers what you’re passionate about, which leaders you admire, and what trends you’re up-to-date on. As weird as it may seem, we also are who we follow.

Here are some Twitter and LinkedIn influencers we recommend.

Lastly, make smart social media choices. Before you post something, contemplate whether it matches the online presence you wish to uphold.

Think of it this way: If a hiring manager brought it up in an interview, would you be able to explain why you posted it?

Affordable MBA For Working People

A University’s Online M.B.A. Is Less Expensive — and Purposely Different

Boston University’s new online business degree is $24,000 for a reason. Unlike on-campus program, it has no electives and is aimed at a different audience.


Doug Lederman August 14, 2019

Many of the universities that have created lower-priced online graduate programs in recent years have gone out of their way to make the case that the digital versions are equivalent to their (more expensive) in-person equivalents.

“Online students learn from the same faculty and take the same courses as those on campus in Atlanta,” Georgia Institute of Technology states in describing the online version of its master of science in cybersecurity degree.

Inside Digital Learning

“Yes, this is the same degree as the on-campus M.B.A. degree, and after successfully completing the degree requirements you will be part of the Illinois alumni network,” the University of Illinois’s Gies School of Business says in the FAQ for its online M.B.A. offered with Coursera. (Gies went so far as to end its on-campus program after this year.)

Boston University makes no such promises about its new online master’s in business administration degree in conjunction with edX, which will cost $24,000 compared to tuition and fees of $56,000-plus for its in-person, full-time version (more than $76,000 with room and board).

Oh, officials at BU’s Questrom School of Business believe the online degree program will be of high quality — and in fact they believe the on-campus version will have much to learn from the virtual iteration.

But the new online M.B.A. will differ from the in-person version in many ways: among other things, it’s aimed at a different audience (“the global learner” who wants to advance her career while still working versus a career switcher who chooses to take a year-plus out of the workforce to return to school), has a different curriculum (five modules built around “capabilities” such as “data-driven decision making” rather than courses such as marketing or operations), and allows less specialization.

“We’re differentiating our programs more,” said Susan Fournier, Questrom’s dean. “At the same time, we’re launching a program for the global online segment, having the most innovative and customized offering to meet their needs. We’re doubling down to improve the on-campus M.B.A., emphasizing and creating more value in the things you will get in that degree that you won’t have online.”

As befits someone in her position, Fournier reaches to other industries that appear in the business school’s case studies for analogies. Steinway and Porsche, she said, are both high-end brands that have found ways to offer lower-priced versions of their instruments and vehicles, respectively, while maintaining their reputations for quality — in large part by augmenting the services they offer on their higher-priced offerings.

“There’s a big difference,” she says, “in the value propositions.”

BU Builds Up

As is true of many things in higher education, “new” initiatives like Boston University’s low-priced M.B.A. were a long time coming (or at least “long” as that is defined in the digital era).

The university has experimented with online education for nearly 20 years, originally through its extension programs and more recently through a separate office of online education.

It was an early partner of edX, the massive open online course provider founded by neighboring Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

In 2017 the Questrom business school began offering “micromaster’s” credentials in digital leadership and digital product management through edX, part of the provider’s suite of mixed online/in-person programs that could be stacked to form a full master’s.

All of that work has helped the university to do some of the hardest work around online education, which involves creating the administrative and policy infrastructure and getting faculty members comfortable experimenting with new modes of delivery.

Then “boom,” Fournier said, edX approached BU about creating its first fully online M.B.A. program — inspired, certainly, by the fact that the MOOC provider’s rival, Coursera, had been steadily expanding its suite of low-priced online master’s programs, including the aforementioned iMBA at Illinois. EdX announced a set of such master’s programs last fall, but an M.B.A. was not among them.

Fournier said she and her colleagues were intrigued by the idea of creating a fully online M.B.A. program with edX, for a variety of reasons.

First is edX’s status as a platform of 21 million learners internationally and its mission of providing accessible, high-quality education around the world, which aligns, Fournier said, with the business school’s value statement of “creating value for the world.”

Second, she said, tapping into the MOOC provider’s enormous user base could give Boston University a head start in building a program of significant “scale,” which Fournier said she has come to believe is essential for success in digital learning, “given the huge investment you have to make in infrastructure, faculty acculturation, capability development, studies and new staff, which are all very costly.” BU’s full-time M.B.A. program has about 300 students, and its part-time executive M.B.A. has about 640. The enrollment target for the fully online M.B.A.: 2,500 to 3,000 within five years, Fournier said.

Aiming for a larger scale “also starts to suggest a pricing strategy,” she said. Most selective institutions purposely limit who they serve, and as a result tend to price their programs “super high.” The alternative, she said, is to “try to use this wider funnel” to attract more people, potentially allowing you to price the program lower.

Online education “should be priced lower,” Fournier adds. “If we tried to bring 1,000 M.B.A. students, 2,000 students, to Boston, the cost would absolutely be higher. We’d need new buildings, and to scale up the faculty five times. This way we should have lower acquisition costs and lower costs of delivery.”

Reconsidering What’s in the M.B.A.

As BU and Questrom were dabbling with various forms of digital learning, they were also re-evaluating the nature of business education, through a series of global and regional conversations called the Business Education Jam.

The discussions, which involved other business education organizations as well, involved several thousand academics and business professionals around the question of what business education should look like in the 21st century. And the bottom-line answer, Fournier said, is that it “looks very different from our current core M.B.A.,” especially for the group she calls “global learners.”

Rather than building expertise in narrow disciplines like accounting or finance, she said, business leaders going forward need “five competencies” that they can use in whatever field or setting they work in: leading with integrity; creating a socially responsible business in the digital age; developing an innovative mind-set; pursuing a global business opportunity; and learning data-driven decision making.

The business school has begun slowly revising its traditional curricula and degree programs, but that sort of change doesn’t happen fast.

The new online degree, on the other hand, offers an opportunity to remake the curriculum from the get-go — and to strip away everything that doesn’t fit. The curriculum is made up of modules in each of the five aforementioned competencies — period. “That foundation is what we think the 21st-century learner needs to know,” Fournier said. “We are not offering any electives,” which are very expensive because of the faculty expertise required to offer them. “When you do those five modules, this is it — you’re done.”

Fournier and Questrom recognize that that stripped-down curriculum won’t satisfy everyone — in fact, they’re counting on it.

“That’s why that degree is $24,000, and the other one is not,” she says. Students in the fully online M.B.A. can’t take electives in health care, as 28 percent of the university’s in-person business students do, given Boston’s vibrant health sector.

They won’t have networking interactions or career counseling or in-person internships, as students in the in-person program do.

That’s where Steinway and Porsche come in, she says. Questrom will have to find a way to “sustain product offerings at different levels” and to persuade students that its M.B.A. programs have sufficient value, whether they’re paying $24,000 or $76,000.

“It’s our responsibility,” she said, “to make that value proposition obvious.”

A WOW Way To Research Colleges!

Rose-Hulman University Innovation Center

Lynn O’Shaughnessy offers students surprising advice about how to shop for colleges in her blog, The College Solution. Here’s her post on digging deeply into the department you’re considering for your major. Most students don’t spend the time to go beyond the virtual tour and admissions pages but those who do find a wealth of pertinent information.

Here’s the link:

Admissions Vocabulary: How You Apply

Will This Be Your Alma Mater?

Are you ever confused by words and terms you hear on a college visit or that writers use in articles about college admission? Read on to find explanations and definitions.

Early Decision      Early Decision is an application submitted by a student who holds a strong preference for a specific college above all others. At most colleges that offer ED, the decision is binding, meaning that if accepted, the student will enroll. All other applications must be withdrawn upon acceptance at the ED college. Obviously, a student can only apply to one college Early Decision.

Deadlines for Early Decision are usually between November 1st December 1st. Once all material has been received the applications are read. Decisions are sent out in 4-6 weeks fr the deadline and can be an acceptance, a denial or deferral which is putting the application into the regular decision round.

Early Decision is an advantage for the college because they know that students who are admitted will come, ie, seats that are guaranteed to be filled. ED is an advantage for the student who no longer has to wait for acceptances.

For students who are applying for financial aid, Early Decision is a disadvantage because they are committed to a college without seeing the aid package. If the aid doesn’t meet their needs or ability to pay, they don’t have other schools waiting for them.

Early Action     Early Action also shows a preference for a particular college by asking for an answer quickly. EA deadlines are usually 11/1 or 11/15 if the college does not also have an ED option.   When all the supporting documentation has arrived, the application is read and a decision made. The response can be acceptance, denial or deferring the application to the regular decision pool. Usually, the student is notified in 4-6 weeks. Early Action is non-binding so a student can apply to more than on college EA.  They must notify the college that they will attend by May 1.

Regular Decision is when the most applications are read.  Students not choosing to apply Early Decision or Early Action apply in this group.  With part of the class filled students considered to be a member of a group that is under-represented in the class may be given preference.  For example, women applying to  engineering,  men where a large cohort of women has been admitted, an athlete playing a less popular sport, someone applying to a new major, a student from an under-represented geographical region.  At most colleges the class is filled largely from among the regular decision applicants.  Decisions are either accept, deny or Wait List.

The Wait List is a holding place to see how many students send in a deposit by May 1.  Should you be wait listed you have the option to accept admission to any other college. If there are unfilled spots in the class, some students on the wait list are notified of admission.

Rolling Admission is the plan under which applications are read as soon as all supporting documents have been received.  Students usually receive the decision within 6 weeks of a completed submission.

Deadline Reading is used by a few colleges who like to look at all the applicants at the same time.  The deadline for applying is typically in January.  When all applications are complete, they are read and discussed by admissions officers and decisions are sent out to all students at the same time, by April 15th at the latest.

No matter which decision protocol you choose, be aware of deadlines. All documentation must arrive by that date to be considered. Incomplete early applications usually move to the regular decision pool. You can check you application online to see when scores and your high school packet arrive. It’s your responsibility to make certain that it is complete.

You might want to save this post for future reference.

Good luck!

Where to Find Money For College

Recently, we covered general information about scholarships.  Now we’ll talk about where to look for them.

Never pay  an agency to search for scholarships for you!  Your own diligence will reward you with more than enough material that won’t cut into your profits.

FIRST source of scholarships is the colleges you’re going to apply to.  When you make your due-diligence visit, go to the Financial Aid Office.  Make an appointment, if you can, so that you will meet with a professional rather than the work-study student manning the counter.

  • Ask if  this college has a policy of meeting full need without loans.  That will open a discussion of their aid package and merit aid options.
  • Next, ask about specific scholarships that you might fit.  Many families leave money to a college for an incoming student that is similar to a family member who attended.  Are you a left handed violinist?  Micro-economics major from Scranton?  Have grandparents from Lithuania?  These scholarships go begging because the FA office doesn’t have the resources to comb through the admitted students to find a match.
  • Many colleges have discounts for the children of educators or veterans or police officers; its good for you if your parent is one of these!

Second Review all the employers your parents and grandparents have worked for; make a list of organizations members of your family belong to; add any that you or they could join that offer scholarships to members.  Look for civil, social and professional group memberships.

Third  Look at companies with whom you do business.  Many corporations mention  scholarships in their advertising, in on-line profiles or on their websites.  Check brands you use or are familiar with. You’ll be amazed! You don’t need to be an athlete  to be eligible for a local team’s scholarships.

Fourth Use apps and online resources.  You might want to create a dedicated email address to use when signing up  online.  You can use this address for joining college blogs or reaching out to admissions offices.  Keep the address professional.

  • scholly app for android and iphone for $.99
  • scholarshipadvisor app ( from Washington Post)
  • (Sage Scholars)
  • or (Marc Kantrowitz)
  • Scholarship Owl,
  • Scholarships 360,
  • Scholarship Points.
  • Big Future/College Board

You will find that most scholarships are good for 4 years so long as you remain in school with a minimum GPA. However, some are for one year require you to go through the application process from the beginning for each additional year.

Good luck with your search! $$

I have more ideas for you if you reach out. or 610-212-6679. Let talk!