5 Tips to prepare your first job interview

5 Tips to prepare your first job interview

You have completed high school or college and now you’re ready for your first “real” job. You have sent resumes and were called for your first interview. How can you do well in the interview so that you end up being offered the position?

1. Dress professionally. No belly shirts, low cut blouses or flip-flops, because you will work and not the beach. Although it is not necessary to buy a costume, it is particularly important to look professional. If you try to get a job in an office as a conservative accounting firm, do not dress like you’re going to a concert. If you apply for a retail job, you have a little more free. Rather than list and this garment is not acceptable, I would tell you to dress as if you were going to meet one of the most important people in your life because you are!

2. Make sure you are well groomed. Do not look like you just get out of bed and could not bother to take care of basic personal hygiene. Nothing is going to be the HR Manager interview to a close faster than dirty hair, dirty nails and body odor. As an employee, you will be a reflection of society and no customer wants to do business with someone uneducated.

3. Be aware of your body language. A firm handshake at the beginning of the interview shows that you are confident. Maintain eye contact, stay relaxed and pay attention to the interviewer. Ask questions and listen thoughtfully to the answers. Think before you answer the questions the interviewer will walk and keep the conversation on the subject.

4. Be prepared for the interview. Research the company in advance, each company now has a website where you can learn what they do and who their clients. This shows the interviewer that you are interested in the job and took the initiative to find everything I could about the company.

5. Be present in the interview. I interviewed candidates who have acted as if they were waiting for a bus. They do not ask questions but simply listened to me, and I was not really sure if they were attentive. Be enthusiastic, ask questions and participate in the interview. After listing all the functions required for the position, I asked a candidate if this sounds like something she was interested in His answer was easy, “I can do the job.” She did not answer my question, she seemed indifferent and did not get the job. If you can not be excited in the interview, you will not be excited to work either.

First impressions count, and want to let the interviewer that you want the job, are willing to work hard and do your best. You may not necessarily be the most qualified candidate, but still get the job because you were the person most remarkable. Good luck!

Job-search moves you should avoid

Job-search moves you should avoid

Eager candidates often make these giant blunders without even knowing it.

The phone call desperate post-interview, the proclamation of self-doubt, and means more to deny blundering your chances of winning the job. Despite economic recovery, employers are often slow to display the offers and make hiring decisions. It’s a frustrating situation that can lead to job applicants who wish to act against-productive, timing promising opportunities. Here is our list of 10 real-life job search failures, we hope to serve as cautionary tales job seekers. Do not reproduce these acts against-productive.

Gratuitous infliction interrogation

I was reviewing resumes and found one that stands out in a positive way. I sent an email of the sender and asked if he had one minute to speak by telephone. “I could,” he wrote back. “Where is the company located, what is the starting salary, which is the CEO, and how long have you been in business?” That was the end of the correspondence, our address is on our home page, the salary was included in the job, and the history of the company (including the date of creation and leadership bios) was in the About section of our site. In its haste to ensure its time was not wasted, a reasonable goal, in my opinion, the gentleman asked me to answer four questions that had already been answered if he had done some homework. Lesson: It is to guard against time-sucking job advertisements or even false, but doing so that you do not shoot in the foot.

Forget who you are interviewing with

The Executive Director of a small not for profit sharing that story with me. “I miraculously have enough money of my commission to hire a marketing director last year,” she said. “I was on the moon. I had a job opening to fill valuable. I interviewed five people, three of them from industry and two non-profit world. One of the people in the industry was super intelligent and insightful.

Sadly, she knocked out of the race halfway through the interview. “” How? “I wanted to know.” I asked him to tell me a story that illustrates how it rolls. I told him to think about our agency and five people we need in marketing, and tell me a story of his career that would make it clear that it belongs here. She told me a story about a 24-month project intranet development involving 60 people across functions and six or seven levels of the organization approvals. I was almost asleep when she finished. I think this lady really needs a big company atmosphere. “The history of the job seeker intranet shouted” I do not understand Scrappy non-profit at all. “Lesson: In your job search written communication and especially on an interview, keep your stories and questions relevant to the issues the hiring manager is.

Selling Yourself Short

A friend of an employment agency told me this story. Last summer, she was a candidate on the short list of two finalists for a position in sales management plum. She had just gotten on the phone with the hiring manager, who said: “I have to sleep on it, but I think your guy is Frank get the job tomorrow,” when Frank himself called it. “Do not be angry against me,” says Frank. “Oh, no,” said the officer. “What were you doing, Frank?”

Frank had received the fear and called the hiring manager to say, “If you do not want me in the spot sales manager, I will take a sales territory assignment.” The director was hired in the work territory involved and the other finalist for the work of sales management. The lady agency did not say how he would come to Frank paid the increase, more jobs. Lesson: stay the course. You will never show the employer what you are worth, or to persuade them that you need, crawling.

You leave Vanquish minor adversity

“I am so frustrated with my job search,” said one man I met at the library. “I had an interview last week, and when I got to 20 after 5, the door was locked,” he said. “Did you go back?” I asked. “Did you call or text or HR hiring manager?” “No, I went home,” said the gentleman. “When I returned, there was a message telling me the door was locked and I should go there, but I left the house before the message arrived.”

“Did you see?” I asked. “No, I thought the opportunity was lost.” “Call them!” I said. He did, but they had already completed the task. Lesson: the types of recruitment business are no different from someone else, they make mistakes . In an interview back in my 20s, I toured the entire building looking for an open door for an interview for 5:30, and I finally crossed the loading dock for Show your ingenuity to get by rolling with the punches interview.

Sending a thank-generic

I interviewed a brilliant young man for a role of business development. “Look, Barry,” I said. “I assure you that we are on the same page. Over the next two days, send me an e-mail and tell me what you heard today. It need not be long. Just write a couple of paragraphs on what you see as our competitive position and how you approach the assignment as I know we will be in sync.

“Barry gladly accepted. An hour later, I had the generic post-interview thank you e-mail from Barry, saying,” Dear Ms. Ryan, Thank you very much for chatting with me today. I’m excited to work for your business and I know will do a great job. “Today we would call an Epic Fail in the department, showing understanding. Lesson: What the hiring manager asks you or not, make post-interview thank you a summary of the conversation in an intelligent manner, emphasizing that the company faces and how you are equipped to meet these challenges.

Offering a package (double) incorrect information

A reader called me for advice, saying, “I am targeting an opening Product Manager at Company X. I go to a trade show where they are exposed. “We talked about the visit of the company’s booth and chat with employees. A week later, she called again.” I visited the stand but everyone was busy, so I left a package for the sales manager.” “Hmm, the sales manager? “I asked. I thought a likely level of sales director for the interest Job search of an employee not selling packages deposited during a trade show chaotic. What was in the package? “I left him a note to an article I wrote for a newspaper of industry some years ago, ” she said.

“Was the article about Company X?” I asked. “No,” she said, “It was a story about the software documentation.” Unfortunately, the company X is not a software company. Busy working people are inundated with information. Search Job Openings must be specific. My partner could have obtained the name of the hiring manager through a short conversation if she had stuck around this stand as the crew lounge had one minute to discuss. Section n unrelated has not helped his cause and was likely thrown into the recycling bin. Lesson: Your target is the person hiring manager. Other random people in the organization in general are not great unless that led ‘They are your friends. And all the materials you send must be clear what you want and why anyone should care.

Frantically self-doubt

The CEO of a technology start-up called me. “What now?” he said. “I ran an ad, and a lady wrote to me immediately with a large e-mail. I answered saying, “I’d love to talk when you have time. “She wrote to tell me she is not all that technique, and I replied by saying that we need more than just technical people. She wrote again to make sure I knew that ‘It really is not anything technical. At that time, I tried to understand why she responded to the ad at all, but his resume was great, so I said,’ Let’s just get together and go from there.”

Then she wrote again to ask if there would be technical tests at interview. We do not use anything like that, but I lost faith at that point and gave up. Please tell your readers to go with the flow. There is no point in you acing out of employment opportunities because you fear you might get ejected at some point later in the process. “Lesson: Work of the process. At a minimum, you make valuable contacts, learn new things, practice your interview skills, and give you a reason to get dressed.

Worst mistakes career changers make

Worst mistakes career changers make

You can be a nasty surprise if you’re not careful before changing fields.

Career change is never easy. Half the world thinks you’ve lost your mind, headhunters say you never work again and your loved ones contribute the old “I told you so” routine. But for many people burned out, bored or multiple talents that are sitting on skills they do not get a chance to use, modify the fields is the only way to avoid losing their marbles.

Regardless of your career change strategy, never make these 10 mistakes:

1. Don’t Look for a Job in Another Field Without Some Intense Introspection

Nothing is worse than leaping before you look. Make sure you’re not escape a field that suits you just as bad as the last. Be sure you do a thorough self-assessment first.

2. Don’t Look for Hot Fields Unless They’re a Good Fit for You

You would not try to sneak into your skinny cousin, so why try a field because it works for him? People trying to help and will do the equivalent of whispering “plastics” in your ear. Instead of jumping to their suggestion, take the time to consider your options. Decide what you really want to do. When you enter a field just because it’s hot, burnout is not far behind.

3. Don’t Go into a Field Because Your Friend Is Doing Well in It

Get in-depth information on the fields you are considering networking, reading and doing research online. Having informational interviews with alumni from your college, colleagues, friends and family is a fun way to get the scoop on different fields.

4. Don’t Stick to Possibilities You Already Know About

Stretch your perception of what might work for you. Read job profiles and explore career fields that you learn about self-assessment exercises.

5. Don’t Let Money Be the Deciding Factor

There is not enough money in the world to make you happy if your job does not suit you. Job dissatisfaction and stress is a health issue No. 1 for working adults. This is particularly true for career changers, who often earn less until they get their sea legs in a different field.

6. Don’t Keep Your Dissatisfaction to Yourself or Try to Make the Switch Alone

It’s time to talk to people (probably not your boss for now). Friends, family and colleagues need to know what is going on so they can help you tap into this large percentage of jobs that are not advertised.

7. Don’t Go Back to School Unless You’ve Done Some Test-Drives in the New Field

You’re never too old for an internship, volunteer experience or trying your hand at a contract assignment in a new area. There are many ways to get an experience that will not cost you anything except your time. A new piece may or may not make the world sit up and take notice. Be sure where you want to go before you put yourself through the pain and debt of another program.

8. Be Careful When Using Placement Agencies or Search Firms

Do some research to be sure to find a good match. Ask those who work in the area you are trying to enter or other changers successful career for suggestions. Try to find a company that knows how to be creative when placing career changers – not one that focuses solely on the movement of people on the ladder in the same field.

9. Don’t Expect a Career Counselor to Tell You Which Field to Enter

Counsellors are facilitators, and they’ll follow your lead. They can help find your long-buried dreams and talents, but you have to do research and decision making for yourself. Anyone who promises to tell you what to do is dangerous.

10. Don’t Expect to Switch Overnight

A complete career change usually will take a minimum of six months to shoot, and time often stretches to a year or more.

Changing fields is one of the most invigorating things you can do. It’s like living young again, except with the wisdom of any age you are now.

How to speed up a career switch

How to speed up a career switch

A hot career could be closer than you think. Check out these 5 careers you could start with an associate’s degree.

Associate’s Degree Career 1: Medical Assistant

Want to work in the growing health care field – without spending years and years in medical school? Look into earning an associate’s degree in medical assisting.

Medical assistants are indispensible to the operation of health practitioner offices, often handling a range of administrative tasks including obtaining patients’ medical history and scheduling appointments.

Career Growth: The U.S. Department of Labor predicts that employment for medical assistants will grow 34 percent between 2008 and 2018.

Average Earning Potential: $29,760 per year.

Associate’s Degree Career 2: Computer Support Specialist

If you want a quick-prep career that will incorporate your love of technology, consider earning an associate’s degree in tech support or information technology, which could prepare you to pursue opportunities as a computer support specialist.

Computer support specialists help people with their computer problems. Some work out of call centers, where they try to help customers figure out what’s wrong with their computer. Others might be on the staff of a company or school.

Career Growth: The U.S. Department of Labor predicts the field will grow by 14 percent between 2008 and 2018.

Average Earning Potential: $49,930 per year.

Associate’s Degree Career 3: Paralegal

Love the law, but don’t want to spend years in law school? Consider studying to pursue paralegal career opportunities through an associate’s degree program.

If you’ve seen the Oscar-winning film “Erin Brockovich,” you know that a career as a paralegal can be far from boring. And while it’s not all Hollywood glamour and sticking it to the man, paralegals do perform many of the same exciting tasks as attorneys, such as researching cases and conducting interviews.

Career Growth: This exciting career is seeing equally exciting growth – the U.S. Department of Labor predicts the field will grow 28 percent between 2008 and 2018.

Average Earning Potential: $49,640 per year.

Associate’s Degree Career 4: Bookkeeper

Love to crunch numbers? Prepare to pursue bookkeeping opportunities by earning an associate’s degree in accounting.

Financial records are often the most important aspect for any business, and bookkeepers are the ones who make sure they are complete and accurate.

Career Growth: The U.S. Department of Labor calls this “one of the largest growth occupations in the economy,” and predicts that the field will add about 212,400 new jobs between 2008 and 2018.

Average Earning Potential: $35,340 per year.

Associate’s Degree Career 5: Real Estate Agent

If you want to pursue real estate opportunities, an associate’s degree in business is a great place to start, especially if the college or university you choose offers real estate-specific courses. Note: All states also require that real estate agents be licensed – and licensure requirements will vary by state.*

Real estate agents manage and negotiate the sale of homes, offices, and other buildings. They might help people who want to buy a house or help those who want to sell.

Career Growth: While it might seem like the housing market is still on the decline, job growth is projected to increase by 14-19 percent between 2008 and 2018, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Average Earning Potential: $52,490 per year.

Top careers for better work – life balance

Top careers for better work - life balance

These fields let you scrap the 9-to-5 routine and work a flexible schedule.

Are you tired of the same old, same old 9-to-5 office routine? Want to change to a career with a more flexible working schedule? You’re not alone. More than three out of five working adults agreed that flexibility is one of the most important factors to consider when looking for a new job, according to a recent Business News Daily article.

The good news is that with the right education, you could be prepared to pursue a career with flexibility built in…

Career 1 – Registered Nurse

Want a career that offers a flexible work schedule? Look to nursing. These physical and emotional health care providers generally help perform a variety of tasks – from recording medical histories and symptoms to doing diagnostic tests and helping with patient follow-up and rehabilitation.

Flex Factor: Instead of being confined by normal business hours, registered nurses (RNs) usually have the flexibility to work night and weekend shifts. At Baptist Memorial Hospital-Memphis, Dana Dye, chief nursing officer, RN, says the hospital allows nurses to choose between eight-hour or 12-hour shifts. And during the weekends, nurses could have the option to work 24 hours.

Education: Look into either an associate’s degree in nursing or a nursing diploma from an approved nursing program.

Earning Potential: The mean annual salary for RNs was $67,720 in May 2010.

Career 2 – Dental Assistant

Dental assistants usually play an important role in preparing patients for treatment, sterilizing dental equipment, organizing instruments, and updating dental records. During procedures, assistants usually work alongside the dentist to provide patient care. They also could perform laboratory duties.

Flex Factor: Many dental assistants don’t subscribe to a 9-to-5 schedule or a 40-hour workweek. Some put in hours on nights and weekends, while others work for more than one dental office to form a more balanced work-life routine. In 2008, nearly half of all dental assistants had a 35- to 40-hour workweek, says the Department of Labor.

Education: While there’s no formal requirements for dental assisting gigs, the U.S. Department of Labor notes that dental assisting diploma and certificate programs – which could take as little as one year to complete – are growing in popularity.

Earning Potential: The mean annual salary for dental assistants was $34,140 in May 2010.

Career 3 – Accountant

If you excel at organization and attention to detail, you may want to consider an accounting career. Accountants usually help to ensure that firms are run efficiently, public records are kept accurately, and taxes are paid properly and on time.

Flex Factor: Off-site work and travel for audits are two fun flex factors that can be found in accounting. At Ernst & Young, workplace flexibility has been built into the culture, says a recent New York Times article. Ernst & Young’s Chairman James S. Turley said, “We listen to our people and they tell us very consistently that flexibility is incredibly important to them and to their family.” Nearly 10 percent of Ernst & Young’s 23,500 U.S. employees are on flexible arrangements.

Education: If you want to prepare to pursue this career, consider earning a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related area like finance or business.

Earning Potential: The mean annual salary for accountants was $68,960 in May 2010.

Career 4 – Graphic Designer

Using tools like color, type, illustration, and various layout techniques, graphic designers generally convey visual messages in a variety of mediums. From designing magazines and promotional displays to marketing brochures and packaging, this career is usually about having an eye for design.

Flex Factor: If working normal business hours at a big design or advertising firm doesn’t excite you, there could be work-life balance alternatives for a graphic designer. Many creative types are self-employed and usually work from home on a contract basis, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Just note that since this has the potential to be a self-employed position that revolves around production schedules, night and weekend hours could be necessary.

Education: If you want to start a graphic design career, a bachelor’s degree in graphic design is generally needed to land an entry-level position, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Earning Potential: The mean annual salary for graphic designers was $48,140 in May 2010.

Career 5 – Police Officer

Uniformed police officers usually protect lives and property by carrying out law enforcement duties. From responding to a traffic accident to confronting criminals, these everyday heroes work to keep our communities safe.

Flex Factor: The prospect of flexible or part-time schedules seems to be attractive to police job candidates – it appears on many career hiring sites, including the NYPD Cadet Corps’ web site. Although police officers usually work 40-hour weeks, hours can be flexible, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Since police officers provide around-the-clock protection, shift work could be necessary.

Education: Educational requirements vary for each agency – from a high school diploma to a few years of college coursework.

Earning Potential: The mean annual salary for police officers was $55,620 in May 2010.

Online degrees that are career-focused

Online degrees that are career-focused

One of these five bachelor’s programs could help prepare you for the workforce.

Want to earn an online degree? Staying career-minded could be the way to go. The most popular online programs prep students “for careers in high-demand areas like business, computer science, health care and criminal justice,” according to a 2011 New York Times article “Online Enterprises Gain Foothold as Path to a College Degree.”

Eduventures, a Boston-based research firm, found a similar career-minded trend when it tracked enrollment data for 2.14 million online students in 2009. That year’s most popular online degrees included criminal justice, computer and information technology, health care, and business, in that order. Whether you want to change careers or hone skills that will help you get ahead at work, we’ve put the spotlight on five online degrees to consider.

Bachelor’s in Business Administration

Welcome to the 21st century, where an online presence is a must for any successful business, and students can get a bachelor’s in business administration online. All you need is a computer and internet connection to get started.

One of the benefits of the online format is that students can make sure that they are really absorbing the material, according to Jennifer Humber, an academic advisor at the University of Alabama.

“They can look at the assignments over and over again,” Humber told the school newspaper in September 2011. “They can do it on their own time.”

An online business administration degree could help you prepare for careers in multiple industries, all on your own time. In fact, the U.S. Department of Labor recommends studying business administration for a wide range of tracks, including human resources specialist (average salary: $57,830), marketing specialist ($66,850), and financial analyst ($86,040).*

Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice

Earning a criminal justice degree online is a popular trend. According to Eduventures, enrollment in online criminal justice programs jumped 41 percent in 2009.

At North Georgia College & State University, it’s not unusual for online classes to fill up within seconds during registration, according to Ross Alexander, the school’s criminal justice department head.

“With online, a student can log in anytime and work on classes,” Alexander told the Gainesville Times.

Maybe you’ve got your eye on a career in the private sector – as a security guard ($26,870) or private investigator ($47,830) – or perhaps you’re more interested in pursuing work as a police officer ($55,620).* Studying criminal justice online could help you get ready for these careers – and more – without giving up your current one to do so.

Bachelor’s in Nursing

While it may surprise some to see an online bachelor’s degree in nursing on our list, the simple fact is nursing is an in-demand profession. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 581,500 new registered nursing jobs are expected to be added between 2008 and 2018, and earning your bachelor’s in nursing online can help already working or busy aspiring nurses to prepare for a role as a registered nurse.

Though individual online nursing programs vary, some help working nurses earn a bachelor’s of science in nursing (BSN) online. With more employers requiring a BSN, online programs everywhere are seeing a bump in enrollment, according to Elizabeth Regan-Butts, director of marketing and recruitment at Rowan University in New Jersey, which offers a bachelor’s degree in nursing that you can earn online.

“Nurses in the past only had to have an [associate’s] degree,” Regan-Butts told SouthJerseyBiz.net, a New Jersey-based website and magazine. “Now, most hospitals want a bachelor’s of science.”

If you want to pursue registered nurse opportunities, you’ll most likely need to get a BSN, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Registered nurses have an average annual salary of $67,720.*

Bachelor’s in Information Technology (IT) & Information Systems

Some people call it the 21st century; others call it the information technology age. Whatever name you prefer, it’s hard to imagine a more current degree you can earn online than IT and information systems. Among other things, you’ll learn how digital technology is changing businesses and the way we live.

Your online coursework may include everything from network and database administration to cybersecurity, the latter of which is a global problem these days, according to a 2011 report by computer security firm Symantec.

“Cybercrime costs the world significantly more than the global black market in marijuana, cocaine and heroin combined,” Symantec concluded.

Want to break into the technology sector? Studying IT online could help you get started. A bachelor’s degree in information technology is one of the recommended courses of study for aspiring database administrators ($75,730), according to the U.S. Department of Labor. The Department adds that cyber-security specialists often go by more general job titles like database administrator or network and computer system administrator ($72,200).*

Bachelor’s in Health Care Administration

Looking for a career-focused degree? How about health care administration? According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 10 of the 20 fastest growing jobs in the country are in health care.

No matter where you live, all you need is a computer and an internet connection and you too can start studying up on an industry that exists in just about every single town and city on the map.

Earning a health care administration degree online could help prep you for a career as a health care administrator ($93,670), according to the U.S. Department of Labor. While a master’s degree may be preferred by some employers, a bachelor’s degree could be enough to get you started, the Department says.*

The worst words to put on a resume

The worst words to put on a resume

Including the phrase “salary negotiable” is just a waste of valuable space.

Your resume needs an update — that is, if your resume is like that of most people, it’s not as good as it could be. The problem is language: Most resumes are a thicket of deadwood words and phrases — empty cliches, annoying jargon and recycled buzzwords. Recruiters, HR folks and hiring managers see these terms over and over again, and it makes them sad.

Wouldn’t you rather make them happy? It’s time to start raking out your resume, starting with these (and similar) terms.

1. “Salary negotiable”

Yes, they know. If you’re wasting a precious line of your resume on this term, it looks as though you’re padding — that you’ve run out of things to talk about. If your salary is not negotiable, that would be somewhat unusual. (Still, don’t put that on your resume either.)

2. “References available by request”

See the preceding comment about unnecessary terms.

3. “Responsible for ______”

Reading this term, the recruiter can almost picture the C-average, uninspired employee mechanically fulfilling his job requirements — no more, no less. Having been responsible for something isn’t something you did — it’s something that happened to you. Turn phrases like “responsible for” into “managed,” “led” or other decisive, strong verbs.

4. “Experience working in ______”

Again, experience is something that happens to you — not something you achieve. Describe your background in terms of achievements.

5. “Problem-solving skills”

You know who else has problem-solving skills? Monkeys. Dogs. On your resume, stick to skills that require a human.

6. “Detail-oriented”

So, you pay attention to details. Well, so does everyone else. Don’t you have something unique to tell the hiring manager? Plus, putting this on your resume will make that accidental typo in your cover letter or resume all the more comical.

7. “Hardworking”

Have you ever heard the term “show — don’t tell”? This is where that might apply. Anyone can call himself a hard worker. It’s a lot more convincing if you describe situations in concrete detail in which your hard work benefited an employer.

8. “Team player”

See the preceding comment about showing instead of telling. There are very few jobs that don’t involve working with someone else. If you have relevant success stories about collaboration, put them on your resume. Talk about the kinds of teams you worked on, and how you succeeded.

9. “Proactive”

This is a completely deflated buzzword. Again, show rather than tell.

10. “Objective”

This term isn’t always verboten, but you should use it carefully. If your objective is to get the job you’ve applied for, there’s no need to spell that out on your resume with its own heading. A resume objective is usually better replaced by a career summary describing your background, achievements and what you have to offer an employer. An exception might be if you haven’t applied for a specific job and don’t have a lot of experience that speaks to the position you’d like to achieve.

‘Passive job search’ may pay off

'Passive job search' may pay off

Creating a wish list can be a first step to exploring employment options while you still have a job.

Is your boss taking you for granted? Is business slowing around the office? You may not be ready to jump ship just yet, but you should start to explore other professional options. You need not engage in an all-out active job search. Rather, you can put out feelers in another way. Follow these five steps to start your passive job search:

Post Your Resume Online

The easiest way to begin exploring your professional possibilities is to post your resume. By doing so, you’re letting thousands of recruiters, human resources professionals and employment experts know what your unique qualifications are and that you’re interested in new opportunities.

Remember that your current employer might see your resume online, which may prompt your boss to give you a raise or a promotion if she’s worried you’re going to jump ship. But you can also post your resume confidentially.

Create an Employer Wish List

Even if you’re not ready to leave your current job yet, there are probably other employers in which you’re interested. Create a comprehensive list of these target employers. Research them and see if they show up on Fortune magazine’s popular “Best Companies to Work For” list. Then, find out if these companies employ people with your skill set.

Enlist Your Network

Now that you have a list of dream employers, make inquiries to people in your network. Lauren Milligan, owner of ResuMAYDAY, a career-management services firm, warns against being too casual when reaching out for assistance. “If you’re too casual, your network may not take your requests seriously,” she says.

Ask if they’ve ever worked for any of the companies, or if they know anyone who does. Request contacts (at any level) for each organization.

Harness the Power of Informational Interviews

Informational interviews are a powerful tool for the passive job seeker. Because you’re not formally in the market for a new job, employers may welcome the opportunity to speak with you, as there is less pressure on both parties.

Milligan says informational interviews are a great way for any job seeker to gauge how attractive a candidate he is. “Near the end of the interview, ask, ‘Do you mind looking at my resume?’ Ask your interviewer to tell you what it’s lacking so you can make yourself more marketable in your industry,” she says. Then, find a way to acquire those skills or experiences while you still have your current job, she says.

Follow Up

Whatever the immediate outcome of your search, continue to follow up with everyone in your network.

“Reach out and keep the people who’ve offered advice in the loop,” Milligan says. “If you’ve heeded it, drop them a note saying, ‘I’ve taken your advice and I just want you to know you’ve been a big part of my success.’ Or better yet, pick up the phone. Thanking someone ensures that they’ll be there for you the next time you need help.”

Conversely, if you know you want (and are now qualified for) a job at an informational interviewer’s company, Milligan says you should ask for one: “Contact the person and say, ‘I’ve done X, Y and Z. I would like to pursue a position at your company. Can I send you a resume?'” Don’t be afraid to be direct, she says. “You have to ask for the sale, so to speak,” she says. “People rely on other folks to reach out, but the person on the other end has her own agenda. It can be a real time-saver to just come out and ask for what you want.”

The top myths about job searching

The top myths about job searching

Some don’t bother to look for work around the holidays and many believe no one reads cover letters. Do you think one of the myths about the job search?

1. Myth: You need connections to get a job.

Reality: The connections are useful, but many people find work by identifying an ad, send a CV and interview. Sometimes it may not feel this way because there are so many job seekers competing for a limited number of jobs, which means most people are less interviews (and job offers, even less). But many jobs are still people with no connection to the company.

2. Myth: No one reads cover letters.

Reality: A letter written well with the personality that you can get an interview when your resume alone can have. Of course, there are some hiring managers out there who do not bother with cover letters, but there are many who do, and you have no way of knowing what type you are dealing. With so many stories of cover letters open doors that otherwise would have remained closed, it would be foolish to miss this incredibly effective way to get noticed.

3. Myth: Employers will respond to you right away if they’re interested.

Reality: Some employers take weeks or months to meet the candidates. Sometimes it is because they wait until the end of the period of application prior to contacting all candidates, and sometimes it is because higher priority work gets in the way. (Of course, sometimes it may be because the company is disorganized.) Whatever the reasons, job seekers should not jump to conclusions if they do not hear back right away.

4. Myth: In a crowded field, job seekers must find creative ways to stand out.

Reality: If you want to stand, to write a great cover letter and build a CV that demonstrates a history of success in the region of the employer is hiring for. Drawings of fantasy, to have your resume delivered by mail during the night, the video resumes, and other gadgets do not compensate for the lack of skills.

5. Myth: Do not bother looking for jobs around the holidays.

Reality: Many recruitment is done in December! In fact, some hiring managers are scrambling to fill positions before the new year. And you can even have less competition, as other job seekers may have slowed down their research at this time of year.

6. Myth: Your resume should be one page.

Reality: At one point in the past, again were supposed to be limited to one page. But times have changed, and two pages shows the Commons today. People with only a few years of experience should always stick to one page, but two pages are fine for everyone.

7. Myth: Lower your salary will make you a more attractive candidate.

Reality: Employers will hire the best person for the job, within the limits of what they can afford. They are not likely to prefer someone else just because he or she is less expensive.

8. Myth: Your partner knows what he or she is doing.

Reality: Although all investigators should be trained in how to interview effectively, the reality is that many are inexperienced, unskilled or otherwise unable to conduct interviews fort. They can be prepared, ask questions wrong, or just be rude.

9. Myth: If you want to stand, you must call to follow up your request.

Reality: Most employers will tell you that these calls do not help and sometimes painful. These days, with hundreds of applicants for every opening, if all candidates to follow up, employers would spend all day fielding calls. Believe me, they do not want.

10. Myth: Employers will only call the references on the list you gave them.

Reality: Employers can call anyone you worked for or could you know, and a good reference ladies are not limited to the official list of the references you provide. They call former managers, listed or not – and sometimes, especially those that are not listed because they know the omission may be intentional and thus remarkable. After all, the list you hand over is, of course, those likely to present in the light most flattering, and they want to see you in brighter lighting. The only thing generally considered off-limits in the reference check is to call your current employer. Everyone is fair game.

Gap Year Experience: Why more teens are delaying college

Gap Year Experience: Why more teens are delaying college

Taking a year off is catching on with students looking for adventure and to avoid burnout.

This summer, Monika Lutz’s life took an unusual turn. Instead of heading off to college, the high school graduate packed her bags for a Bengali jungle. Lutz, like a growing number of other young Americans, is taking a year off. Gap years are quite common in Britain and Australia, but they are just beginning to catch on in the U.S. Lutz, who grew up in Boulder, Colo., has put together a 14-month schedule that includes helping deliver solar power to impoverished communities in India and interning for a fashion designer in Shanghai – experiences that are worlds away from the stuffy lecture halls and beer-stained frat houses that await many of her peers. “I could not be happier,” she says.

No one tracks the number of U.S. students who decide to take gap years, but many high school guidance counselors and college admissions officers say the option is becoming more popular. Harvard, which has long encouraged its incoming first-years to defer matriculation, has seen a 33% jump in the past decade in the number of students taking gap years. MIT’s deferments have doubled in the past year. And Princeton formalized the trend in 2009 by funding gap-year adventures for 20 incoming first-years annually. The school’s goal is to extend this offer to about 100 students per class.

Meanwhile, a cottage industry of gap-year programs and consultants has sprouted in the U.S. Tom Griffiths, founder of GapYear.com a site that serves as a clearinghouse for gap-year programs, says that five years ago, perhaps 1% of his Web traffic originated in the U.S. Now, that figure is 10%. The number of Americans taking gap years through Projects Abroad, a U.K. company that coordinates volunteer programs around the world, has nearly quadrupled since 2005. The organization just launched Global Gap, its first effort marketed specifically to Americans; the 27-week curriculum features service projects in South Africa, Peru, India and Thailand.

Like a year of college, these adventures can be expensive. The price tag for Global Gap is $30,000. Thinking Beyond Borders, a highly respected, eight-month program that parachutes students into third-world communities, costs $39,000. Yes, it’s certainly possible for students to pursue meaningful volunteer work on a smaller budget. But unless kids stay at home and get a paying job nearby, families will likely incur significant expense. The increase in interest suggests that at least some families are willing. “There are now more structured opportunities for students to take gap years,” says David Hawkins, the director of public policy and research for the National Association for College Admission Counseling. “That doesn’t happen unless there’s a market to sustain it.”

Why are students attracted to the gap-year concept? According to new survey data from Karl Haigler and Rae Nelson, education-policy experts and co-authors of The Gap-Year Advantage, the most common reason cited for deferring college is to avoid burnout. “I felt like I was focused on college as a means to an end,” says Kelsi Morgan, an incoming Middlebury College freshman who spent last year feeding llamas at a North Dakota monastery, interning for a judge in Tulsa, Okla., and teaching English at an orphanage in the Dominican Republic. The hope is that after a year out of the classroom, students will enter college more energized, focused and mature. That can be an advantage for colleges too. Robert Clagett, dean of admissions at Middlebury, did some number-crunching a few years ago and found that a single gap semester was the strongest predictor of academic success at his school.

Most experts recommend securing a spot in college before taking a gap year and warn against using the time off to pad your rÉsumÉ. “Most admissions folks can see right through that,” says Jim Jump, the academic dean of St. Christopher’s School in Richmond, Va. But for students like Lutz, who, after getting rejected from five Ivies, decided to take time off, a gap year can help reprioritize and focus interests. Lutz now plans to apply mostly to non-Ivies that have strong marketing programs. “This experience has really opened my eyes to the opportunities the world has to offer,” she says.

But at least one education expert doesn’t want schools spreading the gap-year message as if it were gospel. In a study that followed 11,000 members of the high school class of 1992 for eight years after graduation, Stefanie DeLuca, a sociology professor at Johns Hopkins University, found that, all things being equal, those who delayed college by a year were 64% less likely to complete a bachelor’s degree than those who enrolled immediately after high school. DeLuca did not pinpoint whether these students voluntarily started college late, but at the very least, her work indicates that taking a gap year doesn’t guarantee success. “I’m not going to say that time off does not have benefits,” says DeLuca. “But I think we should be tempered in our enthusiasm.”

No one’s gap-year enthusiasm was more tempered than Olivia Ragni’s. In the spring of 2009, the high schooler from Arkadelphia, Ark., inadvertently missed the deadline to secure her spot at Rice University that fall and was told she would have to wait a year to enroll. “I was really down,” says Ragni, who still cries when recalling the embarrassment of informing her classmates of the unintended deferment. But through two experiential-learning organizations, she spent the year volunteering in a hospital in India, taking intensive Spanish while hiking volcanoes in Guatemala and working at an elephant camp in Thailand. “I gained confidence and independence,” says Ragni, who has just arrived in Houston to start her first term at Rice. “It was the best experience of my life.” The tears have dried up. Consider it a lucky break.