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The "Total Interview Package"

Directory of Contents for the "Total Interview Package"

1. Resume Format
2. Action Verb List
3. Sample Resume
4. How To Dress For The Interview
5. The Interview Checklist

6. How To Control The Interview

7. Negotiating Salary, Benefits, And Vacation

8. How To Assess The Right Job For You

9. "Thank You" After The Interview

10. "Thank You" Letter After The Interview

11. "Thank You" Letter For The Interview But Declining The Opportunity

12. Acceptance Letter

13. Resignation Letter

14. How Long Should You Take To Make Up Your Mind About An Offer

15. References And Reference Checking

16. Counter Offers

17. Why You Should Use A Recruiter (Headhunter)

Salary Surveys

Salary Calculator (Cost of Living/City to City)

Fortune 500 Companies

Best Companies To Work For

Job Assessment

Best Places To Live (1)

Best Places To Live (2)

(addresses of people, companies with
maps and directions)








Accountable for
Commended for

Hands on
Involved with
Lower costs
Proficient at
Responsible for
Set up



Resume Format

Sample Resume


How To Dress For The Interview

How to dress for an interview? If you keep in mind with every person you meet that you will never have another chance to make a good first impression, then you will dress for the interview in the right frame of mind. Your appearance should not be a distraction, but a compliment to what you, the potential employee, have to offer. If you have any doubts that you are dressed appropriately then you need to do more research about what to wear and the company culture. The rule of thumb: Always dress professional for an interview and favor conservative, fashionable attire. You do not want to worry about how you look during the interview. Once the interview begins you are stuck with how you look. You do not want your appearance to detract from what you have to offer in skills as an employee for the potential employer. If you question whether or not you should dress in business casual or professional attire and cannot find out in time, then always use the standard of professional business attire.

For men, the standard, professional business attire for an interview is a professional business suit and tie. Good selections are dark blue, gray or olive, two or three piece, well tailored suits. Many top executives like three-piece suits with blended wool or combination of wool and silk. Of course, custom-made suits are the most impressive for a top executive. Shirts need to be starched with no fraying around the collars and cuffs. Shirts should be laundered at least one time. The best colors for dress shirts are white or pale blue. Dress shirts with thin, pinstripes are more acceptable than ever. With regard to ties, patterned, predominately solid power colors such as maroon, dark red or dark blue ties are the most acceptable ties to wear to an interview. Socks should be high enough so your legs are not exposed when sitting and of course color coordinated with no holes. Shoes should always be shined for an interview. Fashionable, executive slip-ons are acceptable. The best looking shoes are polished, leather shoes. Do not combine black and brown with suit, socks or shoes.

Men and women try to avoid: a fresh (day-before) haircut or hairstyle, never laundered, brand new, business suit, brand new shirt or blouse and brand new pair of shoes. Men go easy on the cologne and women go easy on the perfume and makeup. Both go easy on the jewelry. You will appear too staged and unnatural. If you wear glasses, try designer glasses instead of thick, black framed glasses. Let your nails grow and try to have them cut and looking professional. Avoid the bitten look if possible and the look of a dragon lady with nails that are long with nifty designs.

Women can dress quite expensive and fashionable and it is considered well-dressed, professional and tasteful. As a matter of fact, many consultants say a woman's attire for an interview can be quite expensive and should be the highest quality possible. Key points for women's clothing are straight seams, zippers that lie flat, no loose threads. Avoid skintight clothing and revealing too much of yourself. Do not over accentuate any part of your body, no matter how good you think it looks. A professional business suit with a skirt is the most acceptable attire for an interview. As a variation to the business skirt, a woman can choose a business pants suit. Choosing a skirt or pants suit depends on your comfort level and of course the company's dress code. Shoes are important and should compliment your interview wardrobe. Do not mix black and brown. Avoid spiked hells; wear shoes with medium heels. Make sure your hosiery is free from runs and neutral in color. Have extra hosiery in your handbag. If you take a handbag, avoid an oversized handbag.

Just by doing a little research and inquiry via phone calls to the receptionist or just taking a preliminary walk through the building may give you a clue how to dress. A company dress code may be implied or a standard policy. It is good to know the dress code before you interview. If you are that unsure about the dress code for the interview and it is bothering you, then conservative business attire is always a safe assumption. Sometimes the person who is conducting the interview will mention how they will dress. Unless you ask them specifically, they may still expect you to dress business professional. Again, the "rule of thumb" is to dress in professional business attire.

Before the interview at home or in your hotel room, make sure you have checked yourself out from head to toe prior to the interview. Do not eat anything right before the interview. You do not want to be worrying about ketchup, mustard, stains on your clothes or food in your teeth during the interview. If you look and feel good about yourself, your chances of performing well in the interview are far greater.

The Interview Checklist

The night before, put together a checklist of things you need to wear and take them with you to the interview. Check those items off one by one before you leave the house or hotel room.

The Interview Checklist (What to take to the interview.)

Wallet or handbag.
Money for parking, breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Pocket handkerchief.
Brush, or comb. Once you arrive at the company, but before you enter the interview, look in the mirror.
Pre-tested pen.
Notebook or writing pad with a pocket calculator and a compact calendar with your schedule. The purpose of the calendar is to be prepared to schedule a second interview before you leave.
Resume with a copy.
Portfolio, attaché case or folder.
Business Cards.
Questions for the interview.
References. Do not mention references unless the potential employer brings them up or you are talking about a mutual acquaintance. If the interviewer brings up a mutual acquaintance and it is appropriate, you can mention the use of that person as a reference, only if you are positive they will say good things about you. If the potential employer asks for references, make sure you specify to the potential employer that they can check references. If your search is confidential, mention to the potential employer that you would appreciate if they held off until the appropriate time. It is a good practice when talking about references to mention the confidentiality of your search.
If you have published an article or book, take a sample of your work.
Know your favorite: Book, Author, Actor, Actress, Movie, Show, Food, Restaurant, Entertainment, Vacation spot, Hobby, Person, and Person you admire in your field. Rarely, will you need all of this information for an interview. Just in case, be prepared!
This list should take care of the majority of needs that arise prior to and during an interview. You do not want to be bogged down with too much stuff for the interview. Do not overwhelm the potential employer with paper. Shuffling papers or constantly writing can be very distracting to the interviewer.

 How To Control the Interview

Prior to the interview, you must learn as much as you can about the company, people, and the position. This can be accomplished by extracting information from a job advertisement, recruiter, current employee of the company, the hiring manager, the person from the company who is arranging the interview, annual reports, brochures, and of course the Internet. Many times, prior to the interview, you can pick up valuable information from brochures, magazines, periodicals or people just talking in the lobby or waiting room. Some of this information may be valuable during the interview. If it is appropriate, use it during the interview. The more information you have about a company, the better you will perform during the interview.

It goes without saying, you (the job seeker) must approach every interview with a positive attitude. Being positive during the interview, sets the tone of the interview. Do not have a smug, cocky, "show me what you've got" attitude. Be happy to be there. For the most part, you need to sell yourself and not vice versa. You do not need to be a politician or on a "soap box". A smile, good energy and genuine interest is what you need to reflect a positive attitude; it will reflect your enthusiasm and it is contagious. Just be you. Be prepared and conscience of these three things and you will start the interview off in the right direction.

The interview may start out with the potential employer asking you to tell him/her "a little bit about yourself". This question is too wide open. The job seeker must bring the interview back into focus. Here is how you can turn the situation around: You can say, "I can give you a lot of information about myself where would you like me to start?" Or, "I would love to tell you all about myself, but for the sake of expediency, I would like to be a little more targeted. Could you give me some insight about the position, so I can direct my background and skills to what is relevant to you?" Now you have revealed a little about yourself. You will appear focused. You have also opened the door for discussion to what is relevant to the potential employer. Throughout the interview, the potential employer will give you insight as to what the position entails, what is important (needs), and what they want. Tie the potential employer's needs and wants to your background. Of course, if you do not have some of those particular skill sets then do not dwell on them. Dwell on your strengths and let the interviewer bring up your weaknesses.

If you are a job seeker who is weak at one aspect of a job or a college student with no relevant work skills then be honest about it. Most potential employers would not have arranged the interview if they had not reviewed your resume. Most potential employers are aware as a new, college graduate, you are not an expert. There is no need to exaggerate your skills. Your resume should highlight your strengths not your weaknesses. In most cases, potential employers are interested in meeting you, because you have skills or accomplishments related to the job or because of your major, GPA, or honors and accolades. In many interviews, the potential employer discovers that resumes are not reflective of the person's true skills or strengths. As soon as the potential employer pieces together that he is being misled the interview may take a turn for the worse. Make sure what you list on your resume is what you can do. It may be very embarrassing for you if you are asked to elaborate on a strength and you can't. Eventually, your strengths and weaknesses will catch up to you during the interviewing process. Do not bring up a weakness. Do not elaborate on a weakness. Do not be defensive about a weakness or lack of skill. If the issue is raised that you do not have experience in an area, then all you say is "This area is not an area of concentration (or experience) for me. But, it is an area that I know I must learn more about. Based upon previous new concepts or techniques such as . . . (Give an example if you can), I am a very quick study and learned the concepts or techniques in a very short period of time." You can even give a brief explanation of the new concept or technique that you learned so quickly, especially if you can tie it in with the position. A new college graduate can show job related qualifications by smiling, being enthusiastic, passionate/hungry, referring to a high Grade Point Average (GPA), internships, honors and accolades or any previous responsibilities that tie in with the specifications of the position.

When is the best time to address a weakness? The best time to address a weakness or concern is at the end of the interview. At the end of the interview ask the potential employer if they have any concerns? A simple way to state this is "I am very impressed and interested in the position, do you have any questions or concerns about my ability to handle the job?" Do not leave the interview without answering the potential employers concerns. The best format to address any concerns about you is "face to face". You will be more convincing and make a much better case for yourself. Always respond in a positive fashion when a potential employer states he has some concerns or highlights weaknesses about you. Sometimes a potential employer has concerns about you and they are unwarranted. Maybe you were not aware of their importance. Now that you have the chance to defend yourself, you may have placed yourself back in the running. If you cannot address the potential employers concerns, then at least you will have a fairly good understanding why they did not call you back.

If you have no interest in the position, as a courtesy be polite and let the interview take its course. Do not leave the potential employer with the impression you are interested if you are not. Many times the potential employer will sense you are not interested. It is acceptable to terminate the process even before you are passed on to the other interviewers. In most cases, complete the interview process; it may change your mind.

If you are interested in a position or question your interest, you should come back for another interview if invited. Many times a second interview assures you of your interest or finalizes that you are not interested.

In summary, smile and be enthusiastic about the interview. Make sure the potential employer knows you are interested. Many times those who do not express interest or show enthusiasm are not called back. Do not underestimate chemistry and personality in an interview. Many times chemistry and personality are tiebreakers. Sometimes you may not be the strongest, technician, but you are well liked and you are made the job offer. With every potential employer and every interviewer, learn from them what is important and feed it right back to them drawing from your background and skills. Technically, you will be a solid match for the position and will always be in the running. If you are technically sound and the people like you as a person, then you will probably land the job!

Negotiating Salary, Benefits and Vacation

In negotiating anything, many people feel those who speak first . . . lose. This may not be true all of the time, but it is true many times.

When negotiating salary, try to find out the salary range for the position before you give the potential employer a figure. If the potential employer plays hardball and wants a figure now, then you can honestly say, "Salary is important", and then qualify how it is important. You can say, "Salary is important, but it is not the only factor in making a decision." Or, you could say, "Salary is important, but so are the other things such as job responsibilities, the company's future and potential for advancement." You could add, "I want my next move to be a good fit for you and me. And, there are other factors involved in making a final decision." You can then take it to the next step and ask the potential employer "What is the salary range?" Or, you can ask, "What figure do you have in mind?" If you follow this salary negotiating technique, then you have turned the negotiation around and now have asked the potential employer for a figure.


Do your homework! Try to find out what the salary range is for your position. Professional Recruiters can help you negotiate salary. If you wonder about the salary range for a position, make sure you ask the recruiter to help you qualify your salary with the potential employer. This way you will feel comfortable that you are within the salary range for the position. If you are not being represented by a recruiter, then you will have to do some research to see what this type of position pays. Try the Internet! (GENERAL SALARY SURVEYS = Of course, the Human Resource (H/R) Department is the best place to learn about salaries, but asking H/R is awkward and not recommended prior to the interview. You do not want to give anybody the impression that this is strictly a monetary move. If you cannot find out any salary information, then a fair indicator of salary is the interview itself. You can assume you are within the salary range especially if your salary informtion is included on your resume or application. This is not always a true indicator, but it is the only indicator you might have to this point.

The way to approach salary negotiations is to know your "Minimum Salary" and your "No-brainer Salary". Sometimes, these salary figures are the same. Other times, they may be thousands of dollars apart. The "Minimum Salary" figure is determined solely on your current standard of living. What you feel is reasonable and comfortable. Then again for those who were being paid huge amounts of money and are now in a situation they need a job, that figure may be lower than what you are used to. Do not make the "Minimum Salary" so low that it reflects desperation. Only you know the amount of money you need to live on. Anything below the "Minimum Salary" figure is not acceptable and you would be willing to walk away from the position. [See Salary Calculators (Cost of Living/City to City) =]. Of course bonuses, equity, stock options and other forms of compensation can bring a "Minimum Salary" figure down as long as the total quality of living is maintained, but that is your call.

The second salary figure is the "No-brainer Salary" amount. This means that salary is not the issue and anything at this level or above is acceptable no questions asked. In this scenario, you do not want to be outrageous. Some people may say, they would take any job for a million dollars. Be practical. For most of us, a million dollar a year job will not happen in our lifetime. If you take all of these steps then you are prepared to negotiate. Some people call the "No-Brainer Salary", the "Ideal Salary" figure. Anything above and beyond this figure is purely "icing on the cake".

When is the best time to talk salary? Again, DO NOT BRING SALARY UP ON YOUR OWN DURING THE FIRST INTERVIEW UNLESS THE POTENTIAL EMPLOYER BRINGS IT UP! Bringing up salary during the second interview is still not recommended. Wait for the employer to bring up salary talks. Meanwhile, you are still researching and trying to find the salary range. Your recruiter should have salary information by the second interview. If by the third separate day of interviews, the potential employer has not brought up salary, then you may bring up salary near the end of the interview with the person you will be reporting to or with a representative of Human Resources. This is done similar to the following example: You could say, "Based upon my background and the fact that this is my third interview, it appears that I am being considered for the position. Is my salary compatible with your salary range?" Of course, the employer will have to either answer the question or ask a question, but that should lead you to a salary figure or at least a salary range.

When asked about salary on an application make sure if you are forced to give a salary, it is one that you can live with. Make sure you do not misread the application and put your "Current Salary" for "Salary Expectations". Entering "Negotiable" on an application is acceptable. But, the potential employer really wants you to give a figure or range. Make sure if you give a figure or range you can live with that figure or the lowest end of the range ("Minimum Salary" and "No-Brainer Salary"). That is why you must take the time to research and analyze your "Minimum Salary" and "No-brainer Salary". The worst presentation during salary negotiations are job seekers who do not know what they want to make! Many times greed comes into play and the job seeker is hesitant because the job seeker thinks they can get more money. A fatal mistake in negotiating is to give a figure different than what you put on the application or different than the figure you gave during an earlier meeting. Be consistent. Be honest. Give your true salary history. Do not mislead or you may get caught and blow the opportunity. Remember what you write and what you say during the interviewing process is extremely important and you will be judged by it.

Most companies have a predetermined salary range per position. Your current salary may be lower than this range by a fairly wide margin. Do not expect to be put into that range or earn the maximum of the range. Most companies base their offers on a number of factors including qualifications, personalities, salary history (Your last position), the salary range of the position, the market place, how much they like you, how much they want you, your potential, your competition, what your competition is making and what you bring to the table. The potential employer will put all these factors together. Based on salary studies, a job seeker should expect an increase of 8% to 10% of your current or most recent salary (W-2). Sometimes the offer is based strictly on your base salary and not your W-2 which may be higher because of bonuses or other forms of compensation that are not guaranteed. Of course for top executives, the salary range and compensation fluctuates to a much greater degree.


When asked by a potential employer, "What is your salary expectation?" You say, "I am at $85,000. Salary is important, but it is not the only factor. Everybody, myself included, would like to earn an increase when they make a move. What do you have in mind?" (Your salary could be $50,000, $120,000 or $500,000. It does not matter what salary range you are in, it still works the same.)

Now, you are armed to negotiate salary. Be happy with the figures you have analyzed and selected as your "Minimum Salary" and "No-brainer Salary" figures. In reality these salary figures for you may be the same for all job opportunities. If they are, then you will not get hung up on trying to second-guess what the company is really willing to pay. Many times, second-guessing leads to greed and you blow the salary negotiations and the job opportunity.

If you are willing to take a lower salary, you must convince the potential employer that this opportunity is for you and it is really what you want to do. As a matter of fact, the potential employer might mention that you made or make an awful lot of money and you are over the salary range. You may have an uphill battle because the potential employer does not want you taking off after the first higher level, higher paying job is offered to you. Make sure you rationalize, honestly, why you would accept this position at a lower salary. Make sure your employer knows that there are other things besides salary that attract you about this position and they are just as important as a high salary. These "other things" may be challenge, excitement, enjoyment, potential, growth, equity, bonuses, other forms of compensation or benefits. Your explanation must be honest and it must be convincing.

Benefits are important to many people. If the salary range is close to what you are currently earning, you may have a difficult decision. The best time to talk benefits is when they are presented to you. For the most part, the hiring manager, the person you report to, does not want to talk benefits. Their primary concern is to determine if you are a good fit. Sometimes talking about benefits prematurely will create a question whether or not you are more interested in the job or the benefits. When you get a chance to discuss benefits be as thorough as possible so you can compare them with your current or previous benefits. Today, many firms require employees to share the cost of benefits, so do not be surprised if you have to share a rather large portion. Make sure you are aware of your portion when negotiating your "Minimum Salary" and "No-Brainer Salary" figures. If you have any extraordinary requests such as a scheduled vacation or wedding, try and work that into the conversation prior to the offer stage with the person you will be reporting to. The best person to talk to about benefits is in the Human Resource Department. Benefits such as medical, dental, vision, life insurance, disability, 401K, profit sharing, equity, stock options, bonuses, commissions, all of these have a bearing on the total package. Ask for the annual report (if a public company), company brochure and other literature about the company at the end of the first interview. Ask for literature about benefits (benefits package) when an offer is imminent or ideally after salary has been discussed.

When do you negotiate vacation? Negotiate vacation when you think you will be extended an offer. Unfortunately, vacation time may be very important to you, but it is a definite red flag to an employer if you ask about it too early. Too early is the first interview. For the most part vacation is not a deal breaker or obstacle. It may not be the same five (5) weeks you received with the other company, but you should not be taking a position solely because the potential employer allows you long vacations. Sometimes negotiations break down and offers are withdrawn based on job seekers who stick to their guns about vacations. A candidate who wants five weeks and insists on it when the employer agrees to four weeks, may jeopordize the job offer and be forced back onto the market.


To assess if any job is the right job for you, try the "Ben Franklin" method. Use the old fashion "T-Account". Put the "Pros" on one side and the "Cons" on the other side. Give them weighted values, add them up, and you will have a good understanding of what is important to you and how the job rates. You can do this on a One Hundred (100) point scale. For each criteria, you assign a point value and then total the numbers to determine how close the job/position is to your ideal job. The ideal job being one hundred points. Of course you could calculate this on a scale of ten with ten being the highest.

There are web sites tailored to take you through this analytical process. Try this one!





It is imperative before you part if you like the position, company, people and future to tell the potential employer. Tell them you are very interested and would like to take the next step. Ask them if they have any questions or concerns, so you can address their questions or concerns immediately. Find out when or what the next step is. Thank the potential employer for meeting with you.

(Note: For all letters, Keep It Short and Simple = KISS method)

Person You Spoke With (Potential Supervisor/Higher Level/Human Resources/Peer)
City, State Zip Code

Dear (Person You Spoke With),

It was a pleasure meeting with you on (Date of Interview) regarding the position as (Position Title). I am impressed with you and (Company Name). I am very interested in this position and working for (Company Name or you can say in "taking the next step").

Based upon our conversation and my experience, I am confident in my ability to perform the job. I thought it was especially exciting with regard to … (An area of agreement that both of you agreed on and that may have scored some points. Tie it in with your background … briefly! Or, send the potential employer/interviewer a business article that backed up what you talked about during the interview or the web site of a topic that both of you agreed on.)

If I do not hear from you by (Date), I will call for an update.


Your Name
Contact Information


(Note: For all letters, Keep It Short and Simple = KISS method)

Person You Spoke With (Potential Supervisor/Higher Level/Human Resources/Peer)
City, State Zip Code

Dear (Person You Spoke With),

It was a pleasure speaking with you on (Date of Interview) regarding the position as (Position Title) of (Company Name). I am very impressed with you and (Company Name).

At this time, I have made a firm decision to withdraw my name for the position of (Position Title). I appreciate the opportunity to meet with you and wish you and (Company Name) much success in the future.


Your Name
Contact Information



(Note: For all letters, Keep It Short and Simple = KISS method)


Hiring Authority
City, State Zip Code

Dear (Hiring Authority);

It is indeed a pleasure to accept your offer of employment with (Company Name) at a starting salary of $$$,$$$. I plan to join (Company Name) effective (date of your first day of employment/work).

I am most impressed with you and (Company Name) and will work very hard towards contributing to the organization's success.

I look forward to a rewarding career with (Company Name).


Your Name
Contact Information


(Note: For all letters, Keep It Short and Simple = KISS method)


City, State Zip Code

Dear Supervisor (Mr./Mrs. Last Name or First Name);

This is to inform you that I am today submitting my resignation of employment, which will become effective as of (two week notice=final day or last day/date of work).

I appreciate all that (Your Current Company) has afforded me, but after careful consideration, I have made a firm decision to accept a new position with another company. I sincerely believe that this move is in the best interests of my career and family.

I wish all the best for (Your Current Company) in the future, and I will do my best to have all my work in order by (Last day/date of work).


Your Name
Contact Information





Accepting a job is like accepting a marriage proposal. Unless a company completes the entire interviewing process in one day and makes you an offer at the end of the day, you will have plenty of time to decide if the job is for you. The key in deciding about a job is knowing what you want. Prior to decision time, it is imperative that you perform the Job Assessment Analysis. The Job Assessment Analysis along with logic, rationalization and emotion should help you make a well-informed decision. (JOB ASSESSMENT =

If you are given the normal interview and hiring process of two (2) to five (5) separate days of interviewing, then you should be prepared to at least know if you want to pursue the opportunity. Don't sit on the decision. If you know during the first interview that you want to pursue, make sure you tell the potential employer! If you know that this is not a position you would like to pursue, then do not string everyone along … tell them! Make sure whatever you do after the interview, thank the people you have met and write "THANK YOU" letters.

Going back to the marriage proposal, think of your spouse. When you asked your spouse to marry you, or your spouse asked you and either of you said, "Let me get back to you on that", it would have planted a seed of doubt or at least wonderment in your mind. This same scenario is played in the employer's mind. The longer you wait to respond to the potential employer, the more doubts the potential employer will have about you wanting this position.

The answer to "HOW LONG SHOULD YOU TAKE TO MAKE UP YOUR MIND ABOUT AN OFFER? ACCEPT OR REJECT AN OFFER AS SOON AS POSSIBLE! Do not make the employer wait, especially if you know what you are going to do. It really should only take you one to three days to make up your mind. Of course, the shortest time period to accept a job offer is on the spot. If you know what you want and the offer is acceptable, it matches the criteria you are looking for, then accept it on the spot. By accepting it on the spot everybody feels good about what just took place. The employer will know for sure that you are decisive and will take action. Many people use the beginning of the week or the end of the week to make their decision. If you are made an offer at the beginning of the week, then accept or reject the offer by the end of the week. If an offer is made on Thursday or Friday, then take the weekend to think about it and accept or reject the offer on Monday. The Job Seeker should not take more than two weeks to accept or reject an offer.

After you accept an offer, put all your paperwork concerning the offer in order. First and foremost do not "jump the gun". Make sure it is a legitimate, legal offer. Be sure you have passed all written, verbal, drug and health tests. DO NOT RESIGN UNTIL ALL REQUIREMENTS ARE COMPLETE.

With regard to resignation, for most professionals, a standard two-week notice is the practice. More than a two week notice is easily negotiated for those who are moving their households. Unless, you have a specific reason it is important to abide by the standard two-week notice. Once you accept an offer, normally your new firm will be anxious to have you start as soon as possible. Do not disappoint them. Giving a two-week notice and starting your new position in two or three weeks will help you start off on the right foot with your new employer.


When providing references for a potential employer, make sure you supply references of people who will say good things about you. Keep in touch with your references. Make sure they still respect you and your work. If you are unsure what a reference will say, then call before you allow a potential employer to contact them. It is imperative that a person says good things about you. You do not want to "coach" a reference what to say, you just want your references to say good things about you and be consistent in what they say. Be very careful who you select as a reference. If possible, forewarn a reference that they may be getting a phone call from a potential employer. The best references are those that back up how you presented yourself to the potential employer during the interview. Your references should have a "common ground". They should confirm what the potential employer sees in you.

The number of references should be a minimum of three. Five references are bordering on too many references. Upon request, you should provide mostly business references. You should provide references of a subordinate or somebody who reported to you directly or indirectly, a peer and of course an immediate supervisor or a former supervisor. In addition, you can supply two personal references who can attest to your integrity and personal behavior.

You can give references to the potential employer at any time. But, what is critical to the confidentiality of your search is making sure the potential employer does not check references prematurely. The last thing you want during a confidential search is for your employer to find out. The ideal time for reference checking by a potential employer or recruiter, which would maintain your confidentiality, is after the potential employer extends you an offer and you are planning to accept it. The second best time for reference checking is to have the employer commit to extending an offer, contingent upon, the reference checks being satisfactory. During the initial stages of the hiring process, references are not very important unless the potential employer requests them to be included with your resume. You should be ready to provide references at anytime. For the most part, a potential employer is not going to check references until they have met with you, like you, think you are qualified for the position and want to pursue you. You can include references along with your resume on a separate page or you can state on your resume that "References are available upon request".

The format of your references to the potential employer should be:

Reference Name:
Current Position:
Current Company:
Company Address:
Phone Number:

References' Title when working with you:
References' Company when working with you:



Counteroffers are taboo! Some job seekers will say "That is just the recruiter talking". Bottom line, Counteroffers are Taboo!

First of all, we are addressing a counteroffer made by your current employer. Normally, a counteroffer occurs after you accept an offer from a potential employer. Then you take the offer back to your current employer with the intention of resigning or with the intention of negotiating a raise based upon the offer from the potential employer. This is a definite no-no! If you question making a move, then you should never have accepted the offer from the potential employer or you should not have taken three parties sometimes four parties this far down the path. Do not put yourself, your current employer, and potential employer in this situation. If you can be so easily swayed by money, then you need to question your motivations for looking at the market place. You do not want to put your current company in a position to have to crawl back to you with a counter offer after you have accepted another offer. People have long memories and your current employer will remember that you put their face to the fire. Think about it, if money is the only reason you are staying with a firm then you are with the wrong firm. There is another firm out there that will provide you with all the criteria you need to be happy.

You need to do your homework and be sure about your decisions before exposing your intentions or resignation. If you are not sure, then take more time to be sure before you expose yourself. There is nothing wrong with looking, but becareful who you tell. If you love your job and money is the only reason you are unhappy then try to work things out. Do not disclose you are looking or accept an offer until you have exhausted working things out with your current company. When you finally decide to look for another job, normally, money is the final "straw" and just the tip of the iceberg. If your current company knows you are looking and you accept an offer, then you accept a counter offer, all people involved will question your honesty and your current employer will always question your loyalty. In addition, your current company is now aware that you may leave as soon as someone offers you more money. You may be just buying them time to find your replacement. They will find a replacement on their terms not yours. The conclusion is, once you disclose you are looking or accept an offer; there should be no turning back.

The National Business Employment Weekly/The Wall Street Journal has conducted studies on counteroffers. The studies show job seekers fare poorly within a short period of time after accepting a counteroffer. Some estimates say within six months, you will be back looking at the market place. For the most part, the issues that bothered you prior to a counter offer, are the same issues that will bother you three months, six months or two years from now. By that time you may have wasted two years of happiness and success with a new company, but you are still stuck in a rut with the same company.

Why should you use a recruiter? The answer is very easy … to get a new job. It may be the luck of the draw based on timing, but using a recruiter may be the fastest, most efficient manner to find a job. Recruiters know the market and many times are working on opportunities that may take you weeks to uncover. Good recruiters tailor your job search to your job specifications. They match you to good jobs. Another advantage in using a recruiter, is to have one more pair of eyes looking at the market place for you and giving you more exposure. There are many other reasons such as recruiters' do this for a living. Recruiters are constantly networking and developing new contacts. Good Recruiters are experts at networking and finding those unadvertised jobs or just putting you in front of the appropriate hiring authorities.

In reality, you should have a business relationship with two good recruiters who specialize in your discipline or profession. Hopefully, the recruiter you select has their own personal experience in your profession such as computer experts placing computer experts or Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) placing CPAs. Being able to relate to you and the client opens up many doors much quicker and adds to the credibility of the recruiter who is working for you. You do not want more than two recruiters for fear they will run into each other, unless it is geographically appropriate. Remember at a minimum, recruiters may be only a supplement to your efforts in finding a new job, but they will be invaluable supplements.