Thursday, January 31, 2008

Tell Me About Yourself

As a prospective employee in an interview, most candidates have encountered the dreaded opening question. Tell me about yourself? This may seem like a straightforward question. If a candidate encountered this question in any other environment the answer may involve the number of children at home, educational background, and a list of hobbies. Unfortunately, these types of responses would be inappropriate to a future employer. What response is an interviewer looking for, then, when this question is asked? Jeff Skrentny has created a formula for candidates to market themselves successfully in the Jefferson Recruiters Report article, “Answering the Tell Me About Yourself Question.”

Part One: Create a one-sentence summary of your career history. This single sentence encapsulates the most important aspects of your entire career.

Example: “I am a five-year veteran of LAN/WAN Admin and Systems Engineering with substantial experience using Novell, NT, Cisco, and Lotus Notes/Domino.

Part Two: Capture the potential employer’s attention with a one, maybe two-sentence summary of your single greatest accomplishment.

Example: “Recently, as a long-term contract employee at a local regional bank, I learned they were about to install Lotus Notes/Domino and were planning to use outside consultants for the project. I let them know I had done a similar installation at my last assignment, outlined how we could get the job done with in-house staff, and successfully completed the install for $55-65k less than it would have cost with outside consultants.”

Part Three: Create a one-sentence summary of specifically what you want to do next in your career. This final piece can be changed to be job specific at each interview.

Example: “For the next step in my career, I would like to move away from contract work and find myself as a direct employee of a large firm where I could join a substantial IT team and be involved with a group that focuses on email and network security applications, while having access to the knowledgebase that would come with a large, diverse, IT group.”

Understanding what a prospective employer is looking for when asking, “Tell me about yourself,” and having an answer prepared will show you are a serious candidate. This will give you an advantage over a candidate who answers with personal information instead of marketing themselves professionally. According to Skrentny, “Candidates who take the time to do this, significantly improve their initial verbal impression, get their interview off to a confident and focused beginning, and more often than not get called back for second interviews, or better yet, for offers of employment with employers who are impressed.”

For the complete article by Jeff Skrentny:

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Concert at Brown v. Board National Historic Site

Friday, February 8, 2008 at 7:30pm the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site invites the public to celebrate A Tradition of Musical Excellence. Admission is free and open to the public but reservations need to be made by February 7th. The event will feature the Lincoln University Choral Ensemble from Jefferson City, MO under the direction of Michelle Gamblin-Green.

Lincoln University was established at the close of the Civil War by soldiers and officers of the 62nd United States Colored Infantry stationed at Fort McIntosh, TX. The education institution was designed to benefit free African Americans. After the Brown v. Board of Education ruling in 1954, Lincoln University opened its doors to all students.

To RSVP or for more information:

Call: (785) 235-3939 or

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Interview Tips

As an executive recruiter, Kim interviews over 250 applicants each year. She gives these interview tips to job candidates:

* Do research on the company
Put in some study time before the interview to see if you would be a good fit with the company. Also, thoroughly review the job description. This will give you an opportunity to think about specific skills and qualifications you have that fit the position. Prepare these points to talk about during the interview.

* Research yourself
Review your personal strengths and weaknesses in previous positions. What is your greatest professional accomplishment? How does it relate to your potential new job? Having these topics ready for conversation will help you seem confident in your own abilities.

* Sell yourself
A job interview is a sales opportunity. Sell yourself over other candidates. Utilize this opportunity to the fullest. Doing research on the company and on yourself gives you an advantage over other candidates to be a better salesperson.

* Don’t talk about money
Approaching the topics of money, benefits, and time off at the initial interview is taboo. This gives potential employers you have the attitude, “What’s in it for me?” At the first interview employers really want to know what you can offer the company as an employee.

* Interviews are conversations
Interviews should be business conversations not interrogations. Prepare a list of questions for the interviewer. Answer questions in complete sentences and feel free to elaborate if necessary.

* Make yourself available
At the end of the interview, let the potential employer know you are available. Do not ask directly, “Am I hired,” but let the interviewer know your interest in the position.

* Thank you letters
Never underestimate the value of a thank you letter. Handwritten letters are virtually obsolete in this age of technology. This personal touch could show employers the attention to detail you will give to the job.

Analyzing Corporate Culture

With the lure of an increased salary, a bigger office, and a more prestigious title it is often difficult to turn down that new job offer. One equally important factor before making a change should be the company’s culture. Company culture is defined by F. John Reh in his article “Company Culture” as “the shared values and practices of the company’s employees.” Seeing yourself fit into that culture will help determine future success with a company.

During an interview take the opportunity to not only ask questions about the potential position, but use your sleuthing skills to scope out the company’s culture. How do others in the office interact with each other? What is the layout of the office space? How does everyone dress? Is the atmosphere stifling and compartmentalized or is it laid-back and creative?

While the pay and title may be tempting, not assessing the company’s culture before accepting a position could be an ill-fated mistake. Monster contributing writer, Michael Neece, describes the pitfalls of this error. “Working at a company with values inconsistent with yours is stressful, unrewarding, even depressing at times. No matter how great the position and salary, if you're working in a caustic, understaffed and unethical culture, you'll feel unfulfilled.”

For more articles about Corporate Culture:

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Best Careers of 2008

Trying to pick a career field? Planning on changing careers in the near future? See U.S. News & World Report's "Best Careers of 2008" and which careers have been named "Ahead of the Curve."

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Kansas Recruits Top Scientists

The University of Kansas and Kansas State University recently recruited Juergen Richt and Blake Peterson, each top scientists in their respected fields. Peterson joins the University of Kansas' pharmacy school from Penn State University. The Kansas City Star states, "The scientist is an innovative researcher with a proven ability to secure millions of dollars in federal grants and a strong interest in entrepreneurship. He also will advance the state's quest for designation as a leading cancer care and research hub."

Richt is a top animal health researcher and joins Kansas State University after holding positions at Iowa State University and in a federal laboratory.

The recruitment of both Richt and Peterson moves Kansas forward towards its goal to become a national leader in research and the bioscience industry. Passing the Kansas Economic Growth Act in 2004, Kansas Legislators showed commitment to this endeavor through a $500 million investment over the next decade.

To read the Kansas City Star article visit:

For more information on the Kansas Economic Growth Act:

Friday, January 11, 2008

Westboro Fine Arts Features Kansas Artists

During the month of January Westboro Fine Arts located at 3125 SW Huntoon in Topeka, KS will be featuring two Kansas artists, Sun Bauer and Patrick Abellon. The gallery is opened at no charge to the public Monday thru Friday 9-5 and Saturday 9-1. Westboro Fine Arts also has pottery, stone-carving and Kansas Landscape photography on display this month.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Occupational Outlook Handbook 2008-2009

The United States Department of Labor has recently released the 2008-2009 Occupational Outlook Handbook. Nationally recognized as a source of career information, the OOH provides individuals with information on hundreds of careers such as the training and education needed, earnings, expected job prospects, what workers do on the job, and working conditions.

To review different types of jobs in the OOH:

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Shawnee County Sheriff's Community Programs

The Shawnee County Sheriff's office conducts several community programs to teach citizens how to make the community a safer place to live. Citizen's Academy is a 13 week course offered to qualified residents of Shawnee County 18 years and older. The Academy gives participants an inside look at the varoius departments and roles of the sheriff's office. Qualified residents of Shawnee county can also participate in the Crime Prevention Academy. Over a 14 week period deputies will discuss preventative safety measures for home, business, and even ID theft.

To apply for Citizen's Academy or the Crime Prevention Academy visit the Shawnee County Sheriff's website:

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Online Background Check Scams

Pre-employment screening can provide valuable information to employers. To ensure a potential background check service is providing accurate information read the Consumer-Guide.To's review of available services.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Topekans lost a popular public figure last week with the passing of former Mayor, Butch Felker. Felker lost his fight to cancer at the young age of 62. A memorial service will be held Friday, January 11, 2004.

To read about the former mayor:

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Topeka's Improv Comedy

Laughing Matters performs at the Topeka Civic Theatre this weekend. Tickets are only $8 for a night of side-splitting laughter with Topeka's own improvisational comedy company. Shows start at 8pm on January 4th & 5th, 2008.

For more information:

Keeping New Year's Resolutions

Dr. Bernard Davidson recommends following these three steps for keeping New Year's resolutions:

1. Be committed
2. Be prepared for setbacks
3. Track your progress

To read Dr. Davidson's advice visit: