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Tips for job interviews and professional conduct.

Many things in life are out of our control when it comes to finding and maintaining employment, however, there are some things you can do to make a good first impression with a potential employer. These tips can help people find a job with living wage, which is critical to paying bills for your family. Here is a list of things to keep in mind while looking for a job and landing a job interview.

The steps listed below you can do yourself. However if you are not comfortable, then many people turn to a local job center. There are government funded centers in most communities that provide free advice to the unemployed as well as people looking for new skills.

Pre-interview steps

If you have an email address that is humorous, inappropriate or nonsensical/silly, considering creating a brand new account with just your name or an abbreviation of your name instead. Potential employers may find seemingly harmless email addresses a red flag for a lack of professionalism, especially those that are hiring for high skilled/paying positions. If you must keep your email address, create a new one just for future employment that is plainly stated.

Make sure your phone bill has been paid and the ring tone is a neutral one when you are waiting for callbacks from a potential employer. There is nothing worse than someone call a phone that has been shut off. Also, everyone has different taste in music and even if you love a song, it may not be appropriate for an employer to hear. When in doubt, pick a ringtone that comes with your phone. You can always switch it over at a later date.

If you engage in any social media (Facebook for example), consider setting it to private for just friends and family. Future employers look at many, many things when they are considering a candidate and one seemingly harmless post may change their minds about you. You can never be 100% certain of how you may be perceived online so make things neutral or private. Be judicious about what you put online for all aspects of your life.

Review your credit ratings. Many employers now look at credit scores as part of a background check, and a low one can prevent you from getting a job. If they have not paid debts or bills on time in the past, and your scores may be low, then touch base with a non-profit credit counselor ASAP. Find a list of assistance programs from credit counseling agencies.




Have someone (or even a professional case manager) review your resume prior to sending it out for employment. Spelling and grammatical errors, poor sentence structure along with accuracy and honesty are supremely important when an employer is considering a candidate. Professional case managers from job sites including the One Stop Centers may be able to assist.

Prepare for the interview and go on it

If you do happen to land an interview, do your best to appear professional and polished. Things like clean fingernails, clean clothes, minimal jewelry and a neat appearance are some of the best ways to make a strong first impression. If you smoke, DO NOT smoke before the interview. If you must, wait until after the interview is finished.

If you can't afford to pay for professional clothing, there are clothing closets to turn to for free professional attire. You should not be embarrassed to use these charity programs as many people turn to them from time to time. The clothing closets also fully support those people who are trying to become self-sufficiency with the paying their bills and expenses by getting a new or better job.

Lay out all of your clothes the night before, plan which route you will take to the job site beforehand to ensure you know exactly where you are going, eat a good breakfast and check traffic before you leave your home. If you need help in paying for transportation to the interview, charities such as the Salvation Army and others may have free transportation or bus passes. More on free gasoline vouchers.

Arrive on time or early. Expect to deal with traffic regardless of where you live and leave even earlier than necessary. Give yourself a huge window of time to ensure you show up calm and ready to engage in the interview. Showing up late to a job interview is setting yourself up to fail. This is probably the easiest step to get right for a job interview.

Be available and flexible. Answer emails in a timely manner from a potential employer. If you are unsure of how you may manage work hours, a commute, or the culture of the company, tell yourself you will figure it out in the future. Keep yourself open and you’d be surprised at how obstacles may end up being eliminated if you maintain a flexible attitude with an employer.

Consider reading about the company and doing some research online before the interview. It’s always a good idea to know more about where you may be working in the future. During the interview, you may be asked questions about the company so having a general knowledge base is a great idea.

Touch up on computer skills. If they are lacking in today's high tech workplace, there are job training centers that offer free workshops. The latest software and technology will be covered. There are even non-profits as well as assistance programs from companies that provide low cost Internet access or free home computers to low income families. Take the initiative and sign up for classes.





Approach the interview with a positive and enthusiastic attitude. Attitude is everything and even if the job does not seem like the right one for you, leaving a good impression is still important. You may be considered for another job or remembered in the future if another position comes up at the company.

Post interview actions

Send a follow-up thank you email after the interview. It not only is a thoughtful gesture, it shows you care, are professional and may leave an even better impression on your interviewer. Small things can add up to big returns.

Keep trying. You may have to go on several interviews before you land one that fits your needs and is the right match. Remember landing a job will lead you to independence, financial security, a higher income and gained confidence knowing you can support yourself and your family with your household expenses in the future.


By Jon McNamara

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