Thursday, March 22, 2012

Why Should I Hire You? Here's why...

Sooner or later this question will come up during your interview. No need to not panic, says Amin Huffington, publisher of "when I interview I always ask this question because I think it gives people the opportunity to tell me what they want to tell me, versus me asking a million questions." In today's economy is hard to land a job and you need to be on your game during the interview. We are all overworked, Huffington says, "when we are hiring, I am always looking for someone to solve problems and help us with the work load. I want someone that I know will put in extra effort, a quick learner, and I am also trying to find out what's special or different about you? or How are you different than all the other candidates who have applied for this position?"

Huffington says that answers like, "Because I need and want a job," are sympathetic, especially in this economy, but the bottom line here is, "What can YOU do for US?" If you say, "I'm a hard worker and really want to work for this company," it doesn't tell me what I want to hear." Huffington says. Some responses such as: "Because I'm a good fit for the position," are no better because they lack details. Likewise, the response: "I have what it takes to solve problems and do the job," falls short in the way of details. "Give specific examples of how your experience is relevant to the job," Huffington explains. "Customer service experience gained while waiting tables is often negated. Waiters deal with all kinds of people and situations while multi-tasking, working under pressure of short-term deadlines while keeping customers happy." This is no time to sound desperate, to talk excessively, restate every strength, get nervous, lose your cool, or to plead for the job.

Take a look at this example: "Because my academic qualifications meet your requirements. I love to work and also I just want to keep myself busy in work. And also for my growth I just have to update myself, I believe your organization will help me to update myself and I can reach your expectations." The first sentence fails to describe any specifics about the job requirements it claims to meet. Was there a particular class that give you an edge over another candidate? Which requirements are you talking about? The second and third sentences just get worse. This interviewee is interested in her personal growth and sounds like she wants the organization to help her update her skills. The response does not address what YOU can do for the company.

The more detail you give, the better your answer will be. Always keep in mind these interviewers are looking for competence, professionalism, enthusiasm, and likability in your answers. They are looking for chemistry while trying to envision you in their company. This is not a time to talk about what you want. Rather, it is a time to summarize your accomplishments and relate what makes you unique. The bottom line of this question is, "What can you do for this company?" There is a premise that most job seekers forget when it is time to interview, Huffington says, "a company will hire you because you know how to do the job better that someone else, or maybe you know more about the job than anyone else."

How do you demonstrate in the interview that YOU are the right person for the job? Preparation. Find out as much as you can about the job from the vacancy announcement. Study the responsibilities and requirements of the job. Some vacancies will actually include a need for someone with "hands-on" experience using a particular tool, software, etc. Today's employers have many choices, "they don't want to be bombarded with resumes from job seekers who do not qualify," Huffington says. Once you have a list of the job requirements, write a list next to it of the qualifications you have that fit those requirements.

Think of two or three key qualities you have to offer that match those the employer is seeking. Don't underestimate personal traits that make you unique; your energy, personality type, working style and people skills are all very relevant to any job.

From the list of requirements, match what you have to offer and merge the two into a summary statement. This is your sales pitch. It should be no more than two minutes long and should stress the traits that make you unique and a good match for the job. Separate yourself from the pack by recount that story of exactly how you worked 60-hour weeks, acquired new skills or did whatever it took to distinguish yourself and meet the challenge head on to successfully make the sale, save the project or rescue a client.  If you can put a dollar value on the result, your story will only be that much more dramatic.

Key points to remember:
  • Talk directly about your greatest strengths and how it will bring value for the company;
  • Stay cool, calm, and collected;
  • Be careful to avoid clever retorts or comedic one-liners here;
  • Differentiate yourself from your competitors;
  • Confidence is everything minus 1. Smile, and be enthusiastic about yourself and passionate about working for the company;
  • Don't memorize a speech. Keep your strengths and accomplishments in mind, but always give natural responses; and
  • Your answer should be from 1 to 3 minutes.
Focus on the following points:
  • Your skills
  • Your knowledge about the company
  • Your manageability
  • Your affordability
  • Whether you can go above and beyond your job description.
Template: “I believe you should hire me because, based on what we’ve talked about today, I am a strong fit for this position. You said you are looking for someone who is A, B, C, and D. Is that correct? (They will say yes) Great, so let me recap why I am a good fit for each of these.” Then do so.

After you have recapped why you are a good fit for A, B, C, and D, then close with a statement like, “Does this help you see why I think I am a good fit for this position and why you should hire me?” They should respond in the affirmative at this point.

Example 1: "From our conversations, it sounds as if you're looking for someone to come in and take charge immediately. It also sounds like you are experiencing problems with some of your database systems. With my seven years of experience working with financial databases, I have saved companies thousands of dollars by streamlining systems. My high energy and quick learning style enable me to hit the ground and size up problems rapidly. My colleagues would tell you I'm a team player who maintains a positive attitude and outlook. I have the ability to stay focused in stressful situations and can be counted on when the going gets tough. I'm confident I would be a great addition to your team."

Example 2: "With my eleven years working with production lines, I have saved companies millions of dollars by streamlining systems. My high energy and ability to quickly evaluate a situation enable me to go into a new plant and rapidly determine what needs to be changed. I am able to develop rapport and buy-in with plant managers and personnel, and have worked successfully with union representatives. From what I have learned about XYZ Company and its challenges with the plant in Mexico, and based on my past experiences and success, I strongly believe that I can make the desired changes and meet your production goals within the 6-month deadline."

Example 3: “My 3 years of solid experience in database development and my certifications will enable me to hit the ground running on my project from the day one. I can learn things quickly which will be an additional advantage. Above all, I am much interested in this position and confident enough to meet the challenges in this job.”

REMEMBER: You've already made it into the interview and even though it may seem like you're behind, you are actually a step ahead of the curve; you got picked for the interview!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The 5 Most Important Minutes of your Job Interview

Tell us a little about yourself... This response sets a nice tone for starting the interview.
Seems simple, right? It's not. Many quickly lose control of the interview during the most critical time- the first five minutes. "This is difficult because people tend to meander through their whole resumes and mention personal or irrelevant information in answering," says Dawn Chandler, professor of management at Cal Polytech's business arm. Jana Fallon, a VP of staffing and recruitment for Prudential, agrees. "Keep your answer to a minute or two at most. Cover four topics: early years, education, work history, and recent career experience. Emphasize this last subject. Remember that this is likely to be a warm-up question. Don't waste your best points on it. Keep to your professional career!

IF you've been in the working world for a few years, our recommended approach to answer this question is to talk about three things - education, where you've worked in the past, and some of your recent work experiences, leave the early years behind.
HINT : Talk about personal characteristics and skills that translate into career strengths. Talk about what youve done to prepare yourself to be the very best candidate for the position. Use an example or two to back it up. Then ask if they would like more details. If they do, keep giving them example after example of your background and experience. Always point back to an example when you have the opportunity.
In any other given situation, you wouldn't have a problem talking about yourself. But when this question comes up in an interview, you don't know where to begin and where to end, right? Relax... practice answering this question in front of friends or family. Consider preparing a personal branding statement that quickly describes who you are and what you can bring to the company. In fact, this statement can also double as the opening paragraph for your cover letter or resume's summary of qualifications.

Stay away from childhood history, jobs you've had twenty years ago, or your life story. They are really not interested on whether you're into sports, dance, personal likes and dislikes, or your opinion on the new season of American Idol. IF you are a recent grad then you can afford to cover your history in a more detail manner. Provide an answer that includes information about where you grew up, where you went to school, your initial work experience, additional education and special training, where you are now, and what you intend to do next. One of the most effective ways to prepare for this question is to develop a 60-second biographic sketch that emphasizes a pattern of interests, skills, and accomplishments. Focus your response around a common theme related to your major interests and skills. Take, for example, the following response, which emphasizes computers.

"I was born in Bluefield, Virginia and attended Graham High School. Ever since I was a teenager, I tinkered with computers. It was my hobby, my passion, and my way of learning. Like most kids I enjoyed computer games. When my mom gave me a computer as a reward for making honor roll my sophomore year, I mastered DOS, Windows, and WordPerfect within six months. I then went on to teach myself programming basics.

By the time I graduated high school, I knew I wanted to study programming. From that point on, everything fell into place. My life revolved around computing. By my junior year at Bluefield College, I decided I wanted to work for a major intetrated communications services company. That is why I had an internship last summer at IBM's professional work experience Center.

I now want to work for a major player so I can be at the forefront of breaking trends and new technology. When my college professor told me about his start in your company, I learned as much as I could about your company and applied for the job, which brought me here today. I am prepared to answer any questions you may have about my education and experience."

HINT : The Key to answering this question is to keep it short and sweet. Just a two or three-minute overview about yourself is enough.
Be prepared to anticipate the interviewer's greatest need, want, problem or goal. Start with your personality and tell why you are well qualified for the position before moving on to what you've done in school or your past work experiences. Then, wrap it up by saying why you've applied for the job and why you might be a suitable candidate for the role and the company. In the end, you can always ask the interviewee if he/she would like more details. Remember that the key to all successful interviewing is to match your qualifications to what the interviewer is looking for. In other words you must sell what the buyer is buying. This is the single most important strategy in job hunting.

What they really want to know is how you perceive your career, and steps you made to be where you are. The also use this opportunity to assess your poise, style of delivery and communication ability. Depending on the case, briefly talk about the teams you led before and your satisfaction of doing it, or how you've build your technical knowledge. Remember to stay focused and just share what's relevant for the interview that support your credentials.

Use these answers and rework them as if they were your own:
Answer 1: "I love to jump into projects with both feet. I like sitting in front of a computer or at my desk for hours at a time thinking about a problem, plotting out the solution, making the presentation. Ipad Application technology is my newest challenge."

Answer 2: "I graduated from the University of Virginia and since then, I have been working in Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics with an small firm where I have assisted in the creation of various patents for my clients. While I've enjoyed working on the agency side, I'm looking to expand my horizons and start doing research for corporate companies such as this one."

Answer 3: "I am a results-oriented sales manager with 10 years of progressive retail experience. My sales and management contributions to luxury boutiques and high end department stores have resulted in a 35% increase in sales for the past 3 years and a measurable boost in employee retention and morale in my department.

I believe that my strong organization and leadership abilities coupled with my talent to mentor and train sales professionals will serve your organization's mission and goals. I'd like to discuss how my exemplary customer service techniques and proven ability to shorten the sales cycle could be a valuable contribution to your organization."
HINT : Throughout the interview you will be asked numerous questions about your attitude and ability to do the job. Whenever possible, talk about your accomplishments in terms of what you did and the results of your actions for employers. Give examples of your effectiveness, which should include specific skills and statistics.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Understanding Employment Performance Appraisals

While it should be standard policy, not every company endeavors to reward proficient employees for their added efforts. Performance Appraisals are a vital facet of any organization and encourages employee loyalty as well as growth. Nothing is more empowering for an employee than to receive constructive feedback pertaining to the employee's individual performance.

While most employees don't like to be 'policed' it is an employer's responsibility to lead each individuals along a sustainable career path whilst employed by the group. Performance appraisals usually reward those for out-performing their employer's expectations as well as pinpoint problem areas. By facilitating performance reviews on an annual basis, an employer is able to assess an employee's strengths as well as their weaknesses.

By identifying areas where additional training and career development is required benefits both the employee and employer in a symbiotic manner. By assessing and appraising employee performance ensures that each party is aware of their role in the company as well as how their contributions are being assessed and monitored. Most employees are particularly intimidated by the idea of having a one-on-one with their employer detailing areas of excellence as well as weakness.

Performance reviews are in fact not something that you as an employee should fear. These provide the perfect opportunity to raise problems and queries with your employer. Over and above addressing problem area's as mentioned before, these are in fact positive feedback sessions ensuring that the employee and the employer are both on the same page.

The Purpose of Performance Appraisals.

While performance reviews are an all encompassing assessment of an employee's contribution, there are in essence three components' that motivate the facilitation of performance appraisals; individual evaluation of an employee's contribution, the facilitation of training and career development and organizational forecasting in response to the employees performance.

Employee Measurement and Reward.

Each employee is unique in the way that they perform. What works for one may not work for others. Performance reviews clearly define areas in which the employee excels and areas where they are weaker. By facilitating performance reviews, managers are able to measure individual contributions relevant to each employee's role. Whether the outcome indicates under performance or over performance by the employee, this is vital information to a manager in order to base promotions, salary increases and further company investment in a particular employee.

Training and Career Development.

Measuring employee's strengths and weaknesses makes further training and career development possible and uniquely refined. It is in the organizations best interests to ensure ongoing training and career development of each of their members of staff. Not only do performance reviews explain areas where training may be required but they too explain unique motivator's specific to each employee. Each individual is motivated by different resources. For some it is more money, others a display of company investment in their human resources and others are motivated by things completely unrelated to the company itself. Tapping into distinctive ways of keeping employees motivated ensures optimum productivity and empowers each employee and it is for this reason that performance reviews are of such vital importance.

Organizational Forecasting and Decision Making.

By facilitating performance reviews, businesses too are empowered. By understanding each individual that makes up a team, employers are able to plan and forecast career paths on a personal basis. By reviewing key performance areas of each employee, an employer is easily able to map a career growth plan for their employees and for the company as a whole. In order to make informed decisions pertaining to promotions and transfers, managers have a vested interest in ensuring the ongoing review of the staff that makes up the organization. This information is key to every manager as they have specific strategies in place that map out the overall success of an organization based on individual performance and dedication.

What does a Performance Appraisal Review?

While it is natural to assume that a performance appraisal appraises employee's performance, there is more to this than the obvious. Performance appraisals indicate unique factors that differentiate staff members from each other.

• Reliability - Performance appraisals indicate the reliability of staff and the level of dedication they have towards the organization. Consistency makes a good employee great! If a manager is assured of the consistent performance of an employee, they are assured of the consistent success of their organization. Your boss wants to know that he or she can leave you be and expect nothing but your undivided devotion to your tasks. By displaying a consistent positive performance in your roles and responsibilities shows where your loyalties lie and that you are a trusted member of the group.

• Differentiation - Your unique performance is a reflection of your individuality. As mentioned before, each employee is motivated and driven by different goals. Your individual display of outperforming colleagues and showing pride is what sets you aside from the mediocre employees. By reflecting your own pride in your work and your dedication to your role, differentiates you from the average employee.

• Lead by Example - By ceasing to impress during your performance reviews will indicate to your employer that you are committed to the cause of the business and have the ability to lead by example. Positive attitudes are infectious. The more of a positive culture an employee can instill in an organization, the better. By rewarding employees for their positivity as well as loyalty shows others that the employee-employer relationship is mutually beneficial and should be encouraged in all areas possible.

No amount of emphasis can be placed on the benefit of undergoing performance appraisals with your employer. Provided you have not been 'slacking' there is no reason to fear a performance appraisal and in fact employees should welcome the transparency that these instill. Communication is the key to the longevity of any long term relationship. Poor communication channels encourage insecurity and frustration for both an employer and an employee. Performance appraisals should rather be received by both parties as an opportunity to catch up with one another. In order for you to ensure a culture of consistent learning and career development, practice receiving constructive feedback and using this to your advantage in order to better your own situation and your current employment agreement.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Preparing for the Interview

A personal interview not only gives your potential employer an opportunity to evaluate you in depth and you a chance to sell yourself, but it also gives you the opportunity to learn much more about the employer and the agency for which he works. You want to be able to carry on a fairly intelligent conversation with your interviewer, even if he can't. By knowing what is expected of you and by undertaking a few simple preparations, you can make a more favorable impression and minimize any nervousness you may feel.

Interviewers will size you up in terms of the following qualities:

  • Initial impression
  • Fitness for the job
  • Past job performance
  • Maturity
  • Analytic ability
  • Judgment and prudence
  • Appearance and manner
  • Leadership
  • Motivation
  • Potential to grow in the job
  • Ability to communicate
  • Overall personality
  • Initiative
  • Mental alertness
  • Self-confidence
  • Compatibility with other staff
Some agencies maintain a standard rating form and use a point system to rate candidates. Prior to your interview, try to obtain a copy of the rating form from the Personnel Department so you can tell exactly on what qualities you will be evaluated.

This list of fundamental provisions you should take before you meet your interviewer will enhance your performance at the interview:

  1. Be certain of the exact time and place of the interview. If you are uncertain how to get there, just ask. Write this information down and don't lose it. If you are really unsure of where the interview location is, check it out on a local street map or take a test drive there.
  2. Arrive at the interview on time. There is no excuse for tardiness for a job interview. Innumerable jobs have been lost because the candidate was late for the interview. If it becomes obvious you are going to be more than five minutes late, call and let the interviewer's secretary know. Try to arrive about 15 minutes early.
  3. Be sure to get the interviewer's name right - ask her secretary how to pronounce it if you are unsure of its pronunciation.
  4. Learn all you can about your potential employer and the position for which you are applying. If you are applying for work in local government, you want to appear reasonably knowledgeable about the community. Drive around the city. Read its most recent comprehensive plan. Ask planners at the regional planning agency about it. Find out its population and socioeconomic composition. Find out what the employing agency actually does, how it functions, who it serves, its size and budget, current issues facing the agency, with whom you will work, who your boss will be, and why there is a vacancy.
    Obviously it may be impossible to learn all this information before an interview, especially if you are from out of town. You can get some of this information from booklets the local chamber of commerce distributes, and/or the web. See the directories of municipal officials which furnish census data and information on how local governments are organized. Many of them are available at horaries, especially municipal and university libraries.
    At least try to learn enough so your potential employer won't feel you are too much of an outsider to learn the vagaries of the community in which you would be working. And by all means try to learn all you can about the person or persons who will interview you and make the hiring decision so you can present the side of you which will appeal most to their sensibilities. It is possible that other people you know in your field may be able to tell you something about your interviewer and the jurisdiction for which he or she works.
  5. Make a list of points you want to be sure to make in the interview at appropriate moments. You may have forgotten to make these points or facts about yourself at your last interview. Placing them firmly in mind before this interview should assure you don't forget them again. Even though you should never pull out such a list at the interview, the mere act of writing the list will help you remember the points.
    Many interviewers will ask you about your career goals. Whether or not you were once a Boy/Girl Scout, be prepared! Think this one out carefully because nearly every interviewer will hit you with this one.
  6. Plan to bring several items to the interview. Believe it or not, some interviewers lose a candidate's resume and cover letter just before the interview. So be sure to bring a clean copy of each with you. If requested, bring letters of reference and work samples. Students may substitute excellent term papers or projects. Bring these materials in a folder or brief case and offer them only if asked or if they graphically illustrate a point. The interviewer's desk is probably cluttered enough as is.
Questions Interviewers Ask
Be prepared to answer the questions that inevitably surface in any job interview. According to the our employer surveys, most of the following questions about your education, work experience, career goals, and yourself tend to surface in virtually every job interview:

  • Tell me about your educational background.
  • Why did you choose to attend that particular college/university?
  • What was your major, and why?
  • Did you do the best you could in school? If not, why not?
  • What subject did you enjoy most? ... the least? Why?
  • If you started all over, what would you change about your schooling?
  • Recent graduates are likely to also be asked:
  • What was your grade point average? (The more work experience you have, the less likely this inquiry will be made.)
  • Why were your grades so high? ... so low?
  • What leadership positions did you hold?
  • How did you finance your education?
  • What were your major accomplishments in each of your former jobs?
  • Why did you leave your last position? (If asked why you left any of former your jobs, give reasons that do not suggest you are a job shopper or jumper. Acceptable reasons include a return to school, better pay, new challenges, more responsibility, and a desire for a different type of work.)
  • What job activities do you enjoy the most? ... the least?
  • What did you like about your boss? ... dislike?
  • If asked to name weaknesses, never say you don't have any. Turn a negative Into a positive with a response like, "I tend to get too wrapped up In my
  • work and don't pay enough attention to my family. My wife has suggested, a couple of times, that I Join Workaholics Anonymous."
  • Which of your jobs did you enjoy the most? Why? ... the least? Why?
  • Have you ever been fired? Why?
  • Why do you want to work for us?
  • Why do you think you are qualified for this position?
  • Why are you looking to change jobs?
  • Why do you want to make a career change?
  • Why should we want to hire you?
  • How can you help us?
  • What would you ideally like to do?
  • What is the lowest pay you would take? (Always deflect this question.)
  • How much do you think you are worth in this job?
  • What do you want to be doing five years from now? (Working here with a promotion or two, obviously.)
  • How much do you want to be making five years from now?
  • What are your short-range and long-term career goals?
  • If you could choose any job and agency, where would you work?
  • What other types of jobs are you considering? ... other agencies?
  • When would you be able to start?
  • How do you feel about relocating, travel, and spending weekends or evenings in the office?
  • What attracted you to our department?
  • Tell me about yourself.
  • What are you major strengths?
  • What are your major weaknesses?
  • What causes you to lose your temper?
  • What do you do in your spare time? What are your hobbies?
  • What types of books and magazines do you read?
  • What role does your family play in your career?
  • How well do you work under pressure? ... in meeting deadlines?
  • Tell me about your management philosophy?
  • How much initiative do you take?
  • What types of people do you prefer working for and with?
  • How (creative, tactful, analytical, etc.) are you?
  • If you could change your life, what would you do differently?
  • Who are your references? (Have a printed list with names, addresses, and phone numbers to submit.)
  • How would you respond to a question from a reporter about the plan commission's decision to override your recommendation? An increasing number of public sector employers are concerned with employees speaking to the press, especially on controversial issues. In developing your answer, keep in mind that when working for government, the public is your actual client and the public is represented by the people it has elected. Once the public's elected representatives, or appointed representatives such as plan commissioners, make a decision, you should not publicly criticize it, or criticize it on the record to a reporter, even if it runs counter to every sound principle of government.
Handling Illegal Questions
Unfortunately, despite great strides over the past decade, illegal questions continue to pop up in job interviews, even for government work. Sexism, in particular, is alive and well in the hearts and souls of many job interviewers. While equal employment legislation makes it illegal to ask certain questions during an interview, some interviewers ask them anyway. If you are prepared, you can fend them off effectively and still score points with the interviewer.

If the questions don't get asked, you've got no problem. Illegal or inappropriate questions include:
  • What's your marital status?
  • How old are you?
  • Do you go to church regularly?
  • What is your religion?
  • Do you have many debts?
  • Do you own or rent your home?
  • What social and political organizations do you belong to? Be wary if the interviewer steers the conversation to politics. Do not be evasive, but temper your remarks to camouflage radical or extremist views. Keep in mind that in some communities a traditionally ''liberal'' viewpoint is considered "radical." Your political views are really nobody's business but your own. But don't say that in an interview unless you have found an inoffensive way to express that view.
  • Try to say no more than is necessary to answer the interviewer's broad line of questioning about politics.
  • What does your spouse think about your career?
  • Are you living with anyone?
  • Are you practicing birth control?
  • Were you ever arrested?
  • How much insurance do you carry?
  • How much do you weigh?
  • How tall are you?
If an interviewer spouts one of these illegal questions, don't go crazy and shout "That question is illegal and I ain't gonna answer it!" You may be right, but this sort of reaction does not display any tact on your part, which may be what the interviewer is testing, although tactlessly. We suggest the use of humor. In response to the question of whether you are on the pill, you could respond, "Sure, I take three pills everyday, vitamins A, B, and C, and thanks to them I haven't missed a day of work in three years."

Sometimes humor is not as appropriate. Asked if you are divorced, you might respond, "I was just wondering if you could first explain what bearing being divorced could have on someone's ability to perform this job?"

As you might have guessed by now, women are the main targets of these unjustifiable questions. But if you're prepared, you can neutralize them. For example, some interviewers will ask women with small children, ''What if the kids get sick?" A sound response to this question goes along the lines of, "I have arranged for contingency plans. I have a sitter on standby, or my husband can take a vacation day." This sort of answer indicates to your potential employer that you are a professional (not that you should have to prove your professionalism just because you're a woman, but some sexists never learn) and that you've anticipated the problem.

Married women with a family often get asked, "How can you travel?" An interviewer is trying to find out if the employer will have to pay for the woman's other responsibilities. An employer may be wondering if she is going to put her family before her job. A good answer would be, "Of course I can travel if it's important to my job. I'd be happy to do it. All I have to do is make the proper arrangements."

If an interviewer learns that your spouse works for a company that likes to move its employees around every three or four years, he may ask, "What are your plans if your spouse receives orders to relocate?" That's actually a reasonable question to ask of either partner in a two-income household, but for some mysterious reason it is rarely asked of the husband. A good answer is to say, "My husband and I have discussed this issue and we've decided that my work is important for my professional growth and we will work out a plan when and if that time comes."

Once a woman has been working for an employer for a while and has proven her worth, she'll have a better bargaining position if spousal relocation threatens her job. Try to decide how you will handle illegal or inappropriate questions before you go to an interview. With a little preparation, you can turn a negative into a positive when such questions are posed. Your answers to such questions could turn out to be your strongest and most effective weapon of the whole interview.

Questions You Should Ask
Prepare questions before you go to the interview so you won't be speechless when the interviewer asks you if you have any questions. You may want to ask about the nature of the job and agency, opportunities to exercise initiative and innovation, chances for advancement, and status of the agency. Save questions about fringe benetits (health insurance, leave time, conference attendance) and salary for the· end of the interview. As explained later in this chapter, you are best off if the interviewer raises these issues.

Dreamfedjob suggest that you be prepared to ask the following questions if the interviewer has not already answered them:
  • What duties and responsibilities does this position involve?
  • Where does this position tit into the organization?
  • Is this a new position?
  • What would be the ideal person for this position? Skills required? Background? Personality? Working style?
  • With whom would I work in this job?
  • Can you tell me something about these people? Their strengths, weaknesses, performance expectations?
  • What am I expected to accomplish during the tirst year?
  • How will I be evaluated?
  • On what performance criteria are promotions and raises based?
Good luck!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Hiring Government Programs Currently under Consideration

As you may have notice, during the last couple of years, OPM has been working very hard with agencies to reform the Federal hiring process. On May 11, 2010, President Obama issued a memorandum to agencies, directing them to implement several important changes to the overall hiring approach that have moved the Federal Government to a more streamlined, resume-based system. In addition, President Obama issued executive orders launching the Veterans Employment Initiative and the initiative to employ people with disabilities.

The next step in reforming the Federal hiring process involves students and recent graduates. The Federal Government has had trouble competing with other sectors in recruiting and hiring students and recent graduates. To address these difficulties, President Obama signed Executive Order 13562, entitled "Recruiting and Hiring Students and Recent Graduates," on December 27, 2010. This executive order establishes the Pathways Programs, consisting of three excepted-service programs tailored to recruit, hire, develop, and retain students and recent graduates. As directed by the executive order, OPM issued a proposed Pathways rule to improve recruiting efforts, offer clear paths to Federal internships for students from high school through post-graduate school and to careers for recent graduates, and provides meaningful training and career development opportunities for individuals who are at the beginning of their Federal service. The proposed rule includes the following three programs: the Internship Program, the Recent Graduates Program, and a reinvigorated Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) Program.

Proposed Internship Program
Director Berry talks with students at the DC Robotics Regional Competition.
The Internship Program is for current students. It would replace the existing Student Career Experience Program (SCEP) and Student Temporary Employment Program (STEP). The proposed Internship Program is targeted towards students enrolled in a wide variety of different types of educational institutions, with paid opportunities to work in agencies and explore Federal careers while still in school.To find out more about the proposed Internship Program, go to the Program Summaries webpage.

Proposed Recent Graduates Program

This proposed new program would target individuals who have recently graduated from qualifying educational institutions or programs. To be eligible, applicants must apply within two years of degree or certificate completion (except for veterans precluded from doing so due to their military service obligation, who will have up to six years after degree or certificate completion). For more information about Federal employment information for veterans, go to OPM's Feds Hire Vets website. Successful applicants would be placed in a dynamic, two-year career development program. To find out more about the proposed Recent Graduates Program, go to the Program Summaries webpage.

Proposed Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) Program

For more than three decades, the PMF Program has been the Federal Government's premier leadership development program for advanced degree candidates. Executive Order 13562 expands the eligibility window for applicants, making it more "student friendly" by aligning it with academic calendars and allowing those who have received a qualifying advanced degree within the preceding 2 years to participate. It also directs OPM to set eligibility requirements and minimum qualification standards, and to make changes in order to make the PMF experience more robust and substantive for participants.To find out more about the proposed changes to the PMF Program, go to the Program Summaries webpage.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Stay competitive: Sharpen your own job skills!

If last year was a series of highs and lows, then this year will be another mixed picture.

According to the Department of Commerce, GDP Data shows that the U.S. economy will grow 2%-2.3% in 2012, faster than the 1.7% expansion in 2011 but short of the pace needed to significantly lower the unemployment rate. In the public sector, the Department of Labor's employment data tells us that the U.S. economy created an average of 245,000 jobs a month from December through February, the best three months since 2006!

Saying that, uncertainty keeps federal and private sector employers focused on the bottom line and wanting maximum productivity from you. Employees and candidates alike should do their research before leaving a job or accepting a new role.

If you get disgruntled because your employer is expecting more for less, ask friends and contacts in your sector what is going on in their organization before you hand in your resignation. In terms of working for the government, you might find that some agencies are cost cutting and limiting expenses employee development and training or you could find out that certain agencies are managing for growth and investing in their employees. That is where you want to be.

When looking at the websites of potential employers, check their claims around training, promoting from within, paid parental leave, commitment to diversity and even wellness programs. Spending on any people programs is good news. Even if you don't find an employer willing to spend on you, invest in yourself.

According to Bloomberg News, the number of positions waiting to be filled in 2012 has climbed to levels last seen in 2008, when the jobless rate was around 6 percent. The housing bust and ensuing financial crisis put people out of work whose skills may not correspond with those needed by the health care providers and engineering firms where jobs go wanting.

"What's going on here is a mismatch of the skills of the unemployed and at least some of the positions that are becoming available," said Maki, chief U.S. economist at Barclays Capital in New York. "This seems to be slowing the pace of filling those job openings."

Manpower's 2011 Talent Shortage Survey, issued in May, showed 52 percent of companies polled said they found it more difficult to find qualified help. That was up from 14 percent in 2010 and the highest percentage in the survey's six-year history.

You need to show on your resume that you have progressed so consider even a short course, an online certification or getting involved with an industry or professional association. Every angle counts. Use vacations or even the upcoming spring break to review what you've been up to over the past year, identify areas where you need to skill up and set some goals. In the meantime, have a wonderful spring break and a great summer.

Monday, March 12, 2012

News Alert: FTC Stops Scheme That Falsely Promised Federal Jobs

Defendants Allegedly Sold Job Seekers Exam Prep Services for Non-Existent Vacancies

The Federal Trade Commission and the State of Arizona halted an operation that took consumers' money by allegedly holding out false claims that it could help them get a job with the federal government. A settlement, reached as part of the FTC's ongoing efforts to protect consumers in financial distress (, permanently bans the defendants from selling employment-related products or services.

According to the complaint against Government Careers Inc. (, Richard Friedberg, and Rimona Friedberg, the defendants falsely told people they could get federal jobs if they paid $119 for study materials that would help them pass an exam, even though in many cases there were no exams for the jobs or there were no jobs. The defendants also charged consumers $965 for career counseling services, such as resume editing and employment exam preparation, and demanded advance payment, even after stating that consumers would not have to pay the fee until they got a government job.

The complaint further alleged that Government Careers marketed its services by advertising on job search websites such as or Yahoo! Hot Jobs and in local newspapers. Its ads looked like postings for "Postal Jobs," "Wildlife Jobs," "Border Patrol [agents]," or "Administrative Support and Clerical" jobs. The court temporarily halted the operation, pending resolution of the case.
The settlement order's ( ban on
selling employment-related services will take effect six months after all parties have signed it, allowing time for a possible sale of a separate business owned by Richard Friedberg and Rimona Friedberg, Career Systems LLC, also known as Job Search Network LLC.

In addition to banning the defendants from marketing employment products or services, the order permanently prohibits them from misrepresenting any goods or services, failing to disclose material facts about any goods or services, and violating the Arizona Consumer Fraud Act. It also bars them from selling or otherwise benefitting from customers' personal information, and from failing to properly dispose of such information as provided in the order. The order imposes a $363,761 judgment that will be suspended. The full judgment will become due immediately if the defendants are found to have misrepresented their financial condition.
The Commission vote approving the proposed settlement order was 4-0. It is subject to court approval. The FTC filed the proposed order in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona.

NOTE: This proposed order is for settlement purposes only and does not constitute an admission by the defendants that the law has been violated. Settlement orders have the force of law when approved and signed by the District Court judge.

To learn how to avoid these kinds of scams, read the FTC's Federal and Postal Job Scams: Tip-offs to Rip-offs (

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Featured Federal Agency: U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

The United States has a long history of extending a helping hand to people overseas struggling to make a better life. It is a history that both advances U.S. foreign policy interests as well as reflects the American people's compassion and support of human dignity.

On Nov. 3, 1961, President John F. Kennedy established the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). It was the first U.S. foreign assistance organization whose primary emphasis was on long-range economic and social development assistance to foreign countries. Though this new agency was born during a time of social, political and economic upheaval around the globe, USAID's origins were planted shortly after World War II ended in 1945.

USAID provides assistance in five regions of the world:
  • Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Asia
  • Latin America and the Caribbean
  • Europe and Eurasia
  • The Middle East
USAID is a great place to put your skills, education, and expertise to use if you want to work on the front lines of some of the most pressing global challenges of our times -- poverty, hunger, injustice, disease, environmental degradation, climate change, and violent extremism. Working for this far reaching agency, you will have many opportunities to develop new skills and to make lasting contributions to economic, political and social development around the globe.

Headquartered in Washington, DC, USAID has offices in more than 70 countries around the globe. In all, there are about 8,000 employees worldwide, including 1,200 Civil Service employees and 500 Foreign Service Officers based in Washington, 800 Foreign Service Officers deployed overseas, 5,000 locally-hired employees working in our overseas missions, plus about 500 others working under other hiring mechanisms. The diversity of USAID’s workforce is a key aspect of its corporate culture both domestically and abroad. The success of the organization depends on a multicultural workforce and employees must work effectively with diverse global customers, stakeholders, and partners. To deliver quality programs abroad, USAID ensures a work environment in which each employee values the diversity, experience, and contributions of others.

USAID employs individuals through the following career and non-career mechanisms. Each is described in more detail below:
  • Civil Service
  • Foreign Service
  • Foreign Service Junior Officer Program
  • Foreign Service Limited Appointments
  • Foreign Service Nationals
  • Fellows Programs
  • Internship Programs
  • General Counsel
  • Inspector General
  • Personal Services Contractors
  • Senior Executive Service
  • Third Country Nationals

Civil Service (CS)

Civil Service employees work in the Washington DC Headquarters and provide policy direction and program and operational support for our programs worldwide. CS employees perform inherently governmental functions, including accountability and oversight of more than $10 billion in foreign assistance funds annually; the development and execution of strategies, policies, budgets and programs in a range of development sectors and countries; acquisition and assistance; knowledge management; and collaboration with key stakeholders in other U.S. government agencies, the private and non-profit sectors, and other development agencies.

More about Civil Service positions at USAID

Foreign Service (FS)

Foreign Service Officers (FSOs) are the core staff of USAID’s overseas offices (called “missions”) and provide shape and forward momentum to country and regional programs. FSOs apply both technical knowledge and a variety of program design, management and evaluation expertise to ensure that foreign assistance programs achieve foreign policy objectives and meet the needs of partners in a cost effective manner. FSOs work directly with the governments and people of the countries in which they serve and collaborate with other USG agencies, other development agencies and non-governmental partners.

More about Foreign Service positions at USAID

Junior Officer (JO) Program

USAID seeks to recruit new Foreign Service Officers through the Junior Officer (JO) Program. The JO program is designed to prepare Foreign Service Officers (FSOs) for tenure through an individually adapted training program. The total training program will be up to three years, with six to 18 months in Washington D.C. and approximately 24 months of rotational assignments at an overseas office. All JOs must meet USAID foreign language tenuring requirements before departing for assignment overseas.

More about the Junior Officer (JO) Program at USAID

Foreign Service Limited (FSL) Appointments

Foreign Service Limited (FSL) officers are hired for term-limited appointments to the U.S. Foreign Service to meet specific high-priority program needs in Washington and overseas. Appointments may be for periods of up to five years. USAID is currently recruiting for a number of term limited appointments in a variety of technical areas.

More about Foreign Service Limited (FSL) employment opportunities at USAID

Foreign Service Nationals (FSN)

Many of the positions at USAID Missions overseas are filled by national citizens recruited from within the host country. Unless otherwise specified, these positions are reserved for host country national citizens. FSN vacancies are advertised locally in national newspapers and other media outlets. To apply for a position, please follow instructions as described within the vacancy announcement.

More about Foreign Service Nationals (FSN) at USAID

Fellows Programs

The Fellows Programs are designed to benefit both USAID and the Fellow. They provide USAID with fresh ideas, energy and the latest state-of-the-art technical knowledge, as Fellows often bring specific expertise in areas that are underrepresented by the agency's U.S. direct hire employees. Fellowship programs are also a mechanism by which USAID increases its outreach to partners, NGOs/PVOs, universities, and other donors. As a Fellow, you can help jumpstart your career by obtaining an excellent introduction to development issues and development institutions, gaining visibility in the donor community, and receiving insights into career choices at a critical time in their professional development.

More about the Fellows Programs at USAID

Presidential Management Fellows Programs

For over 30 years, the Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) Program, formerly known as the Presidential Management Intern (PMI) Program, has been utilized by federal agencies to attract outstanding graduate students from a wide variety of academic disciplines to public service. Recognized as one of the most prestigious and effective training and development programs available in the Federal Government, the PMF Program hones the skills and competencies, as well as cultivates the management and leadership potential, of the Fellows by providing them with a two-year fellowship that includes formal classroom training and rotational assignment opportunities.

Among federal agencies, USAID is one of the top participants in the PMF Program and possesses one of the most sought-after PMF Programs. To apply for this highly competitive fellowship, you must be nominated by a dean, director, or chairperson of your graduate academic program and submit an application. All applicants nominated by their schools and found eligible for the PMF Program are then invited to participate in an assessment process sponsored by the Office of Personnel Management during January and February following the application period to determine which nominees will be selected as finalists. After taking the assessment exam, nominees are notified as to whether they have qualified as finalists. Finalists are then eligible to apply for PMF positions and are invited to participate in an OPM organized job fair in the spring.

If selected for employment by USAID, the PMF appointment begins after successful completion of graduate degree requirements and a security clearance background investigation. Through rotational assignments. fellows will receive the opportunity to work in other offices, bureaus, overseas embassies/consulates, agencies, and even in other branches of government. Upon the successful completion of the two-year fellowship, fellows become eligible for conversion to a permanent position in the competitive service and obtain career or career-conditional status.

More detailed information, including nomination guidelines, forms and deadlines

Internship Programs

Paid and Volunteer Student Interns

Student Intern vacancies are posted on this site when opportunities are available. Please review the vacancies along with additional qualifications and apply to any that interest you by e-mailing the contact person(s) listed. Send a resume, cover letter of your interest and possible dates of involvement.

More about volunteer and paid Student Internship Programs at USAID

General Counsel Internships

Legal interns work with an Assistant General Counsel and one or more of the staff lawyers within one of the ten divisions of the General Counsel's Office. These divisions are: Africa; Asia and the Near East; Europe and Eurasia; Latin America and the Caribbean; Global Assistance; Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance; Litigation and Enforcement; Contract and Commodity Management; Legislation and Policy; and Ethics and Administration.

More about General Counsel Internships at USAID

Africa Bureau Internships

USAID's Africa Bureau expects to have a limited number of summer internships available in a few of its overseas missions in sub-Saharan Africa as well as in Washington, D.C. This is an excellent opportunity for outstanding students interested in pursuing careers in international development. Students desiring internships in Francophone Africa must be proficient in French. Students desiring internships in Lusophone Africa must be proficient in Portuguese or Spanish. Flexibility, initiative, enthusiasm, good interpersonal skills and lots of energy are also desired. Computer skills are a necessity.

Normally, the internship period is June 15-August 15, although this is negotiable. Selected students must be able to stay the duration of the internship as determined by the sponsoring mission or Washington, DC office. Final decisions on placement will be made in light of the candidate pool and USAID mission priorities at the time of candidate selection. As with all federal agencies, USAID is an equal opportunity employer.

More about Africa Bureau Internships at USAID

Legislative & Public Affairs Internship Opportunities in International Development (LPA)

LPA directs the Agency's communications strategy and policies; is responsible for positioning, messaging and branding; develops outreach and educational programs; leads the Agency's online marketing strategy and manages the external website; and produces events and promotional products to generate support for USAID's mission. Interns will be working on various projects related to the LPA mission (congressional, strategic communications, multimedia, publications, website, public liaison, public diplomacy, press; and special events and protocol). The internship is full-time with flexible hours.

More about Legislative & Public Affairs Internship Opportunities in International Development (LPA) at USAID

Global Health

The Bureau for Global Health (GH) supports field health programs, advances research and innovation in selected areas relevant to overall Agency health objectives, and transfers new technologies to the field through its own staff work, coordination with other donors, and a portfolio of grants and contracts with an annual budget in excess of $1.6 billion. Global health issues have global consequences that not only affect the people of developing nations but also directly affect the interests of American citizens. Interns are recruited each summer to support the Bureau.

More about Global Health Internships at USAID

General Counsel

The Office of the General Counsel (GC) provides legal advice, counsel, and services to the Agency and its officials and ensures that USAID programs are administered in accordance with legislative authorities. Attorneys advise on legal matters arising in the operation and administration of USAID programs, and on matters relating to legislation or proposed legislation affecting USAID. GC provides advice and guidance on congressional investigation and determines what legal courses of action are appropriate for the Agency. GC also maintains liaisons with other government organizations to provide advice or assistance in interpreting or applying the legal authorities of the Agency and represents USID in connection with legal matters affecting it.

More about the Office of the General Counsel (GC) at USAID

Inspector General

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) is responsible for providing audit and investigative services to the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), the African Development Foundation (ADF), and the Inter-American Foundation (IAF). USAID's Inspector General is responsible for keeping the head of the respective client organization and the Congress fully informed about problems and deficiencies in the organization's programs and operations, as well as the necessity for, and progress of, corrective actions.

More about employment opportunities with the Office of Inspector General at USAID

Personal Services Contractors (PSC)

USAID does business through a variety of available federal mechanisms. Personal Services Contractors (PSC) are individual contractors, characterized by an employer-employee relationship between the Government and the contractor. The contractor is treated very much like the direct hire staff, frequently performing the same or similar work. USAID hires PSCs to work in a variety of fields both in USAID/Washington and in USAID Missions worldwide serving as program officers, project development officers, technical officers, controllers and, occasionally, as USAID principal officers.

More about Personal Services Contractors at USAID

Senior Executive Service

Senior Executives work in managerial, supervisory and public policy-making positions above the GS-15 Civil Service level. For these leadership positions, you must possess the essential qualifications to succeed in the 21st century. Executive core qualifications include leading change, leading people, being results-driven, having business acumen and building coalitions/communications. A variety of professional occupations are represented.

More about the Senior Executive Service at USAID

Third Country Nationals (TCNs)

Third Country Nationals (TCNs) are individual contractors from countries other than the U.S. or the country in which they serve. The TCN mechanism is characterized by an employer-employee relationship that exists between the U.S. Government and the contractor. TCNs frequently are employed by USAID missions and may have previously been employed as a Foreign Service National; they are often particularly well versed in the ways of Agency operations. The TCN contractor is treated very much like the direct hire staff, frequently performing the same or similar work. Opportunities for Third Country National personal services contractors are publicized at FedBizOpps, and not on the Agency's website.

Contact USAID Directly

Via U.S. Mail
Office of Human Resources, Room 2.8
1300 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W
Washington, District of Columbia 20523
Fax: 202-216-3031
Via E-mail

For additional assistance with Federal Career Advice, visit

Friday, March 9, 2012

Featured Career Path: Management, Scientific, and Technical Consulting Services

Significant Points

  • This industry is projected to be the fastest growing, with employment increasing 83 percent over the 2008–18 period, and is one of the highest paying.
  • Job competition will remain keen; the most educated and experienced workers will have the best job prospects.
  • About 73 percent of workers have a bachelor's or higher degree; 62 percent of all jobs are in managerial, business, financial, and professional occupations.

Nature of the Industry

Firms that offer management, scientific, and technical consulting services influence how businesses, governments, and institutions make decisions. Often working behind the scenes, these firms offer technical expertise, information, contacts, and tools that clients cannot provide themselves. They then work with their clients to provide a service or solve a problem.

Goods and services

Usually, one of the resources that consulting firms provide to clients is expertise—in the form of knowledge, experience, special skills, or creativity; another resource is time or personnel that the client cannot spare. Clients include large and small companies in the private sector; Federal, State, and local government agencies; institutions, such as hospitals, universities, unions, and nonprofit organizations; and foreign governments or businesses.

The management, scientific, and technical consulting services industry is diverse. Almost anyone with expertise in a given area can enter consulting. Management consulting firms advise on almost every aspect of corporate operations: marketing; finance; corporate strategy and organization; manufacturing processes; information systems and data processing; electronic commerce (e-commerce) or business; human resources, including benefits and compensation; and many others. Scientific and technical consulting firms provide technical advice relating to almost all nonmanagement organizational activities, including compliance with environmental and workplace safety and health regulations, the application of technology, and the application of sciences such as biology, chemistry, and physics.

Industry organization

Larger consulting firms usually provide expertise in a variety of areas, whereas smaller consulting firms generally specialize in one area of consulting. Administrative management and general management consulting services firms, for example, offer advice on an organization's day-to-day operations, such as budgeting, asset management, strategic and financial planning, records management, and tax strategy.

A manufacturing firm building a new factory might seek the help of management consultants to determine in which geographic location it would incur the lowest startup costs. A family opening a new restaurant might hire a management consulting firm to help develop a business plan and provide tax advice. Management consulting firms also might advise clients in the implementation and use of the latest office technology or computer programs that could increase office productivity. Some clients might turn to management consulting firms to manage the financial aspects of their business. Management consultants also may provide insight into why a division of the company is not profitable or may recommend an investment strategy that meets the client's needs.

Effective management of a client's human capital is the primary work of consulting firms that offer human resources consulting services. Firms that focus on this area advise clients on effective personnel policies, employee salaries and benefits, employee recruitment and training, and employee assessment. A client with high employee turnover might seek the help of a human resources consulting firm in improving its retention rate. Human resources consulting firms also might be asked to help determine the appropriate level of employer and employee contributions to healthcare and retirement plans. Increasingly, firms are outsourcing, or contracting out, the administrative functions of their human resources division to human resources consulting firms that manage timekeeping and payroll systems and administer employee benefits.

One human resources consulting specialty is executive search consulting or executive recruiting. Firms in this industry often are referred to as "headhunters." Executive search consulting firms are involved in locating the best candidates for top-level management and executive positions. Clients hire executive recruiters in order to save time and preserve confidentiality. Executive search firms keep a large database of executives' resumes and search this database for clients in order to identify candidates who would likely complement their client's corporate culture and strategic plan.

Information on these candidates is then submitted to the clients for their selection. Executive search consulting firms also might conduct prescreening interviews and reference and background checks. Some executive search consulting firms specialize in recruiting for a particular industry or geographic area, while others conduct general searches.

Marketing consulting services firms provide assistance to firms in areas ranging from product development to customer service. They may advise on marketing new products, pricing new and existing products (to maximize sales and profit), forecasting sales, planning and implementing a marketing strategy, and improving customer service to help the firm's overall image. A pharmaceutical firm, for example, might seek advice as to whether it should remove a drug from the market, or a retail clothing chain might seek advice regarding the most effective way to market and sell its clothes—in a direct-mail or online catalog or over the telephone. Clients also might seek the help of a marketing consultant to set up business franchises or license their products.
Another specialty within management consulting is process, physical distribution, and logistics consulting services. Firms in this industry specialize in the production and distribution of goods, from the first stages of securing suppliers to the delivery of finished goods to consumers. Such firms give advice on improvements in the manufacturing process and productivity, product quality control, inventory management, packaging, order processing, the transportation of goods, and materials management and handling.
A domestic manufacturing firm might hire a logistics consulting firm to calculate shipping rates and import duties for goods being exported or to determine the most cost-effective method of shipping products. Consulting firms in this segment of the industry also advise on the latest technology that links suppliers, producers, and customers together to streamline the manufacturing process. Finally, these consulting firms might suggest improvements to the manufacturing process in order to use inputs better, increase productivity, or decrease the amount of excess inventory.

Some management consulting firms specialize in a particular business process; others provide a range of business services specific to one industry, such as healthcare. Many professionals—for example, doctors—are highly skilled in the technical aspects of their job, but lack the business expertise to manage their practice effectively. Management consultants advise these clients regarding issues such as staff recruitment, compensation and benefits, asset management, marketing, and other business operations.

Some management consultants offer advice on matters pertaining directly to the industry in question. For instance, management consultants for the healthcare industry may advise on compliance with biohazard removal and patient confidentiality regulations, avoidance of malpractice suits, and methods of dealing with managed care and health insurance companies. Industries such as legal services, telecommunication, and utilities also have consulting firms that specialize in industry-specific issues.
Scientific and technical consulting services firms provide services similar to those offered by management consulting firms, but the information is not management related. One of the largest specialties in scientific and technical consulting services is environmental consulting services.

Environmental consulting firms identify and evaluate environmental problems, such as the presence of water contaminants, and offer solutions, often after inspecting the sites. Some firms in this segment of the industry advise clients about controlling the emissions of environmental pollutants, cleaning up contaminated sites, establishing a recycling program, and complying with government environmental laws and regulations. A real estate developer, for example, might hire an environmental consulting firm to help design and develop property without damaging natural habitats, such as wetlands. A manufacturing or utilities firm might hire environmental consultants to assess whether the firm is meeting government emissions standards, in order to avoid penalties before government regulators inspect the property in question. Finally, many government agencies contract work out to environmental consulting firms to assess environmental contamination in a particular geographic area or to evaluate the costs and benefits of new regulations.
Occupational safety consulting services firms provide services similar to those offered by other private businesses and some government agencies, identifying workplace safety hazards and ensuring that employers are in compliance with government worker safety regulations. Safety consulting firms might help plan a safe and healthy environment for workers, identify hazardous materials or systems that may cause illness or injury, assess safety risks associated with machinery, investigate accidents, and assess the likelihood of lawsuits resulting from safety code violations.

For example, a manufacturing firm building a new plant may seek the advice of a safety consulting firm about how to build equipment and design the building layout in order to increase workplace safety and reduce human error. Or a restaurant may look to a safety consultant to develop occupational safety and health systems for employees, such as slip-resistant floors and shoes. Some safety consulting firms might specialize in a particular type of hazardous material, while others might specialize in a particular industry, such as construction, mining, manufacturing, healthcare, or food processing. As with environmental consulting firms, many government agencies contract out work to safety consulting firms for help with safety engineering, technical projects, and various kinds of assessment.

Security consulting, by contrast, seeks to ensure the safety and security of an organization's physical and human assets that may be threatened by natural or human-made disasters. Clients might hire security consulting firms to assess a building's security needs. The firms then may recommend protecting the building against theft and vandalism by installing security cameras, hiring security guards, and providing employee background checks. Other security consultants study a building's design and recommend measures to protect it from damage from fires, tornadoes, floods, earthquakes, or acts of terrorism. Security consultants also may recommend emergency evacuation procedures in the event that such disasters occur. Increasingly, clients are hiring security consulting firms to protect their confidential computer records against hackers and viruses. Recently, government agencies have hired security consulting firms to advise them on how to protect national monuments and the national transportation, utility, and defense infrastructure—airports, bridges, nuclear reactor plants, water treatment plants, and military barracks—against terrorism.

Scientific and technical consulting firms also advise on a diverse range of issues relating to the physical and social sciences—issues having to with agriculture, biology, chemistry, economics, energy, and physics. Agricultural consulting firms might advise on different farming techniques or machinery that increases agricultural production. Economic consultants might develop forecasting models and advise clients about the potential for a recession or an increase in interest rates that could affect business decisions. Energy consultants might advise clients on how to reduce costs by implementing energy-saving machinery. Finally, biological, chemical, and physics consultants might give theoretical or applied expertise in those fields.

Recent developments

Management, scientific, and technical consulting has grown rapidly over the past several decades, with businesses increasingly using consulting services. Hiring consultants is advantageous because these experts are experienced, are well trained, and keep abreast of the latest technologies, government regulations, and management and production techniques. In addition, consultants are cost effective, because they can be hired temporarily and can perform their duties objectively, free of the influence of company politics.

Working Conditions

Hours. In 2008, nonsupervisory workers in the industry averaged 35.0 hours per week, slightly higher than the national average of 33.6. However, many consultants must meet hurried deadlines, a requirement that frequently entails working long hours in stressful environments. Consultants whose services are billed hourly often are under pressure to manage their time very carefully. Occasionally, weekend work also is necessary, depending upon the job that is being performed.

Work environment. Working conditions in management, scientific, and technical consulting services are generally similar to those of most office workers operating in a team environment. The work is rarely hazardous, with a few exceptions—for example, for environmental or safety consultants who inspect sites for contamination from hazardous materials.

In addition, some projects might require many executives and consultants to travel extensively or to live away from home for extended periods. However, new technology—such as laptop computers, with remote access to the firm's computer server, and videoconferencing machines—allow some consultants to work from home or conduct meetings with clients in different locations, reducing some of the need for business travel.

Most firms encourage employees to attend employer-paid time-management classes. The classes teach participants to reduce the stress sometimes associated with working under strict time constraints. Also, with today's hectic lifestyle, many firms in this industry offer or provide health facilities or clubs that employees may use to maintain good health.

Occupations in the Industry

Most management, scientific, and technical consulting services are fairly specialized; still, the industry comprises a variety of occupations . Some, such as environmental engineers, are specific to only one segment of the industry, whereas others, such as secretaries and administrative assistants, can be found throughout the industry.

Compared with other industries, the management, scientific, and technical consulting services industry has a relatively high proportion of highly educated workers. About 73 percent have a bachelor's degree, compared with 32 percent of workers throughout the economy. Around 32 percent have a master's or higher degree, compared with 11 percent of workers throughout the economy. Certain jobs may have stringent entry requirements. For example, some management consulting firms prefer to hire only workers who have a master's degree in business administration (MBA). Other positions can be attained only after many years of related experience.

In management, scientific, and technical consulting services, 62 percent of employment consists of workers in management, business, and financial operations occupations and in professional and related occupations. These same occupational groups account for about 31 percent of workers across the entire economy. These groups of workers comprise a disproportionate share of jobs in the industry because workers with education and experience in business management and workers with scientific, engineering, and other technical backgrounds conduct most of the consulting work in this industry.
Management, business, and financial operations occupations.

Top executives, the largest managerial occupation in the industry, includes both the highest level managers—such as chief executive officers and vice presidents—and many top managers with diverse duties. In consulting firms, top executives with partial ownership and profit-sharing privileges might be referred to as partners. Top-level managers or partners shape company policy, often with the help of other executives or a board of directors. They oversee all activities of the firm, coordinate the duties of subordinate executives and managers, and often bear ultimate responsibility for a firm's performance. Mid-level managers or partners may oversee all the activities of one department or all the activities of one or more clients.

Management analysts, also called management consultants, make up the largest occupation in the management consulting industry. Their work is quite varied, depending on the nature of the project and the client's needs. In general, management consultants study and analyze business-related problems, synthesizing information from many sources, and recommend solutions. The solutions can include overhauling a client's computer systems, offering early retirement incentives to middle managers, recommending a switch in health plans, improving just-in-time inventory systems, hiring public relations firms, or selling troublesome parts of businesses. Because of the varied nature of these jobs, firms hire workers with diverse backgrounds, such as backgrounds in engineering, finance, actuarial science, chemistry, or business.

Many firms require consultants to have an MBA, whereas others hire workers who have no more than a bachelor's degree. Many workers have experience in other industries prior to entering management consulting work.

Other management and business and financial operations occupations include administrative services managers, who typically administer a consulting firm's support services. These managers oversee secretaries, data entry keyers, bookkeepers, and other clerical staff. In the management consulting services industry, they also often supervise a client's clerical and support staff and do consulting work in that area.

Advertising, marketing, promotions, public relations, and sales managers oversee the consulting firm's marketing and sales departments, researching and targeting new clients and also helping out with consulting projects having to do with marketing.

Computer and information systems managers ensure that the consulting firm's computer and network systems are fully operational and oversee other computer and technical workers, such as computer support specialists. These managers also might also supervise certain consulting projects involving computer and information technology.

Financial managers prepare financial statements and assess the financial health of firms. Often, they must have at least a bachelor's degree in accounting or finance. Human resources, training, and labor relations managers and specialists supervise the activities of a consulting firm's human resources department, managing personnel records, payroll, benefits, and employee recruitment and training.

These managers also might also supervise projects for clients in the human resources consulting industry. In scientific and technical consulting firms, engineering and natural sciences managers oversee the engineers and scientists working for their consulting firms.

Accountants and auditors monitor firms' financial transactions and often report to financial managers. More recently, accountants and auditors have been involved in consulting projects having to do with the preparation of financial statements, tax strategy, budget or retirement planning, and the implementation of accounting software.

Professional and related occupations. Workers in professional and related occupations are employed mainly in the scientific and technical consulting portion of the industry. Many of these workers are engineers and scientists who use their expertise in consulting. For example, environmental engineers and environmental scientists and geoscientists are employed by environmental consulting firms to evaluate environmental damage or assess compliance with environmental laws and regulations. Other engineers, such as agricultural, biomedical, chemical, mining and geological, nuclear, and petroleum engineers; and physical and life scientists, such as agricultural and food scientists, biological scientists, chemists, materials scientists, and physicists and astronomers, are employed by consulting firms specializing in their scientific disciplines. Architects and civil and industrial engineers are sometimes employed by safety and security consulting firms to assess the construction of structures such as buildings and bridges and to make recommendations regarding reinforcing these structures against damage.

The rapid spread of computers and information technology has generated a need for highly trained computer specialists to design and develop new hardware and software systems and to incorporate new technologies. Systems analysts design new computer systems or redesign old systems for new applications. They solve computer problems and enable computer technology to meet their organization's particular needs. For example, a systems analyst from a management consulting firm might be hired by a wholesale firm to implement an online inventory database.

Computer software engineers, by contrast, can be involved in the design and development of software systems for the control and automation of manufacturing, business, and management processes. Other computer specialists include computer support specialists, who provide technical assistance, support, and advice to customers and users, and database administrators, who work with database management systems software and determine ways to organize and store data. Computer specialists such as systems analysts, computer scientists, and computer engineers sometimes are referred to simply as "consultants."

Technical workers also include computer programmers, who write programs and create software, often in close conjunction with systems analysts. Like systems analysts, computer programmers are found primarily in the business and management consulting segments of the industry.

Designers in this industry are mostly graphic designers who utilize a variety of print, electronic, and film media to create designs that meet clients' commercial needs. Using computer software, these workers develop the overall layout and design of magazines, newspapers, journals, corporate reports, and other publications. They also may produce promotional displays and marketing brochures for products and services and may design distinctive company logos for products and businesses. An increasing number of graphic designers develop material to appear on Internet homepages.

Other professional and related workers include economists, market and survey researchers, lawyers, and engineering technicians. Economists are employed by economic consulting firms to conduct economic research and advise clients on economic trends. Market and survey researchers are employed mainly by marketing consulting firms to conduct surveys and research on various topics.
Lawyers are employed in virtually all management, scientific, and technical consulting industries to represent their consulting firms in case of a lawsuit and to advise the firms, as well as clients, on changes in laws and regulations pertaining to their areas of expertise. Engineering technicians aid engineers in research and development. Like engineers, these workers are found primarily in the business and management consulting segments of the industry.

Office and administrative support occupations. Office and administrative support positions in management, scientific, and technical consulting services resemble those in other industries, and account for 26 percent of industry employment. Particularly numerous are secretaries and administrative assistants, as well as bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks, who record and classify financial data. The industry also employs many supervisors and managers of office and administrative support workers, who oversee the support staff, often reporting to administrative services managers.

Other occupations. Management, scientific, and technical consulting services firms do not produce any goods. As a result, they employ relatively few services, sales, and production workers, who, together with the remaining occupational groups, make up only about 14 percent of industry employment.
Training and advancement opportunities vary widely within management, scientific, and technical consulting services firms, but most jobs in the industry are similar in three respects. First, clients usually hire consulting firms on the basis of the expertise of their staffs, so proper training of employees is vital to the success of the firms. Second, although employers generally prefer a bachelor's or higher degree, most jobs also require extensive on-the-job training or related experience.

Third, advancement opportunities are best for workers with the highest levels of education.
Most consulting specialties provide a variety of different ways to enter the profession. Whereas very few universities or colleges offer formal programs of study in management consulting, many fields provide a suitable background. These fields include most areas of business and management, such as marketing and accounting, as well as economics, computer and information sciences, and engineering.

Also, many business schools have consulting clubs that offer exposure to consulting firms or opportunities to provide consulting services to businesses. Some schools offer programs in logistics and safety that relate directly to consulting jobs in those areas. Some college graduates with a bachelor's or master's degree and no previous work experience are hired right out of school by consulting firms and go through extensive on-the-job training. The method and extent of training can vary with the type of consulting involved and the nature of the firm. Some college students might have an advantage over other candidates if they complete an internship with a consulting firm during their studies. Other workers with related experience are hired as consultants later in their careers. For example, former military or law enforcement workers often work for security consulting firms.

Similarly, some government workers with experience in enforcing regulations might join an environmental or safety consulting firm. Consultants in scientific fields often have a master's or doctoral degree, and some previously have taught at colleges and universities.

Most consulting firms require their employees to possess a variety of skills in addition to technical skills or industry knowledge. To a large extent, a college degree is only one desired qualification; workers also must possess proven analytical and problem-solving abilities, excellent written and verbal communications skills, experience in a particular specialty, assertiveness and motivation, strong attention to detail, and a willingness to work long hours if necessary. Many consultants undergo training to learn these and related skills, such as project management and building relationships with clients. Consultants also must possess high ethical standards, because most consulting firms and clients will contact references and former clients to make sure that the quality of their work was of the highest standard.

Management and leadership classes and seminars are available throughout the United States. Some classes and seminars are hosted by volunteer senior executives and management experts representing a variety of businesses and industries. A number of large firms invest a great deal of time and money in training programs, educating new hires in formal classroom settings over several weeks or months, and some even have separate training facilities. Small firms often combine formal and on-the-job training.

The Institute of Management Consultants USA, Inc. (IMC USA), offers a wide range of professional development programs and resources, such as meetings, workshops, interest groups, and national conferences that can be helpful for management consultants. The IMC USA also offers the certified management consultant (CMC) designation to those who meet education and experience requirements, as well as pass an interview and oral and written examinations. Management consultants with a CMC designation must be recertified every 3 years.

Other areas of specialization, such as logistics and safety, also offer certification programs for professionals, but these programs are not necessarily designed for consultants. Still, consultants might find it beneficial to receive designations from such programs as well. Although certification is not mandatory for management consultants, it may give a jobseeker a competitive advantage.

Without consulting experience, it can be difficult to sustain a business as an independent management consultant firm. As a result, most entry-level positions are in relatively large firms and often involve very little responsibility at the beginning. Striving for and displaying quality work results in more responsibility. Most management consulting firms have two entry-level positions: workers who hold bachelor's degrees usually start as research associates; those with graduate degrees generally begin as consultants. Successful workers progress through the ranks from research associate to consultant, management consultant, senior consultant, junior partner, and, after many years, senior partner. In some firms, however, it is very difficult for research associates to progress to the next level without further education or certification. As a result, many management consulting firms offer tuition assistance, grants, or reimbursement plans so that workers can attain an MBA or some other degree.

Almost all workers in management consulting services receive on-the-job training; some have prior work experience in a related field. Most managerial and supervisory workers gain experience informally, overseeing a few workers or part of a project under the close supervision of a senior manager. Workers who advance to high-level managerial or supervisory jobs in management services firms usually have an extensive educational background. Less commonly, some large firms offer formal management training.

The management, scientific, and technical consulting services industry offers excellent opportunities for self-employment. Because capital requirements are low, highly experienced workers can start their own businesses fairly easily and cheaply; indeed, every year, thousands of workers in this industry go into business for themselves. Some of these workers come from established management, scientific, and technical consulting services firms, whereas others leave industry, government, or academic jobs to start their own businesses. Still others remain employed in their primary organizations, but have their own consulting jobs on the side.


Management, scientific, and technical consulting services is projected to be the fastest growing industry over the next decade. However, because of the number of people looking to work in this industry, competition for jobs is expected to remain keen.

Employment change. Wage and salary employment in the management, scientific, and technical consulting services industry is expected to grow by 83 percent between 2008 and 2018. All areas of consulting should experience strong growth.

Projected job growth can be attributed primarily to economic growth and to the continuing complexity of business. A growing number of businesses means increased demand for advice in all areas of business planning. Firms will look to management consultants to draft business plans and budgets, develop strategy, and determine appropriate salaries and benefits for employees. The expansion of franchised restaurants and retail stores will spur demand for marketing consultants to determine the best locations and develop marketing plans.

The expansion of business also will create opportunities for logistics consulting firms in order to link new suppliers with producers and to get the finished goods to consumers. Finally, businesses will continue to need advice on compliance with government workplace safety and environmental laws. Clients need consultants to keep them up to date on the latest changes in legislation affecting their businesses, including changes to tax laws, to environmental regulations, and to policies affecting employee benefits and healthcare and workplace safety. As a result, firms specializing in human resources, environmental, and safety consulting should be in strong demand.

The increasing use of new technology and computer software is another major factor contributing to growth in all areas of consulting. Management consulting firms help clients implement new accounting and payroll software, whereas environmental and safety consulting firms advise clients on the use of computer technology in monitoring harmful substances in the environment or workplace. Consulting firms also might help design new computer systems or online distribution systems. One of the biggest areas upon which technology has had an impact is logistics consulting. The Internet has greatly increased the ability of businesses to link to and communicate with their suppliers and customers, increasing productivity and decreasing costs. Technology-related consulting projects have become so important that many traditional consulting firms are now merging with or setting up joint ventures with technology companies so that each firm has access to the other's resources in order to serve clients better.

The trend toward outsourcing and mergers also will create opportunities for consulting firms. In order to cut costs, many firms are outsourcing administrative and human resources functions to consultants specializing in these services. This business strategy should provide opportunities in human resources consulting for firms that manage their clients' payroll systems and benefits programs. At the same time, increasing competition has led to more business mergers, providing opportunities for consulting firms to assist in the process. Also, as increasing numbers of older business owners retire, consultants will be used to assist in the liquidation, acquisition, or restructuring of those businesses.

Globalization, too, will continue to provide numerous opportunities for consulting firms wishing to expand their services, or help their clients expand, into foreign markets. Consulting firms can advise clients on strategy, as well as foreign laws, regarding taxes, employment, worker safety, and the environment. The growth of international businesses will create numerous opportunities for logistics consulting firms as businesses seek to improve coordination in the expanding network of suppliers and consumers.

An increasing emphasis on protecting a firm's employees, facilities, and information against deliberate acts of sabotage will continue to create numerous opportunities for security consultants. These consultants provide assistance on every aspect of security, from protecting against computer viruses to reinforcing buildings against bomb blasts. Logistics consulting firms are finding opportunities helping clients secure their supply chain against interruptions that might arise from terrorist acts, such as the disruption of shipping or railroad facilities. Growing security concerns, rising insurance costs, and the increasing threat of lawsuits provide added incentives for businesses to protect the welfare of their employees.

Growth in management, scientific, and technical consulting services might be hampered by increasing competition from nontraditional consulting firms, such as investment banks, accounting firms, technology firms, and law firms. As consulting firms continue to expand their services, they will be forced to compete with a more diverse group of firms that provide similar services.

Economic downturns also can have an adverse effect on employment growth in consulting. As businesses are forced to cut costs, consultants may be among the first expenses that businesses eliminate. Furthermore, growth in some consulting specialties, such as executive search consulting, is directly tied to the health of the industries in which they operate. However, some consulting firms might experience growth during recessions: as firms look to cut costs and remain competitive, they might seek the advice of consultants on the best way to do so.

Job prospects. Despite the projected growth in the industry, there will be keen competition for jobs because the prestigious and independent nature of the work and the generous salary and benefits generally attract more jobseekers than openings every year. Individuals with the most education and job experience will likely have the best job prospects.


Industry earnings. Management, scientific, and technical consulting services is one of the highest paying industries. Nonsupervisory wage and salary workers in the industry averaged $913 a week in 2008, compared with $608 for workers throughout private industry.

Benefits and union membership. Besides earning a straight salary, many workers receive additional compensation, such as profit sharing, stock ownership, or performance-based bonuses. In some firms, bonuses can constitute one-third or more of annual pay.

Only about 1 percent of workers in management, scientific, and technical consulting services belong to unions or are covered by union contracts, compared with 14 percent of workers in all industries combined.

Sources of Additional Information

For more information about career opportunities in general management consulting, contact:

Association of Management Consulting Firms, 370 Lexington Ave., Suite 2209, New York, NY 10017. Internet:

For more information about career opportunities in executive search consulting, contact:
  • Association of Executive Search Consultants, 12 East 41st St., 17th Floor, New York, NY 10017. Internet:
For more information about career opportunities in safety consulting, contact:
  • American Society of Safety Engineers, 1800 E. Oakton St., Des Plaines, IL 60018. Internet:
For more information about the Certified Management Consultant designation, contact:
  • Institute of Management Consultants USA, 2025 M St. NW., Suite 800, Washington, DC 20036. Internet:
For more information about the Certified Investment Management Analyst designation, contact:
  • Investment Management Consultants Association, 5619 DTC Parkway, Suite 500, Greenwood Village, CO 80111. Internet:
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics