Corra Daily Planet » 2007 » April

Great Tips for a Job Interview

Mon, April 30th, 2007 - 2:28 pm - By Gordon Basichis

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We got this from Dianne Gubin’s Newsletter, Diane Talks Business.


A candidate recently interviewed for a new position. The candidate had the technical skills to do the job, as well as outstanding communication skills. The client said the candidate was PERFECT, except for wearing a purple turtleneck to the interview. The client decided that the candidate’s style was too informal for the nature of the position and the person did not get the job.

First impressions form in as little as three seconds. When interviewing, a first impression can determine if you are a possible match for a company’s culture.
We take it for granted that everyone knows that an interview is the time to put your best foot forward. Dressing for an interview means appearing as professional as possible. You want to set the impression that you at least match the corporate culture standard, or appear at a higher social standard so that others want to know you.
It’s important to appear genuine, trust worthy and dependable. There is a reason attorneys, bankers, and other professionals wear suits to set the tone of work environment.
Project a solid first impression. This can include:
  • Wearing a dark suit with a matching tie
  • Well-groomed hair and nails
  • Polished, closed toed shoes
  • Avoiding religious, ethnic or clunky jewelry
  • Covering tattoos or body piercing
At least once during your career consider scheduling a session with a wardrobe or image development specialist who tailors outfits to your personal colors and body shape. You will find this a solid investment as you build your work wardrobe.
Whatever your industry, dressing professionally does make a difference. You will quickly gain the respect and confidence of all you meet as well project your authentic style.
Enjoy Tip of the Week and Talks Business, Internet radio on careers and professional development- all in the same day!

DIANNE’S PHILOSOPHY Dianne Gubin is an executive who knows the dynamics of creating success. Her commitment: Help others make well-informed, educated choices that power their career and business development from ordinary to extraordinary. As president of Tech Exec Partners, Inc., a corporate consulting and staffing firm, Dianne Gubin has accelerated thousands of career successes by opening doorways to life-changing opportunities.

Corra finds these to be great tips for a job interview. Anyone who does not take these tips from Diane Gubin seriously is making a critical mistake. If you want the job, dress the part and act the part. I remember two bits of advice about dressing a little over everyone else. Or dress as your boss would, not just your peers.
If you are on the other side of the desk, Corra always advises a comprehensive background screening package. be sure to run the Social Security Trace, a Criminal Trace, and if they are driving for you, be sure to run a Motor Vehicle Report.
Background Searches are a cost effective way to stave off potential calamity. Check them out before you hire.

Interns Can Be Helpful, But It Can Be Difficult Finding Good Ones

Thu, April 26th, 2007 - 4:19 pm - By Gordon Basichis

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We found this article on

Looking For Good Interns? It Helps to Plan Ahead

A weekly look at the latest products and services designed to help you run a better business.

By: Tamara Schweitzer

Summer internship season is quickly approaching, but does your business know how to pick the best recruits and make the most of your internship program? Z University, an internship resource site for students and employers, has created a DVD designed to help employers develop effective internship programs.”Blueprint for Internship Success” illustrates the nine critical building blocks of a successful internship program, according to Z University research. One section of the video offers tips to employers on how to use interns to increase productivity, including projects that interns can perform for almost any business. According to a recent five-year study on student productivity by the Internship Institute, supervisors can gain up to 225 full work days of productivity by understanding how to manage interns properly.The video advises employers to start planning ahead by establishing relationships with universities in order to boost interest in their company. It also discusses interview techniques, the use of self-assessments, how to manage resources, and how to provide students with guidance and structure during their internships.”It’s so much more rewarding to manage and mentor students and much more profitable to dramatically increase productivity and to develop and test drive potential employees,” Matthew Zinman, president and founder of Z University, said in a statement. The DVD is available for download at: Networking for StartupsRaising start-up capital just got easier thanks to, a new online community where budding entrepreneurs can showcase their ideas and capital needs.The site works by connecting entrepreneurs and investors through online social networking, allowing anyone seeking start-up funds to pitch their ideas to potential investors through text descriptions, photos, and streaming videos. Investors can then sift through business ads and evaluate them, with contact information for those that catch their interest available on the site.

The service is free to investors, who are allowed an unlimited number of contacts. RaiseCapital’s technology also allows investors to track every contact they have made, search for opportunities by zip code, receive industry e-mail alerts, and even create a list of companies they want to watch.

“ is a win-win situation for everyone involved,” Richard Singer, CEO of, said in a statement. “For less than the price of a daily latte, entrepreneurs get quality exposure to find the capital they need.”

Securing Digital Assets

ZyXEL Communications, an Anaheim, Calif.-based broadband-networking firm, has launched a new data protection and sharing application designed especially for small businesses, the company announced this week.

Among other features, the NSA-2400 allows the Microsoft Business Server to backup company data without downtime, and has a storage capacity of two terabytes of data, the company said.

“The NSA-2400 is an affordable way for small businesses to secure and share their digital assets and further validates our commitment to all-in-one and easy-to-use solutions,” Munira Brooks, vice president of sales and marking at ZyXEL, said in a statement.

Copyright © 2007 Mansueto Ventures LLC. All rights reserved., 7 World Trade Center, New York, NY 10007-2195.

Summertime and the Interns are easy. You can find them by the dozen; if you are a halfway decent business and you can offer college credit for the work they do for you. Corra is thinking of getting a few as well.

But as this article shows, finding good interns can be tricky. There are a lot of lazy kids out there, anymore than there are a lot of lazy anything. For every kid who wants to actually learn something, there are probably a hundred who want to breeze through on the way between breakfast and bedtime.

Of course some of what young people are bad at is merely kid’s stuff. They’ll grow out of it. Or maybe they won’t. We all know at least a few folks who are gray and wrinkling but with the emotional values of an unhealthy fourteen year old. But Corra digresses.

If you are hiring interns, run background checks, the same way you would do it for your regular job candidates. Hopefully, the background checks will come back clear, but some of you may be surprised by what you find. So run a criminal check, at least, and if they are driving for you, Corra strongly urges you run a Motor Vehicle Report. It’s an ounce of prevention and makes good sense, lest you have a bad seed, known today as an emotionally challenged personality, stealing from you, harassing employees of the opposite sex, or otherwise messing up your work place.

Check them out before you hire.

When Small Business Owners Feel Shaky There Is A Hiring Downturn

Wed, April 25th, 2007 - 4:04 pm - By Gordon Basichis

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We found this article on

This Week’s Economic Roundup

Small-business owners less confident in economy; gas prices continue to rise.

By: Angus Loten

As gas prices rise and concerns about the economy grow, small-business owners are cutting back on expansion and job creation plans. Here’s a look at this week’s economic developments and how they may affect your business.Owner Confidence Down
A weaker outlook on the economy had fewer small-business owners planning to expand in March, the National Federation of Independent Business reported Monday.Based on a national survey of its 600,000 members, the group’s small-business optimism index fell 0.9 points last month to 97.3, below its benchmark level of 100. About a quarter of the group’s members typically respond to the monthly surveys.Six out of 10 components of the index were down in March, including plans to increase employment, current inventory satisfaction, and the outlook on the economy.Fewer owners than in the previous survey said they expect the economy to improve, while more were anticipating weaker sales, the survey found.

Despite the downturn, the number of current job openings edged up.

“Overall, the outlook didn’t change much in March — no soaring economy, but not recession,” William Dunkelberg, the group’s chief economist, said in a statement.

CEOs More Optimistic
By contrast, the nation’s chief executives were more optimistic about the economy over the first quarter, the Conference Board reported Monday.

In a survey of 100 business leaders nationwide, 24 percent said current business conditions were better or the same as the last quarter, while 37 percent said conditions in their specific markets improved, up from 23 percent in December, the New York-based private research group said.

The group’s quarterly CEO confidence index rose three points to 53, after hitting 50 in the closing months of 2006. “Business leaders do not expect conditions to worsen. But by the same token, they do not expect conditions to improve,” Lynn Franco, the group’s director of consumer research, said in a statement.

Meanwhile, employees were less confident in the job market, according to a separate report by Spherion on Monday. Out of 3,000 employees surveyed nationwide, just 17 percent said they felt the economy was gaining strength, down from 24 percent in February, the Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based recruiting firm said.

While 63 percent said they were confident in the future of their current employer, only 24 percent said they believed more jobs were available, the survey found.

“While the economy still looks relatively healthy, recent concerns about continued growth, coupled with rising energy prices and stock market volatility has certainly affected workers’ viewpoint on the economy,” Spherion CEO Roy Krause said in a statement.

Gas Prices, Demand Rising
Gas prices climbed by 9.5 cents last week to 280.2 cents a gallon, the tenth consecutive week of increases, the Energy Information Administration reported Wednesday.

Despite higher prices, demand has grown to an average 9.363 million barrels per day over the four weeks ending April 6, 2.5 percent above the same period last year and a record high for the month, the report said.

Jobless Claims Up
New claims for unemployment benefits surged by 19,000 to 342,000 last week, the sharpest gains in eight weeks, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

The gains were largely due to seasonal adjustment problems associated with the Easter holiday weekend, analysts said.

The largest increases in new claims were in Oregon, Missouri, and Alabama, while the largest decreases were in Michigan, New York, and California, the report said.

Copyright © 2007 Mansueto Ventures LLC. All rights reserved., 7 World Trade Center, New York, NY 10007-2195.

Corra has heard talk that small business owners are somewhat less sanguine about the economy. Or at least they are concerned in ways the economy pertains to them. Since small business is still a large driving force in this country, there is an impact when its owners take a wait and see attitude.

But if you are the one hiring right now, that may not necessarily be a bad thing. Their job freezes gives you a wider, deeper pool of potential job candidates. Someone’s hesitation is someone else’s opportunity.

Needless to say, or the facts being what they are it does need to be repeated. When hiring, have a preemployment screening program in place. Check out every candidate. Run a criminal background check, and a Social Security Trace, along with an Education verification check. If they drive for you in any way, then be sure to run an Motor Vehicle Records (MVR) Report.

It’s important. You will find out if they are who they say they are. You will be wise and save money in the long run. As Corra says, check them out before you hire.

Choose Good Prospects for You Mentoring Program

Tue, April 24th, 2007 - 2:40 pm - By Gordon Basichis

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Shaping Tomorrow’s Leaders

A strong, consistent mentoring program can help you develop strong leaders in-house and show that your company is committed to its employees.

Shaping a mentor program begins with a look internally. It’s imperative you understand why employees stay and discover where gaps exist. Follow this with a step by step approach to get your mentoring program up and running.

Mentoring Defined

Mentoring takes on different definitions and occurs in a wide variety of settings. Mentoring can be defined as:

  • One-on-one coaching, both with formal or informal sessions
  • An independent objective source of counsel and advice
  • A source for honest and candid feedback
  • Go-to people for a different set of insights
  • A source for personal accountability
  • A source of positive role models
  • Keeping employees engaged
  • Subject matter experts who share knowledge/experiences with others

Next, turn your definition into a clear mission statement. An example might be: “Keep employees engaged with the Company by supporting the Company’s talent development process. Act as positive role models.”

Role of a Mentor

With your mission defined, you’ll need to further define the role a mentor plays in your company. The role that a mentor plays is dependent on the mentor and each mentee. Employees have different needs and requirements. Therefore, mentors may need to:

Inspire Challenge
Direct Coach
Be an effective ally Be a catalyst for action
Stimulate Ask appropriate questions
Help others discover Support
Listen Guide
Be a friend Advise
Counsel Train
Hold others accountable

Areas Where Mentoring Impacts Your Business

There are key areas where mentors will impact your business. These include executing strategies for your company (achieving specific goals), assisting others with change initiatives, helping others to influence your business positively, developing talent for your company (including hiring the right talent), and building personal effectiveness in others. The challenge you face is to winnow the list down or have certain mentors focus on one area. Any mentoring program should begin in the most critical area. Remain focused before moving on or adding to the mix.

Potential Areas for Mentoring

Mentors can assist in employee growth in any area of your company. Below is only a partial list of potential departments and subject matter areas. Understand the skill set of each mentor, their expertise, and even the time commitment mentoring requires.

Sales Operations
Finance/Accounting Legal
Purchasing Contracts
IT/IS Administration
Human Resources
Subject Matter
Goal setting/goal achievement Improving communications
Improving work relationships Conflict management
Candidate selection Situational leadership
Career counseling Career paths
Time management Team building
Hard skill development

Keys to Success

Choose your mentors carefully. Mentors come from any part of your company. Mentors should not only be senior managers or executives. Mentors can be subject matter experts, middle managers and employees who are rising stars.

Tailor mentoring to each person. Mentors should work one-on-one with employees. Mentoring is not conducting a training class; it’s personalized to each employee. Bear in mind that mentoring doesn’t have a specific end date; time frames are driven by the needs of the mentee.

Keep mentoring focused. Mentors should confine meetings to a specific set of needs. Failure increases the more mentors or mentees try to “jam” too much into single meetings. And set boundaries around the amount of time for each meeting. Some meetings may be as short as five minutes or as long as an hour or more.

Each meeting must be outcome based, so set agendas. Employees, managers, and executives are all busy and without a set agenda with specific and measurable outcomes, the likelihood of success is diminished.

Accountability is another measure. Determine exactly where accountability lies, as both the mentor and mentee are accountable to differing degrees. It’s your call.

Follow up is a must. Change requires time and repetition. This is why follow up is crucial. Recall your days in school; it was called “homework.” Homework was checked and new assignments were given. The same holds true with mentoring; follow up will demonstrate growth/change or uncover other issues that need to be addressed.

Implementing a Mentor Program

It may be as simple as starting with one mentor and training that person. Or you may choose to gather a group together for a group orientation. Train the trainer or mentor the mentor is the basis on which to build your program. Build your own or choose an outside firm to assist in the development of a program tailored to you!

Also, don’t overlook the commitment required from the mentees. Any program you design without commitment from each participant is doomed. Mentees are always responsible for their growth and development. Keep the accountability on their shoulders. And keep this program voluntary.

Finally, don’t forget to monitor the program. Examine and review successes and shortcomings. And be open to changes that will enhance your program.

Corra believes not everyone can mentor properly, anymore than not everyone can be mentored. Some people do well when they are taken under someone’s wing, and some…well…they don’t fare so well. Sometimes there are a few pleasant surprises. Sometimes there are disappointments. But for the most part a good mentoring program works in favor of any business.

Think of it as a farm club, a minor league feeder to a major league baseball team. The young and rough cut talent is cultivated and then brought up to the big leagues where they become an asset for the entire franchise.

A good mentoring program means an allocation of time and money. Before you go to that expense you should run a preemployment or even an employment screening series on the mentoring candidate. Corra suggests a criminal background check and an education verification, as well as an employment verification. If the candidate or employee is driving for any business related reasons, then an MVR Report should be included in your program.

Background searches and small expense to pay for all the trouble you may be avoiding. So before you invest serious time and money, check them out before you hire.

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