MONEY Autos

How to Beat a Car Dealer at His Own Game

Used car lot
Patti McConville—Alamy

With these strategies you can save money and win on the car lot—before you even get there.

As consumers have gotten better at researching cars online, auto dealers have had to learn new tricks. Some have even gone on corporate retreats to Disneyland to get tips from the entertainment brand about winning over customers.

Given how persuasive some salespeople can be, you’ll want to plan your negotiating strategy before you arrive at the dealership. When it comes to haggling, there’s plenty up for grabs: According to Kelley Blue Book, the fair price for a new Toyota Camry is $2,000 less than the manufacturer’s suggested retail.

Here’s how to win before you ever set foot on the lot.

The scenario: You see an ad for a specific car at a great price.

You should: Call ahead and say, “I want to see if the 2013 preowned hybrid SUV is still available. It is? Great! Can you have it ready to test-drive when I get there?”

Why it works: Car dealers may advertise one car to get you to the lot and then avoid showing it to you so you buy a pricier one, says Philip Reed, senior consumer advice editor at Edmunds.com.

***

The scenario: You know what car you want, and you want to compare prices at different dealers.

You should: Send an email that says, “I’m looking for an out-the-door quote on the 2015.” Then specify the trim, options, and color.

Why it works: If you call around, dealers may try to draw you into the shop without giving you the info you are looking for. By specifying all the details and making sure to get a price that covers everything, you’ll be able to make apples-to-apples comparisons, says Joe Wiesenfelder, executive editor of Cars.com. And you’ll have neutralized a salesperson’s big advantage—the gift of gab.

Read next: 10 Life Hacks That Will Make You Richer

MONEY lifehacks

10 Life Hacks That Will Make You Richer

150302_HO_LifeHacks
Sarina Finkelstein (photo illustration)—Mark Anderson/Corbis (woman); Getty Images (buckle)

These clever shortcuts will help you earn more on the job and cut down on needless costs.

Picking up new skills as an adult can be tricky, especially when your energy and free time is precious. But prowess in different areas is not all created equal. Investing in certain abilities can get you big rewards for relatively little effort.

MONEY interviewed dozens of experts in different fields to find out which skills, tricks, and workarounds are most financially worthwhile. Here are 10 moves you can make without much preparation.

1. Master the meeting

The average pay bump from a promotion is about 7%, though it can be even more once you’re a manager, according to Mercer. But how do you get one?

“The meeting room is where we exert leadership and develop credibility,” says corporate trainer Dana Brownlee of Professionalism Matters. Don’t dominate—nudge the group toward concrete goals. If someone can’t let go of a point, try saying, “Good idea! I’m writing it down.” You’ve now freed a room of grateful co-workers to move on.

2. Lend a hand at work

Research by Adam Grant at the Wharton School has shown that successful people do more favors at work, but don’t be afraid to ask for tiny favors too. We may actually feel more warmly toward people after lending them a hand—our brains figure we must have done so because we like that person. It’s been called the Benjamin Franklin effect: The Founding Father recalled winning over a legislative rival after borrowing a book from him.

“Our attitudes often follow our behavior instead of vice versa,” says David McRaney, who writes about such psychological quirks in his book You Are Now Less Dumb.

3. Learn a language

It’s easier than ever to dip a toe into languages with free tools like Duolingo, a site and app that make learning like a game. If you then want to ramp things up, real-world classes run about $300 for 20 hours of instruction.

Invest your time and money wisely: The payoff is in less commonly studied languages. A Wharton/LECG Europe study found that speaking German translated into a higher wage premium than for second languages overall. Ambitious? There’s a big market for Mandarin.

4. Get techy

Computer-science grads earn $700,000 over the average B.A. holder in a career, but those with English and psych degrees aren’t out of luck: There are ways to use technology smarter—and get recognized for it—at all levels.

For example, if there’s any need to quantify your business’s activity, being the office Excel guru makes you valuable. Two skills to focus on: building charts (great for presentations) and pivot tables (to summarize lots of data). The ExcelIsFun YouTube channel is loaded with lessons.

Want to compete with true techies? Codecademy.com can get you started for free learning code for building websites. Expertise in Ruby on Rails—certification testing is $150—snags an average salary of $110,000, says data crunched by qz.com.

If all this sounds like too much work, at least Google better. Seriously. Say, for example, you need stats about a product’s market share: Use “OR” (in caps) to Google for different words that might capture the same thing (like “percent” and “proportion”). And check the image search results: The data you need may be in a chart someone has posted. Go to Google’s help center for more power tips.

5. Write better

A clear, unfussy writing style will get your ideas heard at work. (HR pros ranked writing second, behind only computer aptitude, among skills applicants most often lacked.) Harvard professor Steven Pinker, author of the new book The Sense of Style, gave us these tips for better writing:

Avoid fancy words you don’t need or understand. “Fulsome” (as in “fulsome praise”) does not mean full; it means insincere. If you use hoity-toity words to sound posh, you will look pompous and may say the opposite of what you mean.

Cut unnecessary words. John Kerry once said, “The President is desirous of trying to see how we can make our efforts in order to find a way to facilitate.” What he meant was, “The President wants to help.” Much better.

Revise. And better still, show it to someone. What’s clear to you may not be clear to someone else.

6. Learn social savvy

If you run a business or work in marketing, social media like Twitter seem like a great way to get your message out. But remember that users have zero interest in following companies that clutter their feed with ads. Use social to establish your expertise or spark ideas; then when people are in the market for what you sell, they’ll remember you.

Hannah Morgan, co-author of Social Networking for Business Success, explains that a good tweet is self-contained and has a discrete piece of information worth sharing. What works well is language like, “Baking cookies? Add eggs one at a time so you can mix in evenly. For more tips check out our Baking 101 guide.” Then add a link.

A less effective tweet is something like, “We’re having a sale on tins of our delicious chocolate chip cookies. $19.99 all day Friday” because it reads like an advertisement and is therefore is unlikely to be shared.

7. Take back your workday

If you get paid a flat salary, turning a 10-hour day into nine more-productive hours is like giving yourself an 11% hourly raise.

Try three key moves from former Fidelity president Bob Pozen, author of Extreme Productivity: First, handle each email just once. Reply, file, or trash—don’t come back to it later.

Second, hide that extra chair; you’ll discourage chatty co-workers from lingering. Finally, you might want to consider timing your breaks, since research shows your brain loses focus on a task after about 90 minutes.

8. Sell yourself

“Ten years ago job seekers would write a full-page cover letter,” says executive résumé writer Wendy Enelow. A better approach now is an email designed to cut through the electronic clutter.

Use the subject line to note your key selling points. Instead of “Director of sales position,” write “Director of Sales—10 Years of Exceeding Sales Quotas—MBA.” In the body of the email, spotlight a major accomplishment. Follow up with three big career wins in bullet points.

9. Learn to DIY

Some jobs always require a professional but, with a little prep, tasks like painting a room or replacing your car’s air filters can be a piece of cake—and save you a solid amount of money. A painting pro, for example, could easily charge $1,600 for a big job, vs. up to $400 in materials on your own.

Rich O’Neil of Masterwork Painting & Restoration in Woburn, Mass., explains that to get professional results you must dust surfaces and tape up edges and moldings you don’t want painted. Painting should go in two types of strokes: First apply a thin layer for coverage. Then paint over it to even and smooth.

You can replace your car’s air filters yourself every 12,000 miles on newer cars. You’ll save about $50 in labor costs, says Mike Forsythe of Haynes, an auto-repair guidebook publisher, and pay 25% less for the filter by getting it at a parts store. To change an engine filter, check the housing in the engine compartment; in most cars there’s a cover you can unlatch with your fingers. You’ll typically find the cabin filter inside the car, behind the glove box.

10. Get organized

Everyone hates paying a late fee just because of a forgotten reminder to pay a bill on time. And few tasks are as irritating as foraging for receipts from months and months ago.

The key to never losing track of important papers is to keep just one bin and make sure to empty your pockets and purse into it every night. Then set a regular date on your calendar to empty the bin and organize the receipts. “If you wait too long, you may not even remember your purchase,” says professional organizer Andrew Mellen.

If you find it hard to even check your calendar on a routine basis, pair a daily check with your morning coffee—or any other routine you already have.

MONEY Workplace

How to Deal When You’re Promoted Above Your Peers

Illustration by Mikey Burton

When a promotion kicks you out of the coffee klatch, you’ll need to keep your former peers from becoming your future critics.

Right after you celebrate that well-earned promotion, reality hits: You’re now the boss of people who had been your peers. “When you become a supervisor, the relationship structurally changes, whether you like it or not,” says Good Boss, Bad Boss author Robert Sutton, a Stanford University professor who studies organizational behavior.

Going forward, your work will be judged on your ability to lead people with whom you used to consort and complain. If that’s not enough pressure, you’re now at risk of being the one complained about. Make the transition seamless with these steps.

Meet One-on-One

Sit down with each person to discuss the change in leadership. “You’re in learning mode,” says Linda Hill, a Harvard Business School professor and co-author of Being the Boss. Ask staffers to share their short- and long-term goals, skills they’re building, and obstacles that get in the way of doing their jobs. You’ll convey respect and gain valuable info that can help you achieve buy-in.

Also, if you were promoted over a colleague, “address the elephant in the room” and alleviate worries about your ability to work well together, advises Atlanta social media strategist and job coach Miriam Salpeter.

Step Back Socially

You can be a great manager and preserve friendships by slightly altering your behaviors. Continue attending happy hour, for example, but stay for only one drink, suggests Hill. Allow your staff space to vent. “We all need to blow off steam sometimes,” says Katy Tynan, author of Survive Your Promotion! (Just make it clear to your people that if something is really bugging them, they can talk to you, she adds.)

Also, disconnect from your subordinates on all non-work-related social media. “Many times you’re doing people a favor, since it puts less pressure on what they can and can’t share on their profiles,” says Salpeter. Do let employees know before unfriending them, though, so that they don’t take it personally.

Prove You Don’t Play Favorites

Prepare to make—and to justify—difficult decisions, particularly regarding raises and promotions. To be seen as objective, try to grade everyone using the same metrics, and be sure people know what those metrics are, says Keith Murnighan, a professor at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

To show humility, solicit feedback from subordinates on your own performance, says Gentz Franz, a University of Illinois lecturer who studies job succession. “It’s incumbent upon managers,” he says, “to open the lines of communication if they want to create a collaborative work environment.”

MONEY Jobs

The 5 Best Jobs You’ve Never Heard Of

Medical Equipment Repair Technician
Sigrid Gombert—Getty Images

If you're itching for a career change in 2015, here are some fast-growing, high-paying options that have yet to hit the mainstream.

Good news, job seekers: employment opportunities look bright in 2015. Staffing levels are expected to rise 19%, according to ManpowerGroup’s annual Employment Outlook Survey. Robust hiring gains are forecast for the “usual suspects,” says Payscale.com’s vice president Tim Low—namely retail, healthcare, and technology. But peel back those broad categories, and you’ll uncover high demand for unique talents and skill sets and a bunch of new jobs you may not even know existed.

“As we shift away from conventional jobs and move forward into the information economy, there are a growing number of opportunities for workers to transfer skills in seemingly unrelated fields,” says Stephanie Thomas, researcher and program director at the Institute for Compensation Studies at Cornell University.

Additionally, job titles are becoming more diverse, says Scott Dobroski, career trends analyst at Glassdoor, an employer review website. “Employers are looking for innovative ways to do business and are therefore [allocating money] to brand-new positions,” he says.

So if you’re itching for a change in 2015, here are some ways to break into these high-paying, still-under-the-radar careers—all of which are growing at a rate far greater than the 11% national average.

1. If you’re an: executive assistant or medical administrator, consider becoming a… NUCLEAR MEDICINE TECHNOLOGIST

What it is: Don’t let the title scare you off; the position only calls for a degree from an accredited program, so no med school required. This health care professional operates specialized equipment including computed tomography (CT) scanners, gamma cameras, positron emission tomography (PET) scanners, and other imaging tools that physicians and surgeons use to diagnose conditions and plan treatments.

How your skills translate: Attention to detail and good interpersonal skills—already at the heart of your current job—are crucial. Nuclear medicine technologists must follow instructions to the letter when operating equipment; even a minor error can result in overexposure to radiation. A background in math and/or science is a plus.

Why it’s growing: “Jobs are developing rapidly at the intersection of health care and technology,” says John Reed, senior executive director at IT staffing firm Robert Half Technology.

Education requirements: 2-year associate’s degree and 1- to 4-year accreditation program. For more information on requirements, check out the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (SNMMI), or use this state-by-state map for a list of accredited programs in your region.

Average salary: $71,120

Projected job growth through 2022: 20%

2. If you’re a mechanic, handyman, or computer repairer, consider becoming a… MEDICAL EQUIPMENT REPAIRER

What it is: Someone who installs, maintains, and repairs patient care equipment. However, given the sensitive nature of medical technology, specialized repair skills are required. These can be obtained through an associate’s degree in biomedical equipment technology or engineering; workers who operate less-complicated equipment (e.g., hospital beds and electric wheelchairs), meanwhile, can typically learn entirely on the job.

How your skills translate: Troubleshooting, dexterity, analytical thinking, and technical expertise—skills already in your toolbox—make for an efficient medical equipment repairer.

Why it’s growing: The increasing demand for health care services assures rapid growth for this specialty.

Education requirements: Typically a 2-year degree in biomedical equipment technology or engineering. Go here for information about obtaining a certification for Biomedical Equipment Technician (BMET).

Average salary: $44,180

Projected job growth through 2022: 30%

3. If you’re an IT specialist, computer programmer, or Web developer, consider becoming a… DIGITAL RISK OFFICER

What it is: To prevent data breaches—and better protect sensitive client and customer information—employers are beefing up their cyber security forces. A digital risk officer proactively assesses risks and implements security measures.

Why it’s growing: Recent hacks at Sony, Target, and Home Depot have put more companies on high alert. “Regardless of industry or size, if you have sensitive client information, you have to look carefully at what your security threats are,” says Cornell’s Thomas.

How your skills translate: Your analytical mindset, computer savvy, and problem-solving skills apply to the core responsibility of a digital risk officer: outthinking cybercriminals.

Education requirements: 2- or 4-year degree in IT and digital analytics certification. You’ll likely start as an information security analyst and need to complete a risk assessment training program as well.

Average salary: $153,602 for a chief risk officer, according to Payscale estimates.

Projected job growth: The field is so new that specific data isn’t available, but by 2017, one-third of large employers with a digital component will employ a digital risk officer, reports IT research firm Gartner.

4. If you’re a nutritionist, rehabilitation counselor, or athletic trainer, consider becoming a… HEALTH-AND-WELLNESS EDUCATOR

What it is: Previously outsourced, many companies are now hiring in-house specialists to offer health-and-wellness advice and services, says Brie Reynolds, director of online content at FlexJobs.com, which saw a spike in job postings for this position. The educator works with employees individually to assess personal health issues and create strategies tailored to each person’s needs.

Why it’s growing. Health improvements made by employees not only curb insurance costs but also boost job satisfaction, a key ingredient to retaining talent. Some employers are tying financial incentives to health-and-wellness achievements—discounting health insurance premiums for employees who lose weight, quit smoking, or lower blood pressure, among other behavioral changes.

How your skills translate: Pure and simple, you’re a “people person.” Your ability to connect with individuals and motivate them to make behavioral changes will come in handy when promoting healthy living strategies to workers.

Education requirements: 4-year degree and health education specialist certification. The National Commission for Health Education Credentialing has information on requirements and eligibility.

Average salary: $62,280

Projected job growth through 2022: 21%

5. If you’re a management consultant, consider becoming an… INDUSTRIAL-ORGANIZATIONAL PSYCHOLOGIST

What it is: Companies hire industrial-organizational psychologists to improve work performance, job satisfaction, and skills training. This person is responsible for managing and developing a range of programs, including hiring systems, performance measurement, and health-and-safety policies.

How your skills translate: Your ability to assess an organization’s structural efficiency will serve you well in your new job. Like you, an industrial-organizational psychologist must work well with corporate clients to identify areas for improvement and increased profitability.

Why it’s growing: While not new, this lesser-known job tops the BLS’s list of the fastest-growing occupations. Chalk it up to its track record of success; surveys show the position effectively boosts work performance and improves employee retention rates.

Education requirements: Master’s degree. Check out Careers in Psychology for more information.

Average salary: $80,330

Projected job growth through 2022: 53%

Correction: The original version of this story misstated the equipment that nuclear medicine technologists can operate. They can operate CT and PET scanners but require additional certification to operate MRI equipment.

Read next: The Foolproof Way to Make Sure You Land a Big Raise This Year

 

MONEY Job market

How to Take Advantage of Your Boss’s Biggest Fear

empty office chair in shadows
Max Oppenheim—Getty Images

If the economy keeps expanding at its current rate, the war for talent will intensify. Here's how to turn bad news for employers into good news for your career in 2015.

Star performers, rejoice. This is your year. More than three-quarters of human resources executives polled recently by Challenger Gray & Christmas report that they are struggling to fill open positions—and 91% say that if the economy keeps expanding at its current rate, the war for talent will worsen. Unemployment is in fact expected to continue its slow creep downward in 2015, to 5.7% from 5.9% this September, according to the Philadelphia Federal Reserve’s most recent forecast.

That means bad news ahead for employers but good news for top producers, who will have real leverage in the coming year. Turnover costs are especially high for positions that are significant contributors to revenue—sometimes 200% of a worker’s salary. So it’s no wonder that 57% of the 4,700 companies surveyed in PayScale.com’s recent “Compensation Best Practices Report” cited keeping high-performing workers as a top business concern, up from 20% in 2010. “Just about every HR department should be discussing talent retention,” says David Card, director at the Center for Labor Economics at the University of California at Berkeley.

Here’s how you can turn your boss’s anxiety to your advantage.

Get more from your employer. Instead of waiting to discuss compensation at performance-review time (when you’ll have competition from co-workers), ask your boss to meet quarterly or biannually to talk career development, says Nancy Karas, an executive career coach with the Five O’Clock Club. Then, after completing a big project or closing a big sale, make your request, naming a specific number.

To determine your asking price, use PayScale.com and Glassdoor.com to gauge the average salary for your skill set and years of experience. Add 10% to 15% if you’re a top performer, says Ed Hunter, founder of Philadelphia executive coaching firm Life in Progress.

Highlight your contributions but also note what more you can offer. “Employers give raises based on how you’re going to perform in the future, not just what you’ve done,” says Oakland executive coach Marty Nemko.

Or polish your résumé. No room in the budget for a raise? Launch an external search, as your skills are likely needed elsewhere. Says Karas: “In 2015 top performers have the most to gain from changing jobs.”

Since many higher-level job openings are only announced internally, seek out insider info. If you don’t know people who work at your target com­panies, join professional groups on Linked­In, initiate conversation on industry trends, then ask certain people in the group to weigh in. After you’ve engaged someone, it’s kosher to message one-on-one and express interest in the firm.

Another way to capture employers’ attention: Offer to speak at an industry event, says Job Search Magic author Susan Whitcomb. From the podium, mention free additional materials you have (like a white paper you wrote) and say, “Share your business card with me afterward, and I’ll be sure you receive that resource.” That way you can follow up and weave into the conversation something like “What do you like about your company?” and “I’m always interested in learning about new opportunities.”

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MONEY

How to Compete for an Out-of-Town Job

illustration of station wagon pulling office desk
Mikey Burton

You can improve your chances of finding a new job by taking your search on the road, but you’ve got to be strategic in selling yourself.

Three out of four hiring managers recently surveyed by Challenger Gray & Christmas reported a shortage of local talent. So theo­ret­ically you could have better luck finding the job of your dreams if you’re willing and able to move.

Problem is, many companies are hesitant to hire out-of-towners because of concerns over relocation, money, and local knowledge. But you can put hiring managers at ease by preemptively addressing these three issues in your application:

How Willing You Are to Move

Transparency is crucial. “If a recruiter in Pittsburgh sees you’ve been working in L.A. for 10 years, they’ll want to know why you’re applying,” says Marcelle Yeager, president of Career Valet, a professional coaching firm.

Don’t skirt these issues or, worse, lie by using a local pal’s address. Instead, write beside your address that you would be eager to relocate to the area for the right career opportunity, recommends Jaime Klein, founder of Inspire Human Resources, a New York HR consulting firm.

What It Will Cost the Company

Hiring costs are top of mind for recruiters when evaluating long-distance applications. So pay your own way for an in-person interview if you can swing it, says Stefanie Wichansky, CEO at Randolph, N.J., management consulting and staffing firm Professional Resource Partners. A subtle approach: Indicate that you are frequently in the area and can make yourself available at the hiring manager’s convenience.

Definitely don’t bring up needing relocation assistance in your cover letter. “That makes your candidacy less attractive, as you’ll be a more expensive hire compared to the local competition,” says Wichansky. Wait to raise the issue until the company has determined that you’re the best candidate. “You’re in a better position to negotiate once you’ve proven the value you can bring to the organization,” she says.

How Well You Know the Area

Unless you have a skill set that’s unique or in high demand, you’re going to need to convince a hiring manager that you’re not ­hampered—and wouldn’t hamper the company—by your lack of knowledge of the local market, says Yeager.

One way to tap into the market from afar, besides following local news and blogs, is to join region-specific industry networking groups on LinkedIn. Start discussions to gain an insider’s perspective, then demonstrate this knowledge in your cover letter. An out-of-towner looking for work in commercial real estate, for example, might study neighborhoods and establish relationships with local developers to show he can hit the ground running.

 

MONEY job hunting

How to Ace Any Interview and Land the Job of Your Dreams

Handshake illustration
Anna Parini The in-person, one-on-one job interview is getting a new look.

Forget the traditional sit-down with a rep from HR. Nowadays companies are employing decidedly offbeat hiring techniques. To land the spot you want, be prepared for whatever tests come your way.

Planning your next big career move? Get ­going. Job openings climbed to 4.7 million in June, the highest level since 2001, reports the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And in a recent survey by Challenger Gray ­& Christmas, 77% of hiring managers re­ported trouble filling slots because of a talent shortage.

To succeed in this sunnier market, though, you need a firm grasp on today’s hiring process, one that may be far different from what you faced the last time you hit the circuit. For starters, businesses are going slow, spending an average of 23 days to fill a slot in 2013, vs. 12 days in 2010, according to employer review website Glassdoor. And many are replacing antiquated hiring methods with more offbeat ways to vet job seekers.

“Companies are finding traditional job interviews aren’t identifying the high-quality candidates they need,” says Parker McKenna of the Society for Human Resource Management. Numerous academic studies have unearthed flaws in the process. A 2013 one co-written by psychologist Jason Dana at the Yale School of Management found that many hiring managers are mistakenly overconfident in their ability to assess how well a candidate will perform through a one-on-one interview. To get an edge on your competition, you should prepare for these four types of tests.

The Video Chat

What to expect: Last year nearly one out of five job seekers sat through a video interview, more than double the number the year before, according to a survey by workforce consultants Right Management. Firms want to see your communication skills, says ­McKenna. Plus, recruiters can cast a wider net for candidates without the cost of flying applicants into the office, notes Paul Bailo, author of The Essential Digital Interview Handbook.

Since American Wedding Group, a Huntingdon Valley, Pa.–based provider of photographers, videographers, and disc jockeys, began video interviewing in May, the company has conducted more than 300 screenings. The firm used to interview candidates from across the country by phone. This new approach, says head of human resources Scott Mitchell, works better for a business that places a high value on professional appearance. “We want to be confident the candidate is someone we feel comfortable putting in front of our clients,” he says.

How to be ready: Most video interviews are via Skype, so make sure you have a professional-sounding username and profile photo. Then nail down the mechanics. “Don’t let technology get in the way of getting hired,” says Bailo. That means investing in quality gear instead of relying on your computer’s built-in microphone and fisheye camera. “If you want to get a job, you have to buy a suit,” he says. “If you want to nail a digital interview, you have to buy the right equipment.”

His picks: the Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920 ($100) and Blue Microphones Snowball sound kit ($90). To cut the risk of technical hiccups and a bad Internet connection, do a practice run with a friend an hour in advance.

As with an in-person interview, looks matter. So dress appropriately, head to toe (be ready to stand to adjust the camera). Sit opposite a window for the best lighting, and pick a backdrop that’s clutter-free; off-white is ideal.

During the interview, keep looking at the camera. “If your eyes are shifting around, it distracts from the content of your interview,” says Bailo, who recommends taping a script to the wall behind the camera so that you can hit on key points without having to look down or shuffle through notes.

The Group Session

What to expect: While some employers rely on group interviews to weed through a large pile of applicants, companies more commonly use them to survey a refined pool of potential hires for certain qualities.

You’re likely to be one of three to five candidates, says Dan Finnigan, CEO of the social recruiting platform Jobvite. Typically you’ll be tasked with a group exercise. At Taste of D.C., a culinary event-planning business, groups must work together to develop a marketing campaign, say, or make a presentation. Even beforehand, the company observes how candidates waiting outside the interview room interact in a casual setting, says CEO Steuart Martens.

Adrian Granzella Larssen, editor-in-chief of career advice website The Muse, points out that interviewers are looking for a very specific set of interpersonal skills, such as leadership, communication, and collaboration.

That’s what the Boston-based international tour operator Grand Circle is after when it gives groups a task to complete, such as building a vehicle to transport an egg. “We analyze how candidates react,” says senior vice president of human resources Nancy Lightbody. “We’re looking for natural leaders to emerge.”

How to be ready: No matter how tempting it may be to grab the spotlight, don’t. “Dominate the conversation, and you’ll be perceived as aggressive,” says Priscilla Claman, president of Boston coaching firm Career Strategies. Sit back, though, and you risk being overlooked.

Give others space to offer ideas and then build on what they say. (“Josie brings up a great point …”). “Having the ability to politely piggyback demonstrates you can collaborate and work well with others while taking a leadership role,” says Finnigan. (Letting someone else speak first gives you more time to craft your idea too.)

Being in the same room as your competition, though nerve-racking, may give you a feel for the atmos­phere at your future workplace. You’re getting a glimpse into the types of people the company likes. If the competition is cutthroat, employees may be as well.

The Panel Approach

What to expect: A third of employers put prospects in front of a group, Glassdoor reports. You’ll probably meet with three to five people, such as an HR rep, your prospective super­visor, a senior peer, and heads of departments you’d interact with daily. For employers a panel interview has several advantages. “It eliminates different people hearing different things in one-on-one interviews,” says Peter Cappelli, director at Wharton’s Center for Human Resources.

The insurer Kaiser Permanente asks finalists for midlevel management positions to present to a group. “It creates efficiency for both the candidate and the company,” says Jason Phillips, vice president of national recruitment and HR operations. “Many senior job seekers have a tight calendar.”

Another upside for you is the insight you can gain into the company culture. Pay attention to how panelists interact with one another; in a healthy environment co-workers are collaborative but also welcome and respect other points of view, says Finnigan.

How to be ready: To make it past a board, you’ll need everyone’s buy-in, says Washington, D.C., career counselor Karen Chopra. Contact your point person ahead of time to learn whom you’re meeting and roughly how long the interview will last (some run two to three hours). To give yourself a preview of the folks you’re facing, look up everyone’s profile on LinkedIn.

Introduce yourself to all the panelists and jot down the seating order; you can glance at the chart throughout the session so you can address each person by name. (Save it for writing your thank-you notes.)

Eye contact conveys confidence, says Chopra, so look directly at the person who poses the question, pass your eyes around the room as you answer, and circle back to the questioner as you’re wrapping up. Bring any mum panelists into the conversation, especially if there’s a chance silence means a closed mind. Posing a question about their divisions or clients also shows you’ve done your homework.

The High-Stakes Game

What to expect: Borrow your kid’s Xbox controller—you might need it for a job interview one day. Employers in a number of fields, including energy, consumer goods, and financial services, are starting to take a look at gaming technology to assess job candidates. Through custom-made videogames, companies can measure skills and personality traits that may be tough to pick up in person. “This is in the testing phase,” says veteran recruiter Mark Howorth. “But I do feel like it is about to take off.”

Take Knack’s Wasabi Waiter, a 10-minute game that has job seekers act as a sushi server at a virtual restaurant. Not only are your customer service skills tested, says Guy Halfteck, founder and CEO at the game developer, but “the game evaluates everything from your problem solving to critical thinking, logical reasoning, empathy, conscientiousness, and emotional intelligence.”

How to be ready: Gaming is in its infancy as a hiring tool, and how well the approach identifies ideal workers remains an open question. Nonetheless, get used to the technology. You can play Wasabi Waiter on Knack’s free mobile app, “What’s Your Knack?,” but don’t overthink your strategy: Your instincts are what interest employers, says Halfteck. When you’re finished, though, get back to working on your in-person interview skills. Odds are the last leg of the hiring process will be a face-to-face one.

MONEY Careers

Good Ways to Deal With Bad Bosses

Micromanaging boss puppeteer
James Woodson—Getty Images

Your future advancement depends on your ability to manage the crazies above you.

The top reason people quit their jobs, according to a recent Gallup poll? A bad immediate supervisor. Bully for those who can—and want to—find another position elsewhere, but if you otherwise like the job or need it as a steppingstone, you’ll have to learn to live with that subpar superior. The right coping strategy depends on what kind of lousy your leader is.

The Micromanager

Known for: Hovering. Checking your work. Sometimes redoing it.

How to cope: Work on building trust, which is the micromanager’s Achilles’ heel. Besides making sure your work is A+-worthy, put your boss on a schedule for when she can expect status reports, says Brad Karsh, president of professional training company JB Training Solutions. Start with daily updates, then ask for permission to shift to weekly: “If your in-box is crashing from all these memos, let me know. I’d be happy to start checking in on Fridays.”

The Passive-Aggressive

Known for: Praising you in private, then slamming your ideas in public.

How to cope: “The onus is on you to learn what’s going on inside his head,” says Lynn Taylor, author of Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant. To elicit honest feedback, appeal to the person’s expertise, says Mitchell Kusy, an Antioch University professor who studies management styles. For example, “I got the sense you didn’t like my idea. Would you mind next time sharing your constructive criticism in advance? It would really help me improve.”

The Praise Thief

Known for: Stealing credit for your work and ideas.

How to cope: Take ownership by saying, “I noticed that the project I developed has taken off with the execs. I’d love to be included in those conversations.” Still being left out? Start sending big-idea emails to your boss and your boss’s boss, saying that you want to get input from both of them, suggests Karsh.

The Hands-Off Harry

Known for: Being so laissez-faire it’s a problem. “You might be working on the wrong things, only to find out later,” says Kathleen Stinnett, founder of leadership consulting firm FutureLaunch.

How to cope: When starting a project, ask your supervisor for specifics on what she’s looking for, then send an email recapping the conversation. You’ll be on the same page and have it on record in the event that there’s a dispute later.

The Narcissist

Known for: Making you work late, calling you on vacation, and generally stealing your personal life. “His time will always be more valuable than yours,” says Gary Namie, co-author of The Bully at Work.

How to cope: Mind the ego. “Narcissists think they’re perfect and hate criticism,” says Jack Zenger, CEO of leadership consultancy Zenger Folkman. So cushion the request to reclaim your life with a compliment. “I admire your commitment to excellence and want to do the best job possible, but my work suffers when I’m fatigued. I need my weekends to recuperate.” Says Namie: “You either challenge the boss or dig your own grave.”

MONEY Small Business

How To Get Buzz for Your New Biz

Miguel Montaner

Three simple ways to make your startup part of the conversation.

Breaking into a crowded market? “Not only can press put you on the map, it can put you at the head of the class,” says Paul Krupin of Direct Contact PR in Kennewick, Wash.  The scoop on how to get media attention

1. Establish Relationships

Reach out to reporters and bloggers who cover your type of product or service. Start a dia­logue by commenting on an article the person wrote or by tweeting him a question. (If you’re an app creator: “Guesses on the iPhone 6 release date @reporter]?”)

2. Beef Up the Press Release

“Words are boring,” says Krupin. He suggests making a 30-second video on the inspiration for your business or an infographic on an industry trend to send to your new contacts along with the release.

3. Riff off Headlines

When relevant news breaks, tweet about it in real time or write a quick blog post including trending search terms (use Google Analytics to find them). That way you’ll pop up on Google News and in searches, says David Meerman Scott, author of The New Rules of Marketing & PR. You may even be contacted by a reporter to comment.

 

MONEY Careers

4 Ways to Find an Unlisted Job

Magnifying glass looking at classifieds
Mikey Burton

With a little digging, you can make sure you’re in the know when a sweet office opens up at your dream employer.

Your next job probably won’t be advertised. When it comes to filling positions at the director level and up, hiring managers prefer to target their ideal candidates rather than sift through applicant résumés. But don’t just count on a call from a recruiter to pluck you from the ranks. “The job seeker who waits to be tapped on the shoulder might be waiting awhile,” says Tonushree Mondal of HR consulting firm Mercer. Take these steps to find the job, since it may not find you.

Talk to the Top Recruiters

Higher-up HR reps tend to be gate- keepers for higher-level positions, so identify recruiters with sway at the businesses you admire. Can’t determine the right person via LinkedIn? Scour the employer’s career page for the most senior posting in your area and reach out to the person listed, says Kurt Kraeger, New York managing director at Robert Walters recruitment firm. Send a note saying, “I submitted my résumé via normal channels but wanted to get in touch directly about my interest.” Stay on the person’s radar with a periodic email. “They may not look at it, but they’ll remember your name,” says Fred Coon, CEO at executive search firm Stewart Cooper & Coon.

Make a Friend on the Inside

Since upper-level jobs are often revealed only internally, it can pay to establish relationships with peers at companies on your wish list, says Edina, Minn., executive career coach George Dow. Use Linked­In to find a second-degree connection, then request an introduction from your mutual pal. Explain that you’d like to learn about what the company looks for in candidates. Once trust is established, ask your confidant for the favor of letting you know of openings. (“Forget about saying, ‘Can you help me get a job?’ or the person will feel used,” warns Coon.) Offer something in return, like an intro to influencers in your network.

Impress the C-suite Crowd

For you to be identified as a candidate, “companies need to see that you’re a known commodity,” says Job Search Magic author Susan Whitcomb. That means going beyond attending industry events. To capture the attention of those with hire power, you must steal the spotlight. Whitcomb suggests getting on the speaking docket at a trade conference or forming a cross-industry group on a trend in your field.

Get the Boss’s Buy-in

Want to climb at your current ­company? Ask the boss for a boost: “Under your direction I’ve learned so much and feel ready to take on a higher role. Can you help me find new opportunities here?” If that’s uncomfortable, schedule a visit with the head of HR. “Say you’re interested in moving up, and why,” says Coon. Also, find a mole in finance, since filling jobs often requires budget sign off. Adds Coon: “It’s detective work, pure and simple.”

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