TIME Careers & Workplace

7 Surefire Ways to Write the Perfect Email Subject Line

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Doing it right is not as obvious as it might seem

No matter how well an unsolicited email is crafted, the cold reality is that it’s likely to end up in the recipient’s trash folder, unread, if the subject line falls flat. We asked executives who receive hundreds of emails on a daily basis how they decide — at a glance — which ones they deem worth a few seconds of their time to open and skim. Here’s what to put in your email subject lines to elevate them to click-worthy status.

A personal reference. “Jim Smith suggested I contact you” — this is the gold standard for unsolicited emails. Mentioning a mutual acquaintance the recipient knows and respects paves the way for you. Yes, this requires that you have a connection in common, so it’s not the easiest threshold to cross. But some busy execs suggest it’s worth the trouble to seek one out, because that’s the only prayer your email has of making contact with them.

“The people you most want to reach are the people who, by default, delete emails,” says Seth Godin, an author, entrepreneur and blogger who maintains that a mutual reference is the only way to crack a top prospect’s inbox.

A specific reference to them. “Ideally, it mentions my company, products or projects, proving that it’s actually specifically meant for me rather than a generic blast,” says Chris Anderson, the former editor-in-chief of Wired magazine who went on to lead tech startup 3D Robotics. “[Make it] something specific and relevant to what I do.”

An introduction to you. “When cold contacting someone I like to specify who I am in the subject line,” says Cal Newport, a Georgetown University assistant professor of computer science and author of four books about excelling at school and work. “For example, a common subject line of mine is ‘a note from a Georgetown professor,’” he says.

A reminder that you’ve met. Even if you’ve met the recipient before, a nudge to refresh their memory can keep you out of the trash folder, especially if it was a fleeting encounter or a long time ago. “I tend to steer people away from ‘great to meet you’ or ‘follow up’ email titles,” says Deborah Asseraf founder of experiental marketing company Popcorn Productions. “Instead, it should be ‘met you at event x’ — something that’s clear, concise and gets the intention of the writer across.”

What you want. “I appreciate a subject line that specifies what action if any is being asked from me,” Newport says. “This calibrates my expectations for an email and makes it less daunting.” If you’re looking for a data point, email address or some other request, say so upfront rather than making the recipient wade through your email looking for it.

Pertinent details. “In an age when we are all so strapped for time and used to text messages, I like to view my subject lines as a text message,” says LisaMarie Dias, who owns a new media marketing company. This works especially well if you want to remind somebody of an upcoming event or appointment, she says. “Even if they don’t open the email… they have seen the full reminder.”

Plain English. Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association, says “obviously commercial emails, spam or boring headlines” go straight into his trash folder. If your email subject sounds like a sales pitch, is stuffed with jargon or overwrought prose, your recipient isn’t going to take the time to parse your message — they’re just going to ignore it.

TIME Careers & Workplace

10 Job Search Tricks That Will Change Everything You’ve Been Doing

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Invaluable advice from the pros

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This post is in partnership with The Muse. The article below was originally published on The Muse.

Finding the right job opportunities—and standing out in a competitive market—is tough. Fortunately, there are plenty of tools and hacks out there that are built to help you find your dream job, more quickly and easily than ever.

From an app that helps you optimize your resume for applicant tracking systems to a site that’ll keep all your applications in order, here are 10 tools and tips you’ve probably never heard about that can give your job search a serious boost.

1. Create a Twitter Job Search List to Track Job Listings From Thousands of Sources

Every day, recruiters are tweeting jobs they need to interview candidates for—making Twitter a seriously untapped resource for job seekers. To make sure you’re in the know about these leads, create a Twitter job search list that includes recruiters, hiring managers, company hiring handles, and job search websites. Then, review their tweets daily for potential opportunities.

2. Use JibberJobber to Keep Track of Information You Collect During Your Job Search

It’s easy to get disorganized during a job hunt. So, use a free tool such asJibberJobber to keep tabs on everything that’s going on. You can track the companies that you apply to, note each specific job that you apply for, and log the status of each application (date of first interview, date thank you letter sent, and so on).

3. Use LinkedIn Resume Builder to Create an Updated Resume Fast

If you’re like me, your LinkedIn profile is much more up to date than your actual resume. But if you need to update your resume fast for an available opportunity, don’t spend hours on your computer. Instead, export your LinkedIn profile into a classy looking resume using LinkedIn’s Resume Builder.

4. Put a Short and Unique LinkedIn URL on Your Resume to Stand Out to Recruiters

Instead of using the URL that LinkedIn assigns you with letters and numbers, customize it so it contains your name and the career field or job title you want to go into. (You can do this by clicking “edit profile” and clicking “edit” next to your LinkedIn URL.) This extra keyword will help when recruiters are searching for you, and sticking the URL on your resume will encourage recruiters to head to LinkedIn to learn more about you.

5. Use Resunate to See How Your Resume Scores on an Applicant Tracking System

Sick of not knowing if a human being is even reviewing the resume you worked so hard on? Resunate is web-based software that shows you how your resume would score on the applicant tracking system—and helps you improve it for every job you apply for.

6. Use SocialMention to Manage Your Online Reputation

While job searching, it’s important to keep your reputation crystal clear. To monitor what’s being said about you online, check out Social Mention, a social media search and analysis platform that aggregates user-generated content from across the universe into a single stream of information. It allows you to easily track and measure what people are saying about you across the web’s social media landscape in real-time.

7. Use LinkedIn Groups to Contact Someone You Don’t Have an Email For

If you want to contact someone at your dream company but can’t find the right contact information anywhere, check out the person’s public LinkedIn profile and see what groups he or she is part of. Then, join the group where you share a mutual interest. Once you are in the same group, you can send a message through LinkedIn. Just make sure you include something about your common interest in your message—it’ll make you seem like a networker, not a stalker.

8. Use Insightly to Manage and Organize Business Cards You Collect

Insightly is a free CRM system that helps you manage your key contacts and relationships—and it’s a great tool for your job search. After you meet someone, put his or her contact information in this system, and write down important information you learned from your conversation. Then, create a reminder in the system to follow up on a certain date in the future.

9. Use Contactually to Create an Automatic Follow-up System

A big job search mistake is to only focus on meeting new people and forgetting about the people you already know. In fact, it’s extremely important to keep up with your current relationships! Contactually helps you consistently reengage with the most important people in your network by sending you automatic reminders to email people you haven’t talked to in a while.

10. Update Your LinkedIn Status Daily to Stay Top of Mind

This will make sure that you’ll stay on the radar of everyone you know—read: that they’ll remember you when an available opportunity opens up. How to do this without being annoying? Share an article, a quote, or a project you’re working on. Other ways of showing up in the LinkedIn news feed are by getting recommended, by adding a new connection, by joining a group, or by changing your photo.
Put these simple “hacks” into practice, and you’ll quickly see an improvement in your job search results. Meaning: You’ll land that dream job oh-so-much faster.

TIME Careers & Workplace

The Hardest Job Interview Question—And How to Answer It

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Here's how to start dealing with the dreaded query

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This post is in partnership with The Muse. The article below was originally published on The Muse.

Like the dreaded “Tell me about yourself,” the question, “Why are you interested in this position?” is sure to come up in an interview.

And, even if it doesn’t, if you want the job you should get this sentiment across regardless. So, really, there’s no way around figuring out how to string together a coherent thought about why this being in this position makes sense for you (and for the company).

Luckily, there’s actually a pretty simple way to go about answering this question effectively without having to go through every big moment or transition in your life and career that’s brought you to this interview. Here’s a smart framework for how you should structure your answer.

Step 1: Express Enthusiasm for the Company

First things first, this is an excellent opportunity for you to show off what you know about the company. You can talk all day about how excited you are about joining the team, but nothing will trump actually knowing a thing or two about the place you’re interviewing with. So, to prepare, spend some time honing in on what you know about the company and select a few key factors to incorporate into your pitch for why you’re a good fit.

Say you’re interviewing for a small quantitative asset management company. The start of your answer might sound something like this:

The first thing that caught my eye when I saw the position posted was definitely that it was at EFG Advisers. I know that you build a lot of your tools in-house, the team is small, and you run a variety of long- and short-term strategies in the U.S. equities markets using a quantitative approach.

Especially with smaller companies, it’s always impressive when a candidate knows a thing or two about what goes on at the company. And the best thing about this is you rarely have to go beyond reviewing the company website or having a quick conversation with a current or past employee to learn enough to sound like you’ve been following the company for a while.

Step 2: Align Your Skills and Experiences With the Role

Next, you want to sell why, exactly, you’re right for the role. There are two ways you can do this: You can either focus more on your experiences (what you’ve done before that brings you to this point) or your skills (especially helpful if you’re pivoting positions or industries).

Try to pinpoint what the main part of the role entails, plus a couple of the “desired skills” in the job description, and make sure you speak to that. Follow up your introduction to how excited you are about the company with why you’re a good fit:

But the part that really spoke to me about this position was the chance to combine both the programming skills I gained from being a senior software engineer and my knack for quantitative analysis in a position that actively lets me engage with my growing interest in investing and portfolio management.

Keep it short—you’ll have plenty of opportunities to talk about how you got your skills or relevant stories throughout the interview—and just focus on highlighting a couple key relevant abilities or experiences for the position.

Step 3: Connect to Your Career Trajectory

Finally, you want to show that the position makes sense for where you’re going in your career. Ideally, you won’t give the impression that you’re just using the position as a stepping stone. Show that you’ll be around for the long haul, and your interviewer will feel more comfortable investing in you:

I’ve been interested in switching to finance for a while now and have been actively managing my own personal portfolio for a few years. Joining a quant shop makes sense to me because I think it’s one of the few places where I’ll still be able to use my technical skills and spend my day thinking about finance. I’m really excited to learn more and see how I’ll be able to contribute the firm.

Of course, you don’t have to state specifically that you see yourself in the position for a long time. Just show that you’ve given some thought to how the job makes sense for you now and that it continues to make sense for the foreseeable future.
String these three components together, and you have a response that will impress on three fronts: your knowledge and enthusiasm for the company, your relevant skills, and your general fit with the position. Plus, this framework has the added benefit of not stopping the flow of the conversation the way going through your entire life story would.

TIME

18 Ways to Send the Right Message With Body Language

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Use nonverbal communication to your advantage

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This post is in partnership with Inc., which offers useful advice, resources and insights to entrepreneurs and business owners. The article below was originally published at Inc.com.

In addition, it’s especially important to make a good first impression. Why? Because within the first few minutes of meeting someone, we are already making decisions about what the other person’s intentions are, and whether or not the person is credible and someone we want to do business with.

Therefore, the way you present yourself–especially the way you communicate nonverbally in those first few crucial minutes after meeting someone new–could make or break what could potentially be a very important business relationship.

Here are 18 ways you can use your body language to communicate your credibility and intentions in a way that will set you up for success every time.

Positive body

1. Begin with your posture–back straight but not rigid, and shoulders relaxed so you don’t look too uptight.

2. Align your body with the person you’re talking to–this shows you’re engaged.

3. Keep your legs apart a bit instead of crossed–this demonstrates that you’re relaxed, and research shows that you retain more information when you keep your legs uncrossed.

4. Lean in a bit–this shows focus and that you really are listening.

5. Mirror the body language you are observing, showing you are in agreement and that you like–or are sincerely trying to like–the person you are with.

Positive arms and hands

6. Keep your arms relaxed at your sides, showing you are open to what someone else is communicating, and as with your legs, keep your arms uncrossed in order to absorb more of what’s going on.

7. Use your hands to gesture when you speak–this improves your credibility with the listener. In addition, there is evidence that gesturing with your hands while speaking improves your thinking processes.

8. Always remember to greet others with a firm handshake–but not too firm. A firm handshake is probably one of the most important body language moves, because it sets the tone for the entire conversation. Who wants to shake hands and then have a conversation with a wet noodle?

9. Be aware of different cultural greetings and closures prior to your meeting.

Positive head

10. With appropriate nods and genuine smiles, you are showing the speaker that you understand, agree, and are listening to his or her opinions.

11. Laughter is always a great way to lighten the mood when used appropriately, and once again, it shows you’re listening.

12. Keep good eye contact by looking the person in the eye when he or she is communicating. Keep eye contact going when you speak, because this shows you are interested in the conversation. Watch your eye contact, though–if you don’t take breaks to contemplate your next answer, your eye contact could be viewed as staring (translation: aggressive or creepy).

13. Beware of blinking too much. Rapid blinking could communicate that you are feeling uncomfortable with the current conversation.

14. Mirror the other person’s facial expressions, because once again, this demonstrates that you are in agreement and like–or are making an effort to like–the other person.

15. Monitor your voice. Keep it low, and don’t end every sentence as if it’s a question. Take a deep breath and speak slowly and clearly.

The little extras

16. During your meeting, take notes. This will demonstrate that you are engaged and care about what the other person is saying, but remember to make eye contact regularly so the speaker knows you’re still with him or her.

17. Watch the body language of others, as they may be communicating to you through their body language that they would like to conclude the meeting. People are much more likely to engage you in future conversations if you observe and act on their body language cues.

18. End the meeting with a firm handshake and eye contact, showing you enjoyed your time and hope to meet again.

TIME Companies

Amazon to Add 80,000 Seasonal Jobs During the Holidays

That's a 14% increase over last year

Amazon has announced plans to add 80,000 seasonal jobs across the U.S. to help meet the growing customer demand for orders during the holidays.

That’s a 14% increase over the 70,000 seasonal jobs the company created last year, CNET reports, which was already a 40% increase over the previous year. The e-commerce giant currently has 50 fulfillment centers and plans to have more than 15 sortation centers by the end of the year.

Mike Roth, vice president of Amazon’s North America operations, said the company expects many of the new hires to transition into full-time regular employees, as has been the case this year with 10,000 seasonal jobs.

MONEY job hunting

The 7 Social Media Mistakes Most Likely to Cost You a Job

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Dado Ruvic—Reuters

Jobvite's latest social recruiting poll shows exactly what hiring managers are looking for when they check your Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter accounts.

Your Facebook postings might win over your friends—but they could also cost you a job, a new study finds.

Recruiting platform Jobvite has released the 2014 edition of its annual Social Recruiting Survey, and the results might be disconcerting to those who tweet first and ask questions later. The data shows 93% of hiring managers will review a candidate’s social profile before making a hiring decision.

And that review matters: 55% have reconsidered a candidate based on what they find, with most (61%) of those double-takes being negative.

According to respondents, the worst thing you can do is make any kind of references to illegal drugs. That should probably be common sense—but in case it’s not, know that 83% of recruiters say doing so is a strong turn off. (Perhaps more interesting: 2% of hiring managers think it’s a positive.) Also on the “obviously don’t do this” list are “sexual posts,” which 70% of recruiters say will count against you (only 1% are fans). Two thirds told Jobvite that posts including profanity reflected poorly; over half didn’t like posts on guns, and 44% saw posts about alcohol as concerning.

“Okay,” you say, “but I keep my nose—and my posts—clean, and I wouldn’t think of making any of the 10 stupidest social media blunders MONEY recently wrote about. So what have I got to worry about?”

Well, you might want to take another read of what you’ve written: 66% of hiring managers said they would hold poor spelling and grammar against candidates.

You might also want to consider keeping your political affiliation to yourself, since slightly over 1 in 6 recruiters said that was a potential negative.

And hey, while you’re revising your LinkedIn profile, polish your halo a little: Jobvite’s survey said that information about volunteering or donations to charity left 65% of recruiters walking away with a positive impression.

The survey also showed what other positive qualities recruiters are seeking on social—although the results aren’t that surprising. Respondents said they try to determine things like professional experience, mutual connections, examples of previous work, and cultural fit.

The study also lends some insight into how recruiters use different social networks. LinkedIn is clearly the king of the hill—79% of respondents say they have hired through the network, vs. 26% through Facebook and 14% through Twitter. Nearly all hiring managers will use LinkedIn for every step of the recruitment process, including searching for candidates, getting in contact, and vetting them pre-interview.

In contrast, Facebook is primarily used for showcasing the employer’s brand and getting employees to refer their friends. About two-thirds of recruiters also use the network to vet candidates before or after an interview. Twitter appears to be the platform least used by hiring managers, and is used similarly to Facebook, but with less of an emphasis on candidate vetting.

No matter what the platform, however, the takeaway for workers is clear: Best be vigilant not to post anything you wouldn’t mind an employer or potential employer seeing. Make sure to check your Facebook privacy settings, but don’t depend on them because they’re known to change frequently.

And remember, just because your social media postings haven’t hurt you yet, doesn’t mean they won’t. When MONEY’s Susie Poppick talked to Alison Green, founder of AskAManager.org, she had a simple message to those unconcerned about their online presence: “To people who don’t lock down their accounts because ‘it’s never been a problem,’ I say, you don’t know whether that’s true.”

Read next: 10 Job Skills You’ll Need in 2020

TIME Careers & Workplace

10 Job Skills You’ll Need in 2020

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Buena Vista Images—Getty Images

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This post is in partnership with The Muse. The article below was originally published on The Muse.

The world of work—and the world in general—is changing. People are living longer, new technologies are emerging, and we’ve never been more globally connected. That means the skills we use now in the workplace are not necessarily the skills we’ll need in the future.

To get a sense of what skills you might want to start investing your time into developing, check out the infographic below. (Note: It might sound like 2020 is really far into the future, but it’s actually only about five years away.)

Important Work Skills for 2020

Infographic courtesy of Top10OnlineColleges.org.

TIME Careers & Workplace

10 Most Lavish Job Perks in Silicon Valley

General Views Inside Zynga Inc. Headquarters
Zynga Inc. employees eat lunch at the company's headquarters in San Francisco, California. Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

Living the dream with free booze, ball pits and helicopter rides

Everyone knows by now that tech workers in Silicon Valley get lavish perks such as round-the-clock free food and unlimited vacation days. But as competition to recruit and retain the world’s best software engineers has increased, so has the quality of the benefits. Case in point: Apple and Facebook will soon pay for female employees to have their eggs frozen. The procedure usually costs at least $10,000, according to NBC News, but apparently that’s a cost tech giants are willing to pay in order to attract top female talent.

There are plenty of more unusual perks to go around in the Valley, though. Here’s a look at 9 other real job benefits you can consider bringing up at your next performance review.

Nap Pods – Anyone who’s ever gotten caught dozing at their desk would appreciate these comfortable reclining seats that typically feature a spherical cover to help the user block out external stimuli. The pods are a mainstay at Google, among other companies.

Bike Repair Shop – Access to free bikes is common on the sprawling campuses of Silicon Valley’s biggest companies. Facebook even offers a bike repair shop where employees can bring their own vehicles for a fix-up.

Exercise Classes – Beyond having gyms on-site, many tech companies regularly offer free yoga classes. Fitbit has free kickboxing and zumba classes, and the IT firm ThousandEyes offers free massages every other week.

Booze – A San Francisco startup called Hipster was offering new employees a year’s supply of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer at one point. Though Hipster now seems to be defunct, cloud storage service Dropbox is well known for its Whiskey Fridays.

Helicopter Rides – Security camera company Dropcam offers every employee a voucher for a free helicopter ride with friends. Even wackier—the chopper is flown by Greg Duffy, Dropcam’s CEO.

Barbershop – For those in need of a fresh cut, Facebook has a barbershop on-site to meet all hair care needs.

Car Rentals – Google employees can rent electric cars on the company’s main campus for the day to run errands.

Arcades – Forget foosball—some companies have entire arcades to help employees goof off from time to time. At Eventbrite, a new arcade game is placed in the office once a month, while Facebook’s gaming room features both traditional arcade cabinets and more eleaborate gaming rigs. Other perks that help employees embrace their inner child include Facebook’s candy shop and Google’s ball pit.

Concierge Service – Because Google would rather have their employees writing code than running errands, the company offers a concierge service that will do things like help organize a dinner party or plan a home improvement project.

 

MONEY job hunting

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

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

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 Jobs

Why Low Job and Wage Growth is Worse Than Rising Inflation

Hot air balloons floating higher and higher
Jon Larson—Getty Images

As the economy picks up steam, and employers add more workers, investors say that inflation is their biggest impediment to saving. Here’s why they’re wrong.

As the economy added another 248,000 jobs in September, pushing the unemployment rate to a post-recession low of 5.9%, investors are feeling more confident.

In fact, investors are more optimistic than they’ve been since the recession, per a recent Wells Fargo/Gallup survey which measured the mood of those with more than $10,000 in investable assets. Of course the so-called Investor and Retirement Optimism Index is still only at around half the levels of the 12-year average before the 2008 recession. Investors may be more sanguine than three months ago, but that doesn’t mean they think the economy is going gangbusters.

Nevertheless, there was one particularly interesting data point in the survey: “Half of investors (51%) think the pressure on American families’ ability to save is due to rising prices caused by inflation.” Meanwhile only 37% said the pressure was inflicted by stagnant wage growth.

Which is strange.

What inflation?

If you look at the Federal Reserve’s preferred measure of core inflation (which strips out volatile energy and food prices), prices have risen around or below the Fed’s stated 2%-target since the recession.

The Consumer Price Index, a gauge of inflation released by the Labor Department, actually fell on a monthly basis in August for the first time in more than a year, and only grew at an annual rate of 1.7% since this time last year.

Proclamations of rising inflation ever since the Federal Reserve started buying bonds and lowering interest rates in response to the recession have yet to materialize. And those advanced economies that did raise interest rates a few years ago (like Sweden), have come close to deflation.

Meanwhile wages aren’t growing at all. Average hourly earnings in August rose 2.1% versus the same period last year, and the growth rate has been stuck at around 2% since the recovery. The same is true for the employment cost index, which measures fringe benefits in addition to salaries. Ten years ago the index increased by 3.8%.

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St. Louis Federal Reserve

 

While the unemployment rate has fallen considerably this year, other gauges of jobs are still troubling. Long-term unemployment has tumbled since its post-recession peak in 2010, but there are still almost 3 million people who’ve been unemployed for 27 weeks or longer. If you include workers who’ve recently stopped looking for a job and those working part-time when they’d rather be full time, the unemployment rate is 12%, more than four percentage points above the pre-recession level.

The Fed has implemented an easy monetary policy in order to attack this problem. “The Fed is keeping interest rates low as long as they can and maintaining very loose policy in support of jobs,” says USAA Investments’s chief investment officer Bernie Williams. “They will only tighten up with great reluctance.”

Pick your poison: stronger wages or rising inflation?

In a battle between pushing wages higher and the risk of inflation, the Fed is willing to err on the side of rising wages, says Williams.

BMO senior investment strategist Brent Schutte agrees. “As a society, you decide what is good. Economics is a choice between two things. We’ve clearly decided that higher inflation and rising wages is a good thing.”

Despite years of effort, though, the Fed hasn’t been able to bring back rising wages.

If you’re still unconvinced that a lack of salary increase and slack in the labor market should be more of a concern to your finances than the threat of inflation, check out new research by former Bank of England member David Blanchflower.

Along with three other co-writers, Blanchflower recently published a study titled, “The Happiness Trade-Off between Unemployment and Inflation.”

The researchers found that unemployment actually has a more pernicious effect on happiness than inflation. “Our estimates with European data imply that a 1 percentage point increase in the unemployment rate lowers well-being by more than five times as much as a 1 percentage point increase in the inflation rate.”

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Blanchflower said, “Unemployment hurts more than inflation does.”

As the economy gently improves, and people start going back to work, the hope is that wages will start to rise. Inflation might then rise above the Fed’s 2% target, and Yellen and Co. may raise rates in effort to cool off the economy. But we’re not there yet. And investors, for the sake of their wallets and psychology, would do well to remember that.

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