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"Can I Wear My Nose Ring to the Interview?" takes readers step-by-step through a process that was always tough, but is today especially challenging. Begin the search with a professional mind-set-get organized, and set yourself up with business cards, a respectable e-mail address, and a working cell phone. The importance of networking and the rule of three-try to make three e-mails or phone calls a day, but never more than that. The "elevator speech"-hone your pitch to the length of an elevator ride and be prepared to use it at the most unexpected times. The art of writing cringe-free cover letters and killer resumes-from timelines, hooks, and grammatical do's and don'ts to why you should never use the phrase "References available upon request," never include your GPA, and never, ever make a typo. How to dress for an interview, including why to put on your business clothes when interviewing at home, over the phone. Things to be honest about: citizenship and past salary range. And things not to say: "I want this job because I need health insurance."
Then once you're in, how to negotiate salary, what to expect in a review, and basic first job common sense: take initiative, be humble and helpful, never use your boss as a confidant, and always say "I'll find out" instead of "I don't know." Now you're on your way.
Required reading for recent grads
Can I Wear My Nose Ring to the Interview? A Crash Course in Finding, Landing, and Keeping Your First Real Job by Ellen Gordon Reeves is designed to answer any and all real-life questions of the newly employable. Crash course though it may be, the book still demands readers take the time to get organized, set a timeline and plan a strategy. Strategies include informational interviews, formal and informal networking queries and, of course, the creation of pitch-perfect cover letters and résumés. The many realistic models for good and bad examples of the latter are especially helpful. Also great is the section on interviewing, where examples and what-ifs cover virtually every situation that might crop up. But Reeves' advice does not end with the job offer: a whole chapter is dedicated to becoming a good employee and colleague. (And by they way, the answer to the nose ring question is yes, if you plan on wearing it to work. Discretion and disclosure are a delicate balance.)