Reference Checks

February 23, 2015 @ 4:03 pm posted by Ummu Bradley Thomas

Never list a reference that you have not verified. I once interviewed a person that I thought was excellent until I telephoned that person’s references. None of the references call me back. One of the references said “Are you serious?” The point is that you should know whether person will be a positive or negative reference.

Before placing down your 3-4 references, contact the person and ask the following:

1) Do you remember me when I work for you in 2005?
2) Did you have a good experience working with me?
3) Would you feel comfortable providing a reference for me?
In fact, you may want to take it a step further and have a friend or family member contact them from an unlisted number to do a mock reference check if you are still unsure about the person. Reference checks typically involve the following questions:

  • Please verify that the applicant was employed at your company from ___ to ___.
    • Note: These dates should match the dates on your resume or curriculum vitae.)
  • What was this person’s position and duties with your company?
    • Note: Do not inflate your job title. If you were a secretary, that does not make you a supervisor. However, you can say or list administrative assistant if you were a secretary or legal assistant if you were a paralegal. Note whether the position was volunteer.)
  • What strengths did this person bring to the position?
  • What were the person’s duties?
  • Was this person prompt at reporting to work?
  • Why did or does this person want to leave your employment?
  • How well did this person get along with others?
  • Did this person display a professional attitude?
  • Would you re-employ this person?
  • What else should we be aware of as we review this applicant for a position here?

On average, most companies request 3-4 references: 3 professional and 1 personal. Make certain that you give the correct telephone number, position, address, and email for the person(s) that you are listing for a reference. Note that for professional references, you can get references from:

  • Those you managed
  • Those who managed you
  • Those you worked with on the team
  • The Human Resource Department


Ummu Bradley Thomas

Voice Mail Recording

February 16, 2015 @ 10:37 am posted by Ummu Bradley Thomas

How often have you called an inappropriate voice mail and thought to yourself “What was that person thinking?” When you are in the process of searching for a position, adjust your voice mail recording from sounding “too personal” and turn it into a professional one. A professional voice mail should:

– Exclude any music or background noise
– Exclude any jokes or slang
– Include your name and request for the caller to leave a detailed message containing the (1) date, (2) time, (3) purpose for the call, and (4) a return telephone number.

This is very important. I will never forget the time I recommended a woman to work for a Community College and when the HR called her voice mail it indicated: “Sorry to keep you waiting, but _____ is busy creating.” It sounded more like a call girl service than a woman who was interested in becoming a College Recruiter. The HR representative later mentioned that the person’s voice mail sounded “too radical for the position”.


Ummu Bradley Thomas

Mastering Behavioral Interviews

February 9, 2015 @ 1:58 pm posted by Ummu Bradley Thomas

Behavioral interviews are important for some employers. This is typical when you are interviewing for a person who wants employees who have “thick skin”. This happens when a bossy boss wants you to avoid, ignore, or not get upset with them because they are bossy. The behavioral portion of the interview may include questions such as:

1) Do you ever get angry on the job?

2) How often do you have disagreements?

3) When was the last time you were angry on the job?

4) Have you ever worked for a difficult boss?

5) What do you think of your previous employer?

6) Why did you leave our previous employment?

7) What are your strengths?

8) What are your weaknesses?

Just keep in mind that while the behavioral portion of the interview is being conducted, the interviewer is watching for your answers while observing the changes in the pitch of your voice, your tone, your body language and your demeanor. Keep great eye contact, focus and keep your answers accurate with the information on your resume.


Ummu Bradley Thomas

Things to Remember About Body Language

February 2, 2015 @ 11:32 am posted by Ummu Bradley Thomas

It is really important to show your confidence on the job. This gives your supervisor the feeling that you are competent, assured, and can handle tasks in a professional way. Your body language sends a message to the outside world about what you really mean. Here are a few quick things to remember about body language:

1) Each movement equals one word.

2) Individuals communicate more with words than in action.

3) The average person speaks between 125 – 150 words per minute, but it is often lost in translation due to poor use of body language.

4) The average person communicates 93% of the time with actions and 7% of the time with words.

5) Body language is interpreted in eye movements such as blinking, rolling eyes, enlarging eyes, crossing eyes, darting eyes, closing one eye, looking upward, looking downward, and squinting.

6) Body language is interpreted in facial expressions. This includes frowns, smirks, and smiles, raising eyebrows, pushing eyebrows to the center, yawning, poking out lips, shifting mouth sideways, and blinking.

7) Body language is interpreted through hand and arm movements. This includes gestures, placing hand on hips, placing hands on chin, placing hands in hair, placing hands on knee, pointing upward, pointing downward, waving hands, sitting on hands and crossing arms.

8) Body language is interpreted through leg movement. This includes crossing legs, style of stance, wide legs, closed knees, stretching, flexing, standing, shifting legs and much more.


Ummu Bradley Thomas

Employer Expectations

January 26, 2015 @ 9:40 am posted by Ummu Bradley Thomas

Learning to put YOU in your potential employer’s shoes is a key to success. Once you are able to place yourself in your potential employer’s shoes, you can then ask yourself:

1) If I had an employee like me, would I give myself a raise or fire me?

2) If I had an employee like me, would I depend on him or her to get the job done? Handle deadlines? Follow through? Be professional? Speak with the customer?

3) If I had an employee like me, would I ask him or her to dress more professionally? Gossip less? Come in on time?

Once you are able to answer the above honestly, you will be able to gain a reflection on how you appear to your future employer. Keep in mind if you get the job or while you are still interviewing the following:

• No one owes you anything!

• Your personal success is not guaranteed…without your involvement.

• Nothing happens until you start!

• You have the solution…now what?

• That you must fulfill both your own as well as your employer’s expectations through consistent and diligent effort.

• You must feel comfortable enough to ask questions about assignments that you do not understand.

• That taking notes and following up with tasks are key.

• That by providing updates will successfully open and continue a line of communication. If you keep people in the light, you will never be left in the dark.

• That accuracy is important. Never fudge assignments, numbers, achievements, or accomplishments.


Ummu Bradley Thomas

How to Tap Into Resources

January 12, 2015 @ 9:24 am posted by Ummu Bradley Thomas

The ability to tap into resources is truly a special gift. This is not to say that you run around aimlessly finding help for every little item. This is to say that you search for guidance on how to move forward.

Not just any guidance. A good mentor. You may find that you need more than one mentor and that is totally fine. You could have a financial mentor, a career mentor, a spiritual mentor, a health and fitness mentor and the list goes on and on.

The first major purpose of a mentor is to help us to become accountable for our goals, roadblocks and actions. If we tell someone what we set out to do, the mentor will remind us of our plan and help us to stay on track. The second purpose of the mentor is to help provided us with information and advice that is not readily available to us. Some people knowingly make the mistake of getting marital advice from someone who has been divorced twice. If a person has been divorced twice, you do not want marital advice from them. You want to know how to get a divorce from them and then pitfalls to avoid in the process.

Others get money advice from a person who may have filed bankruptcy. You do not want financial advice from them, however, if you were filing bankruptcy, you may consult them about the process, etc. The same is true with looking for mentors while on the job or searching for employment. Do you look for the person who has failed and ask them what made them go the wrong way? Absolutely not! Find someone who is succeeding and ask them how they succeeded, so that you can do the same thing.

Do you have any mentors? Do you trust anyone enough in your inner circle to get advice? If so, that’s great! If not, you may want to look at your inner circle. Birds of the feather truly flock together and if you want to arise above the madness of it all, start looking for other positive goal-oriented folks who are both looking to do and have already done what you are looking to do and most important… successfully.


Ummu Bradley Thomas

The Importance of Sending Well Written Emails and Cover Letters

December 29, 2014 @ 4:40 pm posted by Ummu Bradley Thomas

Don’t do rush jobs on your emails and cover letters. Take time to proof read them. Do not add jokes, don’t show that you are nervous, don’t act desperate, don’t reveal too much, and show your best assets. If you have difficulty writing and are not as well versed, ask someone to review your writing for you. Write and rewrite it with reviews until you can put your meanings into words professionally. Take a writing class at a community college program if you need to, especially if your job will require writing. Try your best to get your very best points across. Let others know that you are the logical choice.

Note things to avoid:

1) Politics – Any discussions involving Democrats vs. Republicans, heavy spending vs. financial responsibility, and donkeys vs. elephants, do not belong in the workplace.

2) Conversations Involving Shagging – Avoid conversations involving who is and who is not hot in the office, conversations on those you are dating and what you are doing intimately.

3) Comments on Sexual Orientation – Do not ask another any questions about his or her sexual orientation. Be a professional and remember to respect others for both their differences and similarities.

4) References to Religion – Avoid making judgments on the religion of others, passing judgment on those that do not practice the religion of others and passing judgment on those that worship differently.


Ummu Bradley Thomas

How to network with family, friends, acquaintances, and previous employers

December 19, 2014 @ 4:44 pm posted by Ummu Bradley Thomas

When searching for jobs, your first leg of strategy should be networking with friends, family, acquaintances and previous employers. After all, the people you know more than likely have your best interest at heart. This is why it is important for you to be professional, have integrity, be dependable, and treat people respectfully both on and off of the job. You do not want them to wonder whether you will prove to be a huge embarrassment to them if they referred you. Have you ever referred a person to someone else and gotten disappointment? I have. For that reason, I no longer try to set people up on blind dates. It just does not work. You should be able to indicate to people:

1) What your skills are

2) Why you are unemployed

3) What jobs you are interested in pursuing

4) Ensure them that they will not be disappointed for referring you for a position.

You must set the person that you are attempting to network with at ease. While you are unemployed or searching for a new position, you want to continue to keep the image of a person who is successful and professional. Your image is an outward reflection of who you are as a person. You want to always have a resume handy for them to review, consider, and pass on for you.

Your Self-Image

December 12, 2014 @ 2:59 pm posted by Ummu Bradley Thomas

Self-image and self-esteem go hand-in-hand. People who feel unworthy of a great opportunity, a certain job title, promotion, reward, or even as if somehow they are naturally vulnerable to failure expose their vulnerability through:

1. How they behave

2. In their outward appearance

3. Their demeanor

This behavior often causes the individual to feel too incompetent to deal with any challenges, obstacles, or even giving it a go for an opportunity. My view of personal refinement training differs from the traditional in that I am totally unwilling to accept the assumption that competitive sports, activities, or even beauty pageants are necessarily appropriate or suitable for individuals who desire to improve their self-image or self-esteem.

Self-image can be improved in many ways through a program of discipline and the acquisition of body skills. In my experience, those who benefit to the highest degree in personal refinement are those who are least likely to have any interest at all. Those individuals ironically do better and gain more from non competitive activities such as speaking before a small audience, meeting new people, acting confident during a job interview and gaining a comfort level for their outer appearance.

You can learn to measure your progress from your own starting point. Just by being mindful of holding your head up, keeping your shoulders back, sitting upright, smiling, and just simply enjoying the fact that you are you. A proud presentation can make a dramatic make-over of your appearance, which will change your self-image once you begin to receive responses from others around you and convince yourself that you are worthy to be appreciated!



Ummu Bradley Thomas

Are You Referable?

December 5, 2014 @ 10:17 am posted by Ummu Bradley Thomas

Most jobs require at least 3 references. When you’re fresh out of school those references can include:

1) College professors

2) Member of your clergy

3) And perhaps a neighbor

However, it is quite suspicious if a professional with 10 plus years in the workforce has a difficult time scraping together 3 references. The old excuse “I don’t want my current boss to know I may be leaving soon.” Can fly somewhat but at the end of the day it leaves the prospective employer questioning your integrity, communication skills, positive work relationships and your ability to network. Making lasting professional relationships matter as much as making lasting family and friendship relationships.

If you’re having a difficult time seeing eye to eye with those on the job to the point where you are afraid of what they may say about you, consider volunteering for Boards, joining professional organizations, and giving your professional personality a makeover.  Nowadays, whether you refer a person or not the simple fact that you are on professional networking sites such as LinkedIn, people already know your reference pool in common and often get unofficial references on you.



Ummu Bradley Thomas

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