What Not To Say During Your Next Job Interview

If you’ve been navigating through the job market for any length of time, you are well aware of how important it is to present yourself in the what-not-to-say-on-an-interview-professionals-at-tablebest possible light during a job interview.  Although even amidst the best of intentions, there is always the possibility that even a slight margin of error within our choice of words could cost us a job opportunity.  Chances are, you’ve expended a great deal of time and effort choosing the right responses and questions, but how much time have you spent researching what you should specifically avoid saying to an interviewer?

Your goal is to ensure that your prospective employer will remember you for your invaluable skills and winning personality, rather than any (completely avoidable) verbal blunders. Here are five of the most important statements (and questions) to steer clear of on your next job interview.

1.  “You can find it on my resume.”

If your interviewer feels that a question regarding a portion of your skill set, work experience, or education, etc. is important enough to discuss face to face, you can be assured it’s an important part of the job you’re interviewing for.  Be ready to verbally elaborate on aspects of your resume on the spot, and never refer your interviewer back to the page it’s written on.  Besides looking to learn more about your skills as they directly relate to the position, he or she is also observing your overall communication and articulation skills. Use this opportunity to show your interviewer that you are so much more than a just summary of your past job duties.

 2.  “What does your company do?”

One of the most prominent rules in preparing for a job interview is to research the company with which you’re seeking employment.  Luckily, some dedicated online investigating is really all it takes.  To go the extra mile, some extra networking inquiries can also help you glean more background on the company you have in mind.  However you choose to go about it, the one thing that cannot be argued is that it is really quite undeniably simple.  What’s more, employers know this; so asking such a basic question as “What does your company do?” shows an unfortunate lack of preparation on your end.  While there is always more to learn about an organization, a savvy candidate knows the basics of the company before he or she walk into the interview and is ready to appropriately present this knowledge.

3.  “My last company (or boss) was terrible.”

Any negative adjective at the end of that statement will still be equally as detrimental to the outcome of your interview.  While expressing thatwhat-not-to-say-on-an-interview-graphic you are looking to improve or build upon your prior experience or advance within your career is perfectly fine, directly disparaging or criticizing a former employer is never a good idea, whether it’s the company as a whole or just the individual for whom you directly worked.  While your friends and family may understand, speaking negatively about your prior place of employment during an interview-setting actually reflects more negatively upon you than the company you’re describing. If your last job was in fact a negative experience, try to at least keep your statements as neutral as possible, focusing mostly on the skills and expertise you developed and acquired while there.  Maintaining concentration on what you learned and how you grew within your position and field will help the interviewer understand your role with your previous employer, while reducing the need for you to elaborate on the company itself or its employees.   If your interviewer directly asks why you left your prior job, try simply expressing that while you respected the company for its decisions and understood their needs, you feel you would like to search for a better fit and opportunity.

4.  “What is your vacation/personal-day policy?”

Of course, we all want to work for an employer with reasonable, if not exceptional, paid-time-off policies, but unless the interviewer chooses to offer this information on his or her own accord (which is unlikely during a first interview), refrain from asking this question.  Considering all of the preliminaries to be discovered and understood on a first interview, advising your prospective employer that your next batch of days off is first and foremost in your mind may indicate that this job would possibly not be your first priority, or perhaps you are simply one to take off from work frequently.  It’s unlikely and rare that a quality organization would not have some type of paid-time-off allowances.  However, if there are personal reasons that make this an especially important issue for you, research ahead of time to find out if the company is considered a “family friendly” organization.  Otherwise, save this question for your last interview when you’ve sealed the deal, or perhaps for when you meet with HR, provided the information hasn’t already been presented to you.

5.  “I have a lot going on at home.”

This, or any statement, for that matter, that involves or describes difficult personal issues or challenges you are experiencing in your non-professional life, should be avoided.  While your interviewer may be sympathetic on a human level, it prompts the notion that you may be sidetracked or overwhelmed enough to not perform at your best working capacity, or that perhaps your personal challenges may even cut into the hours at your job.  Even if you actually are an extremely focused worker and none of these speculations are accurate, going into detail about your personal struggles is still enough to trigger some red flags in the mind of your interviewer.

The best advice:  When in doubt, keep it professional and be prepared!

Fred Coon, CEO


Stewart, Cooper & Coon, has helped thousands of decision makers and senior executives move up in their careers and achieve significantly improved financial packages within short time frames. Contact Fred Coon – 866-883-4200, Ext. 200


Career Highlight: Information Technology Director

Information Technology (IT) professionals are among the accomplished global workforce’s most invaluable assets. The role of IT is fairly well understood to the business world at large, as most — if very nearly all — companies have some sphere of technical operations in their functioning departments. These are the individuals who maintain the computer systems of businesses and organizations, large and small. IT it-director-businessman-entering-virtual-touchscreenprofessionals ensure that operations are running smoothly and generally provide support and advice to all users; from new hires to the boardroom.

IT professionals run a large spectrum of specialties as well, ranging from Analysts (who use their expertise to evaluate existing systems and applications – data, hardware, etc., to streamline and integrate enhancements) to Mobile Development (ensuring businesses stay connected, productive, and on top of the technology curve with on-the-go apps and software), and Security Specialists (the vital role of which is obvious to most).

Somewhat less understood, however, is the role of the IT Director. This is something of an oddity, as the vital role they play simply cannot be overstated. Indeed, without a competent IT Director fully engaged, most organizations would unravel at the seams, and in short order at that.

The Scope of the IT Director

In short, the role of the IT Director embodies the strategy, oversight, and seamless execution of an organization’s technological infrastructure. Among the IT Director’s most important functions are:

  • Oversight of technical projects
  • Ensuring all such projects are in-line with the organization’s goals and development
  • Managing the company’s networks and lines of communication
  • Oversight of systems development
  • Emergency and disaster recovery systems

With these points engaged, we begin to appreciate the value that a knowledgeable IT Director brings to a company, as well as some reasons why this professional is an indispensable asset.

In distilling the role itself, we observe that there is a specific scope of the IT Director’s responsibilities which is rarely seen outside of the upper executive suites. In choosing (or promoting) a candidate to fill this role for an enterprise, there are a few items that a clever executive would do well to consider.

  1. A prospective IT Director must have the ability to skillfully and accurately assess both new and existing technologies, and deliver it-director-screen-graphicinnovative new methods seamlessly (as is possible) into daily operations.
  2. The IT Director is typically required to handle the activities of upper-management — which is, incidentally, a task generally falling under the purview of an entire career unto itself — and is thus responsible for hiring, talent analysis, recruiting, and most other high-level duties of any other department manager.
  3. It can be concluded that the IT Director you want on staff will be able to crest all of these expectations and then demonstrate the capacity to reliably plan, evaluate, and then execute any additions of process, technical systems, and computer operations under the company umbrella.

So, we see that not only is an IT Director indispensable, they must be among the most highly competent and skilled among the team.

Those Capable May Apply

Aside from the standard formal education requirements (which are actually becoming less and less relevant in the age of open education where professionals can gain the ideal experience rather than pursuing a degree),the savvy executive will seek out those who have a demonstrable track-record of direct experience in the IT field, singling in on those who have held positions reflecting an upward momentum and, perhaps most importantly, those who have pursued an array of professional credentials and certifications in the field.

Naturally, hiring executives should pay special attention to those with experience working for the big names: Microsoft, Apple, and Cisco in particular. The CompTIA (Computing Technology Industry Association) is a vendor-neutral industry association which offers programs for certification on an array of brands across the spectrum of skills, and it is always worth looking into talent that can boast them.

The final point is this: a competent executive can be relied upon to conduct a comprehensive analysis and vetting of those who would fill pivotal roles in the enterprise – no exceptions.

Fred Coon, CEO


At SC&C we offer Career Analysis to help senior decision-makers from all walks of life identify strategies and tactics to increase their value-add employment potential.

The Multifaceted Benefits of Apprenticeship Programs

Why Apprenticeships?

Apprenticeship programs are a type of paid learning strategy which merges on-the-job-training with classroom directives.  The good news is that this method has demonstrated a positive track-record of successfully teaching workers highly sought job skills.

apprenticeship-programs-group-of-workers-at-laptopJobs, especially middle-wage jobs, are returning to the employment market after being drastically reduced during the Great Recession of last decade. However, the workforce for these jobs is simultaneously aging and retiring, leaving numerous new jobs without many trained replacements. A growing trend in the United States is to incorporate apprenticeship programs to help train new employees and potentially save a great deal of money for companies in the process.

Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce recently indicated that the United States is anticipating a shortage of 5 million technically certified and credentialed workers by the year 2020, as reported by Sarah Ayres Steinberg and Ben Schwartz, authors of “The Bottom Line: Apprenticeships Are Good for Business”. They continued that approximately half of U.S. executives employed at large-sized companies expected to have a shortage of competent workers within the next one to two years.  Predictably, employee retention is of high importance to competing companies in this tight job market; which is exactly where the concept of apprenticeships enters the equation.

Benefits to Workers and Employers

For many who do not understand how an apprenticeship program works, the fear of excess cost can be a major hindrance. Many employers are concerned that after spending resources to train new employees, these same employees may leave to work elsewhere, resulting in an ultimate loss in time and money for the company.

According to Angela Hanks, Associate Director for Workforce Development Policy, and Ethan Gurwitz, Research Associate with the Center’s Economic Policy Team, a 2012 study indicated that employers have been known to retain approximately 91 percent of employees who successfully completed apprenticeship programs for the same company.  Additional studies have indicated that employees who have received apprenticeship-programs-group-of-employees_smilingtheir training through apprenticeship programs have been happier at their jobs; as properly trained employees tend to have lower levels of frustration and higher levels of engagement, resulting in workers remaining with their employers for longer.

The turnover rate following apprenticeship training is much less than traditional hiring, which many experts also believe is the result of employees feeling more loyal to an employer who would take the time and money to train them.  Moreover, individuals who participate in apprenticeships are known to command greater earning power over the course of their careers than non-apprentices.

Another benefit of apprenticeship programs is the ability to keep a steady supply of well-trained employees who have been taught according the specifications of your organization.  These programs allow for tailored training so that new employees will be learning procedures in such a way that meets the specific needs of the company.

Community Advantages

“Apprenticeship programs are also an effective government investment. In 2013, Washington State projected that for every $1 it spent on apprenticeship, taxpayers would see a $23 return on investment,” noted Hanks and Gurwitz.

According to one Canadian study, employers actually earned $1.47 back for every $1 invested in an apprenticeship program. In November 2016, a U.S. Department of Commerce study examined the investment return of apprenticeships at 13 firms. Of the firms studied, each discovered that the program offered a definitive value as well as particular benefits which more than warranted the costs, resources, and commitments made toward the trained apprentices.


Finally, Hanks and Gurwitz indicated that companies who invest resources in apprenticeship programs are dually investing in the middle skills that are so important to the current and upcoming job market.  The restoration of middle-wage jobs is a sign of increasing and rebounding employer demand; indicating that now is the best time to develop skills with moderate earning-power for greater stability, retention, and ultimate earning potential for the long haul.

Fred Coon, CEO


Stewart, Cooper & Coon, has helped thousands of decision makers and senior executives move up in their careers and achieve significantly improved financial packages within short time frames. Contact Fred Coon – 866-883-4200, Ext. 200

Career Highlight: Project Management

Defining the Role of a Project Manager

Project Manager is one example of a profession currently in high demand by employers, and for good reason.  Due to the increasing responsibilities and varying roles of business leaders, it is in their best interest to hire an individual who can oversee the details of a project, from conception to completion, relieving other departmental executives and high ranking managers to focus on further important facets of the organization.

project-manager-working-staff-at-table“While a business is a continuous and ongoing operation, a project is a temporary venture aimed at producing a unique product, service or process,” noted small business, finance, and technology writer, Sarita Harbour in the Chron.com article, “Why Is it Important for Organizations to Use Project Management?”

Project Management, at its core, assures the strength and stability of new initiatives.  For instance, a company who is planning to launch a new product line or marketing strategy, develop a new website or even reboot a department will call upon their Project Manager to devise strategies, assign tasks, and ensure that team members are adhering to predetermined timeline and budget requirements.

Specific Duties of a Project Manager

When a project is assigned, it is the Project Manager’s responsibility to oversee every aspect. First, they must develop an itemized budget for the overall project.

Next, managers will need to assess the strengths and talents of team members in order to properly delegate them to specifically appropriate tasks. While micromanaging is not encouraged, Project Managers will need to be kept informed of all progress and delays and react accordingly to make sure deadlines are met.

While working on the project, Managers will also be monitoring the scope of the workload and making adjustments as needed, while adapting assignments according to any issues or hitches that arise. Budgets may also need to be modified as unforeseen delays, product repairs, or other hindrances develop. It is the Project Manager’s job to adjust and correct any problems while making certain the project continues to run smoothly

How to Enter the Field of Project Management

project-manager-word-collageAccording to Computerworld contributing author, Mary K. Pratt, “Project Management is one of the hottest skills in IT today. In [their] 2015 Forecast survey, Project Management expertise was identified as the second-most sought-after skill, trailing only [behind] programming/application development.” She continued that approximately 35 percent of the 194 participating IT executives noted that their hiring strategies necessitated locating employees with abilities to lead projects.

While training and education are important, employees may begin working toward becoming a Project Manager by participating in projects within their company. This is the best opportunity to observe the routines and practices of other Project Managers, while also learning the skills necessary to successfully obtain and uphold the management of an important company endeavor.

Mangers will need to be detailed-orientated as well as possess the ability to lead other team members. A background in finance is required for the purpose of ascertaining and maintaining budget needs.  A strong technical sense is also recommended since a vast number of Project Management positions currently exist within the IT field.  Regardless of the nature of the organization, a certain amount of training and knowledge in the field is certainly beneficial.


If you are a conscientious professional who appreciates and enjoys continuous learning, working with as well as leading others, and receiving recognition as the one who is responsible for a successfully completed job, then a career in Project Management may just be for you.


Fred Coon, CEO


Stewart, Cooper & Coon, has helped thousands of decision makers and senior executives move up in their careers and achieve significantly improved financial packages within short time frames. Contact Fred Coon – 866-883-4200, Ext. 200

Five Trends That Are Impacting Career Choices

Choosing a career is one of the most important decisions we will make, as it affects and determines so many aspects of our lives. We all havetrends-that-impact-career-choices-marble-hitting-other-marbles specific talents and interests that will lead us toward certain professions, but we must also be mindful of the external influences that are projecting us in a certain direction. It is important that we keep an open mind to what attracts us to certain fields and not others.  Sometimes these choices are based on personal decisions and inclinations; other times they stem from peripheral circumstances, such as economy, technological advances, and sociological changes.

Therefore, when considering different career options, it is important to also study the societal trends that may affect our choices, both now and down the road.

1.   Technology growth

It’s no secret that technology is growing faster than many of us can keep up with, and this continued growth is also resulting in more jobs in the United States. Consistent advances in technology are not only ensuring new jobs requiring additional skills in specific industries, but also within their education and training. Technology has also opened the doors for telecommuting, offering employees the option of maintaining high paying jobs while working from the comfort of their own homes.

2.   Globalization

When it comes to remote work or telecommuting jobs, a person does not have to be in the United States to “work” in the U.S. or any other country, for that matter. While this opens the market for job seekers to work for anyone from their own home, it also puts a great deal more competitive pressure on organizations. Companies will be looking for individuals who grasp the need for innovative marketing and can contribute to the business agenda without boundaries.

3.   Downsizing

While younger workers are steadily replacing the baby boomers who are now reaching retirement age and leaving the workforce, there are a number of jobs currently held by baby boomers that may become obsolete. According to 247WallSt.com, jobs such as Desktop Publisher, Communications Equipment Operator, and Textile Machine Setter/Operator, for example, are steadily on the decline.  As these employees retire, companies are turning more toward technology, making many positions previously held by skilled workers either outdated or unnecessary. So when considering career choices, it is important to research which traditional careers which may be severely impacted by baby boomers leaving the work force in conjunction with new technological advances.

4.   Improved medicine and delayed retirement

This is a two-layered trend which is impacting career choices right now.  Life expectancy has noticeably increased within the last 70 years. In fact, in 1945, the average life expectancy was 66 years, as opposed to 2015 when the standard life expectancy was recorded at 79 years. Today, people are living longer due to further education in nutrition and wellness as well as technological advances, all of which have led to trends-that-impact-career-choices-glasses-on-keyboardimproved medicine. This means there are a greater overall number of people in the workforce, as individuals are working into the later years of their life; sometimes by choice, and other times out of necessity.

“The current average retirement age is 62—but new college graduates won’t be able to retire until age 75, according to a new study from NerdWallet,” wrote Kate Ashford in the Forbes article The New Retirement Age? 75, Study Says.

So while people may generally be living longer, many individuals will need to work at least a decade longer than the current retirement age due to the high cost of education, enormous student loans, and increased living costs. This may affect career choices in two ways:  Some will put a heavier relevance on a generous paycheck to counteract the anticipation of working well past standard retirement age.  Others may more acceptingly consider that since they are going to be working further into their golden years, it would be advantageous to decide upon a fulfilling career they will ultimately enjoy.

However, it could also be argued that future up-and-comers may find fewer available jobs openings in years to come, as older workers remain in their positions longer.

5.   Social Media Marketing

This is perhaps one of the fastest growing career trends. Social media has become a cornerstone to the survival and advertising success of any business, and finding individuals who know their way around this marketing platform is crucial. According to an article on DigitalTrends.com, the average 25 to 54 year old checks their social media accounts approximately 17 times per hour, resulting in an average of 4.7 hours a day engaged in online communities.  Therefore, Americans are exposed to the most amount of advertizing while scrolling their social media newsfeeds.  Consequently, the ability to stay ahead of the competition on sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn is a valuable tool that companies will continue to look for in their employees.

In Conclusion

With enough patience, insight, and inquisitive research, you can begin to assess and ascertain how current societal trends in business, technology, employment, and even medicine, will ultimately impact your own particular career choice.


Fred Coon, CEO


Stewart, Cooper & Coon, has helped thousands of decision makers and senior executives move up in their careers and achieve significantly improved financial packages within short time frames. Contact Fred Coon – 866-883-4200, Ext. 200

The Top Current Jobs in Business

What’s in Your Future?

Five sectors in the U.S. economy are going to drive more than 50 percent of the growth of new jobs in the next four years.  That’s in excess of 10,000,000 of the projected jobs by the end of 2020, and none of them contribute to economic growth.  How is it possible?

top-jobs-in-business-professional-group-pointingThese five sectors showing occupational growth are professional services, business services, social assistance, healthcare, and construction, indicating that service-based jobs are continuing an upward trend.

All five of these areas are noted for being indicators of economic growth in the technical sector.  It is clear that the job market will be calling for employees with Bachelor Degrees, Associates Degrees, Technical Degrees, and other STEM-based degrees, in the near future.

However, as we discover this information, we hope we haven’t missed an important window of opportunity.  Examine this data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).  By 2022, it is projected that 25.6 percent of our work force will be aged 55 or older, a point we have never reached in US history to date.  The bulk (63.1 percent) of our work force will consist of people who are in the middle of their careers and not expected to make any significant changes.  The replacement workers, age 16 to 24, comprise only 11 percent of the workforce, which presents a problem.

We are not producing “replacement workers” fast enough to bridge the gap, and we potentially face a shortfall in the number of available workers at a time when businesses are going to be desperate for growth.

If you’re just starting out in your college education, and you’re looking at a business or technical career, that is an immense relief to employers.  You are going to be desperately needed when all those approaching retirement are finally separated from the job market.

Here are some of the areas you should focus on:

  • Advertising
  • Business operations specialists
  • Computer related occupations
  • Engineering
  • Financial occupations
  • Management occupations
  • Marketing
  • Promotion
  • Public relations
  • Sales and support services
  • Sales management and supervisors

top-jobs-in-business-outline-of-peopleComputer-related fields will provide a large portion of jobs (approximately 860,000), and management occupations will provide another approximate 200,000 positions, but none of the above listed categories are predicted to fall below 100,000 positions.

As it stands right now, when looking at all jobs on a city by city basis, hiring requirements are running between the mid-forties and the mid-fifties (percentage wise) where they stipulate a minimum of a Bachelor Degree.  That’s right…half of all the jobs require a college degree nowadays, and this, too, is a new record in our history.

Of course, in a world where babies grow up with a rattle in one hand and a tablet PC or an iPhone in the other hand, more people are technically competent now than at any other time in our history.  So what sort of jobs do we have for them?

  • Analytics Manager STEM & Tech Exp.
  • Audit Manager A.
  • Data Scientist A., Ph.D.
  • Engagement Manager Tech Degree
  • HR Manager A.
  • Mobile Developer A. & Tech Exp. Product Manager Tech Degree
  • Software Engineer C.S./Tech Degree Solutions Architect B.C.S./Tech Degree Tax Manager B.A.

The Takeaway

So, in consideration of this gap, there has never been a more important time to ascertain your plans as a job seeker. If you want to be in the construction trade, there will be plenty of great jobs for you.  The nursing profession is set to offer approximately 400,000 jobs, as well.

If, however, your interest is in business and technology, you need to take the time right now to decide where you are headed.  The biggest, most powerful ship in the world can churn the water into foam, but most assuredly it will never go anywhere important unless it also has a rudder to give it some direction.

Fred Coon, CEO


Take your job search and LinkedIn profile to new levels and achieve your career goals with LinkedInSecrets.us. Leveraging LinkedIn for Job Search Success 2015 will transform how you use LinkedIn on a daily basis and create a profile that will WOW recruiters and hiring managers.

Managing Vs. Coaching – Achieving the Right Balance

Successful companies have successful managers, and successful managers know how to balance managerial duties with coaching and praise managing-vs-coaching-balance-businessman-and-teamtechniques for their teams. Managers are necessary for organizing and facilitating employee productivity, making it possible for their work staff to succeed without impediment; yet sometimes, a real business leader must also take on the qualities of coach to ensure their team achieves what it should.

Basic managerial traditional duties

Regardless of industry, all managers have certain basic traditional duties. Some of these include managing employee schedules, assigning tasks, making sure shifts are adequately covered and ensuring customer satisfaction. Managers are also responsible for making sure their teams meet deadlines, company sales goals, while also handling crises within the company and between employees. They are responsible for keeping their eye on the bottom line, overseeing a portion of accounting and banking duties, and foreseeing any problems that may arise so as to get ahead of them.

Basic coaching duties

While managerial duties involve overseeing the employees and production, coaching duties are more along the lines of developing goals and ways to achieve them. In the coaching role, managers will strategize to find the best way to achieve success, then they will work with the employees, offering advice and maybe even incentives to make sure the goals are obtained. Employees are encouraged and motivated to succeed, which also leads to the company’s ultimate success. As a coach will guide his or her players in a sport’s league and offer praise and encouragement, a managerial coach will do the same with their team of employees.

The importance of having both managerial and coaching skills

A manager who focuses solely on the managing aspect of his or her role usually tends to be primarily focused on the bottom line. With this approach, the employees, as individuals, risk being overlooked through a lack of external motivation.  Conversely, a coach who does not incorporate any managerial duties may be well liked by the employees, but the business may eventually fail due to inattention to important details.

Finding a balance and knowing when to coach instead of manage

managing-vs-coaching-leadership-word-collageQuality managers tend to be natural problem-solvers. When approached with an employee crisis, it may be the manager’s immediate instinct to solve it on their own. However, sometimes it is best to take a step back, and help the employee find a solution on their own. Not only does this build a stronger relationship between the manager and employee, it also gives the employee a sense of accomplishment and worth. By using this coaching technique, employees develop further autonomy and managers are able to spend more time on other important aspects of their role.

Achieving an ultimate balance between the supervisory as well as the coaching facets of a managerial job is vital, and may not necessarily be easily achieved.  However, it is worth the effort to learn and employ these tactics. When possible, managers should work with the employees to solve basic problems while offering instruction, guidance and support along the way. Building a strong working relationship will go a long way toward the continued success of any organization.

Fred Coon, CEO


Take your job search and LinkedIn profile to new levels and achieve your career goals with LinkedInSecrets.us. Leveraging LinkedIn for Job Search Success 2015 will transform how you use LinkedIn on a daily basis and create a profile that will WOW recruiters and hiring managers.