Interview challenge: what’s your biggest weakness?

May 31, 2011 – It’s one of the most dreaded interview questions.

You’re trying to market yourself and showcase your strengths to an employer and he/she asks about your weaknesses.

We all have them, so you can’t deny it. Besides, you’d probably come off too pompous if you tried to. Just keep in mind that if a potential employer ask you what your weaknesses are, they are most likely trying to see how you react under pressure.

So what’s the best way to answer this question?

There are a few acceptable ways to answer, according to career counseling experts. You could turn a negative into a positive by offering an example of your weakness and then explain how you’ve learned to overcome it. Acknowledging that you’ve learned from past mistakes shows you are willing to improve. Or you could offer an example of a less important weakness that wouldn’t be a threat to the position you’re seeking. For example, if you are interviewing for a position in computer programming, you could say you want to improve yourself by brushing up on your public speaking skills.

Also remember that trying to be funny will most likely backfire. Instead, be honest, and keep your answers short and positive.

Remembering those who served

May 30, 2011 – Happy Memorial Day!

Today we honor the men and women who died while serving our country.

Memorial Day was originally known as Decoration Day. It was first celebrated after the Civil War, when people would honor those who died by decorating their graves. However, it did not become an official federal holiday until 1971.

Most Americans consider the Memorial Day Weekend the official start of summer, and mark the occasion by visiting lakes and beaches, or by barbecuing in their backyards.

To all who served, thank you for keeping us safe! And to all those celebrating, enjoy!

Facebook depression?

May 29, 2011 – It may sound like a joke or skit from Saturday night Live, but it’s real.

Facebook depression is a new condition affecting some teens that obsess over the social networking site.

For most teens, Facebook is a fun way to keep in touch or tell your friends what you’ve been up to, but for some it’s nothing more than a big popularity contest to see who can get the most friend requests. Feeling left out on Facebook is just as damaging as being an outcast in school.

The American Academy of Pediatrics warns the condition is potentially damaging to teens that already suffer from social disorders, especially when they are bombarded with status updates and photos of happy people having fun when they are not. They also warn parents to monitor their teen’s Facebook page because of online bullying.

Parents shouldn’t worry that the idea of using Facebook will cause depression if their teens do not have problems with social anxiety or depression already, but they should talk with their teens about online risks, such as depression and cyberbullying so they are aware.

200 and still going

May 28, 2011 – This is my 200th blog entry.

While it may not hold the same emotion as the landmark 100th post, 200 is a pretty significant number. For instance, over the last 200 years, the average lifespan of a human being went from 25 to 75, and the average median income went from $400 per year to $40,000. Two hundred is also the smallest base 10 unprimeable number, and the amount of dollars given in the game of Monopoly when passing Go.

To celebrate this special occasion, here’s a list of other interesting 200s.

Top 200 Music Albums
Top 200 Wedding Songs
Top 200 Best Selling Books
Top 200 World Universities
Top 200 Video Games of all Time
Top 200 Fantasy Football Players
Top 200 Anime Shows
Top 200 Most Popular Comics
Top 200 Best Movie Directors
Top 200 Sites for Teachers
Top 200 Careers
Top 200 Prescription Drugs (for 2008)
Top 200 YouTube Stars
Top 200 Web Domains
Top 200 iPad Applications
Top 200 Recipes Under 200 Calories
Jane’s Top 200 Blog Entries 🙂

The best in the U.S.

May 27, 2011 – Are we there yet?

This nagging question is synonymous with the family vacations, and with summer on the way, thousands of families may be planning to hit the road for the great American road trip.

If you’re one of them and puzzled about where to go, why not select one of the towns below? I’m not sure if they offer many tourist attractions, but their names are fun and inspiring, and they were named the “Top 10 U.S. Towns with the Best Names” according to

10. Lucky Stop, Kentucky
9. Lovely, Pennsylvania
8. Ideal, Georgia
7. Happy Land, Oklahoma
6. Happy Camp, California
5. Friendly, West Virginia
4. Celebration, Florida
3. Carefree, Arizona
2. Bountiful, Utah
1. Beauty, West Virginia

Picking a location based on its name is a nice alternative to closing your eyes and pointing to a name on a map, don’t you think?

It’s never too late to apologize

May 26, 2011 – Today is National Sorry Day.

If you’re from the Eastern Hemisphere you’re most likely familiar with National Sorry Day since it’s been remembered every May 26th in Australia since 1997. The event was created to express regret over the historical mistreatment of the Aboriginal people.

It just goes to show you that sometimes people do get it right.

Do you think the United States would ever consider a similar movement to honor to the original Native Americans?

Farewell, Oprah

May 25, 2011 – Oprah is ending her afternoon talk show today.

And after 25 years, it’s about time.

While it’s appropriate that after a quarter of a century on the air she go out with ceremony and splendor, a year of promoting “Oprah’s Last Season” is a bit much and I’m glad to be done with it. Someone should have told her that like a bride, she gets a day or maybe a week, but an entire year of hearing about the wedding, or in this case, the big farewell is too much.

By now, you can probably guess I’m not the biggest Oprah fan. I worked full-time for 23 of the 25 years she’s been on television, so I was never accustomed to watching, but on that rare occasion when I did, I didn’t fall under her spell.

Oprah may be a genuinely kind and generous person, I’m not debating that. But she seems a bit full of herself for my taste and I prefer a little more humility in my role models. Maybe it’s the way guests bow down to her like she was the queen of the universe or something, but it has always made me cringe.

Still, a milestone is exactly that, and 25 years on the air deserves recognition, so here it is.

So long, Oprah. I think you’ll miss the adoration a little more than I’ll miss you.

Chase Utley returns

May 24, 2011 – The Phillies welcomed back Chase Utley last night after missing the first 46 games of the season. The fans greeted him with a huge standing ovation, yet he was the only one in the lineup who didn’t get a hit during the 10-3 winning slugfest against the Cincinnati Reds.

That’s OK, Chase. We’re glad you’re back.

As for the rest of the team, all I can say is that it’s about time.

10 common reasons mortgage loans fall through

May 24, 2011 – It’s about the worst that can happen.

You’re getting ready to close on your mortgage loan and you discover its been denied. Here are some of the biggest reasons why this happens.

10. Unrealistic expectations about what the borrower can afford. If there is a question about whether or not you may qualify, you should ask your lender for a credit pre-approval before you begin to shop for a home.

9. Inadequate preparation by the borrower. The more information you have available at application, the more complete the loan officer’s analysis can be.

8. Recognizing that borrowers may need loan terminology explained. Mortgage and real estate jargon are common to those in the industry, but if you don’t know what a term or phrase means, ask for an explanation.

7. Self-employed borrowers may not realize that they are “self-employed”. Keep in mind that ownership of 25% or more in a company or commissioned income often means different loan processing styles and documentation.

6. Government loans with property problems or repair conditions. This means that the question of who pays for the necessary repairs or problems must be settled before you go to closing.

5. Third party vendors who do not deliver on a timely basis. Technology has practically eliminated this situation, but some loans are still held up if documentation is not delivered in a timely manner.

4. Lack of understanding about what happens during the processing, underwriting and closing. Explanation of time frames, documentation and responsibilities of all parties should be discussed so everyone knows what to expect and when to expect it.

3. Credit explanations which are not adequately documented and supported. If there is incorrect information on your credit report, make sure any errors are explained and in line with the dates of delinquencies on the report.

2. Closing funds are not adequately tracked. Be sure your funds for closing are clearly documented on bank statements. Also, gift funds must have donor’s ability to give the gift as well as showing the money going from donor to recipient.

1. Lack of communication. There are many parties involved in a loan closing, and each party must have a complete understanding of what is going on at any given time.

Working with job recruiters

May 23, 2011 – As a frequent visitor to Internet job boards, I often wonder if the jobs posted actually exist, or if they are just plants by recruiters to find new blood for their clients.

It seems that most responses I receive are from recruiters. They call me, we chat, and most times I never hear from them again. This seems to be a common complaint from those who work with recruiters, so I’ve learned not to take it personally.

When you’re searching for a job, it’s difficult to avoid working with recruiters in some capacity, especially if your resume is on file with one of the major job boards. To work successfully with a recruiter, you need to understand that they really aren’t working for you, but rather for the company that holds the open position. They will be the one to pay their fee, so the recruiter’s loyalty lies with them. Think of it this way; recruiters don’t find jobs for people, they find people for jobs.

Still, professional recruiters are a good resource because they often have broad networks of business contacts and access to a wide range of companies. They can also provide excellent advice on interviewing and resume polishing because they know exactly what their clients want.

However, statistics show that the vast majority of job seekers do not find positions through recruiters, so while they may be a good resource, it shouldn’t be your only source. To find a job as quickly as possible, make sure you have other resources at work for you, as well.