Ask an Expert: Answers to Five Common Job Search Questions

man with briefcaseAt AOL Jobs we get a lot of great questions about job search from our readers. Here are responses to five commonly asked questions.

1. In today's economic climate, many of us have to look at positions one or two levels below our previous one. How does one convince the prospective employer that we will be happy doing that long term?

Let the interviewer know that salary and job title are not the primary factors influencing your decision. Explain why you think you are a good fit for the position and use specific examples from your work history to prove this. Tell the interviewer why you are passionate about their company, the industry you are in, or the type of functional role you are seeking. You won't always be able to eliminate a hiring manager's skepticism, but by painting an authentic picture of your dedication and the value you can bring to the company, you improve your chances of creating a stronger rapport with the interviewer and potentially moving past their concerns.

2. During a job interview when all seems to be going well, the interviewer will ask, "Are you familiar with this (whatever the potential requirement may be) part of the job which may be included?" Do I ever admit, "NO, but I am a very fast learner?" Or is there a less negative and answer I can give, without seeming to be lying?

I never advocate lying during an interview. Your run the risk of being "outed" quickly and you can immediately lose credibility. Saying you are a fast learner is something hiring managers hear so frequently that there are bet options. Instead, give an example of another situation where you did not have a particular skill but quickly mastered it. By giving an actual example of your ability to learn quickly, you build trust with the hiring manager.

3. I do not have a college degree. I have owned several successful small businesses but I am now interested in working/managing a business rather than owning one. How do I convince a hiring manager that my lack of a degree is not a liability?

Generally, the longer you have been working, the less relevant a college degree becomes to employers. Most hiring managers will assess your potential based on your recent work successes, not your education from decades earlier. Some employers list a college degree as a preferred requirement for their positions -- not because it is necessary to do the job, but because it helps them narrow the overwhelming responses to their posting.

Rather than focusing on the fact that you don't have a degree, show the employer how you have performed, as well as (or better than), your colleagues. And when possible, try to secure interviews via relationships rather than job boards. It's easier to get past the "college degree preferred" obstacle when there is someone internal to the company advocating for your candidacy.

4. Is it OK for someone else to write your resume?

Well, that depends on who that someone is. I recommend having a professional prepare your resume rather than a colleague or family friend who has not had the appropriate training. Most people don't do their own taxes, cut their own hair, or build their own homes, so why would you attempt to write one of the most important professional documents you will ever need on your own?

Hiring a professional is certainly an investment, but one that could pay off in the long run if a strong resume shortens the amount of time you spend on your search. Professional organizations such as Career Directors International,National Resume Writers' Association, and Career Management Alliance can help you find a certified resume writer. If cash is tight or you do decide to write your own resume, check out AOL Resume Examples, the 'Expert Resumes' series by JIST, or 'Happy About My Resume' (full disclosure: I am the author).

5. I have found three spellings of resume in the dictionary: résumé, resumé, and resume. Which is the correct or accepted spelling?

Technically, résumé is the correct spelling, but the accent marks don't translate properly when the document is converted to a text document, which is sometimes required by certain employers. So it is better to use the word resume. With that being said, it is not necessary to include the word resume on the actually document, although you may sometimes use it in a cover letter when explaining that your resume is attached.

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