Friday, July 31, 2009

Office Manager

DISCOVER STAFFING is seeking a temporary to hire candidate for an Office Manger/Executive Assistant position with an Alpharetta company. Responsibilities will include supporting the President, performing general accounting duties, assist Marketing as well as overseeing the daily operation of the office. Some human resource experience would be a plus. Must be self directed and have the ability and enjoy handling a variety of duties. Minimum of 2-5 years of previous similar experience required and MUST be local to the Alpharetta area. $40,000 to $45,000.

Please submit resume to Only qualified candidates will be considered.

Human Resources Generalist

DISCOVER STAFFING is currently seeking a Human Resources Generalist for a position in Alpharetta. Must be very professional and have 2-5 years experience in an HR Generalist capacity. $40,000 to $50,000 per year.

Candidate must be local to the Alpharetta area. Please send your resume to for consideration.

Part Time Customer Service Representative

Thank you for your interest in this position. At this time, this opening has been filled. Please continue to check back on this site to see our latest postings.

DISCOVER STAFFING is currently seeking candidates for a Part Time Customer Service Representative in the Norcross area. Experience with selling tangible products helpful. Must have excellent customer service and computer skills. Hours are afternoons (approx 12pm to 5pm) Monday through Friday. Starting at $10 an hour.

Candidates must be local to the Norcross Area and have reliable transportation. Please send your resume to for consideration.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Inside Sales Professional

DISCOVER STAFFING is currently seeking an experienced Inside Sales professional for a client in Alpahretta. Will be working with current customers as well as generating leads for the outside sales team. Must be very comfortable on the phones and building relationships. $28K salary plus commission and bonuses. 2+ Years Inside Sales experience. Medical industry knowledge helpful but not required.

Candidates must be local to the Alpharetta area and have reliable transportation. Please send your resumes to for consideration.

Customer Care Associate

DISCOVER STAFFING is currently seeking an experienced Customer Care Associate for a health insurance provider in Alpharetta. Candidates must have 2+ years experience with Health Care Claims. Must have exemplary customer service skills and experience with Microsoft Office programs. Position is a temp to hire opportunity starting at $13.00 per hour.

Candidates must be local to the Alpharetta area and have reliable transportation. Only qualified candidates will be considered. Please send your resume to

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Monster has long been the premier internet job search tool. Their advice pages offers a wide variety of helpful tools for job seekers. This article provides the author's insights about working temporary assignments.

Temp Work Can Have Permanent Benefits
By Peter Vogt, Monster Senior Contributing Writer 

Maybe you're about to graduate into the real world with little or no work experience. Or maybe you're feeling clueless about what career you should pursue or what type of organization you should work for. Or perhaps you just plain need to earn some money to pay for school, rent and food.

Whatever your particular circumstances, temping -- doing short-term work assignments for a temporary staffing agency that matches willing workers with employers that need work done -- can probably help you as a college student or recent graduate. Why? Because temping, while not the perfect solution to all of your problems, does offer a considerable number of potential benefits where your career is concerned.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Temping

If you work as a temp, whether for a few days, a few weeks or even a few months or years, you will:

  • Gain practical work experience, either in your chosen industry or a different field.
  • Make some money -- more than $10 an hour on average, according to the American Staffing Association (ASA), an industry trade group -- and often receive basic benefits like health insurance as well.
  • See your chosen field, or a different one, from the inside instead of simply reading or talking about it.
  • Get a glimpse of different companies and organizations, and see firsthand how they function.
  • Meet people who will actually get to know you and evaluate your work performance, just in case a full-time, permanent position opens up in the company you're working for. Some 72 percent of temps are offered permanent positions with the companies they temp for, the ASA reports.
  • Learn new skills on the job, as 70 percent of temps do, according to the ASA.
  • Receive formal training in new skill areas, as 90 percent of temps do, the ASA says.
  • You'll also have a flexible schedule -- since you can choose when and how much you want to work -- and be able to demonstrate your adaptability, your capacity to learn quickly and your ability to hit the ground running on the job.

    There are potential downsides, of course. You may not get the type or number of work assignments you'd like, and at times you might feel like a second-class citizen surrounded by permanent employees who know you only as The Temp. You might also find yourself in the middle of political battles between permanent staffers, as in the case of one temp who was assigned to do absolutely nothing, literally, all day just so one permanent staffer could prove a point to a colleague. (The temp never did figure out what that point was supposed to be.)

    But if you like variety and challenge, and you're interested in gaining new skills, new networking contacts, new experiences and new career insights, temping will likely be a good fit for you.

    How to Get Started

    To get going on your temping journey, check out the Monster job search, or look in your local yellow pages under headings like Employment Agencies or Employment Contractors -- Temporary Help to find temp firms in your area. Then call one or more of them to set up an initial appointment. (Note: Their services will be free to you as a job seeker; the employers using the agencies pay the bills.)

    Typically, each agency you contact will have you fill out an application and submit your resume. You'll then participate in an interview with a company recruiter who will attempt to pinpoint both your skills and areas of interest. In many cases, you'll also take a battery of tests, particularly abilities and skills assessments, so plan on your meeting taking at least a couple of hours.

    Once the recruiter has an idea of the types of assignments that will be a good fit for you, you'll be ready to start gaining the experience you need, exploring that industry you want to learn more about or making some money to pay the bills -- in many cases, all three!

    DISCOVER STAFFING is a member of the Georgia Staffing Association and the American Staffing Association.

    Please contact your nearest DISCOVER STAFFING branch to find out how we may be able to help you with temporary opportunities.

    North Fulton area:
    Gwinnett area:
  • Thursday, July 23, 2009

    Mortgage Processor

    DISCOVER STAFFING is currently seeking a Mortgage Processor for a client in Marietta. Must have previous mortgage experience including title reports and appraisals. Must be comfortable with a lot of paperwork, have strong organizational and time management skills and be accurate. This is a temp to hire position starting at $10-$11 an hour.

    Please send your resume to for consideration. Must be local to the Marietta area and have reliable transportation. Only qualified candidates will be considered.

    Tuesday, July 21, 2009

    Tips for the Shy Job Seeker

    Shy? 10 Tips for Introverted Job Seekers
    By Jennifer B. Kahnweiler, author of "The Introverted Leader: Building on Your Quiet Strength"

    There is no magic bullet or one-size method for managing your introversion in a job search. But in today's noisy business world, you can learn how to build on your quiet strength and succeed. The goal is not changing your personality or natural style, but embracing and expanding who you are.

    As an ongoing framework, follow the "Four Ps": preparation (devising game plans); presence (focusing on the moment); push (stretching and growing); and practice (rehearsing and refining). Here are 10 specific tips for doing this:

    1. Have a game plan

    Rather than wing it on the people part of your job search, have a game plan. Prepare for high-stakes interviews and events -- anticipating key questions and rehearsing your responses.

    2. Communicate early and often

    It's easy for introverts to be out of sight and out of mind. So, take the initiative
    in sharing information with others -- communicating early and often with former bosses and co-workers, industry contacts and prospective employers. Don't wait to be asked for info or updates. Find out what people need or want to know and provide it to them ahead of time.

    3. Match the medium to the message

    Resist the temptation to hide behind the Internet. E-mail, for instance, may appear to be the easiest or safest channel, but it's not always the right one. For every exchange throughout your search, match the medium to the message determining if e-mail, phone or face-to-face is best.

    4. Use social networking to set the stage

    Technology is a great tool for preparing to meet people in person. Use social networking Web sites, such as LinkedIn, Facebook and BrightFuse, to set the stage for connecting with others at get-togethers and special events. You can introduce yourself, find common ground and warm up cold leads -- all in a low-key yet friendly way.

    5. Assert yourself

    Assertiveness gets a bum rap. Often confused with aggressiveness, it is simply being open, honest, and direct -- asking for what you need and want. If you fail to assert yourself in your job search -- from staying in front of employers to seeking the salary you deserve -- you risk losing out on critical opportunities and facing disappointment and frustration.

    6. Stand up to "talkers"

    Don't be afraid to deal with chatty, extroverted interviewers. One simple, sure-fire strategy for getting a word in edgewise: find a momentary opening, paraphrase what you've heard and bridge to your own point.

    7. Ask great questions

    There is power in the questions you ask. In interviews, asking great questions can mean figuring out what's really important to potential employers. Two invaluable questions for the person who might be your future boss: "What keeps you up at night?" and "How will you measure success?"

    8. Value humor
    "A smile is the shortest distance between two people," mused entertainer Victor Borge. As a reserved, introverted job seeker, you can overcome perceptions of being standoffish or too serious by smiling, laughing and having a little fun. You need not "yuk it up" -- just be good-humored.

    9. Be a storyteller

    Stories put oomph into ideas and help engage and connect people. Make storytelling a part of your own style -- weaving real-life anecdotes and examples into interviews and conversations. Try using the "SAR" approach -- situation (What was the situation or challenge?), action (What steps did you take?) and result (What was the outcome?)

    10. Brag on yourself

    Introverts tend to stay mum about their accomplishments -- seeming to abide by the old Southern adage, "Don't brag on yourself." Yet today job searches are made or broken by what others know about a person's skills and potential. Bottom line? Sell yourself.

    Finally: practice, practice, practice. Learning different skills and behaviors may be uncomfortable at first, but with conscious repetition and refinement, you can manage your introversion -- and succeed in your job search.

    Jennifer B. Kahnweiler is a workplace and careers expert and author of "The Introverted Leader: Building on Your Quiet Strength" (Berrett-Koehler, $19.95). Founder and president of AboutYOU Inc., an Atlanta-based leadership consultancy, she is an executive coach and corporate speaker. Contact her on the Web at and

    Monday, July 20, 2009

    Let Go of that Title

    Focus on Job Descriptions, Not Job Titles
    By Anthony Balderrama, writer

    For the last decade, some universities have come under fire for giving students too many A's. If students have low GPAs, their career prospects will suffer and universities will look like an institution of underperformers, critics charge.

    Still, wouldn't churning out class after class of honor students result in a pool of professionals with impressive credentials but little actual merit? You'd think so.

    Whether or not that's actually happening on campuses across the country is hard to say, but a variation seems to occur in workplaces.

    "Many job seekers don't realize how much title inflation there is at some companies, and how much title definition variance there is in the marketplace," says John Nicholson, CEO of Résumés That Jump, a résumé writing service. At his previous company, marketing coordinators had major responsibilities, such as managing multimillion-dollar budgets and working on high-profile partnerships..

    He knows that at similar companies, they could have had fluffier job titles, like "senior marketing manager," but they'd also have fewer responsibilities.

    "When it comes to résumés and job interviews, titles are a lot less important than what you've accomplished and what you can bring to an employer," Nicholson says.

    Of course, that's all well and good to say, but won't your ego take a hit if you have many responsibilities and an unassuming title -- especially when you walk into an interview? Just decide what you want and act accordingly, says Ann Latham, author of "Clear Thoughts -- Pragmatic Gems of Better Business Thinking."

    "If you are looking for an identity, job titles are paramount," Latham says. "In that case, I recommend a small company where you can get a big title sooner. Or try [a company] where almost everyone is a VP."

    Take a different tack if you want something more substantial.

    "But if you are looking for a position that will provide [a] challenge, satisfaction and growth opportunities, job titles are meaningless," Latham says. "It is the responsibilities and the opportunities that count. These are what will drive your day-to-day activities and your learning."

    Employers aren't dumb
    Job seekers often forget one of the most important details of a job search: Employers have been where you are, and they helped make you what you are. In other words, employers are aware of inflated job titles, too. They are the ones who created the titles, after all. Therefore, on your job search, approach listings with the same skepticism as employers.

    Keep this in mind
    Laurent Duperval, president of Duperval Consulting, suggests the following tips for focusing on job descriptions and not job titles:

    · Titles are often more fiction than fact
    "Somebody had to put up a job posting [and] had no idea what to call the position, so they made up a name. The name may not have anything to do with the actual job," Duperval warns.

    · Egos beget titles
    "Because people attach so much of their self-esteem to their titles, companies have had to change the names of the same jobs, just to make it seem like a more important position," Duperval says. "Secretary, which used to be a fine title, has been replaced by 'administrative assistant'; a janitor is now a 'sanitation engineer'; and so on. No matter what the name, you still have to file, open mail and type letters, or sweep the floors, clean the toilets and keep the place clean."
    If you're looking for work that falls under the secretary or administrative assistant label, do you honestly care what the title is? If you have the appropriate experience, the company culture suits you and the compensation is in line with your goals, it would be silly to turn it down.

    · Titles are not transferable
    "A title in one company means something completely different in another company," Duperval cautions. "In some companies, everybody and his dog is a director. In other companies, directors have large, multimillion-dollar accounts and are responsible for hundreds of employees. You just never know."

    Anthony Balderrama is a writer and blogger for and its job blog, The Work Buzz. He researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues. Follow him on Twitter at

    Tuesday, July 14, 2009


    References are one of the two most important pieces of information you need to provide when applying with DISCOVER STAFFING (the other being your documents for the Form I-9). Many job seekers are still unprepared when it comes to references. MSN Careers published this article on the subject with some great helpful tips.

    6 Ways to Build a Glowing Reference List
    By Robert Half International

    In today's competitive job market, those seeking employment need to do everything they can to distinguish themselves from the competition. A less-than-glowing reference can set you apart in the wrong way.

    When our company asked executives to describe the most unusual reference checks they'd conducted, the responses included someone whose mom recommended her for the position and a job candidate whose reference said the applicant didn't like the industry in which she was trying to get a job.

    Following are some suggestions for assembling a reference list that works for you, not against you:

    1. Don't ambush your connections
    Make sure the people you name as references are aware of this and are comfortable speaking on your behalf. For example, one respondent in the survey talked to a reference who starting laughing because he couldn't believe he was listed as a referral. Another reference had never heard of the job candidate he was asked to comment on. You don't want hiring managers to be greeted with these types of responses.

    Before you submit a reference list to a prospective employer, provide each contact with an updated copy of your résumé and describe the company and position you've applied for, as well as the name of the person who will likely be calling. Contacting references beforehand will also allow you to make sure each individual is enthusiastic about your request; those who quickly return phone calls and are excited to speak about your capabilities make the best impressions on hiring managers.

    2. Choose wisely
    Just as you would adjust your cover letter and résumé for each position for which you apply, it's also a good idea to customize your list of contacts. Consider which of your references can best discuss the traits and qualities you possess that directly relate to the job. Such individuals won't necessarily possess the most impressive job titles. If you're applying for a management position, for example, it's helpful to provide contact information for a previous supervisor and someone you managed.

    3. Remember, it's a small world
    Some employers may go the extra mile to learn more about you, and social media sites can make such detective work easier than in the past. You should not only avoid burning bridges with former colleagues but also be selective about who's in your online network since a hiring manager could contact these individuals. Because of this reason, you may consider relying on different services for your personal and professional networks. For instance, you might use LinkedIn for business purposes and Facebook for personal ones.

    4. Go the extra mile
    Make it easy for an employer to speak to your references by providing clear contact information for each individual, including the person's name, phone number and e-mail address. You might even note the best time of day to reach him or her.

    5. Tell the truth
    One of the executives surveyed by our company spoke to a reference who said the job candidate didn't do the work he claimed to do during the interview. Another reference told an executive that the applicant didn't work for a firm she listed in her employment history. Hiring managers are bound to find out if you stretched the truth during the hiring process, so resist any temptation to be less than honest about your experience -- and make sure your references are forthright, too.

    6. Say thanks
    Even if a reference doesn't end up speaking to a hiring manager on your behalf, thank that person and keep him or her updated on the status of your search. If you are hired, be sure to send a thank-you note or even a small gift to your references. Also remember to not let the relationships go dormant until you're on the job hunt again. Keeping in touch with your references, even after you've settled into a new job, can help you maintain a solid network of professionals who can assist you in various ways throughout your career.

    Robert Half International Inc. is the world's first and largest specialized staffing firm with a global network of more than 360 offices worldwide. For more information about our professional services, please visit

    For more information regarding DISCOVER STAFFING, please contact your nearest branch office.
    North Fulton Area:
    Gwinnett Area:

    Monday, July 13, 2009

    I discovered the website through LinkedIn. I thought I would share it here as another resource for job seekers in the local area. The website features sections on topics such as surviving unemployment, the emotions of dealing with job loss, money saving tips, humor pages and a blog. There is also a forum to interact with other job seekers.

    For more information on how DISCOVER STAFFING may be able to help you with your job search, please contact your nearest branch location.
    North Fulton area:
    Gwinnett area:

    Wednesday, July 8, 2009

    Etiquette Rules for the Work Place

    Professional Etiquette You Don't Think About
    By Anthony Balderrama, writer

    In theory, etiquette is a way for everyone to express mutual respect for one another. In practice, it's a confusing set of arbitrary guidelines not everyone follows.

    For instance, the next time you're eating at a restaurant or even at home, notice how many people put their elbows on the table. For some diners, an all-arms-on-deck approach to eating is an unforgivable transgression. To others, you'd look stuffy if you didn't lean in to engage in conversation because you were more concerned with your posture.

    Once you leave the comfort of your home, whether or not other people will conform to your expectations on various types of etiquette is out of your control. You might think "sir" and "ma'am" are passé ways to address people, while others might think you're rude if you don't. And who knows if anyone still cares about where your elbows are when you eat?

    Etiquette and manners still matter at work, but it's not as cut and dried as not licking your knife while enjoying a steak dinner. The workplace etiquette you need to think about is more about consideration than it is about tradition. Sometimes we don't notice little things that irk other people.

    Here are some times throughout the day when you might want to stop and think about whether or not you're being a good co-worker:

    Waiting for the elevator...

    Don't push the Up button when elevator doors are about to close just so you can make everyone wait while you squeeze in.

    Do hold the elevator doors open if someone's only a few seconds behind you.

    In the elevator ...

    Don't stand uncomfortably close to someone, especially if there is plenty of space. Forcing yourself onto a packed elevator, thereby smooshing yourself up against someone, is just as bad.

    Do cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze. (Not just in elevators, but anywhere, really.) You might think this one is obvious, but no ... it's not.

    In the lunch area ...

    Don't forget about the apple you left in the fridge two months ago. Sure, lunchroom nitpicking is the epitome of workplace banality, but the break room is one of the few places everyone shares.

    In the mail room ...

    Don't forget that the mail staff is part of the company, too. If you walk in, get your mail and leave as if it magically appeared and those people working in the room had nothing to do with it, you're being rude.

    Do say "thank you" to workers throughout your building. From the maintenance staff to the security guards and cafeteria workers, several people are making your daily grind easier. Whether it's a quick "thanks" or small talk in the elevator, talk to the people outside of your work bubble.

    On the phone ...

    Don't call someone, call back an hour later, call a third time in the afternoon to leave a voice mail, then send an e-mail, then call again to see if he got the e-mail. Not everyone is available when you need them to be, so give them some time to respond to you. Give people a day or a week (depending on the urgency of the issue) before following up.

    In the hallway ...

    Don't ambush someone with a question. If you've been waiting for your boss to answer a question you had and you run into her as she's rushing off to a meeting, don't corner her to get an answer. For one thing, you don't know if she has a pressing engagement. Also, her answer might be more complicated than a simple yes or no, and she doesn't want to give you a Cliff's Notes version while heading to the elevator.

    In a meeting ...

    Do keep the snarky comments to a minimum. Sure, meetings can be boring and some people are way too excited about them, but snickering with your co-workers is rude to whomever's talking and to the people trying to pay attention. Plus, your negativity won't go unnoticed by the boss.

    In the restroom ...

    Do wash your hands. If you leave the restroom without washing your hands and someone sees, you will be the germy person of the office. Frankly, it grosses people out and makes them not want to ever get near your desk or you.

    At your desk ...

    Don't complain about the weather, your workload, the boss, your pay and everything else that you encounter. Sure, blowing off steam is what people do, but a constant flow of negativity gets bothersome for those around you. Pretty soon everyone around you will be listening to their headphones to avoid listening to you. (Keep this in mind when you're in the elevator, too. No one wants to ride down 10 floors with a crabby colleague.)

    Anthony Balderrama is a writer and blogger for and its job blog, The Work Buzz. He researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues. Follow him on Twitter at

    Tuesday, July 7, 2009

    The Anti-Buzz Words

    Yahoo! Hotjobs has posted this great article on current trends in resume language. It is great advice to following regarding outdated phrases that you may still be using.

    The Savvy Networker
    10 Boilerplate Phrases That Kill Resumes

    by: Liz Ryan

    The 2009 job market is very different from job markets of the past. If you haven't job-hunted in a while, the changes in the landscape can throw you for a loop.
    One of the biggest changes is the shift in what constitutes a strong resume. Years ago, we could dig into the Resume Boilerplate grab-bag and pull out a phrase to fill out a sentence or bullet point on our resume. Everybody used the same boilerplate phrases, so we knew we couldn't go wrong choosing one of them -- or many -- to throw into your resume.

    Things have changed. Stodgy boilerplate phrases in your resume today mark you as uncreative and "vocabulary challenged." You can make your resume more compelling and human-sounding by rooting out and replacing the boring corporate-speak phrases that litter it, and replacing them with human language -- things that people like you or I would actually say.

    Here are the worst 10 boilerplate phrases -- the ones to seek out and destroy in your resume as soon as possible:

  • Results-oriented professional
  • Cross-functional teams
  • More than [x] years of progressively responsible experience
  • Superior (or excellent) communication skills
  • Strong work ethic
  • Met or exceeded expectations
  • Proven track record of success
  • Works well with all levels of staff
  • Team player
  • Bottom-line orientation

    You can do better. What about adding a human voice to your resume? Here's an example:

    "I'm a Marketing Researcher who's driven by curiosity about why people buy what they do. At XYZ Industries, I used consumer surveys and online-forum analysis to uncover the reasons why consumers chose our competitors over us; our sales grew twenty percent over the next six months as a result. I'm equally at home on sales calls or analyzing data in seclusion, and up to speed on traditional and new-millennium research tools and approaches. I'm fanatical about understanding our marketplace better every day, week and month -- and have helped my employers' brands grow dramatically as a result."

    You don't have to write resumes that sound like robots wrote them. A human-voiced resume is the new black -- try it!

    Liz Ryan is a 25-year HR veteran, former Fortune 500 VP and an internationally recognized expert on careers and the new millennium workplace. Contact Liz at or join the Ask Liz Ryan online community at www.asklizryan/group.
    The opinions expressed in this column are solely the author's.
  • Bilingual Customer Care

    DISCOVER STAFFING is currently seeking a Customer Care associate for an Alpharetta health care company. Must be bilingual, speaking fluent Spanish as well as English. Previous experience taking inbound calls with a strong commitment to customer satisfaction needed. Will answer inquiries in a courteous and responsive manner while providing accurate and timely resolutions to customer questions or issues. Knowledge in health care industry a plus but not required. Hours Monday-Friday 9am-6pm. must.

    Please submit resume to

    Monday, July 6, 2009

    New Trends in Telephone Interviewing

    Yahoo and the Wall Street Journal posted this article today.

    The New Trouble on the Line
    by Sarah E. Needleman
    Tuesday, June 2, 2009

    Job seekers, beware the telephone.

    For years, the phone interview was a preliminary step that allowed an employer to give a candidate the once-over and schedule an in-person interview. But these days, many recruiters are using the phone interview to pose the kinds of in-depth questions previously reserved for finalists. What's more, job hunters say the bar for getting to the next level has been raised much higher, catching many of them off-guard.

    In a recent first interview for a senior marketing job, Robyn Cobb was grilled by a hiring manager for an hour and a half on topics ranging from her work history and marketing philosophy to her knowledge of the company and its industry.

    "I thought it was never going to end," says the 45-year-old Ms. Cobb, who lives in Alpharetta, Ga., and was laid off in December from a midsize communications firm.

    Until recently, candidates could often breeze through most phone interviews in 10 minutes or less by answering a few softball questions. Little preparation was necessary, and most people could expect to be invited for a "real" interview before hanging up.

    These days, job hunters are finding that they need to reserve an hour or more for a phone interview. They may be asked to discuss their full work history, including the exact dates of their experience in various business areas. They may also be expected to cite examples and exact stats that illustrate their strengths and offer details on how they would handle the position.
    During a call earlier this year about a director-of-Internet-marketing job, Jaclyn Agy of Wheat Ridge, Colo., says she was asked to describe about 10 different marketing initiatives she's worked on, plus provide metrics resulting from each. "I didn't have those stats off the top of my head," she recalls of the hour-long conversation. "I expected to be asked that in a face-to-face."

    Ms. Agy, 30, says she assumed she'd need only to describe two or three past accomplishments in general terms. "I was taken back by how specific [the interviewer] was getting," she says. Ms. Agy was better prepared for a follow-up phone interview. She was later invited to meet with eight members of the hiring company in its Denver office, though she didn't land the position.

    Employers say they've raised the phone-interview stakes in part because they're attracting more candidates who meet their basic qualifications. They're digging deep to identify the best ones, and in some cases adding second-round rigor to phone screens as one way to accomplish that.

    "You can be pickier," says Joyce A. Foster, vice president of human resources at Hilex Poly Co. LLC in Hartsville, S.C. Salaried job openings at the company's 10 U.S. locations have been attracting up to three times as many qualified applicants -- including more candidates with experience in Hilex's niche, plastic film and bag manufacturing and recycling -- than during more robust economic times, she says.

    "Before, if a person had only recycling experience in paper, we might have said OK," Ms. Foster says. "Today we can be more specific. I'm going to find someone who's an even better fit."

    Recruiters are also seeking to weed out those who seem likely to change jobs as soon as the economy turns around. "We're trying to determine whether what we're offering truly meets their long-term objectives," says Paul Newman, assistant vice president of human resources at OppenheimerFunds. And when it comes to candidates who were laid off, recruiters for the New York-based asset-management firm want to know the circumstances behind what happened. "Was this person a high-performance, talented individual who was let go because of the economics of the business," he says, "or an average employee let go in the first round" of layoffs?

    For many firms, evaluating candidates over the phone also serves as a way to save on recruiting costs. "In this economy, you can't afford to fly every person out for an interview," says Jeff Cousens, vice president of organizational development at Patrick Energy Services Inc. in Lisle, Ill. After joining the energy concern in January, he instructed recruiters to complete up to four comprehensive phone interviews with candidates before inviting finalists in. Previously, they made just one brief call, mainly to schedule in-person interviews. "When a candidate comes in to meet the hiring manager, recruiters have already gone through every detail to make sure they're a fit," says Mr. Cousens.

    Job seekers should prepare for a phone interview as seriously as they do for an in-person one. When asked about your qualifications, for example, you can craft a better answer by asking what the company wants and why, says J.T. O'Donnell, a career strategist in North Hampton, N.H.

    If you're asked how many years of experience you have with a program you have used extensively, but not for years, you could reply by asking how much is required and at what level, says Ms. O'Donnell. Maybe the company chose a number based on how much experience the last person in the position had, and you might have just as much, but in a condensed time frame. You can then provide a convincing reason as to why you should be considered for the job even if your answer doesn't match exactly what the recruiter is looking for.

    You should also prepare to answer more complex and detailed questions in phone interviews by creating a list of key statistics and abbreviated answers to commonly asked questions, says Bill McGowan, founder of communications-coaching firm Clarity Media Group Inc. Some examples: What do you know about the company? Why do you want the job? What are your greatest strengths? What are your career goals? How do you see yourself fitting in?

    "What traps a lot of people is they think and talk at the same time. They make up answers on the fly," says Mr. McGowan. "It's better if you know your conversational path."

    Don't expect to defer answering questions to your first meeting with a hiring manager, says Maureen Crawford Hentz, a talent-acquisition manager at Danvers, Mass.-based lighting manufacturer Osram Sylvania Inc. That may have been the case in the past, but not now. "People think if you're talking to someone in HR, this isn't a real interview," she says. But these days, it might be your only shot.

    Be sure to brush up on your phone etiquette, too. Ms. Crawford Hentz says candidates have put her on hold while they answered another call or tended to their children. Once she could tell a candidate was visiting a drive-through restaurant during a call because she heard a loudspeaker requesting the person's lunch order.

    Finally, be mindful of common faux pas, such as giving long-winded answers that go off topic. "Sometimes the longer you talk, the more it sounds like you're trying to explain your way through something," says Mr. McGowan. "The most confident people don't need to drone on." Another common flub: answering recruiters' questions before they've finished speaking. Not only does that show disrespect, but it "makes it seem like you have stocked, canned answers," he says.

    Write to Sarah E. Needleman at