What Does Your Resume Say About You?

“As a society, work expectations have changed drastically over the last couple of decades. It is assumed most people will have a minimum of 7 different positions throughout their work-lives. Realistically, it is probably twice as many – although that reality doesn’t have to be as daunting as it sounds. What it actually represents is the culmination of the slow mentality shift away from “corporation as caretaker” that used to be part of a life-long career.”

Well, there’s the answer to the question that many of us are asked during interviews, “I see that you’ve jumped around a lot from job to job.  Can you tell me more about that?”  I agree with the above statement.  I think that just because you’ve changed positions and companies does not mean that you are bad at what you do or that you won’t ever be happy.  I think it just means that unfortunately you were not able to find what you were looking for at company X and had to move on.  However, that does not mean that if after explaining your desire for growth at company X you are granted new responsibilities then of course you would stay and learn more.

I am a big believer that many of us get the two or three-year itch.  And, if after explaining to your manager that you are looking for more responsibility and visibility you are still stuck doing the same thing then unfortunately you have to weigh your options.  Stay where you are and not grow as an employee or change organizations and learn something new?  I will say that there are some great companies out there that DO promote growth from within and those are the places that retain their employees.  So it’s all about how you SELL your experience and your choice to stay at one employer or move between several.

So, does your resume reflect that your are constantly unhappy or that you are simply building a career?

Well, Alesia Benedict who writes for GetInterviews.com, and from whose blog entry I borrowed the opening quote, states that you should think about the following points when drafting up your resume:

“Are you asking ‘where’s the money”? Are you feeling unfulfilled and perhaps even unappreciated in your current career situation? Do you long for a change in your career or are you seeking more flexibility in your schedule? Do you have dreams of what you would really like to be doing but feel ‘stuck’ just earning a living?”

1. “How consistent has your work history been?

2. Do your positions demonstrate a clear progression of increasing responsibility or seem more like a ‘mash-up’ of seemingly unrelated job experiences? The latter description can certainly work against you if not carefully crafted into a cohesive resume. These diverse experiences can become strengths and increase your value to an employer if ‘packaged correctly’.

If you are able to ‘connect the dots’ for the employer by presenting a common thread that includes your passion for excellence, curiosity, and drive to make things happen, you can immediately move to the top of that pile of resumes on the hiring manager’s desk.

Provide structure for your job search by presenting a resume to potential employers that sends the right message. Clarifying the purpose of the resume at this point in your life will present a cohesive ‘package’ to hiring managers. An authentic representation will land the job because of the consistent clear message about your strengths and skills.”

Have a great Halloween!

What did you do today?

Advertisements

Write About THEM, Not You-Cover Letters

Well…I agree with this to a point. Recently I’ve begun taking quotes out of job descriptions and preceding them with something along the lines of, “The job description states that you are looking for someone who will, ‘…’  Well, those are the exact duties I performed in my most recent role.”

This is a new take on cover letter writing, at least for me.  I was always used to writing about my skills and just writing in the title of the position I was applying for.  However, after hearing my friend JoAnne mention that she writes about the company rather than herself I felt inclined to try this new tactic.  I have yet to see if this is going to be effective but if I were reading cover letters I would think that this kind of writing would stand out a little more.

Another thing I’ve begun doing is making bullet points.  I either bullet out the requirements that apply to me specifically, from the job description, or I’ll make bullets about my experience and make sure it relates to the job requirements.

With the unemployment rates what they are today we have to do whatever we can to stand out.

What did you do today?

Databases vs. People – The Importance of Keywords

I have written a lot about key words and their importance.  We have all heard about recruiters and job search databases, we may have even griped about not hearing back from the jobs we applied to.  Well, as we all may know, the large number of applicants versus the small number of hiring managers and HR personnel just doesn’t add up.  So what happens?  Databases get implemented and this is where keywords get implemented.

“Today, the gatekeeper is not a person. It is a computer database. Recruiters and hiring managers use computer databases to manage the astronomical number of resumes that are submitted to them daily. Most people understand that the big job boards such as Job.com and others are database-driven but sometimes people unfamiliar with the intricacies of modern job search assume they avoid the database if they email the resume as an attachment. “I didn’t upload it – I emailed it to the recruiter” is a common comment.”

Databases are told what to look for, in terms of keywords, and they then scan your resume for these keywords.  Even if you send a resume to a recruiter, he or she is stil going to run your resume through a database.

“What…job seekers do not realize is that everyone uses a database to manage resumes, including recruiters. Most of the time, when a resume is sent to a recruiter, the resume is loaded into the database before the recruiter even sees it. Recruiters prize their databases as valuable depositories of potential candidates.”

However, don’t overlook networking.  Just because databases may be used, it’s still worth it to send your resume to numerous agencies, recruiters and connections.  The more people/databases look at your resume the better!

“…the use of databases has made job search much more of a numbers game. Job search success is still to some degree a matter of ‘who you know’ but it is also a matter of ‘how many contacts’ you have. That means getting the resume to as many potential companies, recruiters, and hiring managers as possible. Sending the resume to a couple of recruiters will not realize good responses.”

So fine tune your key words and if you need some help, take a look at mine in my About Me section.

What did you do today?

P.S. I pulled the quotes and inspiration for today’s blog post from an article titled, Gatekeepers Replaced by Databases by Alesia Beneditct who write for GetInterviews.com

Overqualified…Underqualified…External

These are the top three reasons I have yet to find a job. I am positive that a lot of you are also in the same situation.  I always wonder why recruiters or hiring managers even post a job if they have an internal candidate in mind.

Also, I almost wish that I did horribly in interviews because at least I could point at that and say that that is the reason I did not get hired or called back.  However, I’ve always heard that I’ve done great and I’ve even had hiring managers refer me to another job within the company and other interviewers have recommended me for positions at a friends company.  So what’s going on?  If I’m good in interviews and am liked by hiring managers, why am I not employed yet?  I am VERY ready to put my previously acquired and newly learned marketing skills to work!

As the article I came across writes, “…if you’re vastly under- or overqualified for a particular position, it’s probably not worth your time to apply for it. But if you, like the majority of your fellow job seekers, fall into the grey middle area of the qualification matrix, it may be well worth it to take a risk and apply anyway. Maybe the help-wanted ad calls for 3 years of experience and you only have 2, but you also earned straight A’s in related college coursework. Or perhaps you’ve got an advanced degree when the job posting calls for an associate’s.

These are the type of qualification discrepancies that can easily be overcome with a bit of planning and strategic thinking.”

Here are the two points, in the article, I found very interesting.

1. Make Your Salary Expectations Part of the Discussion from the Onset: “In many cases, the labels “underqualified” and “overqualified” have to do with the employer’s concerns about compensation. If you don’t have the experience to completely fit the qualifications for a position, make it known that you’re willing to pay your dues and start out with a salary commensurate with your experience. On the other hand, if you have a great deal of experience, but want to change careers or enter a new area of specialization, clearly define your level of salary flexibility at the beginning of the discussion. If the hiring manager’s salary concerns can be satisfied, the importance of qualification concerns will likely diminish.”

2. Emphasize Your Unique Potential: “Whether you’re underqualified or overqualified for a position, be sure to underscore the fact that you’re in it for the long haul and that you offer great long-term potential to the organization. What you lack in experience with other employers, you can make up for in on-the-job training, growing into the role over time. If you have a lot of prior experience, point out the ways that you will be able to leverage your accumulated skills and abilities in the new role, improving the organization as a whole in the process.”

Let’s hope these tips helps us and…what did you do today?

P.S. Here is the article I referenced today, Underqualified? Overqualified? How to Sidestep and Rise Above Credential Problems in Your Job Search.

Reasons Why You Didn’t Get a Call Back

We all wonder why we didn’t get a call back after either sending in our resume to a job we thought we’d be perfect for or after interviewing and thinking we did awesome.  So what’s the reason? Well, the information I am going to share with you is pretty obvious but sometimes we get so caught up in sending out resumes that we forget about some of the basics.

1. Follow Up: Always follow up after an interview with a thank you note or call.  Or, if you are just wondering about where you are after sending in a resume, do some sleuthing and find out who the HR manager might be and contact him/her directly.

2. Sell Yourself: The interview is your chance to sell your brand.  Tell them why they need you and what you can offer in terms of skills.  You might even consider bringing in some sample work to set yourself apart from the competition.

3. You Just May Not Have Been the “Right” Fit:  And the “right” fit they were looking for may have been someone from the inside who knows not only how to do the work but also knows the ins and outs of the company.  In this case, there’s really nothing you can do.

4. Be Excited! Make sure to show enthusiasm for the role and the company.  If you come in sad and unenthusiastic then you may be perceived as a loner and someone who may just leave the moment they are hired.

5. Listen, Listen, Listen. Listen to what the interviewer is saying, this way when you ask questions you can refer back to a specific point he or she said.  This may result in him or her thinking you are very detail oriented!

6. Think About Relevant Stories to Share. You will be asked to talk about yourself and maybe even asked, “Tell me something about you that’s not on the resume.”  Be prepared to tell a story that is relevant to your skills, nobody cares that you enjoy pets, unless you are applying for a veterinary position.

7. Be Natural. Just be yourself, on a good day.  Don’t rehearse your stories or what you’ll talk about exactly. Just be ready to talk naturally and confidently about yourself and your skills.

Did you cover the basics in your last interview?

What did you do today?

P.S. Here is the article I used as inspiration for today’s blog entry, 7 Surprising Reasons You Didn’t Get a Call Back for That Job.

P.P.S. 60 Minutes had a great story about The 99ers last night. Check out the article and video to find out more.

Job Seekers Make Mistakes

I apologize for the lack of posts this week but, early mornings and long hours at my part time job, as well as a new InDesign class kept me away from blogging.

I have come across an article, in pictures, that shares what mistakes we as job seekers make.  I thought these were some great things to look out for and not over look.  As the blurb prior to the 13 top mistakes states, “A recent study surveyed 233 unemployed people daily for three weeks to find out their emotions, the time they dedicated to their job search and the level of confidence they felt about finding an acceptable job. The results revealed many mistakes job seekers often make. Here are 13 of the most surprising ones.”

1. “Take too many breaks from the search process, particularly after progress is made.”  It’s very true.  We get excited about a good interview and then hope that it works out.  However, after the numerous rejections we’ve gone through we should know better.  Nothing is set in stone until you get that offer, until then the interview is just another thing you did that day.

2. “Don’t dedicate enough time to the process. Almost 44% of job seekers spend less than three hours per day looking for a new position.”  Very true.  That is why my personal goal is something that CAN be achieved, 10 jobs a week.

3. “Let their emotions and frustration get the best of them.”  Also very true…

4. “Put all their eggs in one basket.”  I’ve learned that no matter how good an interview goes, I can’t hope for anything.  I just plug away and keep applying to more jobs.

5. “Fail to bounce back from a day without progress.”  There will always be bad days and yes, sometimes a week goes by and I haven’t met my 10 jobs a week goal.  But, I get back at it the next week and see if I can maybe make up for the previous week.

6. “Get distracted by errands, household tasks and child care, leaving too little time for the job search.” Again a good point.  I often times feel that on my days off I need to make the most of my time so I have to divide the day up into numerous blocks; gym time, breakfast time, job search time, preparing food time, errands, cleaning the house, etc. I just need to keep myself busy because otherwise I just don’t feel like I’m pulling my weight.  If I can’t bring in the income then I should at least run the house.

7. “Fail to get help reviewing their resume.” I was lucky enough that after being laid off I was given an opportunity to get my resume reviewed professionally and since then have been tweaking it on my own.  I was also very lucky to get in touch with a recruiter who prior to bringing me in for an interview gave me some great tips on my resume which I feel will help me in the long run.

8. “Fail to diversify their job search.  Some rely solely on online job postings; others depend only on networking.” That’s why sites like LinkedIn are such a great tool.  You can do both of the above all at the same time!

9. “Fail to tailor their resume with relevant key words for each individual job application.”  I can’t say that I tailor my resume each time, I do tailor my cover letter…perhaps this is something I should implement myself.

10. “Jump into a search with expectations that are either too specific or too broad.”

11. “Become isolated from friends and family because they spend too much time searching for jobs.”  True.  I look back at this summer and wish I would have gone to the beach more…but I didn’t want to pay for the parking fees.  I’m also sure that I’ll look back on this upcoming winter, as I did last year, and wish I would have gone skiing more…but then remember that skiing means spending at least $80 just for the lift ticket.  I’ll just have to buck up and sign up for some cheaper ski trips with BSSC.

12. “Forget to build in occasional breaks for personal or social activities.” See above.  There were days where I planned to go to the beach but the day before I would find out that I didn’t get a job I interviewed for, so instead of taking a break I would spend the afternoon looking for more work…and that was my whole summer.  We all have to remember to take more breaks!

13. “Jump into the process without having any knowledge of effective ways to conduct a job search.”  Don’t forget about my tips for getting job search ready and rebuilding your brand!

Have a great weekend! Don’t forget, this weekend it’s the Head of the Charles!

What did you do today?

P.S. Check out the full slides for the above tips.

P.P.S. Check out my updates in About Me.

Does Your Boss REALLY Know How Much You Do?

I’m sure I’m not the only one who has thought this thought…can my boss do my job?  Well, our questions may be answered, just flip to Undercover Boss on Sunday Nights at 9pm and you’ll see that most CEO’s are not able to do the work that makes a company tick. Whether it’s being a flight attendant for a national airline, a lifeguard for a regional resort or a chamber maid for a national hotel, the big wigs just can’t cut it.  However, this past weekend’s episode really showed it best when the CEO of Frontier airlines, who lives in a mansion with a giant backyard and two fountains, talks about the struggles the company has gone through and hence has cut people’s pay by 10%…

What does this show us?  We have to keep climbing up, or in some cases, do what we do but do it better than someone else.  The people who make a business run on a daily basis are not the ones who prosper, most of the time.  We may work 10 hour days, put in weekends, sleep with our blackberries glued to our ears but all of it won’t help when it comes to layoffs.  So instead, I encourage everyone to become more visible in their company.

1. Talk to everyone, even the CEO.

2. Ask for projects that have higher visibility and then deliver on a promise to complete the project.

3. Always ask for feedback and ask about what you can do better.

4. Plan out your day wisely.  Sure, phone calls and people may interrupt you, but make sure you get done what you set out to do.  I’d suggest to low ball your task list, that way if you get more done then you’re that much further along and feeling more positive rather than thinking about the 10 things you didn’t accomplish.

5. Never burn bridges!  If I have learned anything at all it’s that you never know who you might meet and whose help you may need to rely on.  As you plan out your career, make sure to pay it forward and then back to those who have ever helped you.

For those of us who are unemployed, we have to become more visible in our networks and on our resumes.  How?  Here are my tips:

1. Reach out to new people on LinkedIn.

2. Expand your skills by taking online classes!

3. Always ask for feedback after interviews.

4. Taylor your resume and cover letter TO the job you are applying to.

5. Keep in touch with your references.  Don’t just call them up when you need them. You hate it when others only call you for a favor, how do you think your references feel if you do the same thing?

Good luck to all of us!

What did you do today?

P.S. Today’s entry idea came from the following article, Undercover Boss: Could Your Boss Do Your Job?

Avoiding Interview Mistakes

I hope everyone had a good weekend.  Today I wanted to look at a few more interview mistakes.  Although the article I will be referencing is riddled with spelling mistakes I think it has some good advice.  We’ve all had an experience of a question be thrown at us which we may not know how to answer.  I’ve at times answered questions and then thought, man…what if I would have said that I’d like to get back to it later after I thought about it a little more?  Is that ok?  Well, Eve Nicholas writes that you should simply be prepared for anything.

Here is her take on how to avoid the worst interview mistakes.

1. Poor presentation or communication: “There is simply no excuse for lateness or improper attire in professional job interviews. Similarly, off-topic chatter about your life history, family or political views will likely distract from an important discussion about your qualifications. Stay on point.”

2. Lack of insight about the company: “In order to plow through the small talk and engage in a more pertinent conversation, you must understand the company’s vision and specialized products or services. Perform in-depth research in advance.”

3. Flustered by interview questions: “Be ready for standard interview questions, like “Why should we hire you?” and “What is your greatest weakness?” Also, prepare for tougher inquiries by brushing up on your career accomplishments so you can present examples of how much money you have generated or saved for former employers.”

4. Not asking career savvy questions: “Most employers take a moment at the end of each interview to ask if you have questions about the position or company. In response, many job hunters shrug their shoulders and ask about salary and benefits. Don’t make this mistake! Ask about the boss’s expectations. Ask about the challenges faced by the last person who served in this position. If you care about the company (and your career), you can ask almost anything.”

5. Missing the connection: “Don’t waste the interview by reciting your resume or rattling off a list of achievements that do not relate to the position. Impress the hiring manager by saying something useful about yourself that will affect the business.”

Don’t let these mistakes be your downfall!

What did you do today?

P.S. I visited an amazing market this weekend so check out my review on, Let’s Review.

“Top 20” Interview Questions

From cover letters lets move on to some interview questions.  The article, Top 20 Common Interview Questions and Answers by Ana Anuntes da Silva, offers up a great number of questions we all expect but overlook to prepare for, such as “tell me about yourself.”  As always, I’ve picked the top questions I found most interesting but you should check out the link above to see all of the questions and their answers.

“Bare in mind that the interview starts from the minute you walk into the building until you leave and are out of sight. Don’t think that just because you have left the meeting room, you are “off the hook.” You need to maintain an image of confidence, enthusiasm, competence, reliability and professionalism throughout.”

1. Tell me about yourself.
“Have something prepared that doesn’t sound rehearsed. It’s not about you telling your life story and quite frankly, the interviewer just isn’t interested. Unless asked to do so, stick to your education, career and current situation. Work through it chronologically from the furthest back to the present.”

2. Why are you looking for another job (or why did you leave your previous job)?
“On the surface, this appears to be a simple question, yet it is easy to slip. I would suggest not mentioning money at this stage… If you are currently employed, you can say it’s about developing your career and yourself as an individual. If you are in the unfortunate position of having been downsized, stay positive and keep it brief. If you were fired, you should have a solid explanation.”

3. What do you know about this organization?
“Doing the background work will help you stand out. Find out who the main players are — have they been in the news recently? You’re not expected to know every date and individual but you need to have a solid understanding of the company as a whole.”

4. Why do you want this job?
“This question typically follows on from the previous one. Here is where your research will come in handy. You may want to say that you want to work for a company that is x, y, z, (market leader, innovator, provides a vital service, whatever it may be)…be specific and link the company’s values and mission statement to your own goals and career plans.”

5. Who are our main competitors?
“This shows you really understand the industry and the main players. Think about a few and say how you think they compare (similarities, differences). This is a good opportunity to highlight what you think are the company’s key strengths.”

6. Are you applying for other jobs?
“If you are serious about changing jobs then it is likely that you are applying to other positions. It is also a way of showing that you are in demand. Be honest but don’t go into too much detail; you don’t want to spend a great deal of time on this. If asked about names of who you have spoken to, it is absolutely legitimate to say you prefer not to disclose that information at this stage.”

7. What is your biggest weakness?
“I would advocate a certain degree of honesty and list a true weakness. Emphasize what you’ve done to overcome it and improve. This question is all about how you perceive and evaluate yourself.”

8. What has been your biggest professional disappointment/achievement so far?
“If asked about disappointments, mention something that was beyond your control. Stay positive by showing how you accepted the situation and have no lingering negative feelings. If asked about your greatest achievement, choose an example that was important to you as well as the company. Specify what you did, how you did it and what the results were. Ideally, pick an example that can relate to the positions you are applying for.”

9. What kind of decisions do you find most difficult to take?
“The logic behind this type of question is that your past behaviour is likely to predict what you will do in the future. What the interviewer is looking for is to understand what you find difficult.”

10. Why should we hire you?
“This is an important question that you will need to answer carefully. It is your chance to stand out and draw attention to your skills, especially those that haven’t already been addressed. Saying “because I need a job” or “I’m really good” just won’t cut it. Don’t speculate about other candidates and their possible strengths or flaws. Make sure you focus on you. Explain why you make a good employee, why you are a good fit for the job and the company and what you can offer. Keep it succinct and highlight your achievements.”

What did you do today?

P.S. Check out the blog written by Ana Anuntes da Silva, the same woman who came up with the above questions and answers.  The blog is titled, Aim to Be, Life and Business Coaching.

Cover Letters, Does Anyone Read Them?

During our monthly Girls Night Out night we came across the topic of cover letters when one of the girls asked me what I blogged about that day.  We went on to discuss resume writing and key words.  But we came back to wondering, does anyone really read cover letters?  When I offered my advice of looking at a job description and then putting the words from the description into my cover letter so it gets picked up my keyword readers a friend shared something I had never considered.

She said that she writes ABOUT the company and not about herself.  When a recruiter or hiring managers sees you are writing about them they’ll at least wonder “well what does she know about us?” and keep reading!

What do you think of this advice?

What did you do today?