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Common Resume Blunders

Posted on May 01, 2018

1.Too Focused on Job Duties
One of the most prevalent resume blunders is to turn a resume into a boring listing of job duties and responsibilities. Many people even use company job descriptions as guides to developing their resumes. To create a resume that is a cut above the rest, you should go beyond showing what was required of you and demonstrate how you made a difference at each company. Provide specific examples of how the company benefited from your performance. When developing your achievements, ask yourself the following questions:

  • How did you perform the job better than others would have?
  • What were the problems or challenges that you or the organization faced?
  • What did you do to overcome the problems?
  • What were the results of your efforts?
  • How did the company benefit from your performance?

2. Objective Statement that Is Flowery or Too General
Many candidates lose their readers from the very beginning of the resume: The objective statement. The worst objective statements start with, “A challenging position that will enable me to contribute to organizational goals while offering an opportunity for growth and advancement.” This type of statement is overused and too general and therefore wastes valuable space. If you are on a career track, consider replacing the objective with a tagline, which is a statement of what you do or what your area of specialty is.

3. Too Short or Too Long
Too many people try to squeeze their experiences onto one page, because they’ve heard that a resume should never be longer than one page. When formatting the resume to fit on one page, many job seekers delete their impressive achievements. The reverse is also true. Take the candidate who rambles on and on for pages about irrelevant or redundant experiences; the reader will easily be bored. When writing your resume, ask yourself, “Will this statement help me land an interview?” Only include information that elicits the answer “yes”.
The rule about the appropriate length of a resume is that there is no rule. Factors that go into the decision regarding length include occupation, industry, years of experience, scope of accomplishments and education. The most important guideline is that every word in the resume should sell the candidate.

4. Use of Personal Pronouns and Articles
A resume is a form of business communication, so it should be concise and written in a telegraphic style. There should not be any mention of “I” or “me,” and only minimal use of articles. Here is an example:
The statement:
I developed a new product that added $2 million in sales and increased the gross margin of the market segment by 12 percent.
Should be changed to:
Developed new product that added $2 million in sales and increased gross margin of market segment by 12 percent.

5. Listing Personal or Irrelevant Information
Many people include their interests, such as reading, hiking, snowboarding, etc. These should only be included if they relate to the job objective. For example, if a candidate is applying for a position as a ski instructor, he or she should list cross-country skiing as a hobby.
Personal information, such as date of birth, marital status, height and weight, should normally not be included on the resume. There are several exceptions, however, such as some entertainment professionals and job seekers outside of the United States.

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How to Decide on Resume Length

Posted on Apr 30, 2018

“How long should my resume be?” is one of the most commonly asked questions about resumes. Not too long ago, job seekers were told that a resume should never exceed one page. Those who broke this golden rule were destined for the circular file. Times have changed, and so has the criteria for resume length.

The new guideline is: A resume should be long enough to entice hiring managers to call you for job interviews. That may sound vague, but there is no hard-and-fast length rule that works for everyone. Factors to consider include career objective, occupation, industry, years of experience, number of employers, scope of accomplishments and education/training.

Keep these facts in mind when deciding on your resume’s length:

* Your resume is a career marketing tool, not an autobiography. Strive to keep your resume concise and focused on your key selling points. Be willing to let go of past experiences that don’t market you for your current goal. Every word in the resume should sell your credentials and value to a potential employer. You should also leave something to talk about in the interview.

* It’s common for employers or recruiters to sort through hundreds, or even thousands, of resumes to fill one position. Hiring managers often give resumes just a cursory glance before deciding if the applicant deserves to be added to the “maybe” pile. While your resume will probably get a more thorough read if you are called for a job interview, ensure that your strongest selling points are immediately visible to make the first cut.

Consider a One-Page Resume If:

* You have less then 10 years of experience.
* You’re pursuing a radical career change and your experience isn’t relevant to your new goal.
* You’ve held one or two positions with one employer.

Consider a Two-Page Resume If:

* You have 10 or more years of experience related to your goal.
* Your field requires technical or engineering skills, and you need space to list and prove your technical knowledge.

Put the most important information at the top of the first page. Lead your resume with a career summary so your key credentials appear at the forefront of the resume. On the second page, include a page number and include your name and contact information.

Consider a Three-Page Resume or Longer If:

* You’re a senior-level manager or executive with a long track record of leadership accomplishments.
* You are in an academic or scientific field with an extensive list of publications, speaking engagements, professional courses, licenses or patents.

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Handling Multiple Interviewers

Posted on Apr 28, 2018

It might feel like you’re facing lions and tigers and bears. There you sit alone in front of the room, waiting for the pack to attack with questions. It’s really not quite that bad. In fact, there is an upside to this process. You’d probably have to talk to each of these people individually at some point in the process. This way, you get it over all at once.

But how do you deal with so many interviewers in one sitting? The best way is to take them one at a time. The board or panel is not one entity, but several individuals coming together with the common goal of hiring the best candidate for the job. At the same time, each person has his own agenda or department’s interest at heart. For example, the HR manager will be checking to make sure you are a good fit with the culture and people working at this company. The hiring manager will want to know about your technical skills or business know-how. And the person from accounting will want to know if you are savvy enough to operate a business budget.

Board or panel interviews are usually rather formal and organized, using a standard set of questions for all applicants. This type of interview is typically used in academia, government or for high-level executives but can be used for any other type of position in any company.

A female client interviewed for a senior administrator job at a major health agency, facing a panel of 10 doctors, nurses, technicians and administrators. She felt like it was an inquisition, not an interview. But she had prepared well and was confident when she faced this tribunal. She looked at each person as he or she asked the question, and continued to look at that person for 30 seconds or so. She then shifted her eye contact to each member of the interviewing team. She made sure she made contact with each set of eyes while answering questions. She felt very much in control and her interview went well. The result was a job offer.

Another multiple-type interview is the team or “good cop/bad cop” interview. The team is usually made up of two interviewers, one who asks the questions and one who takes notes. The two typically trade roles, which can be confusing if they have different styles. In fact, one person may be kind and gentle and the other more harsh or pushy.

Just remember, these inquisitors are working together toward the same end. Treat them equally, not favoring one over the other.

Regardless of the type of interview, the best advice is to prepare and practice beforehand. When you have your script and have rehearsed your answers, you will feel prepared and more confident no matter how many people you have to face.

Lastly, a good tip to remember is to make sure you get each person’s business card, hopefully at the beginning of the interview, so you can address each person by name.

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Research, Rehearse and Relax

Posted on Apr 27, 2018

No matter how well qualified you are for a job or how articulate you are about your strengths and experience, there is nothing that can replace preparation. Once you have practiced asking and answering questions, the next step is to relax and remind yourself that:

1. There is no question you cannot answer
2. You are well suited to the position
3. You would be an asset to the company

Visualize yourself sitting in the interview feeling serene and confident. Get a good night’s sleep before the interview, arrive a few minutes early, take a few deep breaths and seize the day.

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Interview Planner

Posted on Apr 25, 2018
  • Purchase correspondence paper (stationery and matching envelopes).
  • Keep enough paper stock on hand to print your resumes, cover letters and other correspondence on matching stationary and envelopes.
  • Know the standards for writing cover letters, thank-you letters, and when to phone.
  • Keep stamps on hand at all times!
  • Keep track of all career-related written and verbal correspondence.
  • Identify your basic interview wardrobe: select one or two outfits or suits that are considered fairly conservative for your field.
  • Locate your local overnight or one-hour dry cleaner.
  • Polish your business shoes.
  • Always have extra, clean copies of your resume with you.
  • Keep on file an interview folder to bring with you on interviews. It should contain: a few resumes in a plastic sleeve, some reminders for yourself about your skills and your goals, and a pen and some paper to make notes before and after the interview.
  • Bring to the interview: your interview folder, the names of the people you are meeting and the address with directions. You may also want: a comb, tissues, and breath mints.
  • Know where you’re going in advance.
  • Leave yourself plenty of time to get there.
  • You want to arrive a little bit early, not just on time and never late.
  • Follow up with thank you letters immediately.
  • Make sure you can be reached, whether by phone, fax or email.
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Employment Agencies and Staffing Firms are a great path to full-time employment

Posted on Apr 22, 2018

While staffing firms or employment agencies can be mistakenly referred to as only ‘temp agencies’, the truth of the matter is that staffing firms are an excellent way to obtain a full time job. The current economic environment has provided opportunities for employees to work in a temporary engagement where the job is categorized and destined to lead to full time employment.

Since massive company layoffs have sent the national employment rate past 10%, employees are now doing the work of many former co-workers. At the same time, recent quarterly increases in corporate profits and real GDP (gross domestic profit) announced by the U.S. Department of Commerce are stimulating economic growth. Those facts combined with many companies still invoking ‘hiring freezes’ has led to the recognition of staff augmentation by using staffing firms for temp-to-hire staffing services.

The truth is that a ‘temp’ never shows up as official corporate headcount so a company can utilize a temporary worker and wait for CFO approval to hire. Companies use staffing firms to ‘try before they buy’ with the goal to offer full time employment. Additionally, due to employee turnover in certain departments, many companies now classify certain job titles such as Administrative Assistants, Customer Service Reps, or Hel p Desk Analysts as strictly temp-to-hire job openings. Managers can evaluate an employee’s performance prior to a hiring commitment.

The moral to the story is that while unemployed candidates often specify that they do not want to ‘temp’ because they prefer only full-time ‘permanent’ employment, a temp-to-hire opportunity is a popular hiring method that only staffing firms retain that can lead to full time employment.

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Interviewing for a Temporary Position

Posted on Apr 22, 2018

“It’s just an interview for a temp job — no big deal!”

That’s where you’re mistaken. Some wonderful opportunities, networking connections, and careers have resulted from temporary positions. Temporary assignments today run the gamut from receptionist to CEO and beyond. And, since an agency is usually the first contact with the company, much of the marketing and negotiations have been done for you.

“But the interview is set up and all I have to do is show up.”

Wrong again. The mindset you bring to that interview will make a big difference as to whether or not you get the job at all.

Most employers like to conduct interviews for temporary positions even though they are slated only for a few weeks or months of service. They are particularly concerned about people in positions of higher responsibility. The employer is interested in selecting quality people who can be trusted with company information, knowledge and secrets.

Preparing for the Interview

* Do your research.
Many companies have Web sites where you can access valuable background information to use in your interview. By finding out information on the company like annual revenue and the organization’s mission, you will show an interest in what you will be contracted to do. Showing some enthusiasm about the position will demonstrate a positive attitude toward the assignment that you’re seeking. You don’t want to project the idea that you are there because you can’t find a job anywhere else, or are waiting for just the “right job” — even if that is the case.

* Get a job description. Do some preparation ahead of time.
A worthwhile exercise is to take a piece of paper and fold it down the middle. On one side of the fold write, “What they are looking for,” and on the other side, write, “What I have to offer.” Look at the job description and compare the company’s needs with your experience and qualities. How do you stack up? Where are your shortcomings? Can you show how you learn quickly or bring added value to the company from the start?

* Prepare a short information statement.
Your statement should include some information on the type of companies and the industries you have worked for, your strengths, your transferable skills, and some of your personal traits. Practice saying this statement until it is natural.

* Be prepared to talk about your successes and experiences.
The employer will want to find out about your past experience — successes and failures, your work ethic, your track record, and, more than likely, the reason you have chosen to work as a temporary employee rather than a regular employee. Make sure you have an answer to the question, “Why temporary employment?”

Even though you are not being considered for a regular position at this time, there is always the possibility that it just might work out well for both parties — and the first step to making that happen is by acing the interview.

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The Interview Went Well, Now What?

Posted on Apr 19, 2018

The thank-you note is a necessary tool for any job hunting strategy. But should you send it by email or snail mail, handwritten or typed? In this fast-paced computer age, the question baffles even the most sophisticated job hunters. Follow these guidelines to help you through the maze.

Email Thank-You Notes

How did the company initially contact you? If you have always corresponded with them via email for setting up the interview and answering questions, then by all means send an email thank-you note as soon as you return from an interview. However, make sure to follow it up with a typed note to show that you are not Mr. or Ms. Casual. Email thank-you notes have one clear advantage over their snail mail counterpart: They can put your name in front of the interviewer on the same day — sometimes within hours — of your interview.

Snail Mail

If the company you interviewed with is formal and traditional, use snail mail to send your thank-you note. Should it be handwritten or typed? Typed is standard. Not only will you show that you are business-like, you’ll also prove you know how to put together the salutation, format a letter and sign off. Executives want to know their administrative assistants can do this, since writing letters for your boss will be a big part of your job.

Handwritten notes are appropriate if you’d like to extend your thanks to others in the office who helped you out. For example, if a receptionist, assistant, office manager, or other person involved with the interviewing process was especially helpful — say they took you to lunch or guided you from office to office — then a handwritten note is a nice gesture to show your appreciation.

What to Say

More important is what you say and how you say it. A standard thank-you note should accomplish several things:

  • Thank the person for the opportunity to interview with the company.
  • Recap some of the conversational highlights.
  • Clarify any information you needed to check on for the interviewer.

And most importantly, plug your skills. Use the last paragraph as the chance to state, “The job is a good fit for me because of XYZ, and my past experience in XYZ.”

Interviewers have short memories. A thank-you note is your final chance to stand apart from all of the others who want the same position.

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The 8 Commandments of Temping

Posted on Apr 13, 2018

Every business day, almost 3 million Americans, many of them college students and new college graduates, go out on short-term work assignments as temporary employees. Few, however, make it the rewarding experience it can be, for both themselves and their employers. Here are 8 tips to do just that: 

1. Thou Shall Accept Various Assignments.
If you, like many college students and new grads, are temping with the hope of learning about various companies and industries, you need to be flexible when considering assignments. Don’t turn down an assignment unless you’re absolutely convinced it will be a poor fit. 

2. Thou Shall Go Above and Beyond the Call of Duty.
Once you’re in your temporary workplace, do more than what’s expected of you. Simply being competent and completing the work you’re assigned is enough to get you noticed in many companies. So if you show enthusiasm and do more than you’re required to, you’ll gain respect and the chance to do more than just answer phones. 

3. Thou Shall Get to Know as Many People and Departments as Possible.
This is especially important if you’re using temping as a stepping stone to bigger, better and more permanent things. The more you can sense what’s going on in the company and why, through simple casual conversations with your coworkers, the more opportunities you’ll likely spot and the better the chances you’ll know who to approach about those opportunities. 

4. Thou Shall Seek Out Extra Assignments.
You’ll sometimes find yourself with little or no real work to do in temporary assignments. Don’t cure your boredom by reading a magazine or surfing the Web. Instead, ask your supervisor or others in the company if there’s anything you can help them with, especially if doing so will give you a chance to learn a new software program or participate in an important project. 

5. Thou Shall Promote Thy Skills.
Your supervisor may have a copy of your resume, but it’s likely he hasn’t had the time or the inclination to look at it. Take a moment to write up a brief (half-page) memo describing the types of things you can do for the company. Often, your supervisor will be pleasantly surprised to discover you can take on unexpected tasks and assignments. 

6. Thou Shall Ask Questions — More than Once if Necessary.
The short-term embarrassment you might suffer by asking what you perceive to be dumb questions won’t compare to the embarrassment you’ll experience by screwing up an assignment your supervisor thought you understood. 

7. Thou Shall Prepare a “Mini Commercial” Describing Thy Goals and Skills.
If you do good work for the company and spend some time getting to know your coworkers, someone will likely ask you, “So what kind of job are you really looking for?” You need to be ready to respond with a 15-second “advertisement” so the person quickly understands what you want and what you might contribute, be it to his company or someone else’s. 

8. Thou Shall Stay Positive.
It can be very difficult to hold your head high, especially when half of your coworkers refer to you as “the temp” instead of calling you by your real first name. But with a good attitude and a little grace under pressure, you’ll likely earn the respect of your coworkers and bosses, have a good overall experience and possibly land a permanent position.