How many times have you pressed ‘send’ only to realize there was a glaring typo in your email/cover letter/resume? Ack! Even though you double or triple checked it, sometimes an error is right in front of your eyes, but you just haven’t seen it.
Whether you consider writing to be one of your weaker points, or you consider it to be your forte, you can always benefit from having someone take a second – or even a third or fourth – look at your resume. After all, this will be the first impression that you give a future employer; if your resume is sprinkled with typos, then it might be perceived as a lack of initiative on your part. As a matter of fact, anyone can suffer from this predicament: when you spend hours trying to put together the perfect resume, it can be very easy to overlook minor errors. When you read your own writing, you tend to look past the typos and concentrate on the more major aspects of it. While it’s ultimately your responsibility to make sure that your resume is presentable for your future employers, it’s best to take advantage of varying sources to minimize the possibility of errors and to maximize your potential of getting noticed.
If you are a college student or graduate, check to see if your school has a writing center and career center. At a writing center, a tutor can look over your work to make sure it is free of errors, and at a career center, a human resources consultant can tell you what employers want to see on a resume. These people can provide an unbiased opinion of your resume’s strong points as well as the parts that need improvement. Even if you have a friend who is a professional writer or a human resources professional, he or she might have a biased perspective, or they might be reluctant to offer any criticism.
If you are willing to invest some money into your resume, you can even purchase the service of resume professionals online. These resume services are usually comprised of business writers and human resources professionals who have spent years working with resumes and cover letters. We provide the insight necessary to highlight your most important qualities and downplay the ones you don’t particularly want employers to know about. For example, if you held a senior position in your last job, you’ll want to know just how to describe your experience. Of course, these professionals will also proofread your resume before sending it back to you.
In the end, it’s always good to have a second (or third) set of eyes to proof your resume. Even if you have impeccable writing skills and stellar credentials, you can still blend in with a competitive pool of job applicants. A writer can point out any errors, and a human resources professional can determine what will help your resume stand out. While you are the last person who should review your resume before it goes out, it always helps to have a variety of sources provide their insights on it first.
It’s not enough for some potential employers to simply get a cover letter and resume in response to a job advertisement anymore. They may want a biography, a more detailed look into who you are personally and what your life experiences have been. It is a mini life story, and a good one will take a little work on your part. Do not make the mistake of enclosing a biography with just a standard resume and cover letter, for a job that does not specifically ask for it. Do some research on your job field specifically, and learn the protocol for when and where to submit a biography, if at all. A person applying as a construction worker probably won’t require one; whereas a CFO might.
Start by reading over biographies on the Internet or from the library. Look particularly for those that are short and attached to curriculum vitae or resumes, especially those of people who hold positions you might be interested in pursuing. Keep an eye out for ones that appeal to you personally, and set them aside as a rough guideline for how to conduct the writing of your own biography.
Next, take your resume as a launching pad, providing you with a clear chronology of events. Flesh out these events with any remarkable happenings in between or around your work and educational backgrounds, like accomplishments, professional development, or volunteer work, or personal details that were meaningful to you at the time. This is a brainstorming session, so throw on anything you find interesting or important to you, and edit it at a later point.
Now, pinpoint happenings in your life (education, background and career) that might be relevant to the position for which you are applying, and expound on those events. Be detailed as to what they meant to you, and, if needed, who the key players were in your experiences.
The hard part comes now, with editing. You’re going to want to cull down your brainstorming session into three or four relatively short paragraphs that are succinct, and relevant to the job you’re going for. You’ll want a strong introductory sentence, followed by a chronological personal history. If it helps, make an outline with headings and subheadings, and write a sentence or two for each of them. Sell yourself, not being too modest, and not being too show-off. You should be proud of your accomplishments, but not appear as though you have nothing new to learn.
When you’re finished, read it out loud to yourself and listen to your tone. Fix any awkward phrases or poor flow, and then have at least two other people whose writing and reading abilities you respect read over the content. Ask them to examine readability, relevance to the topic (the job you want), and look for grammatical and punctuation errors. Ask them for tough editing. Ask them too, if there is anything missing or they would like to know more about, pretending to be a potential employer.
When presenting a resume to a prospective employer, you are essentially selling yourself. This includes not only selling your qualifications and abilities pertinent to the career you are seeking, but also selling your character, personality, and what makes you unique. Because employers typically have dozens of resumes to weed through before making decisions on which candidates to bring in and interview, they often don’t have time to carefully read each and every one. Especially ones with an objective on it (and I am not even going to touch on the subject of “objectives” right now… that could take up another blog post). A well-written summary becomes your very first impression, and should catch the reader’s eye to give you that edge.
Your summary should highlight what your employer will find most important: any top skills and abilities you may possess, your best attributes and characteristics that will contribute to the job, and what makes you unique and best suited for the job. You’ll also want to include any experiences that relate to the job and its duties, your goals regarding the position, and what you as an individual can bring to the job or company that nobody else can. Each word and phrase should exude self-confidence in your ability and performance. Because you’re selling yourself, feel free to use many descriptors and keyword action phrases about yourself and your abilities. Try to avoid generic terms such as “good” or “great”, or worse, phrases such as “excellent communicator” or “detail-oriented”. For example, if you wish to describe your leadership skills, rather than saying you are a “great leader”, instead state that you’re a leader because you’re a “turnaround champion” or “product evangelist” and then follow up with a brief summary why. Bring a previous experience in to back up your statement. Colorful words are a good way to make a fast impression, but it is even better to back those colorful words up with an ‘action zinger’ or actual background. Leave no room for doubt in your skills.
Resume summaries are typically written in two different styles: paragraph or bulleted. When using paragraph format, be sure to keep it no more than 4-5 lines long, as you don’t want to seem long-winded and lose the interest of the reader. These lines will typically be a listing of the qualifications you possess that will make a lasting positive impact on the employer. I usually follow that up with a bulleted keyword list to grab the reader’s attention.
When using bulleted style, you simply take those same lines and put them in bullets. You don’t necessarily have to have complete sentences when using bullets, though you can if you want to. Bulleted styles are not a way I do very often, but I’ve seen them done from time to time and they look really great.
Remember that when writing your summary, you don’t want to overload it with every single qualification and ability you possess. You want to showcase the ones that stand out the most to grab the reader’s attention and make him or her want to read the rest of your resume. Be sure you closely proofread your summary when it is complete, as even the most basic writing skills can make a negative impression if there are errors present. Write your article in first person present tense, as though you are saying ‘I’ “Offer full scale project management expertise”, just don’t actually use the personal pronouns.
With a well-written, concise summary, you should be successful in catching the interest of any prospective employer.
It seems that everyone from teenagers to top-level executives of multi-million dollar corporations have taken to social networking online. These types of sites have been around for a while now, so it’s become common knowledge that you should keep your personal information private for safety reasons.
However, your presence on social networking sites can do more harm to you than just affecting your personal safety – it can damage your job safety as well. Today, many employers use social networking sites to narrow down their pool of applicants. A risque picture or an inappropriate comment can make the difference between you and someone else being chosen for a job interview, so it’s crucial to maintain your online reputation carefully just as you would do with your reputation in the real world. There are a few guidelines to keep in mind regarding using social networking sites wisely.
Privacy in Social Networking
Try to make your profile as private as possible. The less you reveal, the less a hiring manager will have to scrutinize. On some social networking sites, you can actually block your name from searches so that your name won’t come up when searched.
On the other hand, you might prefer to give a small hint of information so that friends can verify that you are the classmate they think you are, people with common interests can find you, and potential employers get a glimpse of what you’re really like outside of work. This personal touch can help you as long as you keep it simple, neutral, and tasteful.
Trouble Spots in Social Networking
When managing your profiles, take caution with your pictures, comments, and information. Don’t post pictures that are risque or objectionable. You can say that you graduated summa cum laude from your university, but if you post pictures that show you partying or drinking alcohol, it can give people the wrong idea. Your comment wall can also get you in trouble. If anyone leaves you a crude message, this can reflect poorly on you. After all, people are often judged by the company they keep.
Also, keep in mind that friends can tag you in their own pictures, so always keep track of what pictures you’re tagged in. These photos can be found in your own photo album, so even if all of your pictures are private, these tagged pictures might still appear. If you want to untag yourself from a photo, simply click on the photo and click on the untag option. I find this so frustrating in Facebook. I don’t like being tagged. I’ve even had people that weren’t in the photo tag everyone in it–including me! Very invasive and once it’s out there, it’s out there for good… remember that!
The scrutiny over your social networking profiles might not even end when you get hired for a job. Your current boss could become curious about how you conduct yourself outside work, so always be just as careful with your profiles as you would be during a job hunt.
Since potential employers often use social networking utilities to get a first impression of their candidates, make sure that you put your best face forward with your profile. Check your profile often to make sure that no one has left you any inappropriate comments or tagged you in any questionable pictures. Social networking sites are a great way to keep in touch with friends from your past or family members who live far away, so while they are not entirely bad, you should proceed with caution. Instead of your audience being your friends and family, think of your audience as the entire world, including your potential employers.
**I am a member of the Career Collective, a group of resume writers and career coaches. Each month, all members discuss a certain topic. This month, we are talking about looking for a job during the summer months. Please follow our tweets on Twitter #careercollective . You can also view the other member’s interesting posts at the end of the article.
Getting through a layoff or firing during the summer months can seem especially cruel. Your employed friends and family are either taking vacation time off in the summer, or even if they just have a paid long weekend, they’re financially able to make the most of it. You might be sitting at home, scrimping on groceries and air conditioning, while the rest of the world seems to be taking paid holidays at exotic locations, or just able to keep up with their bills and maybe buy a kiddie pool.
It doesn’t have to be a low point. The summer can mean many good things for a job hunter, including the fact that other job seekers might be distracted right now and the competition is a little less fierce. Take this time to do some work for yourself, including: Making a list of what you’d actually like to get done this summer, and how you’ll make that happen. It might mean picking up a part-time job doing something completely different, just for a little extra cash and to get you out of the house. It should also include strong strategies for how you’ll get a real job, including goals for interviews during the summer, updating your wardrobe, and daily goals for just getting your resume out there.
Make a daily schedule and be rigid about living it. Just because it’s summer, doesn’t mean you get to take a break from looking for work. Maintain a regular bedtime, get up at an early hour, take your shower, and get dressed, just as if you were headed to work. Then go to your desk and get on the computer, not to play games, but to pour over the want ads and job boards. Join as many online networking sites as you can, and spread the word that you’re in need of employment. Spend as much time looking for a job as you would at a regular job, each day, every day.
Regarding resumes, how fresh is yours? Have you tried different versions of the same resume, shifting objectives and experience, trying out different looks? Maybe you should, and send a few variations of them to friends or family you respect to look over and make suggestions. Perhaps your resume is not sending out the message you want, and you don’t even know it because you’re too close to the situation. Is your resume selling you well, or sabotaging you?
As for your look, take this time to make sure your clothing is in good working order, no holes, missing buttons, stains or tears. If it can be repaired, fix it yourself on the cheap, or get someone who knows what they’re doing to help you. If it needs to be cleaned, have a professional take care of it. If you’re missing some key pieces in your wardrobe, pick some up at a discount store or new at a place like Kohl’s.
Most importantly, try to keep your mood light and enjoy your summer. Spend time with friends outdoors… Vitamin D is supposed to keep you healthy, so get outside and get some fresh air. Go to barbecues, parties, or visit a friend for coffee. It will do your heart and mind a world of good.
Don’t forget to check out other similar articles from members of the Career Collective:
Heating up the Job Search-How to Stay Motivated During the Summer, @erinkennedycprw
Light the Fire Under Your Feet, @careersherpa
Cool Job Seekers Heat Up Their Search in the Summer, @barbarasafani
Some assembly required, @DawnBugni
9 Ways to Heat Up Your Job Search This Summer, @heatherhuhman
Getting Out From Under Chronic, @WorkWithIllness
Upping Your Job Search Flame; Be ‘Needed, Not Needy,‘ @ValueIntoWords
Is Your Career Trapped in the Matrix? @WalterAkana
Put some sizzle in your job hunt – how to find a job now, @keppie_careers
Summertime – and the Job Search Ain’t Easy, @KCCareerCoach
Hot Tips for a Summer Job Search, @MartinBuckland @EliteResumes
Heat Up Your Job Search: Avoid Job Boards, @JobHuntOrg
Social media is changing the landscape of how people relate to each other. Before the advent of keeping track of people online, it was harder to maintain an extended network. Now, it’s possible to catalog all the people you’ve known through previous jobs – and to keep in touch with them as well, which is amazing when you think about it. This has had numerous impacts on the workplace, and how people get jobs.
In the early days of the internet, people would search job boards. Remember when Monster.com and Yahoo!Jobs were touted as the hot new thing? I remember telling my clients to go to them to look for job openings. Those job boards were also huge for the recruitment industry. Here was a (relatively) cheap way to reach thousands of people across the whole world with news about your job opening. While still extensively used, job boards seem to have fallen to the baseline, with the exception of a few good ones. They require little to no personal interaction to apply for a job. On the recruiter’s side, they often have to deal with spam bots which send out limitless replies to job advertisements. Not as bad as spam bots, but still very annoying, are people who apply on every job on the board, regardless of how qualified they actually are for the job. The entry-level recruiter who spends their day sifting through hundreds of applicants for an administrative assistant’s job is practically tearing their hair out.
Now, a lot of recruiters are on Facebook, and there are some people who exclusively advertise job openings they’re working to their Facebook friends. This is helpful, because friends can direct their friends to connect with recruiters – and people that are recommended for a job are much more likely to get it than a random faceless applicant.
Twitter is another way that job news is getting out. Becoming a part of the Twitter community or subscribing to a Twitter feed is an easy way to get information on a job – even if it’s only 140 characters. A job title and a few keywords are often enough information for a job seeker to determine if they’re interested in an opening.
LinkedIn (my favorite!), which is a site dedicated to professionals looking to maintain their personal business network, is also another place that has exploded with opportunities. At first, LinkedIn was just a way to keep track of people – now, you can post pictures, what you’re up to, and complete an entire professional profile. You can even upload your resume and indicate how open you are to finding new opportunities.
At first, people created groups for job-seekers. Then, recruiters made groups through which they would post openings. Groups such as, “Jobs for Software Developers” attracted only the niche market they were going after – people who were looking for software development jobs, and friends of people who might be interested. LinkedIn capitalized on this phenomenon by creating a job board integrated with their website. Now, people can pay for a job ad, and have their links recommend their friends for a job.
If you have been avoiding social networking, maybe now is the time to jump on the bandwagon and “be seen”.
In today’s competitive job market, you want to make your resume as appealing as possible to prospective employers. Most employers are looking for competent workers to fill key positions quickly, with the expectation that new workers will stay around for many years and become valuable assets to the company. Therefore, a big gap in work history could be viewed by some employers as a sign that you are not looking for a long term commitment to a job.
You need to be honest on your resume about any big gap in work history, but you can be creative in your explanation to present your history in the best light possible. If you have a gap of more than a few months in your work history, you can’t just skip over it on your resume and hope no one will notice. Even though you were not working during that time, you might have been doing something that would look good to an employer.
Having a big gap in work history should not negatively impact your chances of finding a job if you can make the gap look like it was not time wasted. If you had to leave work in order to take care of your ailing parents, or if you took two years off after the birth of your child, you can highlight the valuable experiences you gained during your time off.
If you took a year or two off from a “real” job and spent the time wandering around Europe, describe this period as a personal sabbatical for enhancing your education and understanding of the world.
List the time interval as though it was a period of employment, except that you didn’t get paid for it. If the other job descriptions on your resume take up six lines each, devote the same space to describing your “duties” during your time off.
It is better to be up front and honest with potential employers when describing your background. If you have one or more big gaps in employment that were due to circumstances that an employer might see as negative, it is better to explain those circumstances fully in your cover letter when applying for a job. If you spent time in prison or drug rehab, it is better for you to explain what valuable lessons you learned from the experience in your job application process, than it is to hide the truth and hope your potential employer doesn’t discover it in a background check.
Many employers will not view a gap in employment negatively. They recognize the value of continuing education, caring for others, and personal growth experiences. They will often seek out job candidates who have something unusual to offer. By explaining your big gap in work history in the proper light, you may show the boss that you are the exact type of creative and self-motivated individual the company needs for that job you have always dreamed of.
Job rejection is an inevitable and discouraging part of the job search process–we’ve all been there. Even so, each rejection is a lesson learned; with this in mind, you can maintain the confidence necessary to move forward to your ideal job. When dealing with job rejection, the two most important things to do are to ask for feedback from your interviewer and keep in mind that being passed over for a job isn’t necessarily within your control.
Although job rejection might cause you to feel disappointed in your efforts, you can still gain something positive from each experience. Ask hiring managers what you can do to improve your chances in the future – some might be more than willing to give you some pointers if they felt you were a viable candidate who simply lost out to someone more qualified.
When you speak to the hiring manager, you can ask whether there are other opportunities within the company that might be a better fit for you. Even if there are no other open positions at that company, it doesn’t hurt to let them know of your interest in working for them. Your perseverance might pay off by landing you an even better job later on.
Your interviewer is not your only valuable source of information; you can also talk with your friends and family. Some people are reluctant to do this because they feel that speaking about job rejection means admitting failure – as mentioned, this isn’t the case. Your friends and family can provide valuable guidance to steer you in the right direction. The more people you open up to, the more potential you will have to get interview tips or even job leads.
What You Can Do in the Future
There are a few ways that you can improve your chances of being called back after a job interview. Most importantly, remember that job rejection is not a measure of your worth, so don’t take it personally. The job market is always competitive, even when the economy is thriving. Your confidence in yourself, or the lack thereof, will show, so always maintain a positive outlook in your job search.
After each interview, step back from the experience and think of the things that you could have done differently. Many people become nervous at job interviews and as a result, they slip up in one way or another. Whether you stutter or don’t make enough eye contact, recognize those mistakes so that you don’t make them again.
In your future interviews, send a thank-you note to the interviewer as soon as possible. Thank him or her for speaking with you, and say that you look forward to hearing about the position. It’s assumed that job applicants are searching in more than one place for a job at any one time, so following up shows that you are genuinely interested in the job.
Dealing with job rejection can be tough, but it is something that everyone encounters at one point or another. Seeking feedback and realizing that some factors are beyond your control will help you to move forward in your job search and find an ideal fit for you.