People judge on appearances. It would be nice if they did not, but the reality is that they do. That’s why the way your resume looks on the page is an important factor of resume writing. It’s one thing we look for when asked to critique a resume. You could have all the facts written accurately and still be rejected because the reader is looking for something you are blind to.
A recent blog post about the logic of stupid poor people is popping up in different areas of the internet. Author Tressie M Cottom makes some valid points about the reasons someone would spend a lot of money on an item of clothing or an accessory, and it isn’t to feel good – it is to make themselves acceptable and “gain access to a limited set of rewards granted upon group membership.” In many cases, this goal is a job that will improve their lives and the lives of their family. She says it isn’t that poor people are stupid. Rather, it is that they are blind to the nuances in wardrobe selection signalling you fit into the club. To get in, you have to be acceptable to the gatekeeper and, in the case of a job, that gatekeeper is the interviewer.
Ms. Cottom cites instances where jobs were granted based on wardrobe choices. She also has sat in on interviews where a candidate was rejected for attire deemed “unsuitable” for the position. It seems arbitrary to reject someone based on a shirt, but the well-qualified job applicant did not know what the interviewing VP’s idea of “suitable” was. Just like a resume can have all the right stuff without the best presentation, you can be a good fit for a job and miss the chance to prove it because you didn’t research the unwritten clothing code in that particular workplace.
How do you discover this unwritten clothing code and find out which status symbol might be a good investment? Find out as much as you can about the company and management. Look at their website and the pictures of their staff. Talk to people who work there. What does management wear? Which labels? What styles? Unless this is a very casual company, go business formal, conservative, and expensive. You don’t have to actually spend the money for full price (look for bargains and consignment shops), but your interview outfit should be the best in your wardrobe.
You are trying to figure out the things that will impress. Shallow, maybe, but if a silk tie with your suit or a designer bag will signal you can fit into their club and get that job, it is an investment.
Did you know that most human resource directors are going to be plugging into sites like LinkedIn to see what potential candidates they can find for an open position? To quote the Society For Human Resource Management:
Organizations (77%) are increasingly using social networking sites for recruiting, primarily as a way to attract passive job candidates. Fewer organizations (20%) use social networking websites or online search engines to screen job candidates.
That means that the way you appear on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google +, and anything else online matters. It also means that you have a way to make part of your job search passive, just as some entrepreneurs have passive income. Here’s how that works:
- the income producer is carefully crafted to function with little maintenance once it is in place
- the entrepreneur will generally use several streams of passive income to make enough money to pay the bills
- samples of passive income: ads on blogs, ebooks, rental properties, royalties
Now, the way this works in your job search is that once your profile is created, then you can maintain a presence on LinkedIn with considerably less effort. You don’t have to stay on the site all the time because your input keeps your profile current and the search engines will bring you up in the first few pages. Passive — as long as you are prepared.
Those streams of passive income need maintenance but mostly flow by themselves, and your presence on social media sites is there when you are not at your device. The way your presence on social media sites is portrayed is dependent upon the way you maintain it.
As a result, the top reason you should be on LinkedIn is because it works for you while you are not there – if you use it correctly.
Most of the time, a job interview will consist of you answering questions. But most interviewers will also ask if you have any questions, and it’s a good idea to be prepared to ask the right kind. You don’t have to use my phrasing, but think through why these questions are good to ask and how you can ask something similar:
- “The job description cites these responsibilities. How are those responsibilities filled in a typical workday?” This gives you an idea about the work load and expectations involved.
- “What do you hope to see this position accomplish for your company?” A question like this gives you an opportunity to hear what their goals are for this particular job and get an idea of the long term plans you will be a part of.
- “Is there any reason you think I might have trouble accomplishing your goals for this job?” This is a scary question to ask, but it will let you address their concerns and possibly correct misconceptions they may have about you.
- “I see from the mission statement that you value creativity. How does this position employ creativity in meeting that goal?” This is a sample question…what matters is your display of knowledge about the company and their goals. You can use recent press statements, mission statements, or anything that shows you cared enough about the job to learn more about it and think about how you will do it.
- “Is this a newly created position or one that has been in place?” An established job description for a position that has been in place usually has a lot of support in place, too. They’ve figured out what works and you just slip into the spot and carry on. You can ask if the previous worker moved into another position, if you will be part of a team, etc. But a newly created position is fuzzier because the bugs haven’t been worked out yet. You can ask what the problems were that led to the creation of the position and how flexible the job description will be as you work on fixing them, for instance.
If the idea of asking questions like these fills you with fear, consider something like our career coaching services to help you prepare. You can choose a packaged deal or a la carte coaching and use the investment to gain the confidence to interact with ease. A coach helps you learn what you need to know and improve the skills you already have to be the best candidate for the job you want.
Many times, we set our goals using the wrong data. We have dreams of a certain job or lifestyle, but the steps it will take us to get there in reality are nebulous. The Job Search Resources page has a number of tools for your use, and the variety of salary calculators listed there will give you real help.
Using a salary calculator to find the reasonable expectations for what your job should pay gives you the range of salaries you can expect for that job. Location, skill set, education, and experience can be factored in. That means you can look at where you currently are and decide if there are steps you can take to get to where you want to be:
- Is this the field you want to stay in?
- Can you meet your financial obligations with your current salary? How about the top range of salary in your bracket?
- Are there other, higher paying jobs within this field (or others) that interest you?
- Do you have the skills, education, or experience to reach that level?
- What practical steps can you take today to gain the skills, education, or experience you need to reach your goals?
The salary calculator is simply a tool that equips you with facts. You can print out a graph or data sheet showing what your level of experience in your location should reasonably be paid and show it during salary negotiations. You can answer confidently when an interview question about salary expectations comes up. At the same time, you have a reality check about the job market.
Like any tool, this one is only as effective as the person using it, but the person using it can learn how to use it properly to get great benefit from it. Your goals are achievable with the right tools!
You could think that since you have been in the workforce for years, you don’t need a coach. But isn’t that kind of like saying that a professional athlete doesn’t need a coach because they have been competing for years?
- A coach sees stuff you can’t see. Athletes will look at tapes of themselves and discuss improving technique with a coach who is trained to point out things they miss. A career coach might not watch a game tape, but they certainly work with you one-on-one to get a perspective on your strengths and weaknesses. Then the career coach points out the things you seem to have missed, and discusses them with you.
- A coach knows how to improve your game. Athletic coaches spend a lot of time learning how to give practical advice and develop training regimens to their athletes. Career coaches can lay out practical steps you can take to improve your career, whether it is job search skills, interview practice, or deciding which career path you should aim for.
- A coach is an accountability partner. In athletic training, there can be daily sessions. For career coaching, accountability can be scheduled for as often as you need it; most of us only need a weekly or monthly contact once we have the plan in hand.
Professional Resume Services offers Coaching Services because your career is important enough to merit them. Just as there are many types of sports and athletic coaching, there are different types of coaching packages and services offered. One of them may be just what you need to get your game (and career) boosted to the next level.
Your resume is a compilation of your career for the purpose of evaluation. The reader of your resume is looking for indications you will be suitable for a specific opening and that reader uses your resume to determine if an interview should be scheduled. One way to categorize what will be looked for is summed up in two areas: learn and lead.
The ability to learn is essential no matter which position you are filling in an organization. From the top executive to the lowest rung of the career ladder, if you aren’t continually seeking to learn how to increase your effectiveness, you are dead weight. This can be shown in a resume through several means:
- seminars and classes attended
- organizations and volunteer activity
The ability to lead is really the ability to think and act independently for the good of the group. Some of this ability isn’t going to show in a resume — having the strength of character to avoid gossip, for instance. Still, a resume can show that you have accomplished goals. The positions you have held in any organization, the time spent as a member and the activities you participate in all show leadership by example even when they are not “head” positions. Your references will reveal what kind of person you are, which indicates what kind of worker you probably will be.
During an interview, you are assessed in the light of your resume. The impression the resume gave is adjusted to include the face-to-face interaction and the whole package is considered. Will you be able to learn the job? Will you be able to do the job well even when distractions occur? Will you be a positive force in their particular workplace? If your resume hasn’t shown that you might fit, you will probably not be called in for that interview.
If your resume hasn’t resulted in being called in for any interviews, maybe it’s time to look at it again. Does it show that you know how to both learn and lead? Is it well written? Professional Resume Services has carefully built a site with many ways to help you develop an excellent resume for distribution. Explore the tips and services and see how your resume can be one that gets you that interview and the opportunity to learn and lead in a new job.
“Branding” has become a buzzword, one that is losing meaning for many people tired of hearing it. That doesn’t change the importance of what “branding” actually is: your reputation.
It’s all the little pieces of information someone has about you wrapped up in their perceptions about that information. It’s important because it directly affects your career. Your reputation can get you the job or get you on the “do not call” list. People’s understanding of who you are can get you promoted or get you fired. With the internet and social media, there’s just a lot more information out there to be aware of.
Who you are, the choices you make and the way you do your job are part of your brand even though it happens off-line. Think of it as being the spokesperson for your personal brand. The best way to deepen relationships is to face time, and it happens best when you are not on a screen (although videoconferencing is becoming a popular substitute, it doesn’t work for everything). So step away from the computer and go to workshops and seminars. Do the volunteer community service. This gives a huge chunk of information to your branding because it is as big as you are.
Online, your brand is also made up of pieces of information. You have control over most of them if you are diligent about privacy settings, security, and consistent postings. Many are even choosing to have their own site with their name.com in order to be first in a search. LinkedIn profile and online branding development is so important that you should invest in research and possibly coaching to make sure your online brand is professional and current.
Your brand is not just the history of who you are. Your brand is the hope of who you aim to be. It’s your reputation and your potential all in one package, and you can choose what that looks like.
One of the challenges with writing your own resume and cover letter is the nagging suspicion that you missed something. After all, even if you are an excellent writer, you probably don’t write resumes and cover letters professionally. If you have been submitting your well-written resume with no results, that nagging suspicion strengthens into a dreaded probability. You know how friends don’t see their spelling mistakes; it is entirely possible that you don’t see something you could improve.
It is a good idea to ask a professional to look at your resume, even if you are pretty sure you wrote it well. The Resume Critique is a low-cost, high-value way to do that. Your resume will be read by a certified resume writer and you will be given a comprehensive report three or four pages long analyzing these important factors:
- Overall Appearance & Consistency
- Spelling & Syntax
- Resume Objective & Focus
- Position & Strategy
- Accomplishments & Expertise
- Formatting Sections & Organization
- Keywords & Branding
- Information Relevance
You will be given insights on what a potential employer looks for, suggestions for improvement that are easy to follow, and everything you need to get your resume at its best. The cost? $39.95, less than you spent for a fancy dinner for two at a nice restaurant. Your career will last longer than that meal did!
We also are offering a critique of your cover letter for $15.oo. Or, if you would like us to evaluate both resume and cover letter and give you professional suggestions, The Resume & Cover Letter Critique Combo is available for $49.95. That gives you professional advice for less than a dinner tab for four at that nice restaurant.
A professional resume is like a high-quality photograph of your career. Within that photograph, you can see incredible detail. If you have the capability to zoom in on a section, that detail is easier to see clearly. But the photograph doesn’t show you everything about the subject, does it? If you want to find out more than you see in the photograph, you need to either look at more pictures or actually talk to the person in the portrait.
Because your resume is a limited look at who you are and how you would fit into a potential job opening, the reader is looking for details that fit their criteria:
- Does this applicant have the credentials we need for the position?
- Does this applicant have the professional skills we need for the position?
- Does this applicant have assets that could compensate for a lack of credential or skill?
As a result, the details in your professional resume need to be details that matter to the reader. Keeping your “skills” section professional, for instance, means that your love of live action role play probably isn’t what they are looking for. On the other hand, if you are applying for a job that involves the ability to create costumes and characters, it might be exactly what they want.
When you look at samples of professional resumes there are a variety of details in each one. Each resume has been carefully edited for the inclusion of the types of detail the potential employer is looking for. There will be a right time to share an enthusiasm for a hobby, but your resume will be much more professional and much more attractive to that potential employer if the details on your resume are applicable to the job opening.