tips for your first resume

An entry-level resume is the beginning of your career, so you might think you don’t have much to offer. You couldn’t be more wrong! Many things are part of the assets you offer to a potential employer, and work history is just one of them; an important part, but not the only part.

Do your homework before you write your resume. Take advantage of the wisdom you can pick up from the experts. Look at what resumes typically do and do not have on them, and make a list of what could be on yours.

Ask some people what you are good at. Don’t just ask your friends, talk to teachers and other folks you know. Are you part of any volunteer efforts? In any clubs? You are looking for things you take for granted, like the ability to figure out how to do things on a computer. You’d be surprised how many people do not know tech stuff.

Write your test resume. You can easily find a template online and fill in the blanks. Which blanks did you have trouble with? Do you have experience that could compensate? Make a copy of your test resume and start playing with it. How can you tweak it to say the things you are good at?

When you are ready, have someone who is good at proofreading check it for you. It is very easy to miss your own mistakes because you know what you were thinking. Somebody else is going to see it quickly.

Know how you will distribute your resume and make a secure file to keep it in. Some employers want paper, others want your resume submitted online. Keeping your resume lets you revise it for future use as you need it. It’s always good to have a paper copy to bring to the new job because it makes filling out the forms that first day a lot easier.

Our Entry-Level Resume Package puts all those parts together for you:

  • coursework
  • internships
  • early experience
  • skill sets

In addition, you get unlimited email support after the initial consultation and end up with a professional entry-level resume, cover & thank you letters all in an ASCII and PDF version. Your first resume is important, but remember that future resumes will get better as you develop your skills.

3 tips to balance back to school and work schedules

It’s that time of year again, when the start of the school year starts adding complications to your family/work schedule. A home with school age children is one that has a lot of similarities to white water rafting: periods of calm followed by raging rapids where you are just hoping to keep your head above water until you reach the end of the ride. It’s fun and exhilarating but better when you are prepared!

Here are 3 of the best tips for the season:

  1. Get advice from those who’ve been there. Posts like “Tips For Balancing Work And Family” usually are written by the experienced. There are a lot of options for advice, and it’s a good idea to skim the offerings with the idea of getting a perspective rather than seeing them as a list of things you must do. Just like you don’t eat everything at an all-you-can-eat buffet, you don’t try to personally implement every piece of advice you read.
  2. Get an idea of what you are in for. Sit down with everybody at the table with the calendar and map out the school year with all the info you have right now. Some families use color coding for every member or activity so it is seen at a glance what’s up in the week ahead. Put in the regular stuff, too, so you aren’t accidentally planning a double whammy for your day.  This is where you get a visual of what “too much to do” looks like and hopefully discuss how transportation will work and see that something might have to be edited out. Many families have found that they need to allow only ONE extracurricular activity per member.
  3. Get margins written into your schedule. The empty space is what allows you to read the words on this page, and the empty space in your schedule allows you to have time to breathe and connect. People need to have times where they just relax and putter and do whatever they like to do. It’s like recharging your batteries for the next round, or the calm water before the next rapids.

The ability to bring your whole focus into the workplace depends on your ability to relax about what’s happening at home. Getting the family schedule wisely worked out with all the factors plus margins for emergencies and recharging allows you to keep your mind on your job while you are there.


how to hone your interview skills

An interview can be a very intimidating experience if you have never had one or have not been hired after the last one or two you endured. Fear of failure can be overcome, though, with some practical strategies for success.

  • Do some research — read up on interviewing skills and make notes on what you learn. Google “interview skills” and see if there is more to add. Write down where you think you missed the mark, or what worries you. Ask the person who interviewed you where you could improve and if you could be considered for future positions. Be honest with yourself; now is the time to look in the mirror and be accurate, not idealistic.
  • Get some help — your list is where you start. Do you know anyone who can give you a few practice interviews? Are you acquainted with any managers or employers? Think about parents of friends, family members, etc.  Ask them to look at your list and give you an idea about improving things.
  • Look for community offerings — libraries, community colleges, government agencies may have opportunities to attend workshops or use their computers to find information.
  • Record yourself introducing yourself — and don’t hit delete when you watch it the first time. Is the list you came up with accurate? What should you add? What were you surprised to see you do when you talk? Practice a bit then record yourself again.
  • Practice speaking in front of people — and expect to make mistakes. We all do!
  • Practice looking at people when you talk to them — if this makes you uncomfortable, start slow and look at their nose or eyebrow. I’m not talking about an unbroken stare, but you should look at the person you are speaking with frequently.
  • Practice listening to people — an interview is a conversation to see if you will fit into the workforce already in place. If all you are doing is waiting for the interviewer to stop so you can hit the talk button, you are not paying attention and you probably will not fit in.

Knowing what to expect and preparing for it will give you confidence. Knowing job rejection can be good helps. So does seeing FAIL as an acronym for First Attempt In Learning.  Hone your skills and keep at it, because that’s how you get better.

the secret advantage of social media
Did you know that your use of social media can get you hired? (It can also get you fired but that’s a different subject.) Your online presence and social media connectivity is an increasing factor in how potential employers fill openings.

This recent article on Mashable caught my eye with the title,Job Seekers Recruited via Social More Likely to Be Hired,” and it increased my interest with a great infographic. Usually, I see horror stories of what NOT to do, but there are increasing success stories of the advantage you have with great online branding. In a nutshell, here are some facts:

  • 94% of companies already use social media to recruit candidates or plan to begin using this form of recruiting in 2013
  • Candidate & Employee Referral quality and quantity along with Time To Hire have been enhanced measurably
  • 14% of applicants sourced through a job board get hired
  • 61% of applicants sourced through referrals and the company career page get hired

This is interesting stuff. The takeaway is that your online social networking really does make a difference in your career if you are wise with it. That means paying attention to your online brand:

  • Remember, the internet is like a public park, and everything you do is visible
  • Keep your online presence professional by monitoring photos and data on sites like Facebook
  • Invest in LinkedIn Profile Development or Online Branding Coaching to make sure you are equipped for this new era of job searching

It can be kind of overwhelming to look at all the details involved with social media and employment. Fortunately, you don’t have to figure it out by yourself!


American Football 2

There are many different factors that could be considered “the secret” to success but they’d only be a factor in the final result. When you think about it, all the best resumes, cover letters, and knowledge won’t help you get a job if you aren’t consistent in applying for the job. Nothing replaces that foundation of persistence in completing any project.

What if you’ve been applying all the places you can think of and are not hearing back from job applications? It could be your resume. Or it could be something else that a professional career coach could show you. But giving up will almost certainly guarantee failure, and regrouping to try again will increase your chances of success.

A long time ago, I heard a funny story on the radio that illustrates what I am trying to say. The scene was a high school football game and one of the players made a terrible mistake on the field just before halftime, costing yardage and points. Now, what if that player had just given up, thrown himself down on the middle of the field, and stayed there? The storyteller described that scenario humorously– imagining the band trying to march around his body during the halftime show and it was amusing to listen to. But it got me thinking that you can’t just give up and lay down in the middle of everything because you are tired of trying, or failing.

Sports teaches you to deal with failure by getting up and keeping on. You keep working on skills, learning more about the game, training to strengthen yourself, and try again. A job search is very similar! If you aren’t persistent and don’t keep at it, you’ll miss out.


the top reason professional resumes are effective

There are many reasons why those seeking better jobs choose a professional resume service, but the biggest reason is simple: you aren’t trying to write your resume all by yourself.

When you do things all by yourself, you are limited to your own experience and perspective. I’m not saying your experience and perspective are bad or wrong, but that they are limited to what you know. Investing in a professional resume service, on the other hand, puts you at the head of a team of advisers committed to your success.

  • you benefit from the experience of someone who writes resumes for a living
  • you benefit from the effectiveness of the networking professional resume services offer
  • you benefit from the resume service’s real need to make you a satisfied customer

When you work with others on a mutual project — your resume — they can catch things you miss and ask questions that bring out strengths you take for granted. You can give all your information during the consultation brainstorming and know that there will be an opportunity to go over the draft and change anything you might want to edit. You are working with certified resume writers who are experts in strategy, branding, and format so you don’t have to teach yourself all you need to know in those areas.

A professional resume service is an investment, but that investment pays off in huge dividends. The biggest advantage is having collaborative input when working on the all-important package of your cover letter, resume, followup, and distribution. It’s a big job to do alone but not intimidating when you have help.

how to stay organized on your job search

One of the realities we face when unemployed and searching for a job is the reality of disorganization. There are a few reasons why things go haywire:

  • suddenly your schedule is not tied to the workplace
  • it’s usually at least slightly depressing to be unemployed
  • there’s a learning curve in the development of job-searching skills
  • people tend to think that someone who “isn’t working” can do all sorts of errands, emergency babysitting, and projects

Disorganization has a way of growing and taking over, just like those expanding spaces in popular match-three games ooze into the board wherever they can unless you explode them all. How can you keep disorganization from taking over your job search?

  • Make yourself a schedule and remind others that you have a commitment to searching for a job. It doesn’t have to be eight hours every weekday, but it’s a good idea to block out a good chunk of time to do what you need to do for your career and tell people you aren’t available during those times.
  • Stay on top of paperwork. Keeping your resume files organized, having a home for job-hunting expense records, updating a resume with any part-time jobs or seminars you’ve attended, and making sure you are on top of all the details will not only make life easier now, it is a good skill for the future.
  • Declutter. The last thing you need when unemployed is a pile of stuff that hasn’t been dealt with and is reminding you of failure every day. Even if you need to take a day every week to work on it, you’ll appreciate space to breathe. Some people find that instead of a “day to declutter,” a timer set for 15-30 minutes every day motivates them to move junk out of their lives.
  • Take care of yourself! Get up in the morning and stretch, take walks, eat right, etc., etc., etc. If you are unhealthy, you don’t have the energy to deal with the real work of an organized job search.
  • Educate yourself.  Use the job search resources that others have found helpful and spend some disciplined time learning how to utilize this time to your advantage.

how to avoid mistakes when writing your resume and cover letters

When you are writing your resume and cover letters, it is very easy to make mistakes just because there are so many versions and corrections (we writers deal with this, too). Even if you are a competent writer, it still is a good idea to carefully read your work once more before sending it off to be read by the people you want to impress. Here’s how to avoid some common mistakes in writing:

  • Keep track of grammar when changing a sentence. If you change the noun from singular to plural, for instance, remember to change the sentence structure to match.
  • Don’t rely on automated spellcheckers alone to catch mistakes. Your, you’re, their, they’re, there, two, too, and to are all words which are spelled correctly and won’t show up as an error when used in the wrong way. “Manager” was one I always misspelled as “Manger”. They are both words, so spell check never caught it. Luckily, I’m hyper diligent about checking and rechecking how I spell Manager– plus there is a little tool in MS Word that lets you auto correct things like that, so whenever I type Manger, it automatically changes it to Manager. Awesome.
  • Avoid the automatic word-finishing features on your word processing program for the same reason. You want your brain to be in control.
  • Look it up if you are unsure. Good spellers and good writers rely on more than their memory. A popular site that helps with more than spelling is because it checks grammar, spelling, word choice and style (plus, their Facebook page is informative… and snarky). It’s up to you to take the advice of the computer once the error is pointed out.
  • Take a break before rereading your work. It’s like rebooting your brain and allows you to see the piece with fresh eyes. If you have been working feverishly on something, you read it with your past efforts in mind and can fool yourself.

Of course, all the resume writing tips the pros use apply. Your cover letter and resume, along with the follow-up thank you letter, are huge indicators to the potential employer of your ability and professionalism. Everybody makes mistakes — but you don’t have to leave those mistakes in your writing. It’s easy to fix a mistake once you see it, so learn how to look for it. 

how to dress for business casual

One of the more flexible definitions in office wear is “business casual”. This is because there are so many variables in acceptable clothing for an office environment. So, how do you decide what the new workplace will define as “business casual” when you are told to show up for your new job? It really depends on where you work, and who you work with.

  • Pay attention to how people in the office are dressed when you come in for your interview.
  • Aim high…you can take off a tie or jacket but it’s harder to amp up your professional look in flip flops. (By the way, flip flops are generally not considered office wear. Really!)
  • Wear your interview outfit the first day and ask for the dress code. Many businesses will hand that out with the paperwork to be filled out in training. Some establishments have a more casual dress code for the summer, some have “Casual Fridays,” and it’s better to see it explained in writing/pictures if possible.
  • Projecting a professional image is never a bad idea. Dress for the job you hope to get promoted to someday.
  • Invest in good quality basics like solid-colored pants, skirts, and jackets. These can be mixed up with several shirts to get a week’s worth of outfits that will be acceptable anywhere. Add the jacket to create a suit for special occasions. Don’t forget good shoes!
  • If you are just entering the job market, ask for advice on your wardrobe. Many of the things you already have may work just fine when mixed with those basics.
  • It’s OK to add your personality into your office wear, but go slow and pay attention to your environment. That means one touch of individuality per outfit until you know what is expected.
  • Know the regional quirks. Cowboy boots in Fort Worth, Texas are part of a formal outfit, but not in Philadelphia.

The majority of jobs are not paying you to express yourself; they are paying you to represent their company. It isn’t hard to go conservative for a bit to get the feel of what your new position’s “business casual” attire actually entails, if you keep that in mind.

the top reason to update your linkedin profile

How long did it take you to get your LinkedIn profile complete? For most of us, it was a process that took longer than we wanted it to because there’s so much to doing a LinkedIn profile correctly. In addition to having all your personal information entered accurately and completely, you must think about keywords, SEO, and technological issues that most people have no time to learn. But even if you have invested in professional services, without networking activity you can end up with a perfectly constructed profile that sits in the background like a treasure box in the back of the closet; there’s really good stuff in it, but nobody has opened it up to find out.

The LinkedIn search engine uses complicated algorithms that are unique to the site. They factor in things like your Profile, activity, and connections to come up with relevance scores that only apply to you. A good way to ensure your profile is looked at is by taking the time to become part of the LinkedIn community, updating your profile regularly from your profile page with links to articles you’re reading in your field. LinkedIn Today lets you set up newsfeeds for your interests; that’s a good place to start. Don’t forget to add in any new factors from your work experience, etc. If your resume just was updated, do it on LinkedIn too. If you need help, ask us.

The top reason to update your LinkedIn profile is because the site is not static. Your networking activity on the site keeps your profile active and gets more traffic to your page. You want to keep that treasure box out of the back of the closet and out in the living room where people will look inside to discover great things about you.



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