Resume Tips & Tricks

There are so many resources out there about writing that “perfect” resume, but let’s be honest here, writing a resume is intimidating. You can even pay someone to review and write your resume for you if that’s what you want, but why pay for something you can do on your own? You might be looking to land your first job, get a promotion or change career paths completely. No two people are the same; we all have different levels of experience, education and goals we want to accomplish. Aside from avoiding typos, learning how to write a strong resume will not only save you money, but can elevate your job search, strengthen your status as a top candidate and increase your chances of landing that dream job.

Here are some tips and tricks to get you started:

  1. Design Matters – you want a resume that is eye catching without being over the top. Choose a template that is simple and clean. Depending on the field of interest, incorporate color on headings or titles, adding aesthetics that will set it apart from every other resume out there. Do take it easy on italics, bolds and ALL CAPS – use these effects sparingly and only when you want to emphasize a specific section. Choose an easy-to-read font that looks good on both a screen and on a sheet a paper. As a best practice, test print your resume and perhaps ask a trusted friend to proofread it before you send it off to employers.
  2. Be Selective – Don’t include too much history on your resume. The busier it looks, the less likely a recruiter is going to pay attention to it. A recruiter may not have the time to look at more than two pages total, so perhaps you consider including just the last five or 10 years of experience, depending on your job history of course. Be mindful of your descriptions too. You probably don’t need to include the exact date you started and finished a job, so consider showing the month and year only, but remember that a significant gap in employment is a red flag to hiring managers.
  3. Get Rid of Unnecessary Information – to start, stop adding “Objective” at the top, these are a thing of the past. An employer wants to know what you’ll bring to their company, so consider adding a summary statement showing why you’re the best person for the job. If you’re applying for a position you’ve never held before, lead your summary statement with something more generic like “Human Resources Professional…” Keep this brief, a 3-4-line blurb. Something else to consider is removing your full street address and only keeping your city, state and ZIP. If you’re applying for an out of state job, you can leave your address off (although you probably have to include this in an online application). Determine whether to drop your date of education or not. If you’ve been out of school for 10+ years you probably don’t need to include the year you graduated college.
  4. Put the Best Parts First – the first third of your resume is prime real estate so you should make this part count! If you have a LinkedIn profile and you’re confident in how this looks, add your profile address under your name and contact info. Make sure your profile is where you want it to be first though (check out these tips to enhance your LinkedIn profile). Include your list of skills and expertise below your summary statement and include five-10 skills you have that complement the job description. Highlighting skills and expertise will let employers know you’re good at what they want.
  5. Highlight Accomplishments, Not Tasks – avoid packing your resume with responsibilities. Employers are more concerned about your successes than day-to-day tasks. They want to see how you can apply your accomplishments to their company. Be specific, but not too wordy and be sure to include relevant accomplishments that complement the job description. Accomplishments that can be quantified like client growth or cost savings are resume gold. If your resume is lighter on bottom-line accomplishments, take a look at your skills and how you can enhance that area. Are you a go-to resource for a particular skill or were you frequently consulted by colleagues on projects? Have you ever gone above and beyond your traditional job duties? Share your story.
  6. Outsmart Resume Bots – it’s common for larger companies to use an Applicant Tracking Software to weed out unqualified candidates. It’s no secret many candidates may not get past an ATS. To help your chances of getting your resume seen, tailor it to include some of the keywords or skills in the job description. You might end up with several different versions of your resume, but you want to make sure whatever you submit aligns with the job requirements.

Resumes are difficult to write; we’re all different and how you write your resume truly depends on the job you’re applying for. You now have some tips and tricks to make your resume stand out from the crowd. Good luck!

Why Should I Create a LinkedIn Profile?

You might be asking yourself this exact question. When you think about it, it makes sense if you view LinkedIn only as a tool for active job seekers. Regardless, yes, you should care, even if you have a job. Here’s why…

LinkedIn is a professional social media network. Users turn to LinkedIn for many reasons. Professionals in a variety of fields engage in business related discussions to feel a part of something bigger.

“But, what if I’m not looking for a new job? Doesn’t being on LinkedIn send the wrong signal to my employer?” Absolutely not! We can’t argue that job searching is often the main reason people choose to become active on LinkedIn. This platform is your digital resume to show employers what you know, but simply being on LinkedIn is in no way an acknowledgement that you’re looking.

It’s important to understand a few main reasons companies might go on LinkedIn to view your profile. You’ve already applied for a job, at some point during the interviewing process they’ll visit your LinkedIn page to vet you. Not only do they want to see you have a page set up, but also what others might be saying about you. The employers may use LinkedIn as a recruiting tool as well. Many recruiters simply search LinkedIn to discover people who match the job criteria and you want to be found in that search. A 2016 Jobvite Survey found 87 percent of recruiters use LinkedIn to source and vet candidates.

Sure, some might assume you’re a job seeker, but having a strong profile is in your favor to showcase your experience even if you’re employed and are not job hunting.  Current and potential customers might want to check out your credentials and look at your profile to assure them you’re capable and qualified.

Here are a few things you can do to elevate your LinkedIn profile:

  1. Review your work history to ensure your profile matches your current resume. Your job titles, dates of employment, and accomplishments need to be current. Recruiters and hiring managers don’t want to find discrepancies. This implies you are either untrustworthy or not attentive to details.
  2. Get recommendations from people in your LinkedIn network. Reach out to your connections and ask for a recommendation. It’s okay to let the person know a few specifics you would like them to mention. These show recruiters and hiring managers the value you can provide to their company.
  3. Use LinkedIn to network and build your connections. Connect with colleagues and industry peers. Engage with what they share on LinkedIn and post industry related content to your profile as well. Join industry discussions and groups. Keeping current with industry-related topics shows employers you know what you’re doing.
  4. Add your skills and get endorsements. On LinkedIn a skill equals a keyword. If you are seeking a new job, you will appear in search results when people are looking for those skills. Recruiters are more likely to contact you if you have the right skills shown. You can also be endorsed for your skills by your connections. These are a quick way for someone to say you are good at that particular skill. Endorse your connections for their skills and they will be more likely to endorse you for your skills in return.
  5. Be mindful of what you post! You don’t want to share anything that could make someone question your morals or work ethic. If you post negative comments about colleagues or your current employer, the reader will assume you’ll post similar things about them as well.
  6. Make sure you have a complete LinkedIn profile. Start with uploading a photo. Aim for a photo of just yourself in a professional setting. If you have a professional headshot that is great too! Don’t use a photo where it’s obvious you tried to crop out other people. Get dressed up and stand against a simple, uncluttered background to have your friend or colleague take your photo. Be sure you’ve completed all sections of your profile. You don’t want to give others the idea you don’t finish what you start.

Whether you’re looking for a job or not, you are own sales team and branding expert for yourself. LinkedIn is one of many tools you can use. Your profile is a representation of you and your employer, think of how much more positively customers and recruiters would view you if you did have a strong profile?

Even if you aren’t actively seeking a new job, you now have many reasons to care about your LinkedIn profile. It’s worth to take the time to make yourself stand out!

“Oh, no! The interviewer just asked, “What Are Your Weaknesses?”

Re-blogged from The Goodwill® Blog by Randy Wooden

No list of the most challenging interview questions would be complete without the ol’ “What Are Your Weaknesses” question.

Today I’ll explore why they’re asking the “What Are Your Weaknesses?” question and strategies for answering. Bear in mind, no single answer is necessarily best or worst, although I have a couple definitely in the running!

First, why are they asking it? They’re actually looking for signs you’re self-aware. Do you recognize an area or two where you realize you could improve? Beyond that, they’d want to know what you’re doing to actually improve.

Frankly, I think employers miss the mark by labeling it a “weakness.” That word carries a pretty negative connotation. And, when you think of it, an interview is the last place you’d want to talk about your negatives. I’d prefer they phrase the answer differently. For example, “Tell me an area you’ve identified for improvement, and what steps are you taking to address it?”

OK, so they’ve laid that “weakness” trap. Now, how do you answer?

First, the two worst answers are to either say you have no weaknesses or to say you’re a perfectionist. I’ve heard people encourage folks to “turn a weakness into a strength.” Don’t go there. It’s a nice thought and sounds great, but it’s impractical and falls apart when the employer drills down to learn more.

Now that you know what not to say, here are a couple ways to answer their question. One thought is to change the question’s wording, much like above where I’d wished the employer would have done so right from the start.

It goes something like, “While I wouldn’t necessarily call it a weakness, one area I’ve identified for improvement is ___. Here’s what I’ve done/am doing to address it…” Perhaps you speak of a class or training you’re taking. Maybe you’re reading a book on a business-related area.

Another strategy is to bring up something easily seen. For example, perhaps you lack a college degree. Or maybe you don’t have specific industry experience. State the obvious, then tell them what you DO have.

For example, “Some might say my lack of a college degree is a weakness. And while I can’t change that as I sit here today, what I can tell you is I have xxx number of years doing the very sort of work you need to have done. If you have to have a degree, I’m not your man. But if you’ll look at my experience and accomplishments, I hope you’d see I’d do an excellent job!”

Avoid bringing up traits such as being impatient, overly analytical, etc. And for goodness sake don’t talk about being combative, quick tempered, uncooperative, hard to motivate, etc.

Speaking to weaknesses – or areas of needed improvement – can make you feel like you’re giving them a reason NOT to hire you. Hopefully today’s tips will give you a degree of confidence in handling one of the most difficult interview questions out there. Good luck!

Also check out our, “What Are Your Strengths?” blog for more help with interview questions.

Answering the Interview Question: “What Are Your Strengths?”

Re-Blogged From The Goodwill ® Blog by Randy Wooden

The “What Are Your Strengths” question is one of a handful of questions most all interviewers will ask at some point. And while it’s not a question like the “What Are Your Weaknessess?” one that’ll make you squirm, I’ve too often found clients failing to nail it.

They aren’t nailing the answer to the “What Are Your Strengths” question because clients are simply mentioning a skill, but not providing any supportive information to back it up.

I’ve come up with acronyms to help with remembering how to structure some interview questions. GEESE, for example, to answer ‘tell me about yourself.’

So let’s have a little fun and try another acronym. This one’s a little edgy, but at least you’ll remember it: S.T.D’s. The “S” is the strength or skill. The “T” is the title and company where you worked. And the “D” means to describe an example of that skill.

For example, maybe your strength/skill is dependability. Rather than just saying, “I’m very dependable,” followed by a bit of silence as the employer waits for you to explain why, here’s a better way to answer it.

“I’d say I’m very dependable. (The “S”) For example, when I worked as a cashier for Company XYZ, (The “T”) my manager had me either open or close because she knew I’d get my work done on time and correctly. Also, she’d call me in to work extra shifts in bad weather or when people had called in sick. (The “D”)”

See how much better that sounds? I’d also like to see you add something along the lines of, “And that’s the sort of attitude I’d bring to your company as well.” In doing so you’re not simply showing why you think you’re dependable, but you’re wrapping up your answer by telling the employer why that’ll be a benefit to them, too.

Here’s another point to consider.

What sort of strength or skill should you mention? Ideally you’ll have read their job description and should know what’s important to the employer. Let that serve to guide you.

As a general rule strengths like dependability, hard work, honesty, etc., are difference makers at the lower end of the wage scale. As you move up in wages to jobs requiring greater knowledge or skill, those basic strengths are viewed as a given. In other words, a manager would never answer by saying they’re dependable, but an entry level or lower wage hourly employee might find that to be a great strength to cite.

I’ll end with a story I’ve shared many times over the years. I was teaching a job search class at Goodwill through the Department of Social Services. Most students needed lots of interview practice, but were having difficulty remembering what I was sharing with them. So I came up with those silly acronyms like STD and GEESE.

One day a former student came back to Goodwill to thank everyone who’d helped her land a job. She was thrilled… and when she saw me from a distance down the hall at our Goodwill, she yelled out, “Mr. Randy… Mr. Randy… I just want to thank you for those STDs!”

Imagine the look on peoples’ faces as they turned to look at her, then to me! As we got closer, she said I’d made it fun and easy to remember… and that because of my teaching that she was able to land a job she really wanted.

Sometimes being silly helps you remember. Try it. Good luck!

Fall is a Peak Hiring Season – Are You Ready?

Re-Blogged From The Goodwill ® Blog by Randy Wooden

As we approach fall, it’s back to school time and the end of summer vacations. Fall also marks one of the top two “seasons” for hiring. Are you ready to make the most of this peak hiring time?

Yes, fall and the first quarter of the year are typically the most active in terms of hiring. Let’s take a few minutes today to ensure you’re ready.

Do you have a resume? If not, put one together and be sure to customize it to make it match as closely as is truthful to the job for which you’re applying. Instead of having a family member review your resume, try to get a recruiter or hiring official look it over. Family members mean well, but often times either don’t want to challenge you or, possibly, they really don’t know what constitutes a good resume in the first place.

Are there certain companies you think you’d like to work for? Even if they aren’t presently listing openings, that’ll change. You’ll want to be front of mind when that happens. Showing interest in a company by getting to know people there – before they advertise an opening – goes a long way toward standing out when there is an opening.

If you’re a professional – or desire to become one – are you on LinkedIn? More and more, companies are using LinkedIn to source candidates… candidates who might not otherwise know about that company’s opening. Once you’ve put together a good resume, then focus your attention on building a solid LinkedIn profile page.

What about staffing companies/headhunters? Make them aware you’re looking. Quite often employers will use a staffing company as the entry point to eventually getting hired full time. In other words, the employer wants to “try you before they buy you.” For many positions, you have to go through the staffing firm, so get to know them sooner versus later.

If you’ve set up your resume on sites like Indeed, Monster, etc., double check them to ensure your information is up to date. Do you have additional duties or accomplishments to list? Even if it is up to date, make a simple edit or two so that your resume is now pushed back up very high when companies conduct a search for resumes based on ‘most recent.’

We’ve all probably heard the term, “Make hay while the sun shines.” Well, the period between Labor Day and mid-November is your chance to make some real headway. Hopefully today’s checklist will help ensure you’re doing all you can to land that next job. Good luck!