Resumes and Cover Letters

Santa Checks His List Twice; Have You Looked at Your Resume?

Don’t get coal in your job search stocking.

Interviews are scary. But if you have a great resume, interviewers better watch out, because a well-qualified applicant is coming to town.

A good resume does half of the work for you. Your interviewer will know your skills and accomplishments, so all you have to do in the formal interview is show that your personality and preferred workplace culture are in line with those of the company.

Here are a few things to keep in mind as you prepare your resume for the new year. (more…)

Scary-Cool Words for Your Resume

Scare off the competition with your newly expanded vocabulary

Ghosts and ghouls are garish and ghastly. Zombies are zealous in their pursuit of brains. And warlocks are wild in their suspiciously suspect spellcasting.

But there is one creature more frightening, foul, and fatal than all the rest:

Your resume.

Only a select few enjoy resume-writing. For the rest of us, the onerous activity can seem like an exercise in futility, akin to trying to melt a witch wearing a water-resistant wetsuit.

You must get your foot in the door to score a job, and, unless you’re a zombie with the ability to throw your actual foot through the literal door, you’ll need a tip-top resume to get past the scanning robots and secure an interview.

Here are the tastiest words to make sure you don’t get eaten by the competition.

Words That Show You Take Initiative

You want to show your potential employer you didn’t twiddle your thumbs and do the bare minimum in your previous positions. Use these words to show you’re eerily experienced, and that you originated new and complex programs:

  • Redesigned
  • Revamped
  • Launched (a new project, blog, program, team activity, regular event, etc).
  • Established
  • Introduced
  • Pioneered
  • Spearheaded

Words That Show You Are Results-Driven

Employers want results. Would you hire a ghost that scared “a bunch” of people or a ghoul that increased the individuals frightened by 72% within 2 years? Be specific with the following words:

  • Generated
  • Seconds, minutes, hours, days, months, years, etc. (Again, be specific!)
  • Dollars and cents; as exact as you can get
  • Improved
  • Increased good thing (gross margin, sales, customer satisfaction) by ___%.
  • Decreased bad things (customer complaints, workplace accidents, etc.) by ___ %.

Words That Show You Are a Team Leader

A true werewolf king is the leader of his pack. But that doesn’t mean he needs to repeat the word “led” five hundred times on his resume. Instead of saying you “led” a team, show you went above and beyond with these words:

  • Managed
  • Directed
  • Coached
  • Oversaw
  • Mentored
  • Motivated
  • Supervised
  • Cultivated
  • United

And that’s it! Now that you have plenty of words in your resume pumpkin, you’re ready to turn it into a ferociously fresh job search jack-o’-lantern. So, get carving!

Any other “boo-tiful” words you’ve found effective in getting your resume noticed? Let us know in the comments below!

 

 

 

Spring Clean Your Resume

From top to bottom: out with the old, in with the new

For college seniors, graduation is right around the corner. For the rest of us, a change in weather might inspire a change of career. Regardless of the reason, spring is a great time to modify your resume to get rid of anything that isn’t working. Plenty of people clean out their houses this time of year; why not spiff up your resume?

Mop Up Your Address and Contact Information

Starting at the top, we have your name, address, phone number, and email. These are the first things your potential employer is going to see, so make sure they’re updated! Nobody will contact you if your contact information is wrong. And you most definitely don’t want your college or previous address on there. Companies want to know that you’re in their area and ready to work (unless you plan on relocating, which should be noted in your cover letter).

Clear the Cobwebs Off Your Experiences

Do you have anything new to add to your experiences? An outdated resume is an easy way to reject a candidate. If you still have your high school fast food experience on your resume, now might be a good time to remove it (unless it’s one of the few experiences you have, of course). Keep everything to one page. And if your work experience is lacking, don’t be afraid to put down involvement in charities or professional groups.

Verb tense matters. If you still have your last job listed with verbs in the present tense (oversees, leads, conducts, etc.), change those to the past tense (oversaw, lead, conducted, etc.) And if your current job duties are listed with verbs in the past tense, change those to the present tense. This may seem like a small thing, but it’s a big pet peeve among the HR community.

If you haven’t looked at your resume in a while, consider a revamp of the way you present your experiences. Change boring words like “did” and “saw” to action verbs like “presented” and “oversaw.” Have peers and professionals review your resume to make sure you present yourself in the best way possible.

Polish Your References

Remember how you used that professor you loved as a reference because you performed well as a leader in the big capstone group project? That’s great to include if you’re graduating this year, but not so great if you’ve been working for five years. The references you choose should be not only relevant, but also timely.

Take the time to contact your references and make sure their phone number or email is up to date. While you’re at it, send thank-you letters to references you’ve provided in the past.

Dust Off Your Cover Letter

A cover letter provides a chance to show that you’re more than a number or words on a page. It is by no means extinct. You’re a person, with your own thoughts, values, and experience that show you’re the right person for the job.

Your cover letter should be a living document. That means changing it depending on the company you’re sending an application to. It’s great to have a standard cover letter, but use that as a base and adapt it to each new company. If you’ve been using the same cover letter for years, update it and remove unnecessary information (e.g. old experiences, outdated references, etc).

Vacuum Your Social Media

Social media may feel anonymous, but it’s not. Your face and name are there for all the world to see. Social media is the first place recruiters go after you’ve impressed them with your resume. If your page is full of activities that aren’t exactly work safe, you won’t look right for the job. Same goes for extensive posts about your political views.

Set your social pages to “private,” and create business pages where appropriate. If most of your Facebook and Twitter information is hidden, the recruiter will settle for your LinkedIn page. That’s what you want them to see—the professional version of yourself they need to hire.

For more on resume re-education:

Resume Tips to Impress Your Interviewer

Sizzling Hot Resume Tips

Have any other questions about revamping your resume? Let us know in the comments below!

How to Get Hired Quickly in 2018

Make 2018 your year

The new year is a time for resolutions, both big and small. Maybe you’ve decided to spend more time with your kids, get to the gym more often, cook a new dish, or start a new hobby. And then there’s your biggest resolution of all—getting a new job.

The key to making good on resolutions is to have smaller resolutions that lead to your goals. For example, if your goal is just to “be healthier,” you probably aren’t going to achieve much. If you set smaller goals like cutting your diet by 500 calories, working out three times a week, etc., you’ll hit your goal in no time. The job search is no different.

Here are a few job search resolutions to ensure that you get that dream job in 2018.

Practice Writing Your Cover Letter

Cover letters aren’t required by all companies and industries, but bringing one to an interview (or submitting one with a resume) can be a gamechanger. A well-done cover letter shows how your skills and experience make you the perfect pick for the job. Physically visiting the business you’re applying to and dropping off a cover letter can be a great way to get noticed.

When you’re applying for jobs, ideally, you’ll want to cater each cover letter to the job you’re applying for. However, nothing is stopping you from basing each cover letter on a general cover letter for the industry you’re interested in. Now is the perfect time to start refining that letter.

A great cover letter shows two things: how what you’ve done is relevant to the position you’re applying for, and why you want to work for the company. Since you can’t focus on the latter in a general cover letter, focus on the former. Filter through your accomplishments and list your strongest ones. If you don’t have any experience in the industry, find experiences in your career that are relevant. Try to feature your soft skills as well.

And even if no one reads your cover letter, going through the process of writing it can clear your head and help you focus on what you’re really looking for in a new job.

Gain Skills or Learn More About Your Industry

One way to stand out to employers is to build up your skillset, whether that means going online to find free learning applications or gaining certifications in new technologies.

Really understanding your industry will grab the attention of hiring managers. One way to build that understanding is to start a personal blog where you write about new developments in the industry. Set goals for yourself, such as writing one or two blogs a week. After a few months, you’ll have a wealth of knowledge about your industry and a blog that showcases that knowledge.

Writing a blog is a great idea even if you aren’t a great writer. However, if you use spellcheck and Grammarly (there is a free edition), you might even become a better writer over time. And writing well is a skill that everyone can use.

And if you don’t have time for a blog? Subscribe to email newsletters about your industry. Industry blogs are good resources as well.

Ace Your Interviews

Obviously, you should want the job you’re applying for—otherwise there’s no point in interviewing. However, you should go into each interview having prepared in every conceivable manner. You should already know almost everything about the company and where you fit in.

Interviews can reveal more about the company and the culture. However, at the end of the day, learning about the company is not your end goal. You’re here to get a job. So do your homework.

Know the ins and outs of the job, know your skills, and prepare a list of questions ahead of time. This could be your only chance to show the company you’re the right person for the job.

Any questions about changing up your job search for 2018? Let us know in the comments below!

Don’t Let Your Resume Freeze

Melt the ice away with these helpful blogs!

Resumes are tough. They’re only a series of words on a page, but they’re the deciding factor on whether you get in the door for a job interview. If you start to improve your resume now, you’re more likely to succeed in the new year.

Here are a few of our past blogs jam-packed with resume renovation goodness you can use this holiday season.

30 Resume Power Words and Lucky Words for Your Resume

If your only way in the door is a series of words, then every word better count, right? Specific results-driven vocabulary can enhance your resume and help employers see that you have the soft skills they’re looking for.

Resume Tips to Impress Your Interviewer

Your resume needs to be uniquely tailored for whatever job you’re applying for—it should show why you’re right for the job, not just what you’ve done in the past. If you build your resume with these tips, you’ll hit the important points recruiters look for.

Creating an Organic Resume

Since there are only so many hours in a day, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that recruiters only spend about six seconds on each resume. If you have too much fluff and not enough substance, you’ll lose your reader fast. So cut out the less important information and focus on your experiences and hard facts. Formatting is also important. If it isn’t easy to read, nobody will go through the trouble of reading it.

Sizzling Hot Resume Tips

You can turn your resume into a warm cup of job search cheer with these hot tips. Take a break from the holiday bustle and review your resume. How is your spelling and grammar? Are your job descriptions both informative and concise?

Which is Better—Chronological or Functional Resume?

Still feel like there’s something off with your resume? Not sure that you’re really getting your point across? You may want to consider a functional resume. A chronological resume is perfect for a conventional career (you’ve gone from job to job with little downtime, and everything has been in the same industry), while a functional resume allows you to showcase your soft skills and experiences, rather than a string of continuous employment.

Not sure which soft skills to highlight? Check out this video on soft skills.

We’re happy to gift you answers for the holidays—just write your questions in the comments section below!

What to Do When You Really Are Overqualified

Your interview felt perfect. You knew all the answers and your resume was shining with experience. But you didn’t get the job. They said you were “overqualified.” It wasn’t an excuse. They meant it. You really and truly were overqualified.

Think you may be overqualified for the jobs you’re applying for? Here are our top tips to help you ace your next interview regardless.

Make Sure You Want It

Before doing anything else, you need to figure out whether you actually want this job or not. There are two main reasons companies turn away overqualified applicants. The first is lack of funds. They don’t have enough money set aside to pay what your experience is worth. The second is that you could be a flight risk. A late career change may be seen as a risky hire. They don’t want your time at the company to be a short detour from your main career path.

So before even applying to a position you’re overqualified for, decide why you want the job. Is it because you’re ready for a career change? If so, make sure you realize it could mean a pay cut. What matters is where you are in your life now. What you want now. Not your past salary or education. And be prepared stay at this job for at least a few years. If this is what you want, you need to commit.

Leverage Your Network

Now that you know you truly want this, it’s time to let your network know. If your potential interviewers are skeptical of whether you actually want the job or not, it’s time to bring in backup. They are more likely to trust a mutual acquaintance over a faceless applicant.

Your network can also help you find job opportunities. You might have a contact out there with a friend who would love to hire someone overqualified, but just doesn’t have the budget. You’re a perfect fit, but your contact won’t ever know it if you don’t tell them!

Tailor Your Resume

A resume is usually a chance to go all out. It’s a chance to shine, to list all of your accomplishments for the world to see. But when you’re overqualified, perhaps not all of those accomplishments are related to the position you’re applying for. It can be difficult for human resources to sift through a packed resume to find which accomplishments match up to the position.

A resume tells a story. It paints a picture of you as a potential employee. But if there are too many brush strokes, the end result might be a painting that’s too fancy for the room in which it’s being placed. Consider your words carefully, and customize your resume for the position. Focus on skills first, then accomplishments.

This is where staffing agencies can help. Recruiters are your advocates and personal brand ambassadors. Their insider knowledge allows them to highlight and promote your most marketable skills. As noted by Bettye Taylor, a recruiter from a local Express office, “a recruiter can sell the transferable skills where they will be noticed, versus those skills being glossed over when submitting a resume to a website.”

And retooling your resume can show real results. “Many times I’ve had candidates reconstruct their resume from a chronological one to a functional one, highlighting those top three to five transferable skills and functions, and then list accomplishments and achievements under those,” she says. “You won’t believe what a difference that makes.”

Be Honest

When it comes to the actual interview, be honest. Address the elephant in the room. Let the interviewer know why you’re interested in the position. If it’s because of a career change, let them know why you’re making that change. Tell them that you’re really in this for the long haul.

And be positive! Don’t shoot yourself in the foot by thinking they’ll just tell you you’re overqualified. Interviewers want to see that you’re an actual human being they would enjoy working with. So be real!

Have you ever been rejected due to being “overqualified?” Let us know in the comments below!

 

 

Sizzling Hot Resume Tips

Tidy up resume_blogTake a break from the heat and update your resume.

If you’re not enjoying the sand and surf, why not take a few minutes to see if there are any changes you should make to your resume? A good cleaning every now and then (we recommend constant resume upkeep) is good for even the most storied of resumes. A look at our top resume advice couldn’t hurt either. So then, what can you do to spruce it up?

1.       Check Your Spelling and Grammar

When a job is especially competitive, employers simply don’t have the time to give each and every resume an in-depth analysis. As a result, they’re looking for reasons to throw out some resumes and narrow the talent pool. If your potential employer is a stickler for spelling or grammar and you make a small mistake, it could cost you the job.

Make sure any bullets under your current position use the present tense, and any past positions use past tense. After all, you aren’t still in charge of anything at a past position, right? Do use action words, but don’t use them as multiple bullets under one position. Repetition of the same words over and over can make it seem as if there wasn’t any variety in your responsibilities.

2.       Stick with the Basics

Although a lovingly crafted resume with fancy formatting and a recent headshot might look great, that isn’t what most employers are looking for. They want to know about your experience, not your design skills (unless you’re applying for a design position, of course). You don’t want your formatting to distract from your accomplishments.

In addition, the majority of resumes you send out online will be analyzed by computers first and people second. A heavily formatted resume is difficult for computers to read. So make it straightforward and legible, for both your human recruiter and your robot analyzer. And when a computer autofills an application based on your uploaded resume, make sure to review the result. If it looks strange on your screen, it will look strange on a potential employer’s screen as well.

3.       Tailor Your Resume for the Job

Your resume should change depending on where you are in your career and what job you are applying for. If you’re just now joining the workforce , it’s understandable that you won’t have as much to put on your resume. However, never leave a resume section blank. Add any information regarding the organizations you’ve been in, as well as any community involvement and awards you’ve received. Your education should go toward the top.

However, once you’ve been in the workplace for a while, your education (while still important) is secondary to your professional accomplishments. In general, start out with your name and mission statement, and follow up with your positions. Under each position, bullet what your responsibilities were. Next, put in any community involvement and awards. Leave education for last, followed by technical skills.

Make a master resume document including everything you’ve ever done, and copy/paste from it as required by each position. If it’s a writing position, you’ll want to include any writing experience. However, if it’s a programming position, your freelance writing stint might not be quite as important.

4.       Join LinkedIn

Regardless of whether your desired position requires a college degree or not, we recommend getting a LinkedIn account. Your LinkedIn profile is a recruiting resource that is always available. Even if you aren’t actively pushing your resume, having an updated LinkedIn profile ensures potential employers can find you. It also gives them something professional to find when they run an online search on you.

Have any resume tips of your own to share? Let us know in the comments below!