Resumes and Cover Letters

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?

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Kick-Start Your Resume with Community Service

Serve others and boost your resume at the same time

BrandItBlueDay2014On Saturday, June 10, Express Employment Professionals offices across North America will gather together for Brand It Blue Day to help fill community food banks and pantries. The event is a day of service aimed to help in the fight against hunger, and you’re invited to join in.

Wondering why you might want to participate in something like this? Apart from the obvious reason of helping those who really need it, there are professional advantages as well.

1. Help Others

As noted by Feeding America®, 43.1 million people (13.5% of the U.S. population) were in poverty in 2015.  About 42.2 million lived in food-insecure households. That means over 13 million children went to bed hungry at some point that year.

Summer is the worst time for child hunger, as the school meal program ends for most kids. In 2013, more than 21.5 million children received free or reduced-price meals through their school programs and only 2.5 million of those children took part in summer food service programs. Volunteering allows you to make a real difference and help those kids get three meals a day.

2. Enhance Your Resume

Being involved in the community also shows potential employers that you have interests and goals outside of work. In other words, volunteering could help you land your next job.

As noted by Fortune, a 2016 Deloitte study of 2,506 U.S. hiring managers found that 82% of interviewers held a preference for applicants with volunteer experience. 92% said such activities built leadership skills. This was in sharp contrast to the mere 32% of applicants that mentioned unpaid volunteer work on their resumes. So, at the very least, add volunteer experience to your resume to help make you stand out above other applicants.

But why do employers find volunteer work so attractive? 85% of the interviewers found that skills-based activities, including those used during volunteer work, increased candidate communication skills, while 88% felt it built “strong character.” For those whose volunteer work didn’t use their professional skills, those numbers decreased slightly to 77% and 84%, respectively.

What else can volunteer work do for your resume? It provides an opportunity to master more skills. Take lessons learned in the workplace or college and develop those skills in rea-life situations. Maybe you’ve written mock strategic plans for a promotions management class, but never had a chance to put them into action. Or perhaps you film weddings for a living, but want to expand to other events.

3. Network

Networking can be challenging, especially when you’re at an event where everybody else is there to network as well. These events can be helpful, but they can be tiring.

Community service allows you to network in a much more organic way. Everyone is serving the same cause—nobody expects the newbie to walk in with a killer smile and an even more killer resume. If you work hard and make a good impression on others, they may pass on future job opportunities or serve as reference contacts.

In addition, continued nonprofit work for a particular cause lets you build a reputation in that area, allowing for future networking opportunities further down the road. You can also see how an organization functions and interact with people from all levels of the organization. If you’re interested in a nonprofit career, even better—these could be future co-workers after all.

Brand It Blue Day

If you’re looking for a cause to work with, consider Express’ Brand it Blue Day on Saturday, June 10! Check out the nearest participating Express office today.

In 2016, more than 235 Express offices and 1,000 volunteers from California to North Carolina to Canada came together at local food banks and pantries across North America to help fight hunger. Over the past four years, Express offices donated 300,000 meals to nonprofit organizations across North America through their efforts on Brand It Blue Day.

Has community service helped your career? Let us know how in the comments below!

Take the Luck Out of Resume-building

Top topics to consider when writing a resume

Lucky  ResumeYou send off a resume with a sigh, knowing it could be one of hundreds that pass in front of a hiring manager or HR representative. With odds like that, it can seem like getting an interview is down to the luck of the draw. Hopefully they’ll notice your killer font choice and professional formatting.

But what content needs to be included on a resume to make it truly stand out?

Experience

Employers always look for applicable experience for the job they’re trying to fill. That’s a given. So it’s important to highlight any experience that matches the job, even though you think it may not apply. For example, someone new to the job market who has experience in another field should think creatively about how time spent in other roles applies to the desired position. Mention any teamwork lessons learned from volunteering with a non-profit or leadership skills gained from work in a different field.

Soft Skills

This is a term that gets thrown around quite a bit in the business world. But what exactly does it mean?  Soft skills are the characteristics or attributes that allow you to effectively work with others.

Think of these as “people skills.” A professional attitude, ability to problem-solve in a group, leadership skills, etc. Instead of expertise with a certain software or tool, soft skills highlight an individual’s ability to thrive in a communal work environment.

There are many ways to highlight specific soft skills on a resume. When describing a previous position, note your ability to communicate with upper management about changes that helped with production. If problem solving is a major strength, provide an example of when you assisted an employer with a specific problem and describe the outcome.

Digital Footprint

An online presence is basically required for both individuals and businesses these days. But an unprofessional Facebook post or embarrassing Instagram pic can cost an applicant a job.

What does this have to do with resume-building? On a basic level, if your skill set involves writing or graphic work of any kind, a resume should include links to an online portfolio. If the application is for a social media position, you’ll want to include links to any personal or professional social media pages.

On a higher level, an applicant’s online presence is an invisible portion of her resume. A 2016 CareerBuilder survey showed that 60% of employers use social networking sites to research job candidates.  A quick Google search is the next step after approving a suitable resume. So give your online social life a thorough cleaning. If the position is in the business world, make sure to create or update a LinkedIn account as well. A professional applicant without LinkedIn is similar to a business without a website. It just looks bad.

The path toward a new career takes time and hard work

Luck doesn’t have anything to do with it. Which is why you need to leverage every possible strength. Think outside of the box and find the qualities that make you the best candidate for the job.

If you’re looking to expand your job search, Express Employment Professionals is a leading staffing provider in the U.S. and Canada. We employed a record 510,000 people in 2016. If you have any questions about your job search, contact a local Express office or fill out our online contact form.

Have any resume-building tips to share? Let us know in the comments section below.

 

Thrilling Finish Predicted in Job Search Tournament Bracket

StreetballThe competition to land a new job or score a promotion is fierce. As a job seeker, you have to bring your A-game or you’ll find yourself on the bench. Before the NCAA college basketball tournament tips off later this month, we assembled an all-star line-up of job skills and qualities sought by employers and pitted them head to head in a quest to see which could outlast the competition and emerge as champion.

The Tournament Begins

In our hypothetical scenario, the field began with nearly 30 highly sought attributes chosen from a strong field of abilities and characteristics coveted by employers. We seeded the top 16 according to rankings accumulated from leading hiring managers. It’s important to note that there were many strong contenders who narrowly missed the field of 16, many of which on any given day are strong enough to help score a job. Among them were ambition, independent thinking, strong time management skills, good listener, goal focused, and a proactive mindset.

The Super 16 Battle it Out

As the competition heated up and the field narrowed to the Super 16, our job search tournament began to take shape with desirable skills occupying one side of the bracket and highly sought personal traits dominating the opposite side. A couple of surprise underdogs made the field due to emerging trends in the hiring mindset. Empathy made a strong showing in the bracket, underscoring a desire by many companies to employ a mindful, conscientious workforce. Flexibility also made a solid run for the title, demonstrating a need for employees who can adapt and evolve in a changing work environment. In what many observers viewed as a stunning upset, Writing Skills narrowly edged Computer Skills to advance in the tournament. Pundits suggest that in today’s job market, computer skills are readily expected from an applicant, thus giving the edge to Writing Skills.

The Road to the Favored Four

The field continued to thin as the tournament intensified. Powerful front runners emerged as many contests went down to the final buzzer. In a key match-up, Flexibility continued its strong push to go deep in the field by constantly adapting to changing conditions. However, the “can-do” spirit of Positive Attitude prevailed, refusing to be denied their rightful spot in the Awesome 8. Two favorites of hiring managers, Organization and Dependability both punched their tickets to the next round. However, when the dust settled, only the Favored Four remained to contend for the title of Most Desirable Trait. Set to contend on the “skills” side of the bracket, number one seed Team Player goes up against Problem Solving. The winner will square off against the winner on “attributes” side of the bracket, which pits number one seed Leadership Potential against Work Ethic. The outcome is far from set in stone, as any one of the four could be enough to tip the scale and score the job. Astute observers point out that the likely winner will be the one who can maximize its strengths, as well as adopt the qualities of the other contenders to present a multi-faceted approach.

What do you think? Check out our bracket (click to enlarge) and let us know how you’d fill out the remainder of our Favored Four. Are there early round match-ups you think should have turned out differently? What other skills or traits that should have appeared in the bracket? Tell us in the comments section!

Job Search Bracket