Resumes and Cover Letters

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

Survey Results Reveal More Businesses Plan To Hire

america2017 is shaping up to be a great time to land a job. A recent survey conducted by Express Employment Professionals, found that 76% of businesses plan to hire new workers in the first quarter. Job openings are expected to be most significant in general labor positions with 32% of respondents planning to hire in that sector. Twenty-six percent plan to hire skilled labor, while another 20% plan to hire administrative and office clerical staff. Before you apply for that new position, we’ve come up with five things to do right now to gain a competitive advantage.

Clean Up Your Social Media

There’s a good chance that any prospective employer is going to check you out on social media. You will likely be out of the running before you get a foot in the door if a hiring manager sees unflattering or unprofessional photos on your social sites. Posts that show inappropriate behavior, references to drinking or drugs, and mean or negative posts can all be instant deal breakers. Google yourself and see what comes up. Then do your best to delete photos and posts that paint you in a negative light. If you’re tagged in unflattering posts on someone else’s social media, ask politely that they be deleted. Be persistent. Then consider changing your privacy settings to prevent being tagged without your permission.

Expand Your Online Presence

Think beyond Facebook. The goal is to create an online presence that is professional, gets the attention of potential employers, and reflects who you are and what you value. A good start is to create an effective LinkedIn account. Also, create a professional Twitter account and follow companies and business people that you admire. One key thing to remember about Twitter is to focus on others. It’s more about building relationships and having conversations. There are some good tips for first time Twitter users here. Photo-driven social media platform Instagram isn’t just for selfies and pictures of your lunch. It’s a great avenue to develop your personal brand and share what you’re passionate about in a more artistic and creative way. On whichever platforms you choose, remember that every post should have a purpose. Like tiles in a mosaic, they all combine to create an image of you.

Spread the Word

Now is the time to let people know you’re ready to go to work. Don’t limit yourself to social media and online searching. Many open positions are never posted online. That’s why it pays to contact former co-workers, teachers, friends, classmates, relatives, anyone and everyone who may be able to help you.

When networking, how you communicate your needs can make all the difference. People are more likely to lend a hand when they feel like they’re helping. So instead of asking, “Do you know anyone who’s hiring?” preface it with, “I need help finding a job. Can you think of anyone who’s hiring?” If you’re apprehensive, try these tips on asking for help that may make it easier.

Rework Your Resume

You may have heard this a dozen times, but tweaking your resume should be an on-going, work in progress. There are hundreds of posts online that offer resume advice. Here are a few key tips we gleaned. First, ditch the opening “goals and objectives” paragraph and replace it with a summary statement that focuses on what you have to offer, not the kind of job you want. Be sure to lead with the most relevant information according to the job you’re seeking. Add any new skills you attained and classes or workshops you attended. Be sure to include keywords featured in posts of the jobs you’re applying for. Then it’s time to edit. If your resume is more than one page, it’s too long. Get it down to one page with an 11 or 12 point font size. Next, proofread diligently. Ask friends to read your resume and offer honest, constructive feedback.

Sharpen Your Interview Skills

Take a cue from the Scouts and be prepared. Learn all you can about the prospective employer before your interview. Be ready when the interviewer asks, “So, tell me a little about yourself.” They’re not looking for your life story, as much as how the events of your life lead you to apply for the job and why you’re a good fit. Craft your story in a compelling way, that can be told in about a minute. Another common question that torments people is “What’s your weakness?” In answering this question, it’s OK to admit a flaw, but be ready to explain the steps you take to overcome it. Again, the internet is awash with ways to strengthen your interview skills. Here are a few interview tips that may just help you get a job offer.

How do you plan to prepare to be hired? Share your knowledge and experience in the comments section below.

Outperform With These 5 Resume Tips

5_Resume_Resolutions_Jan2014Everyone knows that your resume is an important part of landing an interview, and ultimately, a job. But, with so many qualified candidates going after the same jobs, how do you stand out? Take a look at these five resume tips to help you outperform the competition.

1. Customize
When you apply for a job, tailoring your resume to the specific qualifications can help you stand out and position yourself as an ideal candidate for the job. In order to tailor your resume, start by creating a master resume you can easily alter. Include all experience, skills, volunteer opportunities, and education you’ve obtained. When you apply to specific jobs, read the descriptions carefully and adapt your master resume accordingly. If the job you’re applying for requires customer service experience, highlight any experience you have and consider removing skills that don’t apply. According to the Huffington Post, “Focus all your information on what they want to see, not what you want them to see.”

2. Spell It Out
When possible, add details to the experience you list on your resume. For example, if you increased customer satisfaction by 35% in a previous job, state it on your resume. “I was responsible for customer interaction and increased satisfaction by 35%” speaks louder than simply mentioning that you worked with customers. According to Dan Ogden, principal of Omnibus Consulting, an executive search firm, “The resumes that stand out are the ones that show what the candidate did with the responsibilities they were given. Not just what they were responsible for, but what they achieved.”

3. Keep It Simple
According to Tony Beshara, author of Unbeatable Resumes, the average resume gets read in 10 seconds. In order to stand out, you must keep your resume simple and short. Avoid making your resume span more than two pages, and keep the content easy to read and understand. Beshara also suggests avoiding fancy layouts or special effects, and  recommends using Microsoft Word for formatting.

4. Proofread
It may seem obvious, but don’t forget to proofread your resume before sending it to a recruiter or heading to an interview. Your resume needs to be free from grammatical errors and spelling mistakes, or you may be counted out before you even have a chance. According to Monster.com, having a less-than-perfect resume may lead recruiters to draw the conclusion that you don’t care or don’t have the skills necessary to fill their position.

5. Let Social Media Help
While a traditional resume is printed on paper, today’s social media advancements are making it easier than ever before to get noticed. When you update your traditional resume, you should also make sure your social profile is up to date. Joshua Janicek, director of talent acquisition for the advertising agency Arnold Worldwide, says job seekers need to build a personal brand to compete for the jobs they want. According to Joshua, LinkedIn is the place to start. “LinkedIn is the standard and the core platform for recruiters looking for talent,” he said. Include your volunteer experience, interests, and educational background to give recruiters a better picture of who you are and what you can bring to their company.

How does your resume outperform the competition? Share your tips in the comments section below.

Movin’ On Up is brought to you by Express Employment Professionals.

How Many Resumes Does it Take to Make a Hire?

Express Employment Professionals recently asked 390 businesses in the United States and Canada how many resumes and interviews does it take for employers to fill one job. The results may surprise you as businesses spend more time than you think to make one hire.

Depending on the industry, business leaders report that candidate searches can involve reviewing as many as 16 resumes and up to five interviews. Finding the right person for the job is an important task, and businesses say they go through an intensive search process.

Even for general labor jobs, businesses say they review up to 15 resumes and conduct four interviews. This increases for administrative and professional roles, and does not include drafting and placing advertisements for job openings, recruiting, conducting reference checks, and any required testing or other screening.


Stand Out As a Candidate
The job search is competitive, and there are several ways you can stand out from the competition. Movin’ On Up has numerous articles that can help you with your resume. One of the most popular resume articles takes a look at the chronological resume versus the functional resume. You have roughly 10 seconds to grab the attention of a hiring manager and knowing the advantages of these types of resumes can go a long way in helping you land an interview.

Dress for the Job You Want
You’ve passed up some of the competition and made it to the next step. However, when you’re in the interview process, make sure you dress the part for the job you want and ask thought-provoking questions. Plus, remember to follow up by writing your interviewer a thank-you note.

Soft Skills Vitally Important
Employers often struggle with finding the right person for the job and culture. There are soft skills that hiring managers often look for such as communication, teamwork, and time management. Soft skills are vital to helping you fit in with the company culture and working with others. Here are 10 actions you can take to help develop your soft skills as you enter the workforce.
If you’ve recently made it to the top of a hiring manager’s list, tell us how you approached your job search that helped you stand out from the competition in the comments section below.

How Recruiters Read Your Resume [Infographic]

When it comes to standing out from the job competition, your resume can make or break your chances of getting noticed. Since recruiters and hiring managers simply don’t have enough time to look at every resume they receive for job openings, it’s important to make sure yours is written in a way that catches their attention and is easy to read.

Check out this infographic from StandOutCV to learn more about what recruiters look for in your resume.

How_a_recruiter_reads_your_CV

Movin’ On Up is brought to you by Express Employment Professionals.

Time to Dust Off Your Resume

Tidy up resume_blogUpdating your resume can seem like a daunting task, but it really doesn’t have to be. With the ideas below, we’ll help you keep your resume fresh and ready to use.

Remember, concise is key.
Most hiring managers spend less than one minute reviewing a resume and determining whether it’s worth reading. Keeping that in mind, you’ll want to keep your accomplishments brief. A laundry list of your individual job responsibilities is not what employers look for. Instead, try summarizing your role with a short statement, and list two to four bullet points about your most notable achievements. Remember, they can always ask you to go into further detail in the interview.

You also may have heard to keep your resume to one page. While that is still the general guideline, if you can’t keep it to one page, try to keep it close.

Set aside time.
The scariest part of dusting off your resume is how much time people think it will take. However, if you simply dedicate an hour once or twice a week to look at your resume, it’ll seem much more manageable. After that initial update, set a quarterly reminder to assess your resume and update any new skills or outdated information. This way, if you need to update your resume again in the future, it won’t be as intimidating.

Keep it current.
If you’re a seasoned professional, you likely have years of experience under your belt. However, it’s not necessary to include your entire career history. One of the best ways to keep it current is to remove experience prior to the year 2000.

Use keywords.
When cleaning up your resume for a job application, be sure to replace cliché words with job-related keywords. Adapt your resume to the job description for which you’re applying. Doing this will not only help you highlight unique traits, but it will also stand out to hiring managers looking for the perfect fit.

Enlist help.
After you’ve updated your resume, print it out and ask two to three trusted colleagues to proofread it for you. Ask them to look for potential spacing and grammatical errors, along with anything else they think may stand out negatively.

Do a final scrub.
After you’ve looked over it one last time, make sure your font is simple and easy to read. Stick with options like Times New Roman or Arial, and be sure the font is no smaller than size 10 and no larger than 12. A font that is too small or too fancy is distracting to hiring managers.

How long has it been since you’ve dusted off your resume? Have any tips to share about the process? Share with us in the comments section below!

Movin’ On Up is brought to you by Express Employment Professionals.