Search Results for: resume tips

Poll Results: Ace Your Next Interview With These Top Tips

 

Last month we drilled down on what readers want to see on Movin’ On Up. We asked one simple question: “What part of the job interview process do you need help with?”

Your answers were as follows:

 

What’s next?

The results were almost evenly split among the top four, so we’ll be sure to cover all those topics in upcoming blogs. But before that, here’s a bit of information about the top four.

Asking Relevant Questions

Questions you ask after an interview should be uniquely tailored to yourself or your interviewer. The key is to ask insightful, culture-based questions that won’t typically pop up during the interview. A few examples:

  • What is a typical day like at [company name]?
  • How is this company different from other companies you’ve worked at?
    • What makes it unique?
  • Tell me about a project or incident you experienced that truly embodied the spirit of [company name].

How to Create an “Elevator Pitch”

First things first—what is an elevator pitch? As defined by Investopedia, an elevator pitch is a “…term used to describe a brief speech that outlines an idea for a product, service, or project.” In the world of interviewing, your “elevator pitch” is a short way of describing who you are and why you’re right for the job. Think of it as a super quick version of your cover letter.

The easiest way to craft an “elevator pitch” is to look at your cover letter. You’ve already done the work! Just condense it into a few bullet points, and mix those with details specific to the job you’re interviewing for.

Despite the name, an “elevator pitch” doesn’t have to take place in an elevator. It works perfectly as an answer to an introductory question like “tell me about yourself.” When an interviewer asks that, they don’t want to hear you list your resume. They want to know about you as a person and how your experiences make you qualified for this position.

Discussing Skills/Past Experience

Listing past jobs in an interview is easy. Really getting into those experiences and the skills they represent is harder.

First, remember that you’re focusing on accomplishments, not job descriptions. Speak on how you increased ROI by a certain amount, typed a certain WPM (words per minute), or completed however many projects in a certain amount of time.

How Much to Share About a Previous Job

It can be difficult to answer questions about your previous job experiences when some of those experiences weren’t exactly positive. If you had a boss that was a tyrant, should you mention it? What about a company culture you didn’t fit in with?

Always keep in mind that your personality is being interviewed just as much as your job experience. You don’t want to appear rude or unprofessional. So, when an interviewer asks you about your previous manager, keep it to the basics. Feel free to mention why you didn’t fit in with a particular management style or company culture, but stay away from personal judgements.

Anything else you want to know about the interview process? Let us know in the comments section 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!

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!

Holiday Job Tips

Sleigh bells are ringing—what are you waiting for?

Whether you’re unemployed and looking for work or employed but looking for a change, the holidays can be a great time to jump start your job search.

Seasonal jobs, for instance, can be both a way to pay the bills and stepping stones on the way to full-time employment. And with Black Friday looming on the horizon, businesses are rushing to fill their job openings. Although many holiday jobs were filled in October, there are still plenty of opportunities for work out there. The challenge is finding those opportunities and getting an interview.

The following are a few ways to enhance your holiday job search and get one step ahead of the competition.

Apply Everywhere

If what you need is a job, any job, don’t narrow your job search to one type of business. Although retail is hiring in spades, other businesses are just as busy. More people shopping means more people stopping by coffee shops for a latte or the gas station to refill their tank. Warehouses also need more employees to keep up with the huge amount of gifts being shipped back and forth. After a long day of deal-hunting, shoppers will flock to restaurants in droves, which means a need for more wait staff.

Drive around your area and see which restaurants or stores are hiring. Then go online and use job search websites like Indeed.com or Monster.com to find openings in your area. You can go to the specific business website as well.

You can also send your resume to local staffing companies (like Express Employment Professionals) so they can connect you with opportunities you wouldn’t hear of otherwise. With you and the staffing agency both job searching, you get two times the job search power without paying a dime.

Network

The holiday season is a time of celebration and coming together. Networking events and volunteer projects are plentiful. Use these events to connect with others in your industry. Just make sure to be tactful. For instance, don’t beg for a job at a Christmas party or desperately follow someone to every one of their volunteer projects. Be yourself and show that you’re a person worth knowing.

Once you’ve made these contacts, search on LinkedIn and connect with them. After that, feel free to send a positive letter thanking them for connecting with you and let them know that you’re looking for work. Also, be sure to mention how you’ve been productive during time without work. These connections could lead to seasonal work or even a full-time job in the future!

Make a List—and Check It Twice

What do you really want in a job? It’s fine if you’re just looking for something to pay the bills right now, but do you have a long-term career strategy? What do you enjoy? What do you hate? What kind of boss and business culture do you need to thrive? Answering questions like these can make your job search much clearer, paving the way for the New Year.

Looking for more holiday job search tips? Ask us your questions in the comments below!

 

4 Tips for Surviving the Work Commute

Getting to work can be dull. Here’s how to be productive while you drive.

According to statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau, the average United States employee has a 26 minute commute to and from work each day. And according to the National Household Survey, Canadians aren’t getting to their jobs much quicker with an average 25.4 minute commute.

That’s more than 6,000 minutes spent driving per year! Although it can be tempting to spend all of that time zoning out and thinking about lunch, we recommend taking a more proactive approach.

Topical Podcasts

Podcasts are informative audio files that can be downloaded on your computer or mobile device, usually as part of an ongoing series. Think of them as audio books, but for a wider range of topics. These can range from recipe ideas and writing tips to murder mysteries and love advice.

Basically, if a topic exists, there’s a podcast for it. Some are available on iTunes, while others can be downloaded from SoundCloud. Many podcasts also have their own native app. Your favorite search engine is also a great podcast source—just search for “best ____ podcasts” and a list of the top podcasts in your area of interest will show up.

You can also listen to our Express Employment Professionals podcast, On The Job! It’s a great way to learn about other people and their job search experiences.

But how do podcasts help your work commute? They allow you to learn while driving. Writers can hear about the latest writing techniques and how they can improve their writing style or blog. Construction workers are given an opportunity to absorb information about new apps and how they can be applied to their next project. Office workers can learn about workplace etiquette and the latest computer programs. You can even acquire personal finance knowledge!

News

Sometimes listening to the news can be disheartening, especially when it’s about the same political or viral story over and over. However, if you perk your ears a bit, you might be able to learn useful information. When you know more about current events, you can better understand how those events affect your industry. These events also make great talking points for small talk with coworkers.

Learn a Language

There are many podcasts and apps that you can listen to in your car to learn a language. These include Duolingo, Rosetta Stone, and Pimsleur, among others. Although you probably won’t be mastering a language from the front seat, the morning or afternoon commute is still a great time to learn new vocabulary or grammatical constructions. Foreign languages look great on resumes and open up a whole new world of job opportunities.

 Set Your Work Agenda

As you sit behind a driver who refuses to go even one mile above the minimum speed, resist the temptation to honk angrily and speed past them. Instead, turn on your favorite song and relax. If this is your morning commute, try to organize the schedule for the day. Mentally preparing yourself for the workday (or even the workweek) can make it much easier to get work started once at the office.

If you’re on the way home, think about what happened that day. What did you do well? What could have used improvement? What’s still left for tomorrow? Questions like these can help you pinpoint personal strengths and areas for improvement. You can even download a dictation app and say your thoughts out loud. That way you’ll have notes to review later.

How do you make your work commute more enjoyable?  Let us know in the comments below!

 

 

 

 

Interview Tips: Do This, DON’T Do That

You’ve spent days applying and sent in what feels like a thousand resumes. And now you finally have an interview. This is when the nerves start kicking in. What should you say? What should you wear? Do you know anything about the industry?

We’re here to help. Review this list of dos and don’ts to ace that next interview!

Do:

Dress for the Job You Want

That’s right, we’re back to that old cliché. But, there’s a reason people say it so often. This interview might be your only chance to make a lasting impression on a potential employer. You never get a second first impression. And if you do get the job, do you want to be seen as a regular employee or a candidate for promotion? Hopefully the latter. So dress like it!

Also, make sure to:

  • Get a haircut (if needed)
  • Trim your nails
  • Take a shower that morning.
  • Try to avoid any strong-smelling colognes, perfumes, body washes, or deodorants.

You don’t want anything to distract the interviewer from why you’re right for the job!

Learn Interview Etiquette

How’s your handshake? Everything goes back to making that immediate, lasting impression. If you give a puny handshake, you seem weak. If you give an overly strong handshake, you come off as aggressive. It’s getting to that happy medium that’s difficult.

The same thing applies to eye contact. You don’t want to stare into the interviewer’s eyes for a straight hour, but also don’t want stare at a corner of the room or look out the window. Be attentive and go for a balance between the two extremes.

How can you practice your handshake or eye contact? And, for that matter, how do you know if you have a good handshake? Join a local professional group!

  • Ask other members to practice interview techniques with you. These groups exist to help people master the fine art of business etiquette.
  • Even if the organiztion you’re interviewing with doesn’t have a traditional office setting, these groups can teach lessons applicable to all workplaces.
  • Mock interviews are especially helpful to highlight any flaws in your technique.

Always Have Questions Prepared

The the first thing you should do after scheduling an interview is research the company’s history, values, and culture. You want to make sure you fit in—and mentioning the company’s mission statement and how that applies to you is always a good start.

However, you also need to come prepared with questions. The more specific and tailored to the company, the better. Ask about:

  • The job and potential future responsibilities.
  • The work environment and culture. For example, asking the interviewer why they like working at the company shows you’re interested in the people and culture, not just climbing the company ladder.

Follow-Up

Follow-ups matter. Start writing a handwritten thank-you note immediately when you get home. Bring up a few things you learned in the interview, and send it off as soon as possible. When the applicant pool for a certain job is especially competitive, this helps you stand out. If you’re unable to send out a handwritten note, send a personalized email.

Don’t:

Be Late

Remember that whole bit about leaving a good first impression? If you’re late to the interview, you’ve already shot yourself in the foot. In the interviewer’s eyes, if an applicant can’t make it to the interview on time, they simply don’t want the job enough.

Be early. It’s much better for you, as an applicant, to wait on the interviewer, rather than the other way around. Just don’t arrive too early—ten minutes or so should be fine.

Talk Too Much … Or Too Little

Interviews can be nerve-wracking, and some applicants find themselves rambling just to move the discussion along. If you take up your interviewer’s time with long descriptions of achievements, you’re preventing the interviewer from asking questions they want to ask.

But don’t make your responses too short either. Remember, it’s all about balance. Avoid giving one word (or, in some cases, one sentence, answers). When asked about what it was like working at “such-and-such” company, don’t respond with “great.” Your response should be about what you learned from working at a specific company with its own culture, values, and people.

Complain About Your Last Boss

This can be tempting—especially if you were fired or let go from a previous position. Who wouldn’t want to vent about their awful boss when someone specifically asks about their time at that company? However, complaining about anyone in an interview is the hallmark of an unprofessional employee. So come prepared to answer a question specifically addressing past negative experiences.

Bring Up Controversial Topics

Interviews are about showing the interviewer why you’re a perfect fit for the job. They are not a place to discuss religion, politics, and other hot-button topics. No matter how informal the style of the interview, it’s still an interview.

Lie

Most industries are fairly closely knit. Odds are the interviewer knows somebody who knows somebody else that is a best friend of a previous boss. So, don’t lie. Even if your industry isn’t closely knit, lying always comes back to bite you.

Go For It

In the end, you can only do so much preparation. When you’re ready, you’re ready. After that, it’s all about balance and confidence. Walk in with your head held high and knock that interview out of the park!

Have you ever had a bad interview experience? What did you learn? Let us know 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.