Monthly Archives: December 2007

Write a Better Résumé – 5 Ways to Get Noticed by Recruiters

resumes recruiters wantYour résumé is your introduction to prospective employers. A well-crafted résumé can grab the attention of recruiters and help you land that all-important first interview. On the other hand, a poorly put together résumé can squash your chances of moving forward in the selection process. That’s why it’s essential to create a résumé that sells your strengths in a polished, professional format. The tips below can help you draft a résumé that gets results.

Eliminate spelling and grammar errors. One quick way to get your résumé thrown in the trash is not editing it for typos and poor grammar. You should always proofread your résumé several times before sending it out. Look out for spelling errors that the computer may have missed such as words that sound the same but have a different meaning (Example: build vs. billed). Consider enlisting the help of a friend or family member to review your résumé as well – you might be surprised what a fresh pair of eyes can catch.

Don’t use first person (I, me, my, etc.) It’s your résumé, so employers know who you’re referring to when you mention accomplishments and work experience. Using first person pronouns makes your résumé sound amateurish, unpolished and even “you centered.” That’s why you would delete the words “I” and “my” in the following sentence: “I earned my associate’s degree in math.” Instead, just write: “Earned associate’s degree in math.”

Use action verbs. Strong verbs bring your accomplishments to life. Action verbs also hold the reader’s attention by making your résumé interesting. See for yourself – which of these two candidates do you find more appealing based on the way they described their past job duties?

Candidate A: Did filing, clean up, phone calls and clerical duties.

Candidate B:  Cataloged department files for 15 employees on a weekly basis. Maintained clean office environment including dusting, sweeping and mopping. Answered over 200 phone calls each day using multi-line phone system.

Communicate results, not just a list of job duties. From the example above, you can see that if you were a hiring manager, you’re attention would most likely be drawn to Candidate B’s résumé over Candidate A’s. That’s because Candidate B’s résumé not only uses action verbs, but it also communicates more about the applicant’s actual accomplishments instead of just listing off a bunch of job duties.

Tailor your résumé to the job you’re applying for. If you’re applying for 10 different jobs, you can just send the same résumé to each company, right? Wrong. Unless the job descriptions for each position are identical, you’ll need to tweak your résumé for each one. Tailoring your résumé doesn’t have to take a lot of time though. Just make sure you’ve reviewed each job description and know a little about the company you’re applying with. Then, create a new version of your résumé using the key words you found in your research. For example, if you’re applying for a position as a legal assistant and the law firm needs someone with experience working on trial cases and you have it, make sure you describe that experience in the version of your résumé you send to them.

Your résumé is your first touch with a prospective employer, so make sure that your paper introduction makes as good a first impression as you would hope to make in person. You can do this by taking the time to create a professional-looking résumé that appeals to employers’ hiring needs.

What résumé questions do you have? Post them in the comments sections.

5 Signs it’s Time to Call in Sick

As the weather cools, the sniffles are descending upon workers across the country. And many are showing up to work that way. In fact, it’s a pretty normal thing for workers to show up with a lot more than the sniffles. Some are on the clock with a temperature, and many show up to work even when they are contagious.

Of course, it’s a hassle to have to pull weight for someone who is out sick or to find a replacement, but sick leave exists for a reason. Not only do workers perform more poorly when they feel ill, they also pose a risk to the other people they work with. That’s why it’s important to call in sick when you’re, well, sick.

But how do you know when you’re sick enough to call in? Health experts say there are some important signs for any worker – or for that matter, boss or colleague – to know if they or someone around them are sick.

1. A high fever. If you have a high fever – above 101 – don’t go to work. If you’ve gone in to work thinking you have a slight cold, and your fever escalates, tell your boss you need to go home – or to the doctor, depending on your other symptoms – immediately. Fever is a common sign that whatever you have is contagious, and the last thing any employer wants is for their entire workforce to be taken down by the same bug.

2. A very sore throat. White patches on your throat plus a fever is a common sign of strep throat, which is highly contagious. A very sore throat is also associated with a number of other common contagious ailments, so see a doctor and then head home instead of to work.

3. A cough. A minor cough can be due to allergies or minor irritants, which you can work through, but if you have a cough plus aches and a fever, you may have a cold. You won’t get over a severe cold or the flu unless you get rest, so stay at home. You won’t feel well enough to get much accomplished anyway.
A severe cough along with mucus or shortness of breath can be a sign of bronchitis or pneumonia, so it’s best to see a doctor and stay away from the workplace until they’ve signed off on your health.

4. Stomach problems. According to experts, if you can’t hold down food, don’t go in to work. You could have a contagious stomach virus, which typically lasts one or two days. Food poisoning is another option, and the last thing you want to do at work is puke in the presence of your co-workers.

5. Pinkeye. Even though you might not feel miserable, the bright red, matted, gooey eye you are sporting is highly contagious if it’s the most common form of pinkeye. See a doctor, because this infection will need to be fought with antibiotics.

If you have one of these or other signs, chances are, you are too sick to be at work. Give as much advance notice as possible to your boss, but when you’re sick, do yourself, your boss and everyone you work with a favor. Call in sick.

Have you ever gone to work sick? How bad was it? Does your boss encourage you to take sick leave when you’re not feeling 100%? Let us know in the comments below!

Note: This article is not intended to replace expert medical advice. Please consult with your physician.

Workplace Routine: 3 Ways to Shake Up the “Same Old, Same Old”

Break the RoutineIf you’re like many employees, your job is pretty consistent throughout the week. While you may have a few surprises pop up every now and then, for the most part, your work follows a predictable pattern. While a routine can be comforting, it can also get dull after a while.

If you’re so familiar with your job that you could do it in your sleep, it’s time to shake things up a little. The tips below can help you get out of a rut and get reenergized at work.

Break Out of the Daily Grind. Have you ever watched a movie that was so predictable you knew what the ending of the film would be within the first five minutes? It made for a pretty boring two hours, didn’t it? The same is true for your work. To mix things up and keep yourself interested in your job, you’ve got to add a little variety to each day. One way to spice up your work day is to change your routine. Do you archive e-mails every Monday at 3 p.m.? Why not try Fridays at 9 a.m. instead? File paperwork first thing every morning? Switch it to the last thing you do before you go home. You might be amazed how simply shifting your schedule can breathe new life into your day.

Change Your Scenery. Your surroundings affect your outlook. Sitting at the same desk, looking at the same computer screen, eight hours a day, five days a week, can take a toll on your creativity and enthusiasm. When you feel yourself going into zombie-mode at work, get up and get your blood flowing with a brisk walk around the building. Or if you have the opportunity, relocate for an hour or two and do your work in an empty office, conference room or even outdoors or at a coffee shop. Another way to freshen up your surroundings is to rearrange your workspace. Put up new pictures and change the position of your desk or computer. Anything that livens up your physical environment will help you feel more invigorated on the job.

Look at Your Work with a New Perspective. The daily grind can make you feel “ho hum” about your job if you’re not careful. To create a more interesting work environment, try giving your attitude a face lift. Your perspective makes a huge impact on your job satisfaction and performance. If you go to work saying, “Today’s going to be a great day. I’m going to accomplish a lot,” you’ll have a much better day than if you start the morning saying, “I can’t wait until Friday.” Making the effort to see your work in a positive light will allow you to infuse creativity and add a little extra zip into your routine. Focus on doing your best, even with small everyday tasks. Challenge yourself to do your work faster and more efficiently. Looking for ways to improve the status quo can keep you from becoming apathetic about your job.

Nobody wants to spend their working hours feeling bored or dreaming of being someplace else. To chase the “blahs” away, strive to make each day a little better than the one before by making simple changes in your routine, workspace and attitude.

Do you struggle to stay energized throughout the work week? What helps you stay motivated on the job?

Part 2: The Importance of Researching a Company Before Your First Interview

On Monday I wrote about what you should research about a company before your first interview.  Today I will discuss the importance of that research as a vital step when preparing for your interview. Being prepared will not only increase your confidence, it will also create a great first impression for the interviewer. Researching a company can also increase your chances of receiving a job offer for the position you want, because you will be able to illustrate your knowledge and enthusiasm about the employer.

Familiarizing yourself with the company shows the interviewer that you are interested in working for the company and care enough to do your research. When you ask insightful questions, the interviewer will take notice.  You will be demonstrating your intelligence and preparedness by responding to the interviewer’s questions with ease.

Knowing about the company will also help you determine whether or not it’s a good fit for you.  Do you believe in the company’s mission and values?  Do the company’s values, morals and beliefs match with your own? This is important because it may be stressful if you accept a position only to find out later that your values and the company’s clash. For example, the research institute you’re applying to work for conducts a type of research that you’re opposed to. If you’d known this fact ahead of time, you may not have taken the position and could have avoided an awkward situation.

It is important to prepare for your first interview, and research should be included in that preparation. You will feel and appear more confident, leaving a better impression to the interviewer and increasing your chances to get the job you want. You will also have the information to make the right decision about a job offer.

How has research helped you land the job you wanted?  What advice can you offer to others in their job search?

5 Tips to Empower Your Team

Employers often times want to empower their employees, but they don’t always know quite how to go about it. Empowering employees is crucial to the survival, expansion and growth of your business. It not only creates employee satisfaction but increases productivity and morale. Here are five tips to empower your employees.

  1. Ask for input. It can be hard to ask for ideas and suggestions from staff members if your department isn’t used to working together on projects as a team. But, who knows your customers better than the employees who interact with them on a daily basis? And for internal issues, employees are in the midst of the daily activities and can contribute valuable information for making things better. These employees know what will work both internally and externally to make everyone happy. By allowing all your employees to actively add input, you will not only add value to your clients, but you will add value to your staff as well.
  2. Reinforce with positive feedback. Make sure your employees know when they have done a job well. Many employers may avoid consistently giving positive feedback to employees because they believe employees are just doing their jobs and shouldn’t require recognition. However, employees often become unmotivated when they hear only negative feedback. Employees who feel respected and valued within their departments will perform better on their tasks and are more likely to stay loyal to your company.
  3. Designate leaders. It is important to delegate projects and tasks to individual employees and give them authority over specific projects because it gives them a sense of value within the organization. They begin to see the goals of the company more clearly and feel more a part of the process. Assign projects to high-performing employees and make them leaders on individual tasks. This will not only help alleviate your own workload, but it also gives your employees an opportunity to shine.
  4. Mentor your employees. The most successful companies are the ones that invest in their most valuable assets, their people. Investing in your employees’ developmental growth not only benefits them, but it also benefits your company. Instead of focusing on just being their boss or managing your team, try being your employees’ mentor. Focus on coaching them to success. Help them achieve not only the department or company goals, but their personal career goals as well. Find out where they want to be in the next year, or even five years, and help them achieve their goals by giving them the tools they need to develop and become successful.
  5. Encourage open communication. Make sure that you clearly communicate your goals, projects and ideas, and encourage your employees do the same. Establish an environment where employees are comfortable expressing their comments and feel free to experiment with new ideas. Encourage your employees to contribute in brainstorming activities and commend them for their feedback. This will generate new ideas and establish a more team-oriented atmosphere.

Empowering your employees doesn’t have to be difficult. By following these five tips, you will start to see a difference in your employees’ attitudes, improved respect among co-workers and an increase in productivity. Employers will also see leaders rising to the challenges of more responsibility and a sense of ownership and pride in their employees’ work.

Researching A Potential Employer Before the First Interview

Before your first interview at a company or organization you should research your potential employer and be fully prepared. You don’t want to miss out on a job because you didn’t research your prospective employer. But do you know where to look for important information regarding your potential employer or even what to look for? 

Most of the company’s information is readily available to you. First, check out the employer’s website and their competitors’ sites to learn about the industry.  Read the About Us, Facts, and Media Center sections. Find journals, magazines, and newspapers that contain articles about the company, and learn as much as you can so that you will be familiar with the company’s successes and latest ventures. You can search the Internet or visit your local library to access these resources. This will show the interviewer that you care enough about the company to familiarize yourself about it ahead of time.

If you know someone at the company, give them a call and ask them a few questions before your interview. They can give you a personal view on the company, its culture and employees, but make sure to double-check their information. You don’t want to look unprepared by misquoting a fact during your interview.

Here are some key items to research:
• The year the company was established
• Products or services provided
• Mission statement and goals
• Industry
• Business Model
• Profitability of the company and potential for growth
• Corporate culture
• Organizational structure
• Key employees
• Locations, if more than one

Are you going to be prepared with an answer if an interviewer asks, “What do you know about my company?” or “Why are you interested in this position?” These are popular questions, so make sure you know your facts. Remember, research can be time consuming and should not be put off until the night before the interview. Collect as much information as you can about the company, prepare a few questions for the interviewer, and don’t be afraid to ask the questions you prepared. Asking thoughtful questions will show that you have done your research.

Researching the company before your interview can mean the difference between getting the job and not receiving an offer. Research is an important step to increase your chances of landing the job you want. So, take the time to research the company, and you will be ready to tackle your next interview.

Are you prepared for your next interview? What tips or suggestions do you have for others preparing for their first interview?