As a freelance writer and a Certified Professional Resume Writer, I am a stickler for using the appropriate words, placing commas in the correct places, and ensuring that written communication reads well. When I work on resumes for clients, I feel like I sometimes take this detail-orientation to a new level. Will someone really notice that the left margin is 1.1” and the right margin is 1.2”? Maybe or maybe not. However, I know it and want to ensure that it appears professional for the reader. After all, a successful resume is written with the audience or reader in-mind.
Even if the resume is “perfect,” all of this work can be undone in a few seconds if the interviewee does not have excellent nonverbal communication skills. Within the first seconds of meeting the job candidate, an interviewer will make a judgment on the interviewee. Much of this will be based on appearance of the candidate and how the person acts during the interview.
Here are some easy-to-implement tips I typically give clients when they are preparing for the job interview:
- Shake hands firmly. As a woman, I am particularly in-tune to this and want to ensure I don’t have a “dead-fish” handshake. Show them you are confident with a nice, firm handshake.
- Make eye contact. This does not mean staring, but this does mean you are not looking at the ceiling or at the floor for the duration of the meeting. Look people in the eye and show them you are ready to talk business. And, if there is more than one person conducting the interview, be sure to look at each person.
- Sit up straight in your chair. Your mom (and mine!) was right. Slouching gives a bad impression that you don’t care about the person talking to you and it looks sloppy. Sitting up straight will also help you to listen more intently. Make sure your feet are planted firmly on the floor and the small of your back is against the chair.
- Appreciate the power of your appearance. Now, this doesn’t mean you have to purchase a brand-new three-piece suit. It does mean you should dress in a nice outfit, ensure it is not wrinkly, and take your time getting ready.
- Pay attention. When the interviewer is speaking to you, nod your head at the appropriate times and take notes if you think you may forget something important. These communication cues show that you are interested in what he or she is saying.
- Be friendly. This includes smiling when you meet people that work at the business. From greeting the receptionist upon your arrival to shaking hands with the interviewer(s) when you leave, your communication skills matter throughout the entire process.
As part of my business, Feather Communications, I offer mock-interview services. Several months ago I conducted a mock-interview with a soon-to-be college graduate. When I arrived at our meeting place, he was dressed in a suit, stood up to greet me, shook my hand, and had a portfolio in front of him. That was a client that understood the power of nonverbal communication.
Before going on that interview, practice with someone and have them tell you the nonverbal signals you are sending. Or, if you are able to do so, videotape yourself and watch the recording. Emphasize what is going well and modify the behaviors and non-verbal communication cues that distract from your professionalism. You may be surprised at things you are doing and don’t even know it. Taking the time to address it now will ensure you are giving the appropriate, professional, and proper nonverbal communication signals. If you are interested in interview coaching, contact us today!
You have landed the interview for your dream job. Now, you start getting nervous as you realize it is time to prepare for the ever-important interview. What kind of questions are they going to ask? This is one of the things you should really ponder prior to walking through the business door on the date of your interview.
No matter the type of business, industry, geographic location of the company, or the interviewer’s experience level, one statement is bound to arise: Tell me a little about yourself. This is likely the first thing that is said as you sit down behind the conference room table. This statement should be easily answered, shouldn’t it? Surprisingly—for many people—this is a difficult thing to discuss and most people don’t know where to begin with the response.
Prior to answering this statement, put yourself in the interviewer’s shoes. What does that person REALLY want to know about you? Do they want to know that your birthday is April 12 and that your favorite color is purple? No, of course not. Do they want to know that you have a Bachelor of Science degree in marketing and have eight years of sales experience? Absolutely.
You must be careful when answering these questions. First, think of how this would sound: “My name is Heather and I have an 11-year old son. I am very actively involved in his school and try to volunteer as much as possible.” What does the potential employer hear? The interviewer hears the following, “My name is Heather. And, by the way, I may miss a lot of work because I do a ton of volunteering at my son’s school. This means I may miss important work deadlines and, quite possibly, may not be able to work overtime when you need me to do so.” I couldn’t be more proud to be a mother to a wonderful son, but this is not something I discuss as the starting point during an interview. My focus is on professional accomplishments, educational background, and business expertise.
To avoid this scenario, stay with job-related information and have a brief 30-60 second introduction ready-to-go when you enter the interview. Also, DO NOT ask the employer the following: “Well, what do you want to know about me?” This shows that you are unsure of yourself and your strengths. Here are four tips to help you plan your response:
- Employers are looking for confidence. Say your statements firmly and as definitive sentences. Don’t add a verbal question mark to the end of your statements.
- Do not ask them what they want to hear or what they would like to know. This shows that you are unsure of yourself and don’t have a planned and confident response to the question.
- Give a brief overview of your job history or why you have applied for this particular job. Don’t provide a play-by-play of your past 20 years of experience; however, show how that experience relates to the potential employer.
- Stay with job-related information as much as possible. While most people immediately want to discuss their family, where they live, or community involvement, this is not the time. In addition, by discussing these personal things, you open yourself to potential discrimination.
Prepare your response to this all-important question carefully. As the first statement during an interview, your response is going to set the tone for the rest of the interview process. Prepare, plan, and develop a productive response to this question in order to shine a light on your strengths and help you land that dream job. Interested in more information about job interviews? We offer INTERVIEW COACHING – contact us today!
Late summer has been a whirlwind of activity for Feather Communications. In August, we were fortunate to travel to Washington, DC. Then, two weeks later, we completed our annual week-long fishing trip to northern Ontario, Canada. August involved an equal amount of vacation and work time. And, it has been GREAT for business!
Why? Going on a vacation allows you to rejuvenate, regenerate, and focus on what is really important in your life. It allows you to go back to your WHY – realizing why you have chosen this unique life of an entrepreneur. If you can’t take some time to enjoy the fruits of your labor, then why you are bothering with your career?
First, a vacation enhances your performance. Because our bodies and minds need rest, time away from the office allows for some of this rest. Even though family vacations and group getaways can become hectic with busy schedules, they are still (typically) more relaxing than a day in the office. In addition, the time away from the office provides you with a fresh mind-set and perspective upon your return.
Next, time outside of your normal routine can provide a venue for creativity. Without the standard desk, computer, and four walls of your office, you may find that new ideas come to you more clearly and you may see things that offer sparks of inspiration for future projects. Taking photos on your vacation and reviewing them at particular intervals can also provide chances for imagination to flourish and grow.
Finally, unplugging from technology can help your mind reset. When we travel to Canada, approximately 12 hours north of our home, we are completely off-the-grid. While there is electricity at the cabin we rent, the electricity is strictly from a generator. And, although the main lodge does have Internet access, I choose to ignore that and simply enjoy the time away with my son, husband, and the wild wilderness of northern Canada.
So, if you are even considering taking a vacation and are worried about your business, keep this in mind—a vacation may be just what your business needs to move forward with creativity, focus, and excitement for the future.
As a job seeker, it is likely that you have experienced several interviews, been nervous about how to present yourself, and wondered the likelihood of actually landing the position. Whether you are interviewing at a manufacturing facility, fast-food restaurant, family-owned business, or well-known company, YOU (the interviewee) have probably been asked this question, “Do you have any questions for us?”
The smart answer is “YES!” However, if you haven’t planned ahead, this question may throw you off of your game—jeopardizing the last impression you leave with the potential employer. Fear no more – check out our list below for several questions that can be asked at the end of the interview.
Question #1 – Is this a newly-created position or did someone leave? This will tell you if the company is expanding and needs to add staff members or if someone voluntarily left the organization. As a follow-up if someone did leave the position, you could also ask how long that person was in that particular job.
Question #2 – What is YOUR favorite part about working here? This is a question that you can directly ask the interviewer. If there is more than one interviewer, then you can ask each person—within reason. If you are part of a panel interview, you will want to ask each person a different question. If they can answer this question quickly and confidently, it is likely the person actually does like his or her position and you may be able to find out additional benefits of working within that organizational environment.
Question #3 – If you could design the ideal candidate for this position, what are that person’s top three strengths? This question provides you with a way to once again identify your skill-set and how you fit that position’s needs. Again, these are questions asked near the end of the interview and this is a method for leaving a positive and lasting impression on the interviewers.
Questions #4 – When do you anticipate making a hiring decision regarding this position? By asking this question, you reiterate your interest in the job and show the employer that are you serious about the opportunity.
These are just three examples of questions that can be asked during this crucial part of the interview process. Obviously, you do not want to bombard the organization with questions and you should also not ask questions that can be easily researched. For example, asking about the organizational mission statement is not a good idea if that information is clearly posted on the company website.
Do you have a question for us? Or, are you excited about your upcoming job interview and want to know the question that WE would ask that organization? Contact us today for a free consultation – we look forward to helping you!
As you piece together the information on your resume, you may start to wonder where that information needs to go. Should you include your qualifications at the top of the document or is that better left for the end? And, do you include your contact information on each page? But, the question I am asked most often is whether or not to list your education prior to your experience or after that work history.
The answer is this: IT DEPENDS. While that may not be the answer you want to here, it is the truthful response. Read below for several ‘rules’ and questions that we can apply to the Education section that will guide you in its placement on your new resume.
First – have you graduated college within the last six months to one year? If so, then it is appropriate to list your education prior to employment experiences. This is because you most likely have little or no professional experience and your education is the core competency that you wish to highlight for an employer.
Secondly – have you graduated from a well-known college or university? For example, if you graduated from Harvard or Princeton, this is information that should be highlighted. Depending upon the position and the employer, these types of universities will provide you with an additional advantage over other candidates.
Next – how many years of professional experience do you have in your desired field? If the answer is one or more years, then the Education section can go after the professional history. In this case, we should focus on highlighting your skills, accomplishments, and abilities at each position. For those that have many years of professional experience, education becomes less important as you move forward through your career.
Remember, there is not one resume format that fits all job seekers. Be strategic when placing your information and showcase your strongest assets and experiences first. Recruiters and hiring managers have precious little time and you want to ensure the front-loading of pertinent information.
If you still have questions about your resume, please contact us for a free resume review!
Are you considering a geographical move that requires you to search for work? Do you think you’re ready for that internal promotion? Or, have you been thinking about ‘what’s out there’ in terms of new opportunities in your field? If you answer ‘yes’ to any of these things, you will definitely need a new or updated resume to move forward.
Then, the panic sets in. You haven’t written your resume for 10+ years. Do you still need the same sections on your document? What do you keep and what do you eliminate from your job history? Should there be a section that outlines my technical skills? And, how and where do I include my education?
When I originally started by business, Feather Communications, I focused on writing articles for local, regional, and national publications. Then, I started writing resumes for people. I quickly discovered that I love writing resumes for individuals and especially enjoy drawing out information that makes them shine as a job candidate. Since 2008, I have found that many people—especially women—don’t give themselves enough credit for their achievements. By writing a resume that is dynamic, descriptive, and aligned with today’s job market, I enjoy helping them feel confident as they move forward with their job search.
As a Certified Professional Resume Writer and a member of the Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches and the National Resume Writers’ Association, I am up-to-date on resume techniques and know how to position candidates in the workplace. While there are many tips and ideas for writing your resume, I’m going to give you the top five tips that will help you get started with this process.
Tip #1 – Get organized. Keep a folder, hard copy, or electronic copy with all of your past job information. If possible, maintain those job descriptions, make a list of previous employers and job titles, dates of employment, and achievements. Then, copy your college transcripts so you have the official name of your school, degree, and any major or minor.
Tip #2 – Decide if you are going to use a chronological format or a functional format. A chronological resume is the most common and allows you to list your employment from most recent to oldest, showing the specific order of your past positions. This is perfect when you don’t have any periods without work, have remained in the same employment sector, and don’t have a lot of job changes. A functional resume shows your achievements and abilities with little emphasis on the dates. Functional resumes are appropriate when you have changed jobs often, don’t have a great deal of experience, or if you are seeking a career move to an entirely different field.
Tip #3 – Lose the objective. If you haven’t worked on your resume for many years, you may still have an objective on the top of your resume. Let’s face it—if you are sending a resume for a potential job opportunity, your objective is simply to get an interview and then get a new job. Because the objective is self-explanatory, it is important to use this space for a career summary and something more meaningful than a useless statement. Construct a three to five line high-overview of your career experiences, skill-set, and core competencies.
Tip #4 – Be concise. Because employers may be receiving hundreds of resumes for one potential position, you need to catch their attention immediately. There is no effective way to list everything you have done. Choose what is most important, use phrases instead of full sentences, and implement bullet points to emphasize achievements. When you feel like you may be repeating yourself, use the thesaurus and think of new ways to phrase tasks and responsibilities.
Tip #5 – Be consistent. Use single spacing throughout each job description and double space between jobs and headings. Choose a simple font that is easy to read and use the same font throughout the document. The same is true for bullet points. If you use round bullet points in the core competencies section, then use round bullet points in all of the sections.
When you are working on this document, don’t be afraid to tell others of your success and accomplishments. Take the time to work on your resume and have a trusted friend read it and provide input—sometimes it takes a second set of eyes to identify areas for improvement. Finally, be sure that you follow the directions for the application process and research potential employers to ensure you are tailoring the information to their needs. Remember that your resume is your chance to be ‘you’ – make your information shine!
If you have additional questions or would like a free resume review, please contact us at 715-559-6378 or email@example.com.
Feather Communications’ website, www.feather-communications.com, has been voted as one of the Top Career Websites for 2015 by Career Igniter.
The top 45 websites were chosen, with representation mainly from the United States and additional sites from Denmark and the United Kingdom. Selection factors included level of usable information, how the site assists job seekers, and overall value related to resumes, career coaching, and employment advice. Various sources were used to compile a Career Igniter score for each website on the list. Sources included Alexa, Page Authority (PA), Domain Authority (DA), Klout Score, and the number of Twitter Followers.
“I’m honored to be a part of this listing and hope the information that we provide is helpful to job seekers while propelling them further ahead in their job search,” Rothbauer-Wanish said. “Those seeking new employment opportunities have many options when it comes to developing their resumes and I’m always excited to help clients polish their information to position themselves for today’s marketplace. The recognition from Career Igniter will help Feather Communications reach even more of those job seekers,” she concluded.
For more information on resume writing, please contact Feather Communications at 715-559-6378 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are working on your resume, it is important to position yourself as if you were reading it from the employer perspective. Instead of thinking, “What can this job do for my career?” – think more about “What can I possibly bring to this employer?” It is the answers to the second question that will help you align your skill-set with the needs of the potential job opening.
First, include several job titles or skill-sets at the top of the resume (immediately after the heading). For an administrative position, the headings could be something similar to Customer Service Expert | Administrative Oversight | Office Management. If someone is in accounting, they may want to use a heading such as Accounts Payable and Receivable | Financial Management.
Next, be sure to include a career summary. This is a three to five line section at the top of your resume (immediately after the job titles and heading) that describes your career from a high overview perspective. This section should include key words from the advertisement, a list of some of your past experiences, and the diverse skill-sets that you can bring to the employer.
Then, include a section that discusses Core Competencies or Areas of Expertise. This section can be modified for each job opportunity and should include skills that are listed in the job posting. Items like Leadership, Communication, Detail-Orientation, Decision-Making, and Time Management skills can be included here. This section is critical to making it through the Applicant Tracking System or ATS. Many companies utilize this computerized scanning system to go through resumes and put them into a ‘yes’ pile or a ‘no’ pile. If you don’t have the appropriate key words listed on your document, you can say ‘goodbye’ to your chances of an interview.
Finally, under Work Experience or Professional History, ensure you can back-up your claims. Rather than stating you have marketing skills, state the dollar amount of the budget you managed. If you increased sales during your tenure with an organization, list the percentage that sales increased by each year. Quantitative information is a key to relaying the relevant information when applying for a new position.
The bottom line is to be as specific as possible with your information, ensure you read and re-read the job posting to verify you are using the right key words, and include all appropriate sections within your document. If you have any questions on what should or should not be included, feel free to contact us today!
Now that you have decided to update your resume, you need to ensure all the details are correct and appropriate for today’s job market. Once you gather the necessary information, including places of employment and achievements, it is not necessary to add date information to professional history, community involvement, and—maybe—education.
Tip #1 – In professional history, it is not necessarily to list the exact dates of employment. Instead, list only the month and year of employment start and end. For example, saying “January 2012 – February 2015” is appropriate.
Tip #2 – If you have changed jobs rather frequently and have only held positions for less than one year, then list only the years. For example, if you worked at a retail store from January through May 2015, then you could simply list “2015” as the date for this particular position.
Tip #3 – There is no need to list the date(s) associated with your education. Unless you have recently graduated (within the last six months to one year), the year you graduated shouldn’t be listed. At some point in your career, listing this information could lead to age discrimination and a missed employment opportunity.
Tip #4 – If your community involvement was in the past and you are still listing it for some reason, then be sure to just title the section “Previous Community Engagement” or “Past Community Involvement.” There is no need to make a list of years when the activities took place.
When compiling your resume, be sure to think about the dates you are listing and how those reflect your career history. Obviously, never misrepresent your information or lie about dates, as this information can be easily verified. If you are curious about how your resume ranks against others, send it to us for a free resume consultation – we would love to help you!
As you are writing your resume, you have most likely listed your skill-set, your professional experience, work history, and education. However, did you also consider your volunteerism and community involvement initiatives? If you haven’t, now is the time to start thinking how these items can help you in your job search.
First, consider how you have chosen your volunteer activities. Most likely, you are working with organizations and events that align directly with your skills and qualifications. Although this isn’t paid work, it is still valuable experience that can be used to attract a potential employer.
Next, have you been unemployed for short or long time periods? If so, ramp up your volunteerism during this time and list it on your resume. For example, if you are in accounting or bookkeeping and currently serve as the treasurer for your church, consider adding this to your resume. If you are an event planner that has planned large-scale events for your child’s school, list this as well. And, remember that this experience can be listed under professional experience—just because it isn’t paid work doesn’t mean that it isn’t “professional” work.
Finally, consider how those community involvement activities may have added further connections to your circle. Did you know that many people find new job positions through personal connections rather than job advertisements? Use your volunteering time to also network with community leaders. You never know when someone at an event may hear about the perfect opportunity for you.
Contact us today for a free resume critique – we are ready and excited to work with you!