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Jun 6 16

5 Tips for Professionalism During Your Job Search

by Heather Rothbauer-Wanish, Freelance Writer

While it is important to remain professional when working, it is VITAL to maintain professionalism during your job search. Even though technical abilities, the right networking contacts, and your past experience play a role, don’t underestimate the importance of showcasing your professionalism and composure in the job search.

Tip #1 – Clean up your social media profiles. What is the first thing you do when you want to try a new restaurant or see a new movie? For most of us, that includes a quick Google search and discovering the reviews, the summaries, and other options. If you are a job candidate, chances are your potential employer has Googled you and your LinkedIn profile, Facebook account, and other social media accounts are showing up. Be sure your profiles remain professional AT ALL TIMES.

Tip #2 – Don’t go around bad-mouthing your current employer. You may hate your current job and you may have the right to—maybe your boss isn’t supportive, the pay is lousy, and the environment leaves something to be desired. In fact, those may just be some of the reasons why are you seeking employment elsewhere. The point is this—if you talk ‘smack’ about your current employer, you will only be viewed as a disgruntled employee that can’t seem to get along where you currently work. And, as your mother may have explained, if you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all.

Tip #3 – Always expect a potential connection. Whether you are shopping, at a networking event, or actively seeking new employment at a job fair—be prepared. This could mean having copies of your resume available and carrying business cards with your contact information (not affiliated with your current employer). And, be prepared with your 60-second elevator pitch, telling professional information about yourself and where you see your career in the future. It’s often these unexpected connections that can lead to future opportunities.

Tip #4 – Dress professionally during an interview. After interviewing hundreds of people for a variety of positions, I can’t tell you how common it is for people to be dressed casually. Therefore, if you dress professionally, you are already one step ahead of the rest of the people applying for positions. And, don’t worry about overdressing—it’s always better to be overdressed than under-dressed in an interview situation.

Tip #5 – Follow up during the job search. While this may not sound like it is related to professionalism, it absolutely is and can make you stand out. When you purchase something and the company calls to follow up, you recognize that excellent customer service because it seldom happens. Following up during the job search is the same thing. Send a thank you note, call a few days later, and connect on LinkedIn with your interviewer. These things show that you have an inherent interest in the position and you know how to build long-term relationships.

Remember that your skills and competencies are important for the job; however, your professionalism almost always precedes those items. And, the level of your professionalism can make or break the potential job opportunity. Be sure that are professional at all times during your job search; you never know who you may meet that can lead you to your next career move.

If you don’t know where to start with your new resume, contact Feather Communications today for a FREE resume review!

May 16 16

Managing Employment Gaps on Your Resume

by Heather Rothbauer-Wanish, Freelance Writer

Twenty or thirty years ago, large gaps in employment were more of a rarity and caught the attention (not in a good way) of interviewers, recruiters, and potential employers. In today’s economy, employment gaps are much more commonplace; however, they can still be treated with suspicion and a feeling of mistrust. Through no fault of your own, you may have gaps in employment history. A company may have laid off its newest employees, the organization may have moved, or the entire workforce may have been alleviated of their duties.

Tip #1 – Add in your unpaid work history. When you have the heading Professional History on your resume, it doesn’t mean that all of it must be paid. In fact, many of us have relevant expertise gained through volunteerism, internships, and community engagement activities. If you volunteered during an employment gap, then put this information in your professional history. In additional to adding to your skill-set, it also shows that you weren’t sitting around at home during your time away from the paid workforce.

Tip #2 – Use years only for the dates. If you have only a three-month or six-month gap in your employment, then you can simply list your years of employment and this minimizes the time gap. However, if you choose to go this route, then be sure that you list all of the dates in years only—be consistent throughout the document.

Tip #3 – Group freelance work or temp agency work together. Many people work through an employment agency when they are having difficulties finding full-time work. Instead of listing a three-month stint at this company and a two-month tenure at another company while with the temp agency, simply list the entire timeline while working for the temp agency.

Remember—you are not alone—there are many candidates with gaps in employment history. It is the perception of these gaps that will make the difference between being called for an interview and having your resume moved to the ‘no’ pile. Rather than ‘hiding’ your gaps, be sure to identify why you are the right candidate for the position, highlight your skill-set, and align your document with the job posting.

If you still have questions regarding creating your new resume, contact us today. Or, if you are curious how your resume stacks up against the competition, email Dr. Heather for a free resume critique!

Apr 26 16

Listing Long-Term Employment on Your Resume

by Heather Rothbauer-Wanish, Freelance Writer

Many clients come to me with several different jobs within the last few years. With an evolving economy, downsizing, and moving, there are many reasons why people may have had multiple jobs within a short timeframe. Occasionally, I work with clients that have the reverse issue – they have worked at the same place for 15 or 20 years and don’t know how to present that information in a positive light. Will it look like they couldn’t get a job elsewhere? Will people think their skills are old? How will they show their qualifications are still in-line with today’s job market? Read on for several tips for those of you that have longevity with your current company.

#1 – List each position separately. Even though you may have been with the same company for a long time, chances are that your job titles and responsibilities have evolved over time. By listing each position separately, you are able to showcase that progression, leadership, and new achievements. THIS is where that longevity is a positive thing. If you weren’t doing a great job at the beginning, they wouldn’t have promoted you to a management position. And, if you hadn’t been successful with managing the local store, you wouldn’t have earned a district-wide leadership position.

#2 – Remove outdated skills. Whether you are in IT or a managerial field, be sure to remove outdated skills that will date you. For example, don’t include an ability to utilize Windows 95 or the fact that you know shorthand—neither skill is relevant today. Every skill-set listed should be a benefit to the potential employer. And, if you have a great deal of skills in one particular area—like technology—consider giving that its own section.

#3 – Add a career summary. The career summary is a three to five line description at the start of the resume that provides the reader with a high overview of your roles, achievements, and skills. When you start with this, you can also list the progression in your career and may even provide a very description of the organization.

#4 – Add a separate section that calls out your accomplishments. Use this section to draw attention to the sales increases you have brought to the company, how many employees you have managed, number of projects overseen within a year, or amount of accounts you manage on a quarterly basis.

#5 – Include community engagement and volunteerism. If you have worked at the same company throughout your entire career, you may also have played a vital role in representing that organization within the community. By listing your volunteerism, you are also showing collaboration skills with others outside of your workplace, communication abilities, organizational skills, and a focus on assisting others.

Instead of viewing your longevity with one company as a potential detriment to your future employment opportunities, consider it a blessing. It shows that you have provided a great service for that organization, have progressed through the ranks, and are still successful today.

P.S. Are you ready to move forward with your new resume and want to rewrite it on your own? Check out our Do-It-Yourself Resume Kit that has 14-pages of valuable information, including a resume template!

Apr 19 16

Five Ways Your Resume May be Making You Appear Old

by Heather Rothbauer-Wanish, Freelance Writer

Most people know that a resume tells the story of your professional history, education, volunteerism, and skill-set. However, did you also know that it may be telling your age—even without putting your age on the document? As people progress through their careers, it is important to recognize that age discrimination can and does happen. Although it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out someone’s age, it is also vital that you don’t give away that information if it is not needed. Check out the following ways that your resume may be ‘dating’ you.

#1 – Putting an objective on your resume. This is outdated and no longer needs to be there. Many years ago, this was the first statement on the document, telling the employer where you wanted to go with your future career. Today, employers want to know what you can do for THEM. Instead, use this space to provide a career summary.

#2 – Listing graduation dates. Unless you are a recent graduate (within the last three to six months), the graduation dates do not need to be listed on your resume. The year you graduated from college isn’t particularly relevant to any job opening and provides the employer with another way to guess your age.

#3 – Including more than the last 15 years of employment experience. Even if you have been working for 30+ years and have terrific experience, there is no reason to list your oldest employment history. I worked as a bank teller in high school which was over 20 years ago. This information is no longer relevant to my professional aspirations and is outdated – I simply don’t include it.

#4 – Adding the line ‘References Available Upon Request.’ In today’s job market, it is understood that you will be able to provide references when the time comes. There is no need for this line to take up space on your resume. In addition, references today are not able to provide as much detailed information as years ago—people and companies are wary of possible litigation.

#5 – Including two spaces after your punctuation instead of one space. When I was in high school, we learned to put two spaces after the end of a sentence. This was something that carried over from the days of using a typewriter, ensuring the readability of the finished document. Today, using one space is perfectly acceptable. If a resume comes through with two spaces, it is almost guaranteed that the reader will know the candidate graduated from high school a minimum of 20 years ago.

This is just the start of items that can make your resume feel ‘old’ and may take you out of the job running. Be sure to modernize your resume and get it ready for TODAY’S job market. Just because your resume has always looked a certain way doesn’t mean that it’s the best way to present the information. If you are ready to move forward with your job search, contact us today!

P.S. Are you ready to move forward with your new resume and want to rewrite it on your own? Check out our Do-It-Yourself Resume Kit that has 14-pages of valuable information, including a resume template!

Apr 11 16

Three Things to Include in Your Cover Letter

by Heather Rothbauer-Wanish, Freelance Writer

Some job postings require a cover letter and some do not. When working with clients, I have often said that they can never go wrong in sending a cover letter. At the very least, the text utilized in the cover letter can be used in the notes section on the application site or can be included in an introductory email. However, if you decide to send that cover letter, be sure the following items are addressed prior to clicking that ‘send’ button.

#1 – Showcase your research. The first paragraph of the cover letter should reference the name of the company and the title of the position you are seeking. Many companies are hiring for multiple positions simultaneously—make it clear which one you are interested in. And, if the company was recently in the news for a major award or has made a significant impact within its field, the start of the cover letter is the best place to show that information.

#2 – Description of your qualifications and the job requirements. Hiring managers and recruiters are busy. Your cover letter needs to be succinct and clear. Instead of several paragraphs that describe how your skills match the job posting, consider a bulleted , phrased format which outlines the requirements and how your skill-set aligns with the organization’s goals. If the reader only goes to this middle section of the cover letter, he or she will immediately understand why you are qualified for the role.

#3 – Statement of your interest in the position. The closing block of the cover letter should reiterate your interest and excitement for this opportunity. If you are not ready, eager, and excited for this opportunity, then why should the company call you?

Bonus – Be sure to include your contact information—several times. The cover letter should have the same heading as your resume and should include both your email address and phone number. You want to make it as easy as possible for the potential employer to contact you. In addition to the heading, it is also acceptable to list your phone number in the last paragraph.

The cover letter serves as the introduction to the candidate, use this important document to make a successful first impression. And, remember that the cover letter needs to be tailored for each job opportunity, utilizing the key words posted in the job advertisement. If you are still unsure what should be included in YOUR cover letter, please contact us!

P.S. Are you ready to move forward with your new resume and want to rewrite it on your own? Check out our Do-It-Yourself Resume Kit that has 14-pages of valuable information, including a resume template!

Mar 29 16

Top Five Tips for Attending Your Next Job Fair

by Heather Rothbauer-Wanish, Freelance Writer

If you have been out of work for awhile, it’s likely that you have been or will be attending a job fair or career event. Or, if you are a college student seeking an internship opportunity or are ready for your first ‘real job,’ you will definitely be attending a career fair. These events can be overwhelming or intimidating, especially if you aren’t prepared. Follow the tips below to ensure you are professional, prepared, and ready for that job opportunity.

Tip #1 – Dress professionally. We have all heard the saying that people shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. However, first impressions are critical to your future career success. If you don’t appear to be professional and ‘put together,’ a potential employer may disqualify you immediately. So, be sure to wear professional attire, walk and sit up straight, and build your confidence. Don’t make any excuses for appearing to be your best self. If you are short on money to build a professional wardrobe, borrow clothes from someone or visit your local thrift store—you would be amazed at the bargains that can be utilized to create professional attire.

Tip #2 – Be prepared. Bring hard copies of your resume with you on the day of the event. And, carry them in a nice portfolio. If a company is interested in you as a candidate, you will want to leave them with a document that describes your job history and contains your contact information. Bring more than enough copies – you can always take the extra copies home with you.

Tip #3 – Conduct research. The career fair will most likely feature a variety of employers from your area. You may be interested in some of them and others may not interest you at all. Research the companies that interest you and find out as much as you can ahead of time. This can cut down on the awkwardness of randomly stopping at a table or booth and not having anything to discuss. Instead, mention that you saw they recently earned an award, have a new product offering, or are expanding their current location. Don’t try to research all of the companies – just focus on the 5-10 that peak your interest.

Tip #4 – Practice your elevator pitch. Most employers are going to ask you about yourself. Be prepared with your 30-60 second bio. Don’t discuss personal issues; rather, stay focused on your educational background or professional history. Remember that it is all about THEM – how are you going to help them in the daily functions of their business and why should they even consider you? If you are nervous doing this, practice with a trusted colleague or friend before the event.

Tip #5 – Follow up. After you prepare for the event, attend the career fair, and make those connections – then what? Don’t let all of that work go to waste. Follow up with your new connections, sending an email or a thank you card. If you can get your name in front of the potential employer again, it’s just one more ‘touch’ on your way to a new job opportunity. And, even if it doesn’t work out right now, something may become available in the future.

If you are ready to move forward with your career search and just don’t know where to start, please contact me today – my passion is helping you reach your career goals!

Mar 22 16

Networking Your Way to Career Success

by Heather Rothbauer-Wanish, Freelance Writer

Are you seeking a new career opportunity? Or, have you been out of work for awhile and don’t know what to do next? If you are simply sitting behind your computer and perusing the job boards for that next big career step, you are missing one vital part of job search—in-person networking. See below for several tips to maximize your time and reap the benefits.

Tip #1 – Volunteer within the community. If you are unemployed or have a passion for a particular organization, consider volunteering. Not only will this fill your time and make a significant impact on those the organization serves, you will also meet other professionals and can connect with them. If you are extremely interested in an organization, consider serving on a board of directors or taking a more vital role within the group.

Tip #2 – Attend chamber of commerce events. Most city’s have local chambers of commerce that allow you to attend networking events for free or minimal charge. What if you spend $5 or $10 to attend an event and are able to connect with 100+ professionals? Be sure to dress in business attire, have business cards or a connection card available, and put on your best smile.

Tip #3 – Schedule a minimum of one business lunch or dinner per week. Whether you are currently employed or not, you still have to eat lunch and dinner. Rather than staying home and grabbing a sandwich from your kitchen or eating in your company lunchroom, make a point to connect with someone outside of your current company and schedule a lunch appointment. This will allow you stay connected to your field (or your desired field), and you can let these individuals know that you are seeking new opportunities.

Tip #4 – Follow up. After you attend networking events or meet someone via a volunteer organization, be sure to follow up with them. Send an email thanking them for their expertise or explaining how much you enjoyed meeting them. This shows follow-through and that you maintain contact with your connections. It’s important to stay top-of-mind when potential job opportunities arise. And, if you secure an interview, following-up is more important than ever.

If you are ready to move forward with your job search and aren’t sure if your resume is ready-to-go, contact us today for a free resume consultation – we would love to help!

Mar 15 16

The Top 5 Common Resume Mistakes

by Heather Rothbauer-Wanish, Freelance Writer

When I work with clients, a part of our collaborative process is to review their most recent resume. Whether that resume is from last year or 20 years ago, it is important to evaluate the information and format utilized to determine the best methods for improvement. After working with thousands of clients, I can say that I have seen almost everything (ALMOST!). Please see below for the most common mistakes I see when clients send their old document.

Personal Details. This should NOT be included on a resume. Whether it is a photograph of yourself, marital status, or the number of children you have, just remember one thing. DON’T INCLUDE IT. By including this personal information, you are potentially opening yourself to age discrimination and you become a nightmare for the potential employer’s human resources office.

Too Much Information. Some clients try to include EVERYTHING on a resume. If they have worked for 35 years, they include all of those jobs. Or, they simply cut and paste their job descriptions underneath each job listed. While some of this information is most likely usable, this much information is simply too much for a potential reader. Think of accomplishments and short, concise statements that still tell the story of your professional history.

Bad Formatting. The average resume is only reviewed for approximately 5-7 seconds before a decision is made. If your format is bad—bullets are not consistent, sentences are not aligned, or different fonts are utilized throughout the document—the reader will instantly have a negative reaction. Be sure that you use a common font that is easy to read, be consistent with lines, bullets, and sizes, and leave enough white space that makes the document easy to read. If you’d like more tips on formatting your resume, click here.

No accomplishments. Rather than simply list your job duties on your resume, think in terms of accomplishments. SHOW the employer what you can do by listing past accomplishments and HOW that impacted the business. Anytime you can include quantitative information—dollar amounts, number of employees, number of clients, or percentages—this is valuable data. Readers are automatically drawn to quantitative information and it can ‘pop’ off of the page.

Including references. We no longer use the line ‘References Available Upon Request’ at the end of the resume nor should we list the reference contact information. The space on a resume is valuable and should be used wisely. Instead, conclude with community engagement, leadership examples, or a testimonial from a previous manager.

The tips listed here are just the start of things to consider when crafting your updated resume. If you are still unsure of how to include certain information or what sections you need to use on your resume, contact us today – we would love to partner with you to help you land your dream job!

Mar 8 16

How to Write a Resume When You Don’t Have Any Experience

by Heather Rothbauer-Wanish, Freelance Writer

Last week during a networking meeting, a colleague asked me how she should assist her high school-age daughter with creating a resume. She was having a challenging time because her daughter hasn’t had a job before and didn’t have any experience. If you are a high school student or are just seeking your first job opportunity, what exactly do you put into your resume? Please see below for five tips that will help you get started.

Tip #1 – Think about your skill-set. Even if you haven’t had a job yet, you still have skills. You may have excellent communication abilities, leadership skills, know how to talk to anyone, or have sold a record number of items through fundraisers. These are all skills that can be listed as one of your qualifications or areas of expertise.

Tip #2 – Consider your community involvement. Most people have been involved with some type of community organizations. Have you been in 4-H, Girl Scouts, or the local Rotary club? As a member of these organizations, you have learned how to work well with others, speak to the group, and have experienced trips that have taught valuable lessons. Consider this experience as you put together your resume.

Tip #3 – Classes or training. Although you may not have had a job at this point, you have attended school, went to professional development courses, or underwent additional training opportunities. This all shows that you have dedicated time to better yourself, improve your skills, and enhance your knowledge. Be sure to include any training and education on your document.

Tip #4 – Awards and honors. If you have earned awards through school, activities, or sports, highlight these on your resume. These awards and honors show that you have been dedicated to the organization and know how to put in the time required to earn a high position.

Tip #5 – Testimonial or endorsement. If you are still struggling to fill that entire page of your resume, then consider adding a testimonial or endorsement. Gather these from a trusted professional or teacher. If you can get a written recommendation discussing your positive qualities, then include a small section at the end of your document that highlights a snippet of this information. It’s a great way to end the document and shows a third-party perspective on your skills and abilities.

While it can be challenging to create a resume if you don’t have any experience, it is definitely not impossible. By utilizing creativity and the information that you DO have, you can still create a dynamic document that highlights your skills and positions you for the potential job opportunity.

If you’re still unsure where to start, contact us today and we would be happy to assist you with your upcoming resume project!

Mar 1 16

Top 5 Tips for Your Resume Layout

by Heather Rothbauer-Wanish, Freelance Writer

Did you know that the average resume is only reviewed for approximately 5-7 seconds before a decision is made? That means you have minimal time to capture the attention of the hiring manager, recruiter, or potential interviewer. Because of this short attention span, the format and layout of your resume is just as important as the information the document contains. Read below for five tips that will ensure your layout is appropriate for today’s job market.

Tip #1 – Use an easy-to-read font in an appropriate size. This is not the place to stand out (unless you are a graphic designer that has created your own font). By utilizing a common font, such as Cambria or Calibri (in a size no less than 10.5), you are ensuring easy reading for the reviewer. In addition, you won’t have to worry that someone will have to load a font or change their eyesight to read the size 8 font you thought was a great idea.

Tip #2 – Ditch the objective and use a career summary. If you are sending a resume, your objective is to get an interview so that you are able to secure a new job – it’s a no-brainer. Use this premium space at the top of the resume to craft a professional career summary that provides a 3-5 line high-overview of your career thus far.

Tip #3 – Utilize clear section headings. The reader is going to skim your information. By using clear section headings—in a bigger and bolder font—you can easily depict where one section stops and another section starts. The common sections will include something similar to Qualifications, Professional History, Education, and Community Engagement. Again—5-7 seconds. Be clear, concise, and distinctive in your separation points.

Tip #4 – Create full pages with no leftovers. If you are going to have a 1-page resume, then make a 1-page resume. And, if you have enough information to justify 2-pages, then make it a full 2-page document. Be sure not to have a sentence or two lingering on the second page with no additional material. These ‘leftover’s make it look like you weren’t sure what should be included and didn’t know how to properly format a document that looks cohesive and complete.

Tip #5 – Don’t use paragraphs. When people see large blocks of text with little to no separation, they typically decide not to read the information. If you can use bullets and phrases instead of large paragraphs with complete sentences, it will be easier to capture the attention of the reader.

This is just the start of several ideas and tips to get your resume ready for your upcoming job search. If you are unsure where to start with your resume, cover letter, or interviewing skills, please contact us today.

P.S. If you really don’t know where to start, download our FREE Resume Starter Form – this will help you gather the information needed to craft your new resume!