5 Common Resume Mistakes

As someone who has written resumes for clients since 2008, I like to think that I have seen it all. From someone putting their marriage status and number of kids on a resume to listing your graduation date of 1975, there are some things that USED to be acceptable on a resume that no longer are. Check-out my list of the most common resume mistakes that I see and how to fix them.

Mistake #1 – Using an Objective. Don’t do it. To be honest, no one cares that you want to “…further your career through a full-time position.”  Instead, tell the company your attributes through a carefully crafted career summary and eliminate what is in it for you. It’s all about the company and how you can assist the organization.

Mistake #2 – Focusing on Your Job Description. While you can definitely use your job description as a basis for your resume and professional history, it’s important that you discuss your accomplishments and not just your responsibilities. And, frankly, there are most likely a lot of other people out there who also have similar job descriptions. What did you achieve for the organization and how did you help them grow, prosper, and make an impact within the market? Focus on THAT.

Mistake #3 – Too Much Information. It’s awesome that you earned a varsity letter in high school for forensics; however, if that was 10 years ago, then it is no longer relevant. Don’t put too much information in your resume—especially if that information clouds what is most relevant. Instead, focus on the last 10-15 years of your job history and how that is relative to the position you are seeking.

Mistake #4 – Not Enough Information. While it is bad to include too much information, it’s also important to highlight your skills and not short-change yourself. I’ve worked with many clients who think they “only” do this or that. Or, they use the word “just” to describe their work history. Be sure that you are really highlighting what you did and what you achieved—don’t minimize yourself.

Mistake #5 – Using General and Non-Specific Words. When you are writing your resume, it is vital that you are specific and concrete with information. Consider the difference of mentioning that you “…increased sales” versus “…enhanced profitability by $100K within 90 days.”

Most importantly, be sure that you have someone else review your resume and provide feedback. Too often, we cannot see our own mistakes and may miss errors. If you want me to be that second set-of-eyes for you, email me today and I’ll provide you with a free resume review!

Following-Up After a Job Interview

So, you have had a terrific job interview and you REALLY want the job. But, you want to make sure that you don’t appear desperate or annoying as you follow-up on the job opportunity. However, it is VERY important that you continue to maintain contact with the organization and let the company know that you are still interested. Read below for tips and ideas about how to approach the technique of follow-up in a proper and professional manner.

Idea #1 – Send an email. Yes, email is important because it is quick and effective. You can even send it the same day as the interview and ensure that all interviewers are copied with the same information. This is especially effective when there are numerous interviewers and you want all of them to receive the same appreciation.

Idea #2 – Send a handwritten thank-you card. This may seem old-fashioned, but there is something about a card received in the mail that makes an impact. In fact, because most people don’t do this, it provides a great opportunity for you to stand-out from the crowd.

Idea #3 – Call the employer. If it’s been a week or longer since your interview and you have followed-up in written form, it’s perfectly fine to call the employer and/or lead interviewer to discover where the company is within the hiring process.

Idea #4 – Maintain connections. Even if you end up not getting the new job opportunity, maintain contact with the company and be sure that you don’t ruin or sabotage relationships. If the company hires someone else and it doesn’t work out, they may turn to you as the next employee. If you have ever heard the saying, “Don’t burn bridges,” – that would apply here.

As you continue your job search, just be aware that follow-up is key to the job search. Don’t go to the interview and just “wait” to hear from the company. While you don’t want to be annoying (hint: don’t call every day after your interview), you can demonstrate your interest in the job and let the company know that you are ready, willing, and able to work for them.

Ready to learn more about job searching, resumes, and interviewing? Contact me TODAY for a free resume review and discussion about how we can work together!

5 Tips for Rejecting a Job Offer

You THINK you have found your dream job and perhaps even enjoyed meeting the company personnel and thought the interview went well. Then, you receive a job offer and find out one of the following: the job isn’t what you thought it was, the pay doesn’t match your needs, or the position requires way too much travel for your current situation. Now, you have to reject the job offer – read below for five tips on how to correctly do so.

Tip #1 – Actually reject the offer. Sometimes people are so worried about saying “no” that they do nothing. This is definitely NOT the correct course of action. You have to follow-through with the entire hiring process, even if you decide you do not want the position.

Tip #2 – Put it in writing. Send an email and document the rejection of the offer. It’s important that there is a record of declining the position. And, if you would like to, you can also send a hard copy via mail.

Tip #3 – Use the “I appreciate you” sandwich. This looks like the following: thank the company and personnel for the time spent interviewing you and for considering you for the open position (positive). Then, state that you have decided to decline the offer (negative). Finally, end the documentation with another thank you and appreciation statement (positive). This allows you to have the order of thank you—bad news—thank you.

Tip #4 – Be concise. While it is important to state the rejection, it’s not necessary to elaborate on WHY you are declining the offer. Keep it simple and concise. If you feel that a ‘reason’ is a necessity, then just state that circumstances have changed or that the position isn’t the right fit at this time.

Tip #5 – Maintain open communication. It’s vital that you preserve this potential relationship. After all, the company may decide to re-offer the position in the future and offer you more money or exactly what you need to make a move. Do you want to be considered at that point? If so, then be sure that you are always professional and never bad-mouth the employer.

Finally, remember that just because one opportunity doesn’t work out, it doesn’t mean that you can’t still be positive about your job search and use that past experience as you move forward. There is something about knowing even more people and understanding more companies that allows you to build your network and enhance communication within your field. Use that information to your advantage and keep going—you WILL find the appropriate position if you don’t stop looking.

Ready to make a career move and not sure how your resume will work in today’s job market? Contact me today for a free resume review!

How to Sell Yourself on Your Resume

For most people, it can be awkward and strange to write about yourself, especially when you are highlighting your best qualities and trying to ‘sell’ yourself to land that next job opportunity. But, the truth is, you MUST do it correctly if you expect to get a call for an interview. More importantly, you need to stop thinking that it is bragging or being boastful. If what you are writing is true, there is absolutely no reason to feel guilty about writing it in words.

Tip #1 – Change your mindset. Instead of thinking about what YOU consider to be your strengths, think about how your co-workers would describe you or what your boss would say about you. If you have kept your past performance appraisals and reviews, pull those out and review the information. Chances are, your employer has said good things about you; this can put you in the correct mindset as you are starting to craft your document.

Tip #2 – Focus on your accomplishments. Instead of just looking at your job description (which probably sounds a bit boring and dry), think about what you have contributed to the workplace and why that matters. Use quantitative information—including numbers, dollar amounts, and percentages—to show the IMPACT you have made at the organization.

Tip #3 – Do your research. Review the job posting and the potential employer. Be sure that you are making your resume in-line with their verbiage, tone, and organization. It’s vital that you align with the key words in the job posting and understand the culture of the company.

Tip #4 – Don’t sell yourself short. Don’t just put one or two lines underneath each job description and then think that is enough. Instead, really think about what you did at each position and make sure that you are adequately representing your achievements in these roles.

Tip #5 – Identify transferable skills and strengths. Often, people are changing industries and find it challenging to discover how what they have done in the past translates to the future jobs. However, if you dig a little deeper, you will most likely find that working with cross-functional team members, overseeing projects, and collaborating with vendors may be skills utilized in both positions.

Finally, whether or not you know it, you are selling yourself all of the time. Building a resume is no different – it’s just selling yourself in words. If you are still concerned that your resume isn’t impactful enough or isn’t ready for today’s job market, contact me today for a free resume review!

5 Things that Your Resume Writer Needs to Know

When working with a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW), it’s important that you know the information that is needed for an accurate, targeted, and focused resume for today’s marketplace. Please read below to discover the exact information that is needed to create a document that secures interviews.

Basic Information. If you are planning to stay  in the same geographic area, then you should include your physical address. However, if you are moving, then put your anticipated address on the document. In addition, be sure that you have a generic email (preferably Gmail), a cell phone number, and a LinkedIn address that allows you to be contacted easily.

Your achievements. Rather than focusing on your past job descriptions, focus on your accomplishments and achievements; those items that set you apart from other potential candidates. If there is any way that you can include quantitative information that includes numbers and percentages, please do so. If there are any employee numbers or dollar amounts that can be included in your new document, then be sure to address this information.

Official Job Titles and Past Employment. Rather than knowing all of your job information for your entire career, it is MOST important that you know the last 10-12 years of employment history. That includes where you worked, your official job titles, and the dates associated with those opportunities.

Education Information. Even if you don’t have an “official” college, degree, it’s vital that you know of any continuing education, extra workshops, and seminars that you have attended. Even though some things may not be considered “traditional” education, it’s important to show that you ar focused on continuous learning and bettering your skills.

Skills and Qualifications. While it may be challenging to identify your top strengths, it’s important to decide which of those key skills you want to bring forward as your assets and skill-sets. Please remember that it is important to identify those qualifications that are transferable and easily applicable to multiple departments.

Finally, you must think of your resume as a document that draws attention and secures an interview. Rather than telling your entire story, it should generate enough of an interest to create interest and focus on why you may be the correct person for the position.

If you would like a free resume review—no matter how old your resume may be—please contact me today! I would love to provide you with free resume tips that will lead you to a new job opportunity!

Practice Your Interviewing Skills to be Successful

If you haven’t been on a job interview for a while, it’s a good idea to practice and prepare for today’s job market. By reviewing your answers for typical interview questions, ensuring your wardrobe is up-to-date, and identifying your top skills, you will be ready to WOW the interviewers and your potential future employer.

Tip #1 – Provide a 60-second synopsis of your work and educational history. Most interviews start off with the interviewer saying, “Tell us about yourself.” Why this may seem like a simple question, it can be difficult for people to describe themselves within this time frame. Don’t talk about your personal life; instead, focus on your work history, how it aligns with the job opening, and any education or certification that provides you with skill-sets that are necessary for the position.

Tip #2 – Know your top three strengths and skills. Be able to recite these and give examples of how they have helped you be successful in the past. It’s one thing to mention your leadership skills; it’s completely different to mention your leadership skills and then discuss how you led a team of 35 individuals in developing a three-year strategic plan. Be specific and provide quantitative information when possible.

Tip #3 – Check your dress code. Remember that this is your first impression with the organization – it is much better to be over-dressed than under-dressed. If you don’t have an updated professional outfit, remember that you don’t have to spend a fortune; check your local thrift stores to find pieces that can be combined for a suitable interview outfit.

Tip #4 – Know the company. Research the company so that you know it’s target customers, top clients, how long it’s been in existence, and approximate number of employees. More than likely, one of the questions during the interviewer will ask you what you know about the organization.

Tip #5 – Trace your route. If your interview is in-person and you have never been to the company before, be sure you know where you are going and how long it will take you to get there (including potential traffic). That may mean a practice drive to the company to gauge the trip. It’s much better to do that ahead of time than to run late on the date of the interview.

While it is vital to practice your interview skills, please remember that you don’t want to sound rehearsed and mechanical. Instead, keep several main ideas in-mind and use those as talking points during the interview. Also, one last tip – FOLLOW-UP after the interview. Send a thank-you email or card and be sure to thank the interviewers for their time. Often, it can be the tiny things that set you apart from the multitudes of other candidates.

If you are ready to move forward with your job search, email me today: heather@feather-communications.com!