5 Tips for Starting Your New Job

When starting a new job, it’s vital to build rapport and showcase your abilities—both as a team member and as an independent worker. Not only do you have new tasks and methods to learn, you have to discover how to ‘fit-in’ with the mix of personnel, focus on clients, and deliver projects on-time. Read further to discover five ways that you can maximize your first few weeks in your new position.

Observe. Don’t start a new job by offering your opinion on everything. Furthermore, be sure to not provide suggestions on how your previous company did something; if that is your first impression among co-workers, then your new co-workers will view you as someone living in the past and ready to make sweeping changes—without actually knowing what is ‘going-on’ in your new workplace. By observing before offering your opinion, you are able to show patience, understanding, and a collaborative approach that will earn the respect of staff members.

Lunch or Coffee Appointments with Co-Workers. Make it a point to have lunch or coffee with a minimum of one co-worker each week. This allows you to build more solidified relationships within your new workplace. And, while it is important to be professional, it’s also nice to get-to-know people on a more personal level.

Offer to Assist. During the first three months of employment, take any opportunity to assist others—even if it isn’t in your job description. If someone needs help after-hours or is looking for assistance with a vital project, offer to help. This not only helps you build a collaboration with that co-worker, it will also give you the opportunity to learn even more about the company and its procedures.

Partner with Your Manager. Ask you manager or supervisor if you can meet after the first 30, 60, and 90 days of employment. It’s important to know where you stand at the beginning of employment and to quickly modify behavior, outcomes, or processes. By securing immediate feedback and making any necessary changes, you are showing flexibility and adaptability—something that is valued at all workplaces.

Notes and Documentation. When starting a new position, there are MANY things to remember and learn. Document the things you are learning so that you don’t have to clarify each time you are completing a task. Track names and information regarding clients so that you can start to remember the information and understand how initiatives are all tied-together within the organization and its clients.

Finally, remember that there will always be challenges when starting work at a new organization. In addition, mistakes may be made and you may discover methodologies that are different than previous workplace. However, remember that this is your opportunity to shine, show how you can evolve, and align with the goals and objectives of the new organization.

How to Use the “You” Attitude in Your Cover Letter

When you are looking for a job and have created the perfect resume, then it may also be time to write a cover letter. For many people, writing the cover letter is much more difficult than the resume. The resume almost becomes a list, whereas the cover letter has to tell more of a professional story and elaborates on the resume. One of the keys to a successful cover letter is incorporating the “you” attitude – read further for specifics on HOW to incorporate this into your next cover letter.

Tip #1 – Make it about the employer. Instead of thinking about why you want the job, think of what you can bring to the organization. Is it your teamwork abilities? How about your project management expertise? What are you going to do to make the employer’s life easier?

Tip #2 – Do NOT start every sentence with the word “I.” When we write a cover letter, it’s typical for most of us to think in terms of “I can offer my leadership skills to the company.” Or, maybe you think “I’m a great leader who gets along well with others and I can make an impact with the company.” Instead, try to minimize the use of the word “I” in your letter.

Consider using sentences like “Your company could utilize my leadership skills, project management abilities, and focus on collaboration.” Or, you may be able to start the cover letter with “Your recent posting for an Educational Assistant greatly interested me.” By using words like “you” and “your,” you are making the cover letter about the employer.

Tip #3 – Show that you researched the company. Within the cover letter, mention the company’s recent award, how they were named a best employer within their industry, or that you understand their target market. This shows that you care about the job opportunity and know what the company is seeking in its employees.

If you are still struggling with your cover letter and want to know how to better position your skills, experience, and future goals, please contact me today at heather@feather-communications.com. I can give you a free cover letter review and offer ideas for improvement.

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!

Do I Need a Cover Letter?

As you embark on your job search, you start looking at online sites and organize your information for a knock-out, fantastic, and focused resume. Then, you really start to read what the companies are looking for and discover that some of them ask for a cover letter and some don’t ask for anything except the resume. So, you wonder…do I actually need a cover letter? Or, can it just be skipped? I tell all of my clients the same thing – it’s better to have a cover letter and NOT need it versus needing a cover letter and not having one.

The cover letter provides you with an opportunity to tell your story further and explain more than you can discuss in a resume. And, sometimes there are extra achievements that you may want to include in your resume and simply can’t fit into the document. Instead, you can add those ‘bonus’ items to the cover letter. It’s important that you tell the reader something new in your cover letter and don’t just reword the resume.

Next, a cover letter can also be used as an introductory email. That means that even if the company doesn’t have a requirement for a cover letter, you can add it as an ‘extra’ document or use it in the verbiage of your email. Again, it provides a nice introduction to you as a job candidate and offers a warm preview for your resume.

Finally, your cover letter gives you an opportunity to showcase your written communication skills. Effective communication is a vital part of any job today; demonstrating that you know how to discuss your strengths and accomplishments in a confident manner allows you to present yourself as the right candidate for the position.

Even if a cover letter is not required, it provides you an extra opportunity to go above-and-beyond during this initial stage of connecting with the company. If you KNOW you need a cover letter and just don’t know where to start, check out my free Cover Letter Checklist Tips – you will learn several ideas that will help you make an impression as you search for your new job.

How to Identify Your Strengths and Skills for Your Resume

As you create your new resume, you start to gather information and identify where you worked, the dates, the official names of your degrees, and your professional affiliations. If it’s been 10, 15, or 20 years since you last wrote your resume, it’s vital to know that a skills section is a MUST-HAVE in today’s job search. This serves as an easy way for you to highlight key words and strengths. However, many people struggle with how to identify these skills. Read the tips below for ideas that will assist you with your new document.

Tip #1 – What comes easily to you at work? If you are in sales, can communicate with client easily, and know to establish rapport, then those are your skills. The things that come naturally to you with your personality and little effort are your innate skills. For me, it’s writing. It just comes easily to me and I know how to word things. For an accountant, it’s probably that they are detail-oriented, focus on analytics, and know how to problem-solve payment discrepancies.

Tip #2 – What would your boss or co-worker say about you? For many of us, it’s just not natural to think about how wonderful we are on a daily basis. So, instead of asking yourself your strengths, think in terms of your boss or co-worker. They may say you are organized, a good leader, can manage projects, and always adhere to deadlines. Once again, those are your skills and competencies.

Tip #3 – Focus on key words. No matter your skill-set, you must be sure that your verbiage aligns with the job posting. What does that mean? It means if you list ‘project management’ as a skill and the job advertisement asks for someone with ‘project leadership’ skills, then you need to change your skills are to say ‘project leadership.’ If you make this section succinct bullet points that can be easily changed, then it will be fairly simple to make modifications as you go forward with your job search.

Whether you call this section, skills, competencies, areas of expertise, or qualifications—they are all the same. It’s an area designed to make you stand-out and match key words to get to the interview. If you are still confused about adding a skills section, please contact me. I would love to provide you with tips and ideas for an improved document!

Your Resume Should be Relevant – Don’t Include Everything!

If you have decided to rewrite your resume, you are probably gathering information, getting organized, and trying to find that old resume file. And, as you stare at the piles of paper, different files, and past job reviews, you are now trying to decide which information to include and not include while also ensuring it’s in-line with today’s search engines and job openings.

Tip #1 – Don’t include ALL of your job history. If you have been working for 15 or 20 years, the jobs earliest in your career are most likely not relevant to future positions. For example, during high school, I was a bank teller and cleaned hotel rooms on the weekends. That was almost 25 years ago; therefore, not relevant to potential employers.

Tip #2 – Consider adding or not adding your side business. If you are in direct sales and use that as a “side hustle,” you will have to determine whether or not that is relevant to the job opening. If you are seeking a sales position, it may be relevant as you are good at building relationships, establishing communication, and managing accounts. If you believe the employer may see your side business as a distraction, then don’t include it on your document.

Tip #3 – High school is not important if you have a college degree. If you attended college or graduated with a degree, the high school information does NOT need to be on the resume.

Tip #4 – Work history in two separate industries. Maybe you used to be in sales and you are transitioning into varied accounting roles—then focus on your accounting positions first and put your marketing work history in a separate section. Focus on the types of positions that are relevant to the jobs you are seeking.

Tip #5 – Hobbies aren’t that interesting. Many years ago, people included hobbies on their documents and indicated interests such as running, traveling, and spending time with family. Unless you are a hiker and you are applying at a company that makes hiking shoes, it’s not relevant. In fact, sometimes hobbies can appear to actually pull your attention away from work.

Relevance is key when you are working on your updated resume. It shouldn’t read like a laundry list of every single thing you have ever done in your professional career. So, before you add more information that may not be relevant, think it through and remember that hiring managers make decisions quickly about who to call-in for interviews. Get to the point quickly and ensure you make it through to an interview so that you can WOW the employer with your skills and knowledge.

Why You Aren’t Getting an Interview with Your Resume

As with many of my clients, most people often feel like they are sending resumes to perfect job opportunities. But, they get discouraged quickly when they do not get call-backs for any interviews. It’s frustrating and they start to believe that maybe they don’t the correct skills and qualifications for today’s job market. There could be many reasons why they aren’t getting interviews; I can almost guarantee that SOME of it has to do with your resume.

Reason #1 – Your resume format is OLD. Maybe you haven’t updated your resume since 1998 and the last time you applied for a job, you physically went to the place of employment and applied in-person. Today, that almost never happens as all companies post jobs on their company websites and/or third-party websites.

If you have an Objective on your resume, still have the line, “References available upon request,” at the bottom, or are including any personal information, you may want to rethink your format. Don’t waste space with an Objective or useless information; instead, focus on what you can do for the company and pertinent information that aligns with the job opportunity.

Reason #2 – You Aren’t Including Key Words. Because you are applying online, the key words are your golden ticket to getting through the Applicant Tracking System (ATS). This means that your resume MUST contain the same words as the job posting.

When you read through the job opening, look for the qualifications, knowledge, or responsibilities sections. Then, make sure those skill-sets are the same ones listed on your document. Obviously, don’t include skills that you don’t have or can’t back-up during an interview; but, if you have to change Project Management to Project Leadership, then do it.

Reason #3 – You didn’t proofread your resume. So, when a hiring manager or recruiter receives hundreds of resumes, they immediately start looking for a way to weed people out—they are NOT looking for a way to include more people as candidates. Be sure to review the document prior to sending it to prospective employers.

Do NOT strictly rely on spell check or grammar check; instead, review it a couple of days after you have ‘finished’ it. Then, my recommendation is still to have a trusted friend or colleague review it for you. Often, someone else can more easily recognize our errors than we can. Don’t let a spelling or grammar error move your resume to the NO pile.

If you would like more resume tips, click HERE to download my number-one FREE offering!

Resume Formatting Mistakes You DON’T Want to Make

Because I typically work with clients who haven’t written or needed a new resume in 15-20 years, their previous documents tend to be formatted in a way that they learned in high school or college. When they send me their documents, I often discover that, in addition to containing older information, the document also has formatting that may be from 1995 or (gasp!) even 1985. If you are someone who is updating a resume for TODAY’S job market, read on to ensure you don’t make these resume mistakes.

#1 – Don’t use an out-of-date font. Do you remember when Times New Roman or Courier were popular fonts? Well, they aren’t anymore. In fact, studies have shown that sans serif fonts (those without the tiny feet) are much easier for people to read. Personally, I prefer Calibri – it’s the default font in Word and simple. In addition, if you Google it, you will find that Times New Roman is sometimes viewed as an “old” font—don’t use it for your resume.

#2 – Do NOT use text boxes and a LOT of graphics. It is perfectly fine to bring a graphic-related resume to the job interview and it does look nice. However, if you are sending resumes via websites, then you need to ensure your document is Applicant Tracking System-friendly. Simplicity is the key. Sometimes those charts, text boxes, and graphics just don’t translate well through those systems.

#3 – Don’t go over two pages. If you ask one person, he or she may say that you HAVE to have a one-page resume. Someone else may say two-pages is fine. My general rule-of-thumb is that if you have more than 10 years of experience, then two-pages is acceptable. If you are a recent college graduate, then one-page should summarize your experience. Anything over two pages isn’t even being read and means that you are including TOO MUCH information that isn’t relevant to your job search.

#4 – Have variations of files. Most online systems will ask for a Word document or a PDF. Follow those directions. Don’t make your resume in Photoshop, Illustrator, or Canva and then expect that the system will allow you to upload that type of file. Again, the simpler programs tend to work best. It’s also a good idea to have a text-based file, too.

#5 – Only include the necessary sections. Those sections are a career summary, skills area, professional experience, education, and community engagement (if any). Today’s resumes do NOT need an objective, hobbies, or other personal data. Again, keep it relative to work and how you can help the company.

If you are still unsure of formatting, content, or which information to include on your new resume, contact me today for a free resume review – I’d love to help you get one step closer to your next job opportunity!

Get Your Resume Done NOW – Here are the Reasons Why

You are very comfortable working in your current position and have worked at the same company for over 10 years. While you do enjoy your job, occasionally you may wonder what else is out there for opportunities of if you are being paid what you are worth. But, with your busy work schedule, your family life, and volunteer activities, re-writing your resume isn’t exactly at the top of your to-do list. I’m here to tell you to move that task up to the top of your list NOW. Check out my reasons below.

Reason #1 – Companies (typically) do what is best for the company. Given the evolving economy, changing resources, differences in profitability, and other marketplace changes, companies have to do what is best for them. That can mean restructuring, reorganizing, laying off a portion of the workforce, closing a facility, or ending a particular service or offering. All of that means that you (or others working there) could lose your job at any given time. It’s best to be ready if that happens. And, a large part of being ready means having an up-to-date resume.

Reason #2 – The PERFECT opportunity may come your way. Even if you are okay with your perfect position, what if you happen to see your old connection, Jon, at an event and he mentions that his company has an opening for your DREAM job. Then he mentions that the job opening actually closes tomorrow at noon and he needs your resume immediately. Do you really want to be the person that doesn’t have anything to send to him? I don’t think so. Making sure your resume is always up-to-date means that if the perfect job comes around, YOU are ready.

Reason #3 – Life happens. Although many of us would like to live in a world of constant sunshine and rainbows, we all KNOW that doesn’t happen. People get divorced, we have to move to a new location, or a close family member has a life-threatening situation. These instances require us to take a step back and review our lives. And, for working individuals, an evaluation requires us to review our job and career. Maybe we decide that we want to make a complete career switch or look at a new role. In these times, wouldn’t it be nice to have a resume that is already ready? When you are under stress, the LAST thing you want to think about is updating your resume.

As someone who has written thousands of resume since 2008, I can tell you that working with someone that is just getting ready for a job search is completely different than someone who is in panic-mode after losing a job or going through a life crisis. For your own sanity and for the sake of your future career, I can’t stress enough the importance of having a resume (check out my free download) that is updated and ready at all times.

Contact me today if you would like to get started on updating YOUR document – I would love to help YOU get ready for the perfect job opportunity.

Free Advice Can Be Costly For Your Resume

Have you ever asked a friend for advice or their thoughts as you tried on clothing at the store? Or, have you often asked a family member for their opinion on a new paint color for your living room? Usually, it’s a good idea to get an outside perspective for these types of things; however, even in these situations, the ultimate decision is yours. So, it may seem like a good idea to ask for advice on your resume. I’m ready to tell you that—in this instance—that ‘free’ advice may be costly. Read on for three reasons why it’s important to find a professional resume writer.

#1 – Uncle Bob or Sister-in-Law Amy may not want to hurt your feelings. If you are REALLY looking for someone to give you honest feedback, it’s vital that you ask someone who won’t be afraid of actually giving you the true picture. Therefore, asking a relative or a close friend may not be the best course of action. Instead, think of a current or past colleague (maybe not a close friend) who you know tells it ‘like it is’ and won’t sugar-coat feedback.

#2 – Carolyn hasn’t updated her resume for 20 years. You decide to ask Cindy, a professional colleague who you trust and believe can review your resume. The thing is, Cindy has been in the same job for over 20 years and she hasn’t even reworked her own resume during that time. That’s not to say she won’t have valuable feedback; however, is she aware of the correct format for today’s resumes? Does she know anything about Applicant Tracking Systems? Doe she still believe it’s a good idea to include an Objective? Choose someone who is knowledgeable about today’s job market and can position your resume for how today’s systems operate.

#3 – Do you hire a licensed plumber or do you call your friendly neighbor, Jeff?  If you have a water leak or bathroom issues at your house, do you call someone who is an expert and has a license or are you ‘okay’ with having your neighbor come over and hope for the best? For me, it’s a no-brainer. I want it done right the first time. As much as I may trust my neighbor, I want someone with education and experience so I have confidence in their abilities. A Certified Professional Resume Writer is someone that has continuing education and KNOWS how to write documents for today’s marketplace.

Finally, if you ask five people to give you advice on your resume, you will probably get five different opinions and will be more confused than when you started the process. This is YOUR document. Choose someone who can give you excellent advice because this is their area of expertise. You need someone who can be objective and honest with feedback while indicating what you could change for better results.

Now, if you want a free resume review from an expert in the industry, contact me today!