The Worst Advice We’ve Ever Heard about Job Search Strategy

The Worst Advice We’ve Ever Heard about Job Search Strategy

Searching for a job can be grueling and stagnant, especially if you prescribe to every piece of advice you hear. Like most rumors you read on the internet, not every piece of information is right for each situation. This article will explore some of the guidance you might receive from others with additional information explaining why it should be taken with a grain of salt.

You Don’t Need a Cover Letter.

There are people who will tell you cover letters are obsolete. This person could be a hiring manager, your parent, or even your best friend however, this is false information. When you apply for a position, especially if it is through an online format, a cover letter is required material. Cover letters give you the opportunity to expand upon points made in your resume. It is best to keep your cover letter to a maximum of one page and attempt to obtain the hiring manager’s information to address it directly to them. This will show that you took the time to write it for them and express your enthusiasm for the position or company. A cover letter alone won’t land an interview for you, but it will help make a case for your candidacy for the position applied.

Lose the bad job search advice!

Lose the bad job search advice!

Everything Happens Online (or In-person) – Taking Job Applications to Either Extreme.

With the turnover in technology, online applications are the largest net for your job search. However, networking doesn’t always happen online, or face-to-face. Using too much effort on either realm of your job search limits opportunities that the other might provide. Online research can open the door for you, but to create a memorable connection you should attempt to identify individuals to meet in person. Taking the time to meet someone from the company, through an informational interview situation or otherwise, could result in a referral for the position. Referrals show that you went above the company’s expectations. However, a referral does not guarantee an interview or job offer.

Personal Interaction Is the Only Way in.

While following up with your application is encouraged by most companies, being overzealous might hurt your chances instead of helping you. There is such a thing as too much interaction with the hiring manager so, be sure you are respecting normal personal space bubbles. Don’t become akin to the ex-girl/boyfriend who can’t take ‘no’ for an answer. Continuous calling or emailing could be construed as aggressive or desperate. Neither attribute will make you more attractive as a candidate for the position. Your best course of action, after applying and if possible, would be to contact the employer, hiring manager, or recruiter once to follow up on your application and show your interest in the position/company.

Persevere – You’ll Only Get a Job if You Keep at it.

Apply, apply, apply. Apply to everything, despite the required qualifications. The more jobs you have applied to, the greater the chance that you’ll land one, right? Not necessarily. You should apply to positions you are qualified for, not just anything. Tailor your resume to best display how your skills and experience make you the ideal candidate for the job(s) for which you would be an excellent fit. Strategic applications increase your odds at a much greater interval than applying to anything and everything. By applying to everything, you are wasting time and energy you that should be put toward finding the right position for you.

Just Be Yourself – or the Complete Opposite.

Some people will tell you to be yourself during an interview, on your resume, and through the online applications and questionnaires. Others will tell you to be who you think the company wants for the job. You really need to land somewhere in the middle. Portray your experience and personality authentically, but steer it in a way that shows the hiring manager you are the candidate they want. Be aware of your language, attire, and behavior. You should also not confuse authenticity with professionalism. Being authentic means that you should not behave, speak, or dress outside of what is true to you, but cater to your audience. Think about it this way: if you wouldn’t say or do it in front of your grandparents, you definitely don’t want to do that with a hiring manager as witness

Not all job search advice will harm your chances, but there is a balance to everything. Extra effort is attractive, however you must always consider what the hiring manager would think is appropriate. The advice you end up following should be your own. What has or hasn’t worked for you in the past? Expand on your own experiences and, with practice, your instincts will guide you. If that isn’t enough to help you gain your dream job, the FiveStrengths experts can provide additional support.

Image by Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
By Kaley Buck, Five Strengths Contributor

Warning: These 7 Mistakes Will Destroy Your Job Search

Warning: These 7 Mistakes Will Destroy Your Job Search

Searching for a job is hard, really hard. It can feel like a maze of dead-ends. Knowing which way to go to keep moving forward toward your goals can be very difficult. As hard as it can be to know what you should be doing, it can be equally frustrating to discover what may be sabotaging your best efforts. These points below will help to lead you in the right direction

​Determine your True Intent

What is your goal? Have you ever interviewed at a job that you didn’t really want? Maybe you were even relieved when you didn’t get it? Don’t waste your time or anyone else’s! As much as possible determine the direction you are heading and make a plan to get you there. Others can sense hesitation whether you realize it or not, it can cause problems from the start. Potential employers want to know that you REALLY want the position. Design the details of your resume and cover letter to truly illustrate what your goals and desires are. If you are not sure about your intent, it is time to do some soul-searching and find out.

Don’t Underestimate the Impact of Social Media

There are so many tools available to us to utilize in the job market these days. However, we need to use these tools with caution as they can also be detrimental to our image. Social media can be a great way to connect with others in your field, but a small mistake can reach a global market and have an impact on your future.

Statistics show that most job recruiters use social media in their overall evaluating of potential candidates for employment. Don’t ever assume that your profile will not be checked out; it is highly likely that it will be. Social media behaviors to be sure to avoid include oversharing, scandalous photos, partying and alcohol use, none of which will leave a positive impression. Also, be sure to take into account the damage that posting negative opinions about work or work related issues may pose. Do not publically complain or air dirty laundry, nothing productive can come of this. You want to have a clean social media presence. It may be a good idea to search your name and see what comes up, be prepared for any questions that may arise. If you are worried about your history, be sure to set all of your social media profiles to private.

What mistakes are you making in your job search?

Do Not Apologize for Experience You may Lack

From the first contact with a potential employer, whether it is in person, an emailed resume and cover letter, or a drop in, do not undersell yourself or focus on what may be lacking. Sometimes we become too hard on ourselves and lose our confidence when a job search takes an extended amount of time. We begin to feel like someone would be doing us a “favor” by hiring us. This is not the case and behaving as such could be detrimental to your prospects. Remember that your cover letter should highlight what you can do, not the other way around. Don’t use phrases like, “even though I”… or “in spite of…” Don’t be pessimistic, believe that good things can happen for you, and keep trying.

Present Expanded Job Titles

Often job titles can paint a picture that is not entirely accurate. Most positions require us to wear many hats; we should get credit for each of them. We need to present all of the relevant information. If your present or past job title undersells the actual work that you preformed in that position, than you need to add detail and make this clear to all those that read your resume and cover letter.

Don’t Ever Send Out Spelling or Grammar Errors

One of the most effective ways to miss an opportunity before you even truly get started is to put out a resume or cover letter that contains spelling or grammatical errors. Competition for positions can be fierce and most recruiters won’t waste a second on an applicant with such simple mistakes. You may think that these small issues will be overlooked, but don’t forget that they often demonstrate larger issues, such as laziness, missing attention to detail and so on. These are not characteristics that you want to be assumed to possess.

Show Some Respect

As you are in the process of job hunting, you will inevitably land some interviews. When you do there are a couple of rules that are not bendable. Do not ever, I mean ever, be late to an interview or even a casual meeting when you are expected at a pre-arranged time. There is no wiggle room on this and even though we might think, we are all human or it happens… it doesn’t happen to you! Not when making a first impression. Be prepared, plan extra time, practice driving to the location before the interview or meeting so that you are sure to have no problems. There are so many traits that we want to highlight about our self, let’s stick to the positive ones. Being late shows not only a lack of respect, but a lack of dependability. This will not get you the position.

Another topic that goes hand in hand with this one is, turn off your phone! No, it will not make you look important to receive calls during a meeting or interview. No, they do not want to hear about what is going on in your personal life right now. They want to see that in that moment, you value THEIR time above your own. They are what matters and pointless interruptions will leave a negative impression. It comes down to basic common courtesy that is all too often overlooked these days.

Know Yourself

Determining what is going on with your job search can be difficult. You are most likely your own worst critic and it may be hard to get to the bottom of issues you are having. If you find that your search is not taking you in the direction you ultimately want to go, re-evaluate. Take a step back and re-route your course, do some self-diagnosis. If you are unable to come to any clear conclusion, it may serve you well to meet with a career coach to get an outside perspective. When talking about our future we must be willing to take uncomfortable steps at times, but the clarity is worth it. A job search it a journey. By working hard and staying focused you are sure to be successful.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
By Brandy Higginson, Five Strengths Contributor
Are you stuck in a cycle of countless interviews but no job offers or callbacks?

Why Most People Fail at Job Interviews

Why Most People Fail at Job Interviews

Are you stuck in a cycle of countless interviews but no job offers or callbacks? There are so many of us who truly have the drive to succeed but have not. Chances are this is due to mistakes we have made before the interview has even concluded.

The basics are well known; as an interviewee you should give detailed examples of your work history, maintain eye contact and be very punctual. Still, there are other potential mistakes that can be easily made. If you are determined to improve your odds, it is time for you to seriously evaluate what is going wrong for you during the interview process.

Are you stuck in a cycle of countless interviews but no job offers or callbacks?

Are you stuck in a cycle of countless interviews but no job offers or callbacks?

The Interview Begins before You Even Arrive

• If you think about it honestly, the interview begins with the phone call or email that you receive to schedule the appointment. Be aware of yourself from the very beginning. On the phone, use your best voice; speak clearly and concisely in a friendly voice. Whether your contact is online or in person, be polite and accommodating. Do not be difficult to schedule with, show them right up front that this interview is important enough to prioritize on your calendar. You will be remembered for your social skills.

• Prepare, prepare, prepare. Be sure to know details and facts about the position, the company and even your interviewer if possible. Practice common questions out loud or even with an observer. You will feel much more confident if you have put in the time to be ready for whatever comes your way.

• Even as you have been preparing, odds are that they have been too. As you have been looking into your perspective employers business, they have been looking into yours through social media outlets. Always remember that once something is posted and online, it is difficult if not impossible to take back. Social Media has become a huge part of the hiring process whether you think it is fair or not. Don’t provide them with a negative opinion of you before you have even met. Keep a clean, positive online presence.

You Are Being Watched

• From the moment your car door opens, behave as though the interview has already begun. And it goes without saying, be on time, no exceptions. Also, don’t arrive in the middle of a chat on your cell phone. Don’t cut someone off on your way to the door, hold it open instead. Be mindful of your manners. Smile and be friendly. Try to appear at ease even if you are not.

• Greet receptionists or office staff as if they are part of the hiring committee, honestly, they may well be. These small displays of kindness are easy to overlook when trying to appear important, but they show as much as your resume who you really are and what it may be like to work with you on a daily basis. Give this crucial first impression the attention it deserves.

You Never Get a Second Chance…

• We all know that impressions are formed faster than is fair, especially in today’s job market with social media ever present in the background. Give yourself every opportunity to make a positive impression. Smile, give a firm but not to firm hand shake. Remember to maintain eye contact without over doing it. Basic human interaction skills matter. You should also wait to be offered a seat. Don’t plop down in the first chair you see, you are in their territory and need to wait until you are asked to sit and shown where to do so.

• You know you need to dress the part, but don’t forget to dress the part you are applying for, not the one that you are coming from. Sometimes there is a vast difference. Thinking that you will dress up more once you get the job could prove to be a fatal error; the evaluation time is now, not later. Even if the workplace is new-age or trendy, it is better to be over-dressed than under-dressed. And don’t forget the iron! A nice dress shirt doesn’t count if it is wrinkled and untidy. Show you care enough to be your best.

The Most Important Part of the Interview

• As the interview begins, don’t be unnecessarily nervous. This person is ultimately trying to help you, not hurt you, so give them that opportunity. Use common sense as you answer questions, don’t try too hard and come across tricky or desperate. Don’t start spewing information or details about your life that they didn’t ask for. Just give them an honest sense of who you are and what drives or motivates you.

• Have a couple of questions ready to ask them. The majority of interviews end with, “do you have any questions for us?” You should. Being prepared with some relevant questions will show the recruiter that you are genuinely interested. Keep it simple and inquire about additional aspects of the job role as well as the future or progression that should be expected.

• Don’t ask about salary at an initial interview. It may seem like a good idea, but chances are you have a good idea of the ballpark you are in with the position. Asking about money to soon can make it seem like you are only interested in monetary gains and not the company or what they do. Hopefully there will be a time and place for that later on.

• Don’t exaggerate your skills in a way that could lead to trouble. There is nothing worse than having something expected of you that you have no knowledge or understanding of how to complete. Be honest.

• Attempt to build some kind of rapport or find common ground with the interviewer; this will make you more memorable. It never hurts to show interest in them and their position with the company either. Most of us consider it a compliment when others are interested in us; they are bound to feel the same way.

Closing the Interview

• Ending the interview, of course, is in control of the interviewer, not you. Watch for cues, don’t overstay your welcome. Be sure to thank them for their time and leave the door open with a statement such as, “I hope to hear from you soon.” Starting and ending an interview on the right foot can make all the difference on the path to success.

The Takeaway

• Come prepared with knowledge about the company and position. Control your social media presence.

• Be alert and polite from the moment you enter the property until you leave.

• Look the part. Prepare a smooth introduction and connect with them throughout the interview. Don’t exaggerate your skills.

• When the interview concludes, always thank them for their time.

Proper use of the advice given above is sure to provide you an advantage as you work toward making your dream job a reality.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
By Five Strengths contributor Brandy Higginson
Man on telephone is ready for career change.

Executive Career Change: Are You Ready?

Executive Career Change: Are You Ready?

Take this career change quiz…

Chances are you are reading an article such as this because your career isn’t fulfilling to you anymore. Maybe you have not been in a position where you have felt you were able to risk making a career move until now. Maybe you are finally feeling that it is time to make a career change.

Man on telephone.

Ready for a career change?

It could be that your present job isn’t tapping into your true potential. How do you know when it is the right time to make a move, take a risk, and possibly advance in your career? This quiz was will help you evaluate what is behind your drive to succeed and whether or not you need to make changes. It will also help you determine how prepared you are for such a move. Take some time and think about each question and summary thoroughly this will serve as a helpful tool in deciding if it may be time to re-route your course.

1) Does the work that you do on a day to day basis make you feel happy, content and fulfilled? Yes/No

*If what you are doing repetitively, on a daily basis doesn’t interest or fulfill you, and you are constantly looking at the clock, it may be time to re-evaluate.

2) Do you honestly hate your job? Yes/No

If yes, are you thinking about a new job in the same field? Yes/No

*If you can’t even remember why you choose your current field in the first place, and your field doesn’t provide opportunities to explore new directions and grow, it may be time to do some future planning.

3) Are there many jobs available in your field?

You need to be very realistic about this. Put in some time researching proven statistics. When you think about your 5 year or long-term life plan, does your current career path match up with where you want to go?

4) If after thinking hard over a length of time you decide you want to stay in the same career, will you need to enhance or modernize your skills? Do you need or want to earn more than is possible if you stay in this career field?

Looking at the future, do you see technology or another future development changing your position dramatically or even rendering it obsolete? Do you know in your heart that you truly need to change to a new field, but you resist change due to fear or even lack of the proper experience? Don’t get in your way or sell yourself short. You may be more capable than you are letting yourself believe..

5) Does your current position allow you to make the most of your skills, training,
talents and abilities?

Do you often feel frustrated or that the work you are doing is unnatural to you? You must feel utilized properly or you are always floating, never locked in. Education is expensive and time consuming; it should be put to good use and properly compensated for. Don’t settle for less than that.

6) Do you get excited about new projects or work to be performed?

Do you still find yourself interested in what jobs are being performed in your office? What about company planning and strategies? It is intriguing and challenging? Do you want it to be? Don’t hightail it out of there to quickly if you are satisfied in this area. If there are still things are work that you feel excited about, that’s a good sign. Maybe you just need a minor change, not a complete make-over. Possibly some different responsibilities or added projects would do the trick. Have you asked for what you really, truly want? Think it over…

7) How is the level of stress at your job?

Is it more likely to keep you invigorated or are you pulling your hair out and getting a stomach ache on the way to work? Life is short and we all know that stress takes a horrible toll on us. Make sure that your job isn’t detrimental to your health.

8) Is your current career a good fit for your lifestyle now as well as the changes that will come in your life with family, etc.?

This requires you to take a serious look at your position in the long term. Does it work well for you now, but when you have kids or a family it will have to be changed anyway? Think about the future that you want for yourself and make sure you are not only thinking about the “NOW”.

9) Do you have a plan as discussed in the question above? Do you have set plans and goals or are you just coasting through life?

You may not even be sure what your next move would be, or where to begin. Let’s be honest, change can be very difficult. Don’t forget, however, it can also be extremely empowering. Taking control of your life feels amazing! Just make sure that you truly think through each step, don’t do anything spontaneously, as exciting as that may seem! Be prepared with contacts, leads, plans and savings. You will need them.

10) Is your restlessness due to your dreams of pursuing a lifelong passion?

At times we all get caught up in thinking about what really matters, what is the most important to us and what really should be the most important to us. Such as: the purpose of life, if you will. Ask yourself, if I didn’t need the money could I walk away from this profession and never look back? If the answer is yes and if you have been feeling lost, give these feelings the attention they deserve. No one wants to look back at their life with regrets. But as you ponder life, be realistic.

The grass is not always greener.. but it could be.. only you can decide.

By Five Strengths Contributor Brandy Higginson
Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Worst Resume Writing Advice We Have Heard

The Worst Resume Writing Advice We Have Heard

While we have already discussed what should not be included in a resume and common myths, there are pieces of advice you should never follow when working on your resume. As professional resume writers, clients are encouraged to ask questions about the writing process and share advice they have heard. While some advice can be useful, other bits are completely off-base. No recommendation is perfect, but this article will discuss some of the worst tips resume writing you might have heard.

You should always include soft skills. – NOT

First, what are soft skills? Things like great written and verbal communication, the ability to multi-task, professionalism, and excellent time management are soft skills. Those are great things to mention in your cover letter, with examples, but your resume should have skills that are unique to you.

Career summaries are a must. – NOT

When describing your responsibilities in a previous or current position, you want to have a short, bullet type list of the accomplishments unique to you during that time. Be specific – don’t generalize – and include numbers, time-frame, and anything else that would create a portrait about your experiences and career history.

It’s okay to close gaps in your work history by adding time to other positions or give yourself promotions. – NOT

If you jump from job to job, it will not benefit you to omit some of the jobs and close gaps by adding time to the most stable position on your resume. Say you were a stay-at-home parent until your children started school full time, the worst thing you can do with that time, on your resume, is to give yourself a promotion such as ‘household manager’ or ‘home engineer.’ Changing the truth to make yourself appear better does not differ from lying directly to the hiring manager. If you are chosen as one of the top candidates for a position, the company will check this kind of information.

If you don’t have specific skills a company is searching for, add them to your resume anyway and hope you never need to use them or talk about them during the interview. – NOT

You should never claim to know or be the master of a skill you know nothing about. Chances are, you will need to demonstrate the ability in one way or another before you are offered the position. If a company has dictated they need a candidate with this skill, then you should have this skill before applying.

Don’t pay attention to the skills necessary for each position you apply to, just apply to everything and hope you get an interview. – NOT

Instead of seeking out jobs you are qualified for, apply to every open position – you’re bound to be called to at least a few of them, right? You will only receive interview invitations for jobs for which you are qualified. So, yes, there is a chance you will be called for a few of the positions you apply for however, if you apply to everything, your resume will be added to a file for that company. Some companies discard unwanted applicants while others keep applications on the chance that you are qualified for another position within that company. Over sending applications is not only a waste of time, but besmirches your reputation the more you send.

If you are changing career paths or moving positions with another company after decades at one company, just give a brief job description. Anything you accomplished was part of your job description. – NOT

Your accomplishments are your own. While it was necessary for your position, you still set out to complete a project, increase productivity, or implement something new and realized that goal. The base description for any position is a generalization of expectations.

Be sure to send your resume to many peers to seek their advice and then incorporate all the advice you are given. Then, start sending out your resume without checking it again. A professional resume writer is a waste of money. – NOT

Not every person who has ever written a resume of their own knows what is better for your resume. Double checking your resume for mistakes is incredibly important as even the smallest mistake can stand out like a sore thumb to any prospective employer. When in need of advice, it is best to seek a professional resume writer and use their services. There are tips and tricks for each position type. However, you should make sure you are asking your professional resume writer questions about their service and your personal resume.

The internet is a font of wonderful information as well as misinformation. There is a great deal of advice to be found that can lead you astray when delving into your resume. Resumes are a complicated style to master. While there are many useful guides out, utilizing a resume writing service can be an incredibly beneficial investment.

By Kaley Buck, Five Strengths Contributor

What Shakespeare Can’t Teach You about Resume Writing

What Shakespeare Can’t Teach You About Resume Writing

Writing your resume is not like essay composition. We have carefully collected words and phrases to include in our vocabulary in order to impress certain people or to expand upon standard expressions. That is not the case with resumes. In compiling your resume, there are things you just don’t do and things you should always do. While proper grammar is a must, Shakespeare would be disappointed with the butchering of language that is a resume.

Shakespeare is credited for introducing nearly 3,000 words to the English language. During his time as a playwright and poet, the English language shifted and evolved to be something similar to what we speak today. Linguistically, Shakespeare’s diction is only one generation removed from today’s vernacular.

“Resume speak” is a term that refers to the unique way a standard resume is written. It is a style that hiring managers and recruiters expect and appreciate to see in a resume. A resume written in anything but “resume speak” become awkward and lengthy when you should be short and to the point.

Quill, paper, ink

“Resume Speak” vs. Prose

A novel can be written from multiple perspectives, but that is not something a resume should have. Standard practice on a resume is to drop personal pronouns like I, my, and me. So, instead of using pronouns, the style becomes first person implied.

Example:

  • First person: I managed a team …
  • First person implied: Managed a team …

The resume is a document all about you, making this style an acceptable means of communicating skills, experiences, and responsibilities. Using personal pronouns on a document all about you is redundant.

You will also omit any articles (a, an, and the) from your resume, within reason. It is common to include the occasional article, however, they are used very conservatively. If you take the article out of the phrase and it no longer makes sense, replace it. This will be more difficult to master than omitting personal pronouns.

Example:

  • Standard English: I managed a team to finalize a variety of projects over a fiscal year, resulting in a 15% increase in productivity for the duration and allowing departmental training for success company-wide.
  • Resume Speak: Managed team to finalize projects over fiscal year, resulting in +15% productivity and allowing company-wide departmental success training.

Remember that your resume is not a detailed record of your life experiences and achievements, it is a snapshot providing the best examples in a concise manner. “Resume speak” is simple on paper, but difficult to compose.

Why is this important?

Resume composition is not easy — it could easily take several hours to edit one section of your resume. It is important to follow the standard way of resume writing because hiring managers do not want your entire life’s story. Unless a potential employer asks for a very specific document for their application, they want something that will tell them enough about you to be considered for an interview. During the interview is when you can expand upon different things within the resume or cover letter that might need additional emphasis.

Resumes are often run through software that will recognize certain keywords the company needs to see on a candidate’s documents. Including too many words or too much information will slow down that process and some of these resume reading softwares perform by a word limit per page. Your resume is a brochure of your highlighted accomplishments, not a novel about every experience.

English is one of the most complicated languages to learn – everything has a rule. Understanding the unique styles of each kind of writing is not something you can master in one sitting. Shakespeare’s plays and poems were written for the common person. Composition of any academic paper uses language that can be found in Shakespeare’s work. Even journalism has its standards. But resume writing entails a unique set of rules.

By Kaley Buck, Five Strengths Contributor

 

Self-Promotion: 8 Ways to Interview Persuasively

Self-Promotion: 8 Ways to Interview Persuasively

In our day to day lives we all want to be humble and modest, but let’s face it, being self-deprecating won’t give your prospective employer that lasting impression or memorable interview that you are going for. An interview is a time to get out there and shine. You need to sell yourself, be persuasive. Here are some ways to go about doing just that without coming across as over-confident or arrogant.

1) Get out of your comfort zone. Push yourself, allow yourself to brag a little bit. Put your selling points on the table. Don’t take it too far, but don’t be afraid. This is why you are here, to show them who you are and what you are made of. Don’t be shy, jump at the chance to shine. You want to paint them a glorious picture of what you have to offer so that the image and information stays with them. To be persuasive, use details that can be felt, seen and tested, including numbers to prove your points. Use details that can be visualized and remembered. You can even use metaphors or an analogy if you are cautious. Remember that this type of persuasive detail may be hard to come up with on the spot. Plan ahead and develop examples, be ready.

2) Demonstrate Credibility. Aspiring employees are often hired based on whom the interviewer feels can get the job done. They need to be able to count on you, they must trust you. This begins with believing what you say in an interview. To strengthen your credibility you must sell or demonstrate your expertise and also build a positive relationship with the interviewer, a connection if you will. To build a relationship, find common interests. It could be geographical location, hobbies, or feeling the same way about issues in your field. Don’t be afraid to ask about your interviewers experiences with work or to talk about life outside of work, to a point. This creates a feeling of a conversation more than just another interview.
Showing expertise may be as simple as being aware of the current trends in your industry. Read up and be aware before you interview.

3) Stick to the facts. You don’t want to launch into an awkward monologue about yourself full of your own thought and opinions. Instead, state some objective facts to highlight some of your accomplishments. Talk about awards you have received, stats you have improved, anything that is concrete.

4) Give yourself some credit, you aren’t a novice. Even if you are just getting started in a particular field, don’t make statements about just getting your feet wet or just starting out. Even if you are changing industries, every bit of experience counts. Most occupations have certain things in common. It may be sales, customer service, or a creative touch. You most likely have done something in your past experience that will benefit you in this new position, even outside of your work history. Plan ahead and be ready to use persuasive examples to highlight your legitimate skills and traits. Even though you may not have been “paid” for a particular skill doesn’t mean in can’t prove to be useful in your future employment.

5) Quote others who have seen you in action. Discussing statements that others have made about you can be a great alternative to “bragging” about yourself. It just sounds better to say something like, “I was recently told by my manager that he has really seen the results of my project development skills.” This type of statement can be very persuasive if done properly. It makes future employers think outside the box.

6) Toot your own horn. Most of us aren’t good at talking about ourselves, let alone tooting our own horn and convincing others to have confidence in our abilities. We have always been taught that we shouldn’t talk or brag about ourselves. While these are good everyday manners, it won’t pay off in an interview situation. Keep in mind that an interview is different than any other type of interaction. You must make an impression. You have such a limited amount of time for them to learn about you that you must make every minute count. Don’t miss out on a position you are qualified for due to a poor presentation.

7) Practice. “Selling yourself” may seem difficult but with practice it can become nearly automatic in an interview situation. Always be authentic and remember to be truthful. There is a big difference in speaking of tried and true talents and experience vs. selling false ideas. This will always come back to bite you in the end. Be compelling and concise when speaking of your strengths and what you bring to the table. In practicing and actually speaking out loud, you will hear where you need to make changes and avoid any awkwardness that may come across when speaking about yourself. You aren’t rehearsing a speech; your answers should vary slightly each time with the main points and information staying the same.

8) Don’t wait. Once you have your selling points and have practiced your presentations, jump in and interview. Don’t let too much time go by before using the skills you have been working so hard on. Be proactive and seek out opportunities to continue to practice.

Using the power of persuasion will become second nature the more you use it. Don’t be afraid to speak passionately and from the heart. Emotions are powerful, just don’t go overboard or talk to fast. It is always wise to be somewhat in tune with the interviewer. However, being around someone who is enthusiastic and positive can be contagious. Let them feel your energy and zest for life, it is bound to leave a good impression and persuade them to give you a chance.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

7 Resume Myths: Kiss-of-Death Resume Fictions (eg lying on your resume)

These are the top 7 resume myths you need to forget today. Ever thought about fibbing on your resume? Telling outright falsehoods on your CV? You’ll get caught for that one and kicked off the interview roster for sure. Other less dire resume fictions beyond lying on your resume are also brand-damaging. Read on to learn more:

Crafting your resume requires knowledge of the current resume writing standards. Not everything that was once required is still included on the resume. We’ve been over-including personal information, using fancy fonts or formats, and what your resume should convey once it is completed, but what are you including that no longer needs to be there? Navigating the trends with professionalism and tact is daunting. Sometimes rules are rules, but in this case a lot of those “rules” are now more resume fiction than resume fact, and certainly they contradict current best practices for good job search strategy. This article will discuss some of those resume myths and why the change occurred. Doing the opposite of what was once conventional wisdom (especially lying on your Curriculum Vitae) absolutely will help your strategy and move your application into the “call for interview” pile.

1. References belong on the resume. NO!

Think that lying on your resume is still ok? These resume myths will keep your resume out of the "YES" pile! Following advice more resume fiction than fact is a job search killer.

Think that lying on your resume is still ok? These resume myths will keep your resume out of the “YES” pile!

Including your references right on your resume was once a common practice. Adding the phrase “references available on request” might not make your resume stand out, but you certainly don’t want to have your references personal information on every application. Many job postings will ask for either a separate page of references or have a section of the application to list them. Anyone you list as a reference has the expectation that you will only send their information to a hiring manager who has the intention of inviting you to an interview. You’ll be protecting their privacy as well as providing information exactly when it is needed.

2. Your resume should only be one page. NO!

A one page resume really is not enough space to convey all the relevant information about your experience, unless you are just starting out in your career. Any valuable information that sets you apart from the other candidates should be included, even if it puts your resume over one page. It is actually very common for most, if not all, resumes to be two-page documents. You shouldn’t go over the top and include every piece of your experiences, but don’t leave out important information. It’s a huge resume myth that your resume needs to fit onto only one page.

3. Incorrect spelling and grammar automatically disqualify you for the position. NO!

While it is important to proofread your resume, errors don’t mean your resume is discarded. Paying attention to the details does show the potential employer that you are a serious professional. The content and correct information are more important than spelling, but take a minute every few months to review your resume with fresh eyes.

4. Visual aids don’t belong on the resume. NO!

Color, graphs, and charts aren’t a waste of space on your resume. It’s a resume fiction that your executive resume should contain text only. Graphs or charts are able to convey a good amount of information in a short, sweet section on the front page. “Click-bait” surrounds our culture, with apps decreasing our attention spans, and including a graph could be that attention-grabbing piece. As far as a color pop goes, color makes a statement about your brand, and it tells your reader where you want them to look first for the best information on your resume document. Think about a product advertisement that made you buy the product just because of the ad. Your resume should be that kind of marketing for your brand.

5. Unique formats are necessary to make you stand out. NO!

Formats, while interesting and fun, do not make a difference in how a hiring manager looks at your resume. Many applications to read resumes or job applications dismantle any formatting on the resume. Simple formatting may look, well, simplistic, however that may be the best one to use. The file format can also make a difference when submitting your resume. Microsoft Word documents are easier to perform a search for particular keywords while searching in a PDF file does not allow the systems to pick up critical information. If the proper keywords can’t be found within your resume, you are invisible to employers using application-tracking or applications for resume dissection.

6. Objective statements are must haves on the resume. NO!

An objective statement declares your intentions about your career and used to be a must. However, it is more likely that an employer now will skip over this declaration and move to your experience and skills. They are much more interested in what you can do for them – what experience you will bring to them – than what you expect to achieve from this, or any, position. Every bit of space on your resume is important, especially if you have a lot of information you need to include. Wasting the few lines for an objective statement is unnecessary.

7. Lying on your resume is okay. NO!

This is the worst resume fiction–and the one most likely to get you into trouble. Lying on your resume can mean anything from excluding a gap in employment to claiming a degree you didn’t earn. Honesty is always the best policy, and employers will do enough research about their top picks for a position to know whether you value their time or lack integrity. Aside from legal consequences, lying on a resume is the worst thing you can present to any hiring manager. Claiming to be a master of any skill you have absolutely no experience in will result in either termination or a long, embarrassing conversation with your supervisor when it is discovered. In short, do not lie about anything on your resume. It is much better to show employers you have been employed and have gaps, have that experience they want with a lower level of preferred expertise, or know that you will need to learn things to be able to be their best choice than it is to say you know how to balance their accounts and only have experience as a babysitter.

Despite all the changes to resumes over the years, there are things that haven’t budged. Your resume is the one document that acts as a brochure to your life’s experience and can get you in the door to a new career. If you’re still stuck on what you do or do not need to include–without lying on your resume!–call the Five Strengths experts for guidance.

Photo attributed to Stuart Miles of FreeDigitalPhotos.net
By Kaley Buck, Five Strengths Contributor
Man leaning over table aggressively

Interview Body Language: How to Interview without Breaking a Sweat

Interview Body Language

How to Interview without Breaking a Sweat

As important as what you say is during a job interview, the way you communicate with body language also needs to be given some serious attention. You may be an interviewing pro or maybe the nervous type in stressful situations, whatever the case, you must make sure that your body language doesn’t speak more loudly than your words. Using these general body language tips will help you communicate that you are a great fit for the job, rather than drawing attention away from your skills.

Do this in Your Interview…

  • Smile. A warm smile can be contagious and create a comfortable environment for an interview. Think of the effect just receiving a smile from a stranger on the street can have on your day. It matters, a lot.

    Man leaning over table aggressively

    Interview body language counts!

  • Shake hands. Always start an interview with shaking hands. This will open a friendly door and set the tone between you and the interviewer. Use a solid grip while shaking hands without being aggressive. Practice if needed before the interview.
  • Make good eye contact. Employers want to know that they can trust you. Maintaining friendly eye contact is a great way to show that you’re trustworthy. Holding eye contact while shaking the hand of your employer and occasionally throughout the interview will make the interview more personal.
  • Be bright eyed and bushy tailed. Walk with energy and purpose. Sit erectly with good posture, but don’t go overboard and look to stiff. Enter with the appearance of confidence, even if you are feeling everything except confident! Sitting up straight conveys confidence, intelligence and honesty.
  • Pay attention to your surroundings. Notice what is around you as you follow the interviewer through the place of business. If someone else is watching you, make eye contact and smile. Remember, these could be future colleagues of yours. It is imperative that you leave a good impression with all those whom you cross paths with. You never know who is taking notes on your behavior.
  • Nod and occasionally lean in. One of the best ways to appear attentive, engaged and interested in a conversation is to lean in and nod occasionally. This shows that you are agreeable and understand what is being discussed. All of which are crucial in an interview. If this is not normal behavior for you, you may need to work on these skills beforehand so that they do not appear uncharacteristic for you.
  • Share attention equally. You may end up with several different people conducting your interview. Remember to move your gaze from person to person and do not become fixated on any one interviewer. Do address the person asking the questions directly initially and then move along to include all interviewers that are present.
  • Leave a positive, comfortable impression. Be calm and cool as the interview closes. Be prepared to stand with your interviewer. Gather your things and be ready but don’t rush. If you are a slightly delayed, this is a great time for a little small talk. Lastly, no matter what, do not forget to thank the interviewer for the opportunity and for their time. Everyday manners and common courtesy always count!

Not This…

  • Don’t slouch, yawn or seem bored, tired or uninterested. Lounging in your seat makes you appear uninterested and that you don’t take things seriously. Slumping also makes you look shy, stressed and un-confident. This appearance is not going to bode well for you in the interview.
  • Don’t plop down. When asked to take a seat, don’t strut to your chair. Also, be sure not to fall into your seat. Sit calmly; be as graceful as you can. This will help you to appear to be comfortable. Don’t go too far with this and dramatically throw your arm over the seat or anything however. This will make you appear arrogant. Aim for a middle ground.
  • Don’t be intimidating with eye contact. Constant eye contact can be intimidating and cause anxious feelings from your interviewers. Look away from time to time and be sure to not hold their gaze for too long. Respect personal space as well remembering that about 20 inches is the normal comfort zone for most people.
  • Don’t cross your arms or legs. Body language 101, these positions make us appear defensive and guarded. Be cautious about these signs.
  • Don’t fidget. Have a place in mind to put your hands. You don’t want to wildly gesture throughout the interview. If you require something to keep you from doing this, consider keeping a pen handy. You could even have a notepad with it to take quick notes during the interview if needed.

There are many elements to a successful job interview but don’t neglect to give body language the attention it deserves. We have all heard it said time and time again, actions speak louder than words. Remember that and use your body language as an additional help rather than a hindrance as you interview to gain your desired position.

Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
By Brandy Higginson, Five Strengths Contributor
What? You've never had an informational interview?

What? You’ve Never Had an Informational Interview?

What? You’ve Never Had an Informational Interview?

You’re practically giving away your dream job to your competition.

Informational interviews can be tricky to schedule or plan, but can be productive and help you understand the career field you want to go into. You should be prepared to talk about yourself, but know when you should switch to asking questions. During this conversation, you’ll have the chance to make a positive impression as long as you are well prepared. Informational interviews may seem like a waste of time, depending on the industry, but they do have benefits.

Benefits

Specific information about a prospective career can’t always be found online. The best way to find out what you need to know about a new career is to actually talk to someone working there. So, getting that informational interview and spending that time asking questions will grant you a peek into that window. A few of the things you could learn would be:

  • Tips for how to enter a career
  • Potential career paths you haven’t thought about
  • What it’s actually like to work at the interviewee’s organization
  • How to tap into a new network through the professional relationship you just initiated
  • Know what you need to put on your resume, say during an interview for a position, and anything else you want to know about getting a job in that field

While those are all wonderful benefits to the outcome of an informational interview, but is it possible to get a job with this kind of interview alone?

Etiquette

The preparation begins before you schedule the interview. Identify what you want to learn and have a list of questions ready, with room to take notes. Take time to research the person you will be interviewing with – know their background and have a general idea of the career field you’ll be interviewing about.

When you arrive for the interview, most likely, you will check in with the receptionist. Once the interviewee arrives, if you don’t already know them, be sure to introduce yourself and thank them for the opportunity. Make sure you emphasize, again, that you are there to gather information and learn about the career field. During the actual interview, you should be professional but relatively informal as you are simply there to obtain information. It should feel more like you are asking for advice, rather than for a job. Take notes and listen.

After the interview is over, make sure you thank them. An email or handwritten card, regardless of the result of the conversation, sent within 48 hours of the interview, adds additional personal touch to show your appreciation. Include specifics about what you enjoyed about the encounter – this will make you more memorable. Stay in touch and, when appropriate, take advantage of their network.

Outcomes of the Informational Interview

Informational interviews can  be powerful. Displaying your interest with the right amount of research and asking the right questions makes a great first impression. While the objective of these interviews is not to ask for a job or discover job openings, with the right combination of what you can do for the company and how you present that information could prove more fruitful than getting answers to your questions. It is uncommon to be offered a job afterwards however, if you play your cards correctly, a position can be created. Your cards start showing their worth from the moment you say ‘hello.’

If you are lucky enough to schedule an informational interview, take advantage of the benefits that can present themselves. The answers to your questions are just the beginning what you can gain from this interview. You’ll be able to expand your network, improve your resume, and know if the career is right for you or if you should have a backup plan. Keep in mind that it is unlikely a job will be gained from this experience, but it is a beneficial technique for starting a relationship with people within a specific field. Informational interviews are developmental opportunities that should not be disregarded.

By Kaley Buck, Five Strengths Contributor
Image attributed to graur codrin at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.