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.

 

 

LinkedIn’s New Open Candidate Feature: Etiquette for Updating Your Profile

LinkedIn’s New Open Candidate Feature: Etiquette for Updating Your Profile

LinkedIn recently released a new function that allows job seekers to indicate that they are looking for work to recruiters. This function is private – meaning you won’t be advertising to your current employer or any followers that you are looking for a new position. Enabling the feature is fairly simple and this tutorial spells out each step. The ‘Open Candidate’ option is available in the US, UK, Canada, and Australia for now, but will surely be global very soon.

The only thing you have to do is make sure your profile is up-to-date and makes a positive statement about you.

Updating Your LinkedIn Profile

All of your skills are on display through this social media profile, right? Are each of those skills marketable – what employers want to see in a prospective employee? Before making your account open, do a little research into what companies you’d be interested in are looking for, especially if you are trying to change career paths. Take the time to review your profile for any typos, old or irrelevant information, or incorrect dates. The accuracy of your profile actually does make a difference and you also will want it to be as complete as possible – utilizing the percentage indicator on your homepage.
Many of LinkedIn’s features are free but there are membership only options. The new ‘Open Candidate’ feature is free and it was developed to keep your job search confidential – away from the eyes of your current employer. Your profile, for the most part, is public and you should want it to be open. Employers can search for candidates based on the skills or experience they have and having your profile open will put you in those search results. With the new feature, you will actually be able to signal to recruiters that you are looking for a new position. Knowing that, there are some other pieces about LinkedIn that you should keep in mind.

LinkedIn Dos and Don’ts

While LinkedIn can be an incredibly useful resource, it is not like other social media sites. Understand the etiquette surrounding the media – it is a business connectivity website. Including anything you would post on any other social media site would be against your best interest. When thinking about what you should include on your profile, and how to communicate with others, consider the following tips.

DO:

  • Keep your profile up-to-date with new skills and positions, discarding out of date information.
  • Endorse your followers’ skills – they will endorse you back.
  • Build your network by following people that work at a company or industry you are interested in. Cultural etiquette encourages a message to reach out to this person before adding them to your network. The additions will give you an idea of what skills you should strive to gain and add to your repertoire.
  • Comment in the forums and make connections.
  • Use LinkedIn to find and apply for new positions.

DON’T:

  • Post inappropriate pictures for your profile picture or otherwise – if you wouldn’t wear that outfit to an interview or at work, don’t post that picture.
  • Update or blog about your everyday life.
  • Follow people that are outside your network that look like fake profiles. There are fake profiles on LinkedIn – scammers trying to lure you to job opportunities that seem too good to be true or connect you with important people.
  • Send spam-looking messages to contacts.
  • Self promote in the forums or respond negatively to anyone.
  • Use only LinkedIn to find and apply for new positions. Not every employer will post a job through this social media website.

Social media can be tricky. Facebook and Twitter allow for nearly constant updates and pictures about your life, how you’re feeling, and advertisements. Pinterest is an eclectic collective of DIY, art, and life tips. LinkedIn is it’s own kind of social media and the best rule of thumb for this site: If you wouldn’t say it in an interview, it doesn’t belong on LinkedIn. Business, business, and only business should be on display for your profile – nothing personal.

When in doubt, leave it out. You should feel like your LinkedIn profile represents you on a different level than your resume. With everything you are able to do through LinkedIn – forum conversations, messages, and blogging – it is a new experience that can bring elements to your job search you haven’t used before. There is no guarantee that your profile will be any more unique than Sally’s or Joe’s, but the professional presentation of your knowledge and skills is much more important here than photos of your lunch.

Photo attributed to ddpavumba at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
By Kaley Buck, Five Strengths Contributor
The right answers will make or break your interview. Don't blow it!!

7 Interview Fails that Won’t Get You the Job

How to Blow Your Interview: 7 Interview Fails that Won’t Get You the Job

We all hope to leave an impression when we walk out of a job interview. We want the prospective employer to remember us. But the question is, what kind of impression do we really leave behind? Read on to get some tips on what you do not want to be remembered for.

What NOT to Say: Don’t Do these Interview Fails

We work hard to get our foot in the door and have that chance to actually show an employer who we are and what we have to offer. With that in mind, there is nothing worse than blowing that opportunity by having a less than impressive interview. Not only will we miss out on the opportunity that we were applying for, but with Networking as it is, we run the risk of getting a “bad name.” Here are some examples of what not to say in that situation to ensure this doesn’t happen to you.

The right answers will make or break your interview. Don't blow it!!

The right answers will make or break your interview. Don’t blow it!!

  • Tell me about your strengths?

Don’t answer with something simple like, I am a hard worker, I like to learn, etc. You don’t want to be vague and boring. They really want to know what specifically makes you a strong candidate for the position, talk about those exact skills instead of being general and non-specific.

  • Tell me about a weakness?

Don’t be silly with this question, it matters. Don’t blush or stammer, be prepared. They also don’t want an arrogant employee; do not say that you don’t have any weaknesses. We all do and they know that! Also don’t be over-indulging with phrases like; I don’t know how to pick just one. That is just scary. Shoot for somewhere in the middle. Pick a weakness, but offer a solution with it. Something like, in the past I have tried to help others in the workplace get along and finish projects, etc. Although this can be a good thing, I have learned at times it is often wiser to prioritize and handle myself and projects well first before worrying about outside issues.

  • What do you know about our company?

This is often a kick- off question and can be easy if you are properly prepared. Saying something like, I hear you pay well will prove to be a costly mistake. Also, avoid answering with things like, I saw you were hiring so I thought I would check things out. You also don’t want to look as if you are there spur of the moment and have no information. You are capable and valuable and therefore you have options. Because of this fact, you have, of course, done your homework and should have plenty of information about the company and position.

  • Do you work well with others?

This is not an opening to explain how you struggled in your last position but you are sure that it was because your co-workers were intimidated by you. Don’t do it! Trust me; this is not what they want to hear. Do not bad mouth past bosses or fellow employees, it will get you nowhere. No employer wants to hire someone that is difficult to work with. If you give them reason to worry about your social skills, chances are you won’t be hired on.

  • Why would you like to work here?

It is just a short drive from my home. Ouch! Not good enough. Hearing that a job is “convenient” for you is not going to leave a positive impression. Irrelevant information, such as being excited about employee discounts or benefits, is not helpful. This is a better place to offer some kind words about the company, the people and its reputation. Leave it at that.

  • Do you have any questions for me?

How about, how much vacation time would I get? Or would I have to work overtime? These are equally as bad as saying that you don’t have any questions for them. You should ask some questions that actually relate to the position or what you would be doing on a daily basis. Asking about the benefits of the position can be done after you have an offer.

A Little Common Sense

Remember, there are plenty of ways to ruin an interview and annoy an interviewer. With a little time, practice and preparation you can avoid doing just that. Bad responses in an interview can truly damage your chances of a call back or even a position in your field. Tread carefully and think things through. You will surely be remembered for the good impression you make.

Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
By Brandy Higginson, Five Strengths Contributor

The One Thing Your Resume Can Never Say About You

The One Thing Your Resume Can Never Say About You

Replaceable. That is the last word you want to come to mind when an employer or hiring manager is reading your resume. If you present yourself in a way that is generic or unappealing, you will not be seen as a likely candidate for the position. The company, essentially, is investing in your skills to better their company and they need to feel confident that you would make the company better, not stagnant and certainly not worse.

What Not to Include in Your Resume

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What is the one thing your resume never can say about you?

Your resume can either present your worth and personality in a favorable or a not so favorable way. Many employers prefer that you leave personal details and interests off of your resume for many reasons.

Personal information: Things like your marital status, sexual orientation, religious views, age, gender, social security numbers, and number of children should be left off this professional document. Certain details could lead others to believe that there is a form of discrimination happening if you are rejected as a candidate, such as your religion or age, and will put the employer in a difficult situation. Some of these details will likely come up in conversations later, like the interview, and you can share the information when appropriate.

Spelling errors and poor grammar: Proofread, proofread, proofread. Nothing is worse than seeing a resume of a well-experience candidate with poor spelling or grammar. It will make you appear unprofessional despite your previous positions or current standing.

Irrelevant work experience: No one cares about your first job from high school. It is most likely not relevant now, as you are established in your career.

Hobbies and oddities: If you knit hats for dogs, unless you are applying for a job that requires that skill, keep it to yourself. Things like this will make the employer look twice at your resume, but not in a good way.

Negative language: Even if a project went south, reflect on what went right, not wrong, and include those details. They will also not want to see reasons you left previous positions.

References: They will want references later, after an interview, not up front. If references are necessary, it will be included on the application itself or be requested before the interview process making it unnecessary to include on your resume.

Lies: Do not bend the truth. This goes hand-in-hand with plagiarism. Lies can be anything from “I am fluent in Swedish” to “I am an excellent typist.” If it is not true, it will come out eventually.

Too much information: Keep it to 1-3 pages, depending on your level, and years or depth of experience; anything beyond that is too much, and the hiring manager will not bother reading it.

Being too creative: Distracting colors, clip art, and unnecessarily fussy fonts distract from the meat of the resume making it very difficult to discern what your talents actually are.

Using vague wording, cliches, or situational jargon: “Thinks outside the box,” “ABC of DEF,” or “Oriented” are very generic phrases you should leave off of your resume. If it doesn’t make sense to someone aside from yourself or screams “I’m not original,” don’t include it.

Preparation

You want to be prepared for anything — new opportunities, unexpected job loss, or decisions about career changes. There are things you can do to be prepared like making sure your resume is always up-to-date, keeping up with your marketable skills, and networking. When updating your resume, you should make sure that you are current in all of your skills as well. It’s worth it to make time to work on yourself and refresh all of your skills. Being up-to-date is important on and off paper. Don’t put something on your resume that you’re working on, wait until you’ve completed it to include the new information. Networking will be much smoother if you know where you stand in your field, at your current position, and what your resume reflects. Don’t wait to build connections until you are looking for a new job, have connections you can count on when you need them.

How to Sell Yourself

There are only so many combinations of the same phrases used in a resume. After viewing resume after resume, a hiring manager seeing the same exact phrase over and over most likely has eliminated those generic looking candidates. Your resume is the document that gets you in the door and opens the conversation for an interview. It should be the flyer catching the company’s eye and drawing them in. Your resume should make the hiring manager believe you have what it takes and you should be able to follow through with that promise made in your resume. You have value and companies need to know what you can do for them.

All in all, your resume should display your expertise in your field. It should never let an employer think “this person will be replaced in a month or two.” Your resume is the commercial about you — it should reel them in with enough information to want more. You have to think about what you are in relation to your resume and what kind of impression you are making to any hiring manager.

 

Photo attributed to Feelart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
By Kaley Buck, Five Strengths Contributor

 

 

Different Types of Cover Letters and How they Compare to E-Note

5 Types of Cover Letters and When to Use Them vs. Using E-Note

Which of the styles of cover letters is right for your job search?

Different types of cover letters? Isn’t one enough? Providing a great cover letter can be tough, and now we also need to know which type to use? Yes, yes you do. The correct type of cover letter will show that you REALLY know your stuff. We will also discuss E-Note. Haven’t heard of it? Maybe you have just never tried it? Let’s get familiar with all things cover letter.

Types of Cover Letters

Different types of cover letters are available to serve different purposes. Instead of thinking of it as another obstacle in the path of your desired job, think of the different types as tools. What good is a toolbox with only one tool? We need a variety to get the job done. Don’t use your cover letter as another way to reiterate your resume. Use it to show your assets and what makes you unique.

Let’s look at these tools in more detail:

Application Cover Letter. This is the one that you are probably the most familiar with. You use this to apply for a job opening that you know exists and that is hiring. Be sure to use a proper introduction and closing in a true professional letter format.

Interest Cover Letter. If you are trying to determine if there is an opening at the company this is the one for you. It is also called a prospecting letter. By taking the initiative and sending a cover letter and your resume you open the door and show them that you’re available and interested in working for their company.

Referral Cover Letter. Name dropping can actually be a good thing, at least when applying for a position. If you know someone who can offer a referral that could make a difference in you getting that coveted interview, don’t be afraid to use it. Of course, always be sure that you have permission to do so. Ensuring they will give you a good reference is also very important.

Job Promotion Cover Letter. If you are well overdue for a raise or promotion, it may be time to submit a job promotion letter. Be sure to lay out your reasoning in a well-written cover letter. You may also include an updated resume. Discuss any skills, additional training, etc. that they may have overlooked.

Networking Cover Letter. This type of cover letter can serve as a letter of recommendation to a company that may or may not be hiring. This letter will introduce you to a company illustrating your past experience. The neat thing here is that these letters can be written by other individuals who may be in the position to recommend you for a job.

E-Note vs. Cover Letter

So now that you are up to speed on the most common types of cover letters, let’s throw in on more up and coming star, the E-Note. If you have been in the job market for very long, you have probably pondered the question of whether or not the e-note is replacing the traditional cover letter. Is seems to be more of a personal preference than a rule. What type of application you are submitting may play a large role in that decision also. The e-note is best when applying through email or through a social media contact. It also has many advantages, such as:

Attention grabbing subject lines – Something like “Jane Doe asked me to contact you.” The name drop will create a connection and help you stand out.

Short and Concise– In doing an e-note you are able to cut the length in half making it quick and easy to read. Odds of your note being read increase the more polished and direct the note is. Think about the usual length of an email.

Side note: Remember not to attach it to the e-mail; you will want the e-note to be the body of the e-mail.

Be Interactive- Be sure to include links to places online where the employer can find additional information about you. Using helps like a link to your LinkedIn profile will save them time and give them a direct path to your professional background. You could also guide them to your Twitter, Professional Blog, Online portfolio, etc.

With technology changing every day, so does the way we search for employment. We need to learn new skills and methods of making contact so that we are not left behind. When used correctly, the e-note certainly has an important place in applying for a position.

In Summary:

A traditional cover letter follows the format of the formal business letter. An E-note is a message typed in the body of an email sent with your resume attached and has no additional cover letter. E-notes differ also in that they are easier to skim—short and concise.

Keep in mind that E-notes are relatively new and follow emerging technology trends. They may not be most desirable format in every situation. Use your best judgement. The same Cover Letter will not work for every position applied for. You will need to be flexible and study up on the prospective job, advertisement, or reference before making a decision about which letter is most appropriate. Now that you have all the necessary information, you will be able to do just that!

Image courtesy of digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
By Brandy Higginson, Five Strengths Contributor