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

Cover Letters: Don’t Make these Obvious Mistakes

Cover Letters: Don’t Make these Obvious Mistakes

Cover letters can feel like frustrating roadblocks standing between you and the perfect job. Even if your resume is sharp and ready, there remains the dreaded cover letter. Here are some tips to simplify the task.

No Pressure, But…It’s Got to be Good

Love it or hate it, the cover letter is critical to landing that first interview. It should be attention-getting, unique, and give the potential employer at least a little sample of your personality. It needs to be tailored to YOU, what YOU bring to the table. It cannot be a cookie cutter design that is the same for every position applied for, not if you want to get the job! Even though all of this is not new information, achieving that result may still elude you. What will set your letter apart from the rest?Inline image 1

Be Sure to Leave These Out of Your Letter

To get attention for all of the right reasons, don’t include the following items in your cover letter:

  1. Anything that is untrue. It’s not worth it, facts can be checked.
  2. Salary requirements or expectations. Your cover letter is not the time or place for this information.
  3. A totally boring greeting. Do you start your cover letter with “To Whom It May Concern” or “Dear Hiring Manager”? If so, you’re doing it wrong. This shows that you didn’t take your time; you need to do your homework. If there is any way possible, know the name of the person that will be receiving your resume and cover letter.
  4. Explanations for leaving past employment or any negative comments about a current or past employer. Just about any way that you could speak of such things will sound like a justification or excuse. Just avoid this topic on the cover letter.
  5. Desperate pleadings for the job. Of course you are interested, that’s why you are applying. You don’t need to come across as overly grateful for their time. You are worth it and you should come across as such.
  6. Paragraphs that are too long. You don’t want the Employers to skip over your cover letter because it is too time-consuming to read. You should have no more than three sentences in each paragraph that include about 5 lines of text.
  7. Grammar and spelling errors. Enough said.
  8. Boring opening sentences. Don’t repeat the position you are applying for, they know. You need to try starting with something that will get their attention, something different, such as, “I’ve wanted to work in a technology based field for as long as I can remember. I am fascinated by the speed in which things are progressing and I want to be a part of the movement.” Or maybe something like: “Over the past five years with my previous/current employer, I personally increased our average sales by….” Draw their attention and keep it on you.
  9. All of your experience and skills. Your cover letter is not where you want to list details about your skills and experience; your resume will take care of that. Your cover letter should only highlight your background and personality. True, you might still mention skills that make you a good candidate for the position, but you should weave those around displays of your personality and enthusiasm.
  10. Useless personal information. There is such a thing as too much information when it comes to cover letter writing. Don’t feel the need to share personal information or facts not pertaining to the position. You don’t want to make the wrong impression. Don’t give them so much to sift through that they miss out on your most compelling qualifications.

Your cover letter is a key element in the process of applying for employment. Though sometimes it is not required as part of the application process, it is always a great way to introduce yourself to a prospective employer. If the option is yours, submit one. What have you got to lose? A well-written cover letter could be the basis for a decision on whether or not to interview you personally. It could make all the difference and put you at a distinct advantage against your fellow applicants. Give them a little sample of who you are. Personalize yourself in their eyes. They are sure to be intrigued as they turn the page and begin to read your resume.

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

What Will the Resume Look Like in Ten Years?

What Will the Resume Look Like in Ten Years?

Over the past ten years, many elements of the resume have changed. That’s not to say that the professional resume hasn’t continually evolved since its creation, which is attributable to Leonardo da Vinci. The resume is a document subject to evolution, just like everything else. With every new piece of technology, an aspect of the resume changes. What exactly is different in the way resumes are written now versus how they were written ten years ago? What does that mean for resumes in the future?

One-does-all vs. One-for-one

One resume used to be enough. You would have one resume crafted, generic in content, listing your previous jobs and responsibilities. Numerous copies of that resume would be printed on expensive resume paper and it was used for every job application. Employers would receive applications from roughly ten people per post and take the time to review each resume. That isn’t the case now. Each job you apply to should have a variation of your resume with no repeats, the exception being applications to the exact position with other companies. However, more than likely, there will be keywords that differ from company to company. With the way resumes are now submitted, electronically, companies might receive hundreds of applications per post. It is easy for employers to weed out applicants with some type of resume-screening software, making keywords necessary. The software will eliminate applicants who don’t meet the keywords, narrowing the applicant pool. Some companies may still review each resume by hand, but customization is still important.

Method of Submission

Resumes have been sent by every method – snail mail, fax, email, donut delivery – and that will probably not change. In the past, you sent your resume by snail mail, waiting to hear back from the hiring manager once they have personally reviewed it. Now, email and online job application submission are the most common method of resume acceptance. Hiring managers typically use a hard-copy of the resume to take notes during the actual interview, which could change with the use of a tablet in the future, but that seems an unlikely progression given the interview environment. Having an online presence is necessary and can increase your chances of being asked to interview. The challenge lies in how you present yourself and through what type of online resource – portfolio, LinkedIn profile, website, etc.

Duties and Accomplishments

Your resume, at one point in your career, was a conglomeration of all your past jobs, the skills you needed for each one, and what duties you performed. However, there is such a thing as too much information. The current practice is to provide all relevant information that pertains to the job you’re applying to. As mentioned earlier, you will accumulate resumes specific to certain types of jobs and may have many versions of the same information. You will also leave out past positions that aren’t relevant, like the very first job you had waiting tables or cashiering.

Leaving out the irrelevant gives you room to expand upon your expertise in your field, including major accomplishments and special training. Highlight what you know best and show the employers what you can do. Minimizing the fluff in your resume will benefit you in the long run because most hiring managers use software to analyze resumes. The software is designed to recognize keywords within the resume and weed out applicants.

Personal Touches

While you should make yourself stand out from the crowd, you don’t want to overshare personal details to your potential new employers. It was common to add personal statements with details like your age, marital status, children, hobbies, religion, or even a photograph. Now, employers really don’t want to see information unless it is directly related to the job – they would actually prefer not to know personal details. Personal details on a resume leave the employer in a tricky situation because they could then be accused of discrimination based on those personal interests, your appearance, or affiliations. Really, the rule of thumb here is: When in doubt, leave it out.

You do want to be unique, but it should be shown through what you can do for that employer. Portfolios, websites, and social media create the whole picture for an employer. We are living in an age of technology where nearly every document can be forged – saying things or having them on your resume isn’t necessarily enough. If you say you can do something, you need to be prepared to demonstrate your talents.

The Only Constant Is Change

Proper grammar and spelling are the only things that will never change when it comes to a professional resume or document. What will resumes look like in our future? There is no guaranteed response to this, but predictions are welcome. Will we move to only using social media, like LinkedIn, as our means of job application and personal representation? It is always possible to move back to a simpler representation of the resume, however unlikely. Looking back through the history of resume evolution, dating back five centuries, it would be unlikely that a professional resume would stop being part of the job application process, but what it will look like is still a bit of a mystery.

Remember, the only constant in this world is change.

 

By Kaley Buck, Five Strengths Contributor
Photo attributed to Stuart Miles of FreeDigitalPhotos.net
What happens when you plagiarize someone else's resume? Don't even go there. “Think Different” by lekkyjustdoit at FreeDigitalPhotos.com

Resume Plagiarism: The Sordid Side of Executive Job Search

Resume Plagiarism: Avoid the Sordid Side in Your Executive Job Search

What happens when you copy from someone else’s resume (to you and them)? What do employers do to the resume to find the plagiarized content and how does that change your job prospects? Your resume is yours, to an extent, as original content is becoming less original. Read on to learn how you can avoid the appearance of having copied someone else’s resume–and perhaps save your entire job search from sinking.

Note: The quick answer is that no copying is allowed. The longer answer follows.

The combination of careers, experiences, and phrases to convey your background is limited, if you consider writing about only your job description. To that end, original content is becoming more difficult to create, even though it remains ethically wrong to directly copy information from another person’s resume or cover letter to claim it as your own.

How Can “They” Tell?

In many companies, the initial recruitment process is automated. Large companies received hundreds or even thousands of applications for any one open position. This means that digital applications or programs are used to sift through the numerous resumes and cover letters searching for keywords and requirements to identify qualified and ineligible applicants. Some job seekers will see that descriptions or skill sets can be easily copied from the hiring company’s website and pasted onto a resume to provide the illusion that the person has the exact set of skills desired for the position. Does strict copy-and-paste help the candidate? Definitely not.

What happens when you plagiarize someone else's resume? Don't even go there. “Think Different” by lekkyjustdoit at FreeDigitalPhotos.com

What happens when you plagiarize someone else’s resume? Don’t even go there.
“Think Different” by lekkyjustdoit at FreeDigitalPhotos.com

This opens the question: should a plagiarism check be used for resumes and will it actually work? The short answer is yes. Checking applicants through a plagiarism detecting software can show those applicants who are truly worthy applicants and those who are presenting skills they do not have. If the company values the importance of hiring the right person for the job, it would make sense to utilize the plagiarism check on the candidates who make it to the final round of decisions and interviews. Plagiarism, when detected, displays that the candidate is not only willing to lie to the company on the chance of getting a job but also cannot show their own skills properly. Checking for plagiarism eliminates candidates who are dishonest and do not have the skills necessary for the position.

Social Media Protection

With the use of social media sites such as LinkedIn, resume details and profile information can be easily copied and pasted onto a newly created profile. While you can post a Word document or a PDF version of a resume and cover letter, the most commonly copied bits of information are from the actual profile page. Copying from someone’s profile or having your profile information copied is wrong and there are ways to prevent individuals from keeping that information. Plagiarism is plagiarism–not flattery, not enhancing your abilities, and not increasing your chance of being hired.

Keeping your profiles up-to-date can help you attract attention from employers looking from your skill set however, if someone else has copied that information, or you have copied information from someone else, and both profiles appear in the search, it will appear as though both of the profiles are the same. The hiring professional will likely disregard both of the candidates, then, because they will not invest the time to discover who is the original owner of that information.

What do you do in that situation, if someone has copied your profile? First, make sure you are performing regular searches about something that is unique to your experience. Conduct an advanced search with “quoted keywords from your profile.” If you find results aside from yourself, someone has taken your information and posted it to their profile. Make sure you these individuals and call them out on it. Actually call them. Anyone can and will ignore an email, but it is much harder to ignore a phone call. The conversation will probably go a bit like this:

“Hi John. My name is Sam and I’m looking at your LinkedIn profile. It’s actually quite impressive and appears to be, in fact, a direct copy of my own profile.”

There will probably be more questions and a deeper conversation than above. Hopefully, they did not intend to copy your information with wrongful intentions and are now embarrassed that they were caught. Calling them will increase the chance that they will remove those pieces of their profile. However, if that is not the case and they refuse to remove the information, flag/report their profile to alert the authorities of the site and then contact tech support. LinkedIn’s tech support does not respond quickly so it is in your best interest to try to resolve the issue before contacting them.

Plagiarism of this kind is not just stealing or misrepresentation, it also limits the number of contacts the original owner of that information can make. This plagiarism creates a victim with few options to regain their strength.

How to Be Uniquely YOU in Your Resume

You also have to remember that if you use someone else’s resume as your own, there will be differences in experience. While some of your skills and general experiences may line up, not every project or achievement will be the same. Then, you have to realize that if you are doing this, someone else will have the same idea. What happens then, if you and that other person, are submitting the exact same resume, with different names, for the same position? Your resume needs to be a document that is unique to you.

There are guidelines to writing proper resumes that have been published to make it easier for you to craft the document. You can utilize professional resume writers and save yourself the trouble of creating all new content however, you would need to dedicate the time to provide as much unique information as possible.  Generic information or bland words don’t make you stand out on the page. Finding a way to represent yourself in a way that is unique to you and showcase your skills.

Hint: The combination of careers, experiences, and phrases to convey that information is limited, if you consider writing about only your job description. If you, as an executive resume writer would, capture the details of your outstanding accomplishments, nobody can claim your unique history, and you have ample discussion material for your interview to prove your unique expertise.

Creating your resume doesn’t have to be a chore or have you worrying about plagiarizing. Do your research to find unique ways to represent your experience. Executive resume writers (such as those of Five Strengths Career Transition Experts) will do this on your behalf, ethically and optimally tuning your resume to your goals.

 By Kaley Buck, Five Strengths Contributor

Cracking the Office Dress Code

Cracking the Office Dress Code: Interviews, Office Wear, and Looking Your Best

Recently, I visited a very professional company. Imagine the reception I would have received if I showed up in jeans! Have you ever felt underdressed and unprepared for your job or your interview? Don’t make this mistake in your job, and certainly don’t make this mistake in your interview.

For great tips on mastering the perfect interview or professional ensemble, take a look at this infographic, which lays it all out for you. Dressing confidently for your job or your job interview can make the difference in the way you present yourself, so knowing the right way to dress professionally can improve your self-presentation, which, of course, can make all the difference in your interview.

 

 

No matter the work environment or situation, whether you plan to master the upcoming interview, apply for that recent promotion, or uphold your professional image, T.M.Lewin has a range of men’s shirts, sharp suits, and classic women’s wear for today’s driven workforce.