Everything is an Interview…

Are you looking for a job?    Did you send your resume in to a potential employer?   Keep one thing in mind – Everything you do and every conversation you have – IS AN INTERVIEW.  Whether you are talking to the Manager, to Human Resources or to the Front Desk Receptionist, Everything is an interview.     

  1. Do not have a weird font or graphics on your resume
  2. Do not have an unprofessional voicemail
  3. Do not have an unprofessional email id
  4. When meeting someone for coffee to network, dress professional and pay for the coffee
  5. Be prepared – expect that person calling you to be an Hiring Manager
  6. Respect and professionalism
  7. Social Media – keep it professional.    Companies will search your social media, be prepared and delete the party pictures from college.

When being interviewed or considered for a job, you are under a microscope.   A lot of times the companies will look for a reason not to hire you instead of reasons to hire you.    Do not give them a reason.   The little things you do, do matter:   Hold the door open when walking into a room or building, have good eye contact when speaking, have a firm hand shake, sit-up in your chair and speak slowly and clearly and thank them for their time and consideration.

Your resume will get you in the door but how you portray yourself will get you the job.

Recent College Grads and An Award Winning Resume…

How ready is your candidate’s resume that recently completed college?  How can you spice up a resume that doesn’t have much history? 

It’s possible, I promise!

There are a few points to pay close attention to: Length, Format and Font.

Although the “one page rule” can be overridden in some cases, for college students and recent graduates, a single-page resume should be substantial to list their achievements and experiences.  Employers want to see a snapshot of their work, coach them to be thorough but =concise.

I always suggest using a font size between 11 and 12 point.   Avoid filling the page with non-necessities and large font, it appears juvenile. They will also want to make the page look like there is history and is a complete picture of where they have been and are now.

If they are struggling to fill the page, consider coaching them to add an executive summary at the top of the page. In a short paragraph, ask them to explain experience with meaningful activities (tutoring, keeping the books for your fraternity), schoolwork (relevant coursework, GPA), and personal qualities.

Even if a company has a laid back culture, the experts caution against using wacky fonts, symbols, or anything that suggests lack of professionalism. They will not want employers to think they are still in college-mode and unprepared for the business world.

I will caution candidates from including a hyperlink in the resume for a web site or a LinkedIn profile as most employers don’t have the time to reference this, the resume should hold the majority of the candidate’s background on that one page and should avoid external links.

Also, this is often difficult for recent grads but only include experiences that are relevant to the job they are applying for.

Depending on the position the candidates are interested in, they may be able to highlight past experiences to show their skill development, even if they are volunteer activities or hobbies.  I actually recommend including a skills and/or volunteer section for recent grads as that shows that the candidate takes the time to go above and beyond to participate in the community versus party in their free time.

Beyond the Resume

They can also include letters of recommendation from teachers or former employers/internship opportunities or take it to the next level by asking their references to make a phone call on their behalf to a potential employer. Submit all references on a separate page; the candidate can have one academic reference, but keep them mostly work-related.

Finally, the biggest mistake that a new college graduate can make on their resume is attempting to fill the white space with elaborate information that doesn’t exist.  Employers that are willing to hire new graduates are already aware of their graduation date (it’s on their resume) and will quickly see the B.S.  This is great news and will save everyone some time on getting to the facts.
Finally, providing employers with supplemental pages  can further substantiate qualities and experience as long as they are relevant. Supplemental pages can show that the candidate is responsible and is serious about the position in question, this may mean a custom cover letter for each job the candidate applies for or even a list of awards received during the candidate’s academic successes.

The Job Search Marathon

One of the biggest misconceptions by candidates that I’ve seen in my years as a job search coach is that they do not view the job search process as a competition. Many of the candidates that come to me for the first time are content to send out their resumes, and wait for a response.

What they don’t realize is that they are not the only one putting out their resumes for those same positions. According to CareerBuilder.com, for every one position a company opens, an employer will receive, on average, 75 resumes. With all that paper, not to mention the contacts and keywords to swim through, it is very easy for a potential hire’s information to get lost in that shuffle.

Job search is absolutely a competition! One of the quickest ways a candidate can jump from being a resume to being a hire is by being proactive in a job search. Think of it as a marathon: everyone starts at the starting line; the point where you consider applying for the job. One the shot fires, everyone starts. And, ultimately, there can be only one winner.

What makes the difference between the candidate who finishes first and the one who finishes in the middle of the pack? How they train for the marathon is a big step: you can’t go straight from the couch to the marathon. Why would one try the same for a job search? Further, think of what a marathon runner goes through when training: their diet changes, and their exercise routine gets more focused. So should a job seeker make similar changes to how their resume plays to the needs of the employer, and focus on how to get connected to the companies they want to be at.

By looking at the job search like a competition, a candidate can easily go from being glazed over to being a star candidate. And that perspective adjustment can mean the difference between accepting the job one wants, and merely accepting a job.

Resume Tailored to perfection- or not?

OK I do not want this to be some meaningless rant, but I spend a lot….no really A LOT of time going through resumes with people. I tell them the good the bad and the ugly. I go line by line and tell them what to add, what to take out, what to reword  and how to say some things better. I take pride in helping people with this.

SO…I must ask why don’t you listen to me? Why would you add 1 word into your resume and send it back to me asking if this is better?

A great resume can get you an interview! So a few things to remember:

  1. Do not use the same 4 bullet points under every job description copy and paste is never a good selling point!
  2. If you consider yourself an expert in Excel do not simply list Excel on your resume, show how you use it
  3. If you have a list of skills and software broken out at the top of your resume, be sure to add it into the bullet points of your jobs as well, hiring managers like to see how and when you gained your experience and used these skills
  4. If you spent 3 months on a contract for one role and it has 15 bullet points and 8 years at a FTE role and it has 3 bullet points this raises a question mark, make sure you are adding real experience from all roles
  5. It is no longer important for a resume to fit on 1 page, but it should not be 12 pages either
  6. The top Objective – Almost Every single person writes a version of “Looking for a role where I can build on my past experiences. I am self-motivated and work well individually or in a team environment. I am looking for a company this is interested in efficiency and performance.”  OK this is the header of your resume! The thing that is going to draw people in and sell you; and I am 3 sentences in and I still do not know what you do! How about a Summary of your career past and your goal for your next role. “I have 13 years of experience as a Business Analyst in both Finance and Healthcare industries. I have experience leading JAD sessions and creating BRDs and FRDs. My ability to listen to my clients needs and to ask the right questions enables me to document the requirements and to communicate their needs with the technical team. I am currently looking for a new Business Analyst role and am available to interview immediately. Honestly I just typed this off the top of my head and more can be added, but I think you get my point.

Most importantly don’t let me tell you all of this in a 1 on 1 meeting and then send me back a resume with the word Excel added under every job.