Your resume Is the first impression a prospective employer (or recruiter) may have of you. It can be your entry in the door or your exit to the round file.
Well written resumes all have one thing in common. They are well organized and provide a strong sense of who you are and what you have accomplished.
- Make sure that all your pertinent contact information is included such as your complete address, all phone numbers, your e-mail address.
- If you include a Career Summary as an introduction to your resume it is sure that it will catch your reader’s attention and provide enough compelling information to make him/her want to wade through the rest.
- If you are doing a chronological resume put your most recent place of employment first. Include your employing company’s name, city and state, your dates of employment and your job title.
- If you have held various jobs with the same employer, do not repeat the name of your company for each position. On quick glance, it will appear like you have jumped around rather than progressed within your organization.
- A resume is an overview of the responsibilities and accomplishments of the jobs you have held. It is not meant to be your autobiography. Keep it concise and do not include personal information such as your birth date, social security number, salary history, or marital status.
- Be truthful. Only include information that is verifiable.
- Use words that quantify your accomplishments with numbers. Instead of saying that you Managed a team of claims adjusters and implemented a defense panel, say Managed a team of 8 claims adjusters and implemented a defense panel which resulted in a 40% savings over 6 months.?
- Use bullet points rather than lengthy paragraphs. Hiring managers like a document that they can easily scan. Avoid first person usage. Instead of saying I am responsible for, say, Responsible for.
- Choose simple and easy-to-read fonts such as Times New Roman and Arial. Use black as your font color.
- Try to keep your resume concise. A one pager is preferable but not more than two pages. What you should be trying to achieve is a broad overview of your career to date. Focus on the big picture and don’t get bogged down in minute details.
- Make sure that your resume has no typos. Read your document aloud. It is a great way to catch mistakes. Ask someone whom you trust to proof read it.
Choose a Recruiter who:
- Specializes in your specific field
- Has a stellar reputation
- Has a personal chemistry that clicks with yours
Maintain a Positive Relationship with Your Recruiter by:
- Providing updates about yourself
- Having periodic discussions
- Engaging in a give and take relationship
- Being open to professional career advice
Avoid Recruiters Who:
- Charge you a fee for their services
- Release your name or other personal information without your permission
- Behave unethically
How to Answer the Four Most Common Interview Questions
By Todd Anten, Yahoo HotJobs.com
There are some questions that tend to pop up during almost every job interview.
The bad news: These questions can be quite difficult to answer.
The good news: Because they are so common, you can prepare for them well in advance and give a perfect answer without breaking a sweat.
So allow me to present four of the most common — yet most perplexing — interview questions and how you can best answer them.
1. “Tell Me a Little About Yourself”
Sometimes the most general question can be the hardest. How can you sum up your entire life story in just a couple of minutes?
This oldest of questions is not an invitation to talk about your difficult childhood, your favorite grandmother or how you won the state swim competition in high school. Instead, it’s a request for you to describe what you can offer the company.
In his excellent book 101 Great Answers to the Toughest Interview Questions, author Ron Fry suggests focusing on:
• Your key accomplishments at previous jobs.
• The strengths demonstrated by those accomplishments.
• How these relate to the job for which you’re applying.
The goal is not to summarize your resume — the interviewer already has a copy of that. Rather, tell how you came to be interested in this particular company and job, and weave examples of past accomplishments throughout to demonstrate why you are the perfect candidate.
2. “Why Did You Leave Your Last Job?”
Did you resign? Get laid off? Get fired? Storm out of the office in a huff, never to return? Chances are, you’ll have to explain it in an interview.
The most important point to remember when answering this question: STAY POSITIVE.
The biggest sign of a troublemaker is when someone trashes his or her former boss or company during an interview. It doesn’t matter if your boss was a jerk or if you hated your coworkers — an interview is not the place to vent past frustrations.
Rather, the best way to answer this question is to stay positive and talk about your desire for growth opportunities. This will paint you as a proactive employee who enjoys responsibility and challenges.
Here are some quick pointers for answering this question, depending on your circumstances:
• IF YOU WERE FIRED: Be honest, but quick about explaining it. Don’t get into the political details; rather, explain what you learned from the experience and how it makes you an even stronger employee today. It’s not a good idea to lie about your termination. When the interviewer calls your references, he or she will most likely find out you were fired anyway. So be honest, and explain what you learned.
• IF YOU WERE LAID OFF: This is not nearly as taboo as it was even five years ago, so don’t apologize or act defeated. If a company goes bankrupt or had massive layoffs, simply explain, “Because of the economy, the company decided to eliminate six departments, including mine.”
• IF YOU QUIT: Again, be honest and stay positive. State that the work being offered wasn’t challenging enough, that you are seeking higher levels of responsibility or simply that you are ready to make the next step on your career ladder — and that the job for which you are interviewing is the ideal next step.
The secret is to stay positive and discuss your desire for growth. Hiring managers love applicants who actively seek responsibility.
3. “What’s Your Biggest Weakness?”
What are you supposed to do — tell them why they SHOULDN’T hire you?
The “weakness” question is popular with interviewers not because they want to torture you, but because they’re interested in hearing how you tackle challenges.
The most important thing to remember is that after you name your weakness, you MUST discuss what you have done to overcome it.
Pick a weakness that is real but understandable or relatively harmless. Whatever weakness you pick, be sure that it is work-related (”I have a tendency to overfeed my dog” is NOT an appropriate weakness) and that you present the strategies for how you overcame it.
Here are a few examples:
• “I used to have a tendency to procrastinate. So now I am always sure to set a strict schedule for all of my projects well in advance and I set personal deadlines. This organization has really helped.”
• “Once in a while, I focus too much on the details of a project. So now, when I’m working on a project, I always make sure at the end of the day to sit back and take a few minutes to think about the general scope of my work. It forces me to keep priorities straight and helps me keep the right mindset.”
• “I used to have some problems with organization. So now I carry a schedule book around throughout the day and I also use this Palm Pilot to keep me on track. It’s worked out great!”
You don’t want to pick a weakness that will torpedo your chances — even your weakness should speak strongly toward your skills. The examples above all address honest weaknesses; here are a few other “safe” weaknesses that are easy to discuss:
• I tend to be a perfectionist.
• I sometimes work too hard, leading to unnecessary stress.
4. Do You Have Any Questions for Me?”
Yes, you do.
You should always try to ask a thoughtful question or two at the end of an interview. It shows that you’ve been listening and that you’ve done your research on the company.
What should you ask? In his book 101 Great Answers to the Toughest Interview Questions, Ron Frey suggests some of the following queries:
• Does this job usually lead to other positions at the company? What kind of positions?
• What do you like best about this company? Why?
DO NOT ask about salary, vacation days, benefits or anything else that would make it look like you’re more interested in the compensation package than the company. Also, don’t ask too many questions; just a couple will be fine.
And the most important question of all: Don’t forget to ask for the job!
• I’m very interested in this job. It’s exactly the kind of job that I’m looking for. What is the next step in the interview process?
Todd Anten is a HotJobs writer.
• Yahoo! HotJobs. 2003. All rights reserved
Arrive on time or early for your meeting. If you are going to be delayed due to an unforeseen circumstance, call to inform someone.
Turn off your cell phone before going into the interview.
Do not look at your watch during the discussion. If you are a chronic “watch gazer”, don’t wear one.
Follow up your meeting with a Thank You note.
How to write a letter of Resignation
By Cynthia E. Brodrick, Bankrate.com
When it’s time to move on, just shouting “Ciao!” at your boss is not enough. As a professional, you’ll want to write a brief, but cordial, letter of resignation. This will help avoid ambiguity and set the tone for your departure. This letter is nearly the last thing you’ll do at this job, so do it with class.
First, make sure you are certain about quitting this job. If you’re feeling wishy-washy about the new job, don’t commit yourself to paper just yet. And if you’re thinking about “announcing your resignation” as part of some ploy to get a lucrative counter-offer, a letter could lock you into an undesirable position. If you’re playing this delicate/dangerous political game, skip the letter and talk to the boss about your new offer and see what develops.
If your new plans are indeed rosy, and you’re truly ready to depart oldjob.com, then pull out the pen and paper…or, nowadays, belly up to the keyboard and turn on the printer. Don’t write more than necessary. Keep it short, simple, positive, polite, discreet and mature — without sentences full of adjectives like those.
The elements of your letter should include:
Use of proper business letter format. Before starting the letter, put your name and address at the top, then the date, and the employer’s name and address.
Begin with a direct statement that you are resigning your particular job, and when your last day of work will be. Two weeks notice is polite. Jobs with more responsibility are often expected to give longer notice. Don’t make them do the math — tell whether this is two-weeks notice or if you are resigning immediately. Keep in mind that some companies may require you to leave the day you resign. Something like: “I am resigning my position as Junior Bottlewasher, effective in two weeks on August 23, 2002.”
Tell them why. This is not the time to rant. Keep those negative reasons, opinions and disgruntlements to yourself. Any problems with the current company are in the past as of this letter. More legitimate and respectable reasons for leaving include going back to school, accepting another offer or moving to another city. If your only reason is because you hate this job, this boss and this company, then just skip the why. Something like: I am returning to school this fall to complete an advanced degree in bottlewashing.
If it’s sincere, thank management for their help, mentoring, whatever. Something like: I appreciate the opportunities I’ve had at Bottlewashers United Inc. My supervisor, Joe Glass, taught me so much that I’ve decided to pursue bottlewashing as a profession.
Say “sincerely” or something else polite and professional, and then sign it. Take a deep breath. Turn it in.
Now that your letter has been read by the boss and the goodbye party is scheduled in the conference room, don’t start coasting. No one appreciates a lame duck — pull your weight until your last day.
You might be done with the place, but this job will be on our resume for years to come. Therefore, fulfill your obligations. Then, in a few years, when asked for a recommendation, the last thing your old boss and co-workers will remember is what a pro you were and how much they missed you.
Now, that’s a happy ending.
Beware the Pitfalls of Accepting a Counter Offer
You have been offered a new position by another employer. This new position offers growth potential and/or an increase in your compensation. After deliberating and possibly agonizing over your decision, you decide to accept the job offer. Now comes the dreaded resignation. You give your current employer a written letter of resignation thanking him/her for their leadership etc and offering to ensure a smooth transition of your responsibilities over the next two weeks. You may even politely hint that your mind is made up and you hope they will respect your decision. If you are employed by a well managed company, your boss will accept your resignation, wish you well and offer to be a future reference for you. In a perfect world, that would be the scenario following all resignations.
However, this is not a perfect world and another scenario is likely. You hand in your resignation and no matter what kind of relationship you had with your boss beforehand, you are asked to stay. You may be promised a salary increase or a promotion. You may be made to feel guilty and disloyal, not only by your employer but also by co-workers who are probably envious of your new opportunity. If you have indicated where you will be going, there may be negative comments about the new company. This situation is known as the COUNTER OFFER, the worst form of emotional blackmail.
You should NEVER accept a counter offer. It is only a short term solution to fill the void your leaving would cause.
Some things your current employer might be faced dealing with if you go are:
Having to reorganize or cancel vacation schedules
Having to fill an opening
Having to spend time interviewing, hiring and training your replacement
Having to increase staff workload till your replacement is found
Having to deal with lowered department morale
You may hear flattering things like:
You are one of our best employees. We always thought you valued your relationship with us as much as we value ours with you.
You won’t believe the coincidence but we were just about to offer you a promotion or a raise or a bonus.
You’re an important part of the team. What will it take to make you stay?
Depending on how desperate they are to keep you, they may call in the reinforcement troops, such as a surprise visit from some Home Office bigwig who never gave you the time of day before you decided to go.
If you fall prey to the Counter Offer, you will be committing Career Suicide. You will run the risk of burning two bridges with one bad decision. You will lose the respect of both your own employer and the firm from which you accepted an offer.
Before succumbing to this disastrous career move, consider the following:
Why weren’t you offered that raise or promotion prior to resigning?
Will your loyalty to your employer always be suspect?
Will you have to threaten to quit every time you want a raise or promotion?
Was the Counter Offer just a stalling device until your boss could find a suitable replacement?
The Wall Street Journal reported the findings of a three year study regarding the effects of counter offers. It?s hard to believe but 50% of employees offered counter offers accepted them. Within the next 18 months over 90% of these folks had left, not all voluntarily. The remaining victims were all actively looking for a new job.
If you have any inkling that out of some fear of change or feelings of loyalty and obligation to your employer that you might be a Counter Offer candidate, then DO NOT accept the new job offer and DO NOT resign from your current position. It will save you a lot of future grief.