Posts Tagged ‘Accomplishments’

Why a Targeted Resume is Critical

Wednesday, July 26th, 2017

When applying for a job, it’s your responsibility to prove you’re the best candidate. This can be challenging if you can’t provide examples showing that this is, indeed, the case. A great way to show your worth is by focusing on what the employer needs most from the candidate who will fill the position, then tailoring your resume to address those needs specifically.

Targeting Your Resume Proves You Are the Best Fit for the Position

Employers absolutely need to know that the candidate they choose for a job is the best fit, which they do by confirming that a candidate’s past accomplishments and current skill set fall in line with the important day-to-day tasks and overarching goals of the position.

If you submit a generic resume that doesn’t address the specific needs of each company and showcase your professional capabilities, you are failing to prove that you are right for the position. And unfortunately, another candidate will be more than willing to pick up your slack — and take your dream job while they’re at it.

How Can You Ensure Your Resume Is Targeted?

So how do you create a targeted resume that will emphatically show an employer that you deserve the interview? Here are a few brief suggestions:

Research the company and position:

A great way to target your resume is to dig in and learn about the company and what the employer wants from its candidates. Once you acquire this information, you will be armed with specifics that can help you determine what contributions you can make to the company.

Customize a job target/title, branding statement, and career summary:

Instead of writing a bland objective statement, place a job target/title at the top of your resume that defines who you are as a professional. Also, create a branding statement (a one- or two-line statement that sums up the value you can offer each employer based upon their needs and how you can meet them) that is customized to the specific job. Then write a career summary (most commonly a bullet point list that shares your career highlights) listing accomplishments most pertinent to the position at the top.

Utilize keywords throughout:

It’s also important to utilize specific keywords in your resume. For example, if you are applying as an executive chef in the hospitality industry, you might incorporate keyword phrases like “menu planning”, “kitchen equipment”, “banquet meal production”, and “procurement of food supplies” as indicators of your knowledge of the field. Keywords should be used in your job target/title, branding statement, career summary, and most other sections in your resume.

Though targeting your resume requires a bit more effort (a resume writing professional can help!), it offers a lot more in return. By taking the time to customize a resume for each application, you give those companies no doubt that you are the best candidate for the job.

Good luck!

Why Writing Targeted Resumes is More Critical Than You Think | Jessica Holbrook Hernandez via HCareers.

How To Survive Marathon Job Interviews

Wednesday, June 7th, 2017

We already discussed how to handle stress interviews last time but I wanted to follow up on that topic by covering something less common but potentially even more stressful: the marathon interview.

For the most part, our advice over the years regarding how to succeed with job interviews has focused on meeting with maybe a single hiring manager or perhaps a small group of people including HR. But for many job seekers, an even bigger challenge awaits them after those initial phone screens and one-on-one meetings are completed and they’ve moved on to the next stage.

Some companies, like Lending Club, PwC, Microsoft, and Boston Consulting Group, hold sessions that can last an entire day, running straight through lunch and on to after-work drinks. These sessions may include interviews with a dozen or more candidates at once, as the company tries to efficiently handle large numbers of potential candidates (including some who may be flying in from out of town), and may occasionally involve group interviews where candidates are required to solve problems together.

In order to survive these grueling sessions, here is some advice from professionals involved in the industry who have officiated marathon interviews:

Prepare, prepare and prepare some more.
Plan to spend as much time as possible getting ready for your all-day interview. Some of the specific challenges will be covered below but by all means, don’t think you can wing it.

Ask your contact in advance what you should expect.
How many people will you meet? What are their job titles? What topics do they expect you to cover? Will you be presented with a case study? Will there be a group session with other candidates? Will the interviews run through lunch? Will there be any other opportunity for socializing, like after-hours drinks, that you are expected to attend?

Get ready with stories.
It’s essential to have at least three short but detailed anecdotes about yourself ready to tell. They should illustrate a challenge you faced, either organizationally or substantively or both, and how you overcame it. Were you expected to increase sales by 30% in six months while traveling to satellite offices? Did you mount a social media campaign while juggling sales calls and writing internal communications materials?

Research your potential employer’s field.
If you’re interviewing with a company like the Lending Club, read and digest every page of the company website, do a news clip search and make sure you know who the competitors are. You won’t necessarily introduce any of these topics but you want to be prepared to talk intelligently about them should they come up. Try finding ex-employees on LinkedIn and message them to ask if you can talk on the phone or ideally, meet for coffee or a drink. Quiz them about the company’s strengths and challenges.

Keep your focus on the positive.
When the interviewer asks you to tell them about yourself, stick to a positive, linear story that emphasizes your interest in the job. For instance, if you’ve worked in business and you’ve decided to apply for a teaching fellowship, don’t talk about why you’ve come to dislike your job or how you’ve soured on your career. Instead emphasize how much you’ve learned and how you think those lessons will make you a better teacher. The same rule applies if you’re looking to leave a company where you’ve become unhappy. Talk about your past successes and how excited you are at the prospect of a new challenge.

Be prepared to listen rather than talk.
A friend of mine went for an interview at a nonprofit last week. She was incredibly well prepared (she works in the field in a senior position at another nonprofit institution) with anecdotes about her achievements and questions about her potential employer. But her interviewer talked for 45 minutes straight, describing the institution and its challenges. That left less than 15 minutes for my friend to make her case. The interviewer obviously has a lot to learn but her tactics, from my experience, are common. The challenge is to listen closely, appear as though you care about what the interviewer is saying and try to retain as much as possible.

Don’t expect to eat at lunch.
Though a company like Lending Club claims that lunch is a time for candidates to take a breather and relax, don’t. Your interviewers care about whether you are socially skilled and easy to be around. This is a good opportunity to ask questions. Query your dining companion about their career and how they like their employer. Remember that you are still being evaluated. You may not manage more than a few bites of food. Pack a small water bottle and snack in your bag that you can nibble when you excuse yourself to go to the restroom.

Jot down notes when you take a bathroom break.
Don’t take notes during a meal or in interviews. When you go to the rest room, jot down some points. These will come in handy when you follow up with thank-you notes. Pay particular attention to descriptions of the company’s challenges. You want to come off as a problem solver.

Get everyone’s business card and offer yours.
Unless you have a photographic memory, you will not be able to recall the names and titles of everyone who interviews you, especially if you talk to 12 people. You can take out your pen briefly and write down a few words to remind you when you look back at the card, like “beard; told him about sales increase.”

Keep your energy high.
Fight your fatigue. Sit up straight, lean slightly forward in your chair, laugh at your interviewer’s jokes and meet the interviewer’s gaze. Smile as much as seems appropriate. Express your passion about the possibility of getting the job, both verbally and nonverbally.

Make notes before calling it a day.
At the end of a marathon interview day, you will likely feel completely spent. But don’t give in immediately. Make yourself sit down at your computer or take notes longhand about the points your interviewers emphasized. It’s great if you can be organized about this but stream of consciousness is fine too, if that’s all you can muster. You’re debriefing yourself while the information is fresh. You’ll need it to write those 12 thank-you notes the next day.

Good luck!

How To Survive A Marathon Job Interview | Susan Adams via Forbes.

Keys to a Successful Sales Resume

Wednesday, May 10th, 2017

If you’re looking to enter the sales industry, or move up the ranks, or land a job with a great new company, your first task will be effectively “selling yourself” in your resume.

After all, if you can’t submit a convincing pitch or create an effective sales document, employers probably won’t take you seriously for even an entry-level sales job.

As great sales jobs are highly competitive, you will want to make sure that you’re putting your best foot forward. Here are a few tips for crafting a sales resume that will maximize your chances of landing an interview:

Show them the numbers

If you’re in sales, you know your numbers and how important they are. As you’re hitting your monthly quota and improving your company’s revenue, you understand the importance of impacting the bottom line. Don’t distract hiring managers with needless jargon. Instead, show them hard facts and numbers that tell a clear story about what you have achieved in your career.

Salespeople operate in quantifiable results, so make sure your resume reads the same way. For example, don’t say you generated $100,000 without saying whether that figure was above or below your target goal. While you need to use your numbers, you also need to be able to show them why those numbers are important.

If you’re entry-level, or simply new to sales, you may not have sales numbers to speak to, but you can still tell a story that resonates with the hiring managers. Focus on showcasing yourself as a numbers and results-driven professional by quantifying your past successes as much as possible. As an aspiring salesperson, your potential employer wants to know that you can bring the numbers, so show them that you’ve done this in your past roles and can do it again.

What makes you unique?

When you apply for any job, you need to make sure you shine. Mention any awards, certifications, selling techniques you’ve mastered, and experiences that make you uniquely qualified for the job. Instead of listing various achievements at the bottom of your resume for a sales position, be sure that the most relevant successes are front and center. Sales is about survival of the fittest and being the best man or woman for the job—don’t be afraid to show-off a little bit.

Keep it clean, clear, and accurate

Clean up your resume. Just as you’ll need to get straight to the point by showing recruiters your sales statistics and results, you also want to make your resume clear and concise. Cut out irrelevant details. Typos or formatting issues highlight an inattention to detail that could cost you a job. Meanwhile, you shouldn’t leave any inconsistencies or wide gaps in employment in your experience section. Even if you weren’t working in sales, include your volunteer work or jobs that could be relevant for the position you are applying for.

The pressure may be high, but be careful to showcase your best work without exaggerating your contributions. Results from a recent CareerBuilder survey of 2,500 hiring managers around the country showed that 56 percent of participants caught candidates lying on their resumes. Gray areas that qualify as lying include: inflated titles, incorrect attribution, and incorrect working dates. All of these inaccuracies could ruin your chances of landing the job so that you can begin closing sales at a new company.

Think outside of the box

Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box while drafting your resume. Sales is about going with your gut and taking risks—feel free to be bold. Tailor your resume based on each individual role that you apply for. Imagine you are the hiring manager as you’re finalizing your first draft. Be honest when you look it over and think about whether you would take the time to give it a second look. Of course, you should share it with mentors, former coworkers, and friends who can offer a fresh, critical perspective. Just as you’ll try to sell your clients on new products or services, you want to discover the best way to sell your own skills and experience to your next hiring manager.

One final thing to keep in mind: confidentiality. Many companies consider their sales strategies and performances confidential information. The threat of competitors finding out about company success strategies is very real, so be sure not to include any information that would compromise your current or past employers’ confidential information. You certainly can include information that is available to the general public (for example, stats found in an annual report or on the company Web site).

Good luck!

6 Résumé Tips to Help You Land a Great Sales Gig | Dave Yourgrau via Startup Institute.

“Accomplishments” to Leave off Your Resume

Wednesday, April 26th, 2017

In the perpetually competitive job market, you need to show hiring managers that you can make an immediate contribution. As we all should know by now, including your biggest professional successes in the “Accomplishments” section of your resume is an effective way to do just that.

But keep in mind that any achievement you cite should be a) truly noteworthy, b) relevant to your current career goals and c) relatively recent. Far too often, job seekers miss the mark. For instance, you’re unlikely to impress prospective employers by highlighting the fact that you were a finalist in a local pageant held in 1982.

And even something that would normally qualify as a solid accomplishment is not as impressive when it happened over thirty years ago… there is often a “what have you done for me lately” mentality at work.

The following are more examples from resumes that feature “accomplishments” that aren’t worth mentioning in your resume, as well as advice for crafting statements that will catch a hiring manager’s attention:

The Unquantifiable Accomplishment

· “I am the most talented employee my company has ever had.”

· “I am the best and most awesome employee in New York City.”

· “My last client called me a god.”

Whenever possible, quantify your achievements by noting how you helped previous employers increase revenue, cut expenses, or improve productivity. (Example: “Increased territory sales by 150 percent within one year of being named district sales director.”) Boldly heralding vague, unverifiable accomplishments is less compelling and often comes across as arrogant.

The Not-So-Notable Accomplishment

· “Maintained a 2.0 GPA.”

· “I get along with coworkers.”

· “Overcame procrastination.”

Make sure any accomplishments you place on your resume will impress a potential employer. Your ability to do average or even below-average work, or fulfill the most basic requirements of a job, does not warrant special mention.

The Offbeat Accomplishment

· “Set record for eating 45 eggs in two minutes.”

· “Raised over $6,000 for an organization by sitting on a commode.”

· “To be honest, the only thing I have ever won was a Cabbage Patch Kid. This doll was the result of a school raffle, and I was hated by many children for it.”

Honors and awards received from professional associations, industry publications and educational institutions hold weight. But being overly playful and mentioning odd accolades as a vehicle to showcase your wacky sense of humor could cause employers to question your professionalism.

The Mistake-Ridden Accomplishment

· “I have successed in all my endeavors.”

· “Dum major with my high school band.”

· “I continually receive complaints on the high quality of work I perform.”

As with every other section of your resume, remember to carefully proofread the descriptions of your accomplishments. Don’t undermine your achievements by misspelling them. Hiring managers are looking for applicants who demonstrate attention to detail. Research indicates that just one resume error can sink a job seeker’s chances of landing a job interview.

While it’s important to have accomplishments on your resume, that doesn’t mean you should lie, or add items that are irrelevant, just to fill the space. Consider carefully what you have achieved so far in your career, and be sure to track these efforts over time so you can keep your resume up-to-date. Remember: recent, quantifiable, and relevant accomplishments are the key to impressing hiring managers and landing job interviews no matter what field you are in.

Good luck!

“Accomplishments” to Leave off Your Resume | Doug White via CareerUSA.

How to Get Over Imposter Syndrome

Wednesday, April 12th, 2017

Recently landed a new promotion? Finally got that manager position you’ve been working towards for years? Been recruited by some top companies for great new roles (maybe even that dream job you’ve been waiting for)? Feel like you don’t deserve any of it?

Yes? Welcome to the club! You’re experiencing the often crippling effects of “imposter syndrome.” It happens to the best of us, even the most famous and successful people out there.

Imposter syndrome occurs when we feel like a fraud—when we feel that our successes are undeserved. We convince ourselves they’re based on luck, timing, or other factors outside of our control, instead of embracing the fact that we’re actually responsible for having made those successes happen. Imposter syndrome makes us think irrationally about our aptitudes and performance: We don’t believe we’ve excelled, and we don’t believe we deserve the rewards that come along with our success.

The irony is that the further you go in your career, the more opportunities there are for imposter syndrome to rear its ugly head. You didn’t get that promotion because you earned it, you got it because you were lucky. You didn’t get to lead that project because you had the most experience on the team—you got it because timing worked out. That dream job wasn’t offered because of your stellar resume—maybe you’re just a diversity hire.

The bad news is: It’s not likely you’ll ever be able to fully rid yourself of imposter syndrome. But the good news is: There are ways to combat it! You can train yourself to quickly identify it, manage it, and live to rise again.

Identify What’s Shaking Your Confidence

Is it your new job title? Is it a certain senior-level meeting you’ve been invited to attend? Is it a high-stakes project you’ve been asked to lead? What is it that’s making you feel doubtful?

In most cases, the answer will be obvious: I don’t deserve to lead this project because so-and-so is more experienced than I am. I haven’t worked at the company long enough. I only aced my last project out of luck or good timing. That spot where you’re underselling yourself is likely the root of the problem.

Once You’ve Identified the Confidence Culprit, Tell Someone

Pick someone you trust to talk about your waning self-confidence. If it’s a work problem, make sure to confide in someone who isn’t your co-worker or manager. Choose someone who sees you outside of that environment: He or she can identify when those feelings of fear are irrational and remind you of your strengths.

Remind Yourself of All of Your Achievements

If you don’t have an accomplishments box, start now by recounting your most recent accomplishments (or even better, get those achievements on your resume). Take a look at everything you’ve achieved, and reflect on all the hard work you’ve put in to get to where you are now. Embrace the fact that you got yourself to where you are. You’ve earned your spot—your accomplishments are proof of that.

Remind Yourself That the People Who Got You Here Are Incredibly Competent and They Did Not Make a Mistake

You did not pull a fast one on anyone. Your boss or hiring manager—who you may believe didn’t see the many gaps in your resume—is not an idiot. Don’t doubt the intelligence of those who have promoted you, hired you, or offered you opportunities. They have made deliberate choices based on your experience and potential. You really do deserve to be there.

Take a Risk

What would you do if you weren’t afraid? Write it down, say it out loud, tell someone else, and do it. The worst that can happen is that it doesn’t work. So what? Do the work and keep going. Don’t let imposter syndrome derail you from what’s rightfully yours.

Take a Hard Look at Your Language and Update It

Do you say “I feel” a lot? How about using “I think” to start your sentences? Have you been pitching ideas prefaced with “It might just be me, but?” Rein in that doubt! Update your language with more confident, assertive phrases, and you’ll start to believe in what you’re saying. Assume your questions are valid, and that you’re probably not the only one to have them. Try: “I have a question—and I’m sure I’m not the only one.” Champion your ideas through more assertive language.

Reframe Your Story by Writing it Down

Imagine you’re speaking at a conference and that you have to provide an introductory bio for the panelist moderator. What would you say, and how would you say it? Would you tout your accomplishments or brush them off as if they were insignificant? Take an afternoon to write out your personal story. Who are you and how did you get to where you are? Let yourself shine on paper. Then, accept that it’s all true.

Try Mentoring

Guess what, imposter syndrome sufferer? You have expertise to share. Share it with someone who needs it. Not only will you realize how much knowledge you really do have, you’ll also likely uncover new strengths in the process. Mentoring can reveal skills you took for granted or mistakenly assumed came from luck. It’s empowering to know you are helping someone in their journey.

Take Solace in the Truth That Imposter Syndrome Is a Symptom of Success

Famous actors, authors, artists, CEOs—the most successful people are those most likely to have imposter syndrome. If you’re feeling like a fraud, believe it or not, you are doing something right. So play your pump up jams. Say your personal mantra. Do your power pose. You’ve got this.

No matter how successful someone is or has been, no one is free from lingering doubts regarding their own abilities. It’s easy to get sidelined by worry about your own competency, concerned that everything you have earned is due to luck, deception, or blindness on the part of managers, rather than your own talent. But whenever your confidence wanes, keep that list of accomplishments on your resume firmly in your mind… let the successes of the past serve as the foundation for your future success, not as excuses to fall short or reasons to doubt.

Good luck!

How to Banish Imposter Syndrome and Embrace Everything You Deserve | Ximena Vengoechea via The Muse.

There’s No Need to Pad Your Resume

Thursday, December 1st, 2016

Maybe you’ve had a bit of a bad employment record in recent years, due to downsizing, a wretched economy, or even mistakes on the job. Maybe you just don’t have the impressive educational background that many other professionals in your field boast.

It seems harmless enough, to add a few things to the resume to pad it out, impress the hiring manager with a white lie or two. Everyone else is probably doing it to, right? Your resume might even look out of place if you didn’t. And employers would never have the time to check everything out…

Cheating on a resume can be tempting, especially when one has been searching for a job for months or even years. But these kinds of decisions can haunt a professional for the rest of their career, as several high profile examples at Yahoo and other companies have shown.

This is because, since resume fraud is on the rise, employers are taking much more care in verifying information, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to mislead them. Even if your “creativity” seems to slip through the cracks and remain undiscovered, do you really want to live in fear the rest of your career that your secret will be uncovered?

There is good news, however: lying isn’t necessary if your resume is well-written and strategically organized.

So let’s address the greatest areas where embellishment is often utilized: education and accomplishments.

padding

Education doesn’t top an employer’s list
Many people incorrectly believe hiring decisions are made based on the candidate’s education, and they feel compelled to stretch the truth in order to compete with their degreed counterparts. The reality is that education, though important, isn’t the driving force behind hiring decisions unless, of course, your profession requires a degree (e.g. doctors, lawyers, CPAs, etc.).

When a candidate lacks a college degree but has a solid work history, education quickly falls down the ladder of necessary requirements. Let’s take a look at this point from an employer’s perspective.

The situation: The job description reads, “Seeking an accounts payable specialist with comprehensive experience in processing expense reports, reconciling vendor accounts, and performing bank reconciliations. Successful candidate holds an associate’s degree in accounting.”

Candidate #1: Jose has worked in accounts payable for the last five years. During his career, he has set up new policies, cross-referenced purchase orders with invoices, and interacted with vendors to resolve invoice discrepancies. His experience comes from the school of hard knocks and he doesn’t have a college education.

Candidate #2: Maria recently received a bachelor’s degree in accounting. While earning her degree she worked as a front desk clerk for a Fortune 500 company where she was in charge of filing and answering a multi-line phone system.

Who would you rather hire, Jose or Maria? Chances are that you named Jose as the clear winner because his experience supercedes Maria’s education. Jose will be able to jump into the position with little or no training because he has hands-on knowledge of best accounting practices. Maria, on the other hand, is green. The hiring organization would have to spend time, money, and resources to train her, which they most likely won’t have an interest in doing.

padding-resume

Show ’em what you’ve got (for real)
Employers spend most of their time scrutinizing the experience section of the resume, and unfortunately, the homespun resume rarely tells the whole story. Most resume do-it-yourselfers fear their accomplishments won’t fare well against the competition and they decide to embellish facts in an effort to attract an employer’s attention.

Again, fabricating information isn’t necessary. Most likely the experience you have garnered throughout your work history is impressive. The challenge, however, is expressing your accomplishments in a way that entices the hiring organization to give you a call.

When dealing with hiring organizations you have to connect all the dots. For each position that you are applying for, there is an average of 500 applicants so you have to make it very easy for the reader to distinguish between you and every other qualified candidate. The only way to achieve that is by writing strong resume copy.

As a job seeker you are intimately involved in your own search, so much so that it is hard to take a step back and write a resume that is marketable. You are probably your own worst critic. If you have attempted to write your own resume you know how difficult it is to write about yourself objectively.

To make the resume-writing process easier, answer the following:

1. What skill set do you bring to the table?
2. What are your competitive strengths?
3. For each position you held, list three to five achievements.
4. How is your company better off since you joined their team?
5. Have you been involved in designing and/or implementing new initiatives?

The point here is to start thinking about your career as a portrait of who you are professionally, and not just as a job. When you make that mind shift, it will be easier to put words to paper. Lying isn’t a necessary evil. The trick to obtaining the job you desire is making the most of what you have to offer.

Good luck!

There’s No Need to Pad Your Resume | Linda Matias via Marketing Hire

Interview Hacks

Wednesday, August 31st, 2016

Seems like everyone has “hacks” these days… hacks for parenting, hacks for eating, hacks for computing, and even hacks for life. For every standard way to do something, someone out there on the internet has found an innovative way to do it .001% better, guaranteed to transform your life in 10 easy steps.

We’ll pass over the question of whether it’s really efficacious to use string to cut cheese or to microwave your deodorant to get the last little bit out. The idea of hacking itself is sound: re-envisioning everyday activities to perform them more productively, more efficiently, more cost effectively, and more successfully.

Since many of us will interview for jobs many times over the course of our careers and competition for even the most basic positions always seems to be intense, it behooves us to apply as many tricks, tips, and hacks as we can, if for no other reasons than to make the experience easier to endure or to streamline failure.

hacking

So what can you do to improve your interviewing skills? Here are a few quick expert tips:

Bring A Cheat Sheet With You

Everyone knows it’s a good idea to bring extra copies of your resume and business cards with you when you interview, but it’s also a great idea to bring a job history cheat sheet with you.

Prepare a write-up briefly detailing two accomplishments for each of your past few jobs. It’s a great way to overcome brain freeze during an interview or to get things back on track if the conversation has derailed.

Beat the Clock to Beat Your Nerves!

Nothing can make a stressful situation more stressful than anticipation and dread… Having to wait all day for an interview is a quick and easy way to build up a major case of the butterflies.

Rather than spend the whole day worrying and building yourself into a frenzied ball of anxious nerves, try to schedule your interviews for early in the day.

Not only will you have more confidence, but you’ll appear fresher and more alert.

It’s also been proven that interviewers tend to remember the first few people they interview in a day much more clearly than those they subsequently interview later.

pilot_interview

Identify a Problem and Fix It

In many cases, a company will be hiring for a position in order to solve a problem or remedy an issue they have been facing. By studying the job description you can often tell if this is the case for the position you are interviewing for.

If this is the case, take this opportunity to prepare a one-page proposal that outlines how you would solve the problem that the company is facing… and be specific!

Even if they aren’t looking for you to solve the problem in the interview, they will be impressed that you took the initiative and more importantly, that as a hire, you will bring a lot of value to their organization.

Be Nice!

Did you know your interview starts the minute you walk through the front door of the company you are interviewing with? How you treat everyone around you, from potential future co-workers to the receptionist at the front desk, can help determine if you get a job or not.

By being open, friendly and professional with everyone you encounter (not just your hiring manager) you’re helping to pave the way for positive feedback because as everyone knows, people talk… and if they’re going to talk about you, it’s always best to have it be about positive aspects of your visit!

In addition, hiring managers will often use the receptionist/secretary as a “secret screener”. What does this mean? It means that they often give the receptionist a list of questions to ask you and have them take notes on your responses. Then after the interviews are done, they have a quick debrief to discuss what you said. I’ve actually heard of people who had immaculate job interviews that failed to get the job because they showed a different (and not positive) side of their personality during the “secret screener”, so keep this in mind the moment you walk through the door!

Connect Before Diving In

The best way to start an interview is to not start the interview.

When you first meet whoever is interviewing you, get them to talk about anything except the interview. Use those first moments to build a rapport with your interviewer.

Remember, they’re potentially interviewing hundreds of people and the ones they’ll remember are the ones that stand out for the right reasons.

People want to work with people they connect with, and by taking just a moment to talk about something other than your potential job you’re helping show that you’re a nice, friendly and interesting person.

Your ultimate goal with an interview is to have a good conversation with your interviewer and an easy way to kick off that conversation is by starting with an easy small talk opener.

Example topics can include the weather, a recent sporting event, the office, or anything else you can think of that is quick to discuss.

Try to skip controversial topics and make sure that you don’t go overboard or ramble on for too long. It’s still an interview, after all!

Be a Copycat

It’s been psychologically proven time and time again that people respond better to individuals they feel they are in “sync” with and the best way to help drive that home is to subtly mirror your interviewer’s nonverbal gestures and body language.

Don’t go overboard and do everything they do, but if you keep your movements similar to theirs, it’ll build a sense of cohesion and understanding between you two.

Try to mimic their pitch, tone, body language, posture and body orientation.

And while you’re at it, DON’T FIDGET! Fidgeting can undermine your credibility and give an interviewer the impression that you’d rather be anywhere but in that room as well as make it appear you’re anxious or even lying.

Instead, focus your gaze on whoever is interviewing you and show them that you’re fully invested and paying attention to the interview.

Turn the Tables

A good interview is more than just you sitting in a room rattling off prepared answers to questions. It’s also an opportunity for you to learn about the job, the company and your potential role within that world.

Make sure to have a few questions prepared before you interview and find the time during the interview to ask them. Make sure they are thoughtful questions that help reinforce the idea that you’re the ideal candidate.

When you get the chance to ask your own questions, take the opportunity to “tailor” the questions. You want to show that you have the qualities that the company puts a lot of value in, so utilize this opportunity to do so.

Here’s an example:

If you know the company is big on “collaboration” as a quality, you may want to ask a question like:

“In my previous jobs I’ve really thrived in an environment where I get to work with others and have found that using my abilities in a collaborative setting has really allowed me to add a lot of value to my team. Do you envision this role having a collaborative element and if so, do you think that this ability will help me succeed in this position?”

Just a few easy tips to add to your interview toolbox. Let us know in the comments if you have any other tried and true hacks for interviewing that you’d like to share.

Good luck!

16 Genius Job Interview Tips & Hacks | Jeff Gillis via The Interview Guys

The Right Way to Answer: “What Should I Know That’s Not on Your Resume?”

Wednesday, January 6th, 2016

The interview is going really well. You’ve got a good rapport with the hiring manager, you’re getting your key points across, you’re speaking clearly and confidently—and then comes this question:

“What should I know about you that’s not on your resume?”

And you’re stumped, because huh? I know the feeling, so I thought I would break down this question for you so that answering doesn’t seem quite so tricky.

Why They’re Asking

On the surface, this question seems weird. After all, you’ve worked hard to condense all your relevant information onto a single page so that everything the interviewer should know is on there!

But hiring managers ask this question to get a sense for your personality and character, rather than just your work experiences and accomplishments.

They’re also giving you a chance to tell them something that’s important but doesn’t fit within the traditional resume format—like what drives you or what you’re passionate about outside your 9-to-5.

What to Say

There are three basic “themes” for your response that you can choose from.

First, you can discuss one of your positive traits. Think: your creativity, your enthusiasm, your tenacity, your dedication, the one word that makes you you.

Alternatively, you can share a story or detail that reveals something awesome about you and your accomplishments. For example, maybe you’ve climbed a few major mountains, which shows how persistent you are when you put your mind to it.

Lastly, you can talk about your motivation or overall goal. Maybe you want to work in hospitality because you want to recreate the same sense of joy and wonder you’ve experienced on vacations for as many guests as possible.

What Not to Say

If it’s on your resume, don’t say it! Regurgitating what’s on that paper will make you seem unimaginative, or worse, like you don’t understand the question.

The same rule goes for your cover letter. If you mentioned it, you can’t use it again.

And of course, as during the rest of the interview, avoid overly personal information or anything that’ll raise a red flag.

For example, you might be super eager to get this job because you’ve been unemployed for six months—but telling the interviewer that? Not a good idea. Instead, bring up the work ethic you cultivated while simultaneously getting your degree and working a full-time job.

Structuring Your Response

There’s a very simple format for your response.

Begin by explaining your trait or story. Then, summarize why it’s important for the interviewer to know this. Make sure you connect your answer to the job, the company, or both.

Here’s the template:

I’d like you to know [strength/anecdote].
This is important because [explanation of what it shows about you].
I believe this will help me with [aspect of the job] because [something that connects your answer back to the position].

And here’s a sample answer:

Well, one thing you won’t find on my resume: the time I had to administer emergency CPR training. Last year, I was at the lake when I saw a young girl who looked like she was drowning. I was a lifeguard in high school, so I swam out, brought her to shore, and gave her CPR.

Although this was—hopefully—a one-time event, I’ve always been able to stay calm during stressful situations, figure out a solution, and then act. This characteristic would make me a valuable member of your company. After all, obstacles are inevitable, especially in a startup environment.

As your account manager, I’d use this trait to quickly and effectively resolve issues both within the team and externally. And if anyone needs CPR at the office beach party, well, I’m your woman.

Original from the Muse

Your Resume Shouldn’t Play Games

Tuesday, November 24th, 2015

Why unconventional resumes drive hiring managers and recruiters nuts.

Recruiters are no strangers to goofy resumes, some more off the wall than others (scented parchment, anyone?). Unconventional resumes are frequently featured in news reports and in social media as being innovative and clever and successfully landing professionals great new jobs. However, most hiring managers and recruiters find them unacceptable and 99 times out of 100 will request a standard Word version resume instead. It’s far better to go the traditional route than to be outlandish to get attention.

But before you dismiss these warnings as irrelevant to your own, tamer resume, read on. Resume tricks employers reject can be as subtle as tinkering with your text size. Recruiters, resume pros, and hiring managers pretty much loathe them all.

They don’t want to work to figure you out

As a hiring manager, unconventional resumes don’t work for several reasons and it’s not always aesthetics. Often, these resumes have poor usability: they simply make the hiring manager work too hard, either by forcing them to click through websites, piece together information that is collected in unusual formats, or focusing too much on style over substance.

By making employers search to find what they need, you are far more likely to see your resume rejected.

An unconventional approach also breaks the hiring manager’s process. Instead of the typical PDF or Word document, a hiring manager has to put some energy into reviewing an unconventional resume to uncover what they need and many people will just dismiss it out of hand as too time consuming.

The old hide-the-work-gap trick

The most common trick is when job seekers try to cover up work-history gaps by omitting years of employment or by submitting a functional resume that leaves out a chronological job list.

It never works because someone always asks about the timeline; it’s often the first question to come up. And not seeing a chronological format upfront makes a hiring manager suspicious from the start.

Tricks don’t make up for lack of experience

One hiring manager recalled looking for a lower-level software/firmware programmer. One resume that stood out was printed on thick, beige, textured parchment with brown ink, three pages long and sent in a 9-by-12-inch envelope instead of being folded. HR staff noticed that one stack of resumes had a particular odor. The parchment was the culprit. “I’m not sure what cologne or perfume was used, but it did get our attention — though not in a positive way,” the hiring manager said.

Still, smelly-resume guy seemed to have the requisite experience and keywords, so the candidate was brought in for an interview. During the interview, they realized he must have used a resume service but not studied his own document, since the candidate had almost no working knowledge of any of the buzzwords on his resume and likely someone else had composed most of it for him. He perhaps knew that his meager qualifications would not warrant any further attention without some sort of trick.

Hiring managers are on to the big-fonts trick

Some job seekers who don’t have much to say try to mask it with fonts. They use a 14- or 16-point font, a trick that only highlights the lack of content on the page and the inability of the candidate to market himself or herself.

If you really, really have to be unconventional

Hiring managers want something clear, concise, and compelling. But if you insist on ditching the conventional, bear this in mind: You’d better make it spectacular.

“It’s got to be great,” one hiring manager is quoted as saying. “It’s got to be easy to process. You’ve increased the hurdle for yourself by going outside the norm. It better hit your target.”

6 Secrets of Great Resumes, Backed By Psychology

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2015

After reviewing, analyzing, and writing many resumes over the years, I’ve come to the realization that most people don’t think like psychologists. And in doing so, they sell themselves short.

Here are six ways to change that:

1. Quantify Your Impact

Tip: Show your accomplishments in numbers, not just words. It’s such an easy way to standout since few people do this. Answer questions such as: how much money did you manage? How many people attended your last event? How many views did your promotional video have?

Examples:

  • Weak: Managed a budget to plan large-scale events for students
  • Strong: Managed $12,000 budget to plan large-scale events for 2,500 students
  • Weak: Compiled a pitch deck for buyout of automotive company
  • Strong: Compiled a 44-page pitch deck for buyout of $53 million automotive company
  • Weak: Wrote articles on entrepreneurship and technology
  • Strong: Wrote 8 articles on entrepreneurship and technology, generating 107,000 page views, 8,003 likes, and 3,723 tweets

Reason: Greek philosopher Aristotle taught three pillars of effective persuasion: ethos, pathos, and logos. He believed most in the power of logos, which means persuading others using logic, evidence, and facts. By quantifying your impact, you’re doing exactly that. You’re providing evidence to underscore the significance of your accomplishments.

2. Make Your Interests As Quirky As Possible

Tip: To quote Drake (another great philosopher), you need to “start from the bottom.” The last line of your resume is where many people list their interests, but don’t actually say anything interesting. You like movies, sports, and traveling? How original! If you’re going to use this section at all (and it’s becoming less common), say something that could strike an emotional chord or spark a memorable conversation mid-interview. At the very least, be highly specific.

Examples: Settlers of Catan, Quentin Tarantino films, Mediterranean cooking, Lego Star Wars collections.

Reason: In Give and Take, Wharton professor Adam Grant emphasizes that similarities matter most when they’re rare. “We bond when we share uncommon commonalities, which allow us to feel that we fit in and stand out at the same time,” he says. Your interests are a huge bonding opportunity with your resume reader. Don’t waste it.

3. Show The Competition

Tip: This one gets me every time. So many people win awards, get into selective programs, and do other impressive things but don’t convey the full amazingness of those accomplishments. It’s because they don’t show the competition; they don’t reveal how many other people were gunning for that very same spot.

Examples:

  • Weak: Won Granny Smith University’s Innovation Competition
  • Strong: Won $1,000 for Granny Smith University’s Innovation Competition (80+ entrepreneurs competed)
  • Weak: Accepted into Johnny Appleseed Management Program
  • Strong: Accepted into Johnny Appleseed Management Program (9% admit rate, Granny Smith University selects 50 students per year)

Reason: Social proof is one of the most powerful principles of influence, according to psychologist Robert Cialdini. By showing your competition, you emphasize how coveted your accomplishments are. Many people tried, but only you succeeded. By doing this, you safeguard yourself in case the recruiter hasn’t heard of your program, award, or honor – which they most likely haven’t and won’t bother looking up.

4. Ask An Employee For Feedback

Tip: Relationships are more important than resumes. Before applying to any company, always connect with an employee – whether through information sessions, introductions, or alumni outreach. If the conversation goes well, kindly ask for feedback on your resume before applying.

This accomplishes two things. First, it’s an extremely efficient way to customize your resume to different companies. Employees offer highly specific edits (“hey try using this buzz word, we love that”). Secondly, this is an awesome way to internally pass along your resume without even asking. If an employee finds you impressive, kind, and sincere, there’s a good chance they’ll put in a word with recruiters.

Example:

Hey Jeff,
Great chatting yesterday! I really enjoyed hearing about your experiences at [Company X] and I’m excited to apply for [Position Y].
I know you’re super busy, but could you spare 2 minutes to share any feedback on my resume before I submit? Even a quick gut reaction would mean a lot.
Best,
Jon

Reason: The Foot-In-The-Door Phenomenon refers to people’s tendency to more readily complete larger requests after they’ve already agreed to smaller ones. By asking for feedback, you’re doing just that. Requesting two minutes of their time is an easy starting point, especially if you’ve built rapport beforehand. Before you know it, they may help out in bigger ways by making referrals, brokering introductions, and more.

5. Associate Yourself With Big Brands

Tip: Build instant credibility by associating yourself with trusted institutions, even if you’ve never directly worked for one. Did any of your clients include Fortune 500 companies? If you worked at a startup, was it backed by notable venture capitalists? Were you featured in any major publications? Well-known brands shine when recruiters scan resumes so find a way to include them.

Examples:

  • Strengthened relationships with 7 strategic partners (including Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble & Facebook) through follow-up meetings with senior leadership
  • Hired and managed 6 students from Penn and Yale including programmers, engineers, and graphic designers
  • Collaborated with Zagat’s “Restaurateur of the Year” Stephen Starr to run a Philadelphia-wide Restaurant Week at 8 different venues

Reason: Authority is another one of Cialdini’s principles of influence. If you don’t have it, the best way to convey authority is by associating yourself with those who do.

Bonus Tip: for college students, an easy way to do this is by becoming a campus ambassador for a notable company.

6. Follow The “Rule of Seven”

Tip: Great resumes send a consistent message. They convey a personal brand. They make recruiters think, “this kid has done this before. If we hire him, he’ll fit right in.” To accomplish this, follow the Rule of Seven. Find buzzwords (and their derivatives) on the company’s website and repeat them seven times in your resume. For instance, when applying for marketing jobs, use verbs like “marketed,” “advertised” and “promoted” to describe your accomplishments. When applying to a startup, use verbs like “built,” “created,” and “initiated.” And so forth. If you’re really crafty, you don’t have to change much when tailoring to different jobs.

Example:

  • For Marketing Job: “Marketed YouTube Campaign Video featuring CNN’s Larry King (9,400 views)”
  • For Startup Job: “Created YouTube Campaign Video featuring CNN’s Larry King (9,400 views)”

(by the way, notice the mention of CNN in there? Everyone knows Larry King but CNN is another recognized brand that recruiters gravitate towards. Tip 5 in action.)

Reason: The old adage says customers must see an advertisement seven times before they take action. Apply the same thinking here. After all, your resume is the ultimate personal marketing tool. Make sure you position yourself properly so recruiters know you’re a fit.

Bonus Tip: One of the biggest missed opportunities is when people write “summer intern” on resumes. Stop doing that! Specify your role (ex: “marketing intern”). It’s another branding opportunity. Another way to fulfill the Rule of Seven is through your “relevant coursework” section (if you have one). When applying for a finance job, for example, list statistics and quantitative classes first.

Original from Forbes