Click on this YouTube link of the 5-minute video.
Robin Baumgarten and Larry Potash are great interviewers!
Click on this YouTube link of the 5-minute video.
Robin Baumgarten and Larry Potash are great interviewers!
In almost all of my presentations to job seekers, the topic of informational interviews always comes up. When it does, I do a quick survey of the room, to see who has held informational interviews, who hasn’t and who knows what one is. Without fail, the people who have scheduled informational interviews say that it was a positive thing, leading to a valuable connection, a great introduction to a new contact, and even job offers. Based on this, I’m confident that everyone at every career level should be initiating these! For that reason, I wrote an article that tells you everything you need to know about informational interviews, including:
1) Why you want to conduct informational interviews
2) How (and whom) to ask for an informational interview
3) Critical tips for before, during and after the informational interview
4) A very long list of questions to pick from, to ask during the informational interview
Enjoy! And if this article prompts you to schedule one, let me know. I’ll be cheering you on! Informational Interviews
As we jump into the new year, I wanted to share the most common mistakes that I see on resumes every day. Who makes these mistakes? Surprisingly, everyone – on every rung of the corporate ladder.
So here it is…my Top 10 Resume Mistakes!
Mistake #10) Using the standard Microsoft resume template that comes free with the software.
This is a mistake because you’re showing employers that you’ve put no thought into a professional and unique presentation. Any hiring manager or recruiter can spot an MS template a mile away.
Mistake #9) Starting the resume with an Objective Statement.
Big mistake! Most objectives sound like, “To obtain a challenging position in a growing company where I can utilize my skills and education”. Any employer’s first question will be, “Do you want to be a CFO or a cocktail waitress?” Unfortunately, this objective statement could apply to either, which means it should be applied to neither. Instead, create a 3-5 sentence Summary Statement that presents your top-level skills and clearly shows how you are unique and better-qualified than other candidates competing for the same job.
Mistake #8) Formatting with paragraphs instead of bullets in the body of the resume.
This is a mistake because people don’t sit down and read your resume like they do the newest John Irving novel. Instead, they skim and skip. This means that your best information could be buried in the middle of a paragraph…and never seen by human eyes. This is why bullet points are so important.
Mistake #7) Bullets that sound as if you cut and pasted them from your job descriptions.
If a company is hiring for an Administrative Assistant, they already know what one does. Therefore, bullets that say you type, file, create reports and answer the phone are a waste of space. Instead, use that space to state the great work you did on the job, and the positive impact that you made. If you are in a supportive role, use your bullets to discuss how your support has made someone else successful – all while focusing on your own accomplishments, results and impact.
Mistake #6) Don’t tailor your resume to the job.
Employers are inundated with hundreds of resumes for each job lead. The fastest way to a “thanks, but no thanks” letter is sending a generic resume. Show your potential employers (through a well-crafted resume) that you have read the job posting, that you are qualified, and that you’re capable of solving the company’s problems. Not doing this shows the employer that you’re simply machine-gunning your resume out to any employer, without any consideration of their needs.
Mistake #5) Overstate your skills.
As a resume writer, it’s my job to deliver the best resume possible that our clients have EARNED. What I mean by this is that it’s a fine line between putting your best foot forward on a resume, and lying. Recruiters, hiring managers and others who read resumes for a living are trained to spot the exaggerations.
Mistake #4) Go over 2 pages.
I get it; you’re special. You’re unique. Your mom thinks you’re amazing. But your future employers don’t want to know that much about you! Your 5, 15, 25 even 35 year history must be condensed within the boundaries of 2 pages…but 1 page is best. For those of you who think it can’t be done, it can. One of my clients is the former General Manager of a Fortune 500 food company. He had a 40-year career history yet he left my office with a 1-page resume. He was hired by another Fortune 500 within a few weeks. If it works for him, it works for you.
Mistake #3) Pretty it up with graphics and colorful fonts.
No one EVER got a job because their name was printed in blue. I’ve also noticed an odd trend lately where candidates are putting their former employers’ logos on the resume. The truth is, this is theft of intellectual property. Employers are more than happy to repay the favor with a bad reference, so don’t risk it! I understand why candidates do these things. Times are tough and you’re looking for any way to stand out from the crowd. Stand out with your accomplishments, not gimmicks.
Mistake #2) Downgrade or devalue your experience.
Again, write yourself the best resume you’ve earned. That works on both sides of the coin. Don’t exaggerate, but don’t be afraid to brag a bit when you’ve actually earned the accolades. If you accomplished something amazing at work and DON’T include it in your resume, it might as well never have happened. Keep track of your accomplishments and update your resume frequently.
Mistake #1) Don’t ask multiple people to proofread your resume.
Here’s a true story: Through networking, a young man about 5 years into his career was lucky enough to schedule a coffee meeting with an employer. The meeting went very well. It went so well that the employer even re-wrote some of the job description to perfectly match the young candidate’s qualifications! In other words, the job was his to lose. All he had to do was turn in a resume and cover letter as a formality. In his haste to deliver his materials, he misspelled the employer’s name and made two other typos in the cover letter. Guess what? He lost the job…and a $15K bump in salary. I don’t care if the employer is standing in your home, tapping her foot, waiting for you to print out your resume and cover letter – take the time you need to proofread your materials, and have someone else do the same. If you ever think you don’t need to proofread, just remember ‘The $15,000 Typo’.
So there you have it, folks…my Top 10 Resume Mistakes. Are you committing any of them? It’s worth taking extra time to ensure that your job search is fruitful. The entire ResuMAYDAY team is wishing you the best success!
(This is a re-print from the ResuMAYDAY e-newletter. To sign up for the newsletter, go to the home page at www.ResuMAYDAY.com.)
Hi Everyone! I hope summer has treated you well. Here in Chicago we’re soaking up every moment, because it can disappear at any time!
As a Resume Writer and Job Search Coach, I encourage job seekers to promote their personal brand for the purposes of career advancement. I’ve found that most people don’t know what their personal brand is, and they don’t know the first steps in figuring this out. For these reasons, I thought I would briefly explain my thoughts on this topic, as well as bring another expert into the conversation.
Personal branding. I’m not crazy about the term, but it’s one that people are familiar with. For practical purposes (including SEO!), I’m going to keep using it. Decades ago, employees defined themselves by their employer, and their employer’s brand. Ex: “I bleed IBM blue!” That was possible way back when it was common to have one or two employers throughout the life of their career.
According to the most recent data by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employees now change employers every 4.4 years. That means that in a 40-year career, that employee will have nine to ten employers! Instead of shrouding yourself with an ever-changing employer’s brand, create your own. I’m going to share with you the two questions that I ask when helping to develop a job seeker’s personal brand. The answers to these questions will reveal your highest-level skills, and the areas in which you feel the most competent. Promoting yourself with this information to your future employers is a great way to enhance and elevate the conversation.
Question 1: What problems do you love to solve?
(This question is one that deserves a bit of thought. A lot of times, the problems you love to solve are not always the problems you are paid to solve. Don’t automatically answer this question with your job description. Remember, we’re talking about YOUR personal brand.)
Question 2: What would people miss out on if they didn’t work with you?
(This question requires that you think in terms of You vs. Your Competition. How are you better than other people applying for your dream job? Which of your overt or subtle qualities, skills and characteristics would move the dial in your direction?)
Easy, right? Not so much. These questions require thought and self-assessment. I hope you do take some time to develop answers to these two questions. At work, we constantly fix big problems, save the day and perform small miracles, but we don’t ever stop to give ourselves credit for those things…we simply move on to the next issue. I’m giving you permission to stop and give yourself credit for those things!
Now what? Once you’ve answered these questions, put them together in 3 or 4 sentences. The next time you go to a networking event and are asked, “what do you do?” share this information. When you’re at a job interview and are asked to “tell me about yourself”, this is a great way to get the conversation started. Trust me, you’ll give your job search a big boost when you’re able to present yourself as someone who is interesting, capable and genuine, rather than “a hardworking professional who multi-tasks and finishes projects on-time-and-under budget.”
If you want to chat about developing your own personal brand or other career advancement issues, get in touch. I’d love to hear from you! As always, I’m at Lauren@ResuMAYDAY.com or 630-901-3595.
That’s enough from me. Now, I’m turning it over to a friend and business associate, Christine Pietryla, who has her own take on Personal Branding. Christine is a marketing and PR expert; she really knows her stuff. When I asked her for her thoughts on this topic, I knew she would deliver. Read on for Christine’s take…
Most people tune out when you start talking about ‘personal branding’–especially weary job seekers or professionals with more than 10 years of experience. It’s a new buzzword rooted in some truth, but wrecked by marketing. It’s a term adopted to justify wearing their jeans and flip flops to interviews and client meetings.
I’ve been in public relations and marketing for more than 16 years, not forever, but long enough to see a few patterns. Regardless of what kinds of clients I work with, or in what capacity, my job has always been heavy on relationship building. It’s a core skill set for me and being a bit of a natural has served me well.
I come from a long line of engineers and more ‘corporate’ folk, and I’ve served in hiring and executive positions. So, I can see very clearly what makes some people good at making connections and where others struggle.
When I hear ‘personal branding’ it makes me want to roll my eyes, too, because really we’re only talking about being your best self.
Being your best self means you are aware of your strengths and weaknesses. Minimize the latter and accentuate the former. Further, it means reminding people of those strengths in ways that don’t seem creepy or weird and honoring people when they show you their best selves.
The best defense against being perceived as weird is being yourself. If someone thinks that’s weird, they’re weird.
Being Your Best Self
I already said I was a natural at networking and making connections, but what I didn’t tell you is that I’m a closet introvert. Big crowds, huge events–they stress me out to the point where I feel like I need a nap half way through.
When I talk about bringing your best self to the party, I mean–know these things about yourself. Don’t ignore them. Know how to get around them. For example, I go to events for a short time, briefly meet the individuals I want to connect with and then follow-up later for a one-on-one. That way they have a more meaningful conversation with me when I’m not stressed. I also look for events with smaller groups.
Similarly, if you know you’re not a good writer, get some help with your cover letter, LinkedIn profile or correspondence emails. Ignoring your weakness isn’t making it go away; it’s actually doing way more harm than good. Get help and move on to what does work.
When you acknowledge and then get help with what you aren’t good at, you have time to talk about, practice and shine a light on all the things you are. So, do it. Become the sum of your best qualities and own it (that is your ‘personal brand’ by the way). Then, find ways to connect to people with these strengths.
Here’s the beauty of follow-up: it doesn’t have to be about work. In fact, the less about work it is, the better. Listen and genuinely learn about the other person when you meet with them. I guarantee you’ll uncover something you can follow-up with later.
When I was hiring, the most memorable candidates weren’t just the ones that answered my questions well they were the ones that came prepared and followed-up.
It’s kind of silly, but one little thing that always struck me was this aside: I went to University of Florida. Kinda strange, right, since I live in Chicago? It’s on my LinkedIn profile. I speak at the school pretty regularly. This fact is something a quick Google search would uncover.
I can count on one hand how many times a candidate has asked me about UF. You know what, though? I can’t count how many of the hundreds of times one has asked what I did at the company or what my title was. Seriously? Who do you think I remember?
Last but not least, honor people when they show you their best self. It’s tough to bring your A-game, and you know it because you’re reading this article. When you see someone else doing it, let them know you appreciate it.
If someone does you a favor, make sure to thank them. If someone is struggling at a networking event and these are easier for you (or even if they aren’t), be their wing-man. Don’t forget to chat people up on social media. It’s not scary–it’s a really safe way to follow-up with people, share interests, and not spend a tremendous amount of time doing so.
In closing, rather than focus on a buzzword or a fad exercise, focus on feeling. Your feelings and those of the people around you. The more authentic you can be, the more you can focus on your strong characteristics, the more you can make it about connections–the more people will connect your brand with trust and skill. And, if you can achieve that more often not only will you be happier but you’ll be more successful in your professional endeavors, too.
Christine Pietryla is a Chicago-based PR and marketing consultant. She helps her clients craft communications strategies and curate influencer groups that can be leveraged to achieve specific business goals. Please visit her website at http://www.pietrylapr.com
By JOHN R. PLATT 7 May 2014
In a job market where the most talented high-tech workers are competing against others with equal skills, one way job seekers can set themselves apart is with a great resume.
“It’s not always the most qualified candidates who get hired,” says Lauren Milligan, founder and CEO of ResuMayDay, a job-search strategy service, in Warrenville, Ill. “It’s the candidates who present themselves the most effectively.”
FROM THE HEART
So how do you compile an eye-catching resume? Milligan says to include two things: the problems you love to solve and what someone would miss out on if they didn’t work with you. She suggests first writing a description based on what you’d say if you were introducing yourself to someone at a party. “In that scenario, you’re more likely to tell people things from your heart. That’s when people get interested in your story, and that’s also what’s going to grab an employer’s attention.”
Next, analyze your career and find ways to help prevent your resume from reading like a simple job description. “Go through every bullet point and ask, ‘What were the results of this work?’ and ‘Why was it important?’” Milligan suggests.
She uses the example of a software developer who created a custom program for clients. The results weren’t just that the company could sell the program or that it helped solve quality issues. It really boiled down to the fact that clients were able to shave off 18 hours of quality assurance work a week, which meant the programmer saved her clients a total of US $240,000 over the course of a year.
Don’t forget the obvious information, of course, and state it as clearly as possible. Make sure your work history is all there, you’ve described your responsibilities adequately, and you’re not vague in describing your current employer’s business, says Stacy Doty, director of human resources at Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, in Pullman, Wash. “If someone in human resources has to take an extra step to get more information, that’s a disadvantage that could put other applicants ahead of you,” she says. Last year Schweitzer hired almost 600 people worldwide out of about 60,000 applicants. With competition that fierce, not including such information means your resume most likely goes to the bottom of the pile.
ACHEIVEMENTS VS SKILLS
Many job descriptions in high-tech fields list very specific skills and expertise with programs or technologies. Shelley Wick, talent acquisition recruiter at Rockwell Automation, an industrial automation company, in Milwaukee, says that while it’s important to list your experience, you need to go beyond that.
“A long list of the technologies you’ve worked on is kind of useless,” she says. Instead, Wick looks for examples of projects in which you applied those technologies. “Explain to me the product you worked on, the technologies it involved, how you used them, and your impact,” she suggests. Using this approach helps applicants focus on their achievements, not just their skills.
It’s also important to tailor your experiences to the job opening. “It’s about honing in on the position you’d like,” Doty says. “Spend time researching the company you’re interested in, the types of positions it offers, and make a case for why you think you’re a great fit.”
Something else that stands out on a resume is “anything that demonstrates your passion or energy,” Wick says. Volunteering with something such as FIRST Robotics, the international robotics competition for elementary through high school students, or holding a leadership position in an IEEE society or section not only shows your passion but also displays your nontechnical “soft” skills.
THE COMPLETE PACKAGE
Aside from the résumé itself, Doty says, a well-written cover letter is a must; it can set you apart from other candidates. “The cover letter is your opportunity to connect to the company’s values, talk about the job specifically and why it interests you, and give the reader the sense that you’ve done your homework,” she says.
Cover letters can also help answer questions that your resume can’t. If you’re applying for a job in a different city or applying for a position that would be a shift from your current one, explain that in your letter so it won’t be a concern to a recruiter. “It helps increase the odds that you’re going to be brought in for an interview,” Wick says.
Check out the IEEE ResumeLab, a free online program for IEEE members, if you need help pulling together what you need to apply for a job. The site includes tips for writing resumes and cover letters, creating a video résumé, and ways to improve your interviewing skills.
“Whether you’re writing your first résumé or improving an existing one, RésuméLab’s resources can help,” says Rory McCorkle, the global career resources product manager in IEEE’s Member and Geographic Activities group, in Piscataway, N.J.
Developing a great resume does take time, but don’t be daunted by the effort. “It’s an investment in your career, and the payoff can be immense,” says Milligan.
This article was written for the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, at IEEE.org.