By Charmaine Pocek,
Award-winning Resume Writer, Career Expert, Former Recruiter
I write resumes based on what a recruiter is scanning for in those critical 5-10 seconds – and they land interviews, so start preparing now!!! There is a method to my madness, and it stems from recruiting for 15+ years and transitioning into a full-time resume writer.
The format you received, works. In fact it works MIRACLES! Do NOT create a PDF document – some older applicant-tracking systems cannot parse or upload PDF files. If you ordered a graphical resume, GREAT idea! Just use this to send via email or bring to your interview, but do not send via an ATS upload (HR System/online application). Click to see a sample of a graphical resume.
Why isn’t my resume only one page? Aren’t those better? NO, NO, NO!!! Maybe 15 years ago when applicants had to fax in resumes, and the 2 nd page got lost, but not now – showcase your skills! This is hard to do with only a page (some professionals can use 1-page resumes or newer graduates). Location: I live in Houston, composed of countless suburbs and recruited for a HUGE company with 20+ locations. If I saw someone applying to my location but lives 30 miles away, I would pass, immediately – no matter how qualified due to the commute. Keep it simple and list only your City, State to dodge commuting issues (if you don’t mind the commute)! So, if you are in a big city, leave off your physical address/suburb and just list the City, State and NO zip code ?
What happened to my content – it’s gone!! Resumes are not a list of duties/tasks, but a list of accomplishments! This is why you see me adding things to your bullets and rewording so much – showcase your achievements! The more data you add directly corresponds to your credibility! Even if you don’t have specific numbers, using “more than, approximately” can be substituted resulting in the same powerful impact!, Click to see how a professional resume writer formats resumes.
Which sounds better?
Increased sales in a competitive region. Increased revenues from $5M to $18M within eight months, exceeding quotas 110%.
Selected Highlights – isn’t this repetitive? You have about 5-10 coveted seconds to grab the recruiter’s attention. I pull data- driven highlights to the top and highlight this portion – the recruiter’s eyes are immediately drawn to this section which lists 5 of your most awesome accomplishments – this is one of the best parts of your new resume!
What is the deal with the Additional Credentials?
Why list Technical Skills – doesn’t EVERYONE use Microsoft Office? Probably – but, if you have a new recruiter searching for people to fill a job and they decide to add Microsoft and Office and Word and Excel to their ATS search, you just lost out of being considered – better to be safe and keyword optimize every chance possible!
Organizations? Sure! It shows you are active in your industry, connecting with others and networking. There are several new groups on LinkedIn you can even use. This shows initiative – see my examples on your resume.
Languages – Doesn’t everyone know Spanish? NO! Being Bilingual is a huge asset! Show this off! I like to put bilingual/multilingual in the introduction and additional credentials. It sets you apart
Awards/Honors – It’s hard to brag about yourself, everyone feels the same way. Adding awards makes you unique! Ideas – Dean’s List in College, Employee of the Month, any sales awards, even a recognition from management or a thank you email. It makes a difference! Volunteer work? I don’t volunteer; there is no time! When I was recruiting, I had several managers insist on a very well- rounded candidate. By putting this ON your resume, you become less of a piece of paper and more of a human!
Examples: I LOVE animals, so when I saw SPCA on a resume, that person got a phone call. I worked for one Director who LOVES Disney. I had an underqualified candidate who wrote that she volunteered at Disney one summer – she got the interview and the job!!! Volunteering does not have to mean sitting on the board of a non-profit, just a monetary donation to the Red Cross/SPCA/, etc. is considered volunteerism!
Activities/Interests – WHY??? When I recruited, this was a GREAT ice-breaker for interviews. It also once again makes you human and not a piece of paper. Just make sure it’s nothing political/controversial – stick to sports, reading, family, outdoors, travel, etc. See the examples I listed. Isn’t my resume too much – do I seem too good or is it just over the top? NO! You are this awesome – get ready to start fielding offers!
*Note from Elisabeth: To SEE how Charmaine transforms
resumes, see the Episode 6 YouTube video, in which we look at a “Before” and “After” resume and analyze the changes she made. How to Nail The Interview and Get the Job
—Advice From a Top Recruiter
? RESEARCH where you are interviewing! In the interview, mention facts about the company. Memorize their website, spend hours on LinkedIn knowing who is interviewing you. Research in an interview turns into the upper hand.
? ASK QUESTIONS – make sure you have 5-10 questions ready to ask as well, written down in a notebook you bring with you. See below for some great ideas. If you don’t ask questions, 92% of the time, you will not be extended an offer.
Who doesn’t like a compliment? I’m not advising on telling your interviewer they are good looking ? but you can mention – Congrats on the accomplishments/xx years with the company/release of xx project, etc.
? NEVER, ever, ever, ever, ever badmouth a former employee or firm. Even if you left on bad terms that were completely out of your control – turn this into a positive.
? Dress professionally! Wear a suit, End of story!
? Make frequent eye contact – this can be uncomfortable, but it shows confidence.
? Answer questions directly.
You will be asked SPECIFIC questions, give a SPECIFIC answer (see below for behavioral interview tips). One of the main reasons recruiters/employers do not move forward with candidates is their inability to answer a SPECIFIC question.
? Smile, OFTEN! Be upbeat and make positive statements.
? Arrive 10 minutes early, NO earlier (looks too anxious). Wait in the hall or a nearby facility if needed.
? NEVER ask about salary.
If you have a recruiter or an HR contact, it’s OK to ask them AFTERWARD, but never, ever ask a hiring manager (same about benefits). This is for later. Common Interview Questions and how to answer them!!! These are important, but most have been replaced with behavioral interview situations – see below. Why did you leave your last job? Second, only to behavioral questions, your tenure will be detailed – so have an answer for EVERY job change on your resume. Some common and believable reasons – I relocated too far from the position, they asked me to travel more, the company was bought out and now unstable, etc. Stay away from “I got a better offer.”
Tell me about this gap in employment – Always keep this positive. The gap can be because you had a family obligation or traveled!
Tell me about a conflict with a coworker or supervisor –
Whatever your answer, have one. It is unbelievable that a person has worked for a long time without a conflict. Just make it positive – focus on how you talked it through with them WITHOUT involving management, and it turned into a very positive long-term, beneficial working relationship. Why should we hire you? This is also still asked – so plan your answer and practice it. There is no right or wrong answer for this, but you need to sell yourself. This is usually asked by a colleague, not a supervisor in a peer-panel interview – so remember to not come off as superior.
What is a Behavioral Interview?
Companies lose a lot of money if an employee quits or is let go.Behavioral interviewing was created to allow employers to find out about your personality without asking questions you can memorize answers to before an interview. Managers/recruiters/peer-panels are trained to do this! Behavioral interviews catch you off guard. For employers, they are an amazing way to interview and increase retention, but for interviewees, they CAN be intimidating. Read on below for help!
How to prepare? Research common behavioral questions in your industry. Some of the types will be:
You notice your coworker on the phone playing Candy Crush while she could be working, what do you do? Your customer just called and was shipped the wrong order, and he can’t start a project. How would you handle this situation?
A coworker stole your social media idea and pitched it to management, getting full credit. How would you handle this? Behavioral interview questions are situational questions, so think of a situation you have been in —an uncomfortable one— and use that for practice. I have interviewed, it went well, not WHAT? Send an email thank you note, NOW! The same day, no later. This should be a simple but detailed note and is extremely important! Too much or too little detail can be a detriment. This shows excitement and follow-through.
Send references, even if they don’t ask. There are such strict HR laws that employers are limited to the types of questions they can ask a former employer. Providing references is a great way to show confidence. Be sure to include up to five professional and five personal references!
Send a hand-written thank you note via snail mail TODAY!!!
It works ? Call your recruiter and tell them how it went and further express your interest.
21 Questions to Ask In A Job Interview To Improve Your Chances of Getting an Offer An interview is meant to be a two-way street. What questions you ask can mean the difference between getting the job or not! Print this out and bring it with you. Remember, you are interviewing them as well! And don’t forget to ASK FOR THE JOB!!!
Good General Questions:
? What do you see ahead for your company in the next five years?
? How do you see the future of this industry?
? What do you consider to be your firm’s most important assets?
? What can you tell me about your new product or plans for growth?
? How do you rate your competition?
? What happened to the last person who held this job?
The role: Here are strategic questions that allow you to showcase why you are perfect for the job being filled and how you will be evaluated if you get the job:
? What would you consider to be the most important aspects of this job?
? What were the major strengths and weaknesses of the last person who held this job? OR: Tell me about someone who has succeeded in this role – what were their key strengths (you can then compare yourself.)
? What types of skills do you NOT already have onboard that you’re looking to fill with a new hire?
? What are the skills and attributes you value most for someone being hired for this position?
? Could you describe a typical day or week in this position?
The typical client or customer I would be dealing with?
? What are the most immediate challenges of the position that need to be addressed in the first three months?
? What are the performance expectations of this position over the first 12 months?
? How will I be evaluated at XYZ company, and how often?
The department: Asking about the department you may can help you understand more about the company’s culture and hierarchy:
? What is the overall structure of the company and how does your department fit into that structure?
? What are the career paths in this department?
? What have been the department’s successes in the last couple of years?
? How do you view your group/division/department?
? Where have successful employees previously in this position progressed to within the company
? At the end of the interview, don’t forget to ask: What are the next steps in the interview process?
Do you have any concerns about my abilities to do this job? ASK THIS! You can “resell” yourself and address any concerns before you leave!!!!
Finally, just reiterate your interest, smile and throw in an additional compliment – GOOD LUCK!