When you decide to take your next career step, write out your personal and professional goals to see if they align. The following questions can help you clarify your objectives:
- Why are you in your field?
- Are your talents and personality traits being fully utilized?
- Are continuing education and training high priorities where you work?
After you have answered these questions, take the following next steps.
- Career management: Take control of your life by taking positive steps to achieve your objectives.
- Support: Be sure that your family endorses your choices. You’ll be able to move faster when an offer is tendered.
- Networking: Your career network should & include friends, current and former colleagues, vendors, industry contacts, recruiters, teachers and classmates.
- Skills: Today’s economic environment is constantly changing. Make sure your skills are current.
Writing a resume can often be a daunting task – regardless of experience or writing ability. Remember, your resume is your most important calling card in your job search. It is just as significant in making a first impression as a face-to-face interview. And without a superb resume, chances are slim that you’ll even get an interview. The following tips—many from the MRINetwork™ and Monster Websites—and guidelines should help you create a professional, effective resume in no time.
Fatal Resume Errors
- Poor grammar, typos, misspellings, etc. A sloppy resume says you’re careless.
- Overkill. Anything over a page-and-a-half is too long.
- Vagueness. Quantify your results. Don’t state: “Responsible for supervising 300 employees.” Instead say: “Managed the marketing department, which increased revenues 82 percent in a four-year period.” Don’t write a job description; list what you have accomplished.
- Plagiarism. Avoid patterning your resume after the same examples everyone else uses. Hiring authorities get bored with look-alike resumes. Be creative and different-but only to a point.
- Colored paper. Any color other than white is unacceptable. Colored paper does not copy well-your resume will be distributed to multiple people.
- Clichés and buzzwords. Don’t use words that you think should sound “smart.” Hiring authorities are not impressed with “utilize,” “flexible,” “team player,” and “seeking an opportunity for me to grow and develop.”
- Tiresome details. If you’re well into your career, skip those college summer jobs. As you advance in age and up the corporate ladder, pare down your resume. Nobody really cares that you worked your way through college waiting tables, especially when you’re applying for an executive position with a securities firm.
- Indeterminate gender. If you’re Pat, Lynn, or Lee, don’t keep ’em guessing. With certain names use Mr. or Ms. as a prefix.
- Lying. First, you don’t lie because it’s wrong. Second, you don’t lie because if you get caught, you won’t get the job.
- Omitting your job objective. State clearly what you’re looking for. Ambiguity indicates you lack direction and focus.
- Listing your job objective. Note that this contradicts the previous point. Some headhunters think a job objective limits the candidate. If the exact position isn’t available within the organization, the candidate automatically eliminates himself from a job. Do your homework in advance to be sure your objective coincides with an open position before including it in the resume. If there are several positions that interest you, do not include your objective.
© Management Recruiters International, Inc.
Resume Critique Checklist by Kim Isaacs, Monster Resume Expert
Resumes normally get less than a 15-second glance at the first screening. If someone has asked you to review his resume and you want to help him ensure it gets read — or want to know if your own is up to par — be sure you can answer yes to the following questions:
- Does the resume look original and not based on a template?
- Is the resume inviting to read, with clear sections and ample white space?
- Does the design look professional rather than like a simple typing job?
- Is a qualifications summary included so the reader immediately knows the applicant’s value proposition?
- Is the length and overall appearance of the resume appropriate given the career level and objective?
- Does the resume provide a visually pleasing, polished presentation?
- Is the font appropriate for the career level and industry?
- Are there design elements such as bullets, bolding and lines to guide readers’ eyes through the document and highlight important content?
- Is there a good balance between text and white space?
- Are margins even on all sides?
- Are design elements like spacing and font size used consistently throughout the document?
- If the resume is longer than a page, does the second page contain a heading? Is the page break formatted correctly?
- Are all resume sections clearly labeled?
- Are sections placed in the best order to highlight the applicant’s strongest credentials?
- Is the work history listed in reverse chronological order (most recent job first)?
- Is the career objective included toward the top of the resume in a headline, objective or qualifications summary?
- Is the resume targeted to a specific career goal and not trying to be a one-size-fits-all document?
- If this is a resume for career change, is the current objective clearly stated, along with supporting details showing how past experience is relevant to the new goal?
- Does the resume include a solid?
- Are accomplishments quantified by using numbers, percentages, dollar amounts or other concrete measures of success?
- Do accomplishment statements begin with strong, varied action verbs?
- Are accomplishments separated from responsibilities?
- Is the information relevant to hiring managers’ needs?
- Does the resume’s content support the career goal?
- Is the resume keyword-rich, packed with appropriate buzzwords and industry acronyms?
- Is applicable additional information, such as awards and affiliations, included, while personal information like marital status, age and nationality unrelated to the job target omitted?
- Is the resume written in an implied first-person voice with personal pronouns, such as I, me and my, avoided?
- Is the content flow logical and easy to understand?
- Is the resume as perfect as possible, with no careless typos or spelling.
© 2007 Monster
Still stumped about creating your resume? Answer these questions to spark your memory.
Answer 20 or 30 of these questions:
We guarantee that you will come up with some new ideas about your job responsibilities and skills.
- What experience, skills, aptitudes, or traits do you have, or think you might have, that could be of some use to a future employer?
- What skills have you developed, at least to some degree that you have never used at work?
- Do others, at work or elsewhere, come to you for any particular kind of help? What kind?
- Do you have military experience (including Coast Guard and Merchant Marine)? Branch, grade, specialty? Active duty, Reserves, National Guard? Discharge? Duties? Accomplishments? Medals, citations, commendations? Promotions ahead of schedule? You can treat military experience either here, as general background, or list each position as an employer in the Resume Questionnaire. Don’t forget, military training can be particularly useful if it is relevant to your objective.
- Have you ever published an article, report, or anything, even as a volunteer, even in your professional association newsletter?
- Have you ever given a talk, speech, or presentation, or provided training to anyone at work or elsewhere? Give the specifics.
- Computer Literacy & Computer Skills: Are you familiar with a certain type of software?
- What foreign languages do you know at least somewhat, and what is your level of skill in each? i.e., native speaker; fluent; moderate; phrase-book; write easily for professional purposes?
- What tools and techniques are you familiar with?
- What Continuing Education courses have you taken?
- What experience have you had as a manager or supervisor?
- Do you have any special travel experience, domestic or foreign? If you studied, lived, or worked in a foreign country, how long were you there? Did you live in an American enclave?
Responsibilities & Activities:
When answering the following questions, provide specific information to measure your accomplishments.
- How many people did you supervise? orient? hire? train?
- How large a budget did you manage? What specific goals were achieved through the budget? How did it change?
- Who do you report to?
- What was the highest level in the organization that you reported to or communicated with directly?
- Did you coordinate anything?
- Have you served as liaison between groups or key individuals?
- Have you mediated between groups or individuals? Resolved any conflicts? Mentored anyone?
- Did you do, or participate in, strategic planning?
- Did you set, evaluate or participate in the setting or evaluation of policy?
- Did you evaluate any individual or group performance, or any task or project research?
- Did you communicate with patients, suppliers, insurance company representatives, doctors, etc? How?
- Did you do any surveys or other research or studies? Determine requirements?
- Have you designed or managed any processes, systems, or projects?
- Have you organized any events, conferences or meetings? How many?
- Did you administer anything?
- Have you consulted for anyone, inside or outside the organization?
- Did you gain experience in any special use software?
- Do you speak or are you fluent in any foreign languages?
- What are your academic achievements?
- What associations or organizations did you belong to in college?
- What did you accomplish? What goals were met?
- Did you add any smoothness, quality, or economy of operation that noticeably improved the way things were before you assumed responsibility?
- Are there any concrete or specific signs of the gain you achieved?
- Did you propose or suggest any programs, changes, or improvements that were implemented, at least partly, because of your initiative?
- What positive results occurred?
- What did you do as a volunteer, beyond the regular duties of your position?
- Whether you were paid for it or not, what were you particularly good at that made a difference in how the organization (job, project, assignment) progressed from day to day?
- Have you received a Special Certification or Award?
- Were you praised, recognized, or given a pat on the back for anything — a particular assignment, a method of working, a trait of character? How? By whom?
- Were you promoted ahead of schedule?
- Were you selected for any special responsibilities or programs?
Preparing for the interview is just as important as the actual meeting. Consider the following before you meet with your potential employer.
- Be open to a variety of opportunities. Go to every interview you can. It never hurts to talk, and an opportunity may turn out to be more than you expected. You can learn from each interview even if it doesn’t lead to a position.
- Be open to other locations.
- Get your references ready. They can be former employers, co-workers, or teachers. Contact them to let them know to expect some calls. Have all their contact information in one place.
- Consider preparing a “Proof Book” containing:
- A current CV/Resume
- Writing samples or list of significant accomplishments, if any
- Letters of recommendation
- Blank paper for notes
- Questions for the business
- Blank thank you notes
You may never have to open it, but it demonstrates preparedness and professionalism; this will set you apart from other candidates the firm may be considering.
Questions for Your Interviewer
Because you are looking for a long-term position, it is just as imperative for you to interview the prospective employer as it is for them to interview you. Study the hiring firm or organization and tailor questions specific to that practice. This will show interest and give you information you need, as well as take some pressure off the interviewer.
Note: Do not lead off with questions about compensation.
- What are your business philosophies?
- Why is this position available?
- What would be expected of me in this position? What additional roles would I be expected to fill?
- What changes have occurred in your business / market during the last five years? What changes are on the horizon?
- Can you describe your marketing efforts?
- What is it about your business that you are the most proud of?
- Where do you see the business in five or ten years?
- What are your personal and professional goals?
- What are your goals for the business?
- What specific things are you looking for the new engineer, manager, etc. to bring to the business?
- How will my performance be evaluated?
- What opportunities are there for growth in the next 12 months? Two years? Five years?
- What growth do you anticipate for your organization in the next 12 months?
The Telephone Interview
- Return your phone messages and E-mails promptly. It speaks to your motivation, interest, and courtesy. Don’t let returning phone calls or e-mails become an issue or an obstacle to getting an interview. Even if you don’t think you will be interested in an opportunity, return the call. On more than one occasion we have seen a candidate get a call from Organization B when he was already talking with Organization A. The candidate puts off returning the call to Organization B. Two or three weeks later, the opportunity with Organization A does not work out and now Organization B will not consider the candidate because no calls have been returned.
- Your main goal in a telephone interview is to get a face-to-face interview.
- Ask for the interview. Take the initiative to set a time. Say something like, “From what you have told me, I would be very interested in meeting with you and coming to see your operation. When would be good for you?”
- Smile – even on the phone. You really can hear when someone is smiling.
The Face-To-Face Interview
- Treat the staff with courtesy and respect. A Hiring Manager often feels like his or her staff is like family and will listen to their opinion, especially if it is negative. On more than one occasion, we have seen excellent candidates not offered an opportunity because they treated a staff member poorly.
Smile and show some enthusiasm. More candidates are hired because of their personality and positive attitude than because of a specific skill.
- Show sincere interest in the hiring manager’s situation. Understand that the manager needs to solve a problem. Maybe the organization just lost a key employee. Maybe the organization is growing and cannot keep up with business demands. Maybe the manager needs someone to take over the organization when he or she transitions into another role. You need to get a clear understanding of the true motivation for adding personnel. Once you truly understand needs of the hiring manager, you can mutually determine if you are the solution.
- If you are interested, let the Manager know you are interested. At the close of the interview say something like, “I just wanted to let you know that I am very interested in this opportunity and I am ready to take the next step – whatever that is. How should I proceed from here?” This doesn’t mean that you will accept the job with no further discussion. It simply shows you would be sincerely interested in discussing contract terms or meeting with other key contributors, managers, or executive staff members as needed.
Questions You May Be Asked
Your recruiter should be able to give you a good idea of the hiring manager’s personality, his or her typical interview demeanor, and a few important questions that the hiring manager is likely to ask, such as:
- Tell me about yourself. Keep your answer in the professional realm only. Review your past positions, education and other strengths.
- Why are you interested in this position? Relate how you feel your qualifications match the job requirements. Also, express your desire to work for the company.
- What are the most significant accomplishments in your career? Identify recent accomplishments that relate to the position and its requirements.
- Describe a situation in which your work was criticized. Focus on how you resolved the situation and became a better person because of the experience.
- What do you know about our organization?
- How would you describe your personality?
- How do you perform under pressure?
- What have you done to improve yourself over the past year?
- What did you like least about your last position?
- Are you leaving (did you leave) your present (last) organization?
- What is your ideal working environment?
- How would your associates describe you?
- What do you think of your boss?
- Have you ever fired anyone?
- What was the situation and how did you handle it?
- Are you creative?
- What are your goals in your career?
- Where do you see yourself in two years?
- Why should we hire you?
- What kind of salary are you looking for?
- What other types of positions/firms are you considering?
- Arrive 10 minutes early. Being late to an interview is never excusable.
- Clarify questions. Answer the interviewer’s questions as specifically as possible. Relate your skills and background to the position requirements throughout the interview.
- Give your qualifications. Focus on accomplishments that are most pertinent to the job.
- Anticipate tough questions. Prepare to turn perceived weaknesses into strengths.
- Ask questions. An interview should be a mutual exchange of information, not a one-sided conversation.
- Listen. Concentrate not only on the interviewer’s words, but also on the tone of voice and body language. Once you understand how the interviewer thinks, pattern your answers accordingly and you will be able to establish a better rapport.
- Dress appropriately. Make your first impression a professional one.
- Be professional. Smile, make eye contact and maintain good posture. These are simple but important things that are easy to forget to do during an interview.
- Don’t answer vague questions. Ask the interviewer to clarify fuzzy questions.
- Don’t interrupt the interviewer. If you don’t listen, the interviewer won’t either.
- Don’t be overly familiar, even if the interviewer is.
- Don’t ramble. Overlong answers may make you sound apologetic or indecisive.
- Don’t lie. Answer questions truthfully.
- Don’t express resentment. Avoid derogatory remarks about present or former employers.
- Don’t wear heavy perfume or cologne. The interviewer may not share your tastes.
Closing the Interview
Job candidates often second-guess themselves after interviews. By asking good questions and closing strongly you can reduce post-interview doubts. If you feel that the interview went well and you want to take the next step, express your interest to the interviewer. Try an approach like the following: “After learning more about your organization, the position and responsibilities, I believe that I have the qualities you are looking for. Are there any issues or concerns that would lead you to believe otherwise?”
This is an effective closing question because it opens the door for the hiring manager to be honest with you about his or her feelings. If concerns do exist, you may be able to create an opportunity to overcome them, and have one final chance to dispel the concerns, sell your strengths and end the interview on a positive note. A few things to remember during the closing process:
- Make sure that you have thoroughly answered these questions during the interview: “Why are you interested in our organization?” and “What can you offer?”.
- Express appreciation for the interviewer’s time and consideration.
- Don’t expect an offer to be made or a specific salary to be discussed during your first interview.
After your interview, follow-up is critical. When you get in your car, immediately write down key issues uncovered in the interview. Think of the qualifications the employer is looking for and match your strengths to them.
Remember proper etiquette. Some people prefer a personal “thank you” note or letter, while others are content with a follow-up “thank you” email. To be safe, send an email thanking the hiring manager right away. Then, write a “thank you” letter or note to the hiring manager. Both tasks should be completed no later than 24 hours after the interview. Be sure to call your recruiter to discuss your interview and your next steps.
Congratulations! You’ve landed the job! No you are faced with the delicate challenge of resigning from your current employer without burning bridges, and saying good-bye to friends and colleagues.
ETS Tech-Ops will help you draft your resignation letter. Then, you will make an appointment with your manager to respectfully explain your decision. Your manager needs to hear that your decision is firm and final and that you are committed to your new employer. Express appreciation for the opportunities that your former employer has given you. Be careful not to get lured into any discussions other than your resignation, such as how your employer wants to handle your final weeks or the transition of your current responsibilities and projects.
You’ve had the interview and you are extended an offer. Now what do you do? Is it a good offer, great offer, or a time bomb ready to blow up in your face?
Perhaps you are choosing between multiple offers. Maybe you are trying to determine whether you should take the first job you’ve been offered. Call us, we are here to help. Even if your offer is not from one of our clients, we would be happy to give you an assessment of how it stacks up. Contact your recruiter for assistance.
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