Most positions, above the minimum wage level, will require you to submit a resume in order to be considered for the position. I have received up to 300 resumes for a single opening. Resumes are first used as a way to weed out unlikely candidates. Believe it or not, the "No thank you" pile was first created with resumes that had spelling errors and/or appeared sloppy in appearance.
Next, we looked for those resumes that were not a near perfect fit for the advertised opening and added them to the stack. Those resumes that made the first cut were then scrutinized for reasons to interview the candidate. Things we looked for included: Education, additional training, community involvement, life experiences, and anything else that might indicate that this is an outstanding candidate. We knew that we wanted to interview at least five and no more that ten candidates. So what ever we had to do to get to a workable number, we did it.
I am sure that we lost some very good candidates over the years using this method, but the ones selected to be interviewed were good candidates as well. The purpose of the resume is to get you to the interview stage of the hiring process. If you are serious about wanting that interview, your resume must:
- Be neat and clean
- Be well written
- Emphasis your strengths as they relate to the job description
- Detail your employment (educational) history
- Include experiences that made you a better person (military, volunteering, service orgs.)
- Have a cover letter that states why you would love to work for this company and why you would be a perfect fit
- Kept it three pages or less
Good Luck! -TCB
From the Author:
I am a life long learner, with decades of experience and wisdom to share. I am here to help, field questions and stimulate discussion. Comment on my posts and I will reply promptly.
-Thomas C. Barry
Career and Education Correspondent for CareerSearchToday.com
It’s great news when you’re called in for an interview. Your resume made the cut and you’re ready to move on to the next step. You’re halfway there. One major problem is that people think if you’re called in for an interview, you’re as good as hired. Be aware that you might be interviewed along with dozens of other candidates.
So don’t act like you’ve got the job when you sit down to interview. You’ve still got a lot of selling to do. In fact, overconfidence can actually work against you. Overconfidence can actually come off as indifference: it shows a lack of eagerness and enthusiasm, two traits enormously important for potential candidates.
The key to a good interview is one of balance: you must be confident but not overconfident, relaxed but not to the point of being unprofessional, practiced but not mundane, informative but concise. Think you can handle all that? There’s a reason that people don’t long to enter the interview process. It can be difficult to straddle all those lines.
In addition, no one really likes to be judged in real life, but that is exactly what happens in each and every interview. If you make a mistake, this will be noted. It can cause any potential candidate to have a fit of nerves. Perhaps the best advice to give regarding the interview process is this: you are bound to make a mistake or two. Obviously, you want to try not to, but nobody’s perfect. So long as you have a realistic perception of your capabilities, you won’t get too flustered when you do make a mistake, perhaps digging yourself a deeper hole.
In some sense, the interview depends a lot on the interviewer. You don’t expect to get along perfectly with each and every person you meet, the same goes for a job interview. In some interviews, there will be an instant chemistry with the interviewer. In another interview, it will be more like pulling teeth. In some cases, a bad interview might not even be your fault—you pulled out everything from your bag of tricks and still didn’t get a good response.
Expect this: some interviews will just not go as well as you’d like, even with ample preparation. If you feel like an interview is steering off course, change your tactics. Just because something worked in an interview yesterday, does not mean it will work in an interview today. You must be able to read the tendencies of your interviewer. Perhaps he wants to talk about your future goals more than your past experience. Perhaps he responds well to flattery, or not at all.
Each interview is a totally new experience and should be approached as such. A good job interviewee adapts to each interview, rather than bringing the same game plan to each interview. While you should most definitely prepare for each interview—preparing answers to common questions and researching the business—you should also be expected to change your plan midstream according to the personality of the interviewer. If you do, you will be much more likely to nail the interview.
There are certain resume habits that might lead to a resume being put through the paper shredder. If you can’t put together a decent resume, how can an employer expect you to be very professional for the day-to-day work in the office? After all, you have days, if not weeks, to put together your resume. How are you going to react to on the fly decisions?
To start, your work experience ten years ago is not nearly as important as your most recent experience. Employers are generally most interested in your most recent employment. Highlight your experience in this area.
This mainly applies to younger candidates. For instance, an older applicant may have worked at the same job for twenty years, which ended ten years ago. If this is the case, then by all means you should include your work experience for a job that lasted for such an extended period. Younger applicants should highlight internships and relevant recent jobs, rather than that high school summer job working at the beach.
If you’re just out of college, you may need to add your recent college experience as a primary “work” reference— especially if you have not done any hands-on work. Generally though, your educational experience should be included at the bottom, including brief information about your focus and degree.
Younger candidates also have a tendency to add extraneous information to make up for their lack of direct work experience. Don’’t add personal a lot of personal information. It is not even recommended that you add your age, marital status, number of children, or health issues. Really your work experience is of the most primary concern.
Though some jobs do ask for a photo, it is not necessary to include this with a resume. Some companies might file this under over-embellishment. So if the company does not ask for a photo, don’t include one. References may or may not be necessary, depending on the job. Some jobs will request references up front while others won’t need references until after the interview.
Never use flashy paper, fonts, or graphics. Even if you have top-notch credentials, this will be seen like you are making up for something that is lacking in the resume. It will create a sense of prejudice right off. The idea is to make your experience stand out from the other candidates, not the resume itself.
Be sure to proofread your resume several times to make sure there are no mistakes. It is also recommended that you don’t use abbreviations. These can be less clear than writing out words in their entirety.
Listing your jobs by the year— rather than the month and the year— give the best impression that you have had longer term, stable employment. If you have been promoted within the organization, list the overall years you worked as well as the increasing work responsibility you may have had. There are ways to embellish your work experience without overwriting. Instead of writing “secretary,” write “office assistant,” and highlight the many responsibilities.
Strangely enough, many prospective employees don’t prepare for job interviews with the same diligence that they put together a resume. In many respects the interview is even more important than the resume. Certainly, you won’t even get to the interview without a good resume, but a good interview is what ultimately makes or breaks you getting the job.
Just as you’ve gone through your resume and summarized the most salient points from your job history, you should have a clear idea of what you want to express in an interview. Go through your resume again and decide the most important points that you want to cover in an interview.
An interview needs to be as concise as a resume. If you don’t have a clear idea about what you want to say ahead of time, nerves may get a hold of you and you’ll be in danger of incoherence. Worse case scenario, of course, but it is vitally important to speak with confidence and forcefulness. Having a basic script before you enter an interview is a sure fire way to make this possible.
One way to do this is to write a short essay about your work experience. At first this can be a general assessment of your skills, talent, and experience. Later you can cater this to each individual interview—covering topics that are directly related to the job. Writing out potential interview answers is good practice for the interview. If you’re not comfortable writing an extended assessment of yourself, then speak into a tape recorder. Another method is to act out an interview with someone close to you.
These tactics are mainly useful if you are just beginning to enter the workforce. After a series of interviews, you’re likely to get the hang of it. Like anything, good interviewing takes practice. However, you should never stop preparing for an interview. Every company is different so you should have answers that specifically address the job you’re applying for.
There are some issues that can only partially be prepared for in advance. For instance, you have to be able to read your interviewer, and this can only be done once you get to the interviewer. Some interviews will have a good chemistry, some will not: that’s a fact of life. But there are ways to make the most out of an interview even if it doesn’t seem to be going well.
You must be able to adapt to the personality of the interviewer. If your original game plan doesn’t seem to be working, change tactics. You should have a few different answers for the same question. Some interviewers may not want a laundry list of experience and former responsibilities. Some interviewers may be more generally goal-oriented—what you hope to achieve, what you want out of life, rather than how many words you can type a minute. Your interview must correspond to the interviewers personality type.
Some other things you can do to prepare for an interview: iron your clothes, look presentable, and shine those shoes. The last one can actually be very important. Believe it or not, some interviewers take a lot from the state of a person’s shoes. Finally, turn off your cell phone. It can be rude and unprofessional to have a cell phone go off in the middle of an interview.
Check your local newspaper for jobs. This can be a tedious task especially when you can search for jobs online. The only reason to search for jobs in your local newspaper is when you don’t have access to a computer. You can read a newspaper anywhere like in line at the grocery store, while you’re having lunch or riding the bus. Sometimes you can find a job in the paper that you didn’t see online. It can’t hurt to give it a peek.
The best way to job hunt is online. Hunting for jobs online is the easiest way to look through job ads. These websites have time-saving features you can utilize in your search. One great feature is the keyword search. You can type in a certain phrase or job title and you’ll receive a list of results that match your search.
Within this search you can sort the job ads by date so that you see the recently posted job ads instead ads that have been out for two weeks or more. You can forget about those jobs. Employers have either hired someone by that time or at least received dozens and dozens of resumes that will take weeks to weed through. If they still can’t find someone the employer will repost the job anyway. Don’t waste your time with old posts. The trick is to apply to a new posting as early as possible, preferably the same day.
Anther way to search job web sites is by location or zip code. This allows you to really set the area that you wish to work. No point in looking at a position that’s two hours away unless you’re heart is set on that particular company.
Once you’ve located the jobs you want, the next step is to send out your resume. You should already have your resume done before you search for jobs. You can’t be the first to email or fax your resume if you still have to take a day to polish it. Your resume should be ready to go so that you can make minor changes quickly in order to tailor your resume to a particular position.
Most companies will ask you to email your resume. Be sure to have your resume in a file that can be opened by most programs. A Word file is a good option. Pay attention to the job ad. Does it ask you not to send your resume as an attachment? Many companies don’t like to open attachments because of computer viruses. If you see this warning, copy and paste your resume into the body of your email. Email it to yourself first so you can see what it looks like. Change any fonts or bullet points if it doesn’t show well in email format.
Whether you use the newspaper or the Internet, job searching doesn’t have to be a pain. The trick is to be prepared to send out your resume at a moment’s notice. Soon you’ll have the job you’re looking for.
Creating a good resume will take a step-by-step process. Too often, resume writers do one draft and they’re done. In truth, you should do four or five drafts of the same resume—and that’s only one version. It is not uncommon to have several different resumes if you’re applying to different types of jobs.
This brings us to step one: declaring a focus. Each resume should have a theme. Each job listing, reference, and skill should elaborate on this theme. So, for example, if your resume has a web design focus, each job listing should list experience with web design. The very same job may also have had clerical responsibilities. A separate resume with a clerical focus can focus on clerical duties.
To begin, though, you should start with one focus alone. At the top of the resume you should declare a statement of purpose. This will summarize the focus of the resume. The statement of purpose should be precise rather than general. Instead of writing, “I would like a job that utilizes my skills and experience,” write, “A web designer with five years HTML experience looking for commercial web design employment.”
The next step is to go through your job history and descriptions. If these jobs were several years in the past, you might contact your former employers and obtain a job description. Even so, your duties may stray from the official description so try to think back to your day-to-day responsibilities. In addition, try to tie in these responsibilities with your resume’s overall focus.
Remember that your resume is going to be read very quickly so your information should be concise and easy to read. It should also contain keywords that are easily recognized: HTML, Unix, Excel, etc. Depending on the focus of your resume, include recognizable skills in the descriptions of each job.
At first, it’s a good idea to write out every possible job function and skill for each job. This can be cut down later. In addition, some of these skills will be used for a separate resume with a different focus. For the first draft, don’t censor yourself. Through the process of writing, you may uncover things about a job.
Once you have this laundry list of jobs and skill sets, it’s time to organize the resume into a coherent whole. Ask yourself some questions. What’s the most impressive job on your resume? What are the most impressive skills? Make sure these are easily accessible. You should think about rearranging sentences so the most important skills are listed first in the job description.
Revising and refining the resume is where the real work begins. You might want to include everything, but this can actually do more harm than good. The reader should be able to survey your skills immediately, without having to dig. If you include thick paragraphs describing every one of your past responsibilities, the resume can lead to reader fatigue.
Narrow down your responsibilities in short sentences. Remember, you don’t necessarily have to write in complete sentences—clipped descriptions are OK, so long as the most important skill is mentioned. A resume has to demonstrate some sense of organization—that you get to the point quickly. This has some reflection on how you will work as an employee.