Writing a resume is not easy, and frankly it is not meant to be.  Usually, the writer opens a blank document in Microsoft Word and start typing facts of our experiences such as where, when and what.   Everything seems to click along until we get to the bullet points “content” under each work and/or leadership experience.  Our instinct is to ask ourselves”   “What did I do here?”  When the product is complete, we look at it as a good summary of our past experiences and accomplishments, call it good and use it to apply for positions. 

I receive resumes like this every day, and do you want to know my response?  BORING!!  Facts alone do not tell a story.   An impactful resume tells a compelling story that prompts the reader to want to learn more.  A list of facts will not do that.

If an employer needs someone with problem solving, analytical and decision making skills, then it is your job as an applicant to write a resume proving to the employer you have had great success in each of these areas.  Think of your best stories and input those stories where appropriate on your resume.  Remember that every action has a result.  That’s a fact. Everything we do has a result. 

The purpose of a resume is to prove to an employer that you can do the job at hand and do it very well.  Just stating the tasks you performed on a job will not do that.  Your resume will be weak and overlooked.  To be noticed make sure every action you list on your resume ends with a result. 

Action = Results and Results=Value.  In the job search, the action/task doesn’t mean anything to an employer without proving how you added value to their organization.  Oh, and by the way make that result a good one.  Happy Resume Writing.

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I have seen some wild interview clothing choices in my 20 years of career advising, and I think (probably haven’t though) I’ve just about seen it all.  Anything from short skirts during the Melrose Place and Heather Locklear years to Mickey Mouse ties.  I have seen it.  And that doesn’t even take into account piercing and tattoo issues.  One thing remains constant, at the end of the day the recruiter remembers those individuals for their clothing choices, not their minds. 

Wearing clothing to be noticed does not work in a positive way in an interview setting. Of course, there are a few exceptions to this rule but the percentage is very small.  The fact is that you might get my attention, but it probably will not be the response you want.   You will be known at the end of day as the person with the short skirt or the guy with the wild tie.  Nothing you say in an interview will be remembered. 

What do you think is the purpose of wearing a professional and usually considered conservative suit to an interview?  It’s a sign of respect.  It’s a visual way of telling the interviewer that you appreciate their time and that you can be trusted to look professional with this company’s clients. 

Here are a few tips when considering what to wear for an interview:

  1. Realize the difference between trend and style. 
  2. If you want a serious career, then wear a serious suit. 
  3. You are not interviewing to get a date.  You aren’t right? 
  4. Never ask a friend how you look for an interview.  Ladies, if your roommate tells you that you look cute, you turn right around and go change! 
  5. Go to a professional and ask advice.    
  6. Get a tailor.  The hem of your pants, suit jacket, skirt, etc. is very important.  And yes, fabric matters.

When you walk in an interview room, the interviewer should look at you and picture you in front of the company’s clients.  This evaluation should take a few seconds and then the rest of the interview is when you WOW the interviewer with what you can DO for the company. 

The internal dialogue of an interviewer when you walk into the room should be “This person looks professional enough to sit at a conference table with my clients.  Now let’s get to the interview.”  At this point, your dress should be ignored and forgotten.  Your ability to do the job and be successful in a progressive career with this company is what the interviewer should be talking about at the end of the day.

Confidence – Own it!

August 13, 2010

I conducted quite an interesting mock interview a few days ago. This candidate has struggled in getting past the first round interview and came in for a mock interview to possibly identify where he needs the most improvement. So he comes in, sits down, looks very sharp and is very quiet and still, with no facial expression.  He waits for the first question…

  • Question: Tell me about your past experience. (For all of you job seekers, the truth behind this question is tell me about what experience you have that will benefit me/my company.) Answer: The candidate proceeds to list out his duties in great detail, and drones on and on.  So I try to dive in a little deeper to uncover how he has made an impact in his previous experience.
  • Counter Question:  What skills can you offer me?  Answer: Well, I have X years of experience, but I really have not done the abc which is listed in the job profile.  I have not had the opportunity to work with XYZ.  With my team, I have assisted with …etc. etc…
  • Follow-up Question: Can you give me some examples of your different leadership roles?  Answer: Well, I have not held any formal leadership roles. But I have led some teams in…
  • Question: If there were  a skill you could have continued to develop in your previous professional experience, what would it be?  Answer: Formal Leadership

The whole time during this interview I am thinking to myself…  “WHAT?  This guy doesn’t think he has anything to contribute.”  If he hasn’t done anything and has zero confidence in himself, then I surely am not going to take a chance on hiring him only to convince him that he is good enough for the job.  If you have been called in for an interview, it is apparent the company thinks you have the skills necessary to perform the duties of the assigned position.  Otherwise they would not waste their time and yours. Not to mention, if you actually look at this candidate on paper, he held numerous leadership roles, is incredibly involved, personable, and an active participant in literally everything in which he is involved.  But  here is the problem…he was too worried about over-inflating his answers that he ended up appearing  weak, incompetent, and lacking in self-confidence. With each question that was asked, he began with what he has not had the opportunity to do instead of focusing on what he has to offer.  He mentioned that he does not want to be perceived as being arrogant.  But in actuality, he was being too humble.

Advice:  Own it!  In the interview, you have to demonstrate what you have to offer, not from your team, from you.  If you don’t believe in yourself, I am not going to either. With each line on your resume, you are demonstrating a skill (if you have a good resume) and that is what you need to promote.  How did you make an impact with the skills you have?  How is that going to help me as the employer?  Does it relate to the position in which you are applying?

There are times to be humble but the interview is not one of those times.  Don’t get me wrong, it is also not a time to be arrogant.  You have to let the company know that you have what it takes to do the job, and if you can’t demonstrate that ability, then guess what.  I will go with the candidate who can.  Confidence is the key…the perfect combination of preparation and opportunity.

Own it!  Work it!  And don’t forget to smile.

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In years past, Career Fair was a time for job seekers to speak with employers face-to-face and present a resume to hopefully result in an interview and potential offer.  With the Internet and movement to online resume submissions, many employers—certainly not all—have stopped accepting the paper resume at Career Fairs using their online system. 

With this latest trend, job seekers often ask if attending Career Fairs is worth the time.  My answer is YES.  To use a corporate buzz phrase (I try not to use them often), think “outside the box”.  Look beyond immediate gratification.  Career Fairs are well worth your time.  Let’s look at a few scenarios that prove my point.

  1.  You walk up to a career fair booth and strike up a conversation with the person at the booth; however, the representative cannot take your paper resume.  You are directed to apply online.  Okay.  Proceed as directed, but please continue to use the time with this employer to ask further questions about the position, career path and company in general.  Look for a nametag, and write down the employer representative’s name and a few notes about your conversation.  After the Fair, send a targeted resume and cover letter to the representative you met along with a few points from your conversation.  You can find the address online or call the company’s corporate general number.  This information is extremely easy to find.  You will be surprised. 
  2. You walk up to a booth, and the employer representative quickly informs you that the company is only attending the Fair to fill specific positions which does not pertain to your functional interest.  DO NOT WALK AWAY!  Stay for a few moments to either ask for the name of the proper person for you to contact or at least ask a few questions about the company.  Then when you return home, either write a letter to the contact name you were given or network your way to the correct contact.  Write a targeted resume and cover letter and be sure to note your conversation with the company representative at the Fair. 
  3. You walk up to a booth, and the employer representative is the correct person for you to contact yet knows that the company will not be hiring for your area of interest right now.  Once again, DO NOT WALK AWAY!  Stay and talk with this employer.  Communicate your interest in the company.  The reason that company is there is to build relationships for the future; however, many job seekers do not take advantage of this opportunity at Career Fairs.  This is the perfect example of how relationship building turns into opportunity for the future.  You will be an A-Lister with this company for the future.  And remember to contact this employer after the Fair and continue to build your professional relationship.

Job seekers should use every opportunity to learn, to network, and to make the best impression possible.  Any face time you can get with an employer is well worth your time, money and effort.  The key to Career Fair success is thinking “outside that box.”

When shopping for toothpaste, you are looking for specifics:  whitening, tartar control, flavor, etc.  You as the customer want a product to meet your needs.    I know that when I shop for any product whether it be toothpaste, shampoo or even a car, my only concern is whether that product can do what I need it to do.  Don’t you think the same way? 

Colgate’s marketing campaign never mentions the company’s goal to increase market and beat the competition.  You will never find company’s goals listed on the packaging for a tube of Crest.  Both companies and all products and services for that matter focuses on meeting the customer’s needs.  Selling by definition at www.dictionary.com is to cause or persuade to accept.  Please accept my product or service because it can meet your needs.  If Crest or Colgate offer what you want, you will buy that product.  If the product meets your expectations, you will continue buying that particular product, It is as simple as that.  Focus on meeting the customer’s needs. 

Hiring is the same basic principle as marketing any product or service.  Employers state their needs through job descriptions.  Job seekers prove their ability to meet the employer needs.  The job candidate who does the best job of marketing and proving his or her value to the employer gets the job. 

Instead of focusing on what you in a job, focus on what you have to offer the employer.  Be the solution.  What are the employer’s benefits to hiring you?  Find out what the employer needs and make sure you are promoting a solution to those needs. 

If you can produce what you promise, then you will naturally reap the benefits. 

When employers go shopping, make sure they select your brand.