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Job Interview Tips

You’re almost there. Your resume landed you an interview and now it’s time to seal the deal. So what’s the best way to prepare?

To find the answer, I looked back on my interviews, sifted through research, and most importantly, asked employees from today’s most coveted companies. I tried to find deep insights beyond the typical “sit up straight!” and “dress to impress!” tips we hear too much.

Read More on Forbes

Don’t forget these things while looking for jobs

Double-check your privacy settings on Facebook. On Facebook, simply hiding your tagged photos or wall posts may not be enough. Potential employers might still be able to view pages you’ve liked, or events you’ve attended or RSVP’d to—and you may not want recruiters or hiring managers to see the bar crawl or burlesque show you went to. To see how your page looks to the public, navigate to the ‘Timeline and Tagging’ page and then, in the ‘Review’ section, click “Review what other people see on your timeline.”

Ensure any personal websites or portfolios are working and updated. If you link to anything like a personal site, portfolio, or blog anywhere on your resume, cover letter, or on your LinkedIn page, be sure these sites are accessible (e.g., sometimes web hosting or domain names can expire without you knowing) and up-to-date, reflecting your most recent (and best) accomplishments.

When you’re applying for jobs that request references, ensure your references know to expect a call or email. If you’ve listed or submitted references, don’t forget to let your references know.

You should also give them some information about the positions you’ve applied to—a link to the job listing, the company’s ‘About’ page, and a brief note outlining how you’ve described your experience should suffice. Take a few minutes to follow-up with your references after your interviews.

Be responsive. From responding to an invitation to interview, to following up an interview with a thank you note, don’t forget to be responsive. By definition, this means your responses should be prompt. Don’t let too much time lag, especially when it comes to messages that require you to take action (e.g., letting a potential employer know what days or times would work best for an interview, or sending along references or your portfolio). If too much time passes, the hiring manager may assume you’re not that interested, or may just pass you over for someone who was quick and enthusiastic in their replies.

Educational Requirements for Jobs

Why Do You Need to Know About Educational Requirements?

Before you decide to pursue a particular career, you must make sure you are willing to fulfill the educational requirements that will allow you to get an entry-level job. If career advancement is important to you, you will also want to discover what you will need to do to move up in that field. If you are unwilling to meet the educational requirements, or if you must start working immediately and don’t have time to get the appropriate training, you will have to think about other options. On a similar note, you may not want a job that doesn’t require a certain amount of education, for example, a college degree.

How To Find the Training You Need

When the required education for an occupation is very precise, for instance, if you must get a particular certificate or a degree from an accredited program, you will have to decide what institution to attend. There are several ways to go about finding out where to get the training you need.

  • Professional Associations: Use any search engine to find the professional association for an occupation. Then go to the organization’s website and look for a section about education or careers. If you must get your training or degree from an accredited program, it will probably say so here. There will likely be a list of programs, as well, or links to resources you can use to locate that information.
  • Local Training: Search for training by location. Programs include colleges, trades schools, unemployment retraining and short-term programs.
  • Your Network: If you have contacts in your prospective career field, find out where they received their training. You may also uncover this information through informational interviews with people who work in the occupation you are researching.

What You Need to Know About Additional Qualifications

In addition to educational requirements, the state or municipality in which you want to work may require you to have a license or certificate. You may need a certain amount of experience and have to pass written and practical examinations to get licensed or certified.

You should be aware of the difference between mandatory certification, as discussed above, and voluntary certification. Some professional associations grant credentials to individuals who demonstrate competence in an occupation or industry. This is what is meant by voluntary certification. The state or municipality will not require you to get it but it could make you a more desirable job candidate. Some employers, however, may require it.

Does your resume do its job?

A resume is a marketing document, not a legal document. It needs to showcase you. You are so much more than a collection of skills and educational attainments!

Right now, your resume is not doing its job for you because there is so little of you in it. You can easily power up your resume. Right now, your resume’s problem is that it is too timid and too wan. It sounds like anybody’s resume, or nobody’s. The biggest mistake most people make when they write their resumes is that they fall into a Mad Libs style of writing. They write in the traditional business language. You’ve seen it before. It looks like this:

Results-oriented Marketing professional with a bottom-line orientation, eager for a new challenge that will allow me to make a significant contribution to the bottom line.

This is garbage language that could never do you justice and will never entice anyone to get to know you better.

Let’s try the opening paragraph (the Summary) of your resume again:

I’m a healthcare Marketer with a passion for supporting the sales process through traditional and online marketing efforts. At XYZ I helped the company grow from $2M in annual sales to $20M in four years.

Use the word “I” in your resume. You are the subject of your resume! Tell your story. Tell us what you do well and what you like to do. That’s how your competence, intelligence and confidence will come across on the page! Go through your resume and highlight all the traditional verbiage you find. Then, work your way through your resume replacing this boring made-up language with normal human speech. Don’t list your tasks and duties from previous jobs. Tell us what you left in your wake in each job, instead!

Hiring managers want to see a living, breathing person in a resume — not a thicket of boring robot language that brands you as a boring robot person.  You are anything but that! Come out from behind that robotic persona and be yourself in your resume.

Not every hiring manager will appreciate it, but so what? You only need one hiring manager to get you — and therefore deserve you on their team.

New Grads, Follow 7 Steps to Score Glowing Job References

Spring is nearly in the air and millions of college students are looking ahead to graduation day. If they are getting prepared for life after they walk off campus for the final time, this group of millennials is also engaged in serious thinking about what they want to do next.

Here’s something else that students and early-career professionals should start thinking about: Building a portfolio of job references and taking the time to cultivate them.

For most employers, hiring an entry-level employee is a leap of faith. Without much of a workplace track record to judge by, employers are forced to depend on what fits on a piece of paper (a resume) and whatever can be gleaned from brief first impressions (interviews).

Is it any wonder that many entry-level job applicants from comparable schools and backgrounds are indistinguishable?

A few glowing job references can set a candidate apart from the crowd. Knowing that, how should a job seeker build out a killer roster of references? Here are seven key tips for putting together a top-notch reference list. These apply to first-time job seekers, but also to anyone who’s getting ready for the next move in their career.

1. Look for ways to cultivate your references. Check in regularly. Keep them up-to-date on your career successes. Talk to them about where you want to take your career. Not only will you build a base of supporters you can rely on for guidance, you will also have a group of people to turn to with confidence when you’re gunning for the job you want.

2. Get a sense of what your references are likely to say about you, especially your areas for improvement. This can be slightly tricky, but it’s doable. Ideally, your references are people you’ve gotten feedback from in the past, so you should have a feel for what they’ll say. To get clarity, it’s important to test your assumptions. It comes down to having a candid conversation with the people you’re planning to use as job references. Try to talk in a more casual, informal setting – at lunch or over a cup of coffee. Explain to them why you’d appreciate their help, and ask them to share their honest perspective on how they would talk about you during a reference check. Most times, references will be flattered by your request.

3. Don’t be afraid to serve as your own strongest advocate. It’s important to make sure that your professors, managers and other potential references know about your capabilities so that they can speak clearly with potential employers about you and your work. While this step is important, don’t be too aggressive when doing it.

4. Don’t hesitate to show off your strengths in the classroom and the workplace. Job references need to see what you can do, so they can tell prospective employers about it. Look for opportunities to demonstrate progress and smart work, so others can observe it. This doesn’t mean you should be a shameless self-promoter. It’s important to share how confident you are but do so while acting with a sense of humility. Still, if no one knows what you can accomplish, no one can tell your future managers why they should hire you.

5. Let your references know that they might be called upon and have their current contact information. If your references are readily available when an employer asks for them, it indicates that you’ve informed and prepared them to take a call or an online request – all good signs that you’re someone who is focused, thorough and motivated.

6. In addition to professors, try to have some former managers as references, even if they’re from internships. Input from people who have seen you perform in the workplace counts for a lot. Professors are great – and you should use them – but employers are thinking about how you’re going to perform once you’re walking through their doors. Feedback from managers at internships, summer jobs, work-study or any other kind of employment is key.

7. Be grateful – and show it. Your references are doing you a favor. They’re going out of their way to help you build your future. And they’re putting their own reputation and credibility on the line when they vouch for you. Be sure to thank them. A hand-written note or a warmly worded email can mean a lot. At the same time, these are folks whom you may want to ask for help again. Use the opportunity of thanking them, to keep cultivating the relationship and to ask what you can do to help them in the future.

So, whether you’re a college senior or someone getting ready to look for that next job, don’t lose track of your references. Good references don’t just happen. Your reference roster has to be cared for, nurtured and maintained. High-quality job references can make the difference between getting that job or wondering why your phone isn’t ringing.

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Multiple ways to apply for jobs

Don’t Limit Yourself to Online Applications

You want that job search to last and last? Well, then continue to rely solely on submitting online applications. You want to accelerate this bad boy? Don’t stop once you apply online for that position. Start finding and then endearing yourself to people working at that company of interest. Schedule informational interviews with would-be peers. Approach an internal recruiter and ask a few questions. Get on the radar of the very people who might influence you getting an interview.

Tip

By lining up with people on the inside of the companies at which you want to work, you will instantly set yourself apart. Decision makers interview people who come recommended or by way of a personal referral before they start sorting through the blob of resumes that arrives by way of the ATS.

Linkedin is not your only resource for finding jobs in Bellevue

We’ve seen more and more stories recently of people finding work through LinkedIn. So why would a job seeker look anywhere else for online networking? Here is one reason why it’s a bad idea to limit yourself, as a job seeker, to just LinkedIn.

The 1 Résumé Problem

It is common knowledge that when applying for a job, the candidate should customize the résumé to that position.

We have blogged about the importance of keywords before. Basically, if you want Google to return your name when a recruiter searches a keyword, you need to have chosen the right ones to put in your profile.

When going for a job, the hiring manager will look to see if your résumé is generic, or if you have really addressed the organization’s concerns.

But wait!

LinkedIn gives you only one résumé.

And to make matters worse, people are actually uploading a traditional résumé to be downloaded from their LinkedIn profile.

Once someone gets control of that document, you have no idea where it will end up. And if you haven’t customized it, you could be written off completely.

We have several clients who are testing the waters in two or more different industries. There is no way for them to cover all bases with just LinkedIn alone.

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Pointers to improve your resume in Bellevue

It’s deceptively easy to make mistakes on your resume and exceptionally difficult to repair the damage once an employer gets it. So prevention is critical, whether you’re writing your first resume or revising it for a mid-career job search. Check out this resume guide to the most common pitfalls and how you can avoid them.

1. Typos and Grammatical Errors

Your resume needs to be grammatically perfect. If it isn’t, employers will read between the lines and draw not-so-flattering conclusions about you, like: “This person can’t write,” or “This person obviously doesn’t care.”

2. Lack of Specifics

Employers need to understand what you’ve done and accomplished. For example:

A. Worked with employees in a restaurant setting.
B. Recruited, hired, trained and supervised more than 20 employees in a restaurant with $2 million in annual sales.

Both of these phrases could describe the same person, but the details and specifics in example B will more likely grab an employer’s attention.

3. Attempting One Size Fits All

Whenever you try to develop a one-size-fits-all resume to send to all employers, you almost always end up with something employers will toss in the recycle bin. Employers want you to write a resume specifically for them. They expect you to clearly show how and why you fit the position in a specific organization.

4. Highlighting Duties Instead of Accomplishments

It’s easy to slip into a mode where you simply start listing job duties on your resume. For example:

  • Attended group meetings and recorded minutes.
  • Worked with children in a day-care setting.
  • Updated departmental files.

Employers, however, don’t care so much about what you’ve done as what you’ve accomplished in your various activities. They’re looking for statements more like these:

  • Used laptop computer to record weekly meeting minutes and compiled them in a Microsoft Word-based file for future organizational reference.
  • Developed three daily activities for preschool-age children and prepared them for a 10-minute holiday program performance.
  • Reorganized 10 years worth of unwieldy files, making them easily accessible to department members.

5. Going on Too Long or Cutting Things Too Short

Despite what you may read or hear, there are no real rules governing resume length. Why? Because human beings, who have different preferences and expectations where resumes are concerned, will be reading it.

That doesn’t mean you should start sending out five-page resumes, of course. Generally speaking, you usually need to limit yourself to a maximum of two pages. But don’t feel you have to use two pages if one will do. Conversely, don’t cut the meat out of your resume simply to make it conform to an arbitrary one-page standard.

6. A Bad Objective

Employers do read your resume objective, but too often they plow through vague pufferies like, “Seeking a challenging position that offers professional growth.” Give employers something specific and, more importantly, something that focuses on their needs as well as your own. Example: “A challenging entry-level marketing position that allows me to contribute my skills and experience in fund-raising for nonprofits.”

7. No Action Verbs

Avoid using phrases like “responsible for.” Instead, use action verbs: “Resolved user questions as part of an IT help desk serving 4,000 students and staff.”

8. Leaving Off Important Information

You may be tempted, for example, to eliminate mention of the jobs you’ve taken to earn extra money for school. Typically, however, the soft skills you’ve gained from these experiences (e.g., work ethic, time management) are more important to employers than you might think.

9. Visually Too Busy

If your resume is wall-to-wall text featuring five different fonts, it will most likely give the employer a headache. So show your resume to several other people before sending it out. Do they find it visually attractive? If what you have is hard on the eyes, revise.

10. Incorrect Contact Information

I once worked with a student whose resume seemed incredibly strong, but he wasn’t getting any bites from employers. So one day, I jokingly asked him if the phone number he’d listed on his resume was correct. It wasn’t. Once he changed it, he started getting the calls he’d been expecting. Moral of the story: Double-check even the most minute, taken-for-granted details — sooner rather than later.

 

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Are you an Obvious Fit? Redmond Job Seeker

Make Yourself a “Smack-in-the-Forehead” Obvious Fit

When you apply for a job via an online application process, it’s very likely that your resume will first be screened by an applicant tracking system and then (assuming you make this first cut) move onto human eyeballs. The first human eyeballs that review your resume are often those of a lower level HR person or recruiter, who may or may not understand all of the nuances of that job for which you’re applying.

Thus, it behooves you to make it very simple for both the computer and the human to quickly connect their “Here’s what we’re looking for” to your “Here’s what you can walk through our doors and deliver.”

Tip

Study the job description and any available information you have on the position. Are you mirroring the words and phrases in the job description? Are you showcasing your strengths in the areas that seem to be of paramount importance to this role? Line it up. Line it up.

Job Loss Happens…

Be More Than Prepared

Always have an up-to-date resume ready to send. You never know when an opportunity that is too good to pass up might come along. If you’re not on LinkedIn yet, create a LinkedIn Profile and start making connections who can help your job search.

Don’t Wait

If you are laid-off, file for unemployment benefits right away. You will most likely be able to file online or by phone. Waiting could delay your benefits check.

Get Help

Utilize free or inexpensive services that provide career counseling and job search assistance such as college career offices, state Department of Labor offices or your local public library. Many libraries provide workshops, programs, classes, computers and printers you can use, and other resources to help you with your job search.

 Work with CareerPathsNW

We are the Pacific Northwest’s leading recruiting agency, its a no cost service to the candidates and if you are in the market for a job, we can help connect you with the right jobs with companies that are looking for individuals like you. Come see us for a free consultation.