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.

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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.

 

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.

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.

Bellevue, Job Search Tips, Thank you Matters

Thank You Matters

I once placed a candidate into an engineering role with a company that manufactures packaging equipment. He was competing head-to-head with another engineer, who had similar talents and wanted the job just as badly. My candidate sent a thoughtful, non-robotic thank you note to each person with whom he’d interviewed, within about two hours of leaving their offices. The other candidate sent nothing.

Guess why my candidate got the job offer? Yep, the thoughtful, non-robotic thank you notes. They sealed the deal for him, especially considering the other front-runner sent nothing.

Tip

Consider crafting, original, genuine thank you notes (one for each interviewer) the moment you get back to a computer, following the interview. The speed with which you send the notes, and the quality, will make an impact.

And finally, remember that the interviewer cares much more about what you can do for them than what you want out of the deal. Certainly, they’re going to care a bunch about what you want once you establish your worth. But during the interview, you must demonstrate why you make business sense to hire, period.

Ultimate Guide to picking good job references in Redmond

You know you’re nearing the final stretch of an interview process (and that it’s looking good for you) when a potential employer asks these three questions:

  1. When would you be available to start? (Or, how much notice do you need to give your current employer?)
  2. Can we get you set up for your physical and drug screen?
  3. Will you please provide us with a list of professional references we may contact?

Question number three can rattle even the strongest of candidates if you’re not prepared to respond swiftly with names, titles, the nature of the relationship, and current contact information for however many people with whom they’d like to speak.

Don’t get caught in scramble mode at this stage of the game. Your prompt response and the quality of your references can take you the distance if you play this right.

Let’s begin.

Who Should I List (or Not List) as a Reference?

Generally speaking, your future employer wants to talk with the following people, in order of importance (depending on your role):

  1. Your current manager or supervisor
  2. Your prior managers or supervisors
  3. Your current peers or clients (if you’re interviewing for a client-facing role)
  4. Your prior peers or clients
  5. Your personal references or friends who will vouch for you

Number five, by the way, is a remote fifth place. Reserve this one for only those times you have few other options, and make sure to ask if it’s OK to include personal references before you do so. Also, if you’re a graduating college student (or recent grad), you can absolutely include professors who may be able to speak to your performance and work ethic.

Never (ever) include relatives, unless you happen to work directly for or with one. Oh, and absolutely don’t ever give a fake name and then commission your buddy to “pretend” to be your employer or peer. Recruiters are not stupid. Treat them so at your own peril.

Keep in mind that the primary reason why potential employers want to check your references is because they want a third party to vouch for your on-the-job performance and character. You can tout your greatness all day long in the interview, but it truly gels for decision makers when others tout it for you.

Should They Be on My Resume?

Nooooooo. Heavens, no. Not only do you not need to list out your references, you shouldn’t. It takes up unnecessary resume space, and there’s a remote chance that a recruiter may be more interested in, say, your manager (who you’ve listed) than he or she is in you. No need to hand over all of this information before you captivate him or her.

Likewise, no need to write out “References available upon request.” This is a given. When the hiring manager want them, he or she will ask for them. 100% of the time.

What If I’m a Covert Job Seeker?

This can be a tricky one. If you’re currently employed—and job searching on the sly—who can you trust in these final, important legs of a job transition? I can’t answer this one definitively because every situation is different, and the stakes can be quite high. Trust your gut.

Chances are, you aren’t going to be able to use your current manager as a reference. Certainly, consider enlisting former managers. But you should also think about asking one to two colleagues with whom you have a close personal bond (and established level of trust). If and when you ask them for this support, spell it out very clearly how important it is for you to keep your search under wraps—and the potential consequences for you if they blab.

Also, if you’re providing your potential employer with a relatively weak list of references, be sure and alert them that you’re aware of that, and explain why.

How Should I Ask?

I always encourage clients to approach potential references with specificity, instead of the old, “Hey, would you be willing to be my reference?” Do that, and you’re going to have to let the chips fall where they may in terms of what this person offers up. And along those lines, do this over the phone if possible. You’ll get a much better idea of how excited (or unexcited) this person is to help you.

Make sure to frame your request in a way that spells out the details of the role you’re pursuing, what you anticipate the caller is likely going to want to talk about, and how he or she can be the most helpful.

Example: “Because they’re going through so much change and restructuring right now, I’m guessing they’re going to want to make sure I have strong leadership skills and the ability to turn around struggling teams and programs. If you’re willing, I’d love for you to share some detail on the program we revitalized in 2014.”

Be specific, and also ask this direct question at the end of the call, “May I count on you to give me a favorable reference should the company contact you?”

Don’t assume your past co-worker or boss is going to sing your praises. You never know—she may be jealous of your opportunity here or feel like you dropped the ball on something last year. If you ask this question, you’ll either get a “Yes, of course you can count on me” or an awkward pause or waffle. Don’t list anyone who responds with the awkward pause or waffle. Lukewarm references can sink you in the home stretch.

Is There Anything I Should Provide My References With?

Ideally, provide them with a copy of the job description or an overview of the role and main responsibilities. If you can, also give them some background on the person you anticipate will be calling them, so that they can feel up-to-date and prepared for the conversation.

Also, if it’s someone you’ve used as a reference before (and you suspect would be fine being listed again), provide him or her with a heads-up. Don’t list people without giving them any indication that you’ve used them as a reference for this next opportunity. That’s rude, and it may annoy them to the point of not giving you a glowing review.

What Do I Do After They Are Contacted?

Honestly, you don’t always know when a reference has been contacted, but often times your people will follow up to let you know the conversation just took place.

What do you do? This one is easy—thank him or her, and offer to return the favor if it’s ever needed. And, when you land that job? Most definitely let each of your references know, and consider a small thank you gift, like a coffee gift card or lunch.

Get it right, take it the distance, and enjoy that amazing new gig in 2016.

Are you building strong connections

You never know when you’ll need someone’s professional help, which is why it’s important to develop an active list of connections. You don’t want the first time someone has heard from you in five years to be when you’re looking for a new job.

Instead, make genuine friendships with those in your circle and try to help them where you can too. Networking is a two-way street, and if you can help someone, why not do so?

Never stop learning

Learning and development are vital in the working world. It doesn’t matter if you’re a CEO or an administrator, you should always continue to grow your knowledge, both in and outside of your field. You can do so by reading current news, books, talking to people within your industry or even listening to podcasts. The options are truly endless; what’s important is to have the right mindset and always absorb new information like a sponge!

Never Stop Learning

One of the most powerful things to advance your career — or in any circumstance for that matter — is knowledge.

Never stop learning. This will improve the way you think, and of course, your knowledge.

One of the best things that happened in this pandemic is online learning. Now, education has become more accessible than ever. There shouldn’t be an excuse for people not to learn new things.

Just because we are in a Pandemic does not mean we stop networking.

Try to connect with many people

Growing your network is an important part of career development. The more people you know, the more likely you are to grow your career as your network can provide you with unique opportunities, not only about finding new job opportunities but helping each other out for professional projects or sharing new connections for partnerships within your work. There are so many advantages to growing your network.

Connect online and offline. There are multiple ways of expanding your network, even remotely or through online events: attending webinars, online meetups, joining group channels/communities (on slack, linkedin, facebook, xing or more), up to visiting physical events.