The Brutal Truth: The biggest mistakes made in a job search

Unique, Truthful, and Candid feedback to job seekers we meet every day that sometimes make really critical mistakes in their job search. CLICK HERE to download a PDF of this presentation!

Do I still need a resume in my job search? Believe it or not, this is a popular question amongst many candidates who are beginning to look for employment. Yes, resumes take time to build and as Chief of Staff KC says, “Sorry, we’re not sorry”. Without a resume, companies have no idea that you exist. Yes, you may be able to get your foot in a door by having a stellar online presence or a large network of “connections”, but without a professional resume highlighting your accomplishments and achievements, you may as well be invisible!

Part 1: Building your Resume

Now that we have established the fact there is no way around it you may ask yourself, what makes a good resume vs. a bunch of information typed up on a piece of paper? A well put together resume is one of the most important marketing tools a person has when looking for a job. A resume is not a laundry list of bulleted information or a list of adjectives that describe your personality.

How do you start to build a resume? If you need assistance building a resume a great tool to utilize is LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a business network which allows you to connect with companies with a profile that resembles a resume. LinkedIn prompts the user to add names of past employers, dates employed, and a description of your responsibilities there. Obviously you won’t want to copy and paste the LinkedIn information directly onto the resume, but it is a good place to get your thoughts organized.

Do large headings stand out on a resume? Yes, but not in a good way. When building your resume, do not use a huge letter head that takes up a lot of space. This does not draw attention to your resume, it does the opposite. Believe it or not the header of your resume directly correlates with your character, personality, and abilities. Keep it clean and relatively simple. Under your name you should put your address and contact information including a single phone number and a professional email address. There is no need for multiple phone numbers, if the company calls and you cannot answer, do not worry they will leave a message. Next is your email address. If you do not have a professional email address, now is the time to create one. Having an email like hiremenow@gmail.com is not appropriate for a resume. There are many online mail sites available to create a professional email. For example, Gmail, Yahoo Mail and Hotmail, and if you have an AT&T or Time Warner account, those companies offer free email addresses with the service provided. Usually a professional email will have your first and last name, or first letter and last name, for example jsmith@yahoo.com or jacobsmith@gmail.com and if those are not available try adding your middle initial for instance, jacobgsmith@hotmail.com. Also, do not add your date of birth or your age onto the end.

Do I need an objective on my resume? This is a hot topic and the answer is no, an objective is not for everyone. An objective is necessary to state where you want to go in your career. Nine times out of ten if you have been in the same occupation time and again on your resume, your strengths are spelled out for you in your experience and the objective is only taking up valuable space. However, if you are looking to change your career to an occupation you have no experience in, you are seeking a specific title, or you’re entry level with minimal or no experience then yes you need an objective. We know it’s tempting but an objective is not a place for you to boast about yourself, stay away from listing adjectives that describe you such as hard worker, dependable, people person. Your positive attributes come to the surface during the interview.

Is a summary of qualifications necessary on a resume? Consider this portion of a resume the pre-qualifying stage. The average amount of time a hiring manager spends looking at a resume is 7 seconds. Within the 7 seconds they are skimming skills, titles, and dates of employment, and education to pre-qualify you for the position available. This is where the usage of bullet points is a must! Have 6-9 key words, which can show at a glance, where you have the most experience. Key words might include “Top Sales Performer”, “Business Management”, or “Financial Reporting”.

Some helpful insight is that companies search key words in order to pull resumes out of the “black whole” you submit your resume in to. When the company searches for keywords such as a specific software, certification, or qualification, the computer then flags your resume for one to be reviewed.

Should I list all my previous jobs on my resume? It is very important to list as much employment history as you can before becoming irrelevant or making your resume longer than two pages. Job history you can disregard would be experience prior to college or positions that date back so far that you no longer utilize the skills acquired. Gaps of employment are the first thing employers look at therefore, be truthful. If you lie on a resume and the interviewer realizes you have lied, there is a pretty solid chance you will not get the job.

What specific information should I provide on previous job experience? Be specific on dates, numbers and percentages. This includes, but is not limited to, months and years of employment in each job you are listing, degrees and certifications you have acquired, and specific numbers of how you’ve increased revenue and decreased costs for previous employers.

Remember to keep your resume clean and simple, to the point and informative.

Part 2: Interview Tips

What are some common interview mistakes? Working in this industry we see it all and although some may think the following tips are obvious, we feel they must be addressed because of how common these simple interview guidelines are overlooked.

Don’t be tardy! Nobody plans on being late however, Murphy’s Law seems to play a factor when you least expect it. Being prepared by knowing where you are going and factoring in an extra 10 minutes is always ideal. We advise you to go to the interviewing location the day before your interview. There could be construction, and knowing in advance will keep you from being late, and arriving stressed. If you happen to be late you should acknowledge it and take responsibility for your actions. On the flip side, do not be to early either. Being too eager tends to show signs of desperation and is disrespectful to the interviewer’s time. Ultimately, showing up about 5-10 minutes early is acceptable.

Bring a copy of your resume with you to the interview. Do not assume that the person interviewing you has a copy even if it is with a staffing firm. During the interview; as uncomfortable as it is, you will need to explain the transitions between jobs, and why you are leaving or have left the most recent position. During this time honesty is the best policy. If you had truly bad experiences try to remain positive and do not badmouth any previous places of work or previous employers. Remember to stay polished and professional even if you are comfortable with the interviewer.

How do you know if you are talking too much in an interview? When asked a question, just answer the question and stop. Do not start adding information to sound more educated about the topic. It takes a lot of self-control and restraint to just answer and stop. Employers like that attribute. Try to match the interviews energy level. If they are calm, be calm. If they are excited, be excited with them but, remember to smile, relax and be yourself.
How do I close an interview? It is okay to ask questions. In fact the employer usually asks if you have any questions. It is perfectly okay to ask, “How do you think this interview went today?” or “Do you feel like I would be a good fit at this company?” These questions let them know that you are truly interested in the position and that you care about what they think of you as a candidate.

After the interview is finished it is important to say thank you. Hand written thank you letters have all but vanished and is something that stands out when received by an interviewer. If possible, have a blank thank you card in your car and fill it out once the interview is completed and fresh in your mind. Write some highlights of the interview and mail it to the employer either that day or the day after. Sending a thank you note a week after would almost be pointless because they have already made their decision by then so the sooner the better. This kind gesture of a hand written thank you may not affect the outcome of a person being offered a job or it could be the deciding factor. A thank you email is nice as well but doesn’t send a wow factor. It is the little things that sometimes change a person’s mind from a maybe to a yes.