• Acing the Job Interview, Coaching Tips

    February 26, 2009 by

    For most people, especially those job seekers with very little interviewing success, there is nothing more nerve-racking than preparing for a job interview. That unexpected call from a potential employer sends many job seekers into anxiety and increases their stress levels.
    As the lead Certified Employment Interview Coach with, I always advise my clients to take an interview invitation as a compliment, as it shows that the employer considers them qualified for the job opening. An interview provides you with the chance to “close the deal” with an employer and to show that you are the right candidate for the job. There are common mistakes that job seekers make during and prior to an interview, however the following are things you can do to ensure that you align your key interview messages with the requirements of the role you are targeting.

    1. Research the industry and organization you are targeting.
    2. Evaluate the skills and experience that you bring to this role – focus on selling or aligning those skills to the needs of the employer and be ready to support them with examples.
    3. Dress professionally to impress the employer – it is always best to be on the side of caution and give up the trendy clothing for conservative business wear.
    4. Be on time – better yet, try to arrive early.
    5. Make eye contact – this is paramount, think about all the negative feedback Senator John McCain received from the public for his inability to make eye contact with Senator Barack Obama during the recent US Presidential debate. Eye contact is critical.
    6. Demonstrate enthusiasm for the job and the company – this shows your self-motivation and fit for the role.
    7. Always ask questions – most job seekers treat the interview as an opportunity for the employer to learn about them, however it is also an opportunity for job seekers to learn about a potential employer. So engage the interviewer, and get as much facts as you can about the company and the role so you can make an informed decision if presented with a job offer.
    8. Demonstrate courtesy by saying “thank you” – remember to send a thank you note following an interview.

    Finally, if you have difficulty conveying your strengths in an interview, I suggest working with a Certified Interview Coach. As the Head of Interviewing Coaching at Resume Solutions, I work with job seekers at all levels from students to CEOs, helping them identify their strengths and weakness. In addition, if you need help, do not hesitate to call on a professional interview coach at Resume Solutions . Your career may depend on it!
    Surranna Sandy, a Certified Professional Résumé Writer and Certified Employment Interview Coach and former Human Resources Management Professional, is the Founder and President of Résumé Solutions . The company offers advanced résumé writing, career and interview coaching services for entry level, mid-career through to executive clientele in the global marketplace, and her team of client focused résumé writers and career coaches have helped thousands of job seekers meet their career goals.

  • How Social Networking Sites Can Derail Your Job Search


    For many, the start of a new year means the start of a new job search using the internet to research employers. For up coming college graduates in particular, it is opportunity to get a head start in getting their careers off the ground using online resources. At the same time, many employers are also researching potential job candidates through Google, Myspace.com and Facebook.com and what they are finding could be used as reasons not to hire you.
    A recent poll conducted for Careerbuilder.com showed that 26 percent of hiring managers admitted to using the Internet to perform background checks on job candidates. A further 12 percent admitted to using social networking sites such as MySpace.com and Facebook.com as a screening tool.
    For many college students, social networking sites such as Facebook.com and Myspace.com are a core part of their cyber profile used for networking. However, many students are surprised to learn that their candid and sometimes sexually explicit photos and the details of their drinking and dating lives in their profiles can negatively affect their job search. Those disparaging comments, risqué photos, inappropriate language and lewd jokes posted on their profiles could be viewed as a reflection of their character by a potential employer.
    According to an HR director, people should carefully consider their potential audience and the impression they may have based on your pictures, personal opinions, and ideas posted online. “We were in the process of extending an offer to a great candidate, until his myspace.com page was brought to our attention. He had a great resume, went to an elite school and had impeccable references. However, our review of his myspace profile highlighted his recreational drug use. This made us immediately reconsider hiring him,” says an HR Director for a financial services company in Toronto, Ontario. “Our company is very conscious of client relations and our public image and we could not risks this candidate’s background being taken as a reflection of organization. ”
    A recent poll of Resume Solutions student clients showed that over 60% of the respondents were unaware that their profiles on social networking websites could be viewed by potential employers. This is surprising, despite the increased media attention focused on employers reviewing Myspace and Facebook prior to making hiring decisions.
    Prior to starting a new job search, it is recommended that job seekers perform a Google search on their names to find out what a potential employer may read or see about them online. If any questionable content is discovered, content you would not feel comfortable if an employer or your parents view, then request that the site’s webmaster remove it immediately.
    Questionable content may include nude photos, slanderous comments or photographs that show you in inappropriate situations. Keep in mind you may encounter resistance in getting the content removed, however, you can let them know that they may be affecting your future job prospects and you may have no choice but to seek legal recourse. For that information, absolutely you cannot have removed due to lack of control, construct a plausible answer to counter or explain away to a hiring manager.
    We are not advocating that social networking sites are to be used solely for job searching or building a web portfolio of your resume and job skills, but it makes sense to remove as much of the negative content about yourself as is possible. You should be smart and discreet in your online communications and consider creating private profiles for just your family members and friends.
    There are many ways to create a “positive cyber profile” that does not affect your career prospects. College students can create personal web pages and profiles at social networking sites that include their resumes, hobbies and interests, details on leadership activities or academic successes. You can also include photos of yourself but ensure they do not include explicit materials. Job seekers can use their online profiles to demonstrate their excellent communication skills, establish a professional image of themselves prior to an in-person meeting, demonstrate their creativity and diverse interest – things that can set them apart from other job seekers.
    As more and more users flock to social networking sites, the affect these sites have on the job search and candidate screening may include employers going even deeper into candidate’s personal and professional lives. It is therefore advisable to put nothing online that have the potential to hurt your future job prospects and include anything that would help you in landing a new job. Use common sense when creating an online profile.
    Remember that employers who do online searches are looking for reasons not to hire you.
    Surranna Sandy, a Certified Professional Résumé Writer and Certified Employment Interview Coach and former Human Resources Management Professional, is the Founder and President of Résumé Solutions The company offers advanced résumé writing, career and interview coaching services for entry level, mid-career through to executive clientele in the global marketplace. Her team of client focused résumé writers and career coaches have helped thousands of job seekers meet their career goals.

  • Writing High Impact Resumes

    December 18, 2007 by

    By Surranna Sandy, CPRW, CEIP
    In today’s job market, the résumé – a document that provides an overview of your experience, education and skill set – is the number one request of potential employers.
    Research has shown that job seekers without a top-quality résumé face long and difficult job searches, while those with polished, professionally written résumés multiply their chances of obtaining their desired positions. In the highly competitive job market, human resources managers and recruiting professionals are inundated with hundreds of résumés for a single position. Résumé Solutions research has determined that on average, an employer spends 10-30 seconds reviewing a résumé before determining whether it warrants further consideration. In such a competitive landscape it is critical that job seekers make a good first impression as a viable candidate by submitting a high impact résumé that cuts through the noise and shows your value to each employer.
    As a job seeker, your résumé and cover letter must convince a recruiter that you are the perfect candidate for the vacancy without overloading the document with irrelevant data. In order to attract attention in the job marketplace and distinguish yourself from the competition, your résumé needs to creatively highlight your work history, achievements, education and capabilities. Many new job applicants capture their career history in the Curriculum Vitae (CV) format.. Unfortunately, the CV is only accepted for academic or research related positions and is too cumbersome for private sector jobs. Further, various components of the CV such as marital status, a photograph and other personal data is not relevant in the labour market and in fact may eliminate you as a potential candidate.
    You résumé should answer the following questions:
     What expertise do you offer a potential employer?
     What added value you brought to your prior employers through measurable achievements?
     What education qualifications and certifications do you bring?
     What are you like to work with?
    How do you write a high impact résumé?
    Be relevant. Be concise. Be results specific. Be honest.
    A résumé that generates results should be relevant to an employer’s needs, and emphasize the qualifications that are job, field or industry specific. To illustrate, if you are seeking a role as an Accountant but also possess experience in sales, it is advisable to focus primarily on your accounting knowledge rather than highlighting your sales talents. Another important consideration is to conduct comprehensive industry research prior to applying to jobs so that you are aware of the key job-specific requirements that employers are seeking.
    To be effective, a résumé should be concise and to the point. It is critical that you do not prepare a résumé that consists of a laundry list of responsibilities for each job you have ever held or one which includes company jargon. In a document that is no longer than three pages (two is preferable), you need to convey to a prospective employer the contributions you made in each of your past roles. Do not use long-winded sentences or dated terminology. An example of what not to do: “Dear sirs, with your permission, herein is included my résumé and cover letter, in accordance with your request for someone of my esteemed talents which are in line with your organization’s long-term goals” Employers do not want to read long, cumbersome or jargon-laden sentences. Be specific and to the point.
    To generate interest from a potential employer, you need demonstrate strategically your defining career moments and business and leadership successes, while outlining measurable results. Depending on your previous positions, this can be shown through examples of ways in which you have reduced costs, improved efficiency, solved problems or any other illustrations of how the organization benefited from your past performance. It is recommended that you include goals you overachieved such as delivering a project ahead of schedule and below budget, improving your staff performance or helping to retain key client accounts.
    A high impact, effective résumé will:
     Demonstrate how you will meet an employer’s needs
     Convey the qualifications and abilities you offer for the job you want
     Show results and your qualifications in action
     Identify your career path
     Be attractive to the reader through a professional format
     Is concise and easy to read
     Let the reader see your skills, knowledge and abilities
     Be grammatically correct and spelling error free
    As a Certified Professional Résumé Writer working with clients from diverse backgrounds and ability levels, my primary objective is to increase my client’s marketability by presenting their unique core competencies, personal talents, strengths and accomplishments in a way that engages the reader and compels them to invite my clients for an interview. However, it is critical that we are honest in the way we present our clients’ skills and as such, we never exaggerate their capabilitities and successes. You should ensure you do the same when writing your new résumé. At all times be honest and relevant with no exaggerations of any details. This may include job titles, education levels, accomplishments and abilities.
    What is included in a professional résumé?
    To be effective, it is critical that your résumé effectively links your qualifications to a specific job target. It should outline your career progression, education & training, technical and personal skills, languages spoken, professional affiliations, awards & recognition, and any community involvement.
    A basic résumé layout should open with a profile or qualification summary. For examples of high impact professional summaries, you can review sample résumés at http://www.resumesolutions.ca. This profile while summarize who you are and what you have to offer to a potential employer. It should be tailored to the specific industry and job category you are seeking.
    Many large and medium-size companies employ technology to gather, store and filter résumés, using keyword searches to identify qualified applicants. You can include industry keywords within the text of the summary, as a stand alone section, or incorporated throughout your résumé.
    Typically, your next section should list your employment history in reverse chronological order – listing the most recent job first, followed by second most recent and so on. For each job, you should summarize your varying responsibilities and provide details on measurable results.
    Your education follows the details of your employment history. When listing your education, ensure that the institution is clearly stated, the degree qualification is detailed and the year of graduation is included. Only degrees and diplomas from accredited institutes should be included. Your education section can also include any additional courses, certificates and professional development you have obtained.
    Additional sections for your resume could include technical skills, affiliations and other job relevant data. Please note, you should not include religious or political affiliations and personal details such as date of birth, marital status, SIN numbers or a personal photograph.
    Your success in securing high quality interviews and job offers is critically dependent on your effectiveness in conveying your qualifications and core expertise to potential employers. Before you begin to craft your résumé, I suggest that you take the time to develop an in-depth inventory of your hard and soft skills. Many job seekers find this process challenging, and for those of you having difficulty communicating your skills on paper, turning to a professional résumé writer may be the answer. Companies such as Résumé Solutions, whose Certified Professional Résumé Writers are members of Professional Association of Résumé Writers and Career Coaches and the Career Management Alliance, are pledged to uphold the highest standards of professionalism, writing quality and ethical behaviour when providing guidance to job seekers. As such, they can be an important partner in your job search strategy.
    Surranna Sandy, a Certified Professional Résumé Writer and Certified Employment Interview Coach and former Human Resources Management Professional, is the Founder and President of Résumé Solutions. The company offers advanced résumé writing, career and interview coaching services for entry level, mid-career through to executive clientele in the global marketplace, and her team of client focused résumé writers and career coaches have helped thousands of job seekers meet their career goals.