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Posted May 16, 2016 by

Improving your writing and getting career prospects

Woman writing photo by StockUnlimited.com

Photo by StockUnlimited.com

You may be able to walk the talk, but can you write it?

It’s no big secret that writing skills factor in greatly when it comes to getting and keeping a job, especially in such a competitive market. In a study conducted by Grammarly, out of 100 native English speakers’ LinkedIn profiles, those with fewer grammatical errors had more promotions and held higher positions in their respective companies.

With this in mind, it’s no wonder writing is a crucial communication tool for those in the workforce. In order to be fully able to convey your ideas, you need to articulate them clearly to other people. Writing often serves as the medium we relate ideas with, whether sending and responding to an email or updating our resumes for future employers.

Despite this overwhelming piece of evidence, not everyone pays attention to improving their writing. Do you want to remain stagnant in your job, or do you want to grow and get career prospects? Here are a few tips on how to become a better writer in the workforce:

1. Be a wide reader

You are what you read. There are numerous benefits linked to reading, and among the most notable would be improved writing skills.

In order to be great, you need to take inspiration from those who already are. Train your brain to tune into good writing practices by reading extensively. Others’ writing styles can certainly influence your own if you read them enough. Take time to sit back with a book, a well-written blog entry, or even browse through the news at least once a day. Aside from being able to unwind after or before the stressful day ahead, you’ll also be able to acquire new knowledge.

This tip is especially helpful if you’re in the creative industry, where creative and powerful writing is the main tool of the trade, but it can also be beneficial for simple business writing. Noting some common trends in your favorite writers like style, grammar, and tone go a long way in helping to develop your own voice. You also learn new things in the process, which you can incorporate in the other areas of your life.

2. Read your work backwards

It sounds silly at first, but it’s effective in weeding out any grammatical errors you’ve missed in your last work email. Give it a shot, and it could save you from an embarrassing typo.

Our minds are programmed to autocorrect any minor errors they encounter. Remember those online tests that ask you to spot the “the” in a sentence? You may have been one of the majority who filtered out the extra “the”, in which case this second tip can come in handy to avoid any similar grammatical slip-ups.

Start from the last word of your composition up to the first word you’ve written. Since you’re no longer operating in the context of the content, your focus stays on the form of the text. If you’re already aware of what errors you’re on the lookout for, you’ll be able to spot any repetitive words, misplaced punctuation, and faulty spacing. Note this only works on a structural level, and not if you’re looking for something else like content relevance and fact-checking.

3. Turn spell check on

This doesn’t necessarily improve your skill, but it’s an easy fix if you’re in a hurry to compose an error-free report you’ll be delivering to your bosses the next day. Ruby Hardman, an editor from ResumesPlanet shared: “We can’t always be on top of our writing game, and having technology on our side helps in taking some of the load off our shoulders.”

Turn spell check on so you can automatically spot mistakes without having to painstakingly go through your work word per word. Don’t take this to mean you can let your guard down. In fact, this should give you time to focus on other aspects of your writing. If you’re writing up a resume, take the time to organize the details of it. If you’re writing a speech for a presentation, use it to focus on your tone and fine-tuning your content to the audience you’re presenting to.

Just remember that spell check isn’t perfect, either. There will be some errors it will miss and some idioms it may misinterpret. In that case, always have a dictionary ready to counter-check the results. Sometimes you’ll still have to do the heavy lifting in refining your work, but it will all pay off with a thriving career, and improved communication between yourself and other people.

Get on it write away!

Writing is an often overlooked skill that plays a huge, though subtle, role in leveraging your career. In his article on Harvard Business Review, iFixit’s Kyle Wiens openly declared he wasn’t too keen on hiring people with poor grammar, precisely because they don’t make good employees. According to Wiens, these job seekers lack the critical thinking and orientation to detail that efficient workers and leaders possess.

In order to project the right image to your employer, make sure to be on top of your writing game immediately. Read the right things to absorb some of their influence, proofread your work extensively, and if you’re in a rush, spell check is always a safe option. Just make sure to scan and countercheck for any missed marks.

So what are you waiting for? Become a better writer, and increase your chances of moving up in your industry today.

For more tips to improve your job search and build a career, head over to our blog and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube.

Paige Donahue, guest writer

Paige Donahue, guest writer

Paige Donahue is an editor and blogger from Pennsylvania. She is a traveler and a collector of some sort – coins, comic books, and stories. You can connect with her via Twitter.

Posted April 29, 2016 by

20 ways to rock your resume

Resume with pen on table closeup courtesy of Shutterstock.com

Casper1774 Studio/Shutterstock.com

Another week without attention paid to your resume. You are applying for jobs that match your education and skills; you have a nicely formatted document; and you have outlined your work experience very well with bolded headings and bullet points like you were told to do. You’re qualified but just can’t manage to get that call for an interview. Could there be that many people more qualified than you? Maybe not. There may be some flaws in your resume you have not realized.

Here are 20 tips that can improve your resume.

Make sure you are emphasizing results, not responsibilities

It’s a common error; job seekers are trying very hard to list all of their responsibilities for each position. Their thinking, of course, is the more responsibilities, the more qualified they will be. What is more important to employers is the results, what job seekers have actually accomplished.

Take a look at the responsibilities you have listed for each position. Can you list any quantifiable results? Did your re-organization save the department $50,000 a year? Sometimes, you may think results will be hard to provide. For example, perhaps you took over a department that had no baseline data to work with to show improvement. And maybe the improvement was qualitative rather than quantitative. Take employee morale, for instance. You know you improved it when you took over that department. But how was the improvement measured? Maybe there was much lower turnover or maybe the rate of absenteeism dropped significantly. These are important figures to have. Never leave a position without gathering figures that support your results.

A lot of space was spent on this item. Why? Because it is the one thing employers say is usually missing from a resume.

Target skills/background for each position

This is the primary reason why you need to tweak each resume for every job opening. If you have background in training, administration, HR, and sales/sales management, and are applying for jobs that focus on one of those, then focus your resume in that direction. Spend far more space on that focus area than on others. Generic resumes don’t really work anymore.

Re-visit keywords for each position

Change out your keywords based upon two things: the job description and the company’s website. Sometimes, reading through the company’s home page and the “about us” page will give you more keywords to include. And keywords that relate to the position should be placed as close to the top of the resume as possible and included in your cover letter.

Include a summary section

A statement of your career goals at the beginning of your resume is not advisable. Companies don’t care about your goals; they care about what you “bring to the table.” Switch that out for a short summary of your skills and experience that relate to the position, with four to five sentences only.

Use standard software

Microsoft Word or a PDF version of your resume should be the only programs used to submit resumes. Scanning will probably not recognize any other programs, and you will never know your resume was unreadable.

Business woman unhappy with resumes of applicants and throwing them on the table courtesy of Shutterstock.com

Milles Studio/Shutterstock.com

Aim for one page

Edit, edit, edit. Take out anything superfluous, reduce sentences to phrases, and remove some of your contact information. Employers don’t need your address and don’t include references unless specifically asked to do so. If you are able to edit the resume to one page, that is ideal. But NEVER go beyond two pages unless you are preparing a CV.

Do not lie

Not about anything. Of course, you want to try to avoid resume mistakes, and of course you want to present yourself in the best light. Exaggerating or giving yourself a job title you did not actually have are big risks. These things can be discovered when references and/or social media are reviewed. Focus on your skills and qualifications completely but honestly.

Use action verbs

They are so much stronger. If you don’t know the difference, here is an example:

1. Responsible for implementing budget reduction by 10% without loss of productivity

2. Reduced budget by 10% without loss of productivity

The second phrase is strong and active. (P.S.: Never use “I”)

Visual appeal is a must

You’ve seen enough resume templates to understand what visual appeal is. The best font now is probably Arial, 12-14 point. The reason for this is there’s good, natural spacing between lines that are not complete and enough white space between bulleted points. Your final resume should have sub-headings in bold (e.g., each position), and a larger font to separate sections of the document. The goal is to make it scannable, not just by a computer program (applicant tracking systems), but by humans, too. No one wants to search for your information.

Be clear about job titles

So long as you are not exaggerating, use a job title that will make clear what you did at a previous organization. Sometimes, organizations have internal titles that mean nothing on the outside. So, if you were a “Level II Tech Support,” change that out to “Systems Analyst,” if that was what your position really entailed.

Be really brief

Do not use full sentences unless you are crafting a CV (These are prose documents). Brief phrases only, please. Remember – scannable.

Perfect grammar and spelling

Don’t rely only on grammar and spell-check programs. They will not recognize incorrect numbers or words that are wrong but are still words. And, in some instances misspellings will not be caught either. If you are really good in this area, read your resume backwards, and you will catch misspellings; read it forward line-by-line. If you are not highly skilled, get someone who is.

Avoid gimmicks

Having your resume hand-delivered by FedEx or courier is not appreciated, and, in fact, is a bit of a turnoff. Just don’t do it. Submit your resume according to the instructions on the job posting.

Graphics should fit the company culture

It is more acceptable today to use some color and graphics than in the past, but these resumes are best suited for younger, more progressive organizations. Tailor color and graphics based upon the culture of the company. If you are not sure, check the website. As a general rule, banks, financial, and educational/scientific institutions are conservative; tech and marketing companies are more progressive. For creative positions, graphics are certainly suitable.

Never state salary

Never include past salaries in your work experience. And absolutely never include your salary or benefit requirements for a new position. Epic fail if you do.

Don’t address negatives

If you were fired or laid off, never state this in your resume. That is the stuff for discussion during an interview. And don’t lie about it either; be as honest as possible, and never “trash” a former boss or company.

Add links

Long before submitting resumes, it will be important to have a professional online presence. Include the link to your LinkedIn profile and, if warranted, a website with a portfolio of your work and/or accomplishments. If you have been a guest blogger on relevant sites, provide links to those posts too.

Update consistently

It is often advised when you start a new position, you begin updating your resume. This is because you want to be sure to remember all of your accomplishments if and when you decide to make another career move, or if, for any reason, your employment is terminated (companies do close). Keep your resume updated all the time.

No tag lines

Lines such as “References available upon request,” are not necessary and just take up space. Leave them out. If you are asked for references or links to things during an interview, you can provide them at that time.

Do not abbreviate

The only abbreviation you can use is “U.S.” Otherwise, spell everything out. Even abbreviations for schools attended may not be known by employers. The rule for acronyms is the same; spell them out.

This article provides a good checklist for job seekers, whether they are crafting their first resumes ever or if they are veterans with several previous resumes under their belts. Sometimes, it’s the little things that can make a difference.

Need assistance with your resume for your job search? Get a free resume critique on College Recruiter. Also, come to our blog and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube.

Kerry Creaswood, guest writer

Kerry Creaswood, guest writer

Kerry Creaswood is a young and ambitious writer from Savannah, Georgia. She is fond of various forms of art and thinks everything we can imagine is real. To find more about Kerry, check her Twitter.

Posted April 07, 2016 by

3 social media tips for job search success

Resume profile personal job career recruitment concept courtesy of Shutterstock.com

Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock.com

Social media can benefit college students and recent graduates searching for internships and entry-level jobs. In order to get the most out of their search using social sites, students and grads must first understand how to use them. We have some help for job seekers in this area.

Kristen Zierau, Director of Executive Recruiting at JMJ Phillip Executive Search, offers the following tips to help college students and recent grads obtain job search success with social media.

1. “When I speak with college career services departments, I give the advice that job applicants really need to clean up their profiles online. There are programs called scrappers that will pull college students and recent graduates’ posts on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc. and post them on their own sites. The bad thing about this is while candidates may clean up their profiles now, another site could be hanging onto their information for years. If job seekers show photos themselves doing wild or crazy things (or maybe sometimes illegal things), it’s likely someone will find this social media post. The same concept applies to political views. Students and grads can find the devoted Bernie or Trump supporter on LinkedIn pretty easily as they are often spamming LinkedIn with their viewpoints and political “expertise.” They will also find out many of those supporters haven’t landed jobs since graduating in the summer of 2015, so be careful and keep viewpoints private unless job seekers can do it under a seemingly untraceable alias.

2. When searching for jobs on social media, college students and graduates cannot treat it like a casual message to a friend. Don’t use shorthand writing. Make sure the grammar is correct and everything sounds professional. Let’s face it; college grads need to sound like they actually graduated from college!

3. Pinging hiring managers directly on LinkedIn is a good start; do this six to 12+ months before graduation. Follow them on Twitter and other social media sources, and engage with them once in a while but not too often; it can be considered annoying. If possible, send a link back to the hiring managers showing agreement with their post; that will help keep a job seeker’s name on their minds. For example, if college students and recent graduates see a post about management from them, maybe send the hiring manager a relevant link to a Harvard Business Review article on management showing they are paying attention.”

Interested in finding more tips for your social media job search? Visit our blog and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube.

Photo of Kristen Zierau

Kristen Zierau, Director of Executive Recruiting at JMJ Phillip Executive Search

A graduate of Michigan State University’s Business School, Ms. Kristen Zierau began her successful career with Target. As one of the fastest rising employees within the Target organization, she became an Executive Team Leader, making a name for herself in the hiring, training, and development of young talent in the retail sector. Prior to joining JMJ Phillip, Ms. Zierau also completed her MBA at Walsh College with honors. Ms. Zierau made a transition to the management consulting and executive search sector, which she is currently on the executive fast-track program at JMJ Phillip. Soon she will be leading Clarke-Caniff, a brand focusing on recruiting and executive search for the retail and hospitality sectors.

Posted March 28, 2016 by

11 quick LinkedIn tips

Linkedin website on a computer screen courtesy of Shutterstock.com

Ingvar Bjork/Shutterstock.com

Did you know 87% of recruiters use LinkedIn to look for candidates? This means companies can find job seekers’ profiles and invite them for job interviews. For this to happen, though, job seekers need to make their profiles look appropriate. Adding their pictures and job titles is not enough anymore, as their LinkedIn profiles can be more important than their resumes. If job seekers want recruiters to visit their pages often and offer them great positions, here are some things they should consider.

1. Recommendations

Employers tend to pay a lot of attention not only to job seekers’ professional skills, but also to their corporate backgrounds. If applicants have proven to be excellent team workers at their previous jobs, they should seek recommendations from former bosses or colleagues. Ask some of them to write a couple of nice recommendations. Don’t exaggerate here, though. If applicants have had five jobs so far but have 15 recommendations, it might seem weird.

2. Write a longer headline

If you already have a job, but are open to new offerings, don’t just mention the company and your position there; it might be not enough to see what you do. Instead of writing, for example, “PR Manager at Example Company,” write “PR manager at Example Company: Helping big and small companies.”

3. Have enough connections

Having 50 connections on LinkedIn makes job seekers seem unfriendly, unprofessional, and unmotivated. Having 3000 contacts makes them look like they add everyone to their list of connections, and they don’t even care who’s there. Try to have a moderate number of connections, and you will be visible enough to make the network help your professional growth. Try to find all of your friends, former classmates, and colleagues if you’ve already worked somewhere.

4. Write only true information

We don’t want to lecture job seekers, but lying is unacceptable in the professional world. It concerns their LinkedIn profiles, too, particularly education and previous jobs. It is not only that recruiters can check everything, but it is also about ethics. Earning trust is an important step to professional success.

5. Be brief

No one likes to read lots of text, especially if it is not formatted correctly. Even if job seekers had tons of experience and they want to talk about it, they should organize it. Write a job title and describe your responsibilities point by point. Use headlines and short sentences; they are easier to comprehend.

6. Students can mention all the jobs they’ve had

Surely, when you are a big boss with 10 jobs behind, you can skip some of the gigs you’ve had such as pizza delivery or tutoring in college. However, college students or recent graduates might want to add at least some things to their work experience. Besides, most students do something during their college years. If they managed to study and freelance at the same time, they should mentions that. If students helped their professors grade papers, they can write about that too. Don’t leave a page blank; add at least something.

7. Choose the right picture for your profile

Don’t pick an Instagram-style photo or a cute picture with your pets; post casual photos on Facebook or elsewhere. Low-quality pictures are also not the best choice. Think of how you want potential employers to see you. The photo should be a recent, high-quality photograph where one can clearly see your face. You can also add a background picture; the best choice would be either a picture from some conference you participated in or some nature pic.

8. Write about your main skills, not all of them

We all know you are a talented person. However, if you are trying for an accountant job, recruiters probably don’t need to know you are a good cook. At the top of your LinkedIn page, your potential employer or recruiters need to see those skills suitable for them. Also, don’t mention the skills you don’t want to use in your next job. If you are tired of your current work where you need to design, for example, exclude this skill from your profile.

9. Add a decent email address

If your personal email address is dirtykitten@email.com or something like that, you probably want to get a new one. You must have had a laugh creating it, but now it is time to be more professional and to use your own name for your email address.

10. Don’t mention your age

Although all the companies say age discrimination doesn’t exist, that is not true. They always consider age when hiring. So, try not to mention it.

11. Make sure all is correct

Making mistakes in a LinkedIn profile is a no-no. Pay attention not only to grammar and spelling, but to style and formatting. Everything should be clear and understandable. Style should be formal and professional.

Try to look at your text as an objective reader, or better yet, show it to someone. Ask a friend, colleague, or professor to read it and correct the mistakes you might have missed.

A LinkedIn profile is much more important now than it was a couple of years ago. More and more professionals, companies, and headhunters create accounts and use them actively every day. Job seekers probably want to look equally experienced and professional on their pages, so spend enough time creating them and don’t be lazy.

Looking for more LinkedIn tips for your job search? Turn to our blog and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Twitter.

Photo of William Sarto

William Sarto, guest writer

William Sarto is a marketer and content strategist working at the freelance writing board – gohunters.com. He shares his knowledge and experience in his articles based on current marketing trends and also provides actionable tips for students willing to build successful business careers. He is passionate about all new techniques and methods appearing in digital marketing. Working in one of the most fast changing industries requires many skills from young specialists, so if you have any questions feel free to contact Will @ twitter, Google+

Posted January 06, 2016 by

10 online platforms to make your cover letters spotless

In January 2016, College Recruiter will publish content intended on assisting college students seeking entry-level jobs upon graduation or summer internships. To learn more information about January’s focus, check out “Connecting the dots: Creating a 2016 career action plan.

The guest articles published in January cover a variety of topics to help students who are about to graduate and search for their first full-time jobs or who are searching for summer internships.

antonio tooley

Antonio Tooley

Before you know it, major life events show up. One day you’re graduating from high school, and the next, you’re getting ready to take a new job you’ve never done or joining a college, which is a new experience altogether. Whether it is a job or a new college, job seekers need resumes, as well as very intriguing cover letters. (more…)

Posted August 12, 2015 by

Getting Started on That Research Paper

piles of books open with a computer. Working on a research paper.

Piles of books open with a computer. Working on a research paper. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

No one really loves writing research papers – well, maybe a few do when it’s on a topic they really love! For the most part, however, students dread them when they appear on course syllabi, try to carve out the time to do the research and the writing, and often find themselves pushing those deadlines as tightly as they can, because they really don’t like the work. During my work with Researchpaperz.org I learned a lot of crucial waypoints that makes research paper writing easier.

Sometimes the worst part about research paper writing is just the first step – identifying and refining that topic! Once you have that, you at least have a focus for your research! So, here you will find some tips for getting this project off the ground and getting through each step of the production process! (more…)

Posted August 05, 2015 by

4 Tips to Write an Amazing College Essay

close of a hand writing on a paper

Close of a hand writing on a paper. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

Following the tips below that we got from a bunch of professional writers could just get you into your dream college.

Brainstorm

Do not be so fast to write your college essay. Besides, you still have a month to write so it’s good to take a few days to ponder on what to include in your college essay. Do a research on the real you, your accomplishments, interests and the passions that drive you to follow your goal. Through this entire brainstorm period, you will find a different way to put everything nicely in the college essay. Keep in mind that anything standard will be rejected. (more…)

Posted July 17, 2015 by

Write your Own Research Paper or Hire Professional Services?

Male student happy about research results from the internet

Male student happy about research results from the internet. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

College recruiting starts with writing a good research paper. Why is it so? Because each student needs to write one or more research papers in order to complete their master’s or bachelor’s degrees and graduate.

Choosing to Write your Own Research Paper

Writing a good research paper is not an easy task. Students often push their luck and wait till the last minute to start working on their paper. However, by following some simple guidelines, you can write a proficient research paper and submit it on time. (more…)

Posted March 05, 2015 by

Avoid These 10 Mistakes and Land Your Dream Job

Sarah Landrum photo

Sarah Landrum

After you graduate, the real fun begins; and by fun I mean work. Let me rephrase that: After you graduate is when the real effort begins. All of the energy leading up to the fireworks of graduation quickly fades, and then it’s time to land a job.

Of course, you’re not looking for any job. You want to land your dream job.

Working toward your goal of landing that perfect job isn’t going to come without some effort. While the days and weeks after graduation might seem like the perfect time to relax and revel in the glory of all you’ve accomplished, quite the opposite is true.

Now is the time to buckle down and go confidently toward the career you worked so hard to achieve. To help bring your plans to fruition, avoid these 10 mistakes. After all, landing your dream job depends on it. (more…)

Posted January 30, 2015 by

10 resources to improve your grammar and writing skills

Julie Petersen photo

Julie Petersen

This article features a list of study resources that will help improve your grammar and writing and help you get better grades on your essays and dissertations. There is a very mixed list of websites that can be helpful both for young and experienced students. Besides, several resources can be easily used by people that have English as their second language. All the mentioned websites have quite different approach, quality and content, so the list cannot be ranked in any way. (more…)