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What we do not want to see on your resume

Saturday, March 07, 2015

What we don’t want to see – on your resume, that is!

 

In our last post we looked at the 20 second resume review and what reviewers want to see on your resume. If you didn’t have a chance to read it yet, you can review it here.

 

We now look at what we do not want to see and why we don’t want to see it. Each one that you include can raise a red flag with someone, somewhere.

 

One red flag – not good

Two red flags – you’re in trouble now

Three red flags – resume already gone

 

My top 10 - what we do not want to see – on your resume, that is!

 

Your photograph

 

Common in some countries but frowned on, particularly in the U.S. Canada and parts of Europe.

 

No address or an address but no zip / postal code

 

Location is always a factor in the hiring process. Phone area codes can cover vast distances and the reviewer might not want to take the time to find out where exactly you are.

 

Leaving off the zip or postal code can be seen as a sign of laziness or simply show a “lack of detail” profile.

 

No employment dates

 

Instant red flag for a potential lack of job stability

 

Small font size

 

Small font sizes can be a problem for some people so why take a chance. Give your resume to a senior to read.. If they squint, the font is too small.

 

Lack of proper spacing

 

The visual look of a written page is important. Looking at a page full of print can cause the mind to start to shut down, so why take the chance.

 

Too many pages

 

Two pages preferred, three can be OK but four and over is a no-no. We have worked with organizations that program their computer systems not to accept resumes over three pages – period.

 

References

 

Referees should always be advised prior to receiving a call so their contact information should only be given on request.

 

List of courses taken

 

Considered to be a filler and who really cares if you took that two week course years ago.

 

Hobbies

 

What mental picture do you have of these two people based on the following list of hobbies?

 

            golf, hockey, darts, soccer, team bowling

 

            classical music, opera, philately, model trains

 

Let your work experience speak for itself.

 

Generic “Career Objective” statement

 

Example: “A team leader and team player looking to join a dynamic company where I can learn grow and contribute”

 

Excuse my yawn. Once you have seen 100, or is it 1000 of these, the eyes glaze over and I start thinking about what’s for dinner.

 

I was going to make SPELLING my #1.  It just seems so obvious but it just continues to be a problem. Spelling mistakes can kill your chances within seconds and it’s also a good idea to make sure that the names of the companies you have worked for are also spelled correctly.

 

Best advice I have heard is to read your resume backwards. When read forward, the mind can skip over errors but by reading backwards you can see each word on its own. Try it, it works.

 

Want to get a jump start on the competition? Check out our resume template section of our website. A proven layout with our professional presentation can help you avoid that 95% 20 second rejection.

 

We all know that most of of the people reading this will not take advantage of this offer and that means that the few who do will have a tremendous advantage.

 

For a limited time you can get a 25% discount (well almost a 25% discount) on our “best deal” template option – five templates, a review and fine tune-up, all for under $100.00.

If only I knew what they wanted to see on my resume

Saturday, February 21, 2015

If only I knew what they wanted to see – on my resume, that is!

  

Everyone seems to have an opinion on resumes, what works and what doesn’t. With 30 years working a recruitment desk I am no different, but my opinions are right, or at least I think they are.

 

In the 80’s a client showed me the latest resume trend. A hard cover book with over 20 pages of minutia covering everything from the candidates first part-time job delivering newspapers, to the books he had read, the movies he had seen, the television shows he liked, the places he had visited and on and on and on.

 

The resume cost over $1000.00, a huge sum in those days, and the client thought it was a joke and he laughed about it, but he also interviewed the candidate and hired him.

 

One thing I know is that oddball things can work and that connecting with someone late at night in a bar and writing your contact info on a napkin can end up with a job offer, but for most people the tried and true approach, especially in today’s market, will work the best.

 

In the internet age we are all about instant gratification, 140 characters (including spaces) and the 20 second resume review, so you need to know what we look for in those all important 20 seconds.

 

1.      Where do you live – local to the position or is relocation required.

 

2.      Education level – every position has one, even if unstated.

 

3.      Work environment, past and present: manufacturing, service, office, corporate, distribution, transportation, hospitality, health care, teaching etc., plus: product or service offered, customer and any other relevant information that quickly shows your knowledge and skill set.

 

4.      Positions held by job title and career progression.

 

5.      Stability

 

The two main reasons for immediate rejection are:

 

(a)     We do not know what the companies you have worked for actually do.

 

(b)     Your experience is just not a fit for the position you have applied for.

 

If we see 100 resumes or online profiles in a day and spend three minutes on each one that’s 300 minutes or five hours. No breaks, lunch, chats in the office, phone calls or emails – not going to happen.

 

Brutal yes, but listings on our website get picked up by job banks and those who have signed up with these services often get postings sent directly to them.

 

On recent posted positions we received over 300 resumes in just a few days. In two hours we rejected 95% and marked the rest for further review.

 

The 95% were permanently deleted from our system.

 

Unfair?  Absolutely, but that’s the way it is. There is just no time to call everyone or to Google company names.

 

Understanding this can help you put together a resume that works more effectively.

 

At this point I usually get a number of comments from people who tell me that, oh yes, but I got a great job with no experience or my neighbours friend hired me to be her international sales director, and yes, I know it happens often as many find jobs through their network, the people who know them, know what they can offer and trust them, but for most, getting a new job is a grind out and hopefully getting an insider perspective will help you.

 

Want to get a jump start on the competition? Check out our resume template section of our website. A proven layout with our professional presentation can help you avoid that 95% 20 second rejection.

 

We all know that most of of the people reading this will not take advantage of this offer and that means that the few who do will have a tremendous advantage.

 

For a limited time you can get a 25% discount (well almost a 25% discount) on our “best deal” template option – five templates, a review and fine tune-up, all for under $100.00.

 

And don’t forget to make a note to watch for our next LinkedIn post:

 

What we don’t want to see – on your resume, that is!

Tough Job Interview Questions – Be Prepared

Monday, February 14, 2011
Interview questions can make the strongest weak at the knees.

Many stumble when asked basic questions such as:

What position are you looking for?

Tell me about yourself?  - or -  What skill set do you “bring to the table”?

Job interview answers should be natural and spontaneous Choose one to three career options based on your experience and interests and write out and practice a Summary Statement, 30 – 45 second paragraph to talk about your work experience.

Examples:

“My best fit will be as a production supervisor but I also have great interest in positions where I can use my process engineering and maintenance knowledge”.

“I have seven years as experience as a production supervisor in high speed pharmaceutical packaging and have managed groups from 10 to 25 people. I am presently enrolled in an industrial engineering night school course at Cambridge College and have had the opportunity to become more involved in the maintenance and process side over the past two years and I am looking for an opportunity where I can apply these skills and assume more responsibility”.

Golden Interview Tip: Keep it short, to the point, work related and professional.

Interview Questions

There are two basic types of questions – standard open ended and behavioural.

Standard Interview Questions  

  • Tell me about yourself?
  • Where do you want to be in five years?
  • What are your greatest strengths?
  • What are you greatest weaknesses?
  • Why are you looking for a new position?
  • What do you know about our company – the position?
  • What is the biggest mistake you have made?
  • What is the biggest challenge you have had?
  • What did you learn from that?
  • What comments did you receive in your last review?
  • What is the most difficult job you have had and why?
  • Which job did you enjoy the most and why?
  • What are you most proud of?
  • What do you wish you could have done again?
  • What salary are you looking for?

Behavioural Interview Questions

  • Can you give an example of a conflict situation or disagreement involving a co-worker or supervisor and how you handled it?
  • When a team member is not pulling their weight, what do you do about it?
  • Give an example of how you handle a quality issue with the customer?
  • When projects are backing up with deadlines approaching what do you do?
  • Give a specific example of a production problem you have faced and the steps you took to resolve it?

Golden Interview Tip 1: Listen to the question. If not sure, ask for clarification. Answer only the question you are asked and then be quiet. Do not embellish. Do not brag.

Golden Interview Tip 2: Practice answering each of these questions out loud. Then ask a family member or friend to take you through each question. It can really help.

Golden Interview Tip 3: Join a local International Toastmasters Club. It is reasonably priced, friendly and supportive and a great place to practice answering impromptu questions and public speaking.

Remember: You never get a second chance to make that first impression.

Job Interview Hints and Tips – The Interview

Friday, February 11, 2011
Job interview hints and tips can help you prepare for that all important meeting. Preparation before and on the day of the job interview is a key part of the job placement process.

Those who fail to plan, plan to fail.

During the interview

The function of the interview is simply to determine if you have the skill set to perform the job and the personality to fit with the company culture.

The interviewer may be a highly trained professional who will ask probing and insightful questions or someone who has never received any training or guidelines in interview techniques.

Interviews can take five minutes or two hours. The length of the interview does not necessarily reflect the interest in your application, it may be more indicative of the personal style of the interviewer. Type A personalities prefer short, straight to the point meetings, administrators tend to have longer meetings.

Golden Interview Tip 1: listen to the question and answer the question being asked. It’s amazing how many people answer a question they have not been asked.

Golden Interview Tip 2: answer the question and be quiet.

Take control

If the interview starts to wander you can take control to get your point across. This is the ideal time to use you Summary Statement (see: Job Interview Hints and Tips – Before the Interview).

A good way to take control is by saying “let me tell you something about myself” and launch into your rehearsed Summary Statement.

Do not

Talk too much. Let the interviewer interview you unless the interview starts to wander too much.

Do not stare. Eye contact is important, but keep it natural and do not look away when answering questions.

Do not fiddle. Keep your hands in your lap and do not play with a pen, pencil or paper clip as it can be very distracting.

Golden Interview Tip: same as above: listen to the question and answer the question being asked. It’s amazing how many people like to answer a question they have not been asked.

Golden Rule 2: answer the question and be quiet.

At the end of the interview

Thank them for the interview and say that you look forward to meeting with them again and ask what the next step will be.

Ask about the time frame for the next meeting and/or a decision.

An interview thank you letter by e-mail is a nice touch.  Extend thanks, outline a couple of your strengths that relate and reinforce your interest in the company and the position. Be sincere, do not flatter and a short e-mail with no attachment will suffice. It’s unlikely it will get more than a cursory look, but it puts your name in front of them again in a professional manner.

Golden Interview Tip: Our final and most important comment in job interview hints and tips is to check the person’s spelling and job title before sending anything. Nothing will blow you out of the water faster than misspelling someone’s name especially after they have interviewed you. Make no assumptions, because the chances are you will be wrong, a simple name like “Ian” can also be spelled: Ion, Iain, Eion or Eoan.

Golden Interview Tip: Do not harass the interviewer. You may call once or send an e-mail to request an update. Any further contact, unless asked to call, can take you off the list.

Remember: You never get a second chance to make that first impression.


- Simon A. Bull

Job Interview Hints and Tips – Before the Interview

Thursday, February 10, 2011
Job interview hints and tips can help you prepare for that all important meeting. Preparation before the day of the job interview is a key part of the job placement process.

Those who fail to plan, plan to fail.

Know where your interview is taking place

We work with one company that has five buildings on the same street, always confirm the complete address, including postal code, phone numbers, extensions and the nearest major intersection.

Having all the job interview skills will not help if you are in the wrong place.

The address is particularly important if you are meeting at a chain restaurant or coffee shop as there may be a few similar locations, maybe even on the same street.

If meeting at an off-site location request and give cell phone numbers with the person you are meeting in case of any last minute problems.

Golden Interview Tip:  “you can’t miss it” means “good luck finding it”.

Ask who you will be meeting with

If you are meeting with human resources and the director of sales you can prepare job interview answers and interview questions that will appeal both to human resources and to a promotional sales profile.

Golden Interview Tip:  be flexible as the meeting list will likely change.

Ask what the dress code is

You want to fit in, so it’s OK to ask what the dress code is.

Golden Interview Tip:  never wear jeans, even on casual Friday. Many senior managers are OK with casual Friday but do not follow the rule themselves.


Check out the interview location

If possible, do a dry run a day or two earlier to confirm where you are going and check on potential obstacles, one way streets, local construction etc. See if there is a security sign-in process and allow an extra 30 minutes to check in on arrival.

Golden Interview Tip:  road construction and detours will start the morning of your interview.

If the meeting is at a hotel or restaurant and food may be involved, this is one of the most important job interview hints and tips we know. Visit the location and read the menu to select something easy to prepare (served faster) and stay away from exotic foods, expensive dishes and foods that needs to be chewed or bitten through.

Check out the washroom so if you need the facilities when you are next there, you know where they are.

Golden Interview Tip:  whatever you preselected on the menu is no longer available, so have a second choice ready. No alcohol – period.

Research the position and the company


Review what you know about the position. Read the advertisement or posting for key words or phrases.

Search for the company online under the company name and phone number.

Golden Interview Tip:  do not say in words or writing that this is a company you really want to work for, unless it really is. Insincere statements are just that - insincere.

Prepare questions

Write ten questions that relate to the position and the company. Focus on challenges, opportunity, responsibilities, reporting structure and the customer.

Golden Interview Tip:  do not include questions that relates to money, vacation, benefits, time off, work hour, lunch breaks or personal issues.

Choose what to wear

Preselecting and cleaning what you will wear takes some of the pressure off the job interview and can help set the stage for you to show your interview skills.

Golden Interview Tip:  it’s going to rain or snow, so take a change of shoes with you.

Write it down

Write down all of the contact information in your notepad; time of the interview, where you are going and who you are meeting, plus all related phone numbers. If unsure of the location, include a hand drawn map showing the major intersections or print the directions from MapQuest.

Golden Interview Tip:  Knowing exactly where you are going means you will be calmer and more focused when you arrive.

Practice your handshake

To limp or too strong a handshake can create a negative impression. Best to be firm and professional rather than unsure or like a wet noodle.

Practice with friends and family and ask for feedback.

The standard rule is not to be the first to extend your hand. Wait to see what the interviewer does and follow the lead. They are the one controlling the meeting.

Golden Interview Tip:  if no hand is offered, do not take it personally. Some people just don’t like shaking hands.

Prepare a Summary statement

Create a four or five line summary statement about yourself and the skill set you “bring to the table”. Practice and learn to present this summary statement clearly and professionally so that when the asked the question, “tell me about yourself” you have a standard pat answer.

(see article: Tough Job Interview Questions – Be Prepared)

Your summary statement should highlight your skill set and strong points and can be modified from time to time to relate more effectively to the position you are applying for.

Remember: You never get a second chance to make that first impression.


- Simon A. Bull

Job Interview Hints and Tips – The Day of the Interview

Wednesday, February 09, 2011
Job interview hints and tips can help you prepare for that all important meeting. Preparation on the day of the job interview is a key part of the job placement process.

Those who fail to plan, plan to fail.

Dress appropriately

Groom for success to present a clean and professional image for the job interview.

It’s better to have one outfit that fits properly rather than many outfits that don’t fit at all.

Dress for the environment you are going into. Casual hip clothing is accepted in video production or the music field, but not in banking or insurance.

Smart casual is correct for most meetings, but for corporate and professional environments a suit, pant suit or jacket and tie would be more appropriate.

Stay away from high fashion or very expensive clothes unless you are interviewing for positions in fashion related fields.
Keep jewelry to a minimum and no dangling earrings, bracelets that jingle and necklaces that hang low.

Golden Interview Tip: no visible tattoos, no shorts, no short dresses, no halter tops, visible skin from elbows down, knees down and neck up only and definitely no aftershave or perfume and do not smoke in the car on the way to the interview.

Take with you

A bound notepad and a few extra resumes in case they have mislaid it or other people are unexpectedly involved in the meeting.

Carry an umbrella if rain is possible.

Company address, phone, directions and interview information.

Cell phone if you have one.

Golden Interview Tip: your notepad is to look professional, not to actually use, unless it is really, really important.

Be on time

Of all of the job interview hints and tips, this is the most important. There are no excuses for being late.

Be aware

Do not preen and check your hair and makeup in the reflective glass in or outside the building as people inside may be able to see you from the moment you arrive.

Arriving too early can be almost as bad as arriving late.

Arrive at the reception area 10 minutes before the interview. This will allow sufficient time if other people are waiting. If the reception area is quiet you can introduce yourself and say who you are meeting but you are there a little early and want to take a few minutes to review some notes.

Present yourself at reception at five minutes prior to your interview time.

Pay attention to what happens next as busy receptionists can miss announcing your arrival, particularly if the person you are meeting is on the phone. Watch and listen carefully and follow-up occasionally if need be.

Golden Interview Tip: Reception is the gatekeeper. Always treat the gatekeeper with respect. They have more power and know more about what is happening than many in the company and the interviewer may ask them how you handled yourself at reception.

Remember: You never get a second chance to make that first impression.


- Simon A. Bull

Intro to the Blog

Monday, February 07, 2011
With over 30 years in the placement business, we have learned a thing or two about resumes, interview techniques, job offers and all the related challenges involved in search and placement.

We have been there to offer a helping hand and a shoulder to lean on in difficult termination and outplacement situations and have celebrated when candidate get great positions with good companies.

Over the years we have presented workshops and programs in placement, outplacement, behavioural profiling and resume writing and we have placed from shop floor support personnel to president.

We have been through counter offers, no shows, no starts and have also had success in going from a new assignment to the start of employment in about 14 hours and also having three of our candidates hired on the same day when the client was initially just looking for one person.

We even had a candidate asked by a vice president to play “closest to the wall” for money while waiting for the president to show up for a meeting.

This Blog is designed to help, encourage and support all those on a career path. It does not matter if you are looking for your first job or have 20+ years experience , we are confident that within these pages you will find gems that will help you on your way.

Questions are encouraged and we will answer as many as possible on these pages as soon as we can.
Please note that we are not lawyers and are unable to offer any advice or opinion on legal matters. Legal, moral or ethical questions should be referred to the appropriate authorities in your area. This Blog is to offer employment related information for your personal use and the contents may not be used in any other manner without the express written consent of the writer.

Please enjoy and we welcome your comments and suggestions.

Latest Blog Posts

  1. What we do not want to see on your resume Simon Bull 07-Mar-2015
  2. If only I knew what they wanted to see on my resume Simon Bull 21-Feb-2015
  3. Tough Job Interview Questions – Be Prepared Tyson Tredger 14-Feb-2011
  4. Job Interview Hints and Tips – The Interview Tyson Tredger 11-Feb-2011
  5. Job Interview Hints and Tips – Before the Interview Tyson Tredger 10-Feb-2011

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