Saturday, August 25, 2012

What questions do employers want to hear in an interview?

By Justin Thompson

Once you've received the call from an employer inviting you in for an interview, the real preparation begins. Prior to an interview, candidates should research the company so they can not only answer questions, but have questions ready to ask the hiring manager as well.

The interview is where the job candidate and employer get to know each other. Think of it like dating. While a job interview is in a professional setting and the outcomes are different, the intentions are the same. You've exchanged information because you think there might be a connection, and now you're ready for your "first date." As much as you want to make a good first impression, the employer needs to make a good impression, too.

Just like a first date, you don't want one person to dominate the conversation and ask all the questions. It should be a balanced dialogue, and you should ask questions that get to the heart of the matter: Who is this employer, and why should I work for this company?

The right questions to ask

Alan Guinn, managing director and CEO of The Guinn Consultancy Group, works with employers every day. He recommends that recruiters listen for these 10 questions from job applicants to see if they've done their homework and truly want the position:

1. I've been told that I work very well as a team member. What are some of the ways your company encourages teamwork?

2. We all know how important job satisfaction is to everyone. I want to be happy in any role. Is the company committed to promotion from within, whenever possible?

3. I love your published mission and values. How are these reflected in day-to-day life at the company? Can you share some examples with me?

4. If your son, daughter or a friend was looking for a job, would you recommend working for this company? Why?

5. What do you think distinguishes this company from its competitors, both from a public and employee perspective?

6. How often do you speak with your C-level officers? When you do, what do they normally ask you? Do they ask for your opinion?

7. How does the company demonstrate a sense of pride in its employees? Can you help me understand what it looks for in return?

8. Are there paid, ongoing learning opportunities offered at my level of job responsibility? What obligations do I have if I elect to take advantage of them?

9. What does the company expect in the way of personal and professional growth for a person hired into this position?

10. Does the company value a difference in work and personal time, or does it blur the responsibilities between the two?

Think about your goals first

Don't feel obligated to walk into the interview with a set number of questions, but these give you an idea of the right questions to ask. Also think of the questions in terms of your career and personal goals. If you're moving into a role with more responsibility, how will that affect what questions you ask? If you're starting a family soon, what do you want to know about the company's commitment to work/life balance?

Thoughtful planning and preparation for an interview will not only help you feel more confident but will also leave a great impression on the person interviewing you. 

Friday, August 24, 2012

Qualifications versus duties: Why knowing the difference matters

By Justin Thompson, CareerBuilder Writer

Some job seekers have problems selling their skills. They list their basic duties, which most job seekers have in common. You can stand out in a job search by positioning those skills so they set you apart.

Think of how a salesperson sells a car. He doesn't tout the fact that the car has four wheels, windows and functioning lights, because you'd expect that from every car. Instead, he sells the unique points of the car -- design, safety, mileage -- all of which make the car appealing to a potential buyer.

Job seekers need to do the same when selling their qualifications. Instead of saying you've used Microsoft Excel, tell the employer how you've solved problems or increased efficiency by creating a basic accounting process through Microsoft Excel.

Kyra Mancine, a professional copywriter with a career development background, says a list of job responsibilities is her biggest résumé pet peeve. "The key is to take a simple job duty and expand it to match the [job posting] with quantitative evidence of accomplishments," Mancine says. "It may take some thought and creativity, but it can be done for any job, no matter what the level. I don't care if you're a sanitation worker, CEO or seamstress; anyone can do this."

By adding numbers, statistics and adjectives applicable to the posting, job seekers can set themselves apart from others who have submitted more generic résumés.

How to quantify accomplishments

To give an example, here's a real job posting from a bank looking for a call-center representative:
  • Serves as first-line response for incoming customer calls.​

  • Accurately and expediently answers inquiries from customers on all types of new and existing products and services, drawing on a detailed knowledge base of bank products, services, policies and procedures.​

  • Sells and cross-sells bank products and services to new and existing customers who have contacted the bank by telephone.​

  • Efficiently performs routine follow-up work and initiates requests for detailed follow-up work.​

  • Relies on excellent verbal and written communication skills to fulfill customer requests and to ensure customer satisfaction.​
If you're applying for this job and all you've listed on your résumé is that you answered phone calls in a call center, you probably won't get an interview, Mancine says. Instead, she suggests rewriting your résumé to match the bullets listed in the job posting, quantifying your successes. Mancine shares this example of how an applicant could restructure her résumé to address the posting above:
Primary call-center contact for a high volume of customer service inquiries, ranging from orders to returns.
  • Successfully handled hundreds of incoming consumer calls daily from across the country.

  • Received recognition for product upsells, resulting in a 5 percent increase in weekly sales.

  • Tapped into strong base of product knowledge on thousands of product stock-keeping units, quickly and courteously relaying product information to existing and new customers.

  • Consistently acknowledged for speed, accuracy to details and follow-through on catalog requests, Web order processing, batches and data entry.

  • Committed to going above and beyond to ensure customer satisfaction, resulting in being named Employee of the Month for June 2011.
Here's another test that can help determine if you've listed qualifications or just duties: Look at each bullet point on your résumé and ask yourself, "So what?" If you're not impressed, why would a recruiter be? Don't neglect the cover letter

"Cover letters are most often left out or even sent as generic notes with résumés," says Tiffani Murray, a résumé writer and career coach. She says that the cover letter is a great place to sell your personality and breathe life into your application.

"If a job posting specifically asks for a cover letter, this is a great opportunity to match up your skills and experiences with the requirements of the job," Murray says. "Make sure to detail how you can perform the tasks of the job you are applying for, but also add to the company, team or overall business with your knowledge and success in similar roles."

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Sample Resume Objectives

When creating your resume being precise about who you are what you have to offer is essential to achieving the message you are trying to imply. A clean crisp resume portraying your skills, experience, and aptitude is what you should strive for when you are putting your resume together.
Focusing on gathering all the information needed to create a good objective is a very important key in resume success. What you have put together in this objective section, adds key value in what the employer is looking for.

In today’s market, more job candidates tends to be shifting away from objectives and prefer to showcase a summary of their qualifications and skills. Objectives usually should focus on what exact qualifications you have to bring to the position, and what experience you have that would be beneficial for them to hire you for the job and not someone else.

Keep things simple and straight to the point, do not add extra words that may add cushion or sound unprofessional. Any type of slang talk or misspellings is completely unacceptable. The objective section in the resume is actually one of the most important pieces on the resume. Many times after the cover letter, an employer will glance over and read the objective section to see if he or she should read or pursue things any further. This is why it so important that the words and terminology you use are something that is going to want to take the employer further.

Offering hard facts and what your actual past on the job experience has been, is an often a good choice over intangibles. If you really are not qualified for the job, briefly explain as to why you should get the job, and what you will do to be able to train yourself and make yourself familiar with the skills needed to be able to complete the job with ease and not require a lot of training or supervision.
Some samples of what you can use to make your objectives really stand out are:
  • All of the benefits and assets that you can bring to the company
  • A general synopsis of your past successes and accomplishments that may be relative to this position.
  • Your determination and purpose of wanting the best achievement out of your career.
  • Highlight your leadership abilities. For example, if you have ever been in charge of management or human resources be sure to emphasize your qualities and ability to lead the group.
  • Put your abilities on showcase and literally show them off.
  • Another tip is to pretend that you are there in the flesh explaining you as a person to the employer and what your real objectives are. Therefore, every word can easily tell the story behind your face.
  • The key is to make your objectives sound dynamic, very up beat and positive. Make sure to be very distinct by highlighting your own unique characteristics.
Last but not least make sure your font and paper are the same as what you used with the resume and any other type of correspondence.

Overall, the key to having your objectives stand out and make the grade is to have good presentation, and good qualification highlights. The objectives are a communication tool between you and your future employer so make sure its accurate, clean, easy to read and above all objective.

Article Source:

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Best CV Format

There are many different types of CV available so you may be confused as to which CV will best present your profile, skills, qualifications and work experience. Before just writing down the information, you should research the types or formats of Curriculum Vitae that will present you and your career information in the best possible way in order to achieve an effective CV – one that gets you chosen for interviews.

There are mainly six different CV formats: the Chronological CV, the Performance CV, the Functional CV, the Targeted CV, the Alternative CV and the Universal CV. There are other names and of similar variations of the same, such as the hybrid CV, the Comprehensive CV and the Brief CV.

The Chronological CV is one that lists your education, work history, experience, etc in reverse order of the events. This is the most used Curriculum Vitae; however, it may not be the best CV to use for your situation. If you have just graduated from college for example, you may not possess a list of job specific specialised training, work history, or professional experience. This may be the ideal type of CV for a person that has performed well in his or her career and has plenty of information to add in a chronological manner.

The Performance CV is similar to the chronological CV, you can however, add achievements with the information provided in chronological order such as awards and information of the school, company, and a person to contact. This format is great for those with job experience of which to display a company in their work history.

The Functional CV the focus is on your career functions – i.e. an expansion on your skills performed. This format is often used for individuals / managers that are seeking a position in a different field. This CV type is also good for those for trades or technical employees employed on various short term contracts.

The Targeted CV focuses on the vacancy that you desire within a company. With this CV type, you only list education and work history that is relevant to the specific job position. This format is used by people that have been employed in various fields, but wish to focus on one job area or specific job vacancy.

The Alternative CV is one that is often used for creative people and positions. An individual can be a more flamboyant and add more personality to their Curriculum Vitae. This type is used by people that want to focus and advertise themselves rather than their achievements.

The Universal CV can be a mix of all of the above. If you are confused about which CV to use this is the safest one to present to prospective employers. Choosing this format is usually the best way to get the attention you deserve if you are writing your own CV. This CV will display the pertinent information you need in order to be chosen for an interview.

Article Source:

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Ten Things You Can Do to Improve Your Use of LinkedIn

by Sue Kaiden

Are you on LinkedIn but not sure what to do with it?   Do you feel overwhelmed by the thought of getting onto LinkedIn?  Do you know you could be doing more with it, but you feel like you don’t have the time?   Here are ten simple things you can do to improve your use of LinkedIn:

1) Get A Picture (or get a better one):  I’m frequently astounded at the pictures that people use for their LinkedIn profiles.   Many of them are blurry, dark, unflattering or cluttered.   Your profile picture should look like you, only better.   Take the time to get a professional head shot taken.   Don’t have the time or money?   Get a friend who has a good digital camera and likes to take pictures.   Get dressed nicely.   Ladies, put on make up.   Wear a solid color that contrasts with your skin color (nothing too bright please).  Outside lighting is more flattering, so go to a park and have your friend take a bunch of photos of you.   Choose the one that you like the most.   Upload to LinkedIn.  Not sure how to do that?  Ask a teenager for help.

2)  Add Groups:   You are allowed to belong to 50 groups on LinkedIn.   The benefit of groups is that you can directly email anyone with whom you share a group.   So, it increases your network exponentially.   Choose some groups in the field in which you’re looking for work or a new field that you’d like to enter.   If you belong to some professional associations, make sure to join their LinkedIn group.  Not sure how to find appropriate groups?   On the top of your profile where it says “People – Search”, click on the down arrow you’ll see a list of things for which you can search.   Select “Groups” off the list.   Then type some key words into the search box and click the little magnifying glass.  You will see a list of groups that you might be interested in joining.  Join some.  Don’t want to get lots of email from your groups?  You can set your email settings to weekly summaries when you join.

3) Proofread your profile:   I frequently notice typos on people’s profiles.   This is your public presence, so PLEASE read your profile carefully and correct those typos!  Make sure your grammar and spelling are correct.   Don’t use person pronouns – it should read more like a resume than a casual email to your friends.

4) Invite more people to join your network:  Try inviting at least one person to your LinkedIn network every day.  If you do that, you’ll have 365 people in your network in a year.   Be sure to invite people you know who are on LinkedIn.   Please don’t send the standard “I’d like to add you to my professional network” invite.   Take a minute to personalize the invitation.   If you haven’t seen them in awhile, give them a quick update.   Then say, “I’d like to keep in touch by adding you to my network on LinkedIn, if you’re willing!”    Not sure who to invite?  Start with the list that says “people you may know” (to find it click on “Home” at the top of your profile page).   There will be a list of people with whom you share connections or groups.

5)  Add Skills:  There is new feature on LinkedIn that allows you to add skills.  These are words and phrases that are pre-defined by LinkedIn.   To find it, look under the “More” tab on the top of the page.   Select “skills” off the list.   Now, try typing a word or phrase into the search box.   If the skill you typed in is already on the list, it will appear along with a description of that skill.  Even better, a list of related skills will appear on the left hand side.   If it’s an accurate description of your skill, just select “Add skill” and it will be added to the Skills section of your profile.

6) Ask for some recommendations:  It helps to have recommendations for at least the most recent jobs you’ve listed on LinkedIn.   If you’re not comfortable asking your old boss to write you a recommendation, ask a colleague who knows your work or a client who can speak about the experience they had with you. Most people are willing to do this for you if they had a good experience with you and know you well enough to comment on the quality of your work.

7) Write a recommendation for someone else:  Everyone likes a pat on the back.  Writing a recommendation for someone else will make them feel good (and will lift your spirits as well!).   Try doing this once a week and see what happens.    Give the recommendation without expecting to receive one back (and don’t feel insulted if they don’t recommend you as well).   It’s almost better to have recommendations from people who don’t recommend you back because it looks too much like a “quid pro quo” when you recommend everyone that has recommended you.

8 ) Beef Up Your Summary Section:  The summary section of your profile should include key information about what you can do for employers.  What sets you apart from other candidates?   Don’t say, looking for challenging position in…focus on what’s in it for the employer.   What special skills or knowledge do you possess that will benefit potential employers?  A bulleted list of your special areas of expertise is helpful for people scanning your profile.

9)  Ask or answer a question or post information:  Now that you’re a member of some groups (see item #2 ), you can post an question for discussion, share some information or comment on someone else’s post.   If you do this once or twice a week, it will raise your visibility.   If you post a question, make sure there are no typos or misspelled words.   Also, keep the question upbeat and on point.

10)  Add a book list:   If you like to read and enjoy sharing what you’re reading with others, add the reading list feature to your profile.  To do that, click on “More” at the top of the page and select “Get more applications”.    You will see a list of features you can add to your profile.   Select the “reading list” feature and you can add a list of books you’re reading and write a short comment.    There are many other applications you can add, including that lets you upload files to your profile and Huddle that gives you a place to share documents that can be edited by others.
Do a few of the things on this list every week and you’ll find that LinkedIn will become a more valuable tool for you whether or not you’re in job search mode.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

What are the top three things people do wrong in resume creation

When it comes to resume writing people tend to:

1) Undersell their skills and experience;
2) Use the wrong format for to represent their experience; and
3) Forget to proofread their document.

To the first point, people generally assume that if they have held a mundane job or a position that they feel is either boring or self-explanatory, there is no need to polish it up on their resume.  This is an example of underselling yourself.  A resume gives employers a chance to see how well you write and how well you can articulate yourself.

So, it is really important that people don’t forget to include important or vivid details in their job descriptions. Saying you are a teacher is one thing; but, saying that you’ve taught over 40,000 students is another and is much more attractive to employers.

Secondly, many job seekers use the basic chronological format for their resume.  This can prove to be a disservice to them because chronological resumes emphasize longevity and some job-seekers don’t have that background.  In this case, a functional or skill based resume would prove to be a better choice because it focuses the readers’ attention on their skill and talent, not their longevity.

Lastly, typos abound in resumes!  Many people rely on their built-in spell check to do the work for them.  However, some words may be spelled correctly but may be the wrong word for that sentence (think: “manger” vs. “manager”).  Reading aloud will help the job-seeker catch more errors in grammar and spelling than just allowing the spell-check feature to do it.