🔥Is Your Resume on Fire?🔥

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In my most recent post, I shared how it’s a candidate’s market and companies need to start making changes if they want to continue to hire and retain top talent; however, that doesn’t give candidates an excuse to get slack. Your resume is an introduction and it needs to be as hot and on fire as it is outside in this mid-July. I ask that you look at this article not as tips for your resume, but rather musts if you want to land your dream job. It’s still a very competitive market and companies want the best of the best.

  1. Spellcheck and Proofing – I know we all think we’re excellent at spelling because we got 1st in our 5th grade spelling bee, but typos still happen. Not only do misspelled words happen, but the wrong tense or the wrong type of word happens like “there” instead of “their”. After you’ve spellchecked your resume, read it backwards. Sometimes when you’ve been staring at a document for a long time, you start to read what you intended to say versus what it might actually say. Reading the resume backwards can help you catch those mistakes.
  2. Summary instead of Objective – Everyone knows you are trying to seek a challenging role to utilize the skills you’ve obtained in school or in previous roles. It’s a waste of space on your resume and time for those reading it. Instead of an objective, write a summary of your skills, accomplishments, and experience. It’s a snapshot of your resume and career in 2-3 sentences. Make sure to keep the summary professional. It should not include any personal details such as your marital status, health, or life story.
  3. Education – If you recently graduated, it is completely fine to lists relevant courses taken, GPA, graduating with honors, etc. After the one-year mark, these things become less relevant and your recent experience becomes the more important topic to look at. If you graduated over 10 years ago, education is better listed below your experience. If it’s been less than 10 years, it’s still good to list above experience. Also, if you received an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, make sure you list your degree correctly. It is not “Bachelors of Science” or “Associates’s of Science”. It is listed “Bachelor of Science” or “bachelor’s degree in whatever your major was”.
  4. Skills Section – This is the section where you list any software you have used previous or have been trained on. Examples could be Microsoft Office, Adobe Suite, accounting software such as QuickBooks, GreatPlains, Peachtree, etc. Even if you don’t think the software is relevant or up to date, it still could be similar to an employer’s current software that makes you more marketable.
  5. Duties – Your duties should be listed as short statements of what you did at your job instead of a story. (Example – Processed weekly and monthly billing statements instead of I would process weekly and monthly billing statements for the company). They should be bulleted to make them easier to read versus in paragraph form. The duties of your current role should also be in present tense and duties of your previous jobs should be in past tense. Additionally, make sure your duties are relevant to the role you are applying for. If you’re applying for a teller role at a bank, make sure you’ve listed cash handling on your resume. Likewise, if you’re applying for product supervisor role, you don’t need to list you cleaned bathrooms for the ice cream parlor 5 years ago.
  6. Formatting – Last but certainly not least, the formatting of a resume is very important. It helps the resume look neat and professional. Spacing should all be the same and lines should start and end on the same margin throughout the entire resume. Don’t have a section centered and then another section left-aligned. The entire resume should also be in one type of font. Sizes can vary, but don’t have too much of a gap between sizes i.e. making a title size 18 and bullets size 10. Company names, titles, and dates should be listed in a way that they stand out from the rest of the resume. I prefer to bold company titles and dates and italicize the job titles. I also list all the dates to the right of the resume for the interviewer to easily see. These formats can differ, but the point is to make sure each job stands out and can be easily read from top to bottom.

 

In summary, keep things professional, relevant, and neat. This is potentially the only chance you get in front of an employers’ eyes. Make it count! Do you have any other suggestions for making sure a resume is on fire?

 

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A Whole New World of Hiring: It’s a Candidate’s Market

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A whole new world.

A new, essential point of view.

Candidates tell us no.

Or they want to go.

Or say we’re only dreaming.

Sadly, the new world Aladdin sang of is much different than the hiring world we’re experiencing right now. I’ve been in the recruiting and staffing industry for almost six years now. I started at Godshall in 2012 when the economy was still recovering from the recession. Recruiters would make an offer, and candidates would jump at any opportunity they could get. Even a recent HR graduate from Anderson University like myself was ecstatic to be offered a temporary receptionist role! Today, it’s a different story. Recently, we had a candidate who was presented with three job offers and turned down all three. Why? Because it’s a candidate’s market. They are in control. If they want more, they’re fighting for more. They know the ball is in their court.

So what do you do to adapt to this new world? Here are a few tips:

  1. Compensation needs to stay competitive. A cashier associate at a fast food restaurant should not make more than an administrative assistant with a four-year degree. Yet many companies are making offers where that is the case. Sure, the administrative job offers a better long-term career path, but candidates today don’t see it that way. A competitive salary shows you value your employees and what they have to offer.
  2. Don’t drag the interview process out. We live in a fast-paced society. We want and expect things now. The hiring process is no different. Candidates are over having a first interview on a Monday, not hearing from the client until Friday, and setting a second interview for the following Friday. Just typing that last sentence was too drawn out for me! Keep it simple, quick, and efficient. We understand there are some circumstances you can’t control. For example, if you know the hiring manager is going to be out of town, stay engaged with the candidate throughout the process. Let them know they are a top contender and share anything you can offer on why they should wait out for your position.
  3. Stop looking for THE ONE. You’re never going to be able to find the absolute perfect candidate for the role because there isn’t one. Every person is different, so every skillset is different. Just because Sally only has five years of accounts payable experience versus the required seven doesn’t mean you need to immediately write her off. She could bring other valuable skills to the table that the previous employee didn’t have. Instead of seeking 100 percent of the skillset, try to find a more reasonable amount. Figure out the needs of the job versus the wants and focus on those.
  4. Be open to the “job hoppers.” As a millennial, I personally have many friends who would fit in the hopper category. But I know they’re talented, hardworking, and loyal. They just had some extenuating circumstances they couldn’t control: husband was relocated; the company closed; the job didn’t turn out to be what it was presented as; the environment was hostile, etc. So next time you see a resume with four job changes in the past eight years, take the time to ask the reasons for those changes before you dismiss it.
  5. Be flexible. Many candidates searching for a new job are currently employed. That means they only have time to interview during lunch if you’re close or after work. Be mindful of their time if they’re on a lunch break and make sure to offer times outside a normal 8-to-5 schedule. Otherwise, you may be losing valuable talent.
  6. Remember, you’re being interviewed, too. With the options that employees have today, companies need to make sure they are attracting and “wooing” these candidates while screening them at the same time. Share all perks the company offers with the candidate. If I have two job offers from one company offering a competitive compensation package, great benefits, free gym membership, and half days on Fridays, while the other just hands me an offer letter, which do you think I would accept? Sell the candidates on your company.

These may not be all the changes companies need to make, but they will highly improve your chance of recruiting talented candidates. It’s time we embraced this tight candidate’s market and do what needs to be done. Are you ready?

By: Shawn Kinard

8 Myths on How to Land the Best Job in the Upstate

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So, do you feel that you should be in a better job? Why do most of us stay in the same job even when our skills are being underutilized or when we are truly unhappy? There are so many opportunities for those who are prepared and have the tools to succeed! Here they are the top ten myths about searching for a job in the Upstate:

Myth #1: All of the good jobs are with the largest employers.

Truth: Though large employers offer tremendous benefits and growth opportunities, the majority of companies in the Upstate are classified as small businesses. There are some fantastic small employers! The experience and gratification gained by working in a small business, where you would be involved in a multitude of duties and can see your direct impact on the bottom line, may just exceed the advantages that working for a large company offers.

Myth #2: I need “roots” in the Upstate to get the best jobs.

Truth: A transplanted (excuse the term) Sandlapper who knows how to network and use that network will reap benefits that far exceed that of being born and raised here. Many of our most successful business people in the Upstate are without our unique Upstate drawl! Network not only when you are looking for a job, but when you are not. A few ideas on networking opportunities: professional associations, community service organizations, non-profit business organizations such as chambers of commerce, church organizations, and neighborhood groups. Make it a point to know what people do, where they work, and who they know! Who knows, you may just make a positive impact on our wonderful community in the process!

Myth #3: Staffing companies find only temporary jobs for their clients OR companies hire contract employees just to avoid paying benefits.

Truth: I take personal offense to this one! Most often, Upstate companies use temporary staffing agencies to recruit excellent candidates that they WILL consider for long term full-time employment if they do a good job! If you are new to the area, working on temporary assignments is an excellent way to get a “feel” for the market and to get your foot in the door! For example, approximately 60-70% (depending on the economy and time of year) of the placements through our firm will lead to full time positions with the employer if our candidate does a super job.

Myth #4: I should prepare one good cover letter and resume and send it to the top fifty companies for whom I’d like to work.

Truth:  This is one of the biggest mistakes most job seekers make! Each cover letter and resume must be tailored to the position for which you are applying. Depending on the position, you must change your objective, the placement of your skills, education, and job history. Your cover letter should not be written to “Dear Sir or Madam” or “Dear Sir” but to a specific individual. If the job description doesn’t mention a name, find the person to whom you should direct your letter by calling the company and asking, “Who is the person responsible for hiring the position?” Please don’t waste your time with a generic marketing package.

Myth #5:  If they tell me they’ll call me when a decision is made, they will.

Truth: Call it today’s hectic business environment, call it understaffing in HR departments, call it impoliteness, but it’s a fact. If you don’t follow up, you may never hear back. During the interview, ask the employer when they expect to make a decision. If you haven’t heard from the employer by the date that they mention—call them! When you call, let them know that you are interested and ask what additional information they need from you in order to make a decision. If they do not need further information, ASK FOR THE JOB! Most people can’t or won’t do it, but the candidate’s ability to “close the deal” will be the deciding factor in many hiring decisions. Companies want to hire people who are qualified and interested. Frankly, I wouldn’t hire a salesperson who couldn’t sell themselves. Here is how it’s done: “Mr/Ms. Employer, I have found out a great deal about your company, both prior to meeting with you and during the interview process. You have also learned a great deal about me, my background, and skills. I know that I am a good fit for the position, and I will do a good job for you. I want to come to work for your organization, when can I start?” If they “hem and haw”, ask them if there is other information that they need to make a decision. If so, provide it, and then close again.

Myth #6: The company that I am interviewing with has a casual environment, so I don’t need to dress up for the interview.

Truth:  As the old phrase goes, “You only have one chance to make a first impression!” Regardless of the employer’s environment, you should dress conservatively and professionally. What does this mean? For office environments, wear a conservative dress or suit with professional shoes. Your hair should be clean and neat. No piercings on other parts of the body that show, no midrift showing, very little jewelry, and no perfume (many people are allergic). Many women will argue that this isn’t their “style” or that they like to express themselves. This is a job interview. This is a time when you want the interviewer to concentrate on your experience and abilities. You do not want to present yourself in a way that will distract the interviewer from you!

Myth #7:  When I receive an offer from a company, it’s “take it or leave it.”

Truth: We will never excel in our careers if we do not ask for what we need and expect more! Here is what the employer doesn’t want you to know: there is almost always a range of pay for each position in a company. The wage for a new employee is dependent on their prior experience, prior pay, internal equity (what other employees at the company are earning), and what the candidate negotiates, among other factors. Candidates should feel comfortable negotiating their wage, vacation, and other benefits within reasonable limits. If an employer does not have the ability to raise the starting pay, negotiate a review period of three to six months after the start date. By the time you have been with your new firm for three to six months, you will have proved your value. Asking for this consideration will show the employer that you are willing to earn your wage increase. Candidates who have a stable work history, excellent skills, and a positive attitude are valuable in this marketplace regardless of the economy.  Don’t’ sell yourself short!

Myth #8: I should be upfront and honest about my personal problems during my interview.

Truth: Honesty, yes—but tell everything, no! I can say this because I am a woman: this is the biggest mistake that women make during the interview. By nature, many of us are friendly and open, so we let down our guard too easily. The interviewer’s job is to screen you out. Their job is to find out, prior to hiring you, if you will be undependable, difficult to get along with, or a “short timer.” Don’t give them a reason not to hire you. The interviewer does not (under normal circumstances) need to know about your sick family members, future plans for having children, past disagreements with coworkers or supervisors, or other personal issues. Don’t speak negatively about your former job or employer, even if you feel they will understand. Trust me, many of you reading this have probably lost a wonderful job opportunity by making this mistake!

Hopefully we’ve broken down some of the lies holding you back from landing your dream career! Please feel free to share any other myths you feel job seekers are believing in today’s market.

Written by: Julie Godshall Brown

Depending on More Than LUCK for Your Next Interview

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Have you ever gone into something thinking, “I’ll just wing it?” Flashbacks to my college exams are going through my mind right now. In the hiring industry, we see candidates going into an interview with that mentality. Even though they failed to research the company, the duties and responsibilities of the role or dress in appropriate interview attire, they think they will receive a job offer. Preparation is in my opinion the most important step in landing a job. Rather than relying on luck for your next interview, here are several tips to consider when preparing for your next interview:

Do Your Research Beforehand

  • Research the company including checking the company website and googling them. This will not only make you feel more comfortable during the interview, but it will also prepare you to show genuine interest in the company.
  • Research the Interviewer: You can Google your interviewer’s name or use LinkedIn to find out their background. It is helpful to know how they started their career, their educational background, and what they do in their current role.
  • Make sure you know where the company is located before the interview. If you have enough time, plan out a route to the company a day or two prior to make sure there are no high traffic areas or road blocks. I’ve even heard taking a screen shot of the directions in case your phone has trouble pulling up directions.
  • Review your resume and work experiences the night before. Be ready to explain past career accomplishments with specific information targeted toward this company’s job description. Think of 2-3 examples of when you went above and beyond on the job.  Know your strengths!

Present Yourself in the Best Light

  • Dress appropriately and plan your wardrobe choice the evening before the interview. Remember that there is only one chance to make a good first impression. Even though many companies have a “business casual” dress code, be conservative in your attire. I suggest a conservative business suit (dark colors are best) with clean/polished dress shoes and a well-groomed hairstyle.  Nails should be clean and trimmed, with minimal cologne or perfume, and empty pockets.  I would highly recommend no gum, candy, or smoking cigarettes before the interview.  There should be no visible body piercing (nose rings, eyebrow rings, etc.). Cell phone or watch alarms should be turned off before entering the building.
  • Allow sufficient time for the interview. Plan to arrive exactly ten minutes before your actual appointment (too early is inconvenient for the interviewer) and being late can show lack of discipline.

Practice Makes Perfect

  • Practice interviewing with someone you know closely before an interview. Practice maintaining eye, giving a firm handshake, and smiling.
  • Check your posture and make sure you’re sitting up straight with a professional demeanor.
  • Practice placing your hands on your lap or on the table – not fidgeting or picking at anything.
  • Prepare how you will present your past employment. Avoid negative comments about past employers.
  • Be careful not to bare your soul and tell tales that are personal, inappropriate, or beyond the scope of the interview.
  • State your previous experience in positive terms. Even if you disagreed with a former employer, express enthusiasm for earlier jobs as much as you can.

Prepare Questions

  • Be prepared to ask questions during the interview. Your questions allow the hiring manager to evaluate your priorities and interest. Insightful questions help both of you determine if your relationship will be mutually rewarding. In the first interview state your interests, but avoid questions that relate to salary, benefits, vacations, and retirement.
  • Bring a portfolio with your written questions. It shows preparation and interest.  Good questions to ask may revolve around training, tenure of employees, the company’s future growth, etc.

Take Control of the Interview

  • Again, practice with someone you know closely. Companies want to hire candidates that are interested in working for them, not just those who want a job. Rehearse showing your interest in the job!  Don’t be afraid to ask for the job at the conclusion of the interview. “What is the next step?”  “When will a decision be made?”

Now go land that job!

 

Written By: Shawn Kinard