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How to write your resume so you will be selected for an interview!

Applying on line is so easy these days that companies are inundated by resumes of both qualified, and unqualified, candidates. A typical fortune 500 company receives thousands of resumes in one week. Whether you’re accustomed to working with recruiters, human resources or talent acquisition teams, there are some things that they want to see on your resume.

Pull out your resume right now and as you read this article, and make the necessary changes to your resume. Remember, you should always add to your resume as you work on key projects, so you don’t forget to include crucial details that may be a differentiator of why you get asked for an interview. You never know when a reduction in force or sale of a company is going to occur. Take the time to invest in yourself now and keep your resume up to date.

How your resume is selected for an interview

Unique formatting with 3 different types of fonts and 2 graphics do not usually import correctly to the applicant systems that almost every company today uses. The reality is that companies today receive your resume through an applicant tracking system (ATS). Once in the ATS, a keyword search for the skills for a specific job search is done in the applicant tracking system, and that is what brings your resume to the top to be reviewed. Your most important information should be able to fit onto the recruiters/talent acquisition/HR first computer screen. Your professional summary and current role are what they will be reviewing. It is critical to make the first page grab their attention!

Brag on yourself

Explain what you did at each job and what the results were. If there are cost savings, process improvements, or other efficiencies, include them in your resume! List what you accomplished. Do not exaggerate your skills, but feel free to brag on what you have accomplished, because your resume is what gets you to the interview phase.

Be transparent

If you weren’t working for a time, explain why that was, don’t try to hide it. Maybe because of a downturn in the economy you were out of work for a while. Perhaps you had to quit your job to focus on caring for a relative. Whatever the reason, rather than trying to hide or come up with ambiguous dates to conceal the gap, explain it briefly. Do you want to risk losing an offer because during the employment verification stage they find out you hid your time off?

Use These 5 Words to Revitalize Your Business Writing

“The pen is mightier than the sword.” Those words were written by Edward Bulwer-Lytton over one hundred years ago. Just like the art of fencing requires practice, so does the art of using the pen. Choosing to utilize its power can bring great results.

Most business communication, like presentations, various business documents, and emails are just plain boring. Just like you dread reading that text, so does the person on the other end of your email. It’s time to get a little risky. There are words that you can use that will give some life to that otherwise yawn-worthy email. The person on the other end will thank you.

Here are some words to use as a starting point:

This word conveys swift, effective action. In our microwave world where instant gratification is the norm, people are looking for things to happen or be accomplished quickly. Maybe the person receiving the email will receive the benefits of a certain desired action immediately or you’ll immediately see to their request.

No side door or backup plan is allowed with this one, and that’s why it appeals to people. This word provides a risk-free option for the other person because you take on all the responsibility. This word is guaranteed to get your recipient’s attention and ease any concerns they may feel.

Be careful how you throw this one around. People are used to hearing companies talk about their “proven” methods when in reality they’ve never actually proven anything. Accompany this word with a specific example of why your claim is true. This shows them that not only are you confident, you’re also trustworthy.

No one likes getting a generic email that really has nothing to do with them or adds no value to their day or their goals. Likewise, any business writing you may be doing or may have to consume can become pure torture if it has no relevance to you and what you’re trying to accomplish. First, make sure that what you’re trying to communicate is relevant to the person on the other end, whether it’s a coworker, supervisor or customer. Then use this word—sparingly and succinctly—to highlight the value that you’re adding to the other person’s life.

If you’ve refreshed a plan, you’ve given it a new energy, a new vitalization. You took what had worked before, polished it up, and now it’s like new. Use this word to communicate the benefits of your plan and the overall feeling it will result in.

It’s not all semantics. If you can harness the power of the written word in your business writing and emails, you’ll find the responses that you desire. Being able to spur someone to a desired action because of an email or a well-written business article isn’t just going to happen. You’ve got to put in the forethought and effort. These five words are just a springboard, any word can have powerful results if utilized correctly.

6 Tips to Maximize Your Networking

Whether you’re looking for a new job or not, networking is a vital skill that you should be continually developing. As much as you might wish it to be different, your own skills and expertise at your job aren’t always enough. Often, it’s exactly like that saying: “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”

Who do you know? And what sort of relationship are you developing with your contacts? Here are 6 tips to maximize your networking efforts.

  1. Forget the speed-dating approach.

Quantity networking could be compared to speed dating. The results are minimal, you don’t really end up knowing the people, and they probably aren’t going to stick their necks out on the line to give you a recommendation. Networking is an investment that takes time, and like a relationship, it requires intentionality.

  1. Think beyond yourself.

No one enjoys being around a selfish person. If your goal is to take from others, that will become apparent to the people you’re trying to network with. Instead, look for areas that they need help in, and then become that source of help. Maybe you’re an expert in that area or you have a contact who could help them out. Whatever it is, make yourself useful to them first. Look to help others out, and not only your own goals.

  1. Get social.

There can be many benefits to using social media. It’s an avenue where you can follow up with connections and even make new ones. However, if your only goal is to promote yourself, people will soon lose interest in you and become annoyed at your self-seeking attitude that’s spamming their social sites.

  1. “What’s your favorite color?”

The answer to that question used to be the most important factor in determining whether you wanted that other kid to be your friend. While favorite colors really don’t matter anymore, having similar interests with someone can be a great way to connect with them. Do you share an interest in the same type of music? Remember that and use it to get to know that person better. Finding something in common creates an instant connection and you’ll be more likely to be remembered by that person, especially if you use that shared interest as a follow-up.

  1. Don’t forget to remember.

While you’re making all these connections, be sure to make mental notes. Connect faces with names, and names with interests and facts. If necessary, you can write down some of this information so that you’re sure not to forget it. Use whatever memory tool you like, just make sure you’re making those mental notes. Actively listen to what they’re saying so that you can have a meaningful follow-up with them later. This implies that you will eventually follow up (which is the whole purpose of first establishing network connections).

  1. Be on the lookout.

Put yourself out there. If you’re more comfortable with the behind-the-screen approach, you’ll need to put some more effort towards this one. You can make network connections at parties, conferences, events, asking others for introductions, classes, social media, etc. If you’re required to go to conferences or take specific classes for your career, take full advantage of the networking opportunities there.

Networking is incredibly vital in this day and age, but so many fail to establish quality contacts because of missing the mark in these areas. Basically, it comes down to treating the people you network with as just that: people. People meeting and getting to know other people. Implement these 6 tips, and watch how your networking quality improves.

Assessments as Part of the Job Process

You have been through a phone interview and a face-to- face interview, now you are asked to take an assessment.

What does that mean?  Many employers use assessments as part of the interview tool kit.

We spoke to Leadership Alliance (http://www.leadershipall.com), a company that does assessments and asked questions we thought might be helpful to you:

Why are companies using assessments? 

Hiring managers are looking for an objective measure to help assess the critical competencies in the role.  Information from assessments can enhance understanding of a potential employee’s personality, preferred workstyle, culture, and skills.  Assessments focus on various factors, but overall, they are measuring cognitive abilities and work-related personality.

These assessments are expensive. A company is making an investment in the candidate and wants to predict fit and job success for the candidate and employer.

How are the results of my assessment used?

A good company uses this information as a data point.  Companies who use it appropriately use it consistently and as one factor in addition to traditional sources such as references, interviews, job track record, and academic performance.

Can I prepare for the test?

You can’t prepare.  The best thing to do is to get a good night’s sleep, eat breakfast, relax, don’t overthink it.  Our note – read the instructions carefully before starting.  If the assessment is online and you can choose when and where to take it, make sure you are in a quiet environment and have a glass of water available and turn off your phone. If you get stressed, take 3 deep breaths and get refocused.

Can people “game the tests” and manipulate the results?

People can try, but the test usually picks it up

What if a test finds my weaknesses?

If you are weak in something, that may not be an issue for the company, but it is important to know where you are most likely to find success in your new company. Often this information lets the prospective employer where they need to coach you to improve. Remember, everyone has opportunities for improvement.

What if I have a learning disability or dyslexia?

It is important to let the tester know if you need an accommodation when taking the test.

What if English is not my first language?

Notify the person giving the test that English is not your first language.

Final thoughts?

Companies give assessments because they want to know if you will thrive and be successful in their organization.  So, be yourself and don’t stress about the test!

Quitting Your Job? 5 Considerations Before Deciding

Are you frustrated with your current job or boss and ready to make a change?  It is important that you are strategic when you are leaving your job, so that you can be positioned to move your career forward.  Too often, people make the decision to leave an organization without putting a proper plan in place.  Here are five things to consider before you turn in your notice.

  1. Assess Your Finances
    Plan ahead and build up your nest egg.  Money is one of the biggest motivators that will push you back to your old job, or into a new job that you don’t like. There may also be a gap in between companies pay cycles and you don’t want to get caught short on cash.  Companies often check credit and you do not want to have late pays or delinquencies.  Your savings will also allow you to take the time that is needed to find the best match for your career, rather than settling for something else because you need to pay the bills.
  1. Establish a relationship with a “Career Agent”
    Just because you are currently employed, doesn’t mean that you can’t have a relationship with a Recruiter (Career Agent).  You want to have a career agent just like an all-star athlete wants a sports agent.  You want someone who can represent your best interests and has a pulse on the market.  A good Recruiter will keep you posted on opportunities that will match what you are looking for and if the timing is right for you, you should explore the position and if not, let the Recruiter know that the timing is just not right.
  1. Fly under the radar
    As tempting as it might be to tell your friends at work, don’t mention the fact that you are looking for a new job.  The information could be accidentally or intentionally leaked to management, which might result in a situation where you then must make a move or you may end up burning bridges or ruining relationships.  Stay quiet about your job search!
  1. Resignation / Transition
    You will need to provide your boss with a letter stating the reason that you are leaving, how you plan to transition your work and your last date of employment.  It is possible that someone might call your former employer for a reference at some point in time, and the way you resign and transition your work can have an impact on the impression that you leave with your boss and the company.
  1. Plan how to leave on a positive note
    Work diligently through your last day.  Make sure that you have everything organized for the team member(s) taking over your workload.  You will have an easier time maintaining relationships and cultivating goodwill by working hard to make the transition easier for your coworkers and management.

Come see us at Gateway to Innovation

Gateway-to-Innovation-logoWould you like to hear insights from top IT leaders in St. Louis? It’s not too late to sign up for the premier IT conference in the city, Gateway to Innovation (http://www.g2iconference.com/ ) on Wednesday, April 29th. Jacobson Staffing (www.jacobsonstaffing.com) is once again the proud Lunch Sponsor of Gateway to Innovation.  Our team will be wearing purple shirts.  Look for us there- it will be a great opportunity to catch up!

Throwback Thursday – Oh, How Times Have Changed

By Diane Elkin -Jacobson Staffing, Inc

When people mention Throwback Thursday (#TBT) you may immediately think of Facebook and other social media posts of friends and family and pictures of them in their younger years.  You may sit back and think, Oh how times have changed!  As a recruiter there are moments when I think the same thing.  When I was fresh out of college and seeking to start my career, the “rules” were so different then than they are today.  I wonder how many of these you recall!
HelpWantedFirst, a popular way to find out what jobs were available was to scour the Help Wanted section of your local newspaper.  A highlighter or pen was usually needed to circle all the jobs that were calling your name.  Needless to say, those days have passed with the dinosaurs.  When was the last time you did that??  Job boards of all sizes and niche along with LinkedIn are now available at the touch of a button from our smart phones.  Building relationships with people that have their finger on the pulse, such as local and experienced recruiters, continue to be the best way to find the opportunities that are best for you and your career.

Secondly, resumes and how they are created have drastically changed, albeit improved! Typewrite Who remembers shopping for resume paper and the stress in choosing 20# or 24# bond paper?  Do I choose Classic White, Cream, Grey, or Textured paper and are the matching envelopes required?  (Yes they were!)  Once you had the correct paper it was then time to get out your trusted typewriter and start pecking away.  Typewriters were eventually replaced by desktop computers and the demand for Liquid Paper drastically dropped.  Today we have apps that can quickly help us create a work of art from our phones and tablets!  I likely could have bought another tablet had I not spent so much money on 24# paper in my early years.

Suit-tieLastly, how we dress for interviews and/or work has greatly changed in the past few decades.  While I still highly recommend “dressing for success”, there are times when that may mean putting on a nice pair of jeans and sneakers in lieu of a shirt and tie *IF* that is their corporate culture. Thankfully for women the “power” shoulder pads of the 80’s have been replaced by normal, classy attire.  Fortunately we no longer look like a linebacker as we walk into work!   I have seen both sides of the spectrum while recruiting IT talent – some clients are strict shirt/tie culture where others are shorts/flip flops.  If you are unsure, always fall back to professional dress.

As rapidly as technology and trends are changing it will be fascinating to see what the next 10, 20, 50 years will look like on so many levels.  The technology may be more phenomenal than we can imagine today.  Will resumes become a thing of the past?  What will be the HOT careers to work towards?  I believe one thing will remain consistent and that is the need for people to network with, build relationships with, and to support.  All the fancy gadgets will never replace that.  As much as some things change, others remain the same.