Category Archives: Blog

Who Are You, And Why Are You Here?

When you send your resume in to a company for consideration they are going to review your resume and forward it to the hiring manager if they like it. Some may call you first to ask questions, but for the most part your resume gets a couple of viewings before they invite you in for an interview.

During the interview, this is when the hiring manager needs you to sell yourself. They are saying “who are you and why are you here” because they have other people to meet with and they need you to sell yourself and let them know some details of what makes you unique and why are you looking for that job within their company.

This sounds simple, but I recently had a candidate do a phone interview with a client and the client feedback was “there is no way he can be that non-technical with that resume, so lets bring him in and see if he is better in person”. That’s a first for me….this guy was so bad they figured he couldn’t be that bad a developer, he must be a bad phone interviewer? Yup!

Of course the candidate feedback was…”I did great, but it wasn’t as technical an interview as I thought it would be”. In my prep I not so subtly told the candidate to “sell his technical skills” “make sure they know who you are and why you want the job”. Now I don’t want him to fabricate his level of knowledge…tough to fudge it when you are speaking to other technical prodigy’s, but mix it up a bit.

Oh, another thing…if you don’t know why you are there and don’t want the job, don’t take the interview. And another, other thing….if you don’t know the answer to something just say “I don’t know, but I’m willing to learn”. You would be surprised how honesty can be a selling point in an interview.

 

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Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket

Everyone at some point has been at an interview that has gone amazingly well. Or so it would seem. The manager and you click and everyone in the office seems friendly. An amazing interview doesn’t mean that you should stop looking for new opportunities. Heck, even a job offer doesn’t mean that you should stop looking for opportunities. I have come across way too many people who cancel interviews simply based on the promise or even expectation of an offer and that is simply not right. You could go to your next interview and find even friendlier people and a company Foosball table. Now don’t confuse what I am saying if you have already accepted an offer, it is time to stop looking.

So how do you know to stop looking and accept an offer? Set reasonable expectations. Often we do not have this luxury, but good economy or bad, you will need to go to work every day, so don’t set the bar too low. So if you haven’t already, set some expectations now. Make sure your list isn’t all about salary. If you need insurance or want a great retirement plan, those should be goals. What about time off? Can you get time off to see your kid’s ballgames or leave early on a Friday to go skiing or play golf? Does the job provide a good work life balance? Once your expectations have been met then accept that role and appreciate the employer who met your expectations and give them 100%!

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What Goes Into a Cover Letter?

We are a resume writing service, so why do folks always ask us to review their cover letter? Is a cover letter even something people use, or companies want these days? The cover letter is much like the thank you note. Some people need it, some want it and others dismiss it.

At companies I have supported I’ve literally had hiring managers overjoyed when they get a physical thank you note and some even just an email thank you, from a candidate who has been in for an interview. I’ll deal with thank you notes another time, but these same managers had differing opinions on cover letters.

Personally if a cover letter is longer than this blog post is up until this point…I will not read it and I go straight to the resume. If I like the resume I’ll go back to the cover letter.

Most people who attach a cover letter and a resume to their email when they submit to a job, will have a well thought out cover letter addressing that specific role and why they are a great fit. The cover letter runs on too long and they lose me.

Why can’t an email be the cover letter? Great question, it can, and is for me. An attached cover letter rarely gets opened, let alone read, in my office. Although we don’t officially work on cover letters we always suggest an introductory sentence, a few lines about how you differ and why you are a great fit for the role and a closing statement to thank the reviewer and reiterate your interest. I know, it’s old school….but as far as I’m concerned, so are cover letters.

Put that effort, and work experience, into your resume people. When I did open cover letters they were often more enticing than the resume. This is good and bad. It’s good because I’m getting more details about the person, but bad because they usually have just told me what I want to hear (spit back details of the job), but not be able to support their claims. I guess folks feel like they can better fudge a cover letter than a resume and this is why I don’t open cover letters


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How Do I Get Experience If Nobody Will Give Me a Chance?

It’s the age old question from graduating students that are looking to add their first “real job” out of school, to their resume. It’s a great question, but usually one asked by students who have had their head in the sand for four years not thinking about building the best resume they can for the future.

I know, that’s a bold statement, but please, with the global economy and online work and companies struggling to stay afloat, you can’t tell me that arms aren’t wide open from companies looking for interns or volunteers in your chosen field of study. This has been happening for centuries and if you have to ask the question, you have missed the boat.

For those students who have taken it upon themselves to volunteer, intern and even better, get a job in the field they are looking to pursue after school, bravo! You should be commended for thinking about life beyond school and taking the initiative to make life easier by working harder. For my children I have said for years…the harder you work in school, the easier life will be, because you are building a foundation for your future. Initiative, effort and practical experience equal a strong foundation.

The reason I’m addressing this is because students are often not sure where to represent their career directed experience versus the waitress, help desk, student union or any type of part time work they have been doing to help get them through school.

Great question and the answer is unfortunately not so simple.

As a hiring manager I love to see the effort students put in to work hard in and out of the classroom reflected on their resume. I always suggest leave the part time jobs on until you have been at your first “real job” for more than a year. If you have a role that was 2-3 weeks posting flyers for a concert on campus that’s a role that can come off, but if you are the music director at your campus radio station and you are looking for a job in radio….absolutely keep it on and put the fact that you posted flyers as a bullet. This shows future employers you can not only lead, but you will do what it take to get the job done and they will love that.

No matter what you put on your resume, it needs a strong foundation too, so make sure the formatting is clean and the content is clear and concise.

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Where Do You Put the Volunteer Experience On Your Resume?

Where do you put the Volunteer experience on your resume?

We have clients with volunteer experience they want to put on their resume and it always seems to confuse them where that experience should go when writing their resume.

People have volunteer experience at all stages of their lives. There is no set answer for where this experience should go, and here’s why.

If you are just out of college your volunteer or internship experience should be treated as the main part of your resume, so it will be in the “experience” section of your resume. (more on college students trying to get experience in our next blog)

With the difficult economy there are folks who are keeping active by volunteering between jobs, or as they stay home with the kids before they are off to school, and for these people your volunteer work should be on top of your previous professional experience, but designated with “volunteer” next to the role you took on. This would also apply to folks who might have had a previous gap in their work history that could be filled up with a volunteer role.

If you are volunteering while still working and feel this is something you want to have on your resume then you should put that in a totally different section beneath your experience and education.

We are finding that some people who are choosing to go back to work, because they are bored with retirement or just want to keep active in the work place, might have a gap in employment in their resume, so the volunteer experience can also go in the experience section. Don’t worry about filling in that gap, just tell it like it is. You will have a chance to explain your situation in a tightly worded email or cover letter, which is the topic of our blog for later this week.

If you have questions or blog ideas please contact us at  Night and Day Resume Contact Page

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How Should You Dress For An Interview?

I recently had a candidate ask me how he should dress for an interview and although it seems like a simple question, there isn’t always a clear cut answer.

This particular candidate had already spoken to the manager on the phone and they hit it off nicely. The manager invited the candidate in for a face to face interview and the candidate confirmed a time. They are each very busy so they confirmed a time in the early afternoon, just after lunch, but in the middle of the work day.

That afternoon the candidate confirmed the interview for later in the week and asked how he should dress for the interview. Of course my first inclination was to say shirt and tie, as etiquette and traditions would dictate, but I hesitated in my response. The candidate is not going to be at his work dressed in a suit and tie and he will be going back to work, as a software engineer, not in a suit and tie, so I said business casual is fine.

I could almost hear his sigh of relief on the phone when he said “that’s great”.

My point is, why make the guy jump through hoops and into a suit for a meeting where he and the manager both know it’s just for show?

I can understand for some roles, some companies and some situations that tradition reigns supreme, but sometimes a bit of logic works just fine!

Do you agree? I’m curious to hear your thoughts.


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Don’t blame outsourcing!

So I saw someone recently on Linkedin who said they were laid off a couple years ago from a job they held for 22 years and they said “outsourcing took it’s toll”. I was interested to see what sort of a role this person, respectably, did for 22 years. When I opened his profile I realized there was no way in heck that the type of work he did (b2b sales) could have been outsourced and it wasn’t the job that went bye bye, but the entire industry he was in!

Outsourced….c’mon, don’t blame outsourcing for your departure…that would be like blaming a car that ran out of gas for being a broken down jalopy. Dude, your industry went away…gone, departed…it ran out of gas!

I promise, I’m getting somewhere with this. Question is….if you look down at your gas gauge and see you need gas to keep going you pull off the road and get gas. How can you tell when your career, or worse yet, your industry, is ready to sputter to it’s demise?

Short answer….you can’t always tell, but just like your car…you can read the signs and try to make an educated decision. If your gas gauge is broken and you know your car gets 400 miles to a tankful are you going to try to make it to a gas station at 400 miles? Hope not!

Go to a gas station at 350 miles and be safe. Your career deserves the same sort of attention. If you see that your sales are down, the competition is closing it’s doors, folks are getting laid off in your company…or even still, that roles are actually going oversees and being outsourced….pick your head up out of your cube and dust off the keyboard at home and get cracking on a resume.

After that day (yes, I want you to take 1 day to start your resume because your co-workers have probably already sent theirs out, so time is awasting!) talk to family, friends and former co-workers and let them know you are open for business because the sooner you network that you would like to be considered for a new job, people will call.


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Make Sure Your Job Works for You!

When you start getting into the later stages of the job interview and people start talking about compensation this is not the time to breathe a sigh of relief.

Take note, we are talking about compensation and not just salary. A high salary can be nice but there are many other things to consider in the compensation package such as commission, health and medical benefits, paid time off and stock options. These can make up the salary difference.

Another thing to look at would be the company itself and its environment. Make sure that the person who interviewed you gives you a good chance to look around the office and see how things are being run. You can also check out how well a company rates from it’s past and present employees on a site such as www.glassdoor.com. Also you will want to consider the long term risk of your position at the company. Are you joining a company that is loosing money and may soon be making cuts or are you part of the long established core of a hundred year old company?

A long commute can be something that is a personal, but also financial, decision. Consider cost of gas, wear and tear on your car and time spent away from home. Dig a bit deeper into the role and you will want to consider traffic patterns and possibly the cost of relocating closer to the opportunity.

You can get a good idea of how the cost of living fluctuates in different areas with an online calculator like http://www.bankrate.com/calculators/savings/moving-cost-of-living-calculator.aspx which goes as far as to compare common grocery items.

You have worked hard to get a job offer, now make sure the job and the financials work for you. Do some homework and the results will bring you a long and fruitful new career!

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Lets Talk About Contact Information

Certain assumptions can be made by the person who is reviewing your resume, simply by looking at your contact information.

When a company sees that you do not include a physical address on your resume they could assume that you are looking for a remote working opportunity. If you include only your city/town and state they will see that you are trying to maintain some level of privacy but they will be able to tell that you are a local candidate. If you only include an email it could be assumed that you have an aversion to speaking on the phone which in a sales or customer facing roll could instantly eliminate you.

A phone number and an email that you check regularly should be included and clearly visible on your resume.

For some this poses a bit of a privacy concern as you do not want to be receiving get rich quick scheme offers for years to come. For this, Google offers a solution. They can provide you with an alternative number that can be set up to automatically forward to any number you have access to. More information on this service can be found at https://www.google.com/voice.

What do you think the information you put on, or leave off of your resume says about you?


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Time To Put Your New Skills to Good Use!

Time to put your new skills to good use!

Sites like https://www.elance.com/?r or http://www.freelancer.com/ give you the opportunity to start using your newly acquired, self taught skills in practical applications while earning yourself a few bucks. These links offer contract opportunities that are a bit different from your usual work but allow you to take the initiative to apply your skills in a real world setting. Most of the positions you will find are with small start ups or even individuals looking for some extra help from an expert.

The internet has provided you with free knowledge and a means to put that education to good use, so why not give a little back? Open source initiatives are freely distributed programs that are generally licensed under the creative commons project. You can find more on this at http://creativecommons.org/ or http://www.opensource.org/.

These projects can provide you with a great resume builder and these company’s are usually happy to let you try out your new skills. Some projects might turn into a long term job prospect and could eventually turn into a full blown job, so if you can stand working for them out of the kindness of your heart for a bit it might just pan out.

Either way, don’t stagnate, teach yourself and share your wisdom.


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