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How To Write A Resume That Will Land Your Dream Job

How To Write A Resume That Will Land Your Dream Job

Just a few years ago, I was at that pivotal point when crafting the perfect resume was the only thing standing between me and professional success. Maybe that’s a little dramatic, but these days, you just can’t take the clout of your resume for granted, especially if you want a job that is highly sought-after.

Now I’m at an odd stage where I am actually the person looking through resumes and trying to hire people. And let me tell you, It is rough. Here is my guide for drafting your ideal resume, no matter what your professional situation is. My hope is that my past and present experiences will give you an insight into what employers are really looking for and how you can stand apart.

Layout

The first step is to decide on how you want everything laid out. You don’t want to go crazy with the design of the resume just yet, since it’s far easier to polish the look once everything is complete.

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The first thing you’ll need is an objective statement, which should be one sentence that acknowledges your intent to obtain the job and work for that company. People go back and forth on whether or not this is necessary, but I always recommend it, if done well. Its actual purpose is to tell the hiring manager that you are actually looking for a job in the profession that is relevant to what you’re applying for. Yes, you can do this in the cover letter, but covering your bases doesn’t hurt, and some people are more traditional and expect the objective statement.

Education

At this point, decide on what flow you want to use for the resume. In almost all cases, list your education first. This is crucial if you are a recent graduate, since it showcases your worth as an investment. If you’re still in school, write your expected graduation date and be specific about your major, minor and any specializations. If you have room to spare, consider listing some relevant courses that will display what you really learned.

Also, and this is a big one, put your GPA on the resume unless it is under 3.0. In some cases, you might be told to leave it out if it is under 3.5 or even 4.0. The trick is to discern how much value a particular hiring manager will see in your GPA.

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Experience

Next, I advise that you list memberships and school affiliations later on, so you don’t crowd education and can get to what reinforces your education: work experience. For some, you may have too many jobs in your background and will have to leave some out. My go-to approach has been to include only the jobs and internships that relate directly to my current profession. That way, you can still bring up other jobs in the interview.

For example, the interviewer may mention that the job you’re applying for has an element of customer service. You can respond by saying, “Actually, I worked in an outlet store during college and learned a lot about customer service. I just didn’t have room for it on the resume.” As long as you are tactful about presenting yourself professionally and honestly, the interviewer will no doubt be impressed by your work history.

Next, I’m going to give you what is probably the most important tip there is to writing your resume, and it involves how you describe your past jobs. Underneath your job title and company name, you probably know that it is essential to record what you actually did for that job. Ninety percent of people write this part of their resume in a list format, highlighting the things that they did. Be like the rare 10 percent and write what you accomplished.

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The difference between a task-based resume and an accomplishment-based resume should be obvious. When an employer is looking at two resumes side-by-side (trust me, we do that), he is far more likely to be persuaded by work experience that shows that you provide a return on investment.

If you craft your resume to simply show that you “managed teams” and “coordinated strategies,” then an employer will likely gloss over it. If you focus on the results, however, by showing that you “implemented strategies that increased revenue” and “organized an event that doubled last year’s attendance,” then the employer has confidence that you provide value to the position you are striving for.

Skills

Finally, it’s time to list your professional skills and affiliations. Remember to focus on skills that tie into the job you’re looking for and bolster what you’ve already listed in your work experience. They should flow pretty naturally from what you can really do. Make sure you don’t promise anything you can’t deliver on!

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If you happen to have references or even a portfolio, you should absolutely include the traditional “References and portfolio available upon request,” which makes a great end to a consistent resume.

Edit

Now that you’ve completed the layout and flow of the resume, go back and edit the thing to pieces. I strongly advise that you keep the resume to one page, no matter how difficult it might be (only in rare situations is this not necessary). Contact information should go at the top close to your name and should include a phone number, email, personal website/LinkedIn and the city/state where you live (especially if this is a local job).

The easiest way to make a resume look good is to choose the right font. Just make sure that it is not a display font like Papyrus or Comic Sans. Be more original and check out great font websites like LostType. Last, but definitely not least, ask for a second opinion. Put your resume in front of a professional or mentor who will give you constructive feedback. I hope this guide helps, and be sure to sound off your own tips or experience in the comments for other readers!

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Published on September 17, 2018

17 Ways to Ace Your Next Phone Interview And Land the Job You Deserve

17 Ways to Ace Your Next Phone Interview And Land the Job You Deserve

There is one thing standing in the way of you and the job of your dreams: a phone interview. The screening interview is an opportunity for companies to narrow the list of presumably qualified applicants and determine who merits a closer look.

So many candidates exclude themselves from the phone interview by being unprepared or by failing to take this screening session seriously. A phone interview should not block you from living the life you have always imagined.

Here are 17 tips to help you ace your next one:

1. Clear the deck.

If you are reading this blog, you are likely busier than you would prefer or even imagine. Even when you schedule or accept phone interviews, they are likely sandwiched between meetings.

To show up fully present, energized and engaged, I recommend you clear the deck and give yourself at least an hour of uninterrupted time before and 30 minutes following the interview.

You can use the time to mentally prepare, develop a list of questions, rehearse answers to likely questions and ensure you are comfortable and ready for the interview.

2. Look the part.

It is no secret that we perform better when we look and feel the part. If you have a phone interview, dress up for the interview, if dressing up is comfortable and allows you to put your best foot forward.

Even though you will likely do the interview from home or a private location, be sure you are dressed professionally. This will allow you to be fully engaged and present.

In the event, the interviewer asks to connect with you via Zoom, Google Hangout or Skype, you will be prepared.

3. Resend your resume and cover letter prior to the call.

As a courtesy, resend your resume and cover letter prior to your screening interview. You never know if the person interviewing you has had a busy day or if a schedule change forced him or her to work from home rather than the office where the individual has access to their files.

There have been many times in my career where a last-minute change or a mix-up with support staff has left me scrambling at the last minute to find a candidate’s resume. It is quite embarrassing to misplace a resume and ask the interviewee to resubmit it.

You can save the interviewer the trouble and earn extra points by resending both documents in advance of your call. A simple message will suffice, such as “I am looking forward to speaking with you in an hour, and I am resending my resume to ensure it is at the top of your inbox.”

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4. Research the interviewer.

Once your interview is scheduled, be sure to research the person facilitating it.

You will want to Google the person and check their social media accounts. When you research the interviewer, try to get a sense of the individual’s personal and professional interests.

Once you identify those interests, acknowledge them in the interview, but do not dwell on them, because you do not want to make the interviewer uncomfortable. Follow his or her lead. If the interviewer indulges your questions or comments, by all means, continue the conversation.

I am always impressed when someone I am meeting with takes the opportunity to learn something about me ahead of time. This projects interest, which is important in my line of work.

5. Research the company.

In addition to researching the interviewer, be sure to research the company.

Ask people in your network if they know anyone who works or has worked for the organization in question. Conduct a Google search on the company, and be mindful to look beyond the first page of the search query.

If there are yelp reviews on the company, be careful to review those and look for trends as well as how recent the reviews were posted. While more recent reviews are obviously cause for pause, older reviews – depending on their nature – could be problematic as well.

6. Check the staff listing or “About Us” section of the company’s website.

Part of your research into a company is assessing whether you know staff or board members who are connected with the company.

Most organizations list their staff or board members in the “About Us” or “Our Team” section of the website. Prior to a phone interview, check these sections to determine whether you know someone who works for the company. If you do, reach out to that person to request a phone interview to learn more about the company.

7. Remember interviewing is a two-way street.

As much as the company representative wants to learn about you as the interviewee, you will want to learn about the organization.

Try to ferret out information on the company, the job for which you are applying as well as the manager to whom you would report. You will also want to ask questions to assess the interview process.

Additionally, because culture is important and will permit or slow your ability to do your job, ask questions to assess company culture, such as “What do your employees say they like most about working for your organization?” “What do employees say they like least?” “What do you do to create and maintain a healthy workplace culture?”

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8. Develop questions prior to the interview.

Prior to your interview, develop a list of questions about the company, the position for which you are applying, growth opportunities in the company, the ideal candidate for the position, and so forth. This will save you the trouble of thinking of questions on the spot during the interview.

I have found that once I become nervous, it is a lot harder to come up with questions on the spot, and interviews can be anxiety-producing without preparation.

9. Stand during the interview.

I train leaders and, incidentally, graduate students to become spokespersons.

I recommend that they stand during media interviews. I find that it helps the person speaking to project better, and it reduces the urge to get too comfortable in an interview setting and say something that could be too informal.

Similarly, I recommend interviewees stand for at least a portion of their phone interview.

10. Allow the interviewer to talk.

While it is essential you ask questions during an interview, you should not dominate the conversation.

Most people love talking about themselves and the company they represent, and it is your job as the interviewee to walk a fine line between allowing the interviewer to talk and interspersing questions when and where appropriate.

I am not suggesting you remain silent – you want the interviewer to learn about you; but you should ensure that the interviewer has ample opportunity to do what most people do best: talk about themselves and their work.

11. Refrain from multitasking.

We all live hurried lives, and most of us have to-do lists that are impossible to complete.

When we have multiple due dates and obligations, it is typical to want to avail oneself of every seemingly free moment of time.

When conducting or participating in a phone interview, be as present as possible. This means refraining from multitasking, which could mean responding to emails, text messages or social media messages. It could mean researching the company during the interview.

Whatever multitasking means for you, simply do not do it, especially during a screening interview.

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12. Conduct the phone interview in a place where there is minimal noise.

A common thread throughout this post has been that most of us live busy lives. So, it is natural to be on the go.

If you have the luxury of conducting a phone interview from home or a private office where there is minimal noise, do so. You may also rent a co-working space or ask a friend if you can borrow his or her office.

Whatever you do, select a place where there is minimal noise and distraction. The person interviewing you should not have to strain to hear what you are saying or compete with ambient noises.

When I am interviewing a candidate and competing with background noise, I grow frustrated and my focus can shift from getting to know the person to silencing the noise. Do not force your interviewer to choose.

13. Be punctual.

Do not leave the interviewer waiting. This is both rude and unprofessional, and it may count against you.

If you are able to follow my earlier advice and not schedule meetings within an hour of your phone interview, you should have no time being prompt for your discussion.

If you foresee that you will be late, be sure to give the interviewer a heads-up at least 15-20 minutes prior to the start of the call.

14. Focus on how you can and will help.

Let’s face it: people are naturally self-interested.

When you walk into an interview focused on what you can bring and how you can solve a hiring manager’s problems, you will set yourself and your candidacy apart.

Think about the challenges you could potentially solve and then share how your joining the team will benefit the company, not just you.

15. Take the interview seriously.

Do not assume you will have an opportunity to meet face to face with company representatives. Do not discount the weight that may be placed on phone interviews.

I once applied for a position on the East Coast while living on the West Coast. While my first interview was face to face, my interview with one senior leader was over the phone. I walked into the interview thinking it would be less intense than it was.

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From the moment the leader got on the phone with me, I was on my toes. I had to quickly recalibrate to handle the intensity of the questions lobbed on me.

To this day, more than six years later, that phone interview remains one of the most difficult interviews I have ever had. Fortunately for me, I was offered the job, but the experience still stands out as a learning lesson.

16. Send a thank-you note.

Kindness is underrated. We live in a society where most people are overscheduled and overbooked.

When faced with intense pressure, it can be easy to underestimate the role of kindness. But when someone shares a portion of the day with you by granting you an interview, you owe it to that individual and to yourself to send a thank-you note following the interview.

The note can be via email, a standard letter or a card. So few people do this that those who do stand out.

Become an individual who remembers this gesture of kindness and professional courtesy.

17. Be positive.

Energy really is contagious. If you don’t believe me, consider locking yourself in a room for one hour with people are upset. By the time you leave the room, you will be upset right along with them. It is natural to mirror the other person even if you do not realize you are doing it.

During your next phone interview, mirror positivity, both about the position, the company and most importantly, your skill sets. The interviewer will pick up on your energy and positivity and that will reflect favorably.

I cannot tell you how many times I have interviewed candidates who communicated no excitement or enthusiasm. Getting through the interview was difficult, not to mention, I kept thinking about what it would be like to work with the person daily.

Being positive not only helps you feel better, it helps the person interviewing you as well.

If you have read this list and want to add other tips, please tweet the link to this article and include the point you believe I missed. Use the hashtag #AceIt when you reach out.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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