TopResume » Career Advice Helping you with the next chapter of your career. en Customize Your Resume to Stand out From the Crowd 2017-03-16 00:00:00 How to beat the bots and avoid the resume black hole by customizing your resume.

In today’s job market, it has become increasingly important to customize your resume.


Many employers use software called applicant tracking systems (ATS) to filter resumes based on the requirements of the role. If you want to pass this initial electronic screen, your professional resume needs to be tailored for a specific position.

In addition, several recent studies have indicated that the person who reviews your resume–assuming you make it past the bots–will spend less than 10 seconds looking at your resume before deciding whether or not you are qualified for the opportunity.

When done correctly, customizing your resume should improve your job applications in two important ways:

First, your resume will pass the ATS filter.

As I already mentioned, ATS software is designed to weed out applicants’ resumes based on keywords, design and format. Customizing your resume for your industry and the requirements of the position will send a signal to the ATS robots that you are a good fit, helping you pass this initial test and get your application one step closer to the hiring manager’s inbox.

Second, your resume will impress the recruiter.

This may be the biggest challenge in the whole job application process. Once your resume passes through the ATS and is reviewed by a human being, it needs to prove— in less than 10 seconds — that you are qualified for the job and deserve further consideration.

As you can see, tailoring your resume can only benefit your job search. However, a word of caution. Customizing your resume does not and should not mean a complete re-write of your resume for each opportunity. In fact, you will dilute your personal brand if you use wildly different versions of your resume for each job application. But, these small tweaks will require you to take a little more time and effort than simply clicking on the “Apply” button.

So, here is what you need to do, in five steps:

Step 1. Analyze the job description.

Carefully re-read the job posting. Pay special attention to the job title used in the description, the duties and responsibilities, the job requirements and location of the position. What keywords and phrases are repeated throughout the job description? Make a list of all these terms and put a checkmark next to all the words that describe a skill you have or a responsibility you’ve held in the past.

Step 2. Match your resume’s target job title to the job listing.

If the job description uses the same job title as the one already at the top of your resume, then you are all set. However, if it uses a unique version of the job title, match it. I recommend using a target job title, also known as a professional title, at the top of your resume, right below your name and contact information so your job goals are crystal clear.

For example, if you are applying to a job with a title of “Medical Administrative Assistant,” then put that exact title at the top of your resume as your target job title so there is no confusion about your current job goals.

This customization also demonstrates that you’ve taken the time and effort to customize your resume for this specific opportunity.

Step 3. Tailor your skills to match the key terms in the job description.

It’s not enough to meet all the job requirements; you must incorporate specific keywords associated with those qualifications throughout your resume to safely pass through the ATS. For example, continuing with the Medical Administrative Assistant, you find the following requirement within the job description:

Requirements for Consideration: Advanced knowledge of Microsoft applications (Word, Excel, PPT)

Let’s assume that your resume currently describes your Microsoft Office skills like this:

Current Resume: Solid background in Microsoft Suite.

This version is missing some important keywords (Office, applications, Word, Excel, PPT) that could keep your resume from escaping the ATS, never to be seen by a human being. Instead, adjust your resume to match the description:

Updated Resume: Advanced knowledge of Microsoft Office applications: Word, Excel, and PowerPoint (PPT)

This version matches more closely with the language used in the description and should help your resume rank higher in the ATS.

Continue incorporating key terms and phrases from the job description into your resume, as long as they describe skills you currently possess. If you don’t have that skill, however, don’t lie on your resume and include it.

Step 4. Highlight your skills on the top third of the resume.

While it’s important to customize your resume with appropriate keywords to beat the bots, you also need to craft your resume with the recruiter and hiring manager in mind. Focus on the top third of the first page of your resume— “above the fold,” as they say in the newspaper and web development worlds—because this is the small window that needs to grab their attention.  

Clearly line up your qualifications with the requirements from the job description and place them in a section at the top of your resume, just below your contact information and target job title. Resume writers refer to this section by many names—“Performance Summary”, “Summary of Qualifications”, “Professional Summary”, etc.—but they all serve the same function on your resume.

In only 3-5 lines or bullets, summarize your experiences and achievements that best match the most important requirements in the job description. In other words, show the reader why you’re a great fit for the role by highlighting your most impressive and relevant qualifications.

Step 5. Confirm your location.

This is where things get a little tricky. Employers tend to favor local candidates over out-of-towners because they’re less expensive to hire (think relocations costs, travel expenses during the interview process, etc.) and less likely to get flakey and jump ship.

So, if you’re searching for a job nearby, make sure employers know you’re a local candidate by including your location in the contact information at the top of your resume. Don’t publish your home or work addresses on your resume, but do include the city and state.

If you are planning to relocate to a location near a job you are applying for, make sure to let your potential employer know. They will usually be more sensitive to your situation and not quickly dismiss your resume because of location issues. 

The rest of your resume probably needs little, if any, customization — a standard work history format is fine. It’s now time to send it off and hit the “Apply” button proudly!

This guest post was written in partnership with JobFinderUSA, an online job board & biweekly print publication, featuring open jobs across multiple industries. Head over to today to search thousands of jobs and put these resume customization tips to use.

Need help customizing your resume? Our TopResume writers can help!

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10 Apps to Get You Organized to Boost Your Job Search in 2017 2017-01-02 00:00:00 Who doesn’t want a more productive, creative and prosperous 2017?

The good news is that technology – the exact same tool that often drives us to distraction and causes us stress – can also help you craft your best year yet. Whether you are looking to boost your job search or improve your productivity, read on for some organization apps that I cannot live without.

1. Evernote.

Evernote is my external brain for everything, from random notes to reminders on the go. Thought of a blog post idea, remembered that you need to return a phone call from a recruiter, or heard an inspiring quote? This little organization app captures it all to free up your processing capacity for other important tasks.  

2. Boomerang.

Have you ever felt like email creates more work and stress than it eliminates? Then you owe it to yourself to look into Boomerang. This Google extension is a must-have productivity app. It allows you to schedule emails to be sent in the future. It also helps you automate follow-up and reminds you when someone has not responded to your message. I love not having to spend time and mental energy on items like “E-mail Company X if you have not heard from them by Monday” and I think you will, too!

3. Headspace, Calm or Spire.

A meditation or mindfulness app can be a lifesaver, whether you’re dealing with the stress of searching for a new job or just trying to get through an average day with your sanity intact. I like Headspace for its simple, no-nonsense approach to building a mindfulness practice. Calm is great for targeted programs, like 7 Days of Managing Stress or Calming Anxiety.

Spire is a relatively new app and tracker that I would describe as a FitBit for your mental game. In addition to tracking your activity, it monitors your breathing patterns to send you a gentle reminder when your breathing could indicate elevated stress levels. It also tracks and rewards the mental states of calm and focus. I have found that it’s effective in bringing my awareness to stressful moments and interrupting the pattern of shallow breathing for a change in attitude.

4. Habit List.

Finding a new job or growing in your career comes back to knowing your strengths and building strong habits around them. No matter what good habits you are looking to build, an organization app like Habit List can help. Simply enter your desired habits into the tracker, set up reminders and track your success. I credit this app with getting me to drink more water – sounds simple until you consider that before this app, most of my liquid intake included caffeine!

5. Betterment, Acorns or similar.

Money can be a tough subject for many people, and recent surveys around financial literacy and behaviors show an enormous gap in both knowledge and money habits. Consider that a study done by PricewaterhouseCoopers found that 42 percent of Millennials are heavy users of alternative financing (such as payday loans, pawn shops, car title loans and tax refund advances). Nearly 50 percent don’t believe they could come up with $2,000 if an emergency arose in the next month, and 30 percent routinely overdraw on their checking accounts.

I like the idea of automating good behaviors to take human error and emotions out of the process. To help get your financial situation under control, test-drive a savings app like Acorns that rounds up your purchases and deposits the change into a savings account automatically. Betterment can also be used to automate your savings: just set up an automatic weekly transfer and watch the balance grow.

6. Dropbox or OneDrive.

“I have found the perfect opening for you – but we have to move quickly before the company makes this posting public! Can you send me your updated resume ASAP?”

If you get that email on your commute and time is of the essence, you will be grateful for an app like Dropbox or OneDrive. By storing your key documents in a secure cloud where you can access and share them any time, you bring your virtual office with you no matter where you go. In a few clicks, the resume is on its way to the prospective employer – and you did not have to put your day on hold to get it done.

7. ScheduleOnce or Calendly.

Coordinating interviews, screening calls and lunch meetings can be tough in the best of times. If you have to do it while working full-time, the complexity of the task grows exponentially. It can take four to six emails just to get the logistics set up, which means that you are losing valuable time and potentially missing great opportunities.

To solve meeting coordination woes, try an organization app like ScheduleOnce or Calendly. Both allow you to share your calendar while keeping appointment details private. The other party can simply choose an available time block and claim it in a few clicks. Everyone gets a confirmation email, frustration is eliminated – there is no downside that I can think of.  

8. 1password or similar password vault.

Digital security is a real concern any time of year – and good passwords are your first line of defense. The trouble with good passwords is that they must be long, complex and unique to each point of digital access. In other words, tough to break often means tough to remember. A digital password vault may be a surprising addition to the list of productivity apps, but think of the time lost searching for a forgotten password or undoing the effects of a data breach and you will see its value.

Secure password vaults like 1password can store multiple passwords and passphrases of considerable complexity, which helps keep your data out of prying eyes and hands.

Bonus tip: Use the data accumulated and analyzed after known password breaches to test how secure your passwords are. Then, use the feedback you get to create stronger passwords and passphrases next time.

9. 10times.

How would you like it to have business events in your area identified and sent to you with no effort on your part? If you want to automate search and logistics coordination for networking events, take a look at 10times. This app allows you to find local events that match your interests and profile, RSVP, see who is attending and maximize on the power of human connection.

10. Podcasts or similar.

Professional growth, whether in your current position or at a new company, can bring a fair share of discomfort with it. No matter what your professional challenge is, you might find that connecting with sources of inspiration, fun and good advice can make a difference in a rough day.

Podcasts are a great way to accomplish that on the go because they fit into your busy life: you can listen during your commute, a gym workout session or while running errands. Just find a few thought leaders to follow, and you will have access to a fresh bite-sized dose of encouragement, resilience or a kick in pants any time you need it. I like The Tim Ferriss Show for hacks and insights into the lives of amazing people. How Did You Get Into That? by Grant Baldwin is great for career origin stories.


If social media addiction is messing with your ability to be productive in your job search, it may be time for an intervention. Browser extensions like Kill News Feed will interrupt your attempted Facebook session with a reminder to focus on the task in front of you. I have found that using it for about a month virtually eliminated the negative effects of social media as a path to procrastination for me.

So, no matter what your goals are for 2017, technology can help you get organized, boost your career and create amazing results.

Want to see how your resume stacks up? Try out our free critique today!

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10 Back-to-School Resolutions for Your Career 2016-09-19 00:00:00 Reality-check time! Did you make any New Year’s resolutions for your career? If so, what was your hope and plan for 2016 – and, more importantly, how are you progressing towards those career goals?

If you are like most people (according to the research by the University of Scranton, only eight percent of people achieve their New Year’s resolutions), chances are you had the best intentions in the beginning of the year. Those intentions have probably been overcome by urgent tasks, fire-drills and the routine flow of your daily life.

The good news is that it is not too late to make a change and move ahead, professionally and personally. Here is your blueprint for dusting off those resolutions and career goals and making them work for you – even late in the year. [TWEET]

1. Make sure you are working on the right goals.

Begin with taking a hard look at the career goals you have set for yourself. Are they still relevant – and do they light a fire under you?

The easiest way to illustrate this is with an example. Perhaps one of your work goals for the year was to be promoted to a manager-level position. Let’s say that over the course of the year you have had an opportunity to assume some of the manager-level duties and responsibilities, and the experience has taught you that you are not as prepared for the promotion as you had once thought. Your original goal or timeline may need to be revised.

Here is another example. Let’s pretend that my goal at the start of the year was to learn a new software program. I often find myself needing to generate graphics, and being able to use a tool like Photoshop would be a useful skill. However, as I take an honest look at my progress (none to speak of), I have to ask myself why I have not made any headway towards my goal. It is possible that the goal is not all that important to me, or that it requires an investment of time and resources that I am not prepared to make.

So, take a fresh look at your career goals. A dogged commitment only serves you if you are chasing the right target.

2. Compress your timeline.

When you were setting out your resolutions, you had planned to have a full year ahead of you. Let’s make the question more interesting. If you only had 3 months to reach your career goals, how would you do it? If your doctor told you could only work 4 hours a day, how would you rethink the challenge and your answer?

This question gets at the heart of boosting your progress. All too often, we complicate issues and challenges by adding extra layers of perceived difficulty. Push yourself to cut through the artificial complexity to the core of what matters. You may find that you can make more progress in the next 3 months than you had in the entire year leading up to this point!

3. Compare your career goals to your daily tasks.

A quick check between your big annual goals and your daily to-do list can predict whether you will be able to make meaningful progress towards what matters to you. If the comparison identifies a big gap, address it. Your career goal may be to be promoted to manager, but if your daily tasks keep you mired in the routines and responsibilities of your current position, you are not giving yourself the opportunity to learn new skills or prove your ability to function at a higher level.

If your supervisor is supportive of your long-term career aspirations, consider asking him or her for guidance.

4. Take initiative.

We love it when the right opportunity falls into our lap. Taking initiative and making things happen takes more effort, courage and resilience. It is useful to remember that no one is as invested in your professional growth as you are. So, if the right chances are not lining up for you, you may have to create your own. Volunteer for a project, offer help, ask for resources to take a class. Find advocates who will support your cause, and make sure you do your part.

5. Take it one step at a time.

Speaking of taking action, keep in mind that small daily steps compounded by time can add up to significant change and massive impact. While it is inspiring and useful to dream big, plan your actions to be so small that you cannot fail.

For example, if you set a career goal to develop a training program for onboarding new staff, the prospect of facing a blank piece of paper and the pressure to generate perfect training materials may freeze your creativity and motivation. However, if you reframe the goal as writing two pages of draft material per day, with no regard for quality, you have an easier starting point. Chances are, by giving yourself a free pass on quality you will generate more ideas – and many of those will be ultimately useful for the end product. Take small steps, create momentum and trust the process.

6. Stay persistent.

Achieving our career goals often takes the support and collaboration of other people. Whether you are hoping to bring in a big account or shorten the month-end close cycle, you don’t get to do it alone. Asking for what you need – whether resources, trust or an opportunity to do something new – puts you in a vulnerable position. That does not feel comfortable, and many of us would rather avoid it.

A common way to avoid the discomfort is to assume that the other person’s lack of outward interest or responsiveness automatically equals a negative answer. However, there are many other explanations for why your initial request may not have been met with an immediate and enthusiastic “Yes!” Make an allowance for the other professional to be occasionally swamped with work or distracted, and don’t mentally say “No” to yourself on someone else’s behalf.

If they choose to turn you down, let it be their choice and decision. Polite persistence can result in big wins.

7. Commit to being more present.

Technology has made us all accessible 24/7 and has created thousands of new distractions. As a result, many of us find ourselves doing our Amazon shopping while at work, and answering work emails from home. If that pattern is allowed to continue unchecked, you risk blurring the lines and never being truly “on” or “off” as your attention is perpetually elsewhere. That, in turn, can impact your effectiveness at work and your satisfaction and joy at home.

What’s the solution? When at work, be at work. When at home, be at home. It is easier said than done, but by committing yourself to being fully present at work and recharging at home you can actually boost your professional growth.

8. Take charge of your money.

This point may not look directly career-related, but clarity on where your hard-earned money goes will help with job satisfaction. If you are planning a job change, retraining, or a complete change of direction, having a reserve can give you the space and the time to complete the move with less pressure.

Begin with a budget, create a safety net savings account, and take ownership of what happens to your money. If you have tried budgeting before and it gives you hives, keep in mind that today’s tools can make the process a little more fun – look into YNAB (You Need A Budget) and SaveUp to start.

9. Don’t ignore your professional profiles and networking.

In theory, we all know that your professional network can make a tremendous difference in landing you a new job or opening doors to new opportunities. In practice, many of us find networking to be too time-consuming and emotionally difficult to make a regular practice of it. As a result, we scramble to reach out to cold contacts when we need a new job – something that is not fun or effective.

Instead, commit to interact with at least one person in your professional network per week. It may involve sending a quick note or message, meeting up for coffee, or sending out an invitation to connect on LinkedIn. By cultivating relationships year-round, you improve the odds of making a meaningful connection. On that same note, keep your resume and professional profiles updated throughout the year, not just when you are actively looking for a new job.

10. Invest in yourself.

No matter what your career goals for the year were, they boil down to the need to invest in your personal and professional growth. Sometimes, that investment means money; other times, it is about effort and time. By being clear on what goals matter and making a commitment to take steps in the right direction, you are effectively putting your development and future first.

In summary, January 1st is not the only day of the year to make a change. Time will pass no matter what you choose to do, so may as well have it working for you! Choose a meaningful career goal, map out the way, create momentum and recruit allies to help you along the way – and you may find yourself reaching your target sooner than you had expected!

Need help with your resume? Take advantage of our free critique today!

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10 Best Job Search Apps to Get You Hired 2016-02-05 00:00:00 Search for your dream job while on the go with these best job search apps. [TWEET]

From ordering food to looking for love, there’s an app for that. The job search is no different. These days, looking for a job doesn’t mean combing through newspaper listings or being confined to desktop websites. There are a number of job search apps and job search tips that can help you stay connected and on top of your job hunt while on the go.

Are you ready to find your perfect match using an app? Here are the 10 best job search apps (in no particular order) all job seekers should know about.


What makes this one of the best job apps? Cut down your time spent on sites like TheLadders amd Indeed by accessing popular job-search sites, finding jobs, and applying for them all on one app. Besides searching and applying, JobMo provides information on specific companies and gives you the ability to compare salary information.

Cost: Free with advertisements, $0.99 for ad-free version

Compatible With: iPad, iPhone, Android, and Android Tablet (Windows & Blackberry release coming soon)

Where to


What makes this one of the best job search apps? If you’re tired of being misled by outdated listings, LinkUp ensures that you’re only checking out the latest jobs. No fake jobs or scam listings here. LinkUp allows users to search for opportunities on company websites using filters such as keywords, company, and location. The app also allows you to save and view previous searches or favorites and apply directly via your mobile device.

Cost: Free

Compatible With: iPad, iPhone, and Android

Where to

Jobs by

What makes this one of the best job search apps? If is one of your favorite sites for job-searching, you’ll be a fan of this app. The user-friendly interface gives you the power of wherever you go with instant access to search and apply to nearly two million job postings at any time.

Cost: Free

Compatible With: iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and Android

Where to Jobs

What makes this one of the best job search apps? Stay constantly updated on the latest job postings from right on your mobile device. The free app lets you take your account with you everywhere so that you can apply directly to new listings the moment they’re posted.

Cost: Free

Compatible With: iPhone, iPad and Android

Where to


What makes this one of the best job search apps? Snagajob provides you immediate access to their database of new job listings and even matches you with jobs that are a good fit. In addition to the one-click apply feature, Snagajob allows you to show off your personality to employers. You can add a personality quiz to your profile or add a video profile to stand out from the other applicants and let hiring managers know a bit more about you.

Cost: Free

Compatible With: iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and Android

Where to FindiTunes and Google Play


What makes this one of the best job search apps? JobAware offers everything from salary comparisons to LinkedIn account integration to help you take advantage of your network. While results are provided by, the app also allows the use of LinkedIn for job discovery. If a job looks like it could be right for you, you’re given the option of searching more jobs by that company, viewing the source, sharing the job (via email, Twitter, or Facebook), and tracking the job.

Cost: Free

Compatible With: iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Android

Where to FindiTunes and Google Play

LinkedIn Job Search

What makes this one of the best job search apps? According to LinkedIn, applicants who apply to jobs on the first day they're posted are 10 percent more likely to be hired for them. Make sure you’re the first to apply with this easy-to-use app. With customizable search, job alerts, and company information, you’ll have all the information you need to apply and connect with the right contacts.

Cost: Free

Compatible With: iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and Android

Where to FindiTunes and Google Play


What makes this one of the best job search apps? If swiping left and right on Tinder works for you in the dating department, Switch may be the job search app for you. While browsing job postings, you can swipe right if interested and left if not. On the other side, the hiring managers are swiping left and right on potential candidates. If you show interest in a position and its hiring manager does the same with ​​your profile, then you can directly chat with the hiring manager using the app's messaging feature.

Cost: Free

Compatible With: iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and Android

Where to


What makes this one of the best job search apps? See the latest jobs with Glassdoor's easy-to-use job search app. Save interesting jobs so you'll never miss out and when you're ready to apply on your computer, all of your saved jobs will be waiting for you. The app also makes it easy to stay up-to-date on the latest company reviews, salary reports and interview questions - shared by the employees.

Cost: Free

Compatible With: iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and Android

Where to


What makes this one of the best job search apps? Get a leg up on the competition by setting up personalized job alerts to notify you when new jobs are posted. The ZipRecruiter app makes it easy to apply to jobs immediately, without waiting to get home to your laptop. First, easily upload your resume from Dropbox or Google Drive or import it straight from LinkedIn. Then, create job alerts to receive a daily email with jobs that may be a match for you. Search millions of jobs from hundreds of the top job boards anytime, anywhere.

Cost: Free

Compatible With: iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and Android

Where to FindiTunes and Google Play

Need more job search tips or help applying? Our TopResume writers can help!

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10 Best Practices for Email Etiquette at Work 2017-02-20 00:00:00 Email is a powerful tool. Use it wisely.

If you already get more workplace emails than you care to open, read and respond to, you're definitely not alone. The Radicati Group notes that most of the email traffic in 2014 originated from the business segment, which worked out to south of 108.7 billion emails both sent and received everyday.

Like it or not, emails are a part of business. But as you get more and more inundated, you want to do everything you can to ensure that your emails get read. One way you can do this is to adopt some best practices for professional email etiquette. From a professional email greeting to professional email format - it can all make a big difference. So read on for some email etiquette at work tips that will increase the odds of your emails being read rather than trashed.

1. Specify your subject line.

The first step in email etiquette at work is that you should title your email in such a way that the recipient immediately knows what the message is actually about. For instance, if you're emailing to inform a colleague about a specific meeting, you can title your email something like “Info about budget meeting.” If you're sending an email to inform a co-worker about an impromptu meeting, you might title the email something like “Meeting in the conference room at 2pm today.” All in all, you want your title to get to the point. Right away.

2. Use a professional email address.

Email etiquette at work calls for sending emails from your business email address rather than from a personal email address. Using a personal email address for business purposes can be seen as unprofessional by some, especially if you're discussing confidential matters.

3. Use proper salutations.

While it might be tempting to use informal salutations when emailing associates and friends at work, you should use the same formal salutations as you typically would if writing business correspondence with pen and paper. So think "Hello" rather than "Hey."

4. (Mostly) Avoid reply all.

One email can change everything. So, you must use it wisely. It's usually a good idea to forego the temptation to hit the “reply all” option when sending emails. Proper email etiquette aside, it can be quite annoying for people to be included in a group email if the content of the message has nothing to do with them. So be considerate and hit “reply all” only if the message would be of interest to all of the recipients. Otherwise, your email might be considered as spam.

5. Proofread.

Sometimes people pay less attention to spelling and proper grammar when composing emails than when writing actual letters, the way business correspondence was traditionally done. But the truth is that proper spelling and grammar still counts. After writing your email, read it through out loud to ensure that your errors don't overshadow your message. The reason for reading it out loud is that sometimes your ears will catch something that your eyes skim over.

6. Acknowledge emails.

With business email etiquette, whether or not the person emailing you requests a response, it’s always a good idea to send one anyway. You should not only acknowledge all emails, but also do so in a timely fashion. This sort of courtesy is not always extended, and you’ll be surprised at how much your professionalism can set you apart.

7. Avoid all caps.

Using all caps in a written communication is like shouting in a face-to-face conversation -- and no one likes to be shouted at. So it's usually not appropriate or proper email etiquette to employ all caps in order to convey your message. If you know what you want to say, let your words show how you feel, and leave the “caps lock” button alone. One obvious exception would be if you’re using acronyms.

8. Attach carefully.

In the event that you need to send large attachments, you should first ask the intended recipient whether or not doing so is okay. Assuming you get the go ahead, you should use a program to compress or zip the attachment so that it takes up less space in the recipient's email inbox. It’s also a good idea to let the recipient know when you plan to send the attachment.

9. Double check that email address.

When it comes to business matters, the last thing you want is to send an email address to the wrong person. That’s why you should double check the recipient’s info before hitting the “send” button. If you make a habit of verifying the receiver’s info, you’ll avoid making mistakes.

10. Sign off in style.

It's a good idea to have an email signature as a component of your corporate identity. It will make your emails come off looking more legitimate and professional. In fact, you can look at your email signature as the digital equivalent of your business card. That said, you want your email signature to be as properly formatted as is your printed business card. So drop the multiple font types and go for standardization to present a nice, professional image.

As you can see, there’s quite a bit to think about when it comes to email etiquette at work. Email in the workplace is a fact of life, and there is research that suggests that this will be the case in the years ahead as businesses rely on emails to communicate internally and externally. What this means is that you need to learn how to go about using this form of electronic communication effectively, particularly if you want your emails to be read rather than deleted.

Maintaining a professional image includes communicating properly, and that of course includes emails. Email is a powerful professional tool, both in the workplace and for networking. These email etiquette tips will give you a good start as you make effective use of email in the business environment.

Need help with your resume? Take advantage of our free critique today!

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10 Career Paths to Explore After Graduation 2016-05-24 00:00:00 You did it! Degree in hand, head held high, you’re ready to take on the world. But…what will you do? The world is filled with opportunities, but you’re not sure where a passion for, say, sociology and literature and the environment might collide into a career.

Never fear: there’s a career for you, ready for the taking. Read on to figure out how to determine where your skill sets and passions can lead you. [TWEET] Here is an infographic from enchancv showing the different career paths you can explore after graduation.


Note: This article originally appeared in TheJobNetwork

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10 Jobs With Extraordinarily High Lifetime Earning Potential 2016-06-03 00:00:00 Six figure jobs, four weeks paid vacation, unlimited use of the company car and an office with a view: We all want to reach the top floor with all its luxuries.

Careers are competitive; skill, planning and a little luck go a long way to attaining a career with high lifetime earnings. [TWEET]

Here is a list of dream jobs with an above average earning potential. Some start out in the lower salary range but boast more growth than any other career path. Just be forewarned, most of these jobs require more than six years invested in the classroom.

Orthopedic Surgeon

Doctors and lawyers represent some of the nation’s highest earners, and it’s no wonder they rack up the big bucks. With more than ten years of school and residency programs and more than 200 specialties, surgeons know how to make that dough. Orthopedic surgeons are one of the biggest earners in the medical profession. This is a sic figure job - they enter the field earning more than $250,000. Athletes and injury victims entrust surgeons to maintain their joints and bones, help build stronger muscular systems and repair injuries. Each NFL team has at least one orthopedic surgeon on staff.

Quick Facts:

  • Beginning Salary: $256,000

  • Median Salary: $333,000

  • Experienced Salary: $405,000

  • Education: Doctorate’s Degree


Anesthesiologists are another physician with high earning potential on our list of dream jobs. These specialists rarely see patients outside a hospital setting. They administer anesthetics to patients during surgeries, monitor patients’ vital signs and adjust the dosage of pain medications. Physicians look to Anesthesiologists for recommendations regarding medications before and after surgery. These specialists also perform pre-certification and approvals for patients with high risk problems. They can also work outside of the operating room in in-hospital and pre-hospital emergencies, intensive care units, acute pain units and chronic pain consultations. Emergency rooms typically have at least one Anesthesiologist on-call at all times.

Quick Facts:

  • Beginning Salary: $142,000

  • Median Salary: $300,000

  • Experienced Salary: $450,000

  • Education: Doctorate’s Degree


Psychiatrists start out as one of the lowest paid medical specialists, with less than $100,000 going into their paycheck each year. However, they have the largest growth potential of our top ten list of dream jobs. Psychiatrists have the potential to earn more than triple their starting salary by retirement. One reason for the difference in growth is popularity. Patient’s need for mental health care has increased, and the rate of services have decreased. This causes many beginning specialists to seek jobs in nonprofit organizations and government agencies.

Quick Facts:

  • Beginning Salary: $75,000

  • Median Salary: $130,000

  • Experienced Salary: $219,000

  • Education: Doctorate’s Degree

Reservoir Engineer

Medical professions aren’t the only top earners and six figure jobs. The oil and gas industry demands its due as well. Reservoir Engineers specializing in the petroleum industry locate underground fossil fuels and run tests to determine if they are worth investing time and money to drill. Reservoir engineers are experts in geology, fluid mechanics and various technologies. The highest paid reservoir engineers specialize in drilling mechanics, reservoir rock properties or petroleum economics.

Quick Facts:

  • Beginning Salary: $80,000

  • Median Salary: $130,000

  • Experienced Salary: $193,000

  • Education: Bachelor’s Degree

Associate Partner, Consulting Services

Some careers are so versatile they have very little in the way of a job description. Associate Partners are consultants and co-owners/founders of their company. While the exact duties of a consulting services partner will vary by industry, most coordinate the management team in collecting and analyzing data for improved decision-making. Their goal is to look for ways to enhance an organization’s growth and efficiency, which also often means implementing new procedures and protocols. It’s a position where strategic thinking, business acumen and a comprehensive understanding of one’s given industry are a must.

Quick Facts:

  • Experienced Salary: $192,000

  • Education: Bachelor’s Degree

Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)

Most nurses, unless they pick a sweet position for an athletic team or multi-million treatment facility, don’t represent the top earners, with one exception. Nurse Anesthetistwork closely with anesthesiologists and help doctors administer and dose medications within the operating room tend to be six figure jobs. They provide pre-surgery anesthesia and related care before entering the operating room and monitor the patient post-surgery in the recovery room. Nurse Anesthetists also provide pain management and some emergency services.

Quick Facts:

  • Beginning Salary: $85,000

  • Median Salary: $103,000

  • Experienced Salary: $160,000

  • Education: Doctorate’s Degree

Petroleum Engineer

Petroleum engineers represent natural resources’ top earners and six figure jobs. They work in the field, while other gas and oil workers handle jobs at home or the office. Petroleum engineers recommend the best locations for drilling derricks, test drilling samples and determine the safest methods to retrieve the oil or gas. Specialists also spearhead and coordinate building and operation of drills, oil derricks and other equipment used in the drilling process.

Quick Facts:

  • Beginning Salary: $100,000

  • Median Salary: $130,000

  • Experienced Salary: $157,000

  • Education: Bachelor’s Degree

Software Development Director

Silicon Valley didn’t win the innovation seat for being lazy. Information technology, infrastructure design and software creation marks the top careers for any nation. All industries rely on the skills and assets software development directors have. These computer specialists coordinate the software development process, starting with early coding stages through to the product’s final delivery. Each director works closely with software programmers and system analysts to ensure company objectives and project requirements are being met. Software development directors are also heavily involved in strategic decisions, planning processes and hiring decisions.

Quick Facts:

  • Beginning Salary: $100,000

  • Median Salary: $128,000

  • Experienced Salary: $155,000

  • Education: Bachelor’s Degree


This career path started to degrade several years ago due to lack of insurance coverage among adults. Now that insurance is more affordable, dentists are seeing an increase in jobs and salaries. For many, dentistry is on their list of dream jobs. These medical professionals specialize in the mouth and teeth. Though most are not medical doctors (MD), they do have doctorate degrees, and some specialists and surgeons have a medical degree. Dentists use dental instruments, X-rays and other dental equipment to examine the teeth, gums and related tissues. Doctors treat diseases, infections and malformations of teeth, gums and related oral structures. Some perform cosmetic dental procedures to improve the appearance of a patient’s smile.

Quick Facts:

  • Beginning Salary: $120,000

  • Median Salary: $130,000

  • Experienced Salary: $154,000

  • Education: Doctorate’s Degree

Becoming a Top Earner

Becoming a top earner and having a six figure job doesn’t require a career change. It does require extra work. First you have to get noticed by upper management. Start volunteering for more responsibilities and learn to take more initiative. Be proactive and offer solutions to superiors. They are looking for those special team members who can give back to the company. Next, build up your skills and prove you have what it takes. Visit your local community college and take supplemental and certificate programs. Some colleges offer online career enhancement programs. Continue adding more notches on your belt, and, eventually, you’ll make your way to that corner office on the top floor.

Ready to write the next chapter of your career? Start today with our free critique!

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10 Parallels Between the Job Search Process and Dating 2017-02-06 00:00:00 Your love life and your job search aren’t so different after all.

The job search process is remarkably similar to dating. Your heart races and you spend hours obsessing over what to wear. You want to be well-liked and in control. There’s a ton of uncertainty, huge potential for missteps and the need to come across as interested but not desperate. Curiously, some of the best advice around dating can be applied to an effective job search – with good results!

Here are 10 ways in which dating and the job search process are the same. I hope that reflecting on these will make you smile, give you some new job search techniques and set you well on your way to the next professional opportunity that you love!

1. You have to get out there to get results.

You do not meet new people or learn about professional opportunities by sitting on your couch with a bowl of ice-cream binge-watching Netflix! Yes, the same advice you get for finding that special someone applies to an effective job search. If you want options, you have to get out there and be open to possibilities.

This advice is easier to give than to receive, especially in the dead of winter when the weather is miserable and all you want to do is hibernate. However, that’s also what makes it a great time to be out there starting your job search! The start of the new year means new budgets, new projects and new opportunities.

2. You dress to impress.

We all know that the world does not revolve around looks – and yet the way you present yourself does begin with your choice of attire. On first dates and first interviews, your goal is to make a favorable impression as a great candidate. When choosing your attire, remember that clothes should be the least interesting thing about you. You want to stand out for the right reasons, so in most professional circumstances a classic suit and minimal jewelry make for a safe choice.

3. You agonize over whether you should make the first move.

A position at your dream company is just like that good-looking guy (or girl) at the gym. You would love to move beyond wistful glances and have an actual conversation, but what’s the best way to do it? Do you make the first move, or wait for the other side?

The trick to solving this professional (and personal) puzzle is getting clear on how much control you want over timing and circumstances. If you choose to make the first move in the job search process, you get to pick when and how you reach out. Done well, a first move can communicate your strength and interest without making the interaction uncomfortable. Have a positive attitude, be prepared, professional and take care not to put undue pressure on the other person. A patient approach that is structured to add value works best over the long term.

4. You want to be yourself, yet choose your words carefully.

Oh, the balance between letting your personality and preferences show – and being cautious about what you say. Advice on dating and interviewing comes down to being aware of how you come across and managing it – to a point. Putting on a fake personality won’t serve you. After all, you can only stand on your head for so long!

5. You watch for clues and patterns.

During the job search process and in dating, the other side is also carefully watching what’s being said, you have to look for clues and patterns to complete your understanding of what’s happening. Do they like you? Do they have reservations? Will you get the next call?

As in dating, it’s a good idea to be present and pay attention to your surroundings, the other person’s demeanor and attitude and any other signs you might pick up along the way. However, it’s decidedly not a good idea to overthink them. It’s easy to focus on the fact that your interview was very short or that the interviewer seemed distracted. Those signs might mean that they were not interested – or perhaps that they were dealing with an urgent client demand that had to be addressed immediately. You don’t really know what’s happening inside of someone else’s head, so look for big patterns and try not to jump to conclusions.

6. You’re careful not to move too fast.

On dates and interviews, you want to be smart about your choice of topics and words. Showing your cards too early or being too open in the first interview can set you at a disadvantage. There will be time to discuss your salary expectations when the prospective employer is confident you’re the right person for the job. Bringing up money or other sensitive topics up front is like telling your date that you plan to be married in a year and have kids in two: too much pressure at the wrong time.

7. You try to come across as interested but not desperate.

The interview went well, you walked out of the office building buzzing with excitement about the next steps – just to encounter radio silence for two days afterwards. You thought they loved you! The manager said he would be in touch soon! Have you been professionally ghosted? How do you follow up after an interview without seeming desperate? What should you do if you get no response after the interview?

In a world of dating, ghosting is about disappearing without giving the other person the benefit of a clear “yes” or “no” answer. On the receiving end, it can be exceptionally frustrating – especially if you find yourself consumed with waiting by the phone or obsessing over what you might have said or done to deserve the silent treatment.

Professional ghosting is just as frustrating. After all, a clear “no” is often better than weeks of uncertainty. My best advice is not to let it consume your days. Keep on keeping on with the job search process. It’s a good idea to reach out to your contact after the company’s stated decision-making deadline has passed, but if you find yourself refreshing your inbox every 10 minutes it’s probably time to focus on other opportunities.

8. You’re not sure how to answer “What are you looking for?”

Describing your perfect partner can be a frustrating exercise, especially if you believe that you’ll know your true love when you see them. Same goes for professional opportunities. It can be difficult to start your job search process and describe your ideal job while keeping the description realistic, grounded and clear.

Of course you want to work at a company that contributes to improving the world and report to a boss who appreciates your efforts. In a dating world, that’s the reason so many online personal profiles include statements about enjoying walks on the beach, nights out with friends, quiet evenings at home and enjoying life to the fullest. If you’re describing everyone, you’re also describing no one in particular – and that trap is just as true for the professional job search as it is for Tinder.

My best advice is to get clear on what you want professionally. Go beyond the obvious and dig deep into what’s important to you. I’m not asking you to name the company and the position with 100 percent accuracy, but you should be able to verbalize your choice criteria. How will you know when the fit is right? Answering that question will shape a more effective job search.

9. You shouldn’t settle.

Oh, the thin line of realistic expectations. Many professionals believe that “grounded expectations” means they must set their bar low and curb their drive for excellence. In reality, that’s far from what serves you best. Your desire to work in a place that will make the most out of your talents, appreciate you and reward your hard work is not wrong. You just want to steer clear of false ideas around “your perfect job”. There is no job that is 100 percent fun and enjoyable. Everyone experiences challenges and setbacks, whether in getting funding for a project, communicating with team members or managing tight deadlines. By all means, do not settle – that breeds resentment and creates bad outcomes. Instead, be clear-eyed and honest about what you need and want.

10. You’re looking for chemistry.

Sometimes, your senses pick up patterns and clues faster than your logical brain can register them. We may think of it as “chemistry” – when a conversation feels good and right, and when you have a sense of excitement and comfort. Those feelings are worth paying attention to! It’s best not to let these feelings be your only decision-making metric. However, ignoring your instincts means shutting off a valuable stream of information.

In closing, finding the right match is not easy – whether on the dating scene or in an interview. In your job search process, as in your search for that special someone, be present to opportunities, realistic and smart. Above all, honor what is true for you and love yourself first. That may sound like odd advice to give in regards to your professional life, but clear decision guidelines can make your choices simple, and help you shape a career you love.

Want to see how your resume stacks up? Try out our free critique today!

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10 Secrets of Superstar Interns 2016-06-22 00:00:00 Ready to nail your summer internship? Keep these tips in mind. [TWEET]

Summer internships are here! If you have scored one of the coveted slots, you are probably excited and nervous at the same time. The interviews may have addressed what it will be like, but you never really know until you are there. If you have already started, you may be feeling overwhelmed and uncertain about the protocol still.

If this is you, I encourage you to take a deep breath. Whether you are loving your internship or are off to a tenuous start, read on for summer internship advice on how to get the most out of the experience.

1. Know what you want to get out of it.

Clarity on what you are hoping to get out of this experience will go a long way towards focusing your mental game and your efforts during the summer. Perhaps you want a glimpse of what it is like to work in the area you are studying. Maybe you hope to network and meet professionals who can help you connect to your dream job, or make some money. Be honest with yourself about why you are there.

2. Mingle and network!

Whether you are the life of a party or prefer quiet observation from the sidelines, being in a professional environment is a fantastic opportunity to network. Don’t just stick with other interns – I know they are fun and easy to relate to, but venture out into the halls and meet other people. Ask them for internship advice, offer to buy them a coffee in exchange for a 20 minute chat, and learn as much as you can.

3. Dress appropriately.

This should go without saying, but dress professionally for the environment you are in. Even if you are stuck in the office all day making photocopies, look as if you are planning to shadow a partner into a client meeting (it just might happen!). The best suggestion I ever heard on dressing appropriately was from a wonderful HR professional who was running my intern orientation at Ernst & Young. Her advice? If you look at yourself in the mirror and are not quite sure whether something is appropriate, change.

4. Do your assigned tasks cheerfully and efficiently.

Yes, even the tedious ones. You may be asked to get coffee, make copies, deliver reports, or organize the file room. Hopefully those aren’t the only assignments you will get during the summer internship, but when a boring one lands on your desk, pick it up cheerfully and get to it.

The reality of the professional office is, everyone does some admin. You might be feeling a little overqualified for making photocopies, but you know who else is overqualified for that task? Everyone around you. Your professionalism and efficiency in handling simple administrative tasks will pave the way for more interesting projects.

5. If you are underutilized, ask for more work.

Boring work may not be your first choice, but it beats sitting around doing nothing for a long time. The first few hours may be fun, but you will probably feel like you have reached the end of the Internet by the second day. I have a vivid memory of sitting around with nine other interns waiting for assignments for several long days. When one of us finally scored a task of stuffing letters into envelopes, we nearly had a fight over who would get to do it, and ended up splitting the task 10 ways just to have something productive to do.

Learn from my experience and get proactive about asking for work at your summer internship. Sometimes, managers are reluctant to assign you a project because of the learning curve that is involved. Demonstrate that you can pick up concepts quickly, and offer to work with your manager’s preference regarding interruptions for questions. Ask about any long-term ongoing projects that would keep you busy for a while.

6. Observe and absorb as much as you can.

Whether you are actively doing something or just shadowing your manager, pay attention to how things are done. You will notice that some of the practices and methods are not what they teach you at school. File away the differences, and practice open-mindedness.

7. Do your best work every time.

No one expects you to do something perfectly the first time you attempt it. That being said, honest diligent effort and willingness to learn from mistakes go a long way. You are being trusted with real projects – what you do will affect many people. Do your best work.

8. If you are unsure, ask.

During your summer internship, you will probably find yourself unsure about how to do something roughly 90% of the time. One of my managers used to joke that there is nothing like a professional internship to make you forget how to write your name! Anticipate that, and get clarity on your manager’s preference regarding question timing. Some prefer that you ask as the question occurs to you, others would rather not be interrupted multiple times and will ask you to compile your questions. Remember that your manager is busy, but he does not want you to spin your wheels. This is your opportunity to practice balance and good judgment.

9. Ask for feedback.

You won’t get better unless the professionals around you generously offer feedback and suggestions for improvement. Accept feedback graciously, even if it is difficult to hear or poorly delivered. The only appropriate response when someone gives you feedback is, “Thank you.” If you’re not receiving feedback, ask for it. Your manager will respect your desire to learn and improve.

10. Act your age.

Which is another way of saying, act professionally. Even if you are going back to school in September, you are in a professional environment for the summer, and a client visiting the office for contract negotiations has no way of knowing whether you are an intern or a full-time staff.

That advice goes for all work functions, both inside and outside the office. Don’t be that intern who drank so much that he passed out in front of the elevator during the off site meeting, wearing a hat and a t-shirt with the firm logo. That is a true story, and no, he did not get an offer.

In closing, remember during the good days and the tough ones that this summer internship is an opportunity. Keep your eye on what matters most, and stay in the game. Be polite, be helpful, be the intern that others want to work with. If you love the company, but the internship does not automatically imply a full-time offer, ask about positions. If you learn that your dream job is not so dreamy after all, count that as a useful experience anyway.

Need help with your resume? Take advantage of our free critique today!

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10 Signs Your Resume is Making You Look Old 2016-10-11 00:00:00 What do employers notice when they view your resume?

Does your document proclaim experienced or does it squeak old? Does it represent the capable you that you want recruiters to see? Your resume may be saying things about you behind your back… things that may cause employers to perceive you as obsolete. You may be keeping up with the latest technologies, but if you are committing one or more of these resume faux pas, recruiters may incorrectly assume that your skill set is archaic, that your thinking is rigid or that you may not fit the modern workplace.

As we progress through our careers, we tend to hang on to the status quo, but in a world of fierce competition, it’s essential to make adjustments via a resume update. Unless you are OK with being passed over by younger, less experienced candidates, you’ve got to look at your first line of defense: your resume.

It’s empowering to know that what you convey on your resume can be adjusted to reflect a more up-to-date sensibility. A few subtle resume updates can go far in undoing a hiring manager’s preconceived notions of antiquated skills, fixed thinking or inability to change. The 10 areas below are a good place to start with updating your resume:  

1. Your resume’s length.

The sheer numbers of applicants per position makes it unlikely that any recruiter will be able to spend more than six to 10 seconds on any given resume – a time frame which has continuously shrunk over the years. Though you know you should have a one-page resume, it’s often hard to determine what to leave in, and what to take out, particularly when you have years of relevant experience behind you. This is where a professional resume writercan help you fine-tune your document.

2. Your contact information.

If you are still putting an AOL email at the top of your resume, you’re dating yourself. While AOL’s familiar “You’ve Got Mail” message inspired a Hollywood movie, AOL harks back to the early days of email and Instant Messenger. If you want to be seen as someone who is more current, now is a good time to start a dedicated Gmail, Hotmail, or Yahoo email account (something like to be used solely for your job search. Resist the temptation to share your new email address with family and friends, so that all the mail that you receive there is exclusively for employer communication.

3. Your phone number.

While we’re on the subject of contact information, make sure that you are only listing ONE phone number at the top of your resume: your cell. Millennials are known for their love of technology at the same time that companies are abandoning landlines, so having a landline immediately marks you as a bit of a relic. Smart phones’ dominance in the marketplace stems from their multi-functionality, which has made the need for listing both landline and mobile numbers an obsolete practice. Besides, do you really want to wait until you get home to find out that an employer called, and realize that you can’t call them back until the next day?

4. Your education section.

Once you have been out of college for 10 years or more, you can safely update your resume and move the education section to the bottom, removing the graduation date and the GPA. Because ‘reverse chronological’ order is the standard, placing outdated information at the top of the resume can cause a recruiter to think items listed subsequently are in the more distant past. Remember that the experience you’ve gained since graduation often outshines the degree you’ve earned, and therefore takes precedence.

5. Your font style.

For years, we’ve been told that Times New Roman and Arial are the two best fonts to use on a resume. The default font on most Word programs is now Calibri, which is more compact and subsequently is able to fit more text on the page. If you’re still using Times New Roman, it’s time you tried out something a little more contemporary like Calibri, Garamond, Cambria or Verdana.

6. Your prehistoric information.

Ok, we get it. You’re a Renaissance Man. Or Woman. Conveying that your experience lies in four different industries over 30 years, however, roles that show you as a Jack of All Trades - Master of None is not optimal. Instead of a three-page resume that describes every role you took on, each activity in which you participated, every conference you’ve  attended and all job-related tasks, update your resume and keep it to one page of only the most relevant information – in a bulleted, not paragraph, format. The more experienced you are, the more selective you need to be about what you tell prospective employers. Match your prior responsibilities with the job’s responsibilities as laid out in the job description. When you need further help deciding what’s relevant and what’s not, a professionally trained counselor can come in really handy.

7. Your formatting.

Older candidates’ resumes seem prone to the gratuitous use of graphic elements. You’ve got carte blanche if you’re a Graphic Designer who wants to show off your typographic talents with an artistic use of font placement and formatting. For the rest of us, use bold only to emphasize your name and company names, employ italics for your job titles, and let underlining point the way to website URL links and/or your email address. Overuse of capitalized text can appear as if the writer is shouting, so use it sparingly if at all. Another good reason to ditch the overuse of fancy formatting is that some electronic scanning software can be tripped up, rendering your electronic resume indecipherable.

8. Your interests.

Unless you’re looking to identify yourself as a dinosaur, then it’s fine to update your resume and omit the Interests category. Two exceptions to this are: 1) if you’re still in high school, or 2) if there is something inherent in the job’s duties wherein disclosing a certain talent (such as photography) or interest (i.e. international travel) might snag the opportunity for you, then by all means go for it, but make sure that what you are sharing is relevant to the job. TMI is never a good idea.  

9. Your subjective statements.

Far too many resumes state that the person has a “proven record” or that he or she is “considered an exemplary performer” in one area or another. Long ago, such statements were considered suitable for a resume, but not any longer. The more objective and factual you can be when describing your role, the better. So instead of “Accomplished retail professional,” a more effective way to describe your awesomeness would be “Awarded Employee of the Month for strong Customer Service three years in a row.”

10. Your use of social media.

Are you living like it’s 1999? These days, companies use LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook to identify the best hires. Putting your LinkedIn profile URL front and center on your resume, right up there with the rest of your contact information, is one way to ensure that hiring managers have an easy time distinguishing you from all the other “John Smiths” out there. According to one survey, up to 94 percent of all industry recruiters use social media – particularly LinkedIn – to search for candidates, to vet candidates and to post job opportunities.   

Communicating your background without awareness of what else you’re conveying is a sure path to frustration. If your resume verbiage has not budged in years, it may be time to deconstruct that venerable document. With a few of these quick fixes, you’ll be able to unleash the power of your fresh new resume upon the workplace, where it’s bound to catch more notice than before.

Want to see how your resume stacks up? Try out our free critique today!

Photo credit: SportSuburban/Flickr

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10 Steps to a Better Career: Our Top Advice From 2015 2015-12-31 00:00:00 Jump-start your job search this year by reading our most popular job tips of 2015. [TWEET]

Whether your New Year’s resolution is to advance your career or switch jobs altogether, these job tips are sure to help. Below, in no particular order, are our top ten most-read articles of 2015. And they’re packed with advice to help you kick-start your job search and improve your career in the New Year.

Ready for a New Resume? Start With These Crucial Steps

Your resume will only be as good as the information you or your resume writer has work with. Gather the following details ahead of time to craft a powerful document that effectively tells your story and markets your qualifications.

4 Things You Need to Do After Every Job Interview – and 1 Big Don’t

The interview doesn’t end when you leave a prospective employer’s office. In fact, what you do afterwards is just as important as your actions during the actual interview. We’ve created a list of four important items you should complete after every job interview -- and one you should avoid at all costs.

Discover Your Dream Job in 3 Simple Steps

If you’re unhappy in your current job, but unsure where to go next, these exercises will help you explore other career paths and clarify your job goals for the resume-writing and job-search process.

Here's the Right Way to Format Your Resume

How you format the contents of your resume is just as important as what information you choose to include. While there are a number of resume formats available, here at TopResume we’ve found one to be the most effective for the majority of our clients.

3 Crazy Interview Questions and How to Prepare for Them

Gone are the days where hiring managers only asked questions about experience, skills, education, and job readiness. Now they mix in a little craziness just to shake up the candidate and see where their mind is. Here are a few examples of crazy interview questions and why employers ask them.

5 Ways Your Resume Is Selling You Short

You owe it to yourself to have a resume that sells you -- and doesn't sell you short. We’ve compiled five of the most common resume mistakes to avoid.

How to Reject a Job Offer with Grace

When you’re looking for work, rejecting a job offer may feel like a luxury. However, there are times when you complete the interview process, only to realize the opportunity is not right for you. Whatever the reason, here are a few steps you can take to decline a job offer without ruining the business relationship.

Does Your Resume Pass the 6-Second Test?

Studies have shown your resume only has six seconds to make the right impression with a prospective employer. We’ve compiled a list of everything you need to know when telling your career story to help you pass the six-second test.

How to Answer, "Why Do You Want This Job?" During an Interview

Many candidates struggle when asked this simple, yet challenging question during the interview process. Here’s how to plan out your response without delivering a canned answer.

5 Ways Your Resume Can Dazzle Your Future Employer

Your resume is more than just a record of your work history; it’s an important tool used to advertise your professional brand. Here are five goals every resume should aim to fulfill, and what you can do to make your resume stand out and dazzle a prospective employers.

Ready for a new career in the New Year? Get started today.

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10 Steps to Setting and Achieving Goals at Work 2016-11-07 00:00:00 Make goal setting an ongoing practice.

Setting goals at work is an interesting balancing act. On the one hand, your workplace goals must support the company mission. On the other hand, they must be your own – otherwise goal-setting is just a rote check-the-box exercise.

An additional complication is that certain companies (and managers) are better at constructive goal-setting than others. The good news is that even if you work for someone who approaches the annual goal-setting session as a necessary evil, there are things you can do to get some value out of it. If your manager genuinely understands the power of goal alignment and setting and achieving goals, you have a great opportunity to use the conversation as a starting point for career growth.

Here are 10 things to keep in mind before setting goals at work and filling out that goal sheet.

1. Get clarity on what your team’s structure.

First things first – you must understand the functions and interrelationships of your team in order to set workplace goals that will make your team more productive and helpful to the rest of the organization. In a practical sense, every team serves as a supporting unit and a consumer of support at the same time. Get the mapping right, and you will be able to identify specific and measurable things you can do better to help processes and projects run smoother.

2. Talk to your boss. What can you do to make their job easier and make them look good?

No matter what your job description says, your job is really all about making your manager’s life easier. I have never viewed that as a negative thing, but more of an opportunity to be of service. Having a frank conversation about how you can support your boss will go a long way towards defining your workplace goals.

3. Focus on what you can control, have a plan for the rest.

For every workplace goal, there are factors you can control and factors that are out of your hands. Be clear on the distinction, and have a plan for what to do if the out-of-your-control factors don’t line up.

Imagine that you are a supervisor within an accounting department in a hospital. Let’s say you set a goal to shorten the month-end close timeline by 2 business days. Success will depend on the skill and collaboration of your accounting department (something you can contribute to and control), and on the ability of other departments to deliver critical data on time (something that is out of your control). It is smart to have a plan to coordinate the month-end close with other departments, remind them of the deadline and keep the communication lines open – but you must have a plan and an accountability agreement in the event they fail to deliver.

4. Think about your career path in the long run.

What is your ideal next professional role? What qualifications and skills do you need to qualify? What success stories under your belt will make you a suitable and impressive candidate? Line up your personal goals for work in a way that allows you to gather those accomplishments and learn the skills.

5. Go beyond immediate tasks to the big-picture.

Your growth as a professional is bigger than productivity and proficiency at your desk! Career progression often requires a broad scope of skills and experiences. Add professional seminars and other educational opportunities to your goal list, because continued learning is critical to your ability to expand your responsibilities and get promoted.

If you would like to move into a VP or a C-suite role in the future, consider looking at rotations in other departments. The knowledge of how different parts of the company fit together will prove useful and may set you apart from competing candidates.

Finally, if you see yourself growing into a management or client-facing role, Toastmasters is a fantastic way to sharpen your public speaking skills.

6. Get clarity on what goal achievement would look like.

You know the basics – a good workplace goal is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. I encourage you to go beyond those basics and visualize what goal achievement would look like. Would it make a particular project flow easier? Would it allow the team to work together more effectively? The image of a goal achieved will keep you motivated.

7. Schedule periodic check-ins.

Setting work goals is not limited to one conversation at the start of the performance period. Any plan must be flexible in order to retain its usefulness, and professional goals are no different. Sit down with your manager to talk about status and progress throughout the year. These conversations can be formal and regular (at the end of every quarter) or more ad-hoc. No matter which frequency you choose, the important thing is to keep the communication channel open, so that your goal plan can adapt to reflect today’s reality and priorities.

8. Ask for support if you need it.

Superstar performers in sports and at work don’t have to do it alone. Moreover, they know that they can achieve more and do it quicker with the help of a mentor or a coach. If you wanted to get better at golf, you would probably hire an instructor who would help you improve your swing. Your career is no different. Look for allies, both within your company and outside of it, and build a network of professionals who care about your success. Talk to them, ask for advice and listen carefully.

9. Do a periodic comparison of your annual goals with your to-do list.

Setting goals at work is great for mapping out big-picture targets and wins for the year. The unfortunate reality is that fire-drills and urgent reassignments can make it difficult to focus on the things that everyone had agreed were important. Continued professional education is a good example. Everyone knows it is valuable for your expertise and proficiency. It is also a requirement for retaining many professional certifications and licenses. However, continued education so often falls by the wayside because of client demands, deadlines and last-minute assignments. If you have ever had to cram a year’s worth of education credits in the last three weeks of the year, you are in good company.   

So, do a periodic check of how well your daily to-do list aligns with your big-picture workplace goals. If the two have nothing to do with each other, talk to your manager and take action.

10. Track your accomplishments.

We have all been there – as you’re preparing for your annual evaluation (or revising your resume for your job search), you draw a complete blank on your past accomplishments. You know you have been busy, and your manager is generally happy with your work, but you cannot name a single specific success over the last year.

The lesson here is that it can be difficult to recall success details at the end of the performance period. After all, you have a full year of projects to think through! Save yourself the trouble and keep a running list of your wins (a simple Word or Excel document will do just fine). List everything from meeting regular deadlines, to stepping in to help with an urgent research project, to completing successful client pitches and presentations.

In closing, remember that setting goals for work is best when it is an ongoing practice. Do yourself a favor and treat it as a conversation that never stops. Every time you get a new assignment, ask your manager to clarify expectations. What does he hope to accomplish through your work? Where does he anticipate difficulties? What is the timeline, and why is this project important? After the project is wrapped up, have a conversation to debrief and talk about what went well and what could have been done better. Many professionals are apprehensive of performance discussions, but the truth is that you can only get better if you know what skills and habits need more work. Keep the communication lines open, and you will set yourself up for more interesting work and a faster career progression in no time.

Want to see how your resume stacks up? Try out our free critique today!

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10 Things Every Job Seeker Should Know Before Starting Their Search 2015-08-31 00:00:00 Start your job search off on the right foot. Here’s what you need to know. [TWEET]

Job seeking is never fun, of course, but a well-prepared job seeker is more likely to find the process less stressful. Looking for work is not a science and there are many factors that come into play, but in conducting a job search in today’s current market, there are a number of things that everyone will be happier to know from the outset.

1. Use your network. 

Let’s start with something that may be out of your control. More and more positions are being filled without being advertised. You would have a hard time conducting a job search now without hearing about networking and how important it is, and that’s especially true in the market as it stands. A referral is more likely to get the position, simply because HR staff are busy and why not hire someone who already has an advocate within the company? Since informal hiring is happening on a greater scale, if you’re currently looking for work, remember that you are always looking for work. That 4th of July cookout? Perhaps your volleyball teammate knows of an opening that would fit your skill set. Don’t focus only on the old ways of looking for a job – get out, get to know people, and treat every interaction as a potential opportunity!

2. Clean up your act on social media. 

Companies often Google search a candidate before hiring, and social media can be an immediate red flag. Before starting your job hunt, clean up your Facebook! Many people respond to this advice defensively, feeling that it’s Orwellian to have your actions monitored even on social media, but the truth is, once it’s out there, it’s hard to remove it. Review your privacy settings and if it’s questionable, maybe leave it off the Internet.

3. You are going to need a strong resume.

Standards for resumes change all the time and just because it worked three or ten years ago doesn’t mean your resume will work now. Since a vast majority of positions that do make it out to job boards will be using online applications, the look of your resume matters far less than the content. It certainly should still be attractive and easy to read, but color and artistic flair are just going to confuse the computer screens. In fact, some of the ATS software doesn’t read serif fonts at all, so your amazing career background is not even reaching a person just because your font isn’t one the computer recognizes. Keep your resume simple! Content is key in the digital age, not the visual bells and whistles.

4. Be mindful of the ATS.

In continuing with the resume theme, another element that will impact how likely your resume is to get past the software is your use of keywords. When advice columns tell you to utilize keywords or to read the posting, they mean it! If the ad states you need experience with x, y, and z, then be sure X, Y, and Z are on your resume if you have that experience! It may be more work, yes, but sending out a resume to be rejected by a robot isn’t an effective use of your time, either.

5. Focus on your accomplishments.

Another resume tip: If you are applying for a position as a nurse or as a sales manager, we all have a basic understanding of your job description. Sending in a resume with a generic list of nursing or sales responsibilities isn’t going to make you stand out. Why are you the perfect nurse? What makes you different from the other 200 sales managers applying for the position? The answer is simple: accomplishments. Did you create a new training module for new nurses on HIPAA compliance? Was your sales team the first to tap into that challenging market? These are the key points to focus on in your resume. While the job description details can hit the keywords, they should not be the meat of your resume. What makes John Smith different from Joe Jones? John was the first sales manager in the region to secure a contract with Google. That’s worth noting!

6. Get a feel for the company during the interview.

So you’ve gotten your resume updated and it’s working. You started getting interview calls! The first interview you go on if you’ve been out of the job hunt for a while may feel very different. First of all, you may be expecting to go in and meet with one person, only to be greeted by an entire department. Team interviews are more common, because it’s not just about the job. It’s also not about how you do with one person, but how you fit with the team. Work is collaborative, so why would interviews not be? This can take some getting used to, but remember, no matter how badly you want or need this job, if you don’t feel comfortable with the interview team, do you really want to work there long-term?

7. Be patient post-interview.

The interview is done. They’ll call in a week, right? Very likely, they will not. Not only will it take a while to hear back – if you do – but the interview process takes longer than it used to take. If you go into the interview thinking that will be it, you may be surprised when they tell you the next step is another interview – and then there are three or four more steps. In fact, companies are often now having candidates and finalists come in for trial periods. Sometimes it’s an hour and sometimes it’s a full day of shadowing. It may feel time-consuming, but in the end, the goal is that you have found something you will be able to do for a while, and the company has found someone who will want to stick around.

8. Keep an open mind.

The hard truth is that this is a terrible job market for job seekers. The salaries are lower in general and more positions are being reduced to freelance or part-time. The work you have always loved may not have the same title and may be shared by a team now. Instead of viewing this as a negative, though, consider the opportunities. Maybe you like sales, but always wanted to do some consulting. With the market as it is, you may be working harder, but you will also be able to open yourself up to new things. And new things bring new skills and connections. The lower salary is an adjustment, but less hours means volunteer work or pursuing that entrepreneurial idea you’ve had. In the end, that may be a blessing.

9. Keep it all in perspective.

Another difficult reality is that this means it’s even more competitive. It’s not unheard of to show up for an interview and realize you’re interviewing with other candidates for the same job. You may think you are one of five who was called for an interview, only to discover they are interviewing 100 people – out of 500 applicants. Keep it all in perspective, but again, chances are if you don’t get the job, another position just opened when the candidate they selected left their position for this one.

10. It's not personal.

The final thing it’s helpful to know, and probably the most important, is that it’s not personal. It’s very hard not to get discouraged. You may go on hundreds of interviews, send out thousands of resumes, and still be waiting for that call. Friends and family will offer advice and say things like, “The right job will come along,” but it is hard to believe it sometimes. You’re not alone – and the truth is that it only takes one. For every rejection, remember it’s just not the right fit. It’s not you. Someone suggested keeping a tally – every application or every interview that’s a no, mark it down. When you reach 100, start over, but chances are, as much as it may seem endless, it’s unlikely you will reach 100 without an offer. It will feel like it’s inevitable, but the job is out there. Somewhere a hiring manager is looking for someone just like you. Jobs aren’t that different from dating, though, and all those frogs you have to kiss? They’re the interviews that don’t pan out for whatever reason. This is the hardest piece of advice to believe, but it’s imperative because some days, it does seem like there’s no end. If it gets really hopeless, allow yourself a day off from the search to do something that makes you happy. Then dust yourself off and get back out there.

Want to see how your resume stacks up? Try out our free critique today!

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10 Tips for Going Back to Work After Vacation With Minimal Stress 2017-01-03 00:00:00 Ever feel like you need a vacation from your vacation? Never again!

Everyone looks forward to vacation – a week or two filled with exploring new cities or relaxing in a hammock and doing nothing. Unfortunately, going back to work after vacation can make you feel like you need another vacation pronto. Is there a secret to keeping that post-vacation serenity and glow for just a little while longer?

Lucky for us, with a little pre-vacation planning and a strategic plan for your first few days back, you can accomplish a smooth exit and reentry! Here are 10 tips from the pros who still have a smile and a relaxed demeanor a week after returning to work after vacation.

1. Make a running list of your projects before you leave.

Being away from the office has a way of getting you out of the daily details, and you will be glad you have a reference point when returning to work after vacation. I recommend making two lists. First, make a list of every project you are working on with its corresponding status. Whether you are waiting for feedback on a proposal draft, a response from a client, or a deadline for a report to become available, commit them all to paper.

Second, make a short priority list for first things you plan to tackle upon your return. Priorities at work can change fast, but starting from a list gives you a better launch point no matter what happens.

This is also a good opportunity to scrub your mile-long to-do list and finally move all those lagging tasks to a “maybe never” list. Be honest – if something has been on your agenda for six months and you have not found the time to address it, it may be time to just delete or delegate it.

2. Delegate the things that won’t wait until your return.

You may be sipping Chianti in Rome this time next week – but client cases will still need to be moved along, reports delivered and deadlines met. Be sure you are clear on who is responsible for covering each urgent task. Give your co-workers an overview of the deadline, and be sure that they have all the information to do the work efficiently and effectively. I also recommend briefing your boss on who is responsible for each task, so that he or she does not have to scramble to make sure all mission-critical tasks are covered.

3. Set up an out of the office email and voicemail message.

This task often gets overlooked until the very last minute, so I recommend you don’t wait. Outlook and Gmail will allow you to pre-schedule your vacation notice days in advance, and many other email services do the same. Be sure to set the expectations for whether you will be checking messages while you are away, and leave an alternate contact to call with urgent matters.

4. Ask your manager to email you the day before you return with an update.

Depending on your relationship with your manager, this may or may not work for you. However, having a quick message that lists mission-critical priorities for your first day back can do wonders for your effectiveness and focus! I have found that my managers usually needed a reminder, so I would schedule an email prompt to go out automatically two business days before I would be due back.

A morning huddle with your manager for your first day back to work after vacation is a good alternative.  Everyone gets busy, so I recommend getting a slot on your manager’s calendar before you leave. Even a brief meeting can give you a chance to regroup and focus on what is most urgent.

5. Clean up before you leave.

This applies to both your workplace and your home. At work, file away those contracts that have been sitting in a stack on the floor, organize the memos on your desk, and put away the mail. This step does not guarantee you will come back to a clean desk, but you will have a better starting point. It is also a great way to ensure that all urgent matters have been delegated.

At home, spend an hour straightening up. I know that your brain is already on vacation mode and it’s tough to focus on everyday chores, but your post-vacation self will thank you. Be sure you take the trash out, clean out the fridge, and vacuum. I like to check my pantry and stock up on simple non-perishable snacks for that midnight jetlag-powered kitchen raid.

6. Give yourself a buffer day.

If you can, try to give yourself a buffer day in between your return home and going back to work after vacation. It may seem counter-intuitive to use a vacation day for simply being at home, but strategically it gives you the space to get back to normal with minimal pressure. The extra day can be used for catching up on laundry, grocery shopping and meal planning for the week, and napping to get over the jet lag. None of it is glamorous, but taking care of those tasks can make your re-entry to work much smoother.

7. Check your work calendar.

Look at your calendar the day before you are due back to work after vacation, so you are not surprised by meetings that have snuck up on you. If you do discover unexpected surprises, look at them one by one to determine if you can attend them with minimal preparation. Alternatively, consider whether they can be re-negotiated or postponed so that you can contribute in a meaningful way.

8. Clean up your desk upon return.

Even if you left a pristine desk before taking off for vacation, chances are you will come back to a jumbled mess of reports, unopened mail, and Post-It notes. Take a few minutes to sort through everything, get important documents labeled for follow-up and action, and toss out reports that are no longer relevant. This will help you feel better organized as you get into the swing of things.  

9. Stay in stealth mode.

Sure, your boss knows you are back, and so do your immediate reports. However, there is no harm in waiting to broadcast your return across the departments for a day or two. This selective stealth will give you an opportunity to catch up and get back into your normal rhythm without the added pressure.

10. Consider postponing that boot camp or liquids-only cleanse.

With airplane travel, time zone changes, different foods and activity patterns, your body and mind are already going through significant stress. Don’t make it worse by adding challenging exercise routines or dramatic diet changes to the mix. Even if you feel that you have over-indulged on vacation, resist the urge to sign up for a Crossfit boot camp right away. Ease your way back with a couple of yoga classes, a swim, or a light exercise routine.

In closing, the secret to keeping your sanity upon returning from vacation is a combination of smart preparation and strategic triage upon return. No matter how urgent the tasks and the pressure, do try to leave the office on time. After all, having been away does not automatically mean that you must put in extra hours as punishment! Be sure you build in time to relax and do the things you enjoy. That way, the benefits of vacation stay with you longer.

Want to see how your resume stacks up? Try out our free critique today!

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10 Tips for Job Seekers: How to Create Your Own Job Search Luck 2016-03-15 00:00:00 This St. Patrick’s Day, don’t let the luck of the Irish fuel your job search, create your own luck! Here’s how. [TWEET]

Here we go again. The nerve-racking, nail-biting, tedious task of searching for a new job lurks ahead as you stare at your blank computer screen; but the job search doesn't need to be all bad. In fact, it can be fun and rewarding with the right mindset and some handy job search tips.

If you're someone who is currently unemployed, then you might feel some pressure to find your next position as quickly as possible. On the other hand, if you're currently in a position, but you're looking to expand your horizons, you might be more relaxed about your job search and more open to creative tips for job seekers. Either way, there are steps you can take to create your own luck in what can sometimes be an overwhelming job market.

What is Your Ideal Job?

For some, achieving a position that's "ideal" might seem like a far away dream. Many, though, have found this to be possible. It takes getting crystal clear on what's really important to you in an ideal job. Is it flexibility? Is it a prime location? Is it a job where you never need to deal with traffic to and from work? Is it a conservative environment, or more relaxed? Is your manager hands-off? Is your work one-on-one, client based, or collaborative? What's the minimum you'd like to get paid? Is it a larger fortune 500 company, or a smaller independently owned company? These are the types of questions you need to ask yourself to get clear on your ideal position. You can then prioritize your list of items and take that into account as you research positions and interview.

What is your ideal company?

Job fit is essential for career success. Instead of stressing or coming from a place of desperation about your next career move, use this job search tip: take a moment to ask yourself what you're looking for in your ideal company, similar to what you're looking for in your ideal job. From the culture to the personality of the leaders to the location of the company, these are all variables to consider. When you have a sense of clarity on what you're looking for in a company, you can clearly identify the types of companies you want to interview with, as well as those you want to avoid.

What's your elevator pitch?

Do you know what to say when you're asked, "What type of work do you do?" Be able to respond immediately by creating a 30 to a 60-second elevator pitch. This "elevator pitch" should hone in on what you do, how you do it and the benefit you provide. For example, "I help small businesses succeed by fostering right relations, compliance, and training."

Refer to the Mind Tools article, Crafting an Elevator Pitch, for some helpful guidance. Though the article speaks about business owners, I find that it is still relevant and contains tips for job seekers, as well.

Make a game plan and be consistent.

When you're searching for a new job, there is power in consistency and numbers. Once you're clear about your ideal job and the type of company you'd like to work for, you're ready to lay out a game plan and begin your research. Determine what personal sales tools you need to support your process (outlined in the remainder of this post), take action to create or update them, and then decide how many jobs you'll apply for per day, per week, and so on. Research career sites like and and make a decision to apply for at least three jobs per week, for example. I've had success with sites such as these in the past, and I also found that with consistency and focus came results.

Update your resume.

It goes without saying that your resume should reflect your most recent experience and should also include a headline that describes your areas of expertise and key accomplishments within 2 - 3 sentences. It might be worth hiring a resume service to support you in creating a resume that represents you and your skills in the best light and also fits today's trends and expectations when it comes to resume writing.

Tailor your cover letter for each company.

Taking the time to update your cover letter so it's specific to the company you're submitting to shows initiative and is an essential job search tip. It means you took the time to research and better understand the company and their needs before applying for the position.

Update Your LinkedIn Profile.

With more than 414 million users, LinkedIn is one of the top networking sites for professionals. Companies and recruiters often utilize LinkedIn in hopes of finding their next star talent. If you have a profile you haven't updated in awhile; you need to take action to update it as soon as possible. A completed profile should include all of your relevant work experience, skills and certifications, education, profile picture, and a catchy tagline or phrase describing what you do. For more tips, refer to M.A.Smith's post, Is Your LinkedIn Sending the Wrong Message?

Do a Google Search on Your Name.

Many don't think to Google their name to see what comes up, but I promise you, many organizations will if they're considering hiring you. It's wise to do an online search every so often to see what comes up under your name. The results might surprise you. On that note, be sure to keep your social media profiles private if you don't want your employer, or prospective employer(s), to see posts about your personal life.

Create a personal website.

Having a personal website with your bio and resume has a couple of advantages. One, you can use the link on business cards so other professionals and employers can check out your site at their convenience, and two, it gives you quick access to your resume when you need it. You can create a simple, yet professional, website for a reasonable price with sites such as,, and I suggest paying the small fee to avoid ads that can pop up across the "free" site builders available.

Get out there and be seen.

Though many say it's "what you know," I prefer to say, "it's who knows you" when it comes to opportunities in the work arena. The more you attend industry and networking events, the more you're connecting with people who might be your access to a new job or big career move. Volunteering is another great way to connect with people. You just never know when someone might know someone who needs your skill set.  

When it comes to job search tips, all you need is to start with a couple of the items above to find gold at the end of your rainbow, or, at least, a new job that you enjoy at the end of your job search. Happy hunting, and good luck!

Ready to write the next chapter of your career? Hire a TopResume writer today!

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10 Tips on Effectively Looking for a Job While Employed 2016-09-29 00:00:00 Looking for a job while employed and collecting a paycheck may seem like the best of both worlds, but it adds a few extra challenges that you’ll need to account for.

Recruiters and companies often prefer to work with still-employed candidates, since they are more likely to have up-to-date skills. However, applying for jobs while employed can spell logistical nightmare for you. Unless your boss has warned you of upcoming layoffs and has authorized you to use company time for a job search, you will have to channel your inner Jason Bourne and make your next steps stealthy.

How do you successfully start looking for a job while employed?Here are some tips.

1. Update your LinkedIn profile.

A recruiter or a potential employer will check your LinkedIn profile when your resume shows up. Don’t wait until the last minute – update your profile now!

Here are a few things to consider before you jump into editing. First off, consider turning off notifications, so that your profile updates are not broadcast across your network. Second, don’t tag your profile with “looking for a new job” – your employer may be watching. Lastly, keep your listed skills updated and consistent with what you do at your current job. A dramatic change in your online profile, particularly if it does not reflect the position you currently hold, can serve as a tip-off.

2. Don’t post your resume on job boards.

Nothing kills a discrete job search faster than receiving 15 messages from recruiters, including three voicemails on your work phone. Don’t post your resume on job boards. The best new opportunities come from networking, and the risk of missing a great job on a board is more than offset by assurance that your boss won’t come across your resume online.

3. Don’t drop hints.

It can be frustrating and unsatisfying to stay quiet about your search. You might want to commiserate with your co-workers if an interview did not go well, or hint to your boss that you do not care about a recent reprimand because you are virtually out of there already. Fight the temptation, and keep quiet. Telling one co-worker is often the same as telling them all!

This advice extends to social media. Some employers monitor Facebook and Twitter accounts of their employees. Even if they don’t, you never know who is connected to whom through the virtual network. Stay away from posting job search-related updates, from the obvious “Wish me luck! Heading into my second interview at ABC company this afternoon!” to a more vague “Something exciting is in the works! I cannot tell you now, but come back next week for an update!”

4. Schedule interviews outside work hours as much as possible.

You can only have so many 9 AM doctor appointments in a week before you raise suspicion! Consider breakfast and lunch meetings, or ask for a slot after work – many companies will accommodate your request, especially if you are upfront about your need for discretion.

If the interview is scheduled during working hours, consider taking a vacation or personal day. Some might say that calling in sick is an option, but I would advise against it. Your boss might still expect you to jump on an 11 AM conference call from home, and you would have more explaining to do. Bite the bullet, and take a day off so you won’t be distracted or expected to work.

5. Stealth helps.

Your ninja stealth should extend to what you wear to the office after an interview. If you show up to work in a suit and tie when you normally wear jeans and a blazer on a Friday, heads will turn and people will ask – forcing you to either talk before you are ready, or lie. If your normal look is business casual (or casual), consider taking a change of clothes with you to wear after the interview – or stop at home for a quick change on your way to the office.

6. Don’t sabotage yourself.

All too often, a job search that is meant to be undercover is revealed through self-sabotage. Don’t be that person who checks out from daily responsibilities, or picks fights with a “could not care less” attitude. Stay focused on your work, and keep conflict at bay as much as you can.

On the same note, don’t use the company network or phone to look for a new job. Always assume that your employer is looking. Getting fired over inappropriate use of company resources won’t help your search.

7. Don’t include your co-workers or boss as references.

This may sound obvious, but if you have been at your current company for a few years, it might seem natural to put down your boss’s name as a reference. If the potential employer makes the call before making you an offer, you run the risk of surprising your current manager before anything is finalized.

Keep in mind that reference checks are meant to be the very last step in the job search – not a screening tool for recruiters and hiring managers. Protect your personal and professional network, and don’t offer reference names until the end of the process.

8. Ask your prospective employer to be discreet.

Most hiring managers and recruiters assume that your current employer does not know you're looking for a job while employed. I recommend being clear and specific about your need for discretion. If you are keeping your cards close to your chest, and your recruiter is unwilling to honor that preference, pick another professional to help in your search.

9. Get efficient.

One of the most challenging aspects of your situation is that you have a full-time job in addition to your search. How do you find the time to dedicate to the new opportunity while staying focused and productive at work?

The key to looking for a job while employed is to plan ahead and get organized. Update your online profile and resume, and create a great cover letter layout, so that you are not starting from scratch when the search begins. Whether you use a personal organizer or an app, prioritize tasks, set deadlines, and keep an up-to-date calendar to avoid double booking your appointments.

10. Don’t act prematurely.

Hope is not a strategy! Take deep breaths, and stay away from doing or saying anything rash just because you had a promising interview. You don’t have a new job until you have received and accepted a job offer and have the signed paperwork. Anything you do or say until then must be carefully considered.

In other words, searching for a job while employed requires you to tread lightly, be patient, and stay discreet.

That being said, sometimes a job search reveals that grass only looks greener on the other side.  If you discover how much you enjoy your current job, there is nothing wrong with calling off the search and staying where you are. The interview process would not have been a waste, because you will have earned a newfound appreciation of your short commute, interesting assignments, or a good working relationship with your boss. After all, no job is perfect – and if this process helps you rediscover your passion for the parts that you love, so be it.

Want to see how your resume stacks up? Try out our free critique today!

]]> 10 Tips on Effectively Looking for a Job While Employed
10 Tips to Choosing Your (Workplace) Battles Wisely 2016-05-11 00:00:00 Before you choose battle, consider these workplace etiquette tips to strive for peace. [TWEET]

While we are all cut from the same cloth, that cloth comes in many different shapes, colors, sizes, and perspectives. It's the cloth that connects us, yet makes us each unique. In an ideal world, we'd all celebrate that uniqueness with an appreciation that if we were all the same, the world would be a pretty boring place. While I see many who do appreciate this, in many instances, this appreciation stops when someone disagrees with them, turns on them, or isn't on their side of the fence, so to speak.

Yes, people can be challenging, but there's no escaping them at work, or outside of work for that matter. Given that many jobs involve working with others, you might find you don't have a shortage of concerns, frustrations, conundrums or other workplace issues. I'll be the first to admit that as much as I'd like to think I could stay calm and relaxed in even the toughest of scenarios with co-workers, there were times where I had to calm myself down, bite my tongue, and turn to others for support. With time, we acquire plenty of tools to effectively deal with difficult work scenarios and maintaining proper workplace etiquette, but still, things happen, and sometimes we're put on the spot in a tough situation where it's natural to react in a not-so-perfect way.

In the end, it's how we decide to handle the situation overall that matters, which also means being selective about what's worth fighting for or speaking up about. Below I've shared some of the insights and workplace etiquette tips I've found to work for people when it comes choosing workplace battles wisely and how to deal with them if battle you must.

1. Use discernment

There will be times when you do need to take further action to deal with challenging workplace issues or individuals at work. Take some time to think it over to discern between the challenges you truly need to give more energy to vs. the ones you can overlook and quickly move on from. For example, if something is negatively impacting your work performance, then coming up with a plan of action to deal with the issue is wise. If ethics or discrimination are coming into question, then this would be another example where I'd suggest you take the issue to a superior, someone you trust, or through the channels provided in your company's policies and procedures for handling such items.   

2. Identify that "safe" person to which you can turn

Whether it's a friend, trusted co-worker, mentor, or personal coach, identify someone you completely trust that will allow you the space to vent when you need to. This person will hopefully be someone who can also help you determine what workplace issues are worth pursuing further, and which ones you need to let go of.

3. Ask for guidance

If you're struggling with conflict or a possible "battle" at work, consider speaking to a manager or someone in Human Resources who might be able to advise you on how to best handle the situation with proper workplace etiquette. The list of people mentioned in item 2 above could also play this role, though the person you seek guidance from isn't always going to be the person you would "vent" to. In other words, you might vent and seek guidance from a mentor, but you would likely only seek a manager out for guidance and not to vent.

4. Agree to disagree

It's amazing to me how we can all be sitting and watching the same interview, show, or movie, yet we can each be impacted by it in different ways with different viewpoints to discuss. We all experience things differently and have different perspectives. As I mentioned earlier, the world would be a boring place if we all thought the same things and reacted similarly in different scenarios. When we disagree with someone else, it's rarely about right or wrong, but instead about a difference of opinion. With workplace issues, agree to disagree and move on.

5. Take the high road

When you have an issue with a coworker or manager, always take the high road to handle the situation with as much grace and tact as possible. In other words, don't talk poorly about someone else or share information that is no one else's business. You'll appreciate others doing the same for you, and it makes you look bad when you attempt to make others look bad.

6. Stand your ground

When you have a disagreement with someone, choosing to let it go doesn't mean you're choosing to be a doormat, either. It's OK to be clear on what you believe, share your perspective on a matter, and to be honest about it. At the same time, it doesn't mean you battle it out because you're "right" and the other person is "wrong." Consider the idea that you could both be right, and move on (refer to "agree to disagree").

To reiterate here, if you truly believe discrimination, harassment, or ethics are coming into play, then taking action is appropriate. Whether it's speaking directly to the person you have a concern with, speaking to Human Resources, or talking to your manager, take steps to ensure you're comfortable in your work environment while following proper workplace etiquette, of course.  

7. Determine a plan of action

When you determine that you need to take action to deal with workplace issues, avoid reacting or responding too quickly. Give yourself some time to decide on the best approach. Also, if it's an emotionally charged issue that just happened, then you'll want to give yourself some time to come back to an emotional balance—at least 24 to 48 hours (or longer if time permits and you need it)—before taking action. Who's the best person to speak to about the concern? How will you approach him or her? What personal result or outcome would you like to see? Think through questions such as these before moving forward if at all possible.  

8. Don't let concerns fester

I've seen it happen—a person has ongoing issues with someone else but does nothing about it to the point that it negatively impacts their work. Then, one day, the person with the issue blows up like a volcano erupting, and the other person has no idea why. As reported in a 2014 WSJ article, psychologist and executive coach Dr. Shelly Reciniello shared that people "kick the dog, go into denial, get depressed or anxious, quit their jobs, blame themselves—they do all kinds of things except deal with what has to be addressed." It's common for people to want to avoid confrontation, but it's not always the best approach.

When you have a concern or issue with someone, it's often best to nip it in the bud sooner rather than later by speaking to him or her about it. Or if you prefer not to confront the person, talk the issue out with someone so you have room to vent and things don't get heated or fester up for you (refer to "identify that "safe" person to which you can turn").

9. Mind your own business

This goes somewhat hand in hand with "take the high road." One way to avoid workplace issues is to mind your own business and to realize your business is no one else's business either. There's no reason to concern yourself with what someone else is doing unless it's negatively impacting your work or work environment. It's good to use caution and proper workplace etiquette when sharing personal details about yourself with others, as well, unless you're sitting in the cubicle next to your best friend (and even then, you might want to wait until you're outside of the workplace to dish juicy details or vent).  

10. Attempt to keep your focus on work and productivity

Per a press release on PR Newswire, a 2014 survey commissioned by Workfront (formerly AtTask), showed that almost four out of 10 workers surveyed, or 39 percent, said that lost productivity was among the most common consequences of conflict. This isn't surprising considering that conflict takes energy to deal with and resolve, which means it can negatively impact your work productivity. When you're in the midst of a "battle" or conflict, it can be easy to get caught up and lose focus, especially when you're deciding how to deal with the situation. It's natural for this to happen to some degree, and though it's best to deal with the situation sooner rather than later, you don't want it to consume you. Do what you can to keep your energy focused on the bigger picture, like your responsibilities at work and other things that matter to you, so you're not frustrated even more down the road.  

From co-workers stealing your clients, to those who want to make themselves look better by making others look bad, workplace conflicts happen for a variety of reasons. Speaking up about the issues in one way or another might be best, or letting the issues go and moving on might be best because it's not worth your time and energy to "battle" it out. Use good judgment, proper workplace etiquette, and seek guidance if needed. Each scenario and individual are different. What's important is that you acknowledge any issue you might have and decide the best way to deal with it.

Ready to write the next chapter of your career? Hire a TopResume writer today!

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10 Tips to Negotiating Maternity Leave 2016-04-28 00:00:00 It’s essential to plan ahead when negotiating maternity leave. Here’s how. [TWEET]

There are so many things to plan for with a new baby on the way, from the nursery, to the lack of sleep, to the type of delivery you'll have. On top of all that, you also need to determine how long you'd like to be away from the office to care for your new baby.

Negotiating maternity leave takes some education and planning. A well-thought-out approach to requesting leave can increase your chances of being approved for an extended leave. Below are some tips to help you generate your plan of action, so you can enjoy your new baby without having to worry about returning to work too early.

Research and understand your company's leave policies.

By law, organizations that meet certain criteria (50 or more employees within a 50-mile radius) have to offer up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to eligible employees to care for the birth of a child or an adoption. Some organizations, however, offer additional maternity leave that might be paid or unpaid. Many organizations will pay for leave up until the doctor releases you to return to work, which is typically six weeks for a natural delivery and eight weeks for a cesarean delivery. The remaining leave might be unpaid, or some companies allow you to take paid personal time or vacation time for the remainder of your leave. Depending on your organization, this leave might dip into your FMLA leave, which is the norm from my experience.

Some organizations will also allow employees to take a Personal Leave of Absence for a specified period. The point here is to research and get clear on your company's policies and how much leave is possible for you to take based on the standard company policy when negotiating maternity leave. Ask your Human Resources department about the organization's maternity leave policy and how everything works, as well. From there, you can determine how much additional time you might need, if any.

To read more about employer requirements and employee eligibility requirement for FMLA, refer to DOL Fact Sheet # 28: The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993  and the DOL Family and Medical Leave Act web page.

Check in with other expecting or new moms.

When you're pregnant, other expecting moms and new moms can make great allies in general. You're all entering a new stage of your life that will surely bring surprises, joy, new challenges, and so much more. If you can connect with another mom who is close to giving birth, just gave birth, or just returned to work after maternity leave, you can speak with them about how they went about negotiating maternity leave and what they received. This could help you in determining the minimum leave you could go in asking for, and can also provide moral support in requesting what you need in general.

Go in with a plan and be clear on what you're requesting.

Go into the meeting with all the information you need, including research on who you're negotiating with, so you know how to navigate the meeting based on his or her style or history with the matter. The more prepared you are, the better able you'll be to make your case in negotiating maternity leave, which brings me to my next point.

Before requesting leave, or even bringing up the subject, get clear on how much time you'd like to take, and plan for more than you think you might need. It's better to come back early than to request an extension when you realize you desire to have more time to spend with your newborn after you've already been out for a while.

Also, try to come from a benefit to the company approach vs. an exception to policy approach, with the latter often being an uncomfortable stance for companies. There's a lot of decent research that shows that organizations who offer maternity leave to new moms have a positive impact/higher retention rate. The National Partnership for Women & Families has published some good statistics on offering paid leave in a 2015 Fact Sheet, Paid Family and Medical Leave: Good for Business. You can share this type of info with your manager to support your case.

Make a commitment to leave your desk in good hands with a plan of action.

When you're requesting leave, it can help if your manager knows you're willing to check in every so often to keep him or her up to date as to your status. Checking in does not imply that you agree to do any work, as you want to be careful not to make that commitment unless you truly want to, but it can provide peace of mind to your manager that you're still in the game and plan to return to work.

Going to your manager with a detailed plan of action and coverage while you're out will help ease his or her mind about how your work will be covered and by who. It will also help you better prepare for your leave with less stress knowing all your bases are covered while you're out. The more you can show that you're leaving major projects, as well as your day-to-day activities and tasks, in good hands while you're out, the better.

Offer to attend important meetings.

If you can manage, it might help you score a win if you offer to come in for important meetings that are on the schedule. For example, if there's major project planning meeting or a big vendor meeting and you're an Account Manager, you can offer to attend those meetings while on leave, assuming you're available and well enough to do so. Maybe consider calling in for the meetings, as well.

Consider part-time work.

I have a couple of friends who decided to return to work part-time after each of their second children were born. This allowed them to remain in the good graces of the company while also having more time to stay at home with their children. If you can afford to, and you know you'd like more time, find out if this might be an option for you. Going from leave to part-time to full-time later down the road is also a great way to ease back into the workplace after having a child, instead going back at full speed, which can be a difficult transition for many.  

Be ready to re-negotiate.

There's a good chance you might not get everything you ask for, so be ready to negotiate and come up with alternative solutions to support your leave.

Keep things in perspective.

It's not always easy to get additional leave, especially if it's outside of policy or the policy states it's at the discretion of management. When negotiating maternity leave, know this going in, and give it your best shot. Again, the more prepared and clear you are about what you need, the better. Also, if the organization is short on staff, is a newer organization, or you've had recent poor reviews or disciplinary action, all of these factors might impact whether or not you're approved.

Keep your priorities in mind.

When negotiating for maternity leave, it can be helpful to keep in mind what your priorities are, which for most who are starting or growing a family, is their children. We tend to have more regrets when we don't make choices or take a stand for the things that are important to us. That's not to say that work is not a priority, because for many, it is, but not more of a priority than their children, especially when they're first born. Making money to feed those children is also a priority, of course. My point is that it's OK to ask for extra time to spend with your newborn if that's a priority for you, because if you don't, you might feel regret that you didn't at least try to in the long run. On that token, you might not get approved for everything you ask for (as noted in the next section), but you can feel good knowing you spoke up out of respect for yourself and your priorities about what you needed.

Wait to request an extension.

If you decide you need an extension after you're out on leave, wait until closer to the end of the leave to let your manager or the organization know. This protects you in the event they say no and decide to terminate your employment early. Hopefully, this wouldn't happen, but watch out for yourself. If you feel you need to communicate sooner, then do so and trust your intuition. If the answer is no, then you'll need to decide if you'll return to work, or begin looking for work elsewhere.

Before negotiating maternity leave, get a sense for the list above, and think through what approach will work best for you based on your personal circumstances and the organization with whom you work.

Let TopResume help you write the next chapter of your career. Here’s how.

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10 Ways to Create a Winning LinkedIn Profile 2016-10-20 00:00:00 Whether or not you’re looking for a new job right now, you need to have a solid presence on LinkedIn.

With more than 450 million users worldwide, it is easily the largest professional network on the planet. It’s not only large, it’s highly effective in helping professionals in any industry get, and stay, connected.

So why should that matter to you? LinkedIn is your chance to get your name and face in front of hundreds (or even thousands) of professionals in your industry. If you’re looking for a job, that’s essential.

However, it’s not enough to just have a LinkedIn page. You need a great LinkedIn page that draws attention, says the right things, and helps you really connect with the people who can help you expand your career. Here are 10 simple tips to creating your winning LinkedIn profile.

1. Your picture.

The simplest thing you can do to upgrade your LinkedIn profile is to add a good headshot. Be creative if that fits with what you do or who you are, but remember, this is the first impression people will get from your page. If you don’t have a professional headshot to use, it’s worth the investment. With the huge numbers of people on LinkedIn, those without a photo are easily pushed aside. “When I’m looking at candidates, if there is no photo, I’ll skip right past them to the next one,” says Mary, a Compensation Manager.

2. Your headline.

Your headline is the first text that shows up right below your name on your profile. The default settings will fill this in with your current position and that’s okay for starters. It can be whatever you want. You have 120 characters to work with, so why not add on a little? Think of it as a small billboard advertisement for you and what you do. Instead of just listing the job title, mention your specialty and how you benefit your company or customers.


John Doe

Advertising Sales Rep helping clients create winning branding strategies. Over 300 Successful clients.

Just like that you’ve told them your job, what you really bring to the table, and provided a little credibility. Easy and effective.

3. Your summary.

Your summary can be a longer form of your headline. Here you have 2000 characters to work with so you can dive in a little deeper. Don’t just focus on what you have done in the past, but what you really do well and what you can bring to a prospective employer. Keep in mind that keywords are crucial here. Use words that you want to be strongly connected to in your field.

Attention spans are short these days, so don’t use up all of those 2000 characters. Keep it to less than half of that. Be creative and paint a picture of who you really are as a professional.

4. Your experience.

You can do better than simply cutting and pasting your resume. You don’t have the same two page rule here, but you do have internet readers’ short attention spans. Include any jobs that you deem relevant to where you want your career to go. Limit your bullet points to two to four per job, but make them interesting and impressive. Use good action words to show, not just what you did, but what you accomplished in each position.

5. Use visual media.

Did you know that you can add a background photo/cover photo on LinkedIn just like you can on Twitter and Facebook? It’s simple to do and it makes your page stand out. What kind of theme do you want? Choose something that speaks to your profession or your personality.

LinkedIn also allows you to connect other media to your profile. Youtube videos, infographics, you name it. Get creative with relevant media and make your page jump off the screen and demand attention.

6. Customize your URL.

Your LinkedIn URL is located right below your photo on your profile page. This is the web address for your profile. The default will have your name and some gibberish numbers on it. Why not make it something more relevant? Again, it only takes a couple of minutes and it can make your URL much more memorable.

7. Make connections.

It seems obvious, but it can be easy to forget sometimes. You need to keep growing your connections as you meet people. Having a lot of connections helps to keep you visible to others because of LinkedIn’s system of 1st, 2nd, and 3rd degree connections.

That being said, while you can connect with people you don’t know, it’s preferable to connect with individuals whom you know personally, have worked with, or met in a professional capacity.

8. Ask for recommendations.

This is a big one. Think of people that you’ve developed a good working relationship with in the past. When you edit your profile, there is a link to click that says “Ask for Recommendations.” Click on it. You then choose what you’d like to be recommended for and can choose a list of people from your connections. Send it out and hope you get some great feedback.

Recommendations are a key to making your page stand out. Employers want to know that others have approved of your work.

Help your karma out and recommend some of your connections back.

9. Keep your page active.

LinkedIn is more than an online resume. It’s a networking social media site. That means to get the most out of it, you need to remain active. Check out what other people are posting. Engage them with thoughtful comments. Like and share posts that strike you as helpful.

Join groups that are on LinkedIn. Whatever your professional interests are from marketing to accounting, there are going to be groups talking about it. Join one or two and interact within that group. It’s a great way to meet some new people and share ideas.

10. Check your profile strength.

If you look at your current LinkedIn profile, there is a gauge on the right hand side that gives you a “Profile Strength” measurement. Essentially, this is telling you how completely you’ve filled out your profile. Keep adding more and using the site’s tips until that gauge rates you “All-Star.” It’s simple, but it can help you realize if you’ve overlooked something.

LinkedIn is a powerful tool and one that’s really easy to use. Make the most of it by optimizing your profile to grab attention, sell your skills and validate your accomplishments. You want your page to be visually appealing to visitors while making it easy for them to get a feel for who you are and what you really can do for them professionally. These 10 tips make a great start for building your winning LinkedIn profile.

Want to see how your resume stacks up? Try out our free critique today!

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10 Ways to Recover from a Job Interview Mistake 2016-09-20 00:00:00 Spending hours in front of the mirror preparing for an interview doesn’t always prepare you for every contingency. Hiring managers love to throw a few weird questions, quirky comments and outright absurd statements out there to catch us unaware. Don’t worry; we’ve all been there.

Rest assured, the hiring manager knows you can – and probably will – stumble at the awkward questions and maybe even make some interview mistakes. It’s not the mistake that marks you for doom however, it’s your rebuttal and recovery. Compare interview mistakes to sporting events. Players fumble, trip and fall in every game. They never cry and run off the court. No, they stand up and keep playing.

Fortunately, there are several options and recovery techniques to help you stay in the game. Don’t let your interview fumbles and fouls send you packing. Try these ten top ways to recover from a job interview stumble. It's all a part of preparing for an interview. [TWEET]

1. Unanswered questions.

If you make the fatal interview mistake of telling a hiring manager you don’t know the answer to their question, make a quick recovery. Tell them “That’s an interesting question and one I haven’t considered. May I take a few days to consider it and send my answer then?” If they accept your offer, be sure to follow up within the stated timeframe and research the question on a professional level.

Yes, hiring managers know you don’t hold the answer to every problem. They aren’t looking for know-it-alls who have a quick answer to every question. Instead, they want candidates who take the time to think about the question and answer with a little wisdom.

2. Wasted time.

Potential employers who ask about your typical day and hobbies outside work aren’t looking for wasted time. They’re checking to see if you manage your time effectively. Even if you use your free time to search the Internet and peruse social media, don’t admit to it. Make it sound professional: “Communicating with new people and connecting with friends and family is important to me.” Or connect your free time and interests to industry topics. Try to steer the conversation towards professional development.

On the other hand, in this day and age employers prefer candidates who maintain a familiarity with social media. “Social media always has intrigued me. It’s fascinating how people from around the globe break down barriers and connect on a more personal level. I’m very active on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I like to keep up with new and exciting platforms and communication arenas.” Is a fine answer to include. Relating your social media activity to your industry and industry influencers is even better.

3. Bad Experiences.

We have all had bad experiences at previous positions. A major interview mistake is to complain to the hiring manager about it. For those who can’t help themselves, there’s still time to recover. Tell the hiring manager: “I apologize for that. What I was trying to say is, I currently feel underutilized. Being productive and helping clients grow is my main goal. I don’t feel like this is happening to its full potential right now.”

No one wants to hear someone cry about their bad work experiences – especially the hiring manager. Telling them you don’t like your former or current boss sends red flags, correction, emergency flares telling them you aren’t loyal to your company. Don’t let this happen to you. Apologize for the blunder. This tells the hiring manager you recognize your mistake and are willing to correct it.

4. Lack of future plans.

Graduates and new hires often start their venture with little idea of future plans. Even seasoned veterans often lack a solid growth outline. Just don’t advertise it. Telling the interview team you have no idea where you’re headed is like saying “I don’t care about myself so you shouldn’t expect me to care about your company.” Who wants to give that impression?

Should you make an interview mistake and accidently convey your lack of plans, recover with a simple explanation. “Before advancing in the industry, I want to learn valuable skills and experience working with clients. Updating my industry knowledge helps place [company’s name] ahead of the competition.” Or tell them your “core commitment is to [company’s name] at this time.” The point is to let them know you want to advance yourself but aren’t planning to abandon them within the next few years.

5. Complacent careers.

Change is inevitable. Companies have learned the hard way that they need to follow the employee's’ wishes and compete with current trends. They want like-minded candidates who are versatile and can handle change. Should you tell them change is not up your alley, don’t give up. There’s still a chance to recover from this interview mistake. Let them know change isn’t good or bad, but, rather, it is something we all must accept and learn to handle.

You may not like change, but you should be “open to the unknown and comfortable working with teams that endure change and fast paced environments.” This tells employers you are able to go with the flow and help deliver client needs in an ever-changing environment. Once you make the blunder, try to follow up with examples of a major change and how you helped the company endure.

6. Making due.

Sometimes we are forced to apply for positions that may not be ideal. If you’re interviewing for a job that you know isn’t your dream job, bite your tongue, press forward and don’t hint at this. Hiring managers know which positions in their company are generally known as the “plague” of the company. Chances are they’ve been in your shoes and may be empathetic.

While you may not love the job, be sure to tell them you love the company and what it stands for. Give a few examples of engagement and service you admire. Just explain why you want the job, make them feel like you have something to offer and hope for the best. Be sure to provide real examples for your motivation. Tell them how you will benefit the company.

7. Resume mistakes.

Wise job applicants who seek professional advice realize customized resumes win more interviews than a standard one-size-fits-all template. Chances are you’ve made one common mistake – sending the wrong resume to the wrong employer. Hiring managers may call you on the irreverent information. Should you slip and say “I have no idea why that is on there.” Please be sure to follow up with an explanation. Be honest. Tell them you customize your resume to fit each opportunity. “I apologize. I customize each resume so it helps the recruiter determine my skills. I must have left that part in there by mistake.”

First, explaining you create individual resumes shows attention to detail, versatility and ability to create unique ideas. Admitting your mistake shows a willingness to own up to your errors and take action to correct them. This also presents you with the chance to display additional, supplemental skills not relevant to the position.

8. Work style preferences.

In the new, virtual age, companies have increasingly started offering remote, work-from-home positions. While there are pros and cons to this opportunity, don’t make the mistake of telling the interviewer “I prefer to work from home.” Unless the position listing specifically lists the opportunity to telecommute, assume it is an in-house position.

Making the interview mistake of telling the hiring manager you prefer at-home work doesn’t have to be a deal breaker. Follow up to the statement by asking if they offer any opportunities to telecommute. “I was just curious. Does [company’s name] offer remote or telecommuting opportunities?”

9. Avoiding blunders.

Cleaning up our interview mistakes never is easy. The best way to clean up a mistake is by preventing it in the first place. Though this isn’t always possible, interview preparation helps reduce anxiety, accommodates potential problems and makes the interview smoother. Practice your techniques with friends and colleagues. Visit career blogs to help develop a list of questions hiring managers may ask. Practice until you can answer the questions in your sleep.

Need help with your resume? Take advantage of our free critique today!

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10 Ways to Turn Your Part Time Job Into a Full Time Job 2016-08-04 00:00:00 Do you have a great part-time or contract gig with a company you love?

Maybe it suited you best at the time you were hired, or maybe you just love the company and wanted to get your foot in the door. Either way, you’re ready to try moving up the ladder and getting a more permanent position. Here are 10 strategies to get you started on the path to turning your part time job into a full time job.

1. Listen to the boss.

You’re at a meeting, and your boss expresses a concern or unveils a new goal. Quietly start doing everything you can to show her serious results in making that goal a reality. As soon as you’ve got something to show, or some serious momentum, clue her in on your efforts. You may just blow the rest of the team out of the water.

2. Hustle.

Put a post-it on your desk, or, you know, a notification on your phone, that says “everyone else is working harder.” Let that scare you for a second, but don’t let it be true. If you want to rest on full-time laurels, you have to hustle 10x harder to achieve them. Come early, stay late, get involved. Prove that you’re an asset by working harder, doing more, and showing more results. How else do you think you’ll get hired for good?

3. Get creative.

Don’t just do your project, turn it in, and shut down until you get the next one. Don’t just focus on the one aspect of the company that lands in your lap on a part-time basis. Try thinking about how your piece of the puzzle fits in with the rest of the company, and try to keep the big picture in mind. If you can show not just the value of your own work, but that you have a good sense of the company as a whole, you’ll distinguish yourself among the other freelancers and temporary employees.

4. Be better than you are on paper.

Maybe your resume-worthy experience is kind of thin, but you really get what’s going on here, in this field or in this company. Prove it. Show you’re wise beyond your laundry list of accomplishments. Show your talent and your drive. If you prove yourself to be extra insightful, your boss won’t care what’s on your resume when it comes time to make hiring decisions.

5. Be proactive.

If you want to graduate to full-time, you should make your boss feel like you already are full-time. That means going above and beyond on every project, insinuating yourself into the most important discussions, proving that you’re already an asset and part of the team. Going the extra mile now will make it very easy for your boss to see you in that rosy full-time light when it’s time to make decisions.

6. Speak up.

Don’t just meekly submit your work. Submit your work with insightful feedback, or the great ideas you’ve got for how to help the company progress. Showing your investment in your team and the work you’re doing can go a long way toward getting you a full-time gig.

7. Sell it.

If you believe in the company, sell it. Get out on social media, spread the word. Be such a good spokesperson that the company is terrified to lose you, lest you focus your excellent attentions somewhere else. If you believe in them, they’ll believe in you. It’s mutually beneficial!

8. Teamwork.

Don’t just distinguish yourself and go about doing anything necessary to achieve your personal goals. Nobody likes a mercenary. Be a team player instead. Don’t just prove to your boss that you’re essential, make sure your team knows it as well. Stand together and you’ll be stronger for it.

9. Play the long game.

As much as possible, show long-term interest in the company’s strategy and goals for the future, and indeed the future of the industry. That means staying abreast of trends and innovations, and constantly engaging in how to advance the company in the field. Even if you don’t get this particular full-time gig, you’ll be an asset in the next place you look.

10. Self-start.

Come early, stay late, get involved. Don’t go to a meeting without having a few suggestions or ideas. Make an effort with every project, on every team. Show you’re more or less full-time already; hiring you permanently would be an inevitable formality. Sometimes it’s the little things and the extra above-and-beyond details that will really make a difference in how you’re valued.

Want to see how your resume stacks up? Try out our free critique today!

Note: This article originally appeared in TheJobNetwork

]]> 10 Ways to Turn Your Part Time Job Into a Full Time Job
11 Signs It’s Time for a New Job 2016-01-07 00:00:00 Does your job leave you feeling unmotivated? It may be time for a new job...

Is your career moving in the direction that you’d hoped? Do you still feel challenged, or do you face Sunday nights and Monday mornings with trepidation, hoping the days pass quickly so you can make it to the weekend?

Before you hand in your resignation, use this checklist to determine if now’s the time to change jobs or if you should try to make things work at your current place of employment.

Signs that something needs to change:

  • You work with unsupportive management and/or coworkers.

  • The commute requires all your free time.

  • The workload is growing and it’s impossible to do well.

  • There are limited opportunities to gain new skills, networks, expertise, or certifications.

  • You’re underpaid or the financial compensation isn’t enough to allow you to invest in yourself.

  • It’s a challenge to find and cultivate mentorships with those more experienced than you.

  • The position doesn’t provide intellectual stimulation or allow for risk-taking and you’re bored.

If you’re experiencing a number of these signs, it’s time to reevaluate your current situation. In some cases, a frank conversation with your boss may be the key to turning things around at your job. Remember, your manager can’t help you if you don’t let him or her know what’s going on. Brainstorm a list of solutions before you meet with your boss. Consider the following items to include in your negotiations:

  • An intern or other support staff.

  • A more flexible work schedule or the option to telecommute.

  • The opportunity to work on more challenging or cross-functional projects with other teams.

  • A raise or promotion with additional responsibilities.

  • A stipend for professional development opportunities.

  • Access to the company’s internal training programs.

Be prepared to support these requests with proof of the value you’ve brought to the company over the past year and/or the benefits these items would provide to the organization in the long run.

Unfortunately, not every situation can be fixed with a conversation. If you’re experiencing any of the signs below, it’s time to start looking for a new job before things get worse.  

Signs it’s time to find new work:

  • You dread going to work. If you’ve lost that enthusiasm and start each day with a horrible feeling in the pit of your stomach.

  • You’re not in the loop. It feels intentional that you’re the last to know what’s going on.

  • You’re a cultural misfit. You can’t shake the feeling that you just don’t fit in at the office.

  • You’re desperate to leave. You find yourself obsessively checking job boards for an opportunity - any opportunity - that would allow you to quit.

  • The company’s struggling. If the signs are there, it’s better to start looking before layoffs begin and everyone’s competing for the same positions.

  • Your boss is a disaster. Your boss knows less than you do or is not very good at their job – and they’re not going anywhere.

  • Your personal life is suffering. You have too many work commitments, not enough time with your family and friends, and it’s affecting your personal relationships.

  • Your job is making you sick. You’re stressed to the point that your work is causing health problems.

  • You receive a bad performance review. If your reviews are usually fine and this negative one is out of the blue, the company may be looking to get rid of people.

  • Your job description changes. You’re asked to do more – or you’re given responsibilities for which you’re not necessarily equipped to handle the best way – or you’re removed from a project or long-term assignment that you’ve been working on for a long time.

  • You’re being documented. You’re asked to document everything you do and/or train a backup – maybe management’s using you as an inexpensive way to train your replacement.

If you find yourself agreeing with one or more of the above items, it’s time to move on. Start looking for the right opportunity today so you can quit your job as soon as possible.

Click on the following link to view our infographic that will help you take the right next steps to improve your career.

Ready for a new career? Get started today.

]]> 11 Signs It’s Time for a New Job
11 Steps to Writing the Perfect Resume 2015-11-17 00:00:00 Your resume is only as good as the information you provide. Make sure you’re prepared with this list.

Looking for tips on how to write the perfect resume? Whether you’re planning to use a resume-writing service or give it a go on your own, it’s important to take some time to prepare for your resume rewrite. Your resume will only be as good as the information you or your writer has work with. Gather the following details ahead of time to craft a powerful document that effectively tells your story and markets your qualifications. [TWEET]

Contact information.

While this section may seem obvious, there are a few factors to consider. For instance, how will you display your name? Are you planning to use a nickname, such as Bob, or will you use your full name for the job search? Whichever you choose, make sure you consistently represent your name on all your personal branding materials such as your business cards, LinkedIn profile, and online portfolio or blog.

Select one email address and one phone number to include on your resume. I recommend setting up an email address that’s dedicated to your job-search activities and using your cell phone number on your resume, as this gives you the ability to control the voicemail message, who answers the phone, and when.

Online presence.

A Jobvite social recruiting survey found that 93 percent of recruiters will search for your online profiles before they decide to interview you. Save them some time by including the URL to your LinkedIn profile. Don’t have a LinkedIn profile yet? Check out this video tutorial by Lindsey Pollak for help creating your profile.

In addition to your LinkedIn account, the perfect resume should include any links that are relevant to your work, such as a personal website, portfolio, or blog. If your work involves social media, you may include the links to other social media accounts such as Twitter, Instagram, and so forth.

Sample job descriptions

When you're writing the perfect resume, it should be tailored to support a specific job goal. One of the best ways to ensure your resume is properly positioned is to identify sample jobs that you’re interested in and qualified to perform.

Search online and gather a few job postings that represent the type of position you’re targeting. It doesn’t matter if the location is ideal; for this purpose, you should only be concerned with the job description and its requirements.

Copy and paste the text of the description itself into a Word or Google document and then highlight or bold any requirements or desirable skills from the posting you possess. This will help you or your writer identify which of your qualifications should be showcased throughout the resume.

Technical skills and proficiencies

What technical platforms and tools are you proficient? List all that apply to your work. Be specific and as comprehensive as possible. This list can include anything from social media platforms to project management systems and computer languages. If you’ve worked with proprietary platforms, list those as well.

Need to brush up on a skill or tool that’s routinely popping up in the job descriptions you’re targeting? Check out edX, Coursera, and SkillShare for free or low-cost online courses.

Your professional experience.

Start with your most recent job and work your way backwards. The perfect resume should detail out all your professional positions within the past 15 years. If you served in the military or held a board position, list this experience as you would any other role in your work history. If you recently graduated from college, include your internships and any work experience that took place since you entered college.

For each role, list the following information:

  • Company Name and URL
  • Job Title: If your title is very specific to your organization, you can include a translation of sorts in parentheses next to your official job title.
  • Start and End Dates: Include the month and year for each of these dates.
  • Job Description: Think about your roles and responsibilities as they relate to your target role. This is especially important if you’d like to change careers. Include details such as how many people you managed or supervised, the territories you covered, etc.
  • Achievements: Brainstorm a list your accomplishments and major contributions that benefited the organization during your tenure. The number of achievements you provide will depend upon how long you remained in that role and how relevant it is to your current job goals. Quantify your accomplishments whenever possible; for instance, how did you help save the company money, generate revenue, improve customer satisfaction, increase productivity, and so forth?

If you have an existing resume, only include new details in this section. There’s no reason to repeat anything that already appears in your current resume.

Early career history

If you’ve been in the workforce for over 15 years, chances are you have a few positions that got left out of the previous section. Before you get started writing the perfect resume, make a list of the job titles you held, the names of each employer, the locations where you worked, and your dates of employment for these roles. While the dates will likely not get used in your resume, it’s good to have a clear record of your earlier experiences for the writer.

Volunteer work

Have you been actively volunteering with a non-profit organization? Skills-based volunteering (SBV) is a great way to fill an employment gap or supplement your work history when you’re trying to change careers.  Please list any volunteer work you’ve done that’s relevant to your current job goals in chronological order, beginning with your most recent work. If you’re new to the workforce, include any campus activities or clubs in which you were active.

A perfect resume should include the name of the organization and its website URL, the positions you held, your years of involvement, and your responsibilities and contributions to the non-profit. Looking for new volunteer opportunities? Visit sites such as Catchafire and VolunteerMatch.

Professional affiliations

List any relevant professional organizations or affiliations you’re a member of that aren’t listed on your resume. For each group, please list their name and URL, when you became a member, and any positions you’ve held. If you took an active role in the organization, describe your responsibilities and any notable achievements.

Interested in joining a new association? Check out WEDDLE’s Association Directory or research which groups your peers and managers belong to. You can often find this information on their LinkedIn profiles.

Language skills

Language skills can be a great selling point on your resume. If you’re multilingual, be sure to list each language you speak and your proficiency level.

Education and professional development

Create a record of all your education, beginning with your most recent degree. List the institution, its location, the name of your degree, your major and minor, your graduation year, and any honors associated with the degree, such as summa or magna cum laude. Do the same for any relevant certifications you’ve obtained or additional training opportunities or workshops you’ve attended.

Third-party feedback

Have you received positive customer testimonials or a great performance review? Include this information in your preparation materials. You or your resume writer may be able to work some of this information into your resume to demonstrate your hard and soft skills in the workplace.

While this may feel like a lot of work, by taking the time to examine your career now, you'll see the benefits in your future resume. A perfect resume is within reach!

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11 Things to Do During College to Help You Land a Job After College 2016-09-08 00:00:00 As a recent high school graduate or new college student, you might not want college graduation advice or to be thinking about your life after college just yet.

However, it's not too early to begin thinking about your future. You don't need to know exactly what you want to do when you grow up, but you can begin to consider your professional persona and also take steps to help you more easily land a job after your college graduation. [TWEET]

As a recent college graduate, you’ll be considered an entry-level employee. This title implies that you'll have little to no work experience on your resume. With that said, there are other activities you can participate in or focus on to add a bit of oomph to your resume that will catch a prospective employer's attention. You can also begin to connect with experienced professionals and address other factors employers look at, like social media activity, when making hiring decisions.

Below I've provided some college advice, ideas and tips to consider during your days on campus to help you land your dream job with more ease after your graduation. With a good dose of preparation and a dash of luck, you might even land your dream job prior to graduating, which is typically the goal.  

Join clubs and organizations.

One of our best pieces of college advice is to get involved! Participating in clubs and organizations is a great way to show initiative. If you join committees, even better, as it shows you can handle several responsibilities (club meetings, committee attendance, keeping the grades up) simultaneously. Once you enter the working world, you might find yourself in a similar situation, and employers will take this into consideration.

Find part-time work.

Many college students turn to part-time work to have some spending money or help pay for college expenses. Another advantage to part-time work is the fact that it shows future employers that you can hold down a job. It also shows you are responsible, and your supervisor could even act as a reference for future applications. Holding down a part-time job through college can help in getting a job after college. Employers who hire college students also understand you need a flexible schedule, so you won't need to stress about scheduling conflicts.

Start your own business or freelance.

Along the same lines as finding part-time work noted above, nothing shows initiative to a prospective employer like freelancing or starting your own business. If you have any skills, like graphic design or writing, you could make some extra cash using freelance sites like Direct sales companies like NYR Organics, Jafra, and Isagenix can also be a great way to make some extra cash while also adding to your work experience on your resume. Do your research, though, to determine what would work best for you and to avoid potential scams. For more ideas, consider reading: Ways to Earn Extra Cash Outside Your 9 to 5.

Volunteer or get involved with the community.

Going back to our getting involved college advice - start volunteering! It shows good effort, initiative, and responsibility if you choose to get involved with charity or community organizations. Employers also like to hire people who care about supporting and helping others, as you'll need to have such a perspective to work effectively in team environments.   

Keep your grades up.

Though grades aren't the only thing an employer looks at, having good grades does make landing a job easier in many cases. You don't need to graduate with honors to land a decent job, but grades do impact an employer's decision when you're first starting out as a new hire, largely because you have little to no work experience from which to base your performance potential.

Socialize and enjoy life.

Having a social life is as important as keeping the grades. Employers consider personality and emotional intelligence when it comes to cultural fit. Your life experiences also provide you with information to pull from during the interview process. At the same time, be responsible. A DUI or consequences from poor decisions and actions can have a negative impact on your future employment.

Identify leadership opportunities.

If you don't think it will add too much to your plate, consider a nomination for leadership roles, such as President or Secretary, for the clubs and organizations in which you participate. Prospective employers will notice this type of initiative on your resume, and the experience will also present you with more examples to pull from during your future application and interview process.


If you're in your later years of college, you've likely have chosen a major and can now identify industry-specific clubs and organizations to join and participate in. These are great networking resources to use for future opportunities, and you might even make friends that will be a part of your life for years to come. Networking online counts, too. It's not too early to create a professional LinkedIn profile, considering that almost 90 percent of employers hired an individual via LinkedIn per a 2014 Capterra report.

Mind your social media Ps and Qs.

Per a 2013 CareerBuilder report, almost half of all employers surveyed use social media to research candidates and reject many based on their social media activity, such as putting down current co-workers and companies, provocative photos, and more. Be mindful of your social media activity now to support you in getting a job after college. For more social media dos and don'ts, consider reading 20+ Social Media Do's and Don'ts Every College Grad Should Know.

Consider graduate school.

Many of us think we'll go back to get a graduate degree later, but life happens, and it's challenging to find the time. It can sometimes be easier to go straight through from undergrad to graduate school if you're inspired to do so. This is what I did, and it was the best decision I could have made as far as my education was concerned. It boosted my hire-ability and doubled my starting salary compared to what I would have been making with just an undergraduate degree.

In some instances, going to graduate school right after undergraduate school also supports those who would like to focus on a different major because they aren't in love with the discipline they chose as an undergrad (keeping in mind that some graduate degrees do require a certain type of undergraduate degree or course requirements to be accepted).

Utilize your school's Career Counseling Center.

Most colleges have some type of Career Counseling or Employment support center to help students create resumes, cover letters, and apply for positions. Take advantage of it if your school has one. Many departments also bring in employers for students to interview with. This is how I landed my graduate internship and first job out of graduate school. Even if you're not interested in a particular employer, it can be worth it to apply to interview with them for the experience of going through the interview process; you'll be better equipped to interview with the employers you do want to work for.  

It will pay off down the road even if you choose just one or two of the pieces of college advice in this list and take action during your college years. Doing so will put you ahead of the game when it comes to your competition during what can be a daunting job search process.

Want to see how your resume stacks up? Try out our free critique today!

Photo credit: college.library/Flickr

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12 Holiday Gift Ideas for Job Seekers 2015-12-07 00:00:00 We’ve compiled a list of the perfect gifts for every job seeker in your life. [TWEET]

The job search can be a lonely and overwhelming process. This holiday season, show the job seekers in your life that you care by providing a thoughtful gift that is sure to bring some much-needed cheer. Below is a list of practical gift ideas that will fit any budget.

Resume & Cover Letter

A study by TheLadders found that the average recruiter spends six seconds reviewing a resume before deciding if the candidate is a fit for the job. In today’s job market, it’s essential for professionals to have a top-notch resume that tells their career story, captures the hiring manager’s attention, and ensures their application will make it past the electronic gatekeepers. Invest in your loved one’s success by purchasing a resume rewrite through services like TopResume. Packages range from $99 to $349. Click on the following link to learn how you can help your loved one land their dream job.

Business Cards

All job seekers should own a set of business cards with their personal contact information so they can capitalize on every networking opportunity. Arm your loved ones with this important, yet often overlooked, personal branding tool. You can order gift cards from providers such as Moo and Jukebox, ranging from $25 to $100 in value.

Interview Wardrobe

In a perfect world, the most qualified candidate would always land the job. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world. Experts agree that everything from one’s clothing and grooming habits to hygiene and hair style can impact a professional’s candidacy, whether they’re looking for a new job or vying for a promotion.

Help the loved ones in your life make the right first impression with prospective employers by purchasing a new interview outfit to upgrade their personal brand. If you’re unsure what type of company they’re targeting in their job search, play it safe and purchase gift card with a major retailer such as Macy's.

Commuting Credit

When you’re commuting to job interviews and networking events, the traveling costs can add up. Set off some of these expenses by purchasing a gas card, subway pass or other transportation voucher. This practical gift will surely be appreciated by your active job seeker.

LinkedIn Profile

A recent study by Jobvite found that 87 percent of recruiters are using LinkedIn to recruit candidates, and 93 percent will review a candidate’s social media profile before making a hiring decision. If you’re looking for a job, it pays to have a well-written LinkedIn profile that supports your resume and tells a consistent story about your job goals and qualifications. Improve your loved one’s chances of landing their dream job by purchasing a professional LinkedIn profile through services such as TopResume. Their Executive Priority package includes a resume rewrite and a LinkedIn makeover for $350.

Coffee Shop Gift Card

I frequently recommend that my clients set up informational interviews to learn more about an industry, company, or career path that interests them. These meetings usually consist of the job seeker asking a new connection out for a cup of coffee to pick their brain for information and guidance. Help subsidize these valuable meetings by purchasing a gift card at Starbucks or another local coffee shop they’re sure to frequent during the job search.


Did you know that you’re ten times more likely to accomplish your goals when you write them down? Help those in your life meet their career aspirations and get an extra boost of motivation with a fun journal such as the “It’s Gonna Be Okay Guided Inner-Truth Journal,” the “Make It Happen Motivational Quote Journal,” and “Start Where You Are: A Journal for Self-Exploration.” These items range between $9 and $12.

Membership to Professional Organizations

Studies have shown that candidates whose job applications include an employee referral are ten times more likely to land the job. Help those on your gift list make those valuable connections by paying for their membership into a relevant professional association. WEDDLE’s provides a comprehensive association directory that will make it easy for your loved one to identify the right group for them. Alternatively, have your gift recipient take a look at the LinkedIn profiles of their managers or peers to see which groups they belong to.

Coaching Services

If you know someone who’s struggling with their job search, a career coach may be the perfect gift.  Depending upon who you hire and what your loved one needs, this professional can act as a sounding board, an educator, and a great motivator. Do your research to find a reputable coach that meets your loved one’s needs. A good place to start is at The Five O’Clock Club. Prices range between $150 and $250 an hour.

Professional Skills

If the job seeker in your life is interested in making a major career change or industry switch, it may be necessary for them to invest in professional development opportunities to fill certain skill gaps. Help your loved one become a more attractive candidate by investing in their learning opportunities. These days, professionals don’t need to leave the comfort of their homes to hone new skill sets. Consider purchasing a membership to ($25 per month or $240 for the year) or SkillShare ($10 per month or $96 for the year) to increase their knowledge. Both services offer a free trial to start.

Stress Relief

Anyone who’s ever searched for a job knows how stressful the process can be. Help your loved one unwind with a massage. You can purchase a gift card for Massage Envy, which can be used in any of their more than 1,000 locations throughout the U.S. Prices range between $70 and $130, depending upon the length of the massage.

Get a little creative and put together a gift basket full of stress-relieving face masks, candles, and bath oils. Origins has a great line of relaxation and stress-relief products to choose from, ranging from $12 to $45.

Stuff your loved one’s stocking with a stress ball for $4 or add a little humor to your gift package by including a Dammit Stress Doll ($15) from Spilsbury to provide them with an outlet for their job-search frustration.

Briefcase or Portfolio

No one wants to arrive at a job interview carrying their resume in a beat-up, old shoulder bag or a portfolio that’s falling apart. Help your job seeker polish off their look with a new bag or portfolio. Overstock has a great selection of briefcases, portfolios, and other work bags that will work for just about anyone on your list. Need more help picking out the picking out the perfect bag? Check out Business Insider’s list of the best bags for guys to carry to work and Woman’s Day’s guide to shopping for the perfect work bag.

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13 of the Smartest Questions to Ask a Hiring Manager 2016-08-30 00:00:00 Whether you are looking for your first job or are a seasoned professional, a positive impression during the interview is key to getting an offer.

Great questions during the interview are a powerful way to showcase your professionalism, thoughtfulness and commitment. [TWEET] Unfortunately, many candidates trail off when it comes to questions to ask a hiring manager.

In my experience, that blunder is due to either lack of preparation, or the stress of the interview. How do you set yourself up for success? Keep in mind that the best questions are ones that emerge naturally from the conversation. You may find it helpful to jot down notes that can prompt your questions to ask in an interview. Brainstorming beforehand and coming in with a few prepared questions can be effective, as well.

I want you to end the interview in a powerful and impactful way. Here are some questions to inspire your own brainstorming session.

1. What is the history of this position?

This is an important question to ask in an interview, because if you are offered the job, you will have to work in the environment affected and shaped by your predecessor.

Perhaps this opening was recently created to support company growth. If that is the case, ask a follow up question about who owned the responsibilities up to this point, and how the duties will be transitioned.

If you are interviewing for a position left vacant by someone’s departure, get a sense for what happened. Why did the predecessor leave the job? Was he or she promoted or internally transferred? If the predecessor left the company, ask about the circumstances.

On the same note, it is usually fair game to clarify whether the company is considering internal candidates for the position.

2. What about this position is most important? How does it support management and serve direct reports?

This is an important question to ask in an interview because it can help you get insight into the position, and how it fits into the network of the company. Who will you support? Who will you supervise and guide? What skills are critical for success?

3. What would you want to see the candidate accomplish in the first 6 months?

All too often, job descriptions present routine tasks and responsibilities. Asking about specific expectations and accomplishments can allow you to tailor the conversation to demonstrate your fit for the position. It also shows your commitment to adding value.

4. How would you measure my success, and what could I do to exceed your expectations?

I like this question, because it addresses expectations in concrete terms. Beyond stock descriptions of good communication and analytical skills, what does excellence look like for that position?

5. Which part of the position has the steepest learning curve? What can a candidate do in order to get up to speed quickly?

For some jobs, learning the technology or the internal company procedures is the most challenging aspect of coming on board. For others, it is about understanding the human network. Any guidance on how to speed up the learning process and make you effective and productive quicker can give you a significant advantage.

6. What are the expectations about managing workflow?

Virtually every company has enough work to keep everyone busy 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In practice, everyone gets to go home at the end of the day. How do you know when you are done for the day? What are the expectations around working on weekends, and responding to emails outside the normal working hours?

7. How is the feedback process structured?

Asking this question in an interview has been critical for me as a candidate. Feedback is how humans get better. Excellence and mastery have always been important to me, and I am aware that they are impossible without regular feedback. Does this company limit its feedback cycle to the annual reviews? Does the hiring manager make it a priority to deliver just-in-time acknowledgment and suggestions for improvement?

8. What opportunities will I have to learn and grow?

Does the company offer formal or informal mentoring and coaching? Does it invest in continued education or professional training? Great companies want to hire people who are dedicated to personal and professional growth. Show your hiring manager that continued development is important to you.

9. What is the most challenging part of your job? What is your favorite part of your job?

Your hiring manager’s job is different from the one you are interviewing for. However, insight into his or her challenges and favorites can offer a glance into the support and assistance you can offer.

10. How did you get to your role?

Asking deeply personal or intrusive questions won’t get you high marks on the interview. However, most professionals enjoy sharing their career journey. Ask what first attracted the hiring manager to this company, and what the career progression has been like.

11. Do you have the tools and resources to do your job well?

Asking this question in an interview can give you insight into the challenges the hiring manager has in doing his or her job. Resources trickle down, so if the hiring manager is pressed for time, dealing with an unusually tight budget, or is short on human capital, you will be affected as well.

12. Do you feel that your opinions count?

Having an opportunity to contribute is one of the key indicators of job satisfaction and team performance. If your hiring manager feels heard, appreciated, and valued for his or her input, chances are the same will translate into your position.

13. Is there anything I have said that makes you doubt I would be a great fit for this position?

Asking this question at the close of the interview can feel terrifying. After all, you are asking whether there is any reason why the hiring manager wouldn’t want to extend you an offer. However, if you have the courage to ask this, you stand to gain a better sense for the next steps in the process, and an opportunity to address any reservations that the hiring manager might have about your candidacy – while you still have his or her attention.

Having considered some of the questions that can put you in the best light and close the interview on a high note, here is a short list of questions that you should never ask in an interview.

  1. Anything that can be found through a simple Google search. “What does your company do?” or “Who is your competition?” make you look like you did not do your research, and are not serious about your candidacy.

  2. Gossip. If you have heard something through the grapevine that makes you doubt the company’s financial strength, ask your question in a non-confrontational way. Instead of “Why are you about to lay off 1,000 employees next month?” ask the hiring manager for his or her opinion about how well positioned the company is for the future.

  3. Pay, raises, promotions. All of that will be discussed as part of the offer process. It’s best to avoid questions that make you look too cocky, or paint the picture of someone who makes the decision based primarily on money.

  4. Background checks. Assume that the company will go through the background checks as part of the pre-offer due diligence. Asking this question makes you look like you are nervous because you have something to hide.

  5. Email or social media monitoring. Assume that the company monitors network usage in some way. The Internet has a long memory, and written comments have a way of getting around. Play it safe and don’t use the company’s network in ways that can make you look unprofessional.  

  6. Deeply personal or invasive questions. You don’t want to make the interviewer feel uncomfortable or defensive.

Want to see how your resume stacks up? Try out our free critique today!

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14 Reasons this is a Perfect Recent College Grad Resume 2016-05-23 00:00:00 Writing a resume is tough. Creating your first professional resume ever is even more of a challenge. If you’re unsure where to start or what to include in your entry-level college grad resume, we’re here to help!

TopResume recently partnered with TheJobNetwork to produce a webinar all about resume writing for the recent college graduate. Click on the following link to listen to a resume-writing webinar for the entry-level professional and check out a sample resume below to help craft the perfect resume for your job search.

Perfect college graduate resume

Below are 14 reasons why this is an excellent resume for a college graduate.

1. He used a professional-looking email address.

The email address may have been funny when you were in college, but it’s not the best choice to represent your professional brand in the working world. Do yourself a favor and set up a professional-looking email address that’s reserved for your job-seeking activities.

2. It includes a customized link to his LinkedIn profile.

Not only is LinkedIn a great place to build your professional brand and make connections, but recruiters expect to find you on there.  In fact, a survey found that more than 90 percent of employers use LinkedIn to search for and evaluate job candidates. Make it easy for them to find you by including the link to your profile at the top of your resume. Take it a step further and customize your LinkedIn profile URL so it matches your brand and fits nicely on your resume.

3. The professional summary isn’t full of fluff.

It can be tempting to throw a bunch of buzzwords such as “ambitious” and “self-starter” into the summary section of your college grad resume, but employers know these are pure fluff and won’t be impressed when they read them. Don’t tell employers how you’re a great team player. Instead, explain how you worked in a team to raise money for your lacrosse team or received accolades for a group project during your internship. Click on the following link for more tips to craft your professional summary.

4. Nicolas optimized his resume with relevant keywords.

Your job application needs to get past multiple gatekeepers before it makes it into the hands of a hiring manager. Take a look at the job listings you’re interested in and identify the key terms and phrases that routinely pop up. If you have those skills or were exposed to that industry or process, incorporate them into your resume. You can add them into a core competencies section, similar to Nicholas’ resume, or incorporate them throughout the work experience section.

5. There aren’t any mentions of high school.

Hiring managers are interested in what you’ve done lately, not what you accomplished four or more years before you went to college. Focus on highlighting your activities, accomplishments and the work experience that took place during your college career, calling special attention to anything that directly supports your job goals.

6. He lists his GPA.

Only list your GPA on your entry-level resume if it’s a 3.0/4.0 or higher. If the GPA in your major is higher than your overall GPA, feel free to use that instead. However, keep in mind that employers will know why you didn’t include the GPA and may ask you about it during the interview process.

7. Nicholas didn’t include his course work.

If you’ve held at least one internship that’s relevant to your degree and career goals, there’s no reason to also include a list of the courses you took. Employers will value your internship experience over the stuff you learned in the classroom any day of the week. However, if you did not intern, include a list of the 400-level courses you took that are most closely tied to your job goals to show hiring managers what subjects you’re familiar with.

8. It plays up Nicholas’ selling points.

The format of your entry-level college grad resume will depend upon the information you have to work with. If you have a ton of great internship experience, highlight that just below your professional summary and education sections. If you didn’t hold any jobs that were related to your future career, play up other information instead, such as the high-level courses you took or major projects you participated in, academic or athletic honors you received, or extra-curricular activities that demonstrate your leadership skills. In Nicholas’ case, we divided his experience into two categories so his relevant internships took the spotlight.  

9. Each employer has a company description.

Help employers get a better understanding of the industries and work environments you were exposed to by including a line that describes each company with which you held an internship. If you’re tight on space, feel free to eliminate this information for your summer jobs that aren’t related to your current career goals. You can also omit this information from your internships if they were all held at companies with big, well-known brand names.

10. Nicholas bulleted the most important information.

Use bullet points to draw attention to the information you believe recruiters will care most about. This may include an accomplishment or other major contribution you helped your team achieve.

11. Action verbs are used to describe his work experience.

Notice how the bullets under Nicholas’ roles begin with an action verb? This information focuses on how Nicholas contributed to an end result. When you’re new to the workforce, you may not have many major accomplishments and contributions to include in your resume; however, use action verbs (i.e. created, led, managed, improved, developed, built) to describe your activities.

12. His extracurricular activities and honors are provided.

Your first resume out of college should play up your best selling points. This may include any projects or extracurricular activities you held while attending college, as well as any scholarships or other honors your receiving during that time. Click on the following link for more tips on how to build a resume using college involvement as experience.  

13. Nicholas’ relevant skills are listed.

Take a closer look at the job descriptions that interest you and note what technical skills they expect you to possess. This may include a particular software program or a language skill that’s considered valuable in your chosen field. If you have a working knowledge of these platforms, list them on your resume. If you keep seeing a skill or tool mentioned that you don’t know much about, look for free or low-cost online courses on the topic to bolster your skill set. Resources such as edXSkillShare, and are a great place to start.

14. References are not included.

As an entry-level professional, you only get one page of resume real estate – don’t waste it by adding references or the phrase, “References available upon request.” Employers usually won’t ask for this information until you make it to a face-to-face interview, and they know you’ll provide it if they request it.

Looking for more samples and advice? Click on the following links to check out a recording of our recent resume-writing webinar and take a look at another recent college graduate resume sample I wrote for Business Insider.

Need help with your resume? Take advantage of our free critique today!

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15 Free Resources to Improve Presentation and Public Speaking Skills 2016-11-28 00:00:00 It's common for all of us to have to present or speak in front of others at some point in our careers.

It might be for small events like a team meeting, or larger events like company employee meetings, or even larger events like a conference for which your company requested you to present. For me, it didn't matter if I was presenting in front of five people or 500, I still got those butterflies in the pit of my stomach. Plus, my nerves presented in a physical way—my face and chest turned beet red! When your face turns red, it's kind of hard to hide the fact that you're nervous, and eventually, I just had to get used to it.

With time and practice on my public speaking skills, however, I've gotten better at presenting and speaking in front of crowds, and so can you, with the help of professional development resources. Even if you don't speak or present in front of others regularly, honing your presentation and speaking skills can help you advance in your career when the moment arises to give an acceptance speech, during an interview, or when teaching a class.

Yes, I understand that public speaking and presenting is one of the most nerve-racking things for people to do, and several studies support this. In fact, per the Psychology Today article, "The Thing We Fear More than Death," studies show we fear public speaking more than death (as the title implies).

However, if you focus on your end goal of improving your public speaking skills and the fact that you're among co-workers that generally want you to succeed at work, then it makes presenting easier. Plus, there are several very cool and free (or low-cost) professional development resources available to help you hone in on your presentation and speaking skills, many of which I've shared below.  

1. Toastmasters International.

Toastmasters has been helping people become better presenters and speakers for years. It's worth it to see if there's a local Toastmasters class in your area. They also offer a lot of other professional development resources like free tips—from accepting awards to creating sales pitches—on their Public Speaking Tips page.

2. Garr Reynolds.

Garr Reynolds is a speaker and best-selling author of the award-winning Presentation Zen, The Naked Presenter, and Presentation Zen Design. His website offers a lot of free presentation tips and information. His site, Presentation Zen, has a blog with great tips and resources for public speaking and presenting, as well.

3. Networking events.

At many networking events, you're asked to give a quick elevator pitch of what you do. This can be a great, inexpensive way to overcome nerves and fear due to speaking in front of people. The more you practice on your public speaking skills, the better you'll be. Not to mention, you'll have an opportunity to network with like-minded individuals, as well.

4. WordStream.

WordStream is an online advertising and search marketing firm. Their blog, 20 Ways to Improve Your Presentation Skills, offers some valuable tips, from how much information to present to ways to actively engage your audience.  

5. TED Talks.

You're likely familiar with TED's slogan, "Ideas worth spreading."  TED has grown in popularity in recent years, and many cities now have a local TED event. To study and hone your presentation and public speaking skills, I suggest watching TEDTalk videos and attending a TED event if you can.

6. MindTools.

MindTools’ career development organization's blog, "Better Public Speaking," offers some good insights into the importance of presenting and how to become better at it. Their communication skills page also offers a lot of free information on how to be a better communicator, which ties into presenting and public speaking.

7. Self-evaluation.

A great, low-cost way to improve your speaking and presentation skills is to have a friend record you on camera in front of a practice audience, or even solo will work. This will help you to see what your body language says about you, how your voice sounds, the types of expressions you make, and more. Practice makes for improvement.

8. American Rhetoric.

American Rhetoric has a lot of free speeches and information. Their online speech bank has more than 5,000 speeches you can listen to for free, including speeches from John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr.! Listening to great public speakers can help you improve your own public speaking skills.

9. Coursera's University of Washington intro to public speaking course.

I love Coursera with all of their free courses and professional development resources, some of which offer certificates upon completion. In the Intro to Public Speaking Course, you'll learn everything from speech preparation to mastering impromptu speeches. The six-week course can be taken at any time and is taught by University of Washington Department of Communications Instructor, Dr. Matt McGarrity.

10. Portent.

Portent is a Digital Marketing Firm. Their blog, 3 Surprising Ways to Instantly Improve Your Public Speaking Skills, has some good insights as to what you're doing wrong and how to fix it when speaking in front of an audience (such as voice speed, and so on).

11. Ginger Public Speaking.

Ginger is a firm that supports individuals in becoming better public speakers, as they boast "we turn communicators from nervous wrecks into public speaking leaders." They have a great page with FREE professional development resources you can utilize, including a free course and free book download.  

12. AllTop.

AllTop is an online magazine that allows you to filter topics to create your own AllTop magazine. The AllTop Speaking page has a large collection of Public Speaking and Presentation resources to peruse.

13. The Public Speaking Project.

The Public Speaking Project offers a range of tools to support users in improving their public speaking skills. The information is offered by "a variety of speech professionals who are dedicated to providing free and low-cost instructional materials..." You'll find a free virtual classroom, e-book, and more on their site.

14. The Accidental Communicator.

Dr. Jim Anderson shares his wealth of knowledge on his blog to help individuals communicate and speak more effectively. You can also sign up for his free newsletter.

15. Ignite.

With a mission of "everyone speaks," Ignite helps people build public speaking skills while having fun by giving them five minutes to present 20 slides. Events occur throughout the country and around the world.  

Presenting and public speaking are highly sought after skills, yet unpleasant to many. If you're one of those people who would rather die than speak or present in front of a crowd, hopefully, these professional development resources will help. For some additional free resources to support your speaking and presentation skills, I highly recommend reading the Inc. article, "Nine Places to Learn Public Speaking for Free," by Larry Kim.

Need help with your resume? Take advantage of our free critique today!

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15 Project Management Tips and Tricks for New Project Managers 2017-03-24 00:00:00 Can you manage it? Of course you can.

Many people start out in their careers as a Project Manager, though in many cases, it takes time to earn the trust and responsibility that comes with such a position. If you've been given the title of Project Manager (PM), congratulations! You've earned it. And if you haven't been given the responsibility yet, there's a good chance you will be at some point if you want to advance in your career.

Now all you need to do is get clear on how you can maximize the resources available to you and hone in on the necessary skill sets to rock it in the project management world.

Project Management adds value to your resume.

There are lots of positives to being a Project Manager. As a project manager, you will gain tons of valuable on-the-job experience for future roles and positions, including–but not limited to:

  • Leadership skills

  • Learning to delegate

  • Effective communication

  • Goal setting and results

  • Exposure to leadership teams within or external to the company  

  • How to work with different personalities within the same group

  • Problem-solving

  • Learning new project management software

Seems like a lot? The good news is that it adds amazing value to your resume through a wide variety of skills. Here are some additional project management tips and tricks that may help you succeed:

Tips for successful Project Management.

Know all the project details up front. Get clear on all the project details up front so you can map out a plan without surprises down the road.

Get clear on what's needed in priority order. This will then help you to set clear and measurable goals mentioned next. It will also help you to identify what can be taken care of early on, and on what you need to get a head start, so you don't have a last-minute disaster.

Set clear and measurable goals. After you're clear on the project criteria, set goals and milestones that are reasonable, but timely and efficient.

Go with the flow. Change happens throughout a project, so do some yoga or breathing courses to help you manage the stress that can come with the changes that come with a project.

Take a course and get certified. Getting certified as a project manager might make sense if you want to hone your skills as a project manager. You might be more attractive to companies, as well. You'll want to weigh out the pros and cons of whether or not it's worth it to you. Do you have the time and money?

At the same time, you might work with a company that will support you in getting it, so go for it.

Become a part of the team. You will want to lead your team as well as serve your team. By being a team player, they will see you as willing to put in the work, and you'll get a lot more out of your team as a whole.

Be proactive. Before the project begins, look for holes or areas that might be a challenge. You can bring these to the attention of those overseeing the project and attempt to come up with solutions to avoid an issue before it hits. When issues happen—and they will on almost any project—because you've been proactive from the beginning, problem-solving an issue will be much easier as it moves along.  

Know your project management software like its your best friend. The software that you'll be using to either manage or launch your project is your best friend. Know it inside and out, and ask for training for all team members before the project even begins. You'll also want to look for software that has a strong support team in case you need it when you're in a jam or bind.

If you're trying to decide what project management software will work best, ask other Project Managers what they prefer. Or check out these Top 2016 Project Management Software programs.

Utilize a mentor. I recommend identifying and forging a relationship with a mentor to help you with various facets of your career. A good PM mentor can help you keep your cool when things go wrong, help you problem solve, cultivate a team, and more.

Know your customer. A good project manager will take the time to sit down with their customer more than once to get clear on their needs and how they communicate best. By doing so, the PM can put a plan in place to meet expectations for both internal and external customers.

Get to know your team. The more you take the time to get to know the players on your team with care, the more willing they'll be to go the extra mile for you when it's needed. It' also helps you to understand how each player communicates, operates and what their strong skills are so that you can delegate accordingly.

You want to give tasks to those you know will be competent and timely in getting them finished

Embrace leadership. As a project manager, you will be looked to for guidance and leadership in how to get the project to the finish line. The example you set will trickle down to the rest of the team.

Evaluate the project upon completion. You can learn a lot for your next project by taking note of what worked and what didn't work with your current project.

Not everyone loves being a Project Manager, and that's okay. Whether you love it or not, it can be a good experience to manage at least one project to see if it's a fit for you.

Let TopResume help you write the next chapter of your career. Here’s how.

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15 Sales Job Interview Questions to Prepare For 2016-03-02 00:00:00 Before you apply to another sales job, make sure you’re prepared to answer these common sales job interview questions. [TWEET]

Each year, more sales professionals lose potential employment opportunities for one reason over any other: because they are ill-prepared for the interview - that includes being unqualified, unintelligent or incapable.   

As a sales candidate, chances are that you have great ideas and a clear vision. Unfortunately, if you can’t convey that vision in a simple, direct and concise manner during the job interview, a hiring manager won’t perceive you as credible.

To ensure you come across in the best light possible during an interview, preparation is nothing short of imperative, especially for common interview questions for a sales position.

Whether it be for an entry-level position or a director of sales role, readiness can and will make or break an interview. It can be the differentiator between a lucrative job offer or potentially embarrassing meeting.

It’s not lack of preparation, rather it’s…

Often, when an interview performance is not up to snuff, it is not a result of lack of preparation, but rather a result of the wrong preparation.

Frequently, sales applicants will inaccurately predict the sales job interview questions that will be asked during the job interview, rendering their research a waste of time.  

However, when you can anticipate what will be asked, you possess a great advantage.

Aside from increased confidence and focus, knowing what an interviewer will ask will enable you to prepare answers in a manner which both highlights your strengths and remains relevant to the needs of the hiring manager.

Because knowing what to prepare is as important as preparing itself, our recruiters have listed 15 questions every sales professional should be prepared to answer during an interview.

Answering the sales job interview questions that matter

It is highly difficult to predict the exact questions a recruiter or interviewer will ask during an interview; however, if they are thorough and understand business development, job seekers can anticipate that they will be asked some form of the following 15 sales job interview questions.  

  1. What did you sell?

  2. What was the average dollar amount per sale?

  3. How did you find your prospects?

  4. What was your quota? Did you meet or exceed your quota in the past few quarters? Why or why not?

  5. What was the average length of a sales cycle? (e.g. sales cycle = the length of time it takes to close a contract from initial correspondence with a lead)

  6. Who were your primary contacts within an organization? (e.g. who or what division would you sell that product to within that company ex: Director of Finance, CFO or Engineering Team)

  7. What industries do you have experience selling into?

  8. What formal sales training do you have?

  9. How would you describe your sales style?

  10. What, if any, assistance did you have during the sales cycle? (e.g. sometimes technical-related sales will have sales engineers assist with the closing of the sale due to its complexity)

  11. Was the selling done face to face, by phone or a combination of the two?

  12. How much travel was required in order to meet your goals?

  13. Have you ever managed a sales team?

  14. How familiar are you with our products and why do you feel you can sell them?

  15. What hurdles did you often encounter during the sales process and what strategies did you employ to overcome those obstacles?

In the end

The overwhelming majority of sales interviews are either won or lost prior to the meeting. Knowing how to prepare and what to focus on will lay the ground for a winning job search.

Hire a TopResume writer to help you land more interviews, faster.

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17 Free Educational, Management and Leadership Training Resources 2016-09-21 00:00:00 Regardless of where you are in your career, there's never a wrong time to pursue management and leadership training. [TWEET]

If you aspire to be a manager or leader of an organization one day, then training and further educating yourself will help you get ahead of the curve. If you're already a manager or leader of an organization, then training and continuing to educate yourself can help you hone your skills and learn new ideas and approaches.

There are numerous high-quality leadership resources to choose from when it comes to upping your leadership game without breaking the bank. Below are several free leadership resources that provide information, resources, or training, or a combination of the above. Some of the free management and leadership training courses might require you to provide your information to receive the free reports and several listed also have paid services and training options. If you work for a company that's open to employee development, you might consider talking to your manager to see if the company would cover the cost of any paid training or fee-based services in which you're interested.

1. MHI Global.

MHI has a "Knowledge Center" with lots of free content, including leadership and management blogs, eBooks, case studies, white pages, and more focused on leadership development and training. This Creating a World Class Support Team download is just one example from their database.

2. John Spence.

John Spence is one of American Management's Leaders to Watch and has several other awards and recognitions attached to his name. He landed a CEO position by the time he was 26 and is the author of several books, including Awesomely Simple, Excellence by Design, and the Strategies for Life Success workbook. His leadership blog is filled with tips and insights.

3. DDI World.

DDI World's blog and leadership resources page is filled with free blogs, articles, and downloads focused on leadership and forward-thinking innovation.

4. i4CP.

i4CP (Institute for Corporate Productivity) offers several Complimentary HR & Talent Research Reports that are downloadable in PDF form. The company has been mentioned in the Wall Street Journal and HR Executive.  

5. Interaction Associates.

Interaction Associates is an organization supporting leaders and teams using "The Interaction Method." They share a lot of free information from their Insights page, including videos and blogs geared towards leadership development.

6. Klemmer & Associates.

Klemmer & Associates shares leadership and character development tips and info for free on their blog. They also offer paid leadership and development seminars and training in high-intensity settings over a two to four day period. The training includes simulations and exercises that allow participants to see current patterns and thought processes that might be preventing personal success and optimal results.

7. Seth Godin.

Forward-thinker Seth Godin's following has steadily increased on social channels for the past few years. Some might consider his posts unconventional to a degree, but they're always short and to the point with words of wisdom and knowledge. His leadership blog has more than 2,500 posts (and counting), and he has authored at least 18 books. He also offers free ebooks and additional content on his Free Stuff page.

8. HubSpot.

Though not exactly a leadership-specific content or training provider, HubSpot does offer a lot of free reports geared towards online marketing and sales trends that many leaders are interested in knowing.

9. People Equation.

People Equation by Jennifer V. Miller focuses on workplace dynamics and provides a lot of free leadership training content and resources on her blog and web page. She offers a list of 25 Free Leadership Development Resources on her site, a few of which overlap with what I've shared here.  

10. Random Acts of Leadership.

Random Acts of Leadership by Susan Mazza is a leadership blog that focuses on the personal and intangible side of leadership, which I find great leaders know how to hone in on (and understand the importance of doing so).

11. AMA.

The AMA (American Management Association) offers several fee-based training and seminars to hone in on a number of management and leadership skills. They also offer several free leadership resources for individuals, including Podcasts and Articles and White Pages.

12. Tom Peters.

Tom Peters is a well-known and raved about thought-leader. He offers lots of free leadership and management content on his Manifestos page.   

13. TopResume.

Though much of the content on TopResume is geared towards managing your career in general, this type of information is still important in moving forward as a leader and climbing the ladder. There's also great content that speaks specifically to management and leadership topics.

14. Dan McCarthy.

Dan McCarthy has a blog, Great Leadership by Dan that incorporates posts from several thought-provoking leaders. He also has The Great Leadership and Succession Planning eBook available for purchase, offers speaking and consulting services, and has his own list of favorite leadership and HR blogs that you can refer to on his Blogroll.

15. SHRM.

Though HR isn't the most loved topic of conversation for many, it's an important part of managing and leading people. SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) is the leader in providing up-to-date HR information and trends, and the organization also provide resources geared towards leadership and management training for a fee. There's a lot of free content and news on their homepage if you scroll to the bottom of the page.

16. Integrity HR.

Integrity HR has a blog with some valuable information about HR and employee relations, as well.

17. Business schools and colleges.

This is a general one, but many colleges offer quality training. Do an online search for colleges in your area to see what type of leadership development training classes they might offer to the public.

My motto is: never stop expanding your knowledge and learning new things. Management and leadership can be very rewarding services to provide during your career, and the more open and prepared you are, the better.

The list above could go on and on with great resources for management and leadership development training.  Consider adding one new resource a month or quarter to review as part of your daily education, or do your own research and add your favorites to the list. You own your career development, and it's not too early to take the initiative now to be a great leader for the future.

Need help with your resume? Take advantage of our free critique today!

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17+ Job Resources for College Graduates 2016-05-26 00:00:00 If you can’t wait to launch your career, but are unsure of where to start, here are some great new graduate job resources to take advantage of. [TWEET]

Congratulations! You are a soon-to-be or recent graduate well on your way to conquering the "real world," part of which includes launching your career by landing your dream job by starting your recent grad job search. With all that positive excitement, you might also be filled with apprehension, nervous butterflies in the pit of your stomach, and a bit of wonder as to how long it will be before you land your first job. This is understandable given the unpredictability of the job search process.

Lucky for you, a report by Audivsor showed that 2015 saw the most job openings since 2007, as reported by The Undercover Recruiter. With a bit of effort, due diligence, patience, and planning on your part; you'll land the right job to launch your career soon enough. Below are some valuable job resources for college graduates to support you on your path to finding your dream job.

USA Jobs - If you're looking to get your foot into the government sector, USA Jobs Pathways for Interns and Recent Graduates is a great place to start.

After College - I wish After College was around when I graduated from college. It's a great resource for recent graduates, with a mission to "help every college student and recent graduate discover their career path." They boast more than 400,000 internships and entry-level jobs from more than 25,000 employers. You go to their site, enter your school, select your major and graduation date, and search. You can also search for graduate events and scholarship opportunities on their site.

College Recruiter - College Recruiter is similar to job search sites such as Monster and CareerBuilder mentioned below, but focuses on entry-level jobs for recent graduates.

Start Jobs - Start Jobs is another job resource for college graduates geared toward entry-level candidates. If you scroll to the bottom of the homepage, there's a link that will allow you to search by University or college. This feature allows for students and recent graduates to find jobs close to their University if it's listed.

Traditional job search boards - Job search boards such as Monster, CareerBuilder & Indeed have been around for a while, and though not entry-level specific, can still be a good resource to find entry-level jobs throughout the world. They also offer other free services for job seekers, such as the handy salary calculator.

LinkedIn - LinkedIn is the top professional social networking site, so it's a great new graduate job resource to help you land your first job, as well as future jobs. Per the Undercover Recruiter, 93 percent of employers use LinkedIn for recruiting, so be sure to build a complete and professional looking profile before you begin connecting with others.

LinkedIn also has a page dedicated to LinkedIn Entry-Level job postings where you can narrow down your search by selecting specific search criteria. You can also set up job notifications to be sent to your inbox.

Personal social networking sites - Social networking sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, can also be good resources to find your new job by researching companies on these sites, as well as sharing with your friends and audience that you're looking. After all, you already have a built-in audience with a community who knows you. At the same time, remember that you want to maintain a professional appearance when utilizing social media for such purposes. Employers often do an online search, including searches on social media sites, to find out what prospective employees are up to and what type of personal image they are portraying, so bear this in mind.

GradStaff - Staffing agencies like GradStaff help to connect college grads with organizations looking to hire entry-level employees. Staffing agencies can be a great resource to work with because they will interview you and help you find job openings that fit your personality and career goals. GradStaff is a nationwide agency serving more than 90 metro areas across the U.S. You can do an online search for "entry-level staffing agencies" to see if there are local agencies in your area, or agencies in the city for which you'd like to work. Also, the employer is the party that pays for the services of a staffing agency, not the prospective employee.

Industry specific networking events - Look for networking events in your area that are specific to your industry. If you're an engineer, for example, you might look for a local chapter of the National Society of Professional Engineers. If you're looking for a human resources position, you might look for the local chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). You'll find people at events such as these who want to help you. Not to mention, you're making connections that can last for the life of your career.

Job and career fairs - Most colleges hold job fairs where organizations come to hire interns and entry-level employees, so take advantage of these events. Local job fairs in your city can also be a great place to meet prospective employers. National Career Fairs is an organization that hosts career fairs in cities throughout the country, and organizations from various industries are represented.

Because they can have a lot of attendees and companies exhibiting, you can prepare to make the most of these events ahead of time by looking at the attendee list, selecting the companies you'd like to speak with in priority order, and finding their booths on the event map. Even if you find that some of the organizations aren't hiring entry-level employees, these new graduate job resources can present a good networking opportunity for the future.

Online networking groups - Look for local industry networking groups on sites such as Yahoo! Groups and that are of interest to you. These groups are made up of individuals with similar interests and often hold local events that present a fun way to network and seek out job opportunities. You might consider doing a search for a "Young Professionals" organization in your city or field of work, as well.  

Career coaches - A career coach can help launch your recent grad job search and support you in finding a new job, as well as help you to update your marketing materials and navigate the type of culture that would be right for you. Also, as you progress in your career, the right career coach can be a great resource to help you navigate the challenges and quandaries that can evolve in the workplace. Many career coaches work virtually via the phone, as I like to do when working with individuals, but if you prefer face-to-face, many coaches will meet with you in person if they're local to you. You can do an online search for "career coaches" and a long list of options, like Career Pro Plus, should come up. Be prepared to pay anywhere from $75 up to a few hundred dollars an hour for a career coach's time, though it can be worth every penny if you find the right coach for you.

Family and friends - People like to help other people. Reach out to your family and friends, email them your resume, and let them know what type of position for which you're looking. I landed my first finance internship with the WV state government in this way.

Google Alerts - If you have a favorite company you'd like to work for, set up Google Alerts for that company. This allows you to be notified if and when they post new positions and allows you to keep up with recent news about the company (which can also be great info to have when prepping for an interview).

Cost-of-Living Calculator - A Cost-of-Living Calculator will help you compare the cost-of-living between cities throughout the United States. In other words, it will show you much money you'll need to make in one city compared to another to maintain the same lifestyle or level of living.

Tips & how-to resources -  As you launch your recent grad job search, there's a ton of information online to support you in landing the perfect job. While you're searching for jobs, you want to make sure you have your marketing tools–your resume, cover letter, professional website—in top shape. You can also be prepping for interviews by rehearsing and practicing with sample interview questions. Sites such as TopResume can support you with resume review and creation, as well as provide general career advice through their blog. Job-Hunt is also another great new graduate job resource for tips on landing your first job.

Freelance sites - If you'd like to make some money or build your resume while pursuing a full-time, entry-level job, there are several freelance and part-time jobs available, from writing to graphic design to virtual assistant work. For more information on such opportunities, check out Good Second Jobs to Earn Extra Cash Outside Your 9-5.

This is not an exhaustive list of new graduate job resources by any means, but it's a great place to start to land your first job sooner rather than later. Before you know it, you'll be making money to claim your independence in the "real world" in no time.

Need help with your resume? Our TopResume writers can help!

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20 Essential Tips for the Reluctant Networker 2016-07-14 00:00:00 If you don’t feel like a natural networker, these tips may help. [TWEET]

Some people are natural conversationalists. You’ve seen them: they’re the ones who navigate their way around a networking event with such finesse that ‘working a room’ seems a virtual birthright. The conventional wisdom tells us that personal connections are vital to occupational success, particularly when we are on a job search – and effective communicators put that advice to good use. Think these chatterboxes were always able to turn on the charm? Think again; maybe they’ve just had more practice transforming strangers into clients, associates and even friends.

Rather than drafting and dodging when a networking event shows up in town, you too can be one of those people that engages others, establishes solid connections, and gets your career humming. If you’ve ever felt passed over by the schmooze fairy, these networking tips will help you draw others to your newly charismatic self:

1. Keep an eye out for occasions to connect.

2. Volunteer. Rather than just attend, get involved.

3. Arrive early. Greeting others as they arrive will make you feel like you belong.

4. Be present. Give people the gift of your attention, and many will respond in kind.

5. Perk up! Act eager to be there and others will be drawn to your energy.

6. The eyes have it. Eye contact tells multitudes about our confidence. Even if you don’t feel it, ‘acting as if’ you are self-assured will help turn it into a reality.

7. Observe body language (a). When someone looks approachable, step forward, extend your hand, and introduce yourself. Don’t forget to smile!

8. Observe body language (b). Be mindful of forcing your way into others’ conversations.

9. Light up the room! A natural smile involves the eyes, not just the mouth.

10. Ditch the cell phone. You’re there to meet people in person, remember?

11. Stop texting. A knack for yakking won’t develop by looking down at your phone.

12. Be interested. Select someone who looks pleasant and friendly, and ask a question or two. (“Looks like a great lineup of speakers! What topic brings you to today’s event?”)

13. Listen. This one is harder than it sounds, but will help bridge better conversations.

14. KISS. Not literally, but, Keep It Simple, Stanley. Yes, weather chat may be formulaic, but it works to break the ice.

15. Strike a balance between idle chatter and meaningful exchange. Talk about what’s going on around you (food, décor, venue, speakers). Practice makes perfect.

16. Be informed. Sports, news, film, etc. can be ‘small talk’ starters, but steer clear of politics.

17. Keep it light. No need to tell jokes, but an upbeat demeanor attracts ‘em like honey.

18. Build rapport. Engage in icebreaker activities, some of which may include Speed Networking, Career Pictionary, People Bingo, Strangers-No-More (like MadLibs), Fact or Fiction.

19. Business card exchanges can be discussion-starters. Show interest in what other people do.

20. Forget about yourself. The best conversationalists are not the silver-tongued charmers you may think that they are. Even if our culture demands constant self-promotion, the most charismatic people take the focus off of themselves when job networking.

Since the main mode of communication for many involves a constant stream of texting, tweeting, blogging and emailing, being hyper-connected online doesn’t automatically mean that we’re great with person-to-person interaction. So, if you really want to link in with other people, jump into the world of in-person job networking to form connections that will be there throughout your career. You may not think you’ve got that innate gift for gab, but with a bit of practice, some positive self-talk, and applying a few of these ideas, you’ll be shooting the breeze with ease in no time – and that will translate into solid partnerships down the road.

Let TopResume help you write the next chapter of your career. Here’s how.

Photo credit: Dell Inc./Flickr

]]> 20 Essential Tips for the Reluctant Networker
20+ Social Media Do’s and Don'ts Every College Grad Should Know 2016-05-27 00:00:00 Recent grads, social media is a part of your daily life, right? Proceed with caution and it could help you land your dream job. [TWEET]

In today's world, people might look at you like you're from outer space if you don't have some sort of social media presence, especially if they're under the age of 30. From Facebook and Instagram to Twitter and LinkedIn, there are numerous social media platforms that allow us to like, share, post, react, network, and reach a large (or small) audience in the blink of an eye. Social media has amazingly made the world a much smaller place, bringing family, friends, and strangers together in such a way that would not have been possible a little more than a decade ago—from around the globe and across the oceans, east to west, and north to south. This ease to reach people through social media also means it's easier for others to find and research your day-to-day habits and online brand, including prospective employers.

Per a 2014 post on Capterra, 73 percent of candidates ages 18 to 34 used a social network to find their last job. Further, a survey conducted by CareerBuilder showed that close to half of all employers research job candidates on social media networking sites and rejected candidates for certain behaviors. Many employers use social media to monitor their current employees, as well. Stats like these indicate that, if you're smart about it, social media can be used to land your next job, or, if you're not smart about it, it can be used to eliminate you from the candidate pool altogether. Be smart with your social media profiles and understand what your online presence indicates about you, especially if you're looking to land your first job after graduating.

Below are some do’s and dont's (including social media mistakes) to think twice about before submitting your resume to any employer, as well as tips on how to behave on social media after an employer hires you. Use them to build your personal branding strategy in a positive, not negative, way.

Before you begin applying to jobs:

Do: Keep it G-rated. Even if set to private, certain components of your profile can be seen by the public, for example, your profile and cover photos. With that said, keep them G-rated with no signs of booze or nudity (a major social media mistake). Essentially, this could be the first impression an employer has of you outside of your resume. The same CareerBuilder survey referenced above showed that employers rejected candidates with profiles showing evidence of drinking or drug use, provocative images, or comments that could be interpreted as sexist, racist, or ageist.

Do: Clean up your image and online brand. Not only do posts from this day forward matter, but your past posts do, too. Go through your profiles and remove any past images that might be considered x-rated or show you doing anything illegal. Also, do a double-check to make sure everything about you is up-to-date and consistent throughout all of your social sites. For your personal branding strategy, you want information about you to match what's on your resume and what you might share in your interviews about your education, location, and so on.

Do: Be proactive and thought-provoking. Share posts and content that relates to your industry and field via social media. This will show professionalism and help to build your professional online brand and expertise. It will also catch the attention of prospective employers when they research your online profiles. Keep this type of activity up after you’re employed to continue building your online credibility and expert status.

Do: Research before you comment or share. On more than one occasion, people have shared stories or articles just to find out later that they were proven to be false. This is a common social media mistake. Even high profile journalists and news stations have been known to post or share stories that turned out to be false in the end. Do your research to determine if a news story is true before you share, especially if it's a high-profile type of story.  

Do: Think twice before you post that selfie. Plenty of studies have been done showing that social media breeds or exacerbates narcissistic-like behavior, and posting lots and lots of selfies of yourself might be taken as an indicator of such behavior. An employer might think twice about hiring someone that appears to be too self-involved or exhibits this type of activity.

Do: Set it to private and monitor your settings. Set your personal social media profiles to private, so you can be the gatekeeper of who has access to see your social media posts. On Facebook, you can also block specific individuals from seeing certain posts, or block people altogether. Also, be sure to update your timeline and tagging settings on Facebook so you can control photo tags and other tags or comments that could show up on your wall, as well as who can share your posts, and so on. I have my profile set so I get to review and approve anything I'm tagged in before it can be added to my timeline.

Do: Remember, it's a small world. Even if your profile is set to private, your friends and colleagues talk and can share your posts for their friends and colleagues to see, and the trend can continue. It's impressive how quickly gossip and stories can spread, so bear this social media mistake in mind when you're gossiping of sharing otherwise private info on social media sites. You can also update your setting to help with such issues on some sites, like Facebook, as mentioned above.

Do: Be kind. Always. I like to live by this in general, but if you don't have anything nice to say, then don't say anything at all (on social, or elsewhere).

Do: Spread good, not evil. In the same vein of being kind, promote and share the good news and information people share about others and avoid doing the same for the not-so-good.

Do: Separate professional from personal. Some social platforms are designed specifically for professional connections, like LinkedIn, and others are meant to be more personal, like Facebook. However, many social media platforms, like Facebook and Instagram, have become more business-friendly in recent years. You can build a professional page on Facebook, for example. It takes a bit more effort, but depending on your profession, you might want to keep your professional profiles and connections separate from your personal ones. On LinkedIn, especially, people are there to make professional connections, so be wary of posting posts that are too personal.

Do: Be active on LinkedIn. As reported on Capterra, 89 percent of recruiters reported hiring an individual via LinkedIn, with Facebook trailing far behind at 29 percent and Twitter at 15 percent. Further, a 2014 report by Jobvite shows that 94 percent of recruiters are active on LinkedIn, but only 36 percent of candidates are active on the site. LinkedIn is the top professional networking site, as these stats indicate, so keep your profile complete and up-to-date and be active on the site to network and land future jobs.

Do: Be careful of the company you keep. Though you might be keeping your profile PG, your friends might not be. Your contacts (and others if your profile is public) can sometimes see what your non-PG contacts are posting if they show up in your feed or are posting on your page. I had this happen to a friend whose profile was questioned by a co-worker when one of his friend's semi-nude photos showed up on his page, and coworkers saw it. Oops! Definitely a social media mistake to avoid at all costs.

Don't: Get sucked in by propaganda. With the invention of the internet and rise of social media, posting and sharing propaganda for a mass audience is easier than ever. This propaganda stirs emotions and seems to bring out the not-so-good side of people at times. It also shows how easily people will buy into and share propaganda without doing research or thinking through their personal beliefs on a subject. If you're such a person, and prospective employers see it, it will likely eliminate you from their candidate pool. Don't get sucked into propaganda debates, which can be readily available during election years like this one.

Don't: Be a downer. No one likes to be around a Debbie Downer, nor does anyone want to hire a Debbie Downer. For your personal branding strategy, keep your posts on the up-and-up with a more or less positive perspective.

Don't: Overshare. Though your mom, or biggest fan, might like to know, the general population doesn't need to know what you had for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Oversharing might be a turnoff to potential employers.

Don't: React too quickly. Count to 100 before you react (or give it 24 hours). It's amazing how quickly our emotions can be triggered and comments can fly by a one-sentence post on Facebook or any social media site. Before reacting to something that makes your blood boil, count to 100, or give it 24 hours, so you have some time to think about your response before you react in a way that could make you look bad.

After you've been hired and begin working:

Do: Show some love. Share positive news and information about your company.

Do: Know your company's policies and current practices. With the rise of social media comes the need for company policies and guidelines on social media usage for employees. Find out what your company's policy is on the matter. Also, pay attention to how your company uses social media for guidance on how you might choose to represent the company online.

Do: Keep it legal. Before or after you're hired, I'd like to think it goes without saying, but steer clear of posting anything that could be considered illegal, like drinking while driving or marijuana usage (major social media mistakes). Even in areas where marijuana might be legal for recreational use, your company policy might prohibit it or look down upon, so use good judgment in what you post.

Do: Be yourself. Some people try to put on a show or be something they're not on social media. The safest bet is to chill out and be yourself (while keeping these do’s and don'ts in mind).

Do: Use caution when it comes to friending coworkers and supervisors. This one can be tricky because you don't want to look bad if you choose not to friend coworkers or supervisors when they send you a request to connect. If you feel compelled to accept requests such as these, on Facebook, you can update your privacy settings for a particular group or individual, so they don't see posts unless you want them to. If you're not comfortable accepting your coworker's request, then don't. As a part of a personal branding strategy, some people set up separate professional accounts for such requests, which might be an option, as well.

Don't: Badmouth or bash a company, especially yours. Avoid saying anything negative about the company for which you work. In fact, it's generally considered in poor taste if you talk poorly about any company or coworker on social media sites. Taking the high road ends up best in the long run, from personal experience. In fact, the CareerBuilder survey referenced above indicated that employers also rejected candidates that spoke poorly about their prior employers or co-workers, so keep this "don't" in mind before you're hired, as well.

Don't: Get caught wasting the company's time. Many companies block employees from accessing social media sites unless you're part of the PR or marketing department that requires the use of them. Even if you aren't permitted access on your computer, you'll have access on your smartphone (unless it's a company issued phone that prohibits it). Either way, focus on your work vs. social media sites to get started off on the right foot and remain in your company's good graces. Also, if you do post via your phone during work hours when you're not supposed to be accessing social media, be smart about it—the time of your post will show up, and someone might notice.

Don't: Get caught in a lie. If you decide to play hooky from work because you're "sick," and you magically get better by noon and decide to go to the mall, you might want to steer clear of social media unless you want to get caught playing hooky.

Don't: Post confidential or proprietary information. I know this should go without saying, but people have made the social media mistake of inadvertently shared information that was borderline proprietary. You probably signed a confidentiality agreement of some sort when you began your employment, which means posting anything you should not could get you in trouble.

In conclusion, there's a lot to consider and prep for when it comes to your job search post-graduation, and social media can be a great resource if wisely used. Utilize social media in such a way that it can help you land your first job to launch your career vs. get you in trouble before you even get your foot in the door.

Let TopResume help you write the next chapter of your career. Here’s how.

]]> 20+ Social Media Do’s and Don'ts Every College Grad Should Know
2016 Oscar Nominees’ Career Paths to Success 2016-02-26 00:00:00 Even your favorite stars had to work hard to get where they are today.  [TWEET]

If you’re like the rest of us, you’re getting your Oscars tux or designer gown ready for the red carpet this weekend. Well, you’re probably not doing exactly that, but don’t let that stop you from getting excited about the upcoming Oscars.

The Academy Awards are considered to be the most prestigious of award shows. During award season, the world’s most well-known cinematic professionals receive recognition for their hard work throughout the year. Some of the big names we’re excited to see include: Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jennifer Lawrence, Cate Blanchett and a favorite of mine, Christian Bale.

When I hear these names, along with the other nominated actors, I think of how lucky they are to be where they are today. However, it’s easy to forget that just like the rest of us, they had to work hard to build their careers. As glamorous and talented as these actors are, they’re still human.

None of these actors woke up and ended up at the Oscars, they all had to deal with rejection and uncertainty just like we do. The job search can be a daunting process, but the inspirational journeys of your favorite actors should give you some hope.

Leonardo DiCaprio

Leonardo DiCaprio

Leonardo DiCaprio is nominated for best actor in a leading role this year for his performance in The Revenant. This is his sixth nomination for an Academy Award, and will hopefully be his first win. While he has a long history of memorable roles, a few in particular come to mind when I hear his name.

A few big ones include What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, Catch Me If You Can, The Departed and Titanic. Surprisingly enough, he didn’t land a big starring role right off the bat, he started off in commercials. He was also a cast member in several television shows, including Growing Pains and Parenthood. Due to his undeniable talent and hard work, he got his big break in Romeo + Juliet, which led to his ongoing, prosperous career.

Brie Larson

Brie Larson

Brie Larson is a name you are probably hearing a lot of these days due to Oscars buzz. She got her big break in this year’s film, Room. Although you may not have heard her name as frequently as some of the other Oscar contenders, she’s had an impressive career up to this point.

Brie started out as a television actress in the late 90’s, making appearances in Raising Dad, Ghost Whisperer and later, The United States of Tara. You may remember her from the hilarious 21 Jump Street and last year’s film, Trainwreck. However, her breakout role in Room is what catapulted her career into the big leagues.

Although Brie Larson hasn’t been as well-known throughout her film career as Matt Damon, that’s not to say she hasn’t had success up until this point. Sometimes, it takes that one role to really get your name out there. With this Oscar nomination, she will undoubtedly have a long career ahead of her.

Eddie Redmayne

Eddie Redmayne

Eddie Redmayne is another name we’re excited to hear back at the Oscars this year. He previously won the Oscar in 2014 for his role as Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything.

Before becoming a full-time actor, Eddie attended school in Cambridge where he studied art history. He made appearances in various theatrical productions including Oliver! and The Twelfth Night. He also held minor roles in a few television shows in the early 2000’s. Eddie went on to pursue a modelling career before acquiring some of his big film roles.

His film career began in 2006 when a casting director discovered him in a play and cast him as Alex Forbes, a minor who killed one of his schoolmates, in the movie Like Minds. From there, Eddie went on to have a very successful career. Some of his biggest roles were in the films The Other Boleyn Girl, Les Miserables, The Theory of Everything and his current Oscar nominated role in The Danish Girl.

All of these actors have paid their dues to reach this point, none with a particularly easy journey. Their successes show us that with hard work and patience, anyone can achieve their goals. If you’re in the midst of switching careers or trying to move up in your industry, keep your eye on the prize and your commitment will eventually pay off.

Ready to find your dream job? Hire a TopResume writer today!

]]> 2016 Oscar Nominees’ Career Paths to Success
3 Crazy Interview Questions and How to Prepare for Them 2016-07-22 00:00:00 Are you prepared for any odd questions an interviewer may throw your way? [TWEET]

Career marketing is at its height as hiring managers search for new means to find the right candidate for the job. Whether it’s social media, such as behemoth career networking site LinkedIn, or traditional recruiting, the world of human resources is changing. And so must those searching for the right fit.

Recently, major companies such as Dropbox, Google, Dell, and Apple have started polishing its interview policies. Gone are the days where hiring managers only asked common job interview questions about experience, skills, education, and job readiness. Now they mix in a little craziness just to shake the candidate and see where their mind is. Here are a few examples of crazy interview questions and why employers ask them.

Shipwrecked with Choices

If you were shipwrecked on a deserted island and had to choose from three people to help you, who would you choose. You can choose from ten people: the lawyer, the doctor, the carpenter, the ship’s captain, the politician, the high school teacher, the cook, the scientist, the soldier and the policeman.

This question may seem silly at first, but it tells the hiring manager about the candidate’s ability to adapt and their overall drive and personality. For example, if the person chooses the high school teacher, doctor, and carpenter, it would suggest they are planning to rebuild and start a new society. This shows the hiring manager the person is capable of bouncing back from a situation.

On the other hand, suppose the candidate chooses the ship’s captain, lawyer, and carpenter. This shows a strong inclination the person values strong leadership over individual talents. But the ultimate scenario desired is the candidate who chooses the carpenter, the ship’s captain, and the soldier. This shows they are planning to get off the island and turn lemons into lemonade.

Extra Cargo

If you were asked to unload a Boeing 747 full of jelly beans, what would you do first?

This crazy interview question gauges the candidate’s ability to think outside of the box. A person who answers that would ask for help shows a strong inclination to team building. Some would say they would schedule time to unload the pile more efficiently. According to Bose, who frequently asks crazy interview questions, one of the most popular answers indicated the person’s creativity, compassion towards others, and ability to solve problems on the spot. The person who received the highest praise said they would open the belly of the plane and dump the entire contents on a poor, starving country.

Others said they would order the cargo staff to unload the plane, while one even attempted to hide the beans. Whatever the answer, employers learned whether the candidate was able to make solid decisions on the spot or whether they could excel in a fast-paced atmosphere.

Clash of Titans

Who would win in a fight between Superman and Batman?

While this is the age-old question of comic book geeks everywhere, this simple question also shows the thought process behind answering strange questions. First Superman is super strong, able to fly, has heat vision and blizzard breath, and is virtually indestructible. On the other hand, while Batman is strong and fast, he is nowhere near as strong or fast as Superman. But Batman does have superior fighting skills, a utility belt full of dangerous surprises, and the cunning and wit of the best insane criminal.

One candidate said Batman’s alter-ego, billionaire Bruce Wayne, has enough money to buy kryptonite and create a weapon to wound or even kill Superman. This shows the job seeker as an individual who doesn’t give up until they have found a solution to a serious, unsolvable problem. This out of the box thinking is what helps these candidates succeed.

Get ready for the hard, crazy interview Questions

How can a candidate prepare themselves for these type of questions along with common job interview questions? Simple answer is there is no way to prepare for the unknown. It’s how you work with the information that’s important. The following do’s and don’ts will help candidates make the best choice and win the job.


  1. Take time to understand what they are asking.
  2. Ask questions to see if more information is available.
  3. Consider the outcomes.


  1. Overthink the question.
  2. Go for the obvious answer.
  3. Say you don’t know.

No matter what, whether you are asked only a few crazy interview questions or mostly common job interview questions, hiring managers have learned these often silly and strange questions cause candidates to use brain power they normally wouldn’t exhibit. Any interviewer can ask them to solve a problem in their specialty, but what does that prove? Asking questions that force candidates in an uncomfortable and impossible situation brings out their true abilities and skills.

]]> 3 Crazy Interview Questions and How to Prepare for Them
3 Easy Steps to Start Branding Yourself as a Job Seeker 2016-03-21 00:00:00 Do all of your professional materials tell a consistent professional story? Here are the first steps you can take to ensure it. [TWEET]

If you’ve been on the job market for any length of time, you may have noticed the term ‘branding’ more and more often in reference to your job search. Unless you come from a marketing background this can be mystifying, if not overwhelming. Fear not, it’s really not as esoteric as it sounds and there probably are things you are already doing right.  

As a job seeker your brand, simply stated, is you. Think of yourself as a solution to a problem your potential employer is having - a solution for which they are willing to pay handsomely! Your mission is to make sure your customer (that is, employer) is aware of what you can do for them. There are many ways to inform people about yourself; three main ones are your resume, your social media profile, and your references or network.  All these will hopefully lead to an interview, where you present yourself in person.

What is a ‘brand’ and why is it important?

Imagine you were planning a nice evening out for dinner and were looking for the perfect restaurant. You might start out with a Google search for restaurants in your area. The impression you gain from various websites, word of mouth and the degree to which all your sources are consistent, will impact how confident you are in choosing the restaurant.

The same is true of your brand. You want to make sure that you have a clear desired job target in mind and that all of your marketing collateral portrays you in the same light. To do this, you must manage your social media presence to be consistent and focused and ensure that your referral network and references are current and up to date with your career goals. What steps can you take to accomplish this?

Step One: Create a strong resume.

This starts with a specific career goal. Next you need to craft a powerful statement detailing what you bring to your future employer as well as a concise, chronological listing of your previous positions (for the last ten years) and your accomplishments. Your resume is your primary marketing document so it’s essential to get it as contemporary and professional as possible to best reflect you.

Step Two: Establish or upgrade your social media presence.

LinkedIn is a primary career site where you should make sure your profile enhances your resume in content and professionalism. Remember, be consistent! If you are in a conservative field, use a conservative, professional headshot for your profile – no exceptions. It is distracting at best and a deal breaker at worst if your LinkedIn profile does not match and enhance your resume.

Step Three: Follow up with your references.

Reach out to your referral network and references to be sure they have copies of your most current resume and your job target. In case it doesn’t go without saying, always ask permission before using someone as a reference and if it’s been more than five years since you asked, ask again.

These are the first three steps you should take towards building a strong and consistent brand. After you have completed these, there are more. You can expand to other social media sites, Google, search engine optimization and more if you like, but to start, all you need to do is build a great resume, great social media profile and a good referral or reference base.

Let TopResume help you write the next chapter of your career. Here’s how.

]]> 3 Easy Steps to Start Branding Yourself as a Job Seeker
3 Essential Steps for Making a Career Change 2016-04-21 00:00:00 Career transitions can be hard. These three essential steps for making a career change can help make them easier. [TWEET]

You may be reading this after making a decision to search for your next professional opportunity. Perhaps you have lost a job, or simply cannot ignore the nagging feeling that you are not doing your life’s work. No matter what brought you here, I want you to know that there are three simple steps you can take right now that will move you powerfully in the direction of whatever is next for you. These ideas are inspired by Laura Berman Fortgang’s book “Now What?” and my experience coaching clients through career transitions.

Acknowledge the loss

Let us start with a bit of background. William Bridges, an author and a veteran business consultant, made a key distinction between change and transition. Change is factual and situational: something goes away and leaves a space that something else can fill. Transition is a psychological process that people go through to adapt to change.

Here is a good rule of thumb: change is fast. Transition is slow.

Transition, whether professional or personal, has three phases: the ending, the neutral zone (gap), and the new beginning. Because discomfort of the ending and the gap is, well, uncomfortable, we naturally focus on getting to the other side as quickly as we can. In my experience, the strategy of powering through to your next job does not serve you. I understand that my invitation to sit with discomfort might sound counter-intuitive, but stay with me.

The reality is that when making a career change, you are experiencing a loss. You might be disappointed that a decision to take your current position did not turn out the way you had imagined it would. You may be emotionally hurt from having lost your job in a downsizing. You may be missing your reliable paychecks and feeling angry. All of that is valid. It is also extremely difficult to see possibilities from this place of disappointment, fear, anger, and confusion.

The benefit of acknowledging your loss is that it allows you to notice the upside. Whether you have come here willingly or have had a rug pulled out from under you, you get to decide what happens next. The sooner you can shift from “I am cornered” to “Here are my puzzle pieces, I wonder what I can build with them?” mindset, the sooner you can see the multitude of options in front of you.

So, acknowledge the loss first. It is essential to what we will do next.

Separate the gift from the box

Now that you are clear on what you have lost, or are about to lose, you are ready to look at what you get to keep. I would like to ask you to think of yourself as a present.

There is packaging – a cardboard box, wrapping paper, ribbons, and bows. There is also a gift inside. The packaging represents the specifics of your previous jobs, your status, clothes, the money you made, and the positions you held. The gift is the real you: all the qualities, skills, experiences, and inspirations that will serve you for the rest of your life.

How can you tell them apart? If something can be taken away or given up, it is packaging.

Here is an example to illustrate the point. This one is near and dear to my heart because it is my own. Meet Natalia, age 31, figuring out what to with her decade of CPA and consulting experience, a passion for cooking and making art, and a lifelong study of human potential.

External package

Internal qualities

CPA license for 10 years

Clear thinker

Big 5 auditor in the financial services industry

Exceptional communicator

Controller at a large hospital

Deep listener

Consultant to California municipalities

Strategic view with good grasp of technical detail


Creativity, with a flair for language

Perceived as knowledgeable

Keen eye for opportunity and potential

Access to perks

Building relationships

Regular promotions. Manager.

Passion for adding value and being of service


Quick learner

So, do this for yourself now. What do you get to take with you into your next adventure? Make a list.

Leave the old box behind

Now, list in hand, we have clarity on raw materials. Think of yourself as a child with a box of Lego blocks, or a contestant on The Iron Chef with a list of allowed ingredients. What will you make?

This is the step where you get to approach your own “ingredients” creatively. With the “gift” defined, let us explore some options for new packages!

Your task is to make a list of all new jobs, career paths, and professional roles you can think of, given what you know is true about who you are. There is only one condition: anything that makes it on the list must genuinely appeal to you. Just because you have done something before, or have a skill-set to do it well, does not automatically make it an inspired new direction. Make the list as wide as you can. We want many options – there will be time to narrow down the field later.

The challenge of this step is staying open to possibility. Do not switch on your rational thinking. The part of your brain that protests “I don’t have credentials for that!” or “How could I possibly keep my lifestyle doing this?” does not get to vote yet. We will get there later.  

Staying with my earlier example, this is what Natalia’s list looked like.

  • Food blogger

  • Management consultant

  • Forensic investigator

  • Executive coach

  • Teacher

  • Writer

  • Artist

  • Consignment store owner

  • Florist

  • Party planner

  • Professional organizer

  • Personal shopper

As you can see, my options were definitely wide. Narrowing down the list is a subject for another article, but you might be curious about what my direction turned out to be.

After much consideration, I decided that as much fun as owning a consignment store or being a personal shopper would be, my passion was not in clothes. I had the mind for technical detail that made me a great management consultant or investigator, but just because you are good at something does not make it your purpose. I felt that a common thread throughout my life has been the joy in helping people grow, and my desire to be of service. Coaching would give me an opportunity to do that. I could still use my technical skills, as well as my ability to see strategic options. I would also get to use my writing and artistic skills.

My next step? Enrolling in a coach training program.

In closing, I encourage you to complete these steps for yourself when making a career change. Take stock of your losses. Inventory what you are taking with you. Make an inspired list of possibilities. That way, we can walk through narrowing down the field next time.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Click on the following links to access Part II and Part III of this series on changing careers.

Let TopResume help you write the next chapter of your career. Here’s how.

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3 Networking Strategies to Take Your Career to the Next Level 2016-02-26 00:00:00 In the journey of networking, it’s not what you know, who you know, or even who knows you. It’s whose life is better because you know them. [TWEET]

Whether you’re writing the next chapter of your career, or hoping to take your current career to the next level, consider these three strategies to help you make the most of each networking opportunity:

Generosity is never having to keep score.

Insurgent, the second book in the best-selling dystopian trilogy, presents two schools of thought on relationships. Peter, who gets sick to his stomach at the idea of being indebted to another person, believes that people only do things for you for one of two reasons: If they want something in return or if they feel like they owe you something. Typical cynic, he’s chronically paranoid about who’s winning in the relationship. It’s death by scorecard. Scarcity thinking. Running a race that isn’t being held, winning a trophy that doesn’t exist.

Tobias, on the other hand, reminds him that those aren’t the only two reasons people do things for you. Sometimes they do them because they love you. That’s the healthiest, smartest and frankly, least labor-intensive approach to business relationships. Throwing away our scorecards. Treating networking as an infinite field, where we’re not playing to win, we’re playing to keep the game going. And in the process, we create growth for all parties involved, no matter what the score is.

I’ve found this approach to relationships to be surprisingly liberating. Instead of trying to arrive at some static point of perfect balance with each other, which, frankly, is a perfectionist ideal that’s never found in actual life, we’re free to enter the mysterious complexity of the interpersonal dynamic. We’re able to tear up our scorecards, accept the fact that nobody really wins at relationships, and generously extend acceptance, forgiveness and gratitude to each other without the pressure of counting. Remember, racking up points blocks the flow of new opportunities. The moment somebody starts keeping score, the relationship starts to die.


Are you poisoning your relationships by keeping track of who sacrifices more?


At your next networking event, write on the back of everyone’s business cards a short message about one tangible way you might be able to help them. Email them the next day with your ideas. Pay it forward.

I find something new every time I’m with you.

Coltrane’s band was famous for playing the same songs in the second set as they played in the first one, just to see if they could find something new they didn’t find earlier in the evening. Of course, they always did. They never stepped in the same musical river twice. That’s the beauty of jazz. If you do it right, redundancy becomes a mathematical impossibility.

The same rule applies to the networking process. If we impose a standing order of curiosity,  and discovery and growth, practicing the discipline of seeing things with wide-open wonder, we make it easy to find something new every time we’re with each other. It’s all about surprise.

Neuroscientists have actually conducted mountains of research on this very issue, proving that the human brain hates boredom and loves surprises. In fact, regardless of whether or not people say they like surprises, typically life’s unexpected pleasures are more rewarding than expected ones. That’s all surprise is. It’s the emotion we feel when we encounter the unexpected. And if we commit to seeking what is fresh, spontaneous and interesting in the same place we looked for it yesterday, nothing can strip us of myriad opportunities for wonder.

Every new season becomes an opportunity to grow closer to each other; to learn to understand one another's evolving business needs as the years go by. And that’s a really courageous form of interpersonal growth. Still hoping for fresh wind. Still weaving a tapestry of pure joy and beauty. Still wanting to get lost in a private world of our own personal delight and awe.


How many of your relationships have enough uncertainty to make life sizzle and renew your sense of wonder?


Next time you have lunch with a colleague, see if you can finish your meal first. That means you’re asking the most questions and talking the least.

What can you do in five minutes that will change somebody’s life?

Creating a value inventory can be a frustrating and uncomfortable exercise. Especially if you’re too humble to turn off your modesty filter. But if you’re willing to engage your imaginations, own your authentic power and honestly appraise that which you bring to the table, there’s no telling what you might accomplish. I have a friend who loves to ask his clients what they can do in five minutes that will change somebody's life.

It’s an extraordinary question for several reasons. For starters, it contains the verb do. This stimulates an action-oriented, interpersonal, skill-based response. It forces you to think about past experiences in which you expended emotional labor and had a profound impact on another person.

The next element is the time constraint. By only giving yourself five minutes, it challenges you to concentrate your value into a practical, tight package that allows the person on the receiving end of your value to imagine the full scope of your power.

And finally, there’s the element of changing somebody’s life, which is the kind of thought experiment the average person doesn’t give themselves permission to conduct.


What can you do in five minutes that will change somebody’s life?

I’ve had numerous moments like that in my own life on both sides of the equation. People, friends, mentors and clients have made observations, given feedback, asked questions and imparted strategies that literally altered my trajectory forever. Conversely, I’ve also sat down with people on a number of occasions and offered the same life-changing gift to them.

Both of these highly human experiences make you feel fully alive, fully present to the possibilities of life. And the exciting part is, each one of us can take part, but only if we’re willing to accept and deploy the love that makes it possible. Hoff explained it best in his translation of the ancient eastern scripture. No matter how useful we may be, sometimes it takes us a while to recognize our own value. If you want to gain a better sense of your highest abilities, ask and answer the question.


Next week, email five colleagues and ask them the same question about your own value. This will help you gain a broader understanding of your abilities for your career progression.

Remember, the secret to networking is that it’s not about being the life of the party, it’s about bringing other people to life at the party. Starting today, stop keeping score, lead with your curiosity and think about the kind of value you can deliver in short bursts.

Good luck and happy networking!

Ready to write the next chapter of your career? Hire a TopResume writer today!

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3 Powerful Thank-You Notes You Can Write in Under 30 Seconds 2016-07-01 00:00:00 Don’t get mad at what I’m about to write. Promise?

OK. Here goes…

Political TV ads are valuable and educational.

Wait! Come back! I can explain.

Yes, political ads are often negative and even a bit slimy — although sometimes the commercials are wickedly clever (watch the “spelling bee” ad).

But look beyond the overblown rhetoric, and you’ll find a career lesson. A political ad is an exercise in brevity as candidates need to leave their mark in 30 seconds.

Yep, even a quick message can have a lasting impression. That’s why these three thank-you notes say a lot with a little.

1. How to thank an employee who took you under his/her wing

Hi _____,

Thank you for all your help the past few weeks [at my internship/as I adjusted to the new job]. It was great to have someone who could answer questions and introduce me to people. I [reference a specific moment in which the person helped you; for instance, “would have been lost in that first meeting when we had to update the team on our progress. You were a huge help there.”]

Thanks again!

– You

Note: It takes 30 seconds to make someone’s day. You also strengthen the relationship with the person who mentored you.  

2. How to thank someone for a referral that led to a new job

Hi _____,

Thank you so much for [referring my name/passing my name] for the [job title] position at [company]. This week, I found out I landed the job!

I am excited to start at [company] and forever grateful you helped to make it happen. If I can return the favor in any way, please ask.

Have a great day,

– You

Note: As a practical matter, the person should know if his/her networking helped you with the job. Plus, you should always thank people who play a pivotal role in your career. It’s common courtesy and a fundamental of networking (like these six words). 

3. How to thank someone for a referral that led to a business deal

Hi _____,

Thank you so much for [referring my name/passing my name] to [name of person] at [company where you landed a deal]. This week, I found out our company secured the [business/contract/deal].

I am thrilled to work with [name of the company] and forever grateful you helped to make it happen. If I can return the favor in any way, please ask.

Have a great day,

– You

Note: The person should know if his/her networking led you to a successful venture. So take 30 seconds and give a recap. You know how people say “It’s better to give than receive”? I guarantee the person who assisted you will feel great for days — even thoughyou picked up the business for your own company.

Hire a TopResume writer to help you land more interviews, faster.

Note: This article originally appeared in News to Live By

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3 Reasons Your Recruiter May Hate Your Resume 2016-03-08 00:00:00 If your headhunter hates your resume, you may want to hear them out before you get defensive. [TWEET]

Many job seekers at one time or another find themselves engaging with a headhunter. Regardless if you have been solicited, or you have sought them out, a headhunter will always ask you for your resume. So what do you do if your headhunter tells you that you need resume help? As a professional resume writer, career coach, and oft-times recruiter, I can tell you that this happens for one of three reasons.

Reason #1: You have a bad resume

Or, to put it more delicately, your resume format is not optimizing your skillset effectively and therefore will not be as productive a marketing tool as it could be. If your resume is out of date, unattractively formatted, contains an objective statement or is just hard to read, then your headhunter may rightly ask you to create a more professional looking resume. If this is the case, you will be well served to listen. If writing resumes is not your thing, there are wonderful professional services who can help with resume writing.

Reason #2: Your resume does not emphasize the skills their client needs

Your headhunter presumably is very familiar with the hiring company and their needs. A resume is only a two page document highlighting the skills you have assumed will be most relevant. However, sometimes there is an important facet to the job that is not apparent on your resume, that the headhunter may be aware of. If you are confident that you actually do have the skill and can ethically claim it on your resume, you are well served to take your headhunter’s resume help. They usually get paid only if you are hired, so they are highly motivated to get you the job. That being said, you will be the one to interview and work there so avoid overstating any claims.

Reason #3: Formatting preference

Resume formats are both an art and a science. There are parsing techniques, keywords and current trends that are proven to be effective, but there are also personal preferences. It is very frustrating to pay money to get help with resume writing, only to show it to a recruiter and be told that it should look different. This has happened to a few of my clients. While I personally always prefer my version and can back it up with statistics, what I usually tell my client is that if they really want to work with that headhunter, and the headhunter feels strongly about a different template or resume format, the client should consider reformatting to the headhunter’s preference (and using the other one for positions outside the headhunter’s scope).

In conclusion, invest your time and resources in the best possible version of your resume and if someone objects to it, listen to why, weigh out the rationale and only change if it makes sense to you. Your resume is your marketing tool and you should have the final say on its appearance.

Need resume? Our TopResume writers can make it happen!

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3 Steps to Becoming More Self-Aware 2016-05-15 00:00:00 Are you as self-aware as you could be?

So you’ve been in the workforce for a number of years, and things are going well. You know your strengths, you’ve set career goals and have achieved many of them. A degree or two is displayed on your office wall, and a sense of pride arises from knowing you are valued by your colleagues. Still, after countless 60-hour work weeks, a certain disquiet arises when you close that laptop for the day. The not-quite-intelligible voice in the back of your mind murmurs something about lack of work-life balance. You’d rather not think about it, but it would be better to stop, look and listen.  

Perhaps instead you’re a senior in college, and family conversations revolve around your future. “So… what are your plans? Have you applied for that grad program in accounting?” This well-meaning inquiry rouses anxiety and the comforting familiarity of your childhood bedroom beckons. The questions go unanswered. You’d rather not think about it, but pay attention: what would following your dream of becoming a creative artist mean to your family?

Sound familiar? Many of us struggle with scenarios like these because self-reflection is not taught in school. Awareness of our career direction, as well as our life direction, obliges us to watch for signs that show us how to be self-aware and where to take a turn – to be observant, to probe. [TWEET]

Becoming mindful of our self-talk, our past choices and our future options are important second steps. Leanring how to be self-aware means accepting ourselves and any decisions we’ve made up until this moment. The third step – the hardest one to make – is taking action.

1. Questioning

Socrates discovered over two millennia ago that questions are a righteous place to begin a quest for knowledge. Society repeatedly urges us to ask: "What do I need to do to get by?" Or "How can I gain the approval of others?" Self-awareness, on the other hand, compels us to heed the quiet voice within that wonders: "Who am I?" "What is my purpose in life?" and perhaps "In what way can I serve?" These are questions that will start you on your path to learning how to be self-aware and finding a deliberate life, rather than one that feels regulated by outside forces. The question “What do you do for a living?” indicates a desire to know how you spend your time, and is more likely to be posed than “What do you do to earn money?” Listen to the semantics: you can actually spend 1/3 of your waking hours doing something for which someone is willing to pay you. Yes, you will spend your life working, so pursue what is meaningful to you – or prepare to feel spent.

2. Becoming mindful

If you find yourself grappling for motivation to get up in the morning, mindfulness activities can help you gain clarity and rediscover your mojo. When restlessness or complacency – two sides of the same coin – become the default operating systems of your work life, being mindful allows you to reboot. Try this mindfulness activity: consider what you loved to do when you were a child. When was the last time you were totally caught up in the moment, as you were then? Getting to this highly focused state, which psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi writes about in his book, Flow, can enable us to recognize moments when we are vastly creative with seemingly little effort. What you discover about yourself in those moments may cause you to take a detour, not such a bad thing when the ‘small still voice within’ is calling. The works of Jon Kabat-Zinn are another good place to start learning about the power of mindfulness.

3. Taking action

Knowing that mindfulness activities can actually change the structure of your brain is just one reason to opt in. Imagine, then, how much more taking action does to reprogram your brain of its outdated notions! While most of life is not under your control, you can develop the capacity to take action when change is needed in the realm of work-life balance. The accomplishment that you feel when you learn a new skill, join a community or introduce yourself to new people – when you really go for it – will be the energy that drives even more adventures straight to your door. When you stretch yourself, set small incremental goals and guide your own star, your reinvented vocational mindset might be as easy as refreshing the page on your PC (which of course stands for ‘Personal Career’).

The signs are there; it’s up to you to notice them, and then take a small step into your future.

Let TopResume help you write the next chapter of your career. Here’s how.

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3 Surprising Benefits of Burning Out 2016-05-01 00:00:00 If your hard work has resulted in career burnout, take some time to rest and recoup, and then learn from your experience. [TWEET]

Building a career in the modern workplace can feel a lot like walking the tightrope: it takes focus, risk, determination, and grace; but one misstep can lead to a gigantic fall.

Today’s workforce is working more than ever and taking on more than ever, all in the spirit of being “successful.” From extracurricular activities for our kids, to continuing our education part time, to networking and volunteering, we’re in non-stop hustle mode. And, social media. Enough said.

Many of us are chasing ideals of “success” that just don't add up. Not because they’re impossible, but because they’re not our ideals; they're someone else’s. We’re subscribing to society’s view of what we should do and in actuality, we’re not happy about it. In fact, it’s the number one deathbed regret: following someone else’s dream.

In 2013 I had the e-brake pulled on my life. After years of overworking myself and chasing “success” — I ended up in the emergency room, hunched over in pain. One biopsy, two CT scans, and a spinal tap later I was discharged and told to do “nothing” for three months.

I was at a breaking point. This was my second major illness in less than three years and I couldn’t just shrug it off as “bad luck.” Something had to give.

I’ve worked for as long as I remember. By the time I landed in the ER for the second time I had been working for 14 years’ steadily and I wasn't near 30.

I had accomplished a lot for a less than thirty year old. Achievements that in retrospect mean less but in the moment I was glaringly proud of all the things I had or had done. I owned a home. I was a manager. I had a solid resume - and in fact, six months prior had landed my dream job.

What I didn't realize then was that I was addicted to the busyness. I was hooked on hard work, which I thought was good work. I was exercising excessively. I was going to school. I was networking, mentoring, working, and maintaining a social life, too. I always had to be doing something— anything. I was high strung, anxious, and stressed out and I didn't even know it.

After nearly a year of recuperating and mandated nothingness, I woke up. I stopped it all. I stopped doing everything and anything that wasn’t giving me immense joy. And after awhile I discovered that this was the best thing to happen to me.

Surprising things happen when you experience career burnout and slip off the tightrope that you clung to so fiercely:

1. You become an advocate

When you go through an experience like career burnout and come out of it unscathed you emerge as an advocate. Having come through suffering, you become profoundly aware of all things related to wellness and you’re not afraid to speak up. Being an advocate means you create the space people need to make wellness a priority, you’re a confidant, and you’re a helper.

2. You become happier

It’s no secret: gratitude leads to mindfulness which leads to happiness. Experiencing a burnout makes you rethink everything and get clear on what really makes you happy. Getting into a practice of mindfulness and gratitude shifts your perspective deeply - and it’s not easily turned back!

3.You reach actualization

When you rethink everything: your goals, desires, and motivations you can’t help but reach some level of self-actualization. When you separate someone else’s goals or society’s definition of success and aim to define success on your own terms your real self can emerge and form actualization. It might not be a Ghandi level of spirituality or a definitive calling - but you'll get closer to the ideal you and the real you — and that is powerful.

Taking time for yourself to practice mindfulness, gratitude, and creating stop doing lists are small ways you can avoid a career burn out yourself. But if it happens - don’t fret. You can learn from it.

Ready to find your dream job? Hire a TopResume writer today!

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3 Tips to Avoid Burning Out 2016-05-21 00:00:00 With our demanding, on-the-go lifestyles, comes the risk of burning out. Be mindful and avoid it. [TWEET]

With globalization, digitalization, dual-income households, and social media, people are experiencing job burnout now more than ever. We’re all out to achieve so much more than our ancestors did because, well it’s not just about survival anymore (thank goodness!). This wave of busyness and accelerated living is exciting, but it’s also causing a drained generation.

On the work front, mental health is a hot topic for organizations everywhere because it’s costing companies. For instance, major depression is estimated to cost $210 billion per year, and according to WHO, it’s the leading cause of disability worldwide.

Signs of a burnout can be classified as becoming overridden by any mental health issues from depression, anxiety, and stress to deeper, more complex issues. You also don’t need to be overtaken by it to feel burnt out. In fact, emotional labor can cause the same feelings of fatigue that mimic depression.

Considering that 1 in 5 people will be affected by some form of mental health issue in their lifetime, it’s important to understand the signs of burnout and invest in your mental wellbeing today, to plan for a healthy and functional future.

1. Check yourself

Overcommitting and charging full speed ahead without minding the why behind our decisions is probably the number one error people make today. Instead of following our heart’s desire, we’re living lives that society dictates we live (marriage, house, car, job, kids) without stopping to consider what it is that we want. We say “yes” all day to functions, people, tasks, and things without stopping and asking ourselves what we want.

Don’t: Do things only because you “should” do them. Should is a dirty word.

Do: Practice regular check-in’s with yourself to avoid life and job burnout. Review the many areas of life. Do you feel the way you want to feel?

2. Practice self love

Taking time to care for yourself is critical. It’s absolutely necessary, there is no excuse. Self love will be whatever you need to recharge. For me, it’s nature, quiet, and creativity. For others, it’ll be a night out with the guys/girls. Do something regularly that helps you unwind and get grounded. Speaking of getting grounded, you should literally get grounded.

Don’t: Put yourself last. You cannot be a great partner/parent/teammate/relative/employee if you have life of job burnout.

Do: Practice self love and take a feelings inventory: how did it make you feel? Repeat.

3. Pay Attention

When and if the signs of a burnout creep up on you, the best thing is to be aware early on. This takes emotional intelligence and the ability to be conscious of your emotions. Your body will tell you something’s wrong, you just need to listen to it. Some physical symptoms of a job burnout would be exhaustion, loss of sleep, irritability, loss of interest, and more. You can stay in tune with yourself by having regular check-in’s with yourself. A journal makes the process of checking in natural and can be helpful for future references. Journalling also helps with unwinding, putting things into perspective, and releasing.

Don’t: Delay! 2 in 3 people will keep concerns about mental health to themselves for fear of being judged. Release yourself from stigma and seek help. Chances are they have felt the same way.

Do: Pay attention to your heart every day. Be mindful of how you’re feeling and if you’re noticing anything that worries you, ask a friend.

I mentioned before that mental health affects 1 in 5 of us. You may not be exempt and that’s O.K. The most important thing in my non-PHD opinion, is to build resilience now. A healthy, strong foundation can withstand the storm. By taking care of yourself now you can be better prepared when crisis strikes — because it just might! Life has a tendency to compound on us. Sometimes when it rains, it pours, so invest in a good roof today.

If you’re facing a mental health challenge or are experiencing signs of a burnout, reach out.

Need help with your resume? Get a free critique today!

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3 Tips to Ensure Your Online Presence Is Helping Your Job Search 2016-04-07 00:00:00 Don’t let your social media presence hurt your job search. Here are three personal branding tips to keep in mind. [TWEET]

Unless you’ve been consciously avoiding it, you currently have a social media presence (or brand) whether you like it or not. Your social media presence is essentially what someone sees when they look you up online. Much like diamonds, the internet is forever, so be aware that what you do and say out there in cyberspace can follow you throughout your career. When you apply for a job, your future employers will almost certainly do at least a cursory examination of your social media presence in the process of vetting your candidacy for employment. Because of this, there are three important personal branding tips you should consider about your social media presence.

1. Create a LinkedIn profile

More and more, having a LinkedIn profile is considered a basic professional requirement in most fields. If you are in a non-traditional occupation you could possibly get away without one, but even then it’s a good idea for building your personal brand to establish a presence. You don’t want to give the impression that you are not current with social media and technology – especially if you are over forty.

2. Evaluate consistency

Does your social media presence support your resume? If not, this could be a big red flag to potential employers. Failing to update your profile or include details that are on your resume makes you look sloppy. Worse is if you have completely different jobs listed. This makes you look unfocused at best and duplicitous at worst. If you don’t have too much content on your LinkedIn profile, you can easily update and add some of your resume’s to it.

3. Consider the content you post or share

Social media is all about connections and it’s important to consider what doors you would like open and what doors you would like shut when posting content. If you are posting highly personal content, you may succeed in establishing a connection point with like-minded folks, but possibly closing a door with others. You need to evaluate which is more important and post content accordingly for building your personal brand.

It’s also important to be mindful that unprofessional, hostile, illegal or unethical content anywhere, any time is never, ever, ever a good idea. Especially not on professional sites but even personal sites can be linked to you with very little effort. Resist the urge to post those party pics, no matter how fun they are. There is very little chance they will enhance your employability. Think of it this way – if you were working, would you want your boss to see those pictures? If no, keep them offline.

Use the personal branding tips above and take the time to clean up your social media profiles to ensure you present yourself as the best possible candidate for the job of your dreams.

Ready to find your dream job? Hire a TopResume writer today!

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3 Tips to Spring Clean Your Resume 2016-03-18 00:00:00 It’s time to dust off that resume and make it shiny and new just in time for spring. [TWEET]

You’ve cleaned your closet and donated those old clothes to the Salvation Army, moved furniture around to find about $10 hiding in the corner, and dusted every bunny with a vengeance. Spring cleaning doesn’t have to stop there. There’s still time to dust off that old resume and polish up the edges. Here are three hidden gems to get your resume shining again.

Resumes are no different from that closet jammed with last year’s lineup. There may be a few hidden surprises, after all, just as dust seems to gather under your couch, dust accumulates on your document. Not to worry, editing those two pages – hopefully there’s no more – is not as hard as your previous chores. But it’s a lot more rewarding. So grab a highlighter and red pen and jump to it with this resume help.

Step #1: Get rid of last year’s junk

Nothing says stale resume like twenty year old experience. If your resume reads like a fairytale – think “Once Upon a Time in a Distant Kingdom…” – it’s time to move on. No one is really interested in your internships or entry-level positions, unless you’re still starting out fresh. Resume tip: everything old and outdated must go. Here are a few sections to pay close attention to:

  • Technical Proficiencies

  • Experience and Internships

  • College Awards, Scholarships and Memberships

  • Old Licenses

  • Outdated Skills

Start at the bottom of your experience list, assuming it’s in chronological order from most recent to least recent, and cross out all jobs and experiences more than 15 years old. This includes large and small positions. If you feel the job is important, highlight it, and we will come back to these important events.

Next, look over your certifications, professional development and technical skills. Delete all software, training and development that’s no longer in use. For example, if you have experience with all versions of Word, delete all but the last two versions. They are still in use. The exception to this rule is Windows XP. Many businesses didn’t upgrade to Vista, 7 or 8. They still used the solid XP version. This is still a relevant skill.

In other words, examine all of the content on your resume and make sure that every piece of information you’ve chosen to include demonstrates your current and most relevant values. Old information is detrimental to your career path. It screams you are lazy and not willing to advance yourself or the company, so be sure to take this resume help into consideration.

Step #2: Look for those hidden gems

Let’s look at the experience you highlighted in the first step. If you think there are older experiences still valuable to your career, it is best to highlight these as a standalone notable contribution. If the position itself is important, list it as additional experience. Listing additional experience is simple. Delete all job descriptions, dates, locations and identifiers. Leave only the company name and title. Here is a simple formatted example for listing these positions:

Additional Experience: JP Morgan Chase, Operations Manager; Wachovia Bank, Client Access Manager; Bank of America, Collections & Asset Protection Manager; Bank of America, Branch Manager

Next, look at your job descriptions. We can list these as either notable contributions or key skills assessment. Choose ten of your descriptions that had direct, quantifiable results on the business’s key areas (i.e. client retention, marketing initiatives, revenue, workforce reduction, etc.). Pull up the numbers for these results and rewrite them into achieving statements. For example, “Served on the Executive Budget Committee for two years” is easily translated into “Reduced re-work by 27% and cut expenses by $435,000 annually by...”

Step #3: The dust has settled, what’s missing?

Look at your current job or last position and see what skills, job description and professional development you’ve added to your portfolio. Did you include it in your resume? Are your most important skills and areas of expertise up to date with current keywords? These are items hiring managers look for in new applicants.

Next think about the job you want. What are the requirements? Research keywords and skills. Look for training and development matching your own. Does your old experience match these conditions? You may be surprised to find you have the skills necessary for that promotion or new job.  

Preparation Goes a Long Way

Spring cleaning is easier when you do monthly maintenance work around the house. Many people clean their filters, move furniture and clean out closets more frequently. The same is true with resumes. Don’t wait until you start looking for a job. Sometimes you may not have time to freshen up the resume before a job opportunity comes knocking. Every three months, look over your resume and take steps to keep it fresh. Schedule times in your calendar to remind you to take on the task.

Stay up to date with career blogs. Many career search sites have great career advice to maintain your resume. Visit your local community college or Department of Labor. These organizations frequently have resume editing and review services. Some even have resume writing and mock interview classes to help you stay in the job game.

Always remember, a little effort and resume help goes a long way in finding a job and keeping your resume looking its best.

Need more resume tips? Our TopResume writers can help!

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3 Ways to Boost Your Online Personal Brand and Attract Job Offers 2016-01-08 00:00:00 Don’t think you’re tech-savvy enough to build a digital personal brand? Think again. [TWEET]

If you’re ready for a new job, chances are you’ve already invested in a professional resume. But once you’ve written the best resume possible, what else can you do to promote your talents? You could try digital marketing.

What is digital marketing?

“In simplistic terms, digital marketing is the promotion of products or brands via one or more forms of electronic media,” according to the SAS Institute. This includes social media, email marketing, and blogging, to name a few forms. In other words, if you’re promoting a brand online, on mobile, or on-screen, you’re using digital marketing.

But isn’t digital marketing only for companies?

To paraphrase Dale Carnegie, if you want to be treated like a company, you have to act like a company. But you don’t need a company’s budget to use digital marketing. Try using the digital marketing trifecta: website, blogs, and social media posts. Try it for one month. If it’s working for you, try it for longer. At the very least, you’ll have something to refer to in your cover letter and during an interview. At the most, someone sees it and hires you. All the smart companies do it, why not you?

Here’s the breakdown:

1. Create a blog

Write 200-500 words about your knowledge, experience, and talents at least once per week. Pick a specific topic—an event, a case study, or client story, maybe something new you learned—and write very detailed explanations about it, demonstrating your experience and knowledge of the field. Be descriptive. Use a lot of keywords from your industry; Google them if you have to. Avoid vague words like pronouns (it) and vague verbs (is and was). Almost every word in a blog counts toward searchability. Make sure you use correct grammar and punctuation and there are no typos—have someone read it over before you post it. If you’re not ready to start your own blog, try writing and publishing long-form posts from your LinkedIn profile instead.  

2. Create a website

Creating a website sounds like huge production, but it doesn’t have to be. There are many free and easy website-creation programs out there; just Google “free websites” or “free website creation” and you’ll get a list. A couple of my favorites are Wix and Weebly. You don’t need anything complicated, probably just 1-3 pages; the site will house your blog and any other information you want to post such as news and client testimonials. You could even create a Facebook page or use your LinkedIn profile for your website. Whatever you use, keep the site updated. Your website is your digital marketing hub—link all your social media posts back to it and you will send all potential employers there. You don’t want to promote stale material.

3. Post to social media

This is the shout-out part of your digital marketing. You have to be outspoken and engaging here, but not scream. How? Use keywords and awesome content to promote yourself. Make sure you use hashtags that are specific to the post and specific to your industry on every post. And link back to your website.

Here’s the tricky part: Not all social media platforms will serve you well. This varies by industry. You have to choose which information goes on which platform and if you should be using that platform at all.

For example, if you are an architect, you might use Pinterest, Instagram, and Tumblr because those platforms are based on visual content. If you’re a book editor, you’ll want to use sites like Reddit or Tumblr. If you mainly provide B2B services, LinkedIn would probably be your main platform. The two exceptions to the social media posting rules are Google Plus and Twitter. Every specialty everywhere can use these two, and as often as you’d like.

Be forewarned: The results of digital marketing are not immediate. Even for large corporations, it takes time for people to realize that you are the talent for that particular field.

Digital marketing can and does work; but like any other tool, you need to know how to use it to its full potential to reap any rewards. And you have to be relentless and consistent. Try promoting yourself through blogs and social media for an hour every week. See how it feels and if it helps at all with any job conversations. Like New York Lotto used to say, “Hey, you never know.”

Need help promoting your brand? We can help.

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4 Costly Networking Mistakes to Avoid 2016-02-21 00:00:00 Networking should help, not hurt your job search. Steer clear of these top common networking mistakes. [TWEET]

There’s simply no better technique to promote yourself than by networking with colleagues in your industry. Through word of mouth, those connections will speak on your behalf, recommend you when a job opportunity becomes available, or even contact you before a position is made public. However, if approached incorrectly, your networking efforts could prove to be fruitless and even hurt your job-search efforts.

Here are four of the most common networking mistakes professionals make and what you can do to avoid them.

Networking Mistake #1: Peddling your resume to everyone you meet.

Many people have a difficult time talking about themselves and promoting their professional achievements during networking events. This, in of itself, is a mistake. After all, how will the people you meet understand your value if you don’t promote your talents and interests?

But there’s a fine line between talking about your skills with confident and bullishly peddling your talents. The goal is to promote yourself without looking like you’re trying to promote yourself. Confused yet? Stay with me, I promise it will make sense soon. Let’s look at an example:

Jon Doe is at a college career fair. He goes around pitching his resume and all the awards he’s piled up, making sure no one will forget him.

On the other side of the conference hall, his sister Jane Doe tries another tactic. She starts the dialogue by asking about the company and its mission. She then works her interests, contributions and achievements into the conversation.

Jane Doe promoted herself without being viewed as an overly pushy salesperson. Jon Doe committed the most dangerous networking mistake – acting as though he is the best and only candidate for the job. When you find yourself slipping into John Doe’s shoes, remind yourself: No one wants to hire an arrogant sales slug.

Networking Mistake #2: Getting too personal.

Talking about your personal life is not necessarily a bad thing, particularly when it may help you find common ground with potential connections. However, save some topics for the bar or gym, once you’ve gotten to know the person better. You don’t need share everything about your career or personality. The general rule of thumb is to avoid sharing personal details about your life unless they are directly related to the job. The trick is understanding where to draw the line and remembering to keep your actions professional. Should they serve alcohol at the event, remember one thing: this is not boys or girls night out. Keep yourself in check.

Networking don’t #3: Leaving your phone and other gadgets on.

When you arrive at an event, turn your mobile devices off. Not on vibrate or on silent – the temptation to answer that text or see what your friend pinned or tweeted is too great - turn it off.

Unless you need to be on call for an emergency, you don’t need to check your cell phone while someone is talking to you. This could cost your dearly. Your goal at every networking event is to have as many meaningful conversations as possible before going on your merry way. You can’t do that when your eyes are glued to your phone. If the temptation is still too great and you find yourself visiting the restroom three or four times to connect, leave the phone in the car or check it with your bag when you arrive.

Networking Mistake #4: Not dressing the part.

Your appearance, from your clothing to your grooming habits and hairstyle, is an extension of your professional brand. Take pride in how you present yourself when you are in the public eye. Research the event to gauge the setting and determine what attire is most appropriate for the event so you don’t stick out like a sore thumb. If you’re unsure how formal the event is, bring a suit jacket (and a tie for the guys) you can throw over your existing outfit to dress it up. Unless the invitation states it as the appropriate dress, do not wear shorts. T-shirts, tennis shoes, and so forth to a professional gathering. Click on the following link for more tips on how to dress to network.

Keep these networking dos and don’ts in mind the next time you attend an event and you’re sure to make the right first impression.

Need to update your resume before your next networking event? Our TopResume writers can help!

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4 Examples of Outdated, Counterproductive or Bad Career Advice 2016-09-02 00:00:00 Not all career advice is created equal.

Since we’ve been old enough to make our own decisions, our closest relations have offered advice on nearly every topic. It seems like there is no end to the constant opinions offered to us. People may feel the need to advise us. This doesn’t mean we have to take it to heart.

Career advice is no different. Our colleagues, family and friends will inundate us with more recommendations than a Presidential Advisory Committee. While family and friends have good intentions, you may be better served opting to follow expert career blogs and information columns online. They’ll have more relevant information than Aunt Mary or Uncle Fred. However, be discerning in the advice you follow no matter what.

Here are four prime examples of outdated, useless and simply bad career advice. [TWEET]

1. “Summer and holidays are terrible times to look for a job.”

Follow this bad career advice and you’ll be out of a job. There isn’t a “time” for abandoning your job search. Whether you’re comfortably employed or actively searching for work, treat every moment and opportunity the same. Don’t turn a blind eye to any job listing or company. Besides, summer and holidays are just as good a time as any to look for careers.

Fact: Summer jobs and holiday hiring freezes may slow down the industry, depending on your sector and position, but there are no periods when it stops altogether. Hiring managers take this time to fill positions they may lose with the coming New Year. Plus, large holidays reap big temporary hiring opportunities. Many retailers, manufacturers and delivery companies hire seasonal labor to fill their increased demands. CoolWorks lists seasonal and summer jobs. Bonus: many of their locations are top-level vacation spots.

2. “Your resume can only be one page.”

Okay, obviously, shorter resumes are better. Or are they? Resumes rarely go over two pages. And the more information you cram into your document, the less likely anyone will read it. On the other hand, shorter resumes send the message you have no skills, experience or achievements. In other words, both long and short resumes kill your chances. Candidates with less than ten years of experience should do everything in their power to keep their resume at one page. The only reason to go over two pages is for executive positions requiring more than traditional experience and professional development.

Fact: Most hiring managers discard resumes they can’t understand within six seconds. Without reading the career summary and job descriptions, hiring managers want to scan the titles, headers, bullet lists and job positions. They are looking to understand the candidate’s basic qualifications, without reading the entire resume. TopResume offers free resume critiques to see if your resume passes the 6-second test.

3. “Your cover letter can’t be imaginative.”

Innovative thinkers and creative minds need to show hiring managers they can bring something to the team. A cover letter doesn’t have to be a dry, conservative correspondence. Save second person, professional and conservative descriptions for the resume. The cover letter is a place to display your personality and inner strengths. Keep in mind, you’re not writing a fictional story. It’s okay to be imaginative and creative. Just don’t forget to be professional. This is a job application. Not movie night with your best friends.

Fact: Hiring managers see enough dry, boring cover letters. They want an introduction, not another regurgitated, condensed resume or summary. Use content that makes the hiring manager smile.

4. “Hide your weaknesses, or disguise them as strengths.”

Hiding your weaknesses is one thing. Changing them into strengths, well, that’s called lying. Remember “to err is human.” Hiring managers realize we all have some weaknesses. After all, no one can be perfect at everything. And, no, we’re not telling you to advertise your weaknesses. But don’t cover them up by calling them something they’re not. On a resume and cover letter, remove your weaknesses and replace them with actual proven strengths. In an interview, explain how you overcome weaknesses.

Fact: Avoid embarrassing moments in the interview by having to reveal your worst weaknesses. Volunteer some small weaknesses and provide examples of how you overcame them. This goes a long way in showing the hiring manager you take ownership of faults and think fast on your feet.

Recovering from mistakes.

It happens to the best of us. We strive to improve our careers, look for ways to move up the ladder and, boom, bad advice knocks us down a few pegs. Making a mistake is easy. Recovering from the blow, well, it takes practice. The first, and possibly most important step, is to take ownership of whatever you did wrong.

Failing to take responsibility is a red flag. Employers will respect a team member who admits their wrongs, takes immediate steps to fix the problem and leaves the situation with a new lesson and set of skills. Liars, on the other hand, are shown the nearest exit. Also resist the urge to place blame on others, even of it truly was their fault.

Want to see how your resume stacks up? Try out our free critique today!

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4 Steps to Figuring Out Your Next Career Change 2016-05-19 00:00:00 If you’re gearing up for a change of career, but unsure of what direction to go in, consider these career change tips to help narrow down your list of potentials.  [TWEET]

Welcome back to the mini-guide on making a career change! In Part I of this series, we mapped out three essential steps for making a career change. If you’ve followed along, so far you have:

  • Identified what you have lost (or are about to lose);

  • Separated the “package” (all the exterior specifics of your previous jobs) from the “gift” (the lessons, inspirations, and skills that will serve you for the rest of your life); and,

  • Made an inspiring list of possible new jobs, career paths, and professional roles.

My challenge to you was to keep your list of career change ideas open-ended, and not to worry about making it reasonable or logical.

Now, list of career change ideas in hand, it is time to narrow down the field. I do not recommend that you switch your inner skeptic on to full volume just yet! We will begin by simply looking at these exciting possibilities a little closer to see which ones warrant full investigation.

Step 1: Can you imagine yourself in this role?

Go down your list, and try to imagine yourself in each of the roles that you wrote down. The goal here is to eliminate the options for a change of career that you do not see yourself committing to.

Example time.

Jeff was an attorney with a thriving divorce practice. He came to search for a new career after he realized that, no matter how hard he worked, his clients never walked away truly happy. Less miserable and with a sense of relief - yes, but not happy. One of the things he was hoping to do in his next career was make people smile. When Jeff crafted his list of possibilities, it occurred to him that it might be fun to be a clown at children’s parties. Upon further reflection, Jeff realized that he could not imagine himself actually doing that – so he eliminated it from his list.

Step 2: Choose your top 3 careers for a deep dive.

Now that we are working with a shorter list, let us choose the first three possible career change ideas you would like to research. You are connected to hundreds of people through your personal and professional networks. Even if you do not personally know someone who works in the field that intrigues you, someone in your network might!

Ask and you shall receive, but be specific when you ask. Here are some options:

  • Do you know anyone who works in _____?

  • Can you help me find someone who can help me shine some light on _____?

  • Who do you know who has done _____?

Step 3: Have reality-check conversations.

Now that you have identified some people doing what you are interested in, it is time to connect with them! This step may feel intimidating, but you will be surprised how open most people are to offering advice and guidance. Ask them for a phone call or a coffee, come prepared with a few questions, and get ready to absorb the wisdom.

While you can make your own list of “reality-check” questions, in the event that you need some inspiration, here are a few to get you started:

  • Can you share how you got to where you are today?

  • If you were to do this over again, what would you do differently?

  • What is your favorite part of your job?

  • What are some of the complaints you have?

  • What income can I expect starting out?

Your goal is to walk away with some insider tips – things that outside observers might never get to see.

If your first batch of 3 possible career change ideas does not yield a result that speaks to you in a compelling way, keep going down the list!

Step 4: Bringing it all together.

Now that you are back from your deep-dive conversations, hopefully a change of careers is beginning to emerge for you. Maybe you have an obvious clear-cut choice. Perhaps you have narrowed it down to a handful of possible paths, or have found a trend. All of those are good results.

Don’t worry about “how” you are going to get there. Let’s first be sure we have selected the right direction.  

Step 5: Get clear on your criteria for happiness.

While the idea of defining happiness as a checklist may sound strange, stay with me. Knowing what you need for happiness gives you a greater chance of aligning your career choices with what is true about you as a person. That, in turn, allows you to stay true to your values and purpose. A 2015 study by The Happiness Institute and Gallup found that alignment with purpose had the greatest impact on one’s happiness at work – more than achievement, work-life balance, leadership, colleagues, or influence.

Here is an example. Laurel, a young professional on a CPA track, was progressing through the ranks of her firm as expected, but felt that a spark was missing from her life. When asked to reflect on what her criteria for happiness is, Laurel came back with this list:

  • Spending time nourishing family and friend connections;

  • Meeting new people;

  • Making people smile; and,

  • Spending time in beautiful spaces.

While her upcoming promotion to manager seemed to fit in the conventional sense of getting ahead, the CPA job meant that she worked long hours, spent more time with her computer than with people, and was stuck in the office for 12 hours at a time. After making a list of possibilities, Laurel became excited about exploring the career change idea of becoming a real estate agent. Flexible hours, meeting new people every day, playing matchmaker with homes, and hosting open houses all aligned with her criteria for happiness perfectly. With that clarity, the requirement to study for a license did not seem so daunting. With the change of careers, Laurel has since built quite a following as a real estate agent, with most of her business coming from referrals.

There is one last piece to this puzzle: the ever-important “how”. My clients typically have two sets of questions at this point in the process: figuring out the money issues, and mapping out the specific steps to the next opportunity. We will explore those change of career topics next!

Ready to find your dream job? Hire a TopResume writer today!

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