10 Ways to Get Your Résumé Noticed

"Out with the old, in with the new," isn't that what they always say? The same thing applies to your résumé. Chances are you applied for hundreds of jobs during the Great Recession, only to be ignored or rejected.
That means that something has to change.

"Because hiring managers are receiving large volumes of applications, job seekers have just seconds to make a lasting impression," said Jason Ferrara, senior career adviser at CareerBuilder. "55 percent of hiring managers told us they spend a minute or less reviewing a new resume, while another 29 percent spend one to two minutes reviewing one."

If you've been sending out résumés without any response, here are 10 ways to get your résumé noticed:

1. Start from scratchA new year means a new résumé. Even though it might not sound like fun to rewrite your whole résumé (it probably won't be), give it a try. Obviously, if you didn't get any bites last year, something was a little off with your current résumé. Rearrange some sections, try a different format and use a different font. Just switch things up a little bit and see what happens.

2. Use a different formatMany job seekers don't realize that there are different formats to use when writing a résumé. The most common form is chronological, which lists each job you've had in reverse sequential order, so you start with your most recent job. This form doesn't work for all people, though.

For example, if you've done a lot of job hopping in recent years or if you haven't had a job in a long time, a functional résumé is a better option.

A functional résumé focuses on your skills versus your work experience. For this, you would list a pertinent skill for the job to which you're applying, followed by a list of accomplishments that demonstrate that skill. If you don't have relevant skills or a strong work history, you could use a combination résumé, which combines elements of both a functional and a chronological format.

For a combination résumé, you should list your applicable skills and the accomplishments that demonstrate each one. Below that, you'll list your work history, starting with your most current job and working backward, but you won't list your job description. Doing this allows you the chance to play up your skills while proving your solid work history.

3. Ditch the empty words and vague phrasesMany job seekers fall prey to a common mistake that irks most employers: using cliché keywords. In a 2009 CareerBuilder survey, employers cited these common phrases as overused and often ignored by hiring managers:
  • People person: 39 percent
  • Go-getter: 38 percent
  • Team player: 33 percent
  • Hard-working: 29 percent
  • Multitasker: 28 percent
  • Self-starter: 27 percent
  • Results- or goal-oriented: 22 percent

These words are just empty fillers that don't say anything about your achievements. For an accountant position, for example, keywords might include "accounts payable" or "month-end reporting" -- words that actually say something about what you can do. Look over your résumé and find where you have listed generic qualities about yourself and replace them with keywords that match the job to which you are applying.

4. Make your achievements stand outMany job seekers list their job duties on their résumés, but not their accomplishments. Although your past duties are important, employers care more about your ability to produce results. Try separating your daily functions from your achievements by first listing your job duties in a paragraph format, and then incorporating a bulleted area below that is titled "key accomplishments" to list your successes.

5. Quantify your accomplishmentsApplicants often don't know the difference between quantifying results and just stating a job responsibility. A job responsibility is something that you do on a daily basis; a quantified achievement is the result of that responsibility. By quantifying results, you show employers what you can actually do for them. So, if your current résumé is a block of words and you don't have one number in there, whether it's dollars, percentages or comparative numbers, you need to make some revisions.

6. Include a summary or objectiveIncluding a summary on your résumé is one of those steps that many job seekers forget to take -- and if they do remember, they usually include the wrong information. Employers want to know if you're a good fit for their organization, so writing something like, "To gain experience in X industry," doesn't say much about you or what you can do for the employer. Your career summary should portray your experience and emphasize how it will help the prospective employer. It should be specific and include explicit industry-related functions, quantifiable achievements or your areas of expertise.

7. Fill in the gapsMost people will tell you to wait to explain any gaps in your work history until you get to the interview. But there's a good chance that you won't get that opportunity if there are gaps in the first place. If, for example, you were laid off at the beginning or height of the recession and are still unemployed, try using the functional résumé format we explained earlier. Or, if you feel comfortable doing so, explain what you were doing during lapses between jobs. The employer will know you aren't trying to hide a sketchy past.

8. Keep it simpleHow many times do we have to tell you? Do not, by any means, format your résumé with crazy fonts or colors or print it on fluorescent paper. Find an uncommon, yet attractive and simple layout to catch the employer's eye, instead of his wastebasket.

9. Double-check for the basicsSilly as it sounds, many people get so caught up in formatting and proofreading that they don't check for the most basic information, such as an e-mail address, phone number and permanent address. Double-check that your résumé has this information -- none of your hard work will pay off if no one can get ahold of you.

10. Check for consistencyTake a look over last year's résumé and make sure there are no inconsistencies. If you decide to include periods at the end of your sentences, for example, make sure they are at the end of each one. If you chose to list your job duties, followed by an accomplishment in that duty, make sure you do so throughout your résumé. Use consistent fonts, sizes, bullets and other formatting options. Employers will notice your attention to detail and assume your work quality is of the same standard.





Source: careerbuilder

Is shaving experience off your résumé a good idea

Just because you have enough work experience to cover three pages doesn't mean you need to include it all on your résumé. In fact, trimming your résumé to create a more targeted message about your skills and achievements can be a better way to land your next job.

Most employers are interested in knowing only the most applicable ways your skills can help their organization, and a concise résumé is the first step. "It's vital to make sure the relevant information is at the forefront and easily viewed by the reader," says résumé expert Charlotte Weeks and founder of Weeks Career Services.

Not sure which experience to leave off your résumé? Here's what to consider:

Decades-old experience
Most hiring managers don't care what you did 20 years ago, unless it was something truly spectacular. As you revamp your résumé, be sure to focus on the last 10 years of your experience, with only a few mentions of previous achievements to provide breadth. But there's always a caveat: If the role you held 20 years ago is still essential to your experience and it won't make you appear overqualified, leave it in.

Appearing overqualified
Jam-packing your résumé with too much experience can hinder your chances of getting hired. Most recruiters and hiring managers are looking for candidates with just the right amount of experience. As a general rule, shave off experience "when you've been working a lot longer than the years required for the job," Weeks says.

Unrelated industry jobs
Once you've racked up enough experience, it's OK to skip the mention of your summer college job or a position you held in an unrelated industry. While leaving it on your résumé can demonstrate work ethic, it can also create a cluttered document that can confuse recruiters. As you gain more experience, most recruiters expect that irrelevant positions will no longer be listed on your résumé.

Short-term jobs
Even if it pertains to your field, there's typically no need to include a short-term position. For example, if you're applying for a marketing manager role and you held a three-month stint in a marketing department five years ago, feel free to take it off. The only instance where keeping a short position on your résumé is beneficial is if it is the only proof of industry experience.

Internships
When you're just starting out, your internships are everything. However, as you progress in your career, these internships should be replaced with a more solid employment history that includes more permanent positions.

Create different versions
As you whittle down your résumé, there's no need to think you need to make the same trims for every position, Weeks says. For each position, she suggests looking at the specific job positing to see what of your experience is most relevant. "See what requirements they're seeking, and make sure you include this information -- if you legitimately have it -- on your résumé," she says.

Condense work experience
Not sure how to fit in your most recent experience on your résumé? One trick is to condense other bullet points. The older the job, the less information you need to provide about your role and achievements, Weeks says.

As you build your résumé, it's important to take time to reassess the applicability of your experience. Since most résumés are one to two pages, it's important to constantly edit to keep only the most relevant parts of your experience. This can be difficult with a 20- or 30-year employment history, but it's often the only way to get hired.





Source: careerbuilder

Honesty is the Best Policy in Résumés and Interviews

When Jessica* couldn't provide a hard copy of her degree to a potential employer, the company contacted the college itself. A background check confirmed that Jessica was one class short of earning her degree. Despite the false claim, the hiring manager employed Jessica, only to terminate her shortly thereafter for performance problems.

Not all candidates are as lucky as Jessica to get a second chance after getting caught lying on their résumé: 57 percent of employers automatically dismiss applicants who fabricate any part of their résumés, according to a July 2008 survey by CareerBuilder. But, as millions of people search for jobs in the tough employment market, candidates like Jessica are going to extremes -- like lying on their résumés -- to stand out to employers.

Although only 8 percent of the 8,700 workers surveyed admitted to lying on their résumés, 49 percent of the 3,100 hiring managers have caught a job applicant fabricating some part of his or her résumé.
"Even the slightest embellishment can come back to haunt you and ruin your credibility," says Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources for CareerBuilder.com. "If you're concerned about gaps in employment, your academic background or skill sets, invention is not the answer."

Compelling reasonsThe bleak job forecast has sent many job seekers into panic mode, but desperation is not a valid reason for lying to get ahead of the competition. Not only are your falsehoods likely to catch up with you eventually, but the long-term consequences far outweigh the short-term rewards.

"It's [never] OK to lie or embellish a résumé or application. It can cost you your license, your job, your salary, your reputation, your credibility and your freedom," says Lisa Mininni, president of Excellerate Associates, an organizational consulting company. "It is not only unfair to the countless other honest candidates, but to employees who work with this employee. It is a matter of integrity even in the face of adversity." 

It seems like a no-brainer, but you'd be surprised at how job seekers have convinced themselves that it's OK to embellish the facts. Jessica, for example, blamed it on a friend's advice to indicate that she had a degree; she took none of the responsibility herself.

"Passing the buck or a lapse in good judgment is no excuse [for lying]. It is your résumé, so carefully consider the content," Mininni says. 

Here are a few reasons why she says people lie on their résumés or in an interview.
  • They over analyze a past employment issue and think it's worse than it actually is, so they try to cover it up.
  • They think it is easier to lie than to explain it, acknowledge it or accept responsibility for it.
  • In an interview, people sometimes have difficulty coming up with an example when asked. Instead, they try to make something up rather than admitting they don't have one. 
When it comes to deception in your job search, there are certain areas that are more common to embellish than others. Here are areas job seekers fib about and why, plus ways you can get around being deceitful:

Dates of employment 
Why job seekers lie: People think it's necessary to cover up or omit potentially negative employment situations like gaps between jobs or short-term employment, Mininni says.
 
How to spin it: Address discrepancies about dates of employment in your cover letter. Be honest about what you did during the breaks between employments and identify any relevant transferable skills you learned during that time.

"If you've only spent one month at a job, it should still be included in your employment history," Mininni says. More employers are conducting background checks and/or confirming dates of employment, so take a paragraph in your cover letter to say that you're looking for a job where you can really thrive and grow professionally -- you just haven't found it yet. 

Education
 

Why job seekers lie: There are many lies job seekers tell about education: alleging that they attended college when they didn't; declaring a degree at a school they never went to; or claiming to have a degree at all when they really never finished college.
 
How to spin it: "Companies are looking for the value you bring to the organization and often have 'or equivalent' statements in their job requirements," Mininni says. "If you have the equivalent amount of experience in lieu of a degree, you will want to highlight that experience."
If you went to college but didn't finish, don't focus on the lack of a degree. Instead, outline other education you acquired through professional certifications or company-sponsored education, she suggests.

Experience, accomplishments and job titles 
Why job seekers lie: People often inflate previous experience, undertakings and job titles when they apply for jobs where they aren't qualified, Mininni says. "It's interesting how many people don't know their actual titles," she says. "If you don't know, don't guess.  Ask your manager." 
 
How to spin it: "If you don't have the required experience, focus on your natural talents.  Are you known as the idea generator, the communicator or the process improver? This will be important to highlight and provide examples of how you have demonstrated those natural talents and how it aided the company," Mininni says.

Salaries 
Why job seekers lie: Candidates inflate their salaries in an effort increase their starting offers, Mininni says. Unfortunately, upon checking, the employer discovers the exaggeration. 
 
How to spin it: Keep in mind the responsibilities of the position, the scope and the job market. If you've stayed at your company for 25 years and haven't received market increases, you may be behind the market. Researching what the current market pays is critical in knowing your leverage points when it comes time to talk salary.

Criminal history 
Why job seekers lie: Some people lie through omission because the extent of their criminal record is a misdemeanor assault charge from high school. Others lie about more serious offenses. Perhaps they had a drug problem and got their nursing license taken away, or they were jailed for embezzlement. 
 
How to spin it: Own up to the situation or use that experience to reinvent yourself, Mininni says. Look for jobs that don't tie in to your criminal background -- for example, if you had drug issues, don't try to work in medicine, and if you embezzled, don't work with money. Learn to use your skills in different ways and sell that to the employer.

Consider these tips when working with potential deal-breakers on your résumé:
  • Highlight your achievements. "One [fault] does not negate the entire career.  Highlight your achievements making sure to note the result your initiatives had on the organization," Mininni says.
  • Be prepared for the interview. If you have any blips on your résumé, be prepared to answer questions. Always be able to discuss what you learned from the situation. "In a tight job market, one blemish doesn't necessarily rule you out of a job, but polished interviewing skills and dressing for success become increasingly important especially if you have to overcome a tarnished history," Mininni says.
  • Network. If someone can recommend you, it goes a long way to getting the interview -- even if you have a conviction on your application, Mininni says. "Make sure your network is broad and outside of your comfort-zone network. If you're just out of college, make sure there is more than just your college roommate on your reference list and in your network," she says.  


Source: careerbuilder

10 Ways to Stand Out From Your Competition

Job hunting on the Internet is fast, easy and economical. According to a survey of out placed managers by international outplacement consulting firm Lee Hecht Harrison, more than 40 percent of those who posted their resume or retrieved job listings online got interviews as a result.

Only problem is, with the sheer volume of job seekers on the prowl, it can be hard to get an employer's attention. Most companies today use an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) to scan resumes and weed out irrelevant candidates. The systems use keywords and phrases that describe the required skills, education and experience to place the most qualified resumes at the top of the list. So, how do you make it past the gate keeping technology?

Here are 10 things you should keep in mind:


  • Pay close attention to the employer's or recruiter's instructions for submitting your resume on each posting. What format should the resume be in and should it be embedded in an e-mail, e-mailed as an attachment, faxed or mailed? Do they want you to include a position code to help them identify the job you're applying for?

  • Don't get labeled a resume spammer by applying for jobs you are not qualified for or by applying for the same job several different times.

  • Do post one or more versions of your resume on national online recruitment sites. It gives employers' 24/7 access to your credentials and targets your resume to more jobs.

  • Think twice about using a resume distribution service that "blasts" your resume to thousands of recruiters, headhunters and potential employers. The resumes are generic and may not address the actual job qualifications. Corporate recruiters are largely unimpressed as one described these mass mailings as "a lazy person's way of looking for a job."

  • All resumes should be accompanied by a brief cover letter or note (it should take no more than two screens to read) that specifies the job you are applying for and sells your credentials. Make sure you use keywords so that search engines will pick up on them. Since most e-mail programs don't have spell-check, you may want to compose it in a word-processing program and copy and paste it into the e-mail message.

  • If you've sent your resume to a corporate Web site, follow up once to see if the job is still available and remind the employer that you are interested and highlighting one or two qualifications.

  • While fancy resume designs may look attractive on a hard copy, they could pose formatting problems online. Remember to keep it simple. Choose a standard typeface and avoid using any graphics or shading or indents. To enhance readability of your text resume, make sure you left justify all text. Most online sites give you the ability to preview your resume before it is submitted. Make sure you do so thoroughly.

  • Never send an unsolicited resume as an e-mail attachment. Fearful of viruses, many companies warn employees not to open attachments from unknown senders.

  • Make sure your resume is noun-intensive. Scanning technology used by most companies tends to search by nouns, not verbs. For example, instead of writing "managed projects" on your resume, write "project manager."

  • You may also want to include a Career Summary section at the top of your resume to allow you to use more of the keywords and jargon that describe your skills and accomplishments. This will increase your chances of your resume making the first cut by the ATS as well as the recruiting staff. 





  • Source: careerbuilder 

    When Your Skills Aren't a Perfect Match

    In the course of a job search, it's very common for job seekers to locate openings that closely match their skills and experience but are not a perfect fit. So what do you do when the description fits you to a tee but your skills fall just a little short?

    Overwhelmingly, experts say that you should not be discouraged and should apply for the job. Consider these dos and don'ts for getting noticed for the skills you do have instead of those you lack.

    DO use a functional resume. A functional resume emphasizes experience. It can be tailored around the specific job you are trying to land by highlighting the credentials that most qualify you for the position. Experts suggest that you strategically order your qualifications based on the order they appear in the job description. Typically, the most important job duties are listed at the beginning of the job ad and the less important ones at the end.

    DO insert job skill categories into your resume to highlight the specific experience and unique qualities you possess and how they relate to the job requirements. This is a highly-effective way to grab the hiring manager's attention. Depending on the type of job you are applying for, categories might include "sales management," "customer service," "account management," or "copywriting."

    DON'T over-inflate your qualifications to land an interview. There's nothing worse than exaggerating your experience and being called on it during the interview. It's better to be truthful about the skills and experience you do possess rather than face this embarrassing situation in the interview.

    DO write a compelling cover letter to accompany your resume. Cover letters should be no more than one page in length and should convince the reader that you have something valuable to contribute to their company. It should address the job requirements and how your experience applies. If you possess four of the required five - six skills the company is seeking, your letter should emphasize these four and ignore the skills you lack. A good cover letter should show the reader that you have researched their company and that it will be worth their time to interview you.

    DON'T be tempted to re-use a standard cover letter. A cover letter is your first chance to make a positive impression. Don't blow it by using an uninspired message. Customize your letter for the specific job. Hiring managers can see right through generic ones and may sort them right into the circular file.

    DO ask yourself the following question: "If I were the hiring manager, why would I hire this person over the others who applied?" Use the answer as your inspiration when writing your cover letter.

    DON'T neglect your interpersonal skills. The ability to work well with others, maintain a positive attitude, and handle confidential information are crucial qualities that all employers seek in their candidates. You should emphasize these attributes in your cover letter and resume.

    DO show that you are willing and able to learn new skills. If you lack a required skill, but are a good match otherwise, consider signing up for a course on the topic and mention this in your cover letter. If experience is the best teacher for a required skill, show how you have learned other desirable skills in your present job to demonstrate your ability to learn while you work.

    DON'T limit your experience to paid jobs. Many skills are learned through volunteer work, hobbies, school, church and community activities. Be sure to include these life-learned skills in your communication to potential employers. For instance, if the job posting requires budget management skills, show how your role as treasurer for the PTA taught you how to manage multiple projects and budgets and report spending.

    Bottom line, no matter how you handle these near-perfect matches, remember to always emphasize the positive.




    Source: careerbuilder

    Q&A: Your Cover Letter Questions Answered

    Time and time again, studies indicate that cover letters are read in less than 60 seconds. That's all the time it takes for most recruiters and employers to decide whether or not you're a candidate worth interviewing.
    To progress beyond this point, you have to be savvy about what's in your cover letter and how you present it.
    But how do you do that?

    Wendy Enelow and Louise Kursmark, co-authors of "Cover Letter Magic" and two of the nation's most
    reputable career coaches, offer the tips you need to write a cover letter that generates great results. Below are some of the most common questions they hear from clients, as well as their responses to them.

    Q. How long should my cover letter be?A. Generally, cover letters should be one page in length. This is true for approximately 90 percent of all cover letters.
    There may be instances, however, when one page is not enough. If you believe that the information you are including in your letter is essential information that is not communicated in your résumé, go ahead and prepare a two-page letter. But be sure that everything you've included is vital to favorably presenting yourself to a company or recruiter.
    Two-page letters are most frequently used by the following types of job seekers: career changers, industry changers, senior executives, scientists and technologists, people seeking government jobs and people seeking university and academic appointments.

    Q. Should I include salary information in my cover letter?A. It depends. We are of two minds. We offer dual recommendations in two situations but agree with one another on the other two situations. See which rationale seems right to you.
    If you are responding to an advertisement that has requested your salary history or salary requirements:
    · Supply the information. If you do not provide this information when requested, certain companies and recruiters will not look at your materials.
    · Don't supply the information. Repeated surveys show that nearly 100 percent of readers said they will look at your résumé and call you for an interview even if your salary information is not included. Why give them ammunition to screen you out?
    If a personal contact or source you've uncovered during your search has requested your résumé and salary information:
    · Supply the information. To do otherwise would seem unresponsive and impolite.
    · Consider addressing the issue without providing numbers that can be detrimental in a future salary negotiation. Say something such as, "I'd be glad to discuss salary when we meet, once I learn more about the position and you have the chance to assess my fit for your needs."
    When contacting companies either as a cold call or in response to an ad where salary information has not been requested:
    · Do not supply the information. It is much better to have this conversation in person rather than on paper. Always try to defer any discussion of salary until you have been offered the position.
    When writing "cold" to recruiters:
    · Always offer salary information. It helps them determine your "proper fit" within a hiring organization. A recruiter will not work with you without knowing whether you match the requirements (including salary) for the specific position she is attempting to fill.

    Q. Should I follow up a faxed or e-mailed résumé?A. We recommend that you do not mail a hard copy if you have already transmitted your information electronically. Electronic communication is now a totally acceptable method of communication in virtually any business, industry and market sector. The only time you should follow up with hard copy is when it has been requested.

    Q. What if I don't know the addressee's name?A. It's a personal choice. Take a look at the following possible salutations:
    · Dear Sir/Madam. All-purpose and inoffensive, although it might be perceived as stodgy and old-fashioned.
    · To Whom It May Concern. Another standard; has the downside of being impersonal and old-fashioned.
    · Dear Hiring Executive (or Hiring Committee). Formal, but appropriate.
    · Dear Human Resources (or Human Resources Representative). Acceptable only if you're writing to a "blind ad" that lists only a P.O. box and you cannot call to get a specific individual's name.
    · Dear Hiring Authority. Acceptable only if, despite your best efforts, you have been unable to uncover the name of the non-HR person to whom you're sending your résumé.
    · Good Morning (or Good Day). A bit more up-to-date, but it reminds us of junk-mail greetings that try (unsuccessfully) to be personal.
    · Re: Job Title You're Applying For (leaving off a specific salutation). A useful method for replying to want ads, when you truly don't know to whom you are sending your résumé. We think it's preferable to the "Dear Human Resources" greeting.
    · No Salutation (begin your letter immediately after the inside address). Again, perfectly acceptable for want-ad replies. Might be considered an improvement over old-fashioned, nonspecific greetings.

    Q. What if I'm unsure of the addressee's gender?A. Simple answer: Dear R. Smith (assuming that "R. Smith" is the contact name listed in the ad). But do make an effort to find out the person's gender so you can address your letter to "Dear Mr." or "Dear Ms."

    Q. Do I need to mention why I'm in the job market?A. It depends. There's certainly no requirement that you do so, but if your reason is particularly legitimate (such as a plant closing or a management change due to the successful initial public offering you were instrumental in negotiating), you might send a positive message by mentioning this information. In any event, be prepared for the question, "Why are you leaving your current job?" or "Why are you looking?" to come up early in your search. Practice a concise, positive and believable response. Never badmouth your company, boss or co-workers.




    Source: careerbuilder

    10 Ways Your Resume Irks Hiring Managers



    Fashion designer Coco Chanel had a personal rule: Before she left the house, the style icon always removed one piece of her ensemble to avoid the faux-pas of wearing too many accessories.  Were Chanel alive today and working as a hiring manager, she would likely offer similar advice to job seekers: You don't have to include everything. 

    Job seekers do themselves a disservice when they send out resumes with more information than they need. Most employers don't have the time or patience to sift through the irrelevant details. Here are 10 things your resume could do without:

    1. Spelling mistakes and grammatical errors. "If you are careless enough to send out this most important document with a mistake... I immediately assume you'll never care enough about the work you send out representing my company," says Jose Bandujo, president of New York-based Bandujo Advertising. He recalls one candidate who misspelled Manhattan, despite having worked in the city for a decade and another whose great educational background didn't compensate for the fact that he couldn't spell "education."
    2. Opening objectives.
    "These are generic... They do nothing to differentiate one candidate from another," says Donna Flagg, president of The Krysalis Group, a human resource and management consulting firm in New York. 
    3.  Personal attributes. Listing personal information such as height, weight and age and providing photographs is a pet peeve for Heather Mayfield, vice president of training and operations for Snelling Staffing Services.  "It is amazing that we still see this on the résumés of today, but they are out there."
    4. Interests and hobbies. 
    If these points of information don't pertain to the job in question, there's no need to include them.  "Create a mystery and save these kinds of data points when you start the job," advises Roy Blitzer, author of "Hire Me, Inc.: Resumes and Cover Letters that Get Results." 
    5. Details of every task you've ever performed in every job you've ever had.
    "It's too much information. Managers and recruiters need to know at-a-glance what makes a candidate special," Flagg says. Focus on those details that pertain to the job for which you're applying.
    6. Excessive bragging.
    Stating one's accomplishments can be helpful, but when it's overdone, the candidate can come across as narcissistic, a huge turnoff for employers, Flagg says.
    7. Outdated information. 
    Leave off the activities that you did in high school if graduation was a few years ago and omit jobs you held 10 or more years ago, as the information is probably irrelevant to the position you're trying for now.
    8. False information.
    "Putting [that you have] a B.S. on a resume when you do not have one is 'BS,'" jokes Stephen Viscusi, author of "On the Job: How to Make it in the Real World of Work." Not only is lying on a resume unfair and dishonest, it's also not very intelligent.  "Companies verify dates of employment -- often after you start. If you have lied, they fire you...Nobody wants to hire a liar. Nobody."
    9. Unexplained gaps in work history.
    While job seekers should account for these gaps, they should be careful with their wording.  "One of the weirdest things that I ever saw on a résumé... was a candidate who explained a 10-year lapse in work experience as being in jail during those years for killing her husband," recalls Linda Goodspeed, marketing recruiting manager at VistaPrint.  In such a situation, she says, the best thing to write would be "left work for personal reasons," and the candidate would be able to explain the criminal record later. 
    10. A lack of professionalism. 
    Colored paper, cutesy fonts, links to personal websites and childish e-mail addresses all scream unprofessional and are a turn off to hiring managers.  One otherwise qualified applicant didn't get an interview at Bandujo's firm solely because of the name in her email address: "weird2themax." "I recognize the advertising industry is full of talented, interesting 'characters'," Bandujo says, "but did I really want one who thought she was weird to the max?" No, he decided, he did not.





    Source: careerbuilder

    Avoid These Résumé Blunders

    A résumé in and of itself may not get you that killer job, but if you blunder in composing it, you might kill any chance for an interview.

    Here are some blunders, big and not so big, to avoid when putting your résumé together:
    • Lying about your experience.
      Augmenting your credentials with a little fiction might help you get the job, but you almost certainly will be found out. This could cause you to be fired sometime down the road. Worse, you will have gravely harmed your reputation within your chosen industry. Industry people travel in the same circles. It's highly likely that your employer will someday bump into someone who knows the real you, so don't say you were Phi Beta Kappa if you were a C student. Even a little white lie can backfire.
    Here's a real workplace example: An employee's company was relocating to another state, and people were offered severance packages if they did not want to move. This man used the company fax machine to send a résumé to a potential employer. He listed his current position as chief information officer, when in fact he was not involved in technology at all and held a lesser title. He was found out because he left his résumé in the company fax machine, where co-workers found it. Not only did he not get the new job, he lost the one he had, along with severance benefits he would have received.
    • Typos and misspellings.
      You send a very negative message about your quality of work and attention to detail if your résumé and cover letter aren't perfectly clean. Don't rely on your computer's spell check function. Your computer won't know if you negotiated with unions or onions. Review each word carefully, and have someone else review it too. Even if you are a good word person, it's easy to miss a typo because you know what you intended to write.
    • Cutesy-pie layouts and stationery.
      Some people believe that their résumé will stand out in the crowd if they stray from the conventional layout. This might work well if you are sending a résumé for a creative job like a graphic artist and you know that someone is definitely going to look at it. It could work against you, too. In fact, some companies scan résumés into a computer for later review. If yours is too radical, it may not scan and you won't be considered at all. If you want to alter the color of your stationery, make sure the cover letter and résumé are the same color. And keep it conservative - no hot pinks.
    • Telling too much about yourself.
      Don't feel that you have to share personal information, and be careful what you do share. You might run into someone's bias, so avoid hitting those hot buttons. If you were president of the Young Republicans, your Democrat interviewer may not be impressed. Working for environmental or political causes won't impress everyone the same way. If you list golf as a hobby, someone might think you would spend too much time on the course. Even mentioning leadership roles at your place of worship could keep you from getting an interview. You can always discuss what's important to you once you are seated face to face, but don't deny yourself that opportunity.



    Source: careerbuilder

    Don’t Apply Without a Cover Letter

    Chances are you went through several drafts of your résumé before you submitted it to a prospective employer. You wrote and rewrote each line several times and had friends, family, even strangers proofread it. But if you send it off without enclosing a cover letter, your hard work may never be seen.

    According to a CareerBuilder.com survey, 66 percent of hiring managers prefer a good cover letter attached to a résumé. Think of it as the first chance to stand out in a sea of applicants. Your cover letter, if done well, tells the hiring manager you are qualified for the job and a serious candidate. Perhaps more important is the opportunity to show your personality.

    For this reason, many hiring managers discard any résumés that don’t have cover letters. Omitting a cover letter tells the employer that you can’t make the effort to sell yourself and to save him or her some time. Writing a cover letter is an easy way to keep yourself in the game.

    Here are some things to remember as you write your cover letter:

    It’s your cover letter, not your memoir
    Keep the cover letter to a few organized paragraphs that fit on one page. You want to give the reader a glimpse into your personality and your ability as an employee, but no one needs to know every little detail about your life.

    Be yourself
    Being yourself doesn’t mean being your Saturday-night self. It means putting a little personality into your writing. Recruiters aren’t looking for jokes, but they do want to know a real person is applying for the job. Just changing the “To” and “From” fields in a form letter will come across as lazy and generic. Use your own words and ideas.

    Let the résumé speak for itself
    Hiring managers read the cover letter before they (hopefully) flip the page to look at the résumé. They might decide they don’t want to read the résumé if your cover letter sounds like it’s restating the exact same information without offering anything new. Discuss a specific achievement or experience that shows your qualifications for the job. The cover letter and résumé combined give you their attention for only two pages, so don’t waste it repeating yourself.

    Know your audience
    If your boss greeted you each morning by saying, “Hello, employee,” you’d be irked she didn’t know your name. Cover letters beginning “Dear Sir or Madam” and “To Whom It May Concern” leave similar impressions. If the job posting does not specify who will receive the applications, find out. Look online or call the company’s main line to ask for the name of the corporate recruiter or hiring manager. Once you find out, use a formal title such as Mr., Ms. or Mrs. It adds a personal but professional touch that will be appreciated.

    Why you want this job
    Sure, a paycheck would be nice, but hopefully you want this job for another reason. The company’s history, accomplishments and culture probably played a role in your decision to apply. Let the hiring manager know. It tells him or her that you’ve done your homework and are serious about being a member of the team.

    Your manners
    Even though job hunts are increasingly taking place online, you still need to adhere to business etiquette. As you would on any professional correspondence, include your full contact information as well as the hiring manager’s name and company address. And of course, avoid any typos and grammatical errors, which include netspeak (k? thx).

    Take your time
    You already know how important a cover letter is, so don’t rush through it. Treat it with the same care you used for your résumé. Check your facts. Write several drafts, revise it and look it over again. Let your first impression be a good one.
     
     
     
     
     

    The One Thing That Will Improve Your Résumé

    Too many books on résumé writing are out-of-date. Although well-intentioned and filled with other good information, most have not been updated for the modern job search.

    Your résumé will be seen by many eyes, including electronic. Computers "score" résumés by the number of keywords (also known as "buzzwords") the employer will find most relevant. If you don’t account for this, your résumé could stay locked in some database, never to be even seen by anyone while you wait for a call that never comes.

    Write a "Keyword Competencies" section.

    One solution for the electronic gatekeeper (or applicant tracking system) is to include a special section called a "Keyword Competencies" section. You want to focus on the words most likely to be used by either a HR administrator, hiring manager or recruiter. They search résumés by keywords. The greater number of relevant keywords you can include, the higher relevancy score your résumé will be given.

    This section should list all the relevant keywords pertaining to your career and skills. This section is best listed at the beginning of your résumé to introduce the skill sets you possess early on from an interviewing standpoint. Include no more than 75 keywords.

    For example, if you were a Java Programmer, your "Keyword Competencies" section might look something like this:

    "Java, Visual C++, perl, ticl, application development, visual basic, Windows NT/XP, programming, GUI, html, project management, layer 2, BSEE."

    The idea here is to put in as many relevant, searchable keywords that describe your potential job title, technical skills, management or organizational skills, relevant software and/or mechanical abilities and expertise. Include anything that might be important to the particular job.

    In addition, if you can locate a description of an actual job or one similar to the actual job for which you are applying, copy in all the applicable buzzwords listed under required and desired skills. This includes education levels (if they require a BS in Electrical Engineering, then include "BSEE" as well).

    If you spend some time on this, you should easily come up with a list of from 40 to 80 relevant searchable keywords to include here.






    Source: careerbuilder

    Grammar lessons all job seekers should know

    When applying for a job, there are few faster ways to get your résumé and cover letter thrown out of contention than by making a glaring grammatical error.

    These days, human resources departments and hiring managers are flooded with résumés. They have to be narrowed down somehow, and grammatical errors are an easy way to eliminate applicants.

    "In an era of spell check, easily edited documents and instantly shared 'can you give this a look' emails, typos and grammatical errors on résumés and/or cover letters are pretty much unforgivable," says Sean Smith, president of Third Street, an Indianapolis-based marketing company. "The message sent by typing 'too' when it should be 'to' can literally be the difference between getting the nod or getting a no."

    Here is a proofreading checklist for your résumé and cover letter. 

    1. Know your homophones
    Homophones are words that sound the same but have different meanings, like too, to and two. Using the correct version on your résumé is crucial.
    "The misuse of your/you're, there/their/they're, and to/too/two occurs more times than I care to dwell on," says Marisa Brayman, a Web developer and blogger for Stadri Emblems, a company that designs embroidered patches. "If someone uses one of these incorrectly on a cover letter, he can say goodbye to his chances of ever landing a decent job. If this is due to a simple typo, that is one thing; however, in my humble opinion, if the individual doesn't know the difference between these basic words and has never bothered to take an hour out of his or her life to learn it, he or she is not deserving of landing a decent job."
    A quick refresher:

    Their, they're, there
    Their: The possessive form of "they." ("Applicants submitted their error-free cover letters.")
    They're: The contraction of "they are." ("I think they're getting the hang of this grammar thing.")
    There: A location. ("The pile of cover letters is over there.")

    Two, too, to
    Two: A number. ("There are two applicants in the lobby.")
    Too: Also. ("I'd like to be interviewed for the job, too.")
    To: A preposition or infinitive. ("I'm going to apply.")

    Your, you're
    Your: The possessive form of "you." ("Don't forget to proofread your résumé.)
    You're: The contraction of "you are." ("I have a feeling you're going to get this job.")

    It's, its
    The best-selling grammar bible, "Eats, Shoots, and Leaves" by Lynne Truss, best describes the difference between these two words:

    "To those who care about punctuation, a sentence such as 'Thank God its Friday' (without the apostrophe) rouses feelings not only of despair but of violence. The confusion of the possessive 'its' (no apostrophe) with the contractive 'it's' (with apostrophe) is an unequivocal sign of illiteracy and sets off a simple Pavlovian 'kill' response in the average stickler. The rule is: the word 'it's' (with apostrophe) stands for 'it is' or 'it has.' If the word does not stand for 'it is' or 'it has' then what you require is 'its.' This is extremely easy to grasp."
    Some other common homophones you should know:

    Whose and who's
    Every day and everyday
    2. Use apostrophes properly
    Apostrophes are used for a few reasons:
    • They indicate the possessive: "In my last job, I managed the CEO's calendar."
    • They indicate the omission of letters in words (i.e., in contractions).
    • They indicate the exclusion of numbers in dates: "I graduated college in '05."
    • They indicate time or quantity: "I must give my current employers two weeks' notice."

    Be sure to check your résumé for proper use of apostrophes, as well as for any erroneous punctuation. Apostrophes do not, for example, indicate the plural form of a singular noun. It is incorrect to say "I developed orientation programs to help new employee's get acclimated to the company."

    3. Keep tenses consistent
    "Building lists correctly is important," says Christina Zila, director of communications at Textbroker.com, a Las Vegas-based content-creation firm. "Use consistent verb tenses: If you start your job duties with 'managing multiple employees,' don't have your next point as 'prepared annual reports' but 'preparing annual reports.'"
    Similarly, as a general rule, all activities or accomplishments that you completed in the past should be in the past tense. Activities that you perform now should be in the present tense. This should be kept consistent throughout your résumé.

    4. Proofread and then proofread again
    The bottom line is that proofreading your application materials before submitting them is a must.
    "There are enough people with bad grammar pet peeves that there is virtually no position out there where grammar doesn't matter," says Debra Yergen, author of the "Creating Job Security Resource Guide." "Since a basic search-engine inquiry for 'grammar pet peeves' nets more than 400,000 returns, it's safe to say that hiring managers are paying close attention to grammar and other résumé and cover-letter errors. Read and reread everything you write for a job application, and if you doubt yourself even slightly, run your submission past someone you trust."




    Source: careerbuilder

    Making Your Résumé E-Friendly: 10 Steps

    It is important to provide a short, clear and concise electronic résumé! Some scanning systems and databases stop reading résumés after a certain number of lines, often after about one and a half pages, so be sure that your most important information appears early in the résumé.

    You can easily take your existing résumé and reformat it for electronic submission. Here are some quick guidelines to do so:

    1. Open your regular résumé file and select the Save As command on your toolbar, usually located under the file menu. Select Text Only, Plain Text or ASCII as the type.

    2. Close the file and then reopen it to make sure you are working from the new text-only version. You'll see that most graphic elements such as lines, images and bullet point symbols have now been eliminated. But if they haven't, go ahead and delete them. You may use equal signs in place of lines or borders and replace bullet points with plus symbols(+), asterisks (*) or hyphens (-).

    3. Limit your margins to no more than 65 characters wide.

    4. Use an easy-to-scan sans-serif type font, such as Courier, Arial or Helvetica.

    5. Eliminate bold, italics and underlining if any remain after saving as text-only.

    6. Introduce major sections with words in all uppercase letters, rather than in bold, italics or underlining.

    7. Keep all text aligned to the left.

    8. Instead of using bullets, use a standard keyboard character, such as an asterisk.

    9. Instead of using the Tab key or paragraph indents, use the space key to indent.

    10. When done, click Save or OK. Then reopen the file to see how it looks. Make any additional format changes as needed.

    Now test your electronic résumé by e-mailing it to a friend who uses a different Internet Service Provider. For example, if you use AOL, send it to a friend on Yahoo! or Hotmail. Also try sending it to someone who works in a large company to see how it transmits via their résumé into the body of the e-mail rather than sending it as an attachment. That way, they will be able to tell you how it looks when it shows up in their e-mail system and whether it is legible. After getting their feedback, make any adjustments necessary to fix it.




    Source: careerbuilder

    10 useless résumé words (and 10 eye-catching ones)

    "Generic hyperbole belongs on cereal boxes, not on résumés," says Duncan Mathison, a career consultant and co-author of "Unlock the Hidden Job Market: 6 Steps to a Successful Job Search When Times Are Tough." "If it does not pass the 'So what, anybody can make that claim' test, leave it off."

    Instead of being another candidate professing to be a "hard worker," revitalize your application with a little seek-and-replace exercise. Scan your résumé for empty, overused words such as the following:

    1. Outstanding
    2. Effective
    3. Strong
    4. Exceptional
    5. Good
    6. Excellent
    7. Driven
    8. Motivated
    9. Seasoned
    10. Energetic

    "Watch out for words that are unsupported claims of greatness," Mathison says. Adds David Couper, a career coach and author of "Outsiders on the Inside: How to Create a Winning Career ... Even When You Don't Fit In," "If you call yourself an 'excellent manager,' how do we know?"

    The nouns following those subjective adjectives can be equally meaningless. Anyone who has ever had a co-worker can claim to be a "team player." "Do not say you're a 'good communicator' or have 'excellent communication skills.' Who doesn't have these?" says Susan Ach, a career counselor at Marymount Manhattan College in New York City.

    A better route to take is describing accomplishments and letting the hirer make his own judgment. Give specific (preferably quantifiable) accounts of what you've done that makes you an "outstanding salesperson." Likewise, peruse performance reviews for quotable material from supervisors that demonstrates why they consider you a "strong leader." Listing awards or other forms of recognition also can be used as support.
    Some words should be avoided because they convey traits that employers consider standard for anybody who wants to be hired. "You're motivated? Hope so. A good worker? So happy to hear that; I didn't want to hire a bad worker," Couper says. Don't take up precious résumé space with unnecessary items.

    Also on the "don't" side: Words that seek to overcome what you might think are your shortcomings. "Using 'seasoned' for 'over 50' or 'energetic' for 'inexperienced' looks like spin and smells like spin," Mathison says. Keep the focus on what makes you right for the job.

    On the flipside, certain words can make hiring managers do a double-take. Light up their eyes with these 10 words:

    1. Created
    2. Increased
    3. Reduced
    4. Improved
    5. Developed
    6. Researched
    7. Accomplished
    8. Won
    9. On-time
    10. Under-budget

    "We suggest that résumé writers include action words to describe their jobs," Ach says. Verbs project the image of someone who has the background and initiative to get things done. Employers can clearly comprehend what you've accomplished in the past and can use that as a basis for envisioning future success with their company. Think about it: If you were hiring, would you rather take on someone who calls himself a "productive manager" or somebody who states that at his last job he "increased company profit by 3 percent," "reduced employee turnover in his department to the best level in five years," and "improved brand awareness by implementing a new social media strategy"?

    Lastly, it can be beneficial to use verbs and nouns that are common to your specific industry. This shows your familiarity with the language of your field and optimizes the chances of getting past an automatic scan for keywords. But remember, too, that all companies tend to speak a universal language: money. "Terms such as 'on-time' and 'under-budget' are often good. Hiring managers want to know you can get things done with minimum fuss," Mathison says. Tell them what makes you the most profitable choice for the job and employers will tell you the best word of all -- "hired."


    Source: careerbuilder

    Rock Your Résumé in Any Situation

    Whether you're currently employed, facing a layoff or looking for a job, keeping your résumé up-to-date is always important. In today's economy, however, it's even more vital to have a current copy of your résumé on hand. After all, you never know when an amazing job opportunity -- or pink slip -- might fall into your hands.

    "You have to be ready to submit your résumé on short notice," says Dustin DeVries, senior director of LEAD DAWG, a job search consulting firm. "Candidates who have taken time to update their résumé may be passed over for another candidate of similar caliber that is ready to go now. You just never know when that opportunity may land in your lap and you have to be ready to act."

    Updating one's résumé today, however, may not be as easy as it once was. As job losses and layoffs continue to swell, people have to do more with less to enhance their résumés. Job seekers are unsure how to deal with lack of employment, gaps between work, title demotions, less duties and shortened job spans when updating their résumés.

    Here are some ways to beef up your résumé if it is lacking in any of the following areas:

    You have a gap between jobs:Depending on the length of the gap, Miriam Salpeter of Keppie Careers, says you should fill in the gap with something you've been doing in your time off. This will show employers you've taken initiative during this period rather than waiting for something to fall into your lap.

    "Consider getting actively involved in volunteer projects and/or consulting opportunities, even if you do the work for free," Salpeter says. "This will allow you to use your skills in a way that is worth describing on your résumé."

    You've been laid off:No employer will be surprised see an applicant who's been laid off. Be honest about your departure, DeVries says. "In this economy, it's going to happen. Don't misrepresent that you're still employed by dating your last position as 'to present' if you're not currently with that company. [It's a] red flag if a recruiter sees [you] as currently employed when in fact you've been laid off."

    You were hired recently but laid off right away due to the economy:Don't leave any employment off your résumé, no matter how short a period you may have worked there. Just don't explain the details on your résumé.

    "In today's economy, most people will give you the benefit of the doubt that your departure was not a result of your performance," Salpeter says. "Be prepared to discuss it if it comes up in a conversation or interview."

    You were demoted or had a title change:Titles are just that -- a title. It says nothing about your specific accomplishments and your track record of meeting or exceeding metrics for your organization, DeVries says.

    "State your title, but focus [on] your achievements for the organization. Any good recruiter or potential employer is going to be most interested in your track record of meeting objectives no matter what your role," DeVries says. "A 'director' of marketing for one company may require something completely different from a 'director' role at another company. Focus on your measurable accomplishments."

    You went from a senior-level position to a "filler" position at lower level:In this situation, it's critical to include an objective that outlines what type of position you're looking for at the company where you're applying, DeVries says.

    "If you have to take a 'filler' position between professional positions, you need to include the role but place your focus on the activities you have maintained during that time to remain current in your professional field," he says. Volunteering, professional networking and taking classes are all things that will help keep you current.

    You're a recent college graduate with little experience:Most people have skills that they don't realize are important résumé builders, Salpeter says. DeVries agrees, saying that experience occurs any time you're gaining insight and perspective in your chosen field. Classes, volunteer experience, internships, leadership activities and professional networking groups are all examples of experience you can incorporate in your résumé.

    Now that you know how to correct any potentially sketchy parts of your résumé, here are five tips for keeping it up-to-date.

    1. Keep up with trends"Keep up-to-date with current trends for résumés and online profiles. Be sure that you are highlighting how you stand out and emphasizing what makes you special," Salpeter says.

    2. Keep a brag bookDeVries suggests keeping a log of your performance reviews, coaching reports from managers, sales reports, goal assessments and the like to use as content for your résumé.

    "You're going to be measured against someone else in most any position you may hold," he says. "Update this list each time you receive an e-mail from your manager or a report from your company. Include achievements applicable to the position to which you're submitting your résumé."

    Additionally, Salpeter suggests keeping a file of any nice things that supervisors, clients and colleagues say about you, and asking for recommendations on social networking sites like LinkedIn.

    3. List more than job duties"Listing job duties on your résumé is OK, but include the metrics you were held accountable for and your performance to those goals," DeVries says. "Many people just list the duty but don't include the scale of their accountability and how they performed."

    4. Always ask for feedbackNever stop asking for feedback or critique from colleagues, friends and experts. "You never know what someone may see in your résumé that needs further enhancement or may just need to be eliminated," DeVries says.

    5. Keep listsIn order to keep your résumé up-to-date, you need to keep a running list of your accomplishments and things you've done in the workplace, and add to it regularly, Salpeter says. Keep track of your digital profile, too, and recognize that your digital footprint is an important part of your professional presentation and job search.



    Source: careerbuilder

    Buzzwords That Can Damage Your Résumé


    Your résumé is designed to communicate your accomplishments and distinguish you from other job seekers, but there are certain words and phrases that can actually disguise your qualifications. For example, if an applicant writes, "Assisted manager in optimizing marketing campaigns," it's difficult to determine exactly what the person did or how he or she did it.

    Indeed, peppering your résumé with vague terms can be a red flag to employers, who may feel as though you are trying to exaggerate your qualifications or hide knowledge gaps.
    Here are some common buzzwords to avoid when writing your résumé and advice for what you should say instead:

    "Familiar with ..."
    Using this or similar terms -- "knowledge of ..." and "experience with ..." are close cousins --  can send your résumé to the bottom of a potential employer's pile of applications because your level of knowledge in a certain area can't be accurately determined using these phrases.

    For instance, an administrative professional who says she is familiar with Microsoft Access may have used the program everyday ... or only twice in several years. Be as specific as possible when discussing the skills you possess. For example: "Executive assistant with thorough knowledge of Microsoft Office applications, including daily use of Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Working toward Microsoft Office Specialist designation."

    "Optimize," "leverage" and "utilize."
    Many applicants insert business buzzwords into their résumés in an attempt to sound more accomplished or sophisticated. But rather than making you sound "in the know," these types of words can make it seem as though you can't communicate in a straightforward manner.

    Keep things simple: Instead of saying that you "utilized resources to improve company Web site," describe more specifically how you increased the number of visitors to the Web page. As much as possible, quantify your achievements to truly show the impact your actions had.

    'Responsibilities include ...'
    One of the biggest mistakes job applicants make is including a long, drawn out list of all of their duties in a previous position. Although it's OK to mention a few basic functions, hiring managers likely know the types of tasks you performed in a previous role and don't need a detailed breakdown. Instead, describe how you helped a previous employer save money or increase efficiencies, your advancement in a past role, or how you changed a job you held for the better.

    'CFA,' 'MCTS,' or 'CPS.'
    What do these letters stand for? They are all acronyms for common professional certifications (Certified Financial Analyst, Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist and Certified Professional Secretary, respectively). If you didn't know that, you can rest assured that many hiring managers won't either. This is especially true because the first person to see your résumé is often a human resources professional or internal recruiter, not the person who directly supervises the open position. As a result, try to avoid industry jargon so anyone reading your résumé can understand your unique selling points.

    Although it's best to steer clear of buzzwords in your résumé, you should use keywords to stand out from other applicants. Keywords are terms that appear in the job description. They describe duties, qualifications or certifications, for instance, and may be used by résumé-scanning software to determine which applicants best meet the qualifications of the job. Including phrases from the job description is a good idea, but only if the terms accurately describe your background.

    If you're wondering whether or not to use a word or phrase in your résumé, ask yourself if it helps convey the value you can bring to a prospective employer. If a term is used to cover for a lack of experience or make it sound as though you're a sophisticated insider when you're not, leave it out.



    Source: careerbuilder

    6 ways hiring managers are spotting résumé lies


    Thirty-eight percent of employees have embellished their job responsibilities at some point, and 18 percent have lied about their skills, according to a CareerBuilder survey. Other common lies surrounded information about employment start and end dates, academic degrees, previous employers and job titles.

    Here are six ways employers might be evaluating your résumé in today's digital world. These are not only good reminders that you shouldn't lie, but they'll also help you avoid mistakes that might make hiring managers question your honesty.

    1. They're performing a standard background check. Employers check on things such as work history, residences, dates of employment, etc. Managers look for discrepancies between what the candidate submitted and what the reports reveal.

    2. They're checking for red flags. Unexplained gaps in employment, a reluctance to explain the reason for leaving and unusual periods of self-employment can be a tip-off to false employment history. Since even references can be fake, employers might check the websites of previous employers and use the phone numbers found online for employment verification.

    3. They're using social networking sites. Social networking profiles contain public information that may help employers verify certain information such as a candidate's work history or education credentials. Both job seekers and employers should be aware of the possible legal ramifications of using social media to screen applicants.

    4. They're testing your skills. Knowing that employers use keyword searching to find and qualify their résumés, applicants may include keywords for all skills required for the job -- regardless of whether they have them or not. To confirm any embellishment, employers might ask specific technical questions about the candidate's stated skills or test the candidate's computer skills.

    5. They're willing to hear an explanation. Mistakes and misunderstandings do happen. If managers find a discrepancy, they might give the candidate an opportunity to explain. If this happens, have a good explanation for the error.

    6. They're following their intuition. When it comes to the difficult task of hiring a new employee, employers have to trust their intuition and experience. If something doesn't seem right, they'll probably follow up on it.




    Source: careerbuilder

    Covering Your Bases: Make Your Cover Letter Count

    Is a well-prepared resume enough to convince potential employers that you should be called in for an interview? Don't be too sure. Not including a cover letter with your resume -- even when you submitted it online -- is passing up a key opportunity to sell your skills.

    A recent nationwide survey by our company found that 60 percent of executives believe the cover letter is either as important as or more critical than the resume. A cover letter allows you to direct the reader's attention to aspects of your resume that are most relevant, demonstrate your knowledge of the company you're writing to and explain any part of your work history that needs clarification. The following guidelines can assist you in preparing a solid cover letter:

    Follow a standard business letter format. Try to address the letter to a specific individual, even if it means making several calls to determine his or her name and title. And be sure to ask for the correct spelling. A prospective employer who sees his or her name spelled incorrectly may assume you are not detail-oriented. Once you've determined the hiring manager's name, a good general rule for salutations is to use his or her first name only when you've been personally introduced and have already referred to that person by first name in conversation. Otherwise, use the person's surname preceded by Mr. or Ms. If you are responding to a classified ad with a box number, or if you're unable to obtain the spelling of the hiring manager's name, use a greeting such as, "To Whom It May Concern."

    Writing the opening. The opening sentence of a cover letter should announce its purpose (even though the purpose may seem obvious) and give the reader a compelling reason to read on. If someone mentioned the job opening to you, be sure to use his or her name in the introduction: "I am writing to you at the suggestion of John Doe, who told me you may be looking for an office manager."If you're responding to an advertisement for a job, say so in your letter: "I am applying for the marketing manager position advertised in the Daily News and would like to tell you about my qualifications."

    Demonstrate your knowledge of the company. Work a fact or observation about the company that isn't common knowledge into your opening paragraph. Such a statement tells the reader you've done some homework: "I have been following with great interest the success of your company in developing and marketing a line of satin skirts. That interest has prompted me to send you this letter, along with my resume." You could also say, "I am writing because I was taken with your recent ad in the San Francisco Chronicle. In light of the work your company is now beginning to do in gene splicing, I thought my previous research fellowship in this area would make me a valuable candidate for a position."

    Explain your current situation. Are you finishing school or in a full-time job? Can you begin work immediately or are you available upon completion of an internship? Clarify these points in your cover letter.

    Explain why this job interests you. Let potential employers know what you have to offer. Do you have any special abilities or knowledge that you could build upon if hired? A part-time job in college may have been in the same industry as the firm you're applying with now. Or you may have experience with a specific software application that will be used extensively in the position. On a similar note, be sure to research prospective employers and demonstrate that knowledge in your cover letter. Not only does this show that you have a genuine interest in the job, but it also indicates that you have initiative?a quality that is highly sought after in entry-level candidates.

    Briefly elaborate on one or two key points to draw attention to your resume. Give details about the most relevant parts of your work history for this particular position. For example: "I served two terms as president of ABC University's student golf club, where my responsibilities ranged from overhauling the organization's fee structure to representing our members in key meetings with faculty and other university leadership."

    Don't rehash your resume. The cover letter should generate interest in the resume, but not reiterate the same points.

    Have someone else review your cover letter. While you may have used spelling and grammar checkers on your computer, thoroughly proofread for any typos, poor grammar or spelling mistakes. Ask a friend or family member to review it as well. Remember, potential employers take cover letters very seriously, so be sure that you do, too.

    Closing the letter. End the letter with Sincerely, Sincerely Yours, Yours truly or Cordially.

    How about electronic cover letters? You still need a cover letter if you apply for a job via the Internet. Online letters do not need to be as lengthy as traditional ones, but the elements should remain the same. Use professional salutations such as "Mr." and "Ms.," and always include your full name, telephone number and mailing address. Appearances aside, what really matters in a cover letter is what it says -- and that it generates enough interest to draw people to your resume. Use the guidelines above to make sure what you state in your letter delivers exactly the message you want to convey.






    Source: careerbuilder

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