Don't have much experience? Here's how to boost your résumé

It's one of the most frustrating experiences any job seeker faces: After a rigorous search, you've found a job that you're really excited about, where you'll work on interesting things with like-minded people and in a great location. The catch? The job requires experience, often more than a recent college graduate has under his belt. As disheartening as this situation is, it isn't necessarily the end of the line.

Here are some ways you can boost your résumé to help you secure your dream job:

Become an intern
Many colleges and universities require students to complete an internship prior to graduation. This might lead some to believe that internships are only for students, which is untrue. Some internship programs do require that their interns receive class credit, but those are typically unpaid and rely on the class credits as compensation. Many paid internships have no student-status requirements or age limitations. Internships offer excellent experience and networking opportunities, and they can often lead to a full-time job offer.

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Experience doesn't have to come from the private sector. While volunteer work is mainly associated with altruism, there's no reason you can't benefit your career by volunteering your time as well. Doing nonprofit work that is associated with your education and your desired job is a great way to hone your skills, gain real-world experience, and help others in the process. Many companies encourage their employees to volunteer their time, which is a great opportunity for you to network with professionals and show how you'd fit in with the corporate culture.

Keep learning
Just because you've graduated, it doesn't mean that you're done learning. One question employers commonly ask in a job interview is how you've been spending your time since graduation. Telling them you've been sleeping late and filling out the occasional application isn't going to make you stand out. However, talking about continuing-education classes or industry-related seminars you've attended, and discussing how they relate to the position, will likely make a lasting impression.

Strengthen your cover letter
The cover letter is your opportunity to explain to an employer how your experience measures up to the company's needs. Highlight similarities between work you've done in the past and the work that will be required in the open position. Smart employers don't make their hiring decisions based on years of experience alone. This is your chance to sell them on why your specific experiences make you uniquely suited for the job.

Source: careerbuilder

Using The Right Keywords On Your Resume Will Be Very Important In 2013

About 85 million Americans work as white-collar professionals in the private sector, according to the Economic Policy Institute, a nonpartisan Washington, D.C.-based think tank.

Most of these jobs come with good, even outstanding salaries and generous benefits. Which is why competition for one of these gigs is intense.

Deloitte LLP, a global professional services firm frequently on the Best Companies To Work At lists, is no exception. The company, which employs roughly 50,000 professional services workers, most of them accounting, auditing or tax professionals, says it receives about 500,000 applications a year. And only about 3.5 percent -- 17,000 -- are hired.

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That's an acceptance rate lower than Harvard's.

So how exactly does one make it into the ranks of that 3.5 percent? Jen Steinmann, picture above, is Deloitte's chief talent officer and oversees hiring. In an interview with AOL Jobs, Steinmann spoke frankly about what it takes to make it through the hiring process onto Deloitte's staff.

And yes, she said connections can help -- a lot.

Q: Are you getting lots of applications from totally unqualified people, or do many of them seem to be in the right ballpark?

A: We get a lot of people who are truly qualified, on paper. At a minimum, a majority of applicants have the right experience. That's why everything [in the application process] matters; someone will form an opinion of the job applicant during every single interaction.

Q: Lots of job hunters are frustrated by the online application process. How large a role do computers play in weeding out resumes?

A: A human being will look at all the resumes that come our way. A computer may help with keyword searches to sort through resumes, but we have people looking at resumes. Deloitte is a company that specializes in professional services, so that's how we operate. We can tell when someone has put in a standard form and are canvassing a lot of companies. Yet if that applicant has the right metrics, all the things we want to see, we'll talk to them. But we will make a note of what we glean.

Q: Is a cover letter necessary? What do you want to see on it?

A: Cover letters should be short and hone in on who you are and who you are addressing. It's better to have a name if you can get it. And try to answer the question: What in your experience makes you qualified for that particular role? It's about storytelling, and the cover letter shines the spotlight while the resume tells the broader story.
Q: What are some of the common mistakes that get people's applications rejected?
A: Generally, a typo is a [deal-breaker.] It's a small thing, but it's evidence of how seriously you are taking this. Everything matters [in the job application process]. Any applicant will have anywhere between three and 10 interviews before they're hired. We pay attention to how you present yourself, from eye contact to your handshake. So another big mistake we see is what people do to follow up after an interview, such as forgetting to write a follow-up thank-you note. It's about how you present yourself.

People should have fun with [the whole application process]. Show enthusiasm. How do you differentiate yourself? The question is, "Why would someone want to engage with me?"

Q: What about references?

A: Once we've determined we'd like to make someone an offer, we'll check references. It's relatively late in the process, and that depends on the company. For people coming out of college, that might mean [calling] young employees who went to school with the applicant. Or we'll ask the greeters from the on-campus recruiting what they thought.

Q: How much do connections help?

A: We take referrals from our people very seriously. For our experienced hires (people who don't come from campus channels), approximately 45 percent come through the referral process. That also means a lot of people do not come from referrals.

How to Write a Winning Résumé

At the 2008 Summer Olympics, Michael Phelps became an international swim sensation after working hard to perfect his skills. Although he is only 23 years old, Phelps has already achieved worldwide recognition for his unparalleled achievements. What do you and Phelps have in common? You both have the ability to bring home the gold.

Practice makes perfectWinning résumés and victorious athletes share several features; they both rely on extensive preparation and hard work.
As you begin to create your résumé, you need to invest time researching the subject. Visit a local library or bookstore and review professionally written résumés that focus on your job title, area or industry. Concentrate on content, format and style. Will you need a section for professional experience, education, technological skills and affiliations? What type and size font should you use? Should your writing style be formal or casual? Once you decide on and are comfortable with your résumé's appearance, style and content, then you are ready to take the next step.
Job advertisements and official position descriptions are a treasure chest for résumé writers. Not only do they include required skills and experience, they also contain industry buzzwords or keywords. Employers use keywords as part of their selection criteria and incorporate them into their scanning software. Determine which keywords and phrases emphasize skills, strengths and achievements, then weave them into your content.

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Leverage your strengthsHow will your résumé differentiate you from the competition? In order to have a competitive advantage, your résumé needs to identify factors that define your unique value proposition. What information can you include that will impress prospective employers and convince them of your value?
Including a profile or qualifications summary in the beginning of your résumé is an opportunity to form a positive image in the employer's mind. Take time to develop and write your profile. Ask friends, colleagues and family to describe your personal and professional strengths and attributes. Find similarities between your personal and professional attributes and the competencies listed in the job announcement. Incorporate positive endorsements and testimonials into your profile. Remember your goal: You need to prove you are the best candidate for the open position.

Celebrate your successesResearch reveals that hiring managers review résumés for no more than 10 to 15 seconds; therefore, your writing needs to contain a "hook" that will immediately engage the reader. Although résumé writing is not an exact science, there are a few formatting guidelines you can follow.
· Limit the résumé's length to one or two pages.
· Try to present work experience in reverse chronological order.
· Do not include employment more than 15 years old.
· Focus on achievements, not tasks.
Employers are not interested in reading about your daily routine. They want to see accomplishments! What are you most proud of? How did you add value to your position or company? Did you increase profitability, reduce expenses, improve efficiency or boost productivity? Can you quantify your achievements? These are some questions your résumé needs to answer.
A proven method of identifying achievements is to ask, "What problems did I encounter?" "What actions did I take to solve them?" and "What were the results?" In her book "Job Search Magic," Susan Britton Whitcomb states this "creates a consistent, balanced visual impact and gives the appearance of a strong, long-term history for taking on challenges and delivering results."
As Michael Phelps discovered, winning the gold means working harder than your competition. Investing your time and energy to convince employers you will be a valuable asset to their team will heighten your chances of bringing home the gold.

Source: careerbuilder

Do I really need a cover letter? New thoughts on an old standard

Including a cover letter with your résumé is commonly considered a "golden rule" of job searching. But in this age of online applications and recruiters who need to scan material quickly, is this practice outdated?Consider the following: For his book "Unbeatable Résumés: America's Top Recruiter Reveals What REALLY Gets You Hired," author Tony Beshara asked hiring authorities from a variety of disciplines the question "How important is a cover letter when you are receiving résumés?" Of the more than 3,000 respondents, 86 percent said "not very important."
So if only 14 percent of the people seeing your résumé consider a cover letter important, is it worth doing?

To send or not to send
"Unless the employer specifically requests a cover letter, I would recommend that candidates do not include one," says Jen Rallis, author of "Ugly Résumés Get Jobs." "Many recruiters only spend a few minutes scanning a résumé and disregard cover letters all together." Instead, she favors a well-written summary of qualifications specific to the position being applied to at the top of the résumé.
Many experts, however, make the case that a concise, targeted cover letter has value. "In a cover letter, you can precisely match your qualifications to job requirements and/or to the company to a degree that is difficult on a résumé," says Pennell Locey, senior consultant for Keystone Associates, a career management consulting firm headquartered in Boston. "Choose no more than five key points where you feel your qualifications directly make you a standout, and highlight the specifics of those in your letter. Bullet points rather than a narrative can make it easy for an employer to read."

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"From a recruiting standpoint, I would likely look at a cover letter after reading someone's résumé," says Tracy Cashman, partner and general manager of the information technology division of Winter, Wyman -- one of the largest staffing firms in the Northeast. "I am more interested in examining a person's work experience and skills than reading the sometimes 'fluffy' nature of a cover letter." Still, she notes that a cover letter can be helpful, especially when it explains something that can't really be covered in the résumé itself, such as a gap in employment history or a position outside the person's obvious career track. Cashman's colleague Beverly Morgan -- a partner in Winter, Wyman's human resources division -- adds that a cover letter should mention anyone you know within the organization to build a personal connection.

Making the decision
Obviously, if a job ad asks for a cover letter, one should be included because failure to do so looks like you aren't following directions. Likewise, the decision is already made when an online application only allows space for a résumé. For other cases, it is difficult to tell what role a cover letter may or may not play in the hiring process.
While a cover letter is typically placed before a résumé, Beshara's survey respondents frequently said that if they read a cover letter at all, they did so after examining the résumé. Thus, applicants may want to reconsider how they approach their material, realizing that their résumé must be the attention-grabber.
When an applicant does include a cover letter, Beshara stresses that it must be concise. "I can't tell you the number of résumés I receive with a full-page cover letter that will rarely, if ever, get read ...You have to make an impact quickly, with specifics that say 'You need to interview me.'"
Other tips Beshara has for job seekers who choose to send cover letters include:
· Having a phone conversation with the hiring authority beforehand and then referencing that call in the letter.
· Using bullet points to list accomplishments that apply to the specific job opening.
· Quantifying achievements using numbers, statistics and percentages.
· Focusing on what you can do for the company, not on your own needs.
Lastly, Beshara and others urge candidates to ditch any generic cover letters. "As a rule of thumb: If your cover letter could be true for any job/company you apply for, then it isn't targeted enough," Locey says. So if you've decided sending a cover letter is worth your time, do it right and let the reader know you wrote it just for him.

Source: careerbuilder