As the saying goes, “you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression”. Your resume is that first impression to a perspective employer. A well-constructed resume can get you in the door and give you the opportunity to show a hiring manager what you are all about. A poorly constructed resume can leave you wondering when that next opportunity is going to come. There are many opinions as to what makes a strong resume. Having reviewed resumes professionally for over 15 years, there are a few things I’ve learned:
This one has never made sense to me, yet it is the one I most commonly hear. If your career is two years long, yes, you should be able to write that on one page. But if your career has spanned 10-15 years and involves 3-4 employers with multiple projects for each, how can you be expected to sum that up in one page? Six or seven pages is far too many, but if your resume is three pages long you have nothing to worry about.
This is not an art project, it’s an opportunity to display your professionalism. Use a font (and font size) that is easy to read. Write in black or dark blue. Whatever font/color you choose, stick with it throughout the resume. You may want to adjust the font size or use italics/boldface to denote a job title, company name or similar heading. Beyond that, stay consistent.
If you are posting your resume on the job boards (Monster, Dice, CareerBuilder, etc.) post a version that gives a good general overview of your skill set and will cast the widest net. Your goal with this resume is to get a recruiter or HR professional to call you. Once you get that call though, you should be open to modifying your resume to fit the specific job for which you are applying. Your original resume may dedicate one bullet point to a subject whereas your targeted resume dedicates 3 or 4 in order to show how in-depth your experience is in that area.
Don’t even exaggerate beyond a few flowery adjectives to describe what a wonderful person you are. Anything you claim on your resume, you should be prepared to defend in an interview. If you claim expert knowledge of something on your resume and do not demonstrate it in the interview, you have not only wasted your own time but you’ve also wasted the time of the manager you expect to hire you. If you’re thinking that you can lie to get in front of the hiring manager and then your winning personality will get you the job, you’re kidding yourself. No one is going to hire a candidate that started lying to them before they even met.
All employers notice when you make spelling errors. And it’s not because all jobs require someone with advanced grammar skills. Spelling errors on a resume show a total lack of effort on your part. It shows that you are not taking this process seriously at all. Why? Because you don’t even need to know how to spell, your computer does! Take advantage of the spellcheck feature on your computer. Don’t blow the game by missing a lay-up.
Your resume is the first step in demonstrating who you are to potential employers. Take advantage of the opportunity and show them the best possible version of yourself!
If you need help, feel free to reach out to us for resume consultation below:
As a recruiter I am very mindful of my responsibility to my clients, my candidates and my consultants who have already been placed on assignment. Here at DTG it is in our DNA to fulfill these obligations for ethical and professional reasons. I have heard all the criticisms about poor recruiters, making my job much more difficult to gain and maintain the trust of the candidates with whom I want to work. Fortunately, bad recruiters are not difficult to spot, and you can usually tell in a 5-minute phone call whether they have your best interests at heart.
However, the candidate- recruiter relationship is a two-way street. What sort of responsibilities do you, as a candidate, have to your recruiter?
In my 10+ years working in this industry as an IT recruiter, I have had the pleasure of working with some of the finest candidates who I’ve placed in progressively better career situations through the years. I’ve also worked with my share of poor candidates.
A poor candidate has nothing to do with skillset. It has to do with not fulfilling your obligations on your end of the relationship. So let’s focus on that relationship, the two-way street between a recruiter and a candidate.
1. Job Details
When a recruiter calls to tell you about a job opportunity they should have a full understanding of the job requirements, salary range or hourly rate, location, and duration. In addition, they should be able to provide you with a written job spec. In some cases, a hiring manager does not supply a full description but just provides a series of notes to the recruiter. A good recruiter will be able to transcribe those notes into a job spec for your review.
2. Interview Scheduling and Preparation
Your recruiter should take care of scheduling your interviews on a date/time that works for both you and the client. In addition, your recruiter should make sure that you are as prepared as possible to succeed. Do you need to bring certain materials with you like a portfolio, a writing sample, or a laptop? Will you be required to take a written test? What is the appropriate attire for the interview? Who will you be meeting with and what are their titles? Are there any “quirky” aspects of this client’s interviews that you should be prepared for? A good recruiter should provide answers to all of these questions before you interview.
Open lines of communication are key to any recruiter/candidate relationship. When you call or email your recruiter, you should expect a reply as soon as possible. When your recruiter gets feedback on your interview, good or bad, it should be communicated to you immediately. Unfortunately, many hiring managers do not provide feedback promptly. While a good recruiter will make every effort to get feedback, sometimes it just doesn’t happen as quickly as most job seekers would like. Your recruiter should still keep in touch and let you know about the delay and keep you up on any changes with the position. Communication between a recruiter and candidate is a two-way street, so if you have committed to be submitted for a position, you need to return calls and emails from your recruiter. We are working as an advocate on your behalf and need to be able to reach you. Also, feedback from candidates is crucial to our understanding of the inner workings of the client’s interview. Feedback from the person that interviewed before you is what helps us to prepare you better for your interview.
4. Respect and Honesty
You are not going to be a fit for every position you apply to. It can sometimes be difficult for a recruiter to get that point across to someone who desperately wants or needs that job. Still, it is your recruiter’s responsibility to be honest with you. Just because you may not be right for one position does not mean you won’t be right for the next position that comes across the recruiter’s desk. Your recruiter should show you enough respect to deal with you in a professional manner when delivering the good or bad news. You are asking your recruiter to help you get a job. It’s not a responsibility that should be taken lightly. The very least you should expect from your recruiter is respect and honesty in every step of the process.
Many people will tell you that you are expected to “embellish” on your resume. Certainly, you want to put yourself in the most positive light and draw attention to your skills. However, there is a difference between accentuate your positive traits and flat out lying. Do not put anything on your resume that you are not prepared to defend in an interview. If you think that you can lie your way into an interview and then “wow them” with your personality once you get there, you are kidding yourself. Nobody wants to hire someone that can’t be trusted. Honesty goes beyond just the resume. Your recruiter is going to do everything he or she can to get you an interview and hopefully a job, but that can’t happen if we are operating with false or incomplete information. Your recruiter is advocating on your behalf. If you are not open and honest with us, how can we be expected to succeed in helping you reach your professional goals?
This is perhaps the most frustrating thing that a recruiter has to deal with when it comes to candidates. We are working hard to get to you in front of our client. When you receive an email or voicemail from your recruiter, it is important that you return it as soon as possible. That doesn’t mean immediately. Many candidates are already employed and can’t speak comfortably from their desks whenever we want them to. That is understood. However, taking a day or week (believe me, it happens!) to return a call is too long. Recruiting is not a 9 to 5 job. If you absolutely cannot talk or email at all during work, reach out after work. But do not leave us wondering what happened to you. Not only does it show a lack of respect for our work, but remember that if we are calling you, it is very likely at the request of the client. While we wait, they wait, and that does not reflect well on you.
We don’t expect you to only work with us. If you are serious about trying to find a new job, you want to cast as wide a net as possible, and that includes working with other recruiters. If you are interviewing with other companies, let us know. If you are an expecting an offer from another company soon, let us know. If our client has a long interview process, it might not make sense for you to get involved with them. You also need to let us know if you have already been submitted to our client through another source. If you think being submitted to a client by multiple sources will help your odds you are wrong. It won’t help and could ultimately harm your candidacy.
Our industry is based on relationships. Mutual respect and working together towards a common goal will help make our professional relationship one that will pay dividends for both of us today and into the future.
It is no secret that job seekers can have vastly different experiences working with recruiters. Some will tell you how valuable their recruiter was in helping them to get their job. Others will tell you horror stories about working with a bad recruiter and vowing never to do it again. What I have found is that most negative experiences could have been avoided by a simple explanation of services. So what sort of services should you expect from a quality recruiter?
All Recruiters and Recruiting firms are not created equal. Some will deliver better results than others. Regardless of whether you ultimately get the position you are targeting, you should expect nothing less than your recruiter’s full effort and these basic responsibilities.
Congratulations! You were just offered your dream job. Challenging work, great salary and benefits, easy commute…everything you could ever ask for. You give your two weeks’ notice and wait to start your new job. The day before you are scheduled to start you get a call from Human Resources, You did not pass your background check and they are rescinding the offer. You go from having the perfect job, to having no job. I have seen it happen more than once, yet I have rarely seen a situation where it was unavoidable.
Our parents have been warning us against the perils of lying since we were children, yet I am amazed how many people still feel like lying is the best option available to them. Make no mistake, you will get caught. That is the whole point of a background check.
There is an entire industry built around catching lies. Do not think you can beat the system. When you fill out a background check form, fill it out with 100% true information. If you did not complete your degree, don’t claim you did. If you worked at a company for two months, do not claim it was two years. If you committed a felony, even if it was years ago, let them know. They will find out soon enough anyway and you would be surprised how much weight your openness can carry.
True Story – We had a Network Engineer consultant start work at a bank while his background check was still pending. He had already been working for a week when it came back that he had committed a non-violent felony 8 years earlier. The decision on whether to keep him was left to his manager. The manager decided to let him go, but not because of the felony. Rather he let him go because he lied about it on his application. He was willing to overlook the indiscretion in his past, but he was not willing to work someone who would lie to him.
It is not unusual for a candidate to forget exactly which month he/she started or finished at a particular job. This becomes more common as you go farther down your resume to jobs that happened many years ago. Unfortunately that does not make it right to fudge the month or year. Most companies will allow you to be off by a month or two, but that is all.
It would be a good idea to keep your resume updated throughout your career. When you start at a new job, add it to your resume. You can add on specific accomplishments as they occur, but make sure you document the start date while it’s fresh in your mind. In most cases all you will need is the month and year, not the exact day. If you don’t have that information, consult your tax records. Your W2s should be able to tell you when you started a new job. Another place to check would be your banking statements. Your bank should be able to provide you with bank statements from your past transactions. Simply look up when you started depositing paychecks from that job. You can also just call your previous employer’s HR department and ask them. After all, that’s exactly what the background check company is going to do.
Remember that you applied to this job with a resume that already had your educational and employment history on it. If you fill out a background check and the information is not the same as the resume, it will get flagged and the offer will be rescinded. Most companies do compare the two documents. Put the proper amount of care into the accuracy of your resume as you do the accuracy of your background check and you won’t have anything to worry about.
The application and interview process required for a new job can sometimes seem like a marathon. Don’t trip yourself with the finish line in sight. Take the proper steps to make sure you are doing things the right way and that dream job will be yours!
You always want to put your best foot forward when meeting someone for the first time. That starts with dressing the part, especially for a job interview.
Except for rare exceptions, men should always wear a suit and tie and women should always dress in appropriate business attire.
While you may be applying for a position at a company that is “business casual” and would never require you to wear a suit to the office that is irrelevant. You are not going to your job. You are going to meet the people you want to impress enough to give you a job.
Suits do not need to be black or blue, and ties don’t need to be solid. But suits should not be neon green, and I would advise keeping your fish ties at home too. It’s good to show off some style, just don’t go over the top to the point that the suit becomes the subject of the interview.
Your clothes matter for a few reasons. First, it shows that you are taking this interview seriously. You don’t want to look like you just stopped in to meet them on your way to do something more important. Second, it is a visual representation of your preparation. A good interviewer will spend time preparing questions for your interview and is most likely taking time out of their busy day to meet with you. Your being prepared shows that person that you took equal time preparing before you even open your mouth. Lastly, it will improve your chances of successfully getting the position, particularly if this is a client facing role, and isn’t that the point?
The rare exceptions mentioned earlier is when you are specifically told not to wear a suit. Perhaps you are applying for a job that will involve manual labor, and you are going to be expected to demonstrate something physical on the interview. Then it would be wise to ask ahead of time what would be appropriate attire for the interview. As another example, I have a client which is a completely casual environment, and they tell all candidates to dress comfortably and DO NOT wear a suit. I had one candidate think that they would distinguish themselves by being the only person to come in a suit. They did distinguish themselves…by being the only candidate who was incapable of following basic instructions. They took it as red flag, and he did not get the job.
In such a competitive job market every detail matters. Don’t let the easy ones be your downfall. Dress the part, let the interviewer check off that box, and move on to showing them why they would be lucky to have you as part of their organization!