Biggest News from Recent Investment Bank Deals

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IPOs and M&As — they’re the type of deals investment bankers love.

And the U.S. markets for initial public offerings and mergers and acquisitions improved considerably in 2013, hauling in small fortunes for the investment bankers who helped raise capital or acted as financial advisors on the mega-huge deals.

Larger transactions were usually handled by “bulge bracket” banks, or large multinational institutions whose names are generally familiar to the public. But some deals also starred smaller, less known boutique investment banks.

The prospects for 2014 look just as strong for both IPOs and M&As, barring unforeseen economic developments, and that means investment bankers should have a very busy and prosperous year.

Here’s a look at some of the top IPO and M&A deals — and the investment banks involved — in 2013.

IPOs

The IPO market surged in 2013 to 222 deals valued at $55 billion, compared to 128 deals valued at $42.4 billion in 2012, according to Renaissance Capital. The 2013 performance was the best since 2000. The top IPO deals included:

1. Plains GP Holdings LP — $2.8 billion. The underwriters/managers: Barclays, Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan, Bank of America-Merrill Lynch, Citi, UBS, Wells Fargo, Deutsche Bank, Morgan Stanley, Raymond James, RBC Capital Markets.

2. Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. —  $2.4 billion. The underwriters/managers: Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America-Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, J.P. Morgan, Wells Fargo, Blackstone Capital, Macquarie Capital, Barclays.

3. Zoetis Inc. — $2.2 billion. The underwriters/managers: J.P. Morgan, Bank of America-Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, Barclays, Citi, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, Jeffries & Co., BNP Paribas.

4. Twitter Inc. — $1.8 billion. The underwriters/managers: Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, J.P. Morgan, Bank of America-Merrill Lynch, Deutsche Bank, Allen & Company, CODE Advisors.

5. Antero Resources — $1.6 billion. The underwriters/managers: Barclays, Citi, J.P. Morgan, Credit Suisse, Jeffries & Co., Wells Fargo, Morgan Stanley, TD Securities, Tudor Pickering Holt & Co., Baird, BMO Capital Markets.

Mergers and Acquisitions

Though the global M&A market is back to its approximate pre-recession level, worldwide M&A activity has generally stagnated in recent years. However, in the United States, M&A deals were up 11 percent in 2013, totaling more than $1 trillion.

Here are some of the top M&A deals and the investment banks involved:

(All the M&A deals were announced in 2013, but some of these transactions won’t technically be completed until later this year.)

1. H. J. Heinz Co. — $28 billion. Buyers: Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway and GE Capital. Centerview Partners and Bank of America-Merrill Lunch were advisors to Heinz. Moelis & Co. was adviser to a Heinz board of directors committee. Lazard was lead financial advisor to buyers, assisted by J.P. Morgan and Wells Fargo.

2. Dell Inc. — $24.4 billion. Buyers: Dell founder Michael Dell and Silver Lake. J.P Morgan and Evercore have been advising Dell’s board. Goldman Sachs, Bank of America-Merrill Lynch, Barclays, Credit Suisse, Centerview and RBC Capital have been advising buyers.

3. Virgin Media Inc. — $23.3 billion. Buyer: Liberty Global Inc. LionTree has acted as lead advisor to Liberty Global; Credit Suisse has also acted as an advisor. Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan have acted as advisors to Virgin.

4. Life Technologies — $13.6 billion. Buyer: Thermo Fisher Scientific. J.P. Morgan and Barclays have acted as financial advisors to Thermo. Deutsche Bank and Moelis & Co. have been advisors to Life Technologies.

5. Onyx Pharmaceuticals — $10.4 billion. Buyer: Amgen. Lazard was lead advisor to Amgen, while Bank of America-Merrill Lynch has also acted as an advisor. Centerview Partners have advised Onyx.

And those are just the top domestic (U.S.) merger and acquisition deals of 2013.

The largest global M&A deal in 2013 was Verizon Communications’ agreement to pay $130 billion to buy U.K.-based Vodafone Group’s American wireless business. It’s the third largest corporate deal in history. Barclays and Bank of America-Merrill Lynch acted as financial advisors to Verizon, while Goldman Sachs and UBS advised Vodafone.

Sources: Renaissance Capital, StreetInsider.com, Bloomberg, Reuters, and Business Wire.

Jay Fitzgerald is a business journalist based in Boston. Over the years, his articles have appeared in The Boston Globe, the Boston Business Journal, the Boston Herald and other publications.

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Ace Your Financial Analyst Interview

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When applying for a financial analyst job, get ready to spend huge amounts of time and energy polishing and customizing your résumé and cover letter — they’re the entry point to landing a job interview. But once you get the call to meet in person, that’s no time to relax.

Now the Real Work Begins

Recruiters and hiring managers are quick to note that too many job applicants don’t dedicate enough time preparing for the most important part of landing of the whole process: the in-person interview.

Fortunately there are ways to prepare. Here are some tips for acing the interview based on conversations with financial services recruiters and active hiring managers.

1. Know the company and sector inside and out. You’re applying for a research job, so you had better show that you actually took time to research the company and its place within the financial world.
Study the company and make sure you’ve covered all these areas:

-History

-Size

-Services

-Fields of expertise

-Any recent big deals or acquisitions

-Names and backgrounds of the chief executive and the people who will interview you

-Recent press releases and any other up-to-date news about the firm

It’s all readily available via Google, Wikipedia, Yahoo Finance, Bloomberg, government regulatory agencies and other sites. While you’re at it, talk to friends, relatives and acquaintances who might be knowledgeable about a company — or at least its reputation.

2. Tailor your answers. Don’t treat financial analyst jobs as cookie-cutter positions automatically transferrable from one finance sector to the next — they’re not. Research the specific sector and expertise of each company you interview with and be prepared to tailor your responses so they’re a match.

3. Draw up a mental list of your strengths and weaknesses. It’s corny, but you’ll almost inevitably be asked a variation of “So, tell me your greatest strength,” or “What’s your biggest weakness?” Similar inquiries include: “Tell me your greatest success at a job,” or “What was your biggest mistake while on a job?” Create a list of what you think are three or four of your strengths and a few of your weaknesses.

4. Assemble a portfolio. To support your answers, review any past examples of research reports or other business assignments you’ve done as an intern (or as a junior analyst if you’re applying for a senior analyst position). Analyze the specifics of those particular cases, and be prepared to answer detailed questions about them. Bring the reports — along with any accolades from supervisors or teachers — in an organized portfolio to the interview.

4. Plan to talk about life experiences and career goals. Be ready for discussions about your career goals, college major, extracurricular activities, summer jobs, post-college jobs (if any) and other items on your résumé. One investment banker says he also likes to hear from candidates about non-business successes they’ve achieved in life. “I’ll say, ‘Tell me one thing you’ve really mastered and are good at.’ It can be music or painting or running road races. We want (to hire) someone who has already proven they’ve done something really well.” And whatever you do, be confident but not cocky.

5. Be able to explain why you want the job. One commercial mortgage banker, who asked not to be named, says he carefully explores a financial analyst candidate’s knowledge of his industry and why they specifically want to get into commercial real estate. “I want to find out if they’re serious about getting into (the field) and so I’ll ask them, ‘So, why aren’t you applying for a financial analyst job on Wall Street? Why are you here?’ ”

You’d better have an honest answer — with details about the type of financial company and position that you’ve applied for.

6. Be prepared for spontaneous tests. The same investment banker says he’ll sometimes verbally outline a general business scenario, such as one firm trying to buy another firm, and asks candidates, “So why would someone want to buy such a company? How would you go about researching that company?” Such “tests” are not meant to be trick questions. They’re meant to see how you might react and approach a problem.

If you’re working with a recruiting company to land a financial analyst job, they’ll often subject you to a number of assessments before you head out to an interview, says Richard Deosingh, a recruiter at Robert Half in New York. Recruiters might test how well you know Excel or if you can efficiently organize spreadsheets, for instance.

During interviews, companies rarely ask candidates to physically prove they know how to use Excel, PowerPoint and other software programs needed to conduct, analyze and present data in research reports. But they may ask you detailed questions about the programs or how you’ve used them in the past.

7. Ask questions that show your interest. Interviewers almost always invite questions from candidates. This is another chance to be personable and demonstrate interest in the job, so have a list ready in advance.

Some questions to consider include:

-What’s a typical day like for a financial analyst at this firm?

-What type of clients will I work with?

-Would I specialize in a specific field of interest?

-How did you (the interviewer) get his or her start in finance?

-What are the prospects for promotions?

Preparation is key. Practice, get your story straight — and you’ll be on your way to crushing the interview.

Jay Fitzgerald is a business journalist based in Boston. Over the years, his articles have appeared in The Boston Globe, the Boston Business Journal, the Boston Herald and other publications.

 

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7 Words That Will Sabotage Your Resume

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The wrong words can sabotage your resume, and nearly all of us have at least a few of these words on our resumes.  Learn the 7 types of words that can have a severe impact on your chances of getting an interview.

1. Generic Attributes

These words are on everyone’s resume.  They are so common that hiring managers simply don’t even read them. Do not bore the reader to tears with these trite, overused and tired phrases.

  • Hard worker
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Goal-driven
  • Strong work ethic
  • Multi-tasker
  • Personable presenter
  • Goal-oriented
  • Detail-oriented

It is much more effective to write description that is action-based and demonstrates these abilities rather than just laying claim to them. For example, rather than just stating you are an “excellent presenter,” you could say something like “Developed and presented 50+ multi-media presentations to C-level prospects resulting in 35 new accounts totaling $300,000 in new revenues.”

2.  Age Attributes

Under qualified candidates often try to look more mature.  Over qualified candidates sometimes try to look more youthful.  Hiring managers know these tricks.   Candidates near retirement are often the worst offenders.  Words to avoid:

  • Young
  • Youthful
  • Developing
  • Professional Appearance
  • Mature

3. Health Attributes

Candidates who claim to be “healthy” are telling hiring managers they feel they fear getting to0 sick to do the job.  Candidates with past medical issues are the worst offenders here.  Words to avoid.

  • Healthy
  • Fit
  • Energetic
  • Active
  • Able-bodied
  • Athletic

4. Appearance Attributes

Candidates who claim to be “attractive” are telling the hiring manager they get by on their looks instead of their skills.   Let the hiring manager see how attractive you are at the interview, but don’t expect to get that interview because you are attractive.

Age, health, appearance phrases to avoid:

  • Pretty
  • Attractive
  • Handsome
  • Cute
  • Adorable
  • Masculine
  • Powerful

Let the hiring manager see how healthy and fit you are when you come for an interview.  Don’t expect claiming to be as such will get you an interview in the first place.

5. Passive Voice Words

Forget what you learned in school and don’t write in passive voice.  Many people write in passive voice because that is how we’ve been taught to write “formally” in high school composition and then in freshman college English.  Its wrong for resumes.

Indicators of the passive voice:

  • Responsible for
  • Duties included
  • Served as
  • Actions encompassed

Rather than saying “Responsible for management of three direct reports” change it up to “Managed 3 direct reports.” It is a shorter, more direct mode of writing and adds impact to the way the resume reads.

6. Hyper-Active Words

Hyper-active words are verbs that are too violent or aggressive to be used on a resume.  They’re usually verbs better suited to a comic book than a resume.

  • Smashed numbers through the roof
  • Electrified sales team to produce
  • Pushed close rate by 10%
  • Destroyed sales competition
  • Blew away sales goals

7.  Profile Words

These are Myers-Briggs Type Indicator or the DISC Profile. While the results from these evaluations can be invaluable to the job seeker for evaluating an opportunity in terms of “fit”, employers and recruiters are more interested in performance results. Do not inadvertently “pigeon-hole” yourself by including your profile results in the resume.  Words to avoid:

  • A-type Personality
  • D Profile
  • Alpha Male

Consider your word choice in a resume. A resume is a marketing document for your career just as a brochure is a marketing document for a product or service. Companies put careful thought and consideration into each and every word that goes into marketing copy and you should do the same in your resume.

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7 Ways to Improve Your Resume During Unemployment

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If you’re unemployed and worried about dust collecting on your resume, there’s no need to panic.

According to CareerBuilder, 85 percent of employers said they’re more understanding about post-recession employment gaps. Whether it’s been six weeks or six months since your last job, it’s important not to stress about the space in your resume. There are endless opportunities to help you fill in any gaps due to unemployment — you just have to know where to look.

But keep in mind that just because employers are more understanding about unemployment doesn’t mean you automatically receive a free pass. It’s up to you to be proactive during your unemployment to gain experience and improve your skills. If you want to quickly land a job, it’s essential to develop your skills and gain experience to compensate for the time you had off from work.

If you’re unemployed and want to strengthen your resume, here are some tips to help you fill in the gaps:

1. Take a class or attend a workshop.

One thing job seekers don’t realize is that their career is more than just having a job — it’s about being a lifelong learner, too. If you’re looking to brush up on your skills or learn a new skill that’s in-demand, this is a great time to take advantage of the opportunity to enroll in a class or workshop. Your skills require constant development as you advance in your career. As you search for classes and workshops, try to enroll in those which will provide you with the most up-to-date training. This will be a sure-fire way to catch the attention of employers by adding an in-demand skill to your resume. Plus, you’ll be able to keep your skills fresh so that when you return to work, it doesn’t feel like you missed a beat.

2. Consider freelance or contract work.

There’s no better way to improve your resume than gaining tangible experience. Freelance and contract work is a great opportunity; you can build your resume and earn a little income at the same time. According to a survey by Intuit, more than 40 percent of the workforce will be freelancing by 2020. Whether you choose to use freelancing or contract work to fill in the gaps, it’s a great way to utilize your time as you figure out your career path. Employers will also be impressed that you took the initiative to continue gaining experience during your unemployment.

3. Polish up your personal brand.

While you’ll be spending the majority of your unemployment searching for jobs, you also need to make sure your online presence is a reflection of your resume. Whether you spend time learning new skills, taking classes, or freelancing, find opportunities to boost your resume and personal brand. Sometimes, it can be difficult to stay motivated when labeled as “unemployed.” But if you take the time to ensure your online presence is consistent with your resume, you’ll be more likely to get yourself noticed by employers.

4. Volunteer.

Another powerful way to strengthen your resume is to do volunteer work. Never underestimate the power of volunteering — it gives you the opportunity to learn new skills, gain accomplishment stories, and give back to your community. When employers see volunteer experience on a resume, it tells them a candidate is compassionate, driven, and enthusiastic. As you gain volunteer experience, take note of your accomplishments and responsibilities. This will help you quantify the experience section on your resume and give employers a chance to see how you can make a difference.

5. Make industry connections.

Believe it or not, networking can be a great way to help you improve your resume during unemployment. Research shows that 40 percent of job seekers credited a referral for their current jobs. Not only will you make connections that could lead to jobs, but you can also connect with professionals who could serve as a mentor. It’s always a good to have a friend or colleague who can review your resume and give you some pointers. This is especially true if you can make a connection with someone in your field — they can provide accurate advice on improving your resume to make you irresistible to employers.

6. Start a business.

If you really want to strengthen your skill set, consider opening your own business. Although starting a business is a fairly large commitment and investment, it will definitely pay off during your unemployment. Starting a business demonstrates leadership and initiative, which are two soft skills employers strongly desire. Not only will you gain experience, but you’ll also learn the skills that come along with opening a business.

7. Focus on your career goals.

When facing unemployment, it can be easy to lose sight of your career goals. Whether you’ve used unemployment to pursue other goals, or you’ve become discouraged about your career path, your career goals need to be at the forefront of your job search. It will help you know where to look for jobs, and most importantly, find new opportunities to update your resume. For example, think of a goal you’ve always wanted to accomplish, but couldn’t because you were working full-time. Take this opportunity to learn a skill you’ve never had the time to learn. By doing this, you’ll be able to accomplish your goals while adding another line to your resume.

Gaining experience and keeping your skills fresh during unemployment doesn’t have to be stressful or daunting. Just remember to focus on your goals, the skills and experience you have to offer, and improving your personal brand. This way, you’ll be able to fill in the gaps on your resume and impress an employer’s socks off when you apply for a job.

What tips do you have for improving your resume during unemployment?

About the Author: Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager, and founder & president of Come Recommended, a content marketing and digital PR consultancy for job search and human resources technologies. She is also the instructor of Find Me A Job: How To Score A Job Before Your Friends, author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships (2011) and #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010), and writes career and recruiting advice for numerous outlets.

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10 Quick Resume Tips

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1. Font matters.

Pick a simple font that is easy to read. Size 10 or 12 font is the standard.

2. No references.

There is no need to include references on your resume, including “References available upon request.”

3. No pictures.

Don’t include a photo with your application unless the employer specifically requests it.  Save your picture for your LinkedIn profile.

4. You might need more than one resume.

Tailor your resume to the job you are applying for. Keep multiple versions of your resume updated.

5. Don’t list all of your work experience.

Only list recent and/or relevant experience. Employers aren’t interested in your summer job from 10 years ago.

6. Skip personal information.

Employers don’t need to know your age, your religion, or your marital status.

7. Focus on your achievements.

Your resume should be highlight your achievements. Go beyond tasks and responsibilities.

8. Lose the objective statement.

Objective statements are no longer part of standard resume formats. Opt for a career summary instead.

9. Proofread….and proofread again.

Double-check your resume and your cover letter against the job listing, and have a friend look for any typos or other errors.

10. Consider getting professional help.

It’s hard to write about yourself, and easy to miss grammatical errors and typos.  Visit us at TopResume.com, if you are thinking about a Professional Resume Rewrite.

For this post, Doostang thanks our friends at TopResume.

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How to Reward and Motivate Employees–Without Spending Money

“I’ve got some great team members who regularly go above and beyond the call of duty, who give me 110%, and are really making a difference for my company. Then I’ve got others who are steady and good, not stellar, but solid. I want to reward the stellar employees and let them know how much I value their contribution without messing up my whole compensation structure. Do you have any ideas for perks or rewards I could use that don’t involve pay?

I have yet to find an effective reward that doesn’t cost money. That seems to be the way we all keep score. People value their own being by their income and if you want to reward or motivate someone, they seem to need to see dollars. For our business, roles don’t help. Time off with pay works, but that still costs something.”
Dan Constance, Owner, Northshore Fireplace

5 Ways to Reward Your Employees:

1. Celebrate Your Success
“Logo t-shirts and coffee mugs are popular, so if we get any for customers, we include staff too. Birthdays are celebrated with cake and cards signed by everyone. We sometimes give out one-of-a-kind certificates for acts of special significance – like the shipping clerk who chased a customer on foot down several blocks with a forgotten package. We recently had a spectacular month, and to celebrate, we ran a week-long lunchtime bag-toss tournament culminating in an outside-catered onsite barbecue lunch. Turned out the tournament was a huge amount of fun, and we will definitely repeat it next year. People always appreciate being able to go home early before major holidays, and since this is not a very productive time, it is of little cost and shows our staff that the company recognizes they have lives outside of work!”
Chrissy Hansen, Marketing Manager, Cozy Products

2. Treat Employees as Co-Workers
“I, personally, really care about our employees and their families. I treat them as co-workers and not employees. I work as hard as they do. For example, during the rush of the end of the month, I will stay at work up to the time the last moving crew comes back. When the employees see you, the boss, waiting for them to come back and they realize that you are as tired as them, they will show up the next day waiting to see you at work as well. And they do. And that makes them feel part of the company. But most of all, my employees know that I will be there for them during good times and hard times. I have been there for weddings, anniversaries, baptisms, wakes, funerals and hospitals.”
Mina Georgalas, Bernard Movers

3. Let Your Team Choose Activities
“I make them come up with ideas! While it’s a small monetary investment, we have a $400 monthly budget for any sort of “fun” activities that’s pretty much first come first serve. It allows us to have all sorts of events (movie nights, ping-pong tournaments, happy hours, etc.).”
Erik Severinghaus, Founder, Simple Relevance


4. Word of Mouth Recognition
“We do a lot of work with helping companies create a culture of innovation and incentivizing employees is a critical part of the process. Ironically, when we query employees, most do not necessarily want to be financially rewarded for their actions. First and foremost, they want recognition by their peers and superiors for a job well done. From a simple mention in a staff meeting to a formal plague or trophy for a job well done – word of mouth recognition is always welcomed. Establishing a formal award system like an “Employee of the Month” program with preferred parking, a Friday afternoon off or other special treatment are also well received. Don’t hesitate to ask your own employees how they’d like to be “compensated” for a good job…customizing the gift to each employee goes a long way to making them feel empowered and supported.”
John Edelmann, Cloverleaf Innovation

5. Hire the Right People
“Motivating our employees effectively without spending too much money is a balance and once again, starts with hiring the right people who embody the values of the company. This enabled us to create an environment where our employees feel that it is their company/business and they care about its progress, growth and reputation.”
Dr. Jason Jared, Chiropractic Physician, ProACTIVE Chiropractic & Physiotherapy

It’s important to reward your top performers, but it doesn’t always have to be about the money.

About the AuthorBrad Farris is the founder of EnMast, a community of business owners committed to being better leaders and growing better businesses. He is also principal advisor of Anchor Advisors, with experience leading businesses & business owners into new levels of growth and success. Through his work with over 100 Chicago area small businesses he has experience in guiding founders and business owners through the pitfalls and joys of growing their business. Prior to joining Anchor Advisors, Brad spent over 10 years managing business units for a family-owned conglomerate with sales of $2 million to $25 million. When not working Brad enjoys cycling, cooking and the NFL. He is married with 5 children and lives in Chicago, Illinois. Connect with him on Google+Twitter

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“Have You Ever Been Fired?”

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For some, the question “Have you ever been fired?” can inspire a pit in the stomach when the answer to that question is “Yes”.  You may be among an unfortunate bunch who had a horrific experience at a company (or with a certain coworker or boss), that did not end well.  And whether your termination was your fault or not, it can continue to haunt you in your search for future prospects.  So what is the best way to field this tough issue?

Be Honest

First things first:  don’t lie.  It may be tempting to dismiss the topic altogether, hoping that the company you’re interviewing with never finds out – but what happens if they do?  If they find out during the interview process, you’re certain not to get the job.  And if they find out a few years down the line, no matter how great an employee you are, they may still decide to let you go.  A second termination is not what you want on your record, so do yourself a favor and be upfront and honest from the get go.  It’s much safer, and you’ll stress about if far less in the long run.

Provide Some Context

Explain the circumstances surrounding the incident.  If it was a conflict of interest, let the interviewer know.  If it happened 15 years ago, tell them that you now have a lot of distance from the incident and that your stellar work performance since then speaks for itself.  If it occurred in the more recent past, explain that you have learned quite a bit from the incident, but don’t spend your time making excuses.  Lay down the facts, and focus on what you’ve done since and will do in the future to demonstrate that you are a valuable employee who understands what it takes to be an asset to a company.

Don’t Give Away Too Much

While it’s important to be forthcoming in your response to this question, you also don’t want to spend too much time addressing the matter.  Keep the focus of the interview on what makes you the ideal person to hire, and spend as little time as you can conveying what the interviewer needs to know about that particular incident.  People who feel the need to defend themselves tend to over-explain, and this can portray lack of confidence and lead you down the wrong road.  Certainly stray away from speaking ill of your former boss or company, remaining as objective and succinct as possible.

No one likes getting fired and everyone wants to find a new job.  Don’t let one obstacle in your past set the tone for the rest of your career.  Concentrate on what you need to do to land your next job and on the reasons you’re a perfect fit for it, and the rest will follow.

Have a wonderful day,

The Doostang Team

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Doostang Launches TopResume.com

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Doostang International Reaches Milestone of 1 Million Resume Evaluations and Launches TopResume.com.

Doostang.com, one of the world’s largest career networking platforms, today announced that it has completed over 1 million professional resume evaluations since launching its resume service last year. Each evaluation is conducted by a trained professional who specializes in identifying elements that hiring managers and Applicant Tracking Systems look for in a job seeker’s resume.

“The average employer spends less than 10 seconds reviewing each resume. We provide meaningful and actionable feedback to job seekers — feedback that has directly resulted in more job opportunities for our members in a very competitive market,” said Jeff Berger, CEO of Doostang.

Additionally, Doostang recently launched TopResume.com. “TopResume expands our ability to provide excellent resume evaluations and professionally written resumes. It’s a different product but ultimately, our goal is the same — to give job seekers the tools and confidence they need to accelerate their careers,” explains Berger.

About Doostang:

Founded in 2005, Doostang is an online career network that connects elite professionals with industry-leading organizations in finance, consulting, media, technology, entertainment and more. Doostang’s platform has allowed thousands of job seekers to successfully find new opportunities and advance their careers.

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10 Likely Interview Questions, and How to Answer Them

Anxious about an upcoming interview? No need to worry! If you do your company research, and practice your answers to some common interview questions in advance, you will be ready to handle anything that comes your way.  Set aside time to prepare for each interview, and you will be confident and poised on the big day.

Here a few common interview questions, and tips for how to answer them:

1. Tell me about yourself.

This question intimidates most job seekers, but it is a great opportunity to talk about your strengths and what sets you apart from other candidates. A strong answer will set a positive tone for the interview, and grab the interviewer’s attention. You know this question is coming, so prepare for it in advance, and your interview will be off to a great start.

2. What do you know about the company?

This is one of the easier questions you might be asked, as long as you are prepared to answer it. Do your research. Visit the company website, search for news mentions, and check out all of their social media accounts.  Make your answer personal. Don’t spout off facts you found online; explain what you like about the company and why you want to work there.

3. What is your greatest strength?

This is your opportunity to stand out from other applicants. The strengths you mention need to be relevant to the position, and you should provide specific examples of how you used them. Your strengths can be both personal and professional attributes, as long as they help prove why you are the ideal candidate for the job.

4. What is your greatest weakness?

Be honest. You don’t have to discuss all of your flaws, but focus on one or two things you could improve. Explain how you plan to address your weakness, and ways you can turn it into a strength. Don’t mention anything that will automatically disqualify you (for example: don’t say you’re bad with numbers if you want an accounting job), but be realistic about your abilities.

5. Describe a challenge or conflict you faced at work, and how you handled it.

Think of a specific challenge or conflict that was unique to you. A vague answer about having to balance projects will your bore your interviewer, and make you look unqualified.  Your answer should reflect your problem-solving skills and adaptability.

6. What is your dream job?

This question helps the interviewer determine if you are a good fit for the position. If you’re interviewing for a financial analyst position, don’t say you’re planning on applying to med school in the near future.  The job duties should align with your future goals.  Even if the position you are applying for is just a stepping stone for the job you really want, focus on why you would be a great addition to the team.

7. Why are you leaving your current job (….or Why did you quit your last job)?

Stay positive. Avoid saying anything negative about your current or previous employer when possible  Express enthusiasm for the position you hope to get, and indicate why you are a better fit for this role instead of the one you currently or previously had.

8. What do you like to do outside of work?

While your technical skills and work achievements are important, so is cultural fit. Always stay professional when discussing your personal life during an interview, but don’t be afraid to show your personality. Your unique hobby might impress the hiring manager, and you will connect over any shared interests.

9. What are your salary requirements?

Benchmark. Set a range. Be flexible. This is a tough question to answer, and one of the most important ones for the candidate to get right. Be prepared to explain how you reached your number (or ideally, your range), and to defend your answer.

10. Do you have any questions for us?

Yes! You should always ask questions at the end of the interview. Asking relevant, thoughtful questions will prove that you are truly interested in the position. Think of a few questions before your meeting, and be ready to adapt them based on the interview.

Good luck at your next interview, and don’t forget to follow up with the employer!

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