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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4 Ways to Attract Killer Talent

Finding killer talent to fill open jobs is a problem many companies are facing these days. In fact, 49 percent of employers report difficulties finding qualified candidates for their jobs.

So what are some things you can do to attract the best talent out there? Let’s look at a few simple actions companies are overlooking in the search for the best and brightest:

Pay Attention to Company Culture

It’s no surprise people are attracted to a healthy company culture. They like to wake up each day and go to work with a sense of purpose, an excitement to see coworkers, and to make a contribution to the company mission. In fact, experts suggest a 20-30 percent increase in corporate productivity when compared with competitors who pay less attention to cultivating a healthy culture.

If you are already proud of the culture you’ve spent so much time planning and building, you need to share the fact. Post employee testimonials on your website, plug it as a benefit in your job postings, share company photos on social media, submit guest blogs about the best cultural practices to online news outlets with high readership. Think of creative ways to highlight your culture and increase the visibility of such to new talent.

Offer Creative Compensation

Job seekers aren’t just looking for money anymore. While competitive salary structures are a must if you want to attract the best talent, there are other ways to creatively sweeten the pot.

Take vacation time, for example. While in most companies it’s a ‘given’, not every company offers opportunities beyond the standard two-week allowance. While not breaking the bank you can provide options like a few Volunteer Days Off (VDOs) in which employees can take a day to volunteer for their favorite charitable organization. In this way, you help employees give back to the community, which can significantly improve morale!

Take Part in Career Fairs

Much of the job search process is conducted online these days. While the Internet offers countless opportunities to find excellent talent, the old fashioned career fair should never be overlooked.

According to a recent survey, 44 percent of recent college grads apply to between one and five jobs at a time. Attending job fairs not only helps you get your brand in front of job seekers, but also gives you a better chance of ensuring one of the opportunities they pursue is yours. Job fairs also allow to you to get an in-person sense of these prospective candidates. You can gain valuable information about a person in a brief conversation; a chance usually only afforded by the interview process!

Engage Prospective Talent on Social Media

While you are taking steps to meet prospective talent in person, head to social media platforms to engage talent online. Recent statistics report 73 percent of employers successfully hired candidates who were engaged via social media.

The process to finding the best talent needs to start before you have a position that needs filled. Avoid simply posting your jobs on social media platforms and instead look to engage with prospective candidates. Engagement means interaction. Post relevant information about finding the best jobs, ask for followers’ input and opinions, and respond when someone has something insightful to say. When you increase the amount of communication you have with your followers, they will be more likely to pay attention when you do share available positions.

Finding the best talent for your jobs can be a challenge, so if you are having a difficult time navigating the obstacles associated with finding great prospective employees, consider adopting a few new strategies. By advertising your company’s best qualities in creative ways and engaging with talent more directly, you will be sure to attract killer candidates in no time.

What do you think? What tactics to you employ to find great new talent?

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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Why Your Resume Won’t Get You Hired

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You have been working very hard at your resume and cover letter, posting them online and mailing them out. Yet nothing is happening for you. There have been no phone calls to request interviews; not even a phone interview. You realize the economy is not 100%, but it’s not that bad.

You really are qualified and your experience is extensive. Why are you getting passed over and not getting hired? You have excellent performance appraisals and recommendations. All of this is on your resume. Where is the disconnect?

What’s Wrong With My Resume?

  • Outlandish Objectives

Most professional resume writers would tell you not to include an objective at all. If you need to put something at the top of the page, make it an overview of your skills. Don’t write an objective that sounds like you can walk on water and solve every problem a company might have. Don’t use code words like ‘seasoned professional’. Everyone knows that means you have been in the workforce a long time. Don’t make it sound like you will just be using this job to get to the next one.

  • Experience that is Irrelevant

Do not list jobs that have no relevance to where you are in your career now. Do not list part time jobs unless you have never worked full time. Unless you are applying for an entry level position don’t list your high school job at McDonalds.

  • Faux Achievements

Achievements are important, really important. However, they need to be real and they need to be relevant. If you won the Betty Crocker Homemaker Award in high school, it is not relevant. If you won an honors scholarship in college that may be relevant. However, it is not relevant if you have been out of college and in the workforce for 20 years.

Relevant achievements are the money you saved your company last year. Don’t say “I saved money.”  Instead say, “Cut department’s expenses by 34% , saving the company over $50,000 in 2013.” These are the kind of achievements you want on your resume.

  • Pictures

Some people are advocating putting a picture of yourself on your resume. This is a very European thing to do and most American hiring managers will either not care or be put off by it. Play it safe. No pictures on your resume.

  • Personal Stuff

Don’t put any personal information on your resume. Don’t say you are married or divorced. Don’t say you have 3 children. Religion, political affiliation, or anything else that is purely personal does not belong on your resume and could be held against you. It is illegal for an employer to discriminate based on most of these things. That is why they will not ask you about them in the interview. Don’t volunteer the information.

  • Inappropriate Email Address

You do want to list an email address where the company can contact you. However, if the only email address you have is partynow@partydown.com, then get a new one. Use a Gmail or Yahoo address with your name or initials. Make it professional. This one item at the very top of your resume might be the one thing that costs you an interview.

  • Negative Comments and Stressing Weakness

Don’t offer negative comments or stress your own weaknesses. Don’t point out gaps in your employments unless you can explain them. Don’t ever state that you were fired from a job. Never make negative comments about a previous company or a previous boss.

Avoid these mistakes that will keep you from being hired.

About the Author: Gerald Buck is the editor of ejobapplications.com, a site offering job applications and resourceful information. He is passionate in providing advice to those seeking job opportunities.

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