Impress Hiring Managers by Showcasing Your Strengths

By Alesia Benedict, CPRW, JCTC – GetInterviews.com

Database Intern, San Francisco, CA
Healthcare Jr. Project Manager, New York, NY
Performance Analyst, Chicago, IL
Marketing Manager – Promotions, San Francisco, CA
Analyst/Entrepreneur, Boston, MA

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Competition for job openings continues to be fierce. But you can set yourself apart by smartly displaying your strengths, specialized training, and accomplishments to beat out the competition! Use the ideas below to develop your plan to showcase your strengths.

Flaunt Professional Development Activities

Perhaps you aced the latest company training session, or sought out additional educational activities on your own. Maybe a graduate project translated into thousands in savings or local exposure for the company. Flaunt those accomplishments in your resume and cover letter to set yourself apart from other candidates who lack such initiative.

Highlight Certifications

Certifications, licensure, and train-the-trainer experiences are uncommon accomplishments typically reserved for high-performance staff. Simply listing certifications and licensure raises your background above the competition because the additional effort required to achieve professional standards is well known and is recognized as well beyond most candidates. Likewise, being singled out to train trainers is another example of high-level performance.

Review Customer Satisfaction Ratings

Customer satisfaction ratings are gathered in many different fields, from sales to healthcare. Course and training evaluations are another form of customer satisfaction surveys. If your company doesn’t use any kind of satisfaction ratings, look at this measurement from the opposite side – reduction of consumer complaints. Outstanding customer service across internal and external divisions is a highly valued skill.

Applaud Your Own Accomplishments

Review your experience in terms of traditional achievements such as exceeding quotas, but also highlight teamwork awards and yes, even employee-of-the-month kudos! The key is to include details about your performance that set the foundation for those awards, presenting accomplishments in terms of value for the employer. For example, what did you do that others did not? What happened as a result of your performance, idea, or strong customer relationships? List positive outcomes across all levels, for example:

    · Increased morale

    · Higher profit margins

    · Streamlined procedures

    · Fewer absentee days

Outline Technological Innovations

Did you re-vamp a website to increase traffic and sales? How about automating manual records with a spreadsheet program? You may consider these routine activities, but such accomplishments definitely distinguish you from the crowd!

Explain Team Contributions

Did you make the boss look good? In what ways did you anticipate a change that allowed your manager to come out on top? What projects, programs, or initiatives did you manage? What trends did you forecast? In what collaborative projects did you participate? Examples may include:

    · Spearheading highest earning United Way Campaign in company history

    · Garnering community support for employee recognition event

    · Identifying new B2B partnerships

Show Your Career Progression

Do your resume, LinkedIn profile, and personal website tell the story of increasing responsibility throughout varied positions? Think of your business card and resume as promotional pieces for your personal brand. What do these say about you? Do they invite the reader to engage with you and learn more about your career progression?

Avoid Negative Distinction

Even though distinguishing yourself from the tight competition is a plus, you also have to be conscious of how you will be perceived. You don’t want to set yourself apart in a negative way. Photos of yourself, brightly colored paper, and unusual or colored fonts are all examples of how you may damage your personal image rather than strengthen it.

Think about the image you want to present to impress hiring managers and showcase your strengths. All the aspects discussed above contribute to the employer’s first impression of you. When that impression is positive, they absolutely want to learn more about you. A polished resume will stop the hiring manager from sifting through the endless pile of candidates and get them to call you! Showcase your accomplishments and distinguish yourself from the competition to impress hiring managers and land that new job.

About the Author: Alesia Benedict, Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Job and Career Transition Coach (JCTC) is the President of GetInterviews.com, the country’s leading resume writing firm. They provide professionals with customized, branded resumes and career marketing documents. Her and her firm’s credentials include being cited by JIST Publications as one of the “best resume writers in North America,” quoted as a career expert in The Wall Street Journal, and published in a whopping 25+ career books. Established in 1994, the firm has aided more than 100,000 job seekers to date. All resume writers are certified writers. GetInterviews.com offers a free resume critique and their services come with a wonderful guarantee — interviews in 30 days or they’ll rewrite for free!

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5 Tips to Energize Your Job Search

By Alesia Benedict, CPRW, JCTC – GetInterviews.com

Research Assistant, New York, NY
MBA Marketing Summer Intern, Cambridge, MA
Equity Research Analyst, White Plains, NY
Long Term Strategy Manager, Bellevue, WA
Investment Banking Analyst, Washington, DC

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Although the news has been reporting an upswing in hiring, there are still many workers waiting to land a job. Making that happen requires preparation and creating opportunity, in addition to effectively displaying your skills and value to potential employers. Follow these tips to be prepared and to create opportunity for yourself!

1.  Plan Your Strategy.

Review all the positions to which you have applied and analyze them for similarities and differences. Compare these trends with your skills, experiences, and goals. How closely does your skill set match with your job search?

For many job seekers, the longer one is out of work, the broader the net becomes. This strategy may have been effective in the past, but current hiring managers simply aren’t interested in being a part of your broad-based search. In order to make an impact, understand that the hiring manager views your search as a mini-performance evaluation. If your search appears disjointed or lacks coherence, most employers will consider this as indicative of your future performance on the job! Match your skills as closely as possible to available jobs to maximize your efforts.

2.  Create a List.

Targeting your job search with specific goals is just as critical well into the process as it was during week one. Writing down your goals can focus your efforts more effectively and help you present a more powerful image to potential employers. Creating a list will also allow you to follow up in person with potential employers, an action that will set you apart from the majority of candidates being considered for the position. You can also use your list to track contacts with employers, increasing the level of organization on display to potential employers.

3.  Invest in the List.

Your earlier analysis of skills and experiences will help you identify any potential areas of training that may help you stand out from the competition. Go beyond the initial job description for the position of interest to learn more about the company’s presence in the local community. Although employers are primarily interested in your on-the-job value, if you are able to engage them in conversations about corporate philanthropy, you are demonstrating a deeper understanding of the company’s values, prompting them to invest in you as well!

4.  Showcase Accomplishments that Align with Corporate Projects.

A resume is an effective tool to help you open doors, but in order to do so it must be closely aligned with the company’s mission, values, and top-notch projects. Edit your resume so that only the most meaningful accomplishments are included. Many job candidates become emotionally attached to certain achievements, often from early in their careers. But the fact that you earned “Rookie of the Year in Sales” when you were just out of college will do little to land the job. Focus your resume on more recent accomplishments, usually within the last 10 to 15 years, and select those that mirror the needs of the company’s most important, visible, and profitable departments.

5.  Go Beyond the Resume.

Finally, no matter how outstanding your resume is, these days it often takes more than a great resume to land the job. Brainstorm how you can make yourself stand out beyond the resume. In addition to including the personal contact noted above, this step may also include creating white papers that outline potential areas of improvement for the company. Or you may consider branding opportunities for yourself – from business cards to promotional items to lunch or treats for the helpful staffers you have met along the way.

Getting a good position is definitely a job within itself. A key in minimizing the amount of time you spend in that space is directly linked to your efforts and initiative. Posting your resume is not enough in this economy to get the response you want. Use your understanding of people and organizations to help move your efforts forward. Think of your job search as a personal marketing campaign and implement a bit of self-promotion strategy to make yourself known and to land an interview!

About the Author: Alesia Benedict, Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Job and Career Transition Coach (JCTC) is the President of GetInterviews.com, the country’s leading resume writing firm. They provide professionals with customized, branded resumes and career marketing documents. Her and her firm’s credentials include being cited by JIST Publications as one of the “best resume writers in North America,” quoted as a career expert in The Wall Street Journal, and published in a whopping 25+ career books. Established in 1994, the firm has aided more than 100,000 job seekers to date. All resume writers are certified writers. GetInterviews.com offers a free resume critique and their services come with a wonderful guarantee — interviews in 30 days or they’ll rewrite for free!

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Fire Up your Job Search by Broadcasting Strengths!

By Alesia Benedict, CPRW, JCTC – GetInterviews.com

Operations Analyst, New York, NY
Sales and Trading Associate, SF Bay Area, CA
Financial Analyst, Los Angeles, CA
IT Manager, Boston, MA
Analyst – Private Equity Firm, Philadelphia, PA

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Think in Terms of Strengths

Being unemployed, under-employed, or under-appreciated in your current job can erode confidence.  In order to “fire up” your job search, you may need to re-assess the strengths you are emphasizing.  Follow these simple strategies to shift to a position of strengths.

1)    Brainstorm about what you love to do.  This first list should be exhaustive, including strengths from work and personal areas of your life.

2)    List specific skills developed throughout your work history.

3)    What results did you achieve from strengths listed in the first 2 steps? Review positive comments, good performance evaluations, or actual awards to jog your memory.

4)    Think of job requirements for positions in which you are currently interested, and combine the top 2 or 3 items from each of the areas above that you want to emphasize. Use this information to create an “elevator” speech for yourself – a brief, 30-second to 1-minute summary to describe your assets, not a laundry list, but a mini-story. Consider the director pitching his new movie project to a potential producer, or the inventor describing her idea to a potential investor. This becomes your “pitch” – a brief overview of strengths that set you apart from the crowd by outlining what you can do for the potential employer.

Write it Down

Why write it down?  It helps you own the statement.  Not only does seeing the statement in writing help you feel more confident, but it also helps you begin to believe it more strongly yourself.  However, if you notice what you have written down actually rings false or makes you question strengths you have identified, then something about what you have written “doesn’t fit”.  Stretching yourself to fit a particular job opening can be positive, but stretching the truth is never wise. If you can’t believe it yourself, the hiring manager will struggle, too.  Compare your “pitch” with what you created for the first 3 steps above.  Pay attention to how you feel in reviewing the lists and you will be able to fine-tune your pitch into an authentic statement of your strengths.

Practice

Making a brief statement of your strengths isn’t easy.  Practicing the statement will make you feel more comfortable and help you prepare to use it whenever the opportunity arises.

1)    Use the old “in front of the mirror” technique to help you own your new view of yourself, just like you did in speech class or for that first presentation at the office.

2)    Ask family and friends to serve as an audience – request honest feedback about your delivery – how believable are you?  If you don’t believe what you’re saying, it will show. They may notice it even if you didn’t.

3)    Use your network to practice.  Perhaps a small group of job seekers – whom you trust – can try out elevator pitches on each other and incorporate comments to improve the approach.

Networking Contact Follow-up

Remember to follow up after any type of networking contact, whether casual or formal. Incorporate your “pitch” into the follow-up correspondence.  You can send a “thank-you”, “nice-to-see-you”, or “I believe we have a mutual acquaintance” note – all of which can include a comment about your strengths.

Examples of situations where you might send a follow-up note include:

1)    Casual contact (“nice to see you”)

2)    Initial Meeting (“nice to meet you”)

3)    Job Fair Follow-up (“I enjoyed learning about your company and how closely my experience aligns with your needs.”)

4)    Introduction from a friend (“I believe we have a mutual acquaintance, Bob Smith, who suggested I contact you as my strengths could benefit your organization.”)

5)    Thank you (for any suggestion of an opportunity). Even though thank you letters may seem old-fashioned, they can be effective for that very reason – they set you apart from the crowd!

You can be sure the competition isn’t shy about broadcasting strengths and achievements, and their boldness could walk them right into your dream job! You have golden embers smoldering in your work history that, if stoked, will “fire up” your job search. Write down those strengths, practice your “pitch”, then confidently broadcast it!


About the Author: Alesia Benedict, Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Job and Career Transition Coach (JCTC) is the President of GetInterviews.com, the country’s leading resume writing firm. They provide professionals with customized, branded resumes and career marketing documents. Her and her firm’s credentials include being cited by JIST Publications as one of the “best resume writers in North America,” quoted as a career expert in The Wall Street Journal, and published in a whopping 25+ career books. Established in 1994, the firm has aided more than 100,000 job seekers to date. All resume writers are certified writers. GetInterviews.com offers a free resume critique and their services come with a wonderful guarantee — interviews in 30 days or they’ll rewrite for free!

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Edge Out Your Job Search Competition

By Alesia Benedict, CPRW, JCTC GetInterviews.com

job-search-competitionInvestment Banking Analyst, Boston, MA
Consulting Analyst, San Francisco, CA
Private Equity Associate Intern, New York, NY
Clean Energy Project Manager, Seattle, WA
Trading Assistant, Chicago, IL

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Want to do something to boost your job search and get the edge over other candidates? Here are five things 95% of your competition – other job seekers – DON’T do but which can make a huge difference in winning the interview.

1. Send Thank You Cards

Do you remember what thank you cards are? Most of us correspond by email these days. The thought of actually writing something on paper and sending it through the mail with a stamp is becoming a foreign idea. Sending hand-written thank you notes is so uncommon that it is notable. In fact, hiring managers report they give more attention to job seekers who send thank you notes following the interview. Candidates who send a quick note advance to second interviews more often than those who don’t. The simple act of writing a note, sticking a stamp on it and dropping it in the mail can have a significant impact on your job search success.

Why does this work? The candidate who writes a thank you note is practicing what marketing professionals call “branding”. Whenever something is marketed, repeated exposure to product advertising is required before the consumer “registers” the existence of the product and pays attention. Sending a thank you note after an interview or contact adds one more exposure to the “product” – the job seeker. If a hiring manager has 10 candidates he calls for a first interview, and only one candidate writes a thank you note, it is almost guaranteed that candidate will at least make it to the second round of interviews.

2. Help Your Network Contacts

Are you a foul weather network contact? Do you only show up when you need something from your network? Foul weather contacts do not enjoy accommodating responses from people they know. Change the dynamics. Do something nice and helpful for your network contacts and do it without any expectations of reward or reciprocity. Keep in touch just because you care. Know what is happening in their lives. Practice the Golden Rule. And that thank you note thing from above – it applies to network contacts, too. If someone gives you a lead or helpful info, drop them a quick note of thanks.

3. Research Target Companies

What do you know about the companies to which you apply? Probably not much. If you go so far as to read the company website, you are above the norm, but what about actual research? You know, delving into annual reports, press releases, media pieces, etc.? Knowledge is power. Comprise notes on companies to which you apply. As you do your research, you may discover the company is not a good “fit” for you. You may discover information that is going to be very helpful in an interview. Hiring managers expect candidates to read the corporate website. If you can demonstrate you went beyond that in your research, you will make a positive impression.

4. Use an Effective Cover Letter

Half of most job seekers do not include a cover letter. Their reasoning is based on a common misconception that hiring managers don’t read cover letters. Do you base your job search marketing on this urban legend? Hiring managers DO read cover letters! Do all of them read all cover letters? No, but one thing is assured – if you don’t include a cover letter, it absolutely won’t be read, thus it won’t add to the success of your job search.

A great cover letter is a total job search asset. So many things can be introduced in a cover letter which simply don’t fit in a resume. The cover letter can introduce additional information that will distinguish you from other candidates. A cover letter should support your resume in content and bring further attention to exceptional parts of your background. You can bring in “added benefits” in a cover letter such as willingness to relocate at your own expense, or that you have special training that is required for the position.

5. Follow Up

Do you follow up on resume submissions and applications? Most people do not. Those who do are actively “branding” their job search as described above. They are working toward name exposure and name recognition. Job seekers who follow up on resume submissions and stay in touch on a regular basis with recruiters enjoy a higher success rate than job seekers who do not.

Many job ads are “blind” ads and do not provide any contact information. It is virtually impossible to follow up to a blind ad; however, blind ads should be a very small proportion of your job search outreach. Often, blind ads are not “legitimate” open positions and in some cases, they may actually be “phishing” activities by less-than-honest individuals seeking private data to resell.

Your job search should be proactive and aggressive. You should be actively reaching out to companies and recruiters who are not advertising for open positions. You should be establishing a virtual phone book of contact information related to your job search and then following up on your actions. It’s not enough to make one contact then sit back and wait. You must engage in a consistent, active, scheduled regime of communications that ensures your resume is noticed and your name is recognized.

These are five things that make a significant impact on the success of job search. Most people do not take the trouble or time to include them in their search activities. They aren’t hard, and they aren’t expensive. They may take a little time but time is valuable when you are unemployed. Invest that time into taking your job search to the highest level and your time will become a positive resource.

About the Author:

Alesia Benedict, Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Job and Career Transition Coach (JCTC) is the President of GetInterviews.com, the country’s leading resume writing firm. They provide professionals with customized, branded resumes and career marketing documents. Her and her firm’s credentials include being cited by JIST Publications as one of the “best resume writers in North America,” quoted as a career expert in The Wall Street Journal, and published in a whopping 25+ career books. Established in 1994, the firm has aided more than 100,000 job seekers to date. All resume writers are certified writers. GetInterviews.com offers a free resume critique and their services come with a wonderful guarantee — interviews in 30 days or they’ll rewrite for free!

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