8 Interview Clichés to Avoid

The point of an interview is to show off to the hiring manager how wonderful and unique of a candidate you are.  So why would you waste precious time and words answering questions with clichés?  Unfortunately, when put in a nerve-racking situation, people often freeze up or stumble over their words, and these standard lines are the first things that come to mind.  Here are a few clichés to look out for, and some alternate ways to respond:

1. I’m a Team Player

The ultimate cliché, this one pops up in resumes, cover letters, and interviews.  But what does it really mean?  If you’re a “team player” and really want to get this point across, don’t say this line.  Explain what it is that makes you so great to work with.  Focus on your excellent ability to communicate or your willingness to both lead and follow directions.  Talk about a few instances where you have picked up the slack for someone else without having to be asked.

2. I’m the Perfect Fit

Ultimately this is up to the hiring manager.  Instead of wasting your breath telling them this and expecting them to believe you when they know nothing about you, barrage them with examples of why you’re a great fit.  Then they’ll come closer to making this conclusion on their own.

3. I’m a Hard Worker

Aren’t we all?  Again, saying this really means nothing to the interviewer until you provide concrete examples.  Tell them about all those times when you stayed late, turned work in before its due date, anticipated what needed to get done next, etc.  Make the interviewer really believe that you are a hard worker, because just saying so is not enough.

4. I’m Willing to Do Anything

Often this is the road many people have to take, especially when starting out in entry-level positions.  And while it’s great to have that sort of mentality, you don’t want to sound too desperate in a job interview.  And worse than sounding desperate, you don’t want to imply that the job itself is something you’re “willing to put up with” until you advance on to something better.  Mention specific parts of the job that excite you, and instead of focusing on your willingness to do anything, focus on your desire to do these specific things.

5. I’m a Fast Learner

When you say this, Hiring Managers hear, “I don’t know how to do this“. Saying this makes you sound like you are inexperienced, and that you may be underestimating the level of understanding it takes to do the job.

6. I’m Good with People

That’s exactly what the interviewer is trying to determine in the interview. It’s not just about determining if you have the skills and qualifications to do the job. The interviewer is trying to determine your general demeanor and personal skills, so let them see you in action, don’t simply state it.

7. I’m a very Loyal Person

People who say this are usually overcompensating for holding many jobs in the past, but not staying at any particular job for very long. Candidates who say this are typically concerned that the interviewer will think they’ll get bored and leave soon after taking the position. Instead of saying this, stress how you see this potential employer as a long term career path.

8. I really need this job

Some people think it’s a good idea to talk about their personal life in an interview, and how important it is for their family that they get this job. Even if this is true, do not say it. It only makes you look desperate. The less it seems you need the job, the more valuable you seem to the employer, because other employers want you too.

Clichés hurt you not just because they make you sound less credible, but also because they take away the chance to go into depth and provide specific examples of why you’d be a great hire.  Don’t do yourself an injustice by speaking vaguely with a hiring manager – the specifics will get you much farther.

8 Social Media Blunders that Sink a Job Search

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Let’s say you are looking for a new job or a promotion at your current job.  If your prospective new boss pulls up your Facebook page, will he/she see photos of you drinking scotch from the bottle and a caption that says “Drink till you die”?  Or will your current employer see a post that reads: “I hate my job, the boss is a jerk!” on your Facebook page?

These days, social media can be a help or a hindrance to your job search. Social media sites are not hidden.

Anything you post is likely to be seen.  Most hiring managers search candidates’ online presence and that includes social networking. You will want to do the same.

A basic search of your name is a good place to start. What does the search reveal?  How deep are the results?

Do you find one or two pages, or one or two lines?  What does the search reveal about you? Remember, just because your Facebook posts don’t show up in the initial search doesn’t mean information posted there is inaccessible.  In fact, for some companies, that may be where the search begins. Be smart about your online presence and you will outsmart the competition.

1.  Wide Open Profiles.

This is the kind of mistake that makes the others mistakes relevant. Keeping a closed or mostly closed profile on your non-career social media sites while job searching is a good idea.

2.  Friend Requesting Your Interviewer.

Don’t send a friend request to your interviewer. Maybe your the type of person who friend requests everyone you meet. Maybe you think it will help your chances of getting the job. Unfortunately, friend requesting your interviewer is more likely to work against you, since very few of us will look more professional on facebook than in the interview.

3.  Inappropriate Language.

Remember your old English teacher’s admonition that you must pay attention to the written word?  That remains true for writing on the web.  Writing how you talk is not the best advice in the midst of your job search.  Think of any written communication as a tiny billboard communicating your assets to hiring managers investigating your online presence.  Inappropriate language definitely includes profanity, so clean it up to strengthen your job search.

4.  Non-PC Statements.

Your social media pages may feel protected or hidden from the general public, but as with anything on the Internet, once it is there, you lose all control of the information.  “Think twice and type once” might be a good reminder the next time you are posting.  Any Internet-based communication is open to the world and may be misconstrued.  Think about the last time you tried to tell a joke or explain a sensitive situation via email.  The recipient of cyber-messages may not interpret what was meant as a short-hand explanation in the same way you intended.

5.  Negative Comments about your Current Employer.

The supposed sanctity of social media sites can lead many people to develop a false sense of security. As mentioned, social media sites are not completely private.  If you are ranting about your current place of employment, the consequences of doing so “in print” are likely to be much more negative for you than the employer.  Hiring managers typically avoid anyone whose posts suggest a difficult disposition, rather than the appearance of a team player.

6.  Unflattering Photos.

Everyone knows drunken holiday party photos will sabotage your job search, but you should be cautious about the content of all photos you post.  Public displays of affection, nudity, or any documentation of “unusual” behavior are likely to halt successful job leads.  Check with your “friends” on Facebook as well to make sure there aren’t photos on their pages that may cast you in an unflattering light.

7.  Off-color humor.

The Internet is not the local bar or pub.  You’re not just making jokes with people who already know you well and will forgive slips of the tongue.  If negative comments are all that the hiring manager knows of you, you are likely to be seen negatively.

8.  Conflicts between your profile and resume.

Make sure there is no major differences between your career oriented social networking profiles, and your resume. This can be as simple as updating a former employer’s company name to its new name if it was changed. Check the details thoroughly on both, making sure the dates match, the company names match, and the responsibilities and accomplishments match

 

Don’t jeopardize your job search by ignoring potential negative impressions from your online presence.  Social media sites are routinely accessed as part of the screening process so get rid of any questionable photos or posts. Beware of social media blunders by taking a smart look at your online presence as if through the eyes of the hiring manager, and you can remove barriers to your next position.

 

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6 Blunders that Push Your Resume to the “Don’t Call” List

 

Many candidates unintentionally push their resume into the “don’t call” pile with several common errors. Many of these blunders are based on outdated thinking while others develop out of a desire to take advantage of that one moment when the hiring manager is screening your resume. Take a few moments and review your resume to make sure these blunders aren’t pushing your resume to the wrong pile!

1. Including Everything

Less is more with effective resumes. Don’t try to cram in all your work history or every keyword that comes to mind. Trying to include everything will only sabotage your resume by essentially hiding your good points under the weight of too much information. Most hiring managers only skim resumes, and if you have created an information overload the screening process is very likely to stop right there.

Change your thinking about your resume to create an effective hiring tool. Good resumes capture the reader’s attention while enticing them to learn more about you. Regurgitating your entire work history onto the page is not going to achieve that aim for you. Limit your work history to the last 10 to 15 years to be most effective.

2. Poor Organization

Including everything is indeed a form of poor organization. However, limiting the work history to the last 15 years may not be sufficient to reduce the amount of verbiage. Aim for a concise and succinct description of your jobs. Include no more than 5 lines in each description. Make the most of the prime real estate on your resume by including brief company descriptions as well. Doing so provides a context for your experience and accomplishments while saving space. Separate out accomplishments by highlighting a few well-chosen achievements in bullets.

3. Grouping All Jobs Together

You may have a great progression of positions with increasing responsibility at a particular company. In order to get the most out of these experiences, separate out each position with its own job description and achievements listed. You limit the effectiveness of your resume by putting all positions with the same company together. Not only is your clear progression blurred, but the reader may also be confused as to exactly what your contributions were. Unclear descriptions of past contributions do nothing in helping potential employers envision you as a successful member of their team.

4. Functional Format

Many job seekers choose a functional format that can also be confusing to the reader. A functional format does not present a clear progression of your career and requires the reader to invest more time in trying to determine what experiences match with each company. Although you want the reader to spend more time reading your resume, the functional format is not a productive way to achieve that goal. Using a reverse chronological format provides a quick snapshot of your history, and with careful presentation will entice the reader to keep reading and call you to learn more.

5. Cluttered Presentation

Many of these points address the issue of clutter in your resume. Additional factors to consider in presenting a clean appearance in your resume include how to manage the dates of employment. As long as you have a steady progression in your work history, including only the years of employment is the cleanest presentation. However, if you have had a number of short-term positions, including the month and year may help illustrate the actual length of employment.

Another common example of clutter on the resume is attempting to include every keyword you can associate with your profession. Be selective in your choice of keywords, using only those that clearly demonstrate your strengths.

Finally, including too much information about professional development experiences can work against you. Identify those training experiences that set you apart from the competition and include only those. Dates are typically not necessary for professional development activities, particularly for annual trainings.

6. Unprofessionalism

You must remember that you are being evaluated in every single contact you make with a potential employer. Personal email addresses such as sexygirl@ or lazyguy@ should never be used in your job search. Email accounts can be set up for free at many sites on the web. Setting up a new email account dedicated to your job search is a great idea to help you stay organized as well. An appropriate email address can be as simple as YourName@ and conveys a much more professional image.

Other unprofessional tactics include talking on the phone with prospective employers while at your current job or with dogs and kids in the background. Avoid these traps that could easily land your resume in the “don’t call” pile.

Making the most of your resume is the best tool for getting a call from the hiring manager. The resume is a carefully crafted calling card and with the right balance of information and presentation can spur the hiring manager to the action you desire. Make smart choices about what to include and how to present information in an effective way to gain the response you want. A strategic review and re-vamping of your resume may be just what you need to prompt that call. You have the power to make sure your resume is in the “Must Call” pile!

7 Ways to Turn Up the Heat on Your Job Search

 

Don’t take a vacation from your job search simply because it’s summer. By acting against the myth of a summer slowdown, you can heat up your job search and scorch the competition! You may be surprised to find that there is often less competition because the rest of the pack is acting on the outdated assumption that companies don’t hire in the summer. Follow these tips to put some sizzle in your summer job search.

1. Don’t Let Vacation Mentality Sabotage Your Search

A job search is daunting and summer is a traditional time for vacations or time away with families. However, if you succumb to temptation and set your job search aside, you will lose valuable momentum and are likely to miss opportunities. Job seekers tend to follow a traditional academic schedule and put their efforts in full force in the fall. Getting a jump on the competition by maintaining a steady effort over the summer puts your name at the top of the list for interviews now.

2. Don’t Miss Important Calls

With mobile devices, you can still make yourself available even if you do take a few days away from home base. Just remember to be professional when answering your phone and get in the habit of excusing yourself from the fun to take those important calls. You can continue your phone and email follow-ups from the road and get right back into your job search schedule upon your return.

3. Business as Usual

Recruiters and hiring managers continue to operate on typical business schedules during the summer months. Though scheduling interviews may be more complicated because of staff and search committee vacations, the timing may actually work to your advantage. Hiring decisions may be made more quickly than at other times of the year as staffers scramble to complete deadlines before their summer break. Hiring in the summer often contributes to an efficient business cycle by allowing training time before a busy fall season.

4. Attend Seasonal Community Activities

Summer is a prime time for festivals, fairs, and other types of community events. Attend as many of these as you can to network and spread the word about your job search. The casual nature of these events often gives you the opportunity to approach important hiring contacts that may be less accessible at other times of the year. Be prepared with a business card in your pocket and your updated resume ready to be sent out. You may even use these casual contacts to build a network of like-minded job seekers for support and sharing information about available job leads.

5. Update Your Resume and Online Profile

If your job search has slowed, summer is a great time to revamp your resume by removing older entries and adding industry keywords that highlight your strengths and make your resume pop during electronic scanning. Be certain to post the updated version of your resume to websites. If you notice any skill gaps during your resume review, summer is a great time to build skills with a workshop, training, or independent study. Classes and workshops also offer great networking opportunities.

6. No Shirt, No Shoes, No Interview

Summertime is not an open invitation for flip flops, khakis, or bermuda shorts. Regardless of the heat outside, be professional! Don’t blow an interview by being too casual. Pull out your best professional wardrobe for an interview or when dropping off your resume. Make the same choices for professional attire when interviewing via Skype as well.

7. Stay Current

Maintain subscriptions to online sites to remain abreast of the latest job openings as well as company expansions in your region or industry. Although the competition may seem fierce online, many of those likely candidates may be unable to attend an interview. Your diligent monitoring of varied sites will put you at the top of the interview list because of your qualifications and availability.

Update your resume, expand your network, and maintain your momentum by staying consistent with the job search. Heat up your chances of landing an interview during the final days of summer while the competition takes a vacation!

Up Close and Too Personal – What to Leave OFF Your Resume

A resume serves as a reflection of who you are:  it contains your education, your illustrious work experience, various ways to contact you…  But then, a resume should never really reflect who you are.  We’re talking about the personal details – the little things that make you the fabulous person you are today, but that should really have no bearing on landing a job.

So whether you’re just starting to apply to jobs for the first time, or are a seasoned job search veteran, here’s a refresher course on things that you should never include on your resume:

Religion

If you’re not applying to a job at a religious institution, keep your views off the page.  It’s irrelevant to the job, and hiring managers are not allowed to take it under consideration anyway, so there’s really no place for it.  If you volunteer at a religious organization and you consider this experience especially relevant to the job you’re applying to, you can mention it briefly.  However, if you must include it, keep the organization anonymous and focus on your role instead.  For example:

Volunteer Instructor – once a week, taught a classroom of thirty children, ages 10-12.

Also, keep in mind that anything you mention in the resume is likely to come up during the interview, so include this information at your own risk.

Politics

Again, if you’re not going into politics, leave it off.  These sorts of matters are controversial in the first place, are irrelevant, and if anything, just take up valuable space.  Like with religion, if you consider your political experience extra valuable and relevant to a particular job – and just can’t bear to take it off the resume – avoid mentioning the organization name, and be prepared to discuss further during an interview.

Sexual Orientation

Sexual preference may be a key component to who you are, but it has nothing to do with how well you can perform on the job.  More than this, even though discrimination in the workplace is illegal, it still exists in some places, so don’t take your chances.

Age

Though you may be the perfect fit for the position, ageism in the workplace certainly exists, and you may be eliminated from the pool prematurely if you are perceived as being too old or too young.  If age is an issue, be cautious with including specific dates on your resume as well (most hiring managers can do the math).  So if your 30-year college reunion is around the corner, you might want to keep that graduation date to yourself and also leave off some of your early, less relevant experience.

Health and Disabilities

The law protects persons with health issues or disabilities, but again, you should leave this information off of your resume.  It’s irrelevant and opportunity for discrimination exists.

Criminal Record

The general rule with a criminal record is to be upfront and honest with a hiring manager, but the resume is not the place for this.  Wait until the interview to bring this up.

While you want to give the hiring manager a good idea of who you are, there’s definitely a point where you can become too personal in what you decide to disclose.  Always aim to flaunt how great you are on your resume – just be a bit discerning while you do it.

 

8 Ways Your Contact Details May Be Turning Off Employers

Writing a resume is no small task, but one part that seems like a no-brainer is the contact information section. Unless you are suffering from amnesia, you know your name, where you live, and what your own phone number is.However, it’s not quite that simple. Your contact information is arguably the most important part of your resume, as this is the only means employers have to reach you for an interview!Many job seekers commit major blunders in their contact information, however, that can turn off employers before the first paragraph is read. Be sure to avoid the following eight pitfalls to maximize this simple — yet vital — section of your resume:

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1. Listing current work phone or email address

Though rarely enforced, most companies implement policies barring use of office equipment and internet services for personal use. Your job search certainly qualifies as personal, so keep it out of the office. Keeping your job search a secret from your current boss is only one of the pitfalls. Listing a work-related email address or phone number on your resume sends a negative message about your professionalism. A prospective employer could infer that you are abusing company time and resources, and that’s certainly not a good first impression.

2. Including your name and email only on the first page.

Envision how many pieces of paper must cover the desk of a hiring manager shortly after he or she publicly posts an open position. Now picture him or her sifting through dozens (if not hundreds) of resumes and misplacing a page. If no name is on that page, it may as well be in the garbage.

Don’t risk being discounted from consideration because a portion of your resume was lost. Be sure to put your name and contact information on each and every page of your resume to avoid this preventable scenario.

3. Providing a phone number that’s not caller-friendly.

Giving only phone numbers that make it easy to contact you may sound like common-sense advice, but unfortunately it isn’t always obvious. Without realizing it, job seekers who block lines from private calls or forget to clean out a full voicemail box for three weeks sabotage themselves. Making it easy for a busy employer to contact you is crucial, because rather than track you down, he or she is more likely to just move on to the next candidate.

Additionally, be cautious if you share the telephone line with your family or roommates. For example, if your teenage daughter uses the phone constantly but never answers call waiting or you live with your sister who is terrible at taking messages, perhaps your home phone line is not the best number to provide. A cell phone is usually the phone number of choice, but with newer technology offerings such as free Internet-based voicemail boxes, the modern-day job seeker has plenty of options.

4. Not verifying that the outgoing voicemail message sounds professional.

Using funny recordings or having small children as the voice a caller hears telling them to leave a message may be amusing or adorable to your family and friends, but it’s not going to make a professional impression on a prospective employer. Even though it’s your home and your right to do whatever you like with your own voicemail, the best message is brief and generic. Start making your first impression in person during the interview rather than through an insignificant message that could make you seem silly.

5. Listing an email address that’s a bit too personal.

If you chose an email address that refers to personal information, it’s typically not advisable to use it when applying for a job. Furthermore, using your birth year as part of an email moniker could lead an employer to figure out your age, which subjects you to age discrimination. (Though it’s obviously illegal, age discrimination is still alive and well in today’s job market, not to mention difficult to prove.) Be sure to let your qualifications speak for themselves.

Even if your hobbies are wholesome, they won’t put you in a professional light. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with “DogLover23” or “SailingAceJohn,” but such names don’t support a professional image. A simple solution is choosing an email address that contains your first and last name. This not only presents a polished image, but makes a sender’s identity clear. Seeing an email from “SailingAceJohn” in my inbox won’t tell me immediately which candidate it is, especially if I received 12 resumes from people named John! With such an abundance of free and reliable email providers, it’s easy to set up an account you can use exclusively for your job search.

6. Omitting a city / state.

Posting a resume online can be a scary thought for many, since contact information is out there in cyberspace. Nevertheless, an address is ideal to show the reader where you are located. Most job boards offer a job seeker the option of keeping contact information private. A good compromise, however, is to at least include your city and state so employers know whether you are a local candidate.

7. Opting for a nickname over a formal name.

Your birth certificate says your full name is Michael, but your friends call you Mickey. That’s fine, but remember, a prospective job lead is not your friend. Your resume is a formal marketing document, and as such should contain your full legal name. Once you interview for the position, feel free to tell the person or persons interviewing you to call you whatever you prefer, but until that time, it’s best to maintain a formal and professional tone.

8. Not hyperlinking an email address.

Hyperlinking your email address gives hiring managers the option of contacting you with one simple click! Why would anyone pass up this type of opportunity?

There may be more to the contact section of a resume than meets the eye, but optimizing this information for a successful job search is easy if you know the impression each detail makes on employers. (Now if only creating the rest of the resume was this simple!)

Milestones for a Successful Job Search

Manage your job search just as you would a well-organized project and you will be able to place yourself in a new position! By meeting milestones you will feel more in control of your job search.

1.  Identify Target Companies

Use traditional and Internet strategies to identify companies of interest. Network with professional and community organizations to gather information about potential openings, new projects, and names of key personnel. The hiring manager may be the gatekeeper, but isn’t the only contact who may be helpful in the organization. Use Internet sites to expand beyond your geographic area and get a sense of the current market for positions of interest to you.

2.  Tailor Your Resume and Cover Letter

Apply the research gathered about companies, key personnel, and positions to revise your resume and cover letter for each position if possible.  Although this may sound daunting, a complete overhaul is not required for each position. Emphasize skills and accomplishments in your resume that align with corporate needs. A slight adjustment may be all that is necessary to present yourself as the perfect candidate. Don’t rely on references to float your resume to the top of the pile. The cover letter and resume must stand on the merits of your experience, skills, and potential for contributions to the company’s bottom-line.

3.  Follow-up

When you follow up, remember to use a number of different strategies. Traditional thank-you letters and e-mails can both be appropriate. When managing group interview situations, you may prefer to use email and a brief phone message to keep your name and credentials fresh in the mind of each interviewer. You will also want to follow up with the initial contact person for your cover letter. That individual may become an important point-person in keeping you apprised of the interview process and keeping your name at the top of the list!

4.  Keep Going

Even after the interview, keep in contact with your network and maintain your job search efforts. Part of the challenge in current job searches is how protracted the process has become in a tight job market. Think of the process as a marathon and pace yourself. Rejuvenate yourself to keep up a positive energy.

5.  Maintain Good Records

Set up an organizational system to record your progress and include all the details! Keeping a comprehensive record of all names, dates of contacts, and outcome will prevent following up with the same person twice when you did not plan to do so. The record can also give you a sense of accomplishment and control as you monitor milestones in your job search project. Good organization leads to good results and helps you present a positive image in all your contacts.

Monitor job search milestones just as you would for a complex project. Exercising those skills keeps you on your game and moves you toward a new position. Use the milestones to maintain your focus and a positive energy to stay on track to a timely delivery in your job search project!

The 7 Words that Sabotage Your Resume

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.

5 Tips to Enhance Your Job Search

Autumn is finally settling in again, but before you start laughing and pointing fingers at all those young children who still have years of school and torment ahead of them, just think about what YOU get to do.  That’s right, school may be out forever, baby, but check out what’s in store now:  the job search.  So tighten those backpack straps, throw on a bicycle helmet, and off we go!

Don’t Even Think About Cutting Class

Make sure to hold yourself to a schedule.  Wake up at a reasonable hour and park yourself at your desk for a generous period of time, giving yourself an opportunity to really focus on your job search.  You may feel inclined to soak up these last few weeks of sunshine, but make it a priority to devote a good chunk of your day to researching opportunities, sending out resumes, and networking.

Keep Your Homework Out of the Dog’s Reach

While you’re looking for a job, it’s important to set goals for yourself.  Assign yourself tasks such as applying for a minimum of five jobs a day, reading one book a week that will educate you in an industry that interests you, or perhaps creating an updated draft of your resume.  Homework is almost never fun, but it’s where we make a lot of our progress – so no slacking!

Get There Before the Final Bell

No one likes getting marked off for tardiness, so avoid the hassle altogether and get there early!  Be mindful of any application deadlines you have coming up, and plan your schedule accordingly.  And instead of sliding into your seat right as the bell rings, try to show up a few minutes ahead of time.  Hiring managers often look favorably upon candidates who turn in their materials promptly – and it’s also quite possible that they’ll make a decision before they close off the position, so stay on top of things and apply as early as you can.

Don’t Forget Your Friends

The best part about school is getting to suffer through it with all your best buds.  So find a few pals who are also treading along in this perilous world of job hunting, and share your woes, tips, and contacts with each other.  Having a support group while you look for a job can invigorate you when you’re down, expose you to new opportunities, and make you realize that you’re not alone.

RECESS

Sometimes when you’re starting to fidget in your seat and can’t peel your eyes off the clock, the best thing to do is to throw open the classroom door, fling your arms out into the air, and just run around outside.  Few of us can sit through an entire day pounding out a bunch of work, so don’t feel shy about taking a break every once in a while to de-stress.  Ultimately, it’ll help your productivity when you get back to the grind with a clear mind and a fresh outlook.

Happy job hunting!

Overcoming the “Under-Qualified” Stigma

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It’s happened to everyone: you come across a job description for a position that’s right up your alley. The job is interesting and looks like something that you are completely capable of and excited to do. And then your eyes wander to the “Qualifications” section… You don’t have a Masters degree, 5+ years of experience, or a Series 7 license. So what do you do? Scrap it and move on? If you’re lacking many of the key qualifications that appear mandatory, then indeed you’re probably better off allocating your time and effort applying elsewhere. But if you’re only a few qualifications away from that ideal candidate description, you might be selling yourself short if you give up before even trying. Read on for a list of tips on overcoming the “under-qualified candidate” stigma.

Emphasize Your Skills

Ok, so maybe you don’t hit every bullet point with your qualifications. But don’t give up hope just yet. For many positions, the “Qualifications” section is merely a list of attributes of the ideal candidate. This doesn’t mean that they’re unwilling to consider someone who meets only some of the requirements. So instead of dwelling on what you haven’t done, focus on what you’re great at. Many skills that you acquire throughout school, volunteer work, or another job are transferable to other positions, and can be used to replace any prerequisites that you might not meet. Highlight these skills or experiences in your cover letter, and explain how they will help you excel in that specific job. One important caveat: don’t waste your time applying for jobs that you’re completely unqualified for – for example, if you’re looking at a position for an Associate Attorney at a top law firm, you better have a law degree.

Go the Extra Mile

If you come up short on knowledge or experience, emphasize to an employer that you are willing to work harder than any other candidate to brush up on your skills and become well versed in the subject matter. Don’t underestimate the value that hiring managers place on a strong work ethic. Include in your resume and cover letter examples of your ability to learn quickly. If you possess many of the other qualities of the ideal candidate, you may find that your enthusiasm to learn and contribute may very well land you the position.

Network

Networking is a great way to gain introductions into a company. Networking can also help you establish someone on the inside as an individual who can vouch for you. When you come across that tricky job description, mention to your contact that you’re planning on applying, and explain why. Be honest, and address any points that might weaken your application. Companies want to hire individuals they can trust. If someone with a good history at the company is able to put in a good word for you, it will further bolster that company’s confidence in bringing you on.

Volunteer or Intern

If you find that no matter how you try to spin it, you just can’t land the position you want based on your qualifications, offer to volunteer your services for free. This isn’t to say that you should ever allow a company or an individual to take advantage of you. But if you volunteer or intern for a company, you’ll gain valuable experience that you can parlay into a future opportunity at the company. Get in, work hard, and show them that they need you. Even if doing so doesn’t lead to another prospect within that company, you’ll gain important knowledge and skills that will qualify you for a position similar to the job you had hoped for at the outset.

It’s easy to look at a job description, think, “There’s someone out there who’s better,” and quickly abandon the effort. But have a little faith in yourself – play to your strengths and commit to working even harder than the next guy, and you may find yourself more qualified than you think. So take a chance – you’ve got nothing to lose – and you may find yourself one step closer to your dream job!

All the best,
The Doostang Team