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!

Ace the Resume and the Interview!

By Alesia Benedict, CPRW, JCTC – GetInterviews.com

Stock Analyst, Boston, MA
Director of Human Resources, New York, NY
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Product Marketing Associate, Jersey City, NJ
Wealth Strategy Associate, San Francisco, CA

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Think it’s too early to consider questions you will encounter during an interview?  The answer is a resounding “NO”.  It is never too early.  In fact, thinking about questions you will be asked can strengthen your resume and create a consistent impression as you formulate your “brand” for potential employers.

Consider the first impression you want to deliver to potential employers and hiring managers.  You control first impressions by being meticulous about details contained in your resume, and that process can help you develop consistent answers to commonly asked interview questions.  The resume begins to build your brand, reflecting positive impressions of you from very first glance to final reading.

Convey Strengths instead of Weaknesses

Focusing on “duties or responsibilities” emphasizes your reporting to others.  A better presentation showcases your initiative, creativity, and ability to exceed expectations on your own efforts.  A description of your role as an “underling” can diminish the power of accomplishments. Balance accurate job descriptions with a presentation of your skills as achievements to convey strengths.

Present a Progression of Professional Growth

Using a chronological resume provides a progression of accomplishments and professional development, culminating a forecast of the next step in your career.  The progressive professional summary replaces the old career objective with a sense of how your talents can complement the potential employer’s mission and “bottom line”. Past success predicts future contributions.

Don’t Detail Reasons for Leaving Past Positions

Although most interviewers will ask the reasons for leaving your more recent positions, you don’t want to use the limited space in your resume to explain this part of your professional history.  These are definitely answers you want to prepare for the interview, but extensive explanations in the resume direct the reader’s attention away from your strengths. Prepare to provide answers during the interview, but not before.

Ask Pointed Questions About the Company

Appropriate questions can highlight research you have done about the company’s strengths and new directions.  Do not use the interview to explore salary or benefits. Avoid including salary history in your resume as well, so you don’t under-estimate the ceiling before negotiations even begin.

Highlight Unique Skills

Compare your job history and accomplishments to other likely candidates.  What skills are unique and which are considered routine?  Using common software, such as Microsoft Word or Excel, is unlikely to distinguish you from the 100 other candidates.  Analyzing current trends in the field and creating forecasts to help the employer stay one step ahead of the competition, however, are clear strengths that set you apart.

Handling Conflict

How have you managed difficult situations successfully, such as counseling or terminating an underperforming staff member?  Have you facilitated consensus among a diverse team? Quantify these successes in typical results you are likely to produce for the new employer, such as increased productivity or team cohesiveness.

Managing Competing Demands

Multi-tasking is a common requirement in most positions, particularly as companies downsize.  Have you effectively managed and delivered multiple projects simultaneously? What about directing teams remotely? Have you over-delivered despite challenges of tight time-frames and reduced budgets? These are valuable skills that deserve the spotlight in your resume.

Performance under Pressure

Typical examples of this quality include being calm under pressure, bringing structure to chaos, and rapidly responding to unexpected obstacles. Not all candidates bring these high-level skills to the interview. Demonstrating a history of consistent performance despite challenges conveys your value in being able to manage unexpected obstacles by innovating process and procedure.

Turning around Failure

None of us like to think about shortcomings, however interviewers often want to know how you perceive past failures to gain a sense of your own objectivity and ability to grow from challenges and constructive criticism.  Be cautious about how you present these scenarios.  Remember, you are not talking with your best buddy no matter how comfortable you may feel with the interviewer.  Package the “failure” in the context of how you turned it into a success by emphasizing a short time-frame or major results achieved.

Establishing Credibility

Describe how you establish authority as you take on a leadership role.  Do you use the position to create leadership or cultivate respect in leading by example? Do you unintentionally sabotage your authority by being too much of a worker bee?  Is your status as a Subject Matter Expert your basis for credibility?  Each approach creates a different type of respect, affecting interactions with your team.  Review your work history in the context of what kind of leader you have been and what kind you want to be.

Where do you want to be in 5 years?

This classic interview question can provide the framework for your resume.  Your answer should build on your individual career progression by highlighting accomplishments in each position that provide logical steps toward your 5-year plan.  Be certain your plan is career-related. Your life-long goal of being on the pro-golf circuit is unlikely to help get that coveted position you seek. Ideally, your 5-year goals dovetail nicely with the mission of the company where you plan to interview.

Translating the Big Picture Produces Results

Reviewing your answers to likely interview questions and incorporating them into your resume will help you present a consistent brand to potential employers.  Your ability to condense the big picture into a practical presentation of skills and accomplishments provides an example of your planning and communication strengths to potential employers.  These skills can translate into success for you in the interview process, as you translate your big picture into positive results from your resume.


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!