5 Hidden Resume Killers!

You may think you have the perfect resume, but you keep getting overlooked for all kinds of positions, and you can’t figure out what’s happening!  Perhaps you are sabotaging yourself in ways you don’t recognize.

Almost everyone is aware of obvious job search killers in resumes, such as spelling and grammatical errors; however hidden mistakes often end up costing you the interview when you have an otherwise solid resume. Protect yourself from being misperceived out of a job opportunity by carefully reviewing your resume for hidden killers.

1.  Highlighting Political or Religious Affiliations

Many people fill their time with charitable work and, in the process, make some strong community contacts.  Great idea and very fulfilling, most likely, but if that organization is your local church or political action group, you may be sabotaging yourself if you include this in the resume.  Just the mere mention of such groups may subconsciously create a negative response in the reader.  Don’t place yourself at risk for potential discrimination or a negative first impression because of an association with a group that may not align with the values of hiring managers.  We all know it’s not ethical, but better to protect yourself, than be naïve and lose another opportunity.

2.  Explaining Employment Gaps with too much Personal Information

Although it is critical to be honest about gaps in your employment history, exercise caution about giving too much personal information or suggesting that your personal life may overwhelm your work life.  Be brief and succinct in explaining any gaps in your personal work history, and be aware that caretaking for elderly parents, for example, is becoming much more common. Career change or geographic moves may be part of necessary family caretaking decisions, which could also be important to explain in your resume. However you don’t need to provide a lot of detail regarding the emotional toll and investment of time such caretaking has taken.  The explanation doesn’t need to suggest you have been consumed by personal obligations, hinting that personal obligations may be more important than your work life.

3.  Broadcasting Weaknesses

Everyone has skill deficits or areas where his/her work could improve.  However, by over-emphasizing these deficits or appearing nervous about them, you are likely to sabotage the strengths identified in your resume.  Being honest doesn’t mean you have to hang your head and kick at the floor like a school child; it’s likely you feel worse about these shortcomings than necessary.  Emphasize your strengths and practice a response to express information about potential weaknesses. What is it that bothers you so much about this particular deficit when you likely have other strengths? You don’t need to be “all things to all people in order to land the job”, and feeling shameful about deficits can only work against you.

4.  Too Many Positions within the Same Time Frame

Sure, you may have worked 2 or 3 jobs in college, but later in one’s career, this may send a message that you are scattered, unfocused, or worse yet, not committed to your primary field of interest.  Potential employers want to know that you are working toward company goals with the same level of energy that they are, rather than being tired and distracted. Review the job history realistically.  You cannot misrepresent your work experience, but try to look at “your story” during that time of your life.  If there were a number of part-time positions pieced together out of financial necessity, be certain to identify the positions as part-time. Perhaps the positions included experiences for certification.  If so, mention it – this denotes a commitment to professional growth, and more clearly explains seemingly dual, simultaneous employment.

5. Over-emphasizing Periods of Self-Employment

Many potential employers question your ability to be a team player if you are accustomed to being the boss yourself.  It may also intimidate hiring managers or suggest that you are over-qualified, if you have labeled yourself President of your own company.  Again, don’t be deceitful, but be cautious regarding labels. Describe creative development skills associated with self-employment in ways that will benefit the prospective employer, such as market analysis, client development, or full P&L.

Increase your own awareness of potential “resume killers”, and you will be well on your way to eliminating obstacles to employment.  Resumes can communicate in many more ways than just using words.  The nuances of a resume are similar to body language – people get the message even if not overtly expressed.  Rid your resume of hidden killers and move ahead in your job search!

Author: Alesia Benedict

Doostang News January 24: How to be a Team Player

Jr. Equity Analyst, New York, NY
Senior Analyst, Washington, DC
Analyst, Los Angeles, CA
Jr. Associate, New York, NY
Investment Analyst, Boston, MA

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Being successful at work is about more than just your own personal achievements at a company – it’s about working well together with others.  After all, this is how you contribute to the success of a company, which is the whole reason you are there.  And being a team player at work is about more than just collaborating on projects (this is, after all, your job), it’s also about your attitude and the gestures you make to convey that you’re a part of the team.  Integrate a few of the following pointers into your routine in order to collaborate more with your fellow workers.

Volunteer for Projects

There are always those projects that will come up at work that require a few more helping hands.  So even if said project doesn’t exactly fall under your job description, offer to help out if the team needs some extra manpower.  You’ll really help out your coworkers, people will appreciate your efforts, and you might learn something new that can help you out in your own work.

Offer to Help a Coworker

If you sense that a coworker is falling behind on their work or that they’re going to be staying late that evening working on a big project, ask them if there’s anything you can do to lighten the load.  It’s often better for the company if the project is finished more quickly, and you may help that coworker catch something that they might have missed in the anxiety of tackling such a large task in the first place.

Go to Lunch

Some people like to use their lunch breaks as a chance to run errands, catch up on emails or phone calls, or get away from the office for an hour; but make it a point at least once a week or a few times a month to sit down and talk with your coworkers over a meal.  You may find that the peers who are high-strung throughout the rest of the day are really neat people during their down time when they aren’t thinking of the work at hand.

Take Part in Company Activities

Whether it’s a potluck, a birthday celebration, or an office contest, try to get involved in company activities when these come up.  If your office is part of a recreational softball league but you just aren’t athletic, show your support by cheering on your coworkers from the stands.  Taking part in the extracurricular activities of your office makes work more enjoyable for you, as well as endears you more to your coworkers, who may work more productively with you as a result.

Not everyone is a natural socialite, but even if you are shy or new to the company, there are still ways to be a team player.  Ultimately, your coworkers will appreciate your efforts, and will reach out to you more as a result.

Time for a good ol’ group hug!

The Doostang Team

6 Internet Traps that Stall a Job Search

By Alesia Benedict, CPRW, JCTC – GetInterviews.com

High Yield Analyst, New York, NY
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Using the Internet is clearly the “go-to” approach used by most job-seekers today, but be certain you don’t treat your online search efforts casually.  Any mistakes could be broadcast to a wider audience than you imagine. Not all publicity is good publicity when it comes to your personal branding enterprise or online job search. Anything posted online tends to take on a life of its own, including job postings. So be certain you maintain as much control as possible of your own information and job search avoiding these 6 traps.

1.  Posting personal contact information.

You need a balance here between being able to be contacted and making yourself vulnerable to identity theft.  When posting your resume, follow each site’s posting guidelines, and be aware of how “public” your contact information will be when your resume “goes live”. Check the settings to see if employers have a secure portal for the site, or if your resume is available to anyone on the Internet.  The more secure the better in targeting your job search and maintaining your privacy.

2.  Using inappropriate email addresses.

Make sure you have selected an email account that is appropriate to your job search. One that is too personal definitely sends the wrong message, suggesting that your boundaries between work and play are not in place.  Similar concerns may be raised about your judgment if you use your current work email.  There are many options to open free email accounts online.  Consider one of those resources to set up a dedicated email account just for your job search.  It may also help you organize your job search efforts.

3.  Opening your job search up to your current employer.

There are many ways your current employer may learn about your job search, but you can take a few precautions to lessen that possibility.  Avoid using any contact information from your current place of employment. Be selective about where you choose to post. Wallpapering the Internet with your resume is likely to create more problems than positive results for you. Do not use work stations or equipment at the office to launch your online job search.

4. Failing to match your qualifications to those required in the position.

It is tempting to send out resumes to interesting positions, particularly if you are ready to explore a new area or feel stuck in your current industry.  Using the “old shot-gun” approach of sending the resume to multiple sites is relatively easy and inexpensive, but such an indiscriminate approach may diffuse your efforts and paint you as desperate or lacking focus. Don’t diminish your strengths by responding to “everything”!

5.  Limiting your job search to online efforts.

Not all jobs are posted online.  Depending on your geographic parameters, you may want to get out and search local job sources as well.  Networking continues to be a strong source of jobs for diligent and well-connected candidates. Don’t rely just on Internet contacts – give your phone number and physical address when you personalize these responses.  Remember, don’t use company time or equipment in sending things out or identifying contact information.

6. Not researching companies to which you are applying

By finding out about the corporate culture for positions of interest, you are more likely to be successful in aligning your job search efforts and resume with those of the company.  And of course, use the Internet to find out basic contact information to take control in reaching the right person.

The Internet is definitely a strong resource in any job search these days. Take a bit of time to check your “appearance” by using an appropriate email account, make sure any attachments are virus-free, and maintain a business-like approach in your email correspondence.  Ensure the first impression of you the potential employer will be viewing, printing, and circulating around the office is the one you want. Using these strategies will help you maintain your online job search momentum!

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!

Doostang News October 25: What’s Your Name Again? What to do When You Forget Someone’s Name

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It’s happened again: you’ve forgotten someone’s name.  This situation is so common that you would think we would all know how to handle it by now, but it never seems to feel less awkward.  The truth is, it happens to everyone, and people will be more forgiving than you think.  But here are a few tactful ways to deal with the situation and make you feel less uncomfortable the next time you draw a mental blank.

Introduce Yourself First

If you encounter someone you know you’ve met before, but can’t for the life of you remember what letter his or her name starts with, take the initiative and reintroduce yourself first.  Do this as a courtesy to the other person, who may have also forgotten your name. This is also a nice way to recognize the fact that it’s been awhile since you were first introduced and that you’d like to get reacquainted.

Introduce Someone Else to Them

If you have a friend by your side, try the approach of introducing him or her to the person whose name you have forgotten.  Most likely, they will introduce themselves to your friend, and there you have it!

Ask Them to Spell It

If the situation is appropriate, ask the individual how they spell their name.  You may dig yourself into a deeper hole if it turns out that you’re speaking to a Bob or a Susan; but if this comes up, say something along the lines of, “Right, and last name?” while you laugh it off.

Ask for a Business Card

Not only will asking for a business card solve the name problem, but you’ll also receive their contact information and an open invitation to get in touch – which can lead to further opportunities!

Flat Out Ask

While it’s preferable not to make it obvious that you’ve forgotten someone’s name, a clumsy attempt to conceal this can muddle an awkward situation even further.  So sometimes the best rule to go by is honesty.  People will certainly understand because they have been there before, and they will appreciate your straightforwardness.

Hello Our Name Is:

The Doostang Team

Doostang News June 21 – Office Tips for the Recent Graduate

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Earning a degree is a huge feat, something you should celebrate and be proud of. And while the thrill of throwing your cap into the air may not wear off for months to come, it’s important to keep things in perspective when you step foot into the office. The real world is much larger than the classroom, and you will suddenly find yourself dealing with a more varied array of people. Here are a few pointers that will help ease that transition from dorm room to boardroom.

Lose the Sense of Entitlement

You’re on an even playing field with your peers from Day 1 – if anything, you actually have something to prove. So don’t assume that since you have just graduated from a top institute, people are going to give you extra credit; you left that behind in the classroom. Perhaps others will praise you for your stellar education, but that doesn’t give you license to act like a know-it-all or to make even subtle demands about what you need and what you are there for. If you start getting a big head, you’re going to get knocked down a few pegs very quickly. Instead, behave graciously. Don’t assume anything, and go out of your way to be friendly and an eager learner. That will endear you more to your coworkers than the letters behind your name.

Advocate for Yourself

No one in the office will be watching or evaluating you as they did so painstakingly back at the university, so if you don’t assert yourself, you might get overlooked. When you complete a big project, make sure to go over it with your boss. Ensure that your superiors are aware of the work you have done, and show a greater level of involvement by offering to review it with them. Your coworkers are busy people, so if you don’t pipe up just a little bit, they may temporarily overlook your efforts, or worse, dismiss you altogether.

Lay Low

Somewhat of a juxtaposition to our last tip, laying low is important when you first enter a job as a recent grad. Of course, you should never let your office accomplishments fly under the radar – make sure to bring those up with the Big Guy – but you should hang back a little while until you can tune into the vibe of your office. What does this mean? It means that you should figure out how your peers like to work and try to assimilate. Do people like to collaborate on projects? Or do they have a more independent working style? Is the office a casual environment where people sport T-shirts and sandals each day? Or are you expected to wear a suit and tie Monday through Friday? Some of these answers may be fairly obvious at the outset, but it’s important to really get the lay of the land before you inadvertently disrupt the harmony.

Trading in campus, 1PM lectures, and hoodies for the office, 7AM meetings, and starched collars can come as a bit of a shock. But if you keep these simple pointers in mind you’ll pick up the new routine and discover some new joys – office softball leagues, Friday cupcakes from Betty at the front desk, gift exchanges, etc. – in no time!

Here’s to getting older and wiser!

The Doostang Team

Doostang News Feb 8: Be Mine, Valentine! Avoiding the Lusty Coworker

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Bill in HR coming on too strong? Janice playing footsy under the desk? Yeee-up. We’ve all been there. Whether you underwent your first awkward dance of unrequited love in the third grade or your third year of college, you’ll notice that the rules of the game don’t change much from the sandbox to the cubicle. But hey! No need to suffer – Doostang’s here to spare every hopeless romantic a little heartache. Keep reading for a list of tactful approaches to the advances of your love-struck coworkers.

Remain Calm

This is not a drill! And matters of the heart are of the utmost delicacy. In one fell swoop you can shatter a person’s dignity. It’s fairly obvious that when someone musters up the courage to profess their feelings or ask you out on a date, that no matter what your response, you need to be kind. More than this, when you are in the workplace you need to act professionally. It may be tempting to gawk at someone’s audacity, but if you laugh in their face or come back with a snide reply, you’re going to make the situation far more uncomfortable for yourself and for that other person. Remember, you work with this individual, so chances are you’re going to see them on a daily basis. It’s no fun having to time your jaunts to the water cooler or painfully wait to use the restroom in order to avoid having a one-on-one with said individual…because …well because this is what you were trying to avoid in the first place, now wasn’t it?

Steer Clear of Gossip

Yeah, maybe it was funny when socially awkward Frank with the taped glasses strolled in, proposing a night out on the town. But unless Frank mentioned a party bus, don’t go sharing the news with all of your office buddies. Doing so is disrespectful to that other person and has the potential to start nasty rumors. The workplace is a very small world, and things have a way of getting back to other people. Gossip is never a safe bet, and, more than this, it’s just plain unprofessional.

Seek Assistance

A little unsolicited flirting can be endearing sometimes, but when Cupid is launching an all out barrage of heart-shaped arrows your way, it may be time to take matters to a higher power. If you have already conveyed to a coworker that you are not interested and they still won’t take a hint, or, worse yet, begin treating you disrespectfully, you have every right to talk to a manager or Human Resources representative. Companies take sexual harassment very seriously, and you should report it the moment it becomes an issue.

Be Honest

While not necessarily a token of advice specific to the workplace, the golden rule of honesty is generally a good one to live by in any scenario. Picture this: Barbara approaches you outside the office kitchenette, asking if you’re free to join her for pizza Friday night. Don’t fib and tell her that you already have a girlfriend or you’re allergic to pizza, because when the GF fails to show up to company soirees time and again or you have to opt out of office pizza parties, you’re going to feel like a fool. Have the sense to tell the truth. How about, “You know, I’m really not looking to date anyone right now, I’m focused on my work.” Or maybe drop a hint like, “I’m not sure that Friday will work for me, but maybe you can come along with me and some of the guys in the office to grab pizza at lunch.” People will respect and appreciate you much more in the long run if you respect them enough to tell the truth.

Matters of the heart are tricky. And matters of the heart mixed with matters in the workplace can turn sour very quickly. So keep it sweet this Valentine’s Day, and implement a little tact into your office romance routine.


Your Secret Admirer (The Doostang Team!)

Shark Week: When Resumes Attack!

Writing a resume – for a novice, it can feel as intimidating as jumping into an icy pool of sharks. In this sink-or-swim environment of prolific layoffs and limited resources, your resume can mean the difference between a new career and another 6 months of searching. There are so many questions – where to start?  What to include?  How to format?  Somehow people do it, and somehow they succeed, limbs intact.

But like sharks, resumes aren’t really as mean and scary as people make them out to be.  They’re just misunderstood creatures which, if handled incorrectly, can do a heck of a lot of damage.

So, in honor of our somewhat tangential tribute to Discovery Channel’s Shark Week, here are Doostang’s Top 5 Resume Writing Tips:

1) Less is More

Keep yourself to a single page: This may seem difficult at first, but hiring managers and recruiters spend on average 6 minutes reading a resume.  Keep yours efficient and to the point to make the most of the short period of time in which you have their attention.  Leave the long-winded prose for your cover letter and interview.

2) Cater to Your Audience

Market yourself based on the position you’re applying for.  Think about what strengths, skills and experiences will resonate with the hiring manager. The worst thing you can do is pile on junk just to take up space. You don’t have to list everything you’ve ever done; be selective. Giving information that isn’t relevant or doesn’t make sense makes you look desperate and floundering – not a great position to be in whether you’re applying for a job or trying to avoid ending up shark bait.

3) Don’t Reinvent the Wheel

Keep it clean.  Don’t go crazy with formatting frills, which will only distract employers.  The focus should be on you and what you’ve done, not your flower print border or Party LET font.  Treat your resume like an organized outline or webpage.  The writing should be bulleted, simple, and to the point.

4) Say This, Not That

Give tangible examples that can be easily understood.  If you had never seen a shark before, “has a tail” wouldn’t exactly help you to pick one out in a crowded tank.  In the same way, broad generalizations won’t mean anything to an employer who is trying to differentiate you from all of the other similarly qualified individuals in his applicant pool.  There is a big difference between a description like “grew revenue” and one that explains, “grew revenue 25% over 12 months“.

5) Liar, Liar Pants on Fire

Don’t be shy, but don’t lie.  Promote yourself and be proud of who you are and what you’ve done, but don’t say anything you can’t effectively back up face-to-face.  Who knows, what may seem trivial to you may strike a chord with your interviewer in ways you don’t anticipate.  Always be prepared to explain every word on your resume.

Your resume is the very first thing that travels to your potential employer’s desk, take it seriously and you’ll find yourself in an ocean of opportunity.

Good luck and happy job hunting!

The Doostang Team

resident resume shark experts