Do you read through your resume and think “dull’? If so, it could be a problem because hiring managers want more than technical skills. They are reading between the lines to see some personality too – so they can evaluate whether you’re the right fit for their organization.
Yet infusing personality is a balancing act. You don’t want to go too far and portray yourself in a negative light, hurting your chances of getting an interview. Instead, consider the following tips to add personality the right way.
Decide What Personality Traits to Highlight
The job listing will be your guide in identifying the personality traits you should showcase on your resume. Read through it and try to get a sense of what’s important for the position and the employer.
Also do some digging online, reading through the company’s website, social media profiles, news articles, and any other information that can shed some light into what personality traits are important to the company. Make a list of a few that you can tie to your own personality and include on your resume.
Don’t Say What You Are; Show What You Do
For instance, if working well under pressure is important for the job, don’t simply state that you “work well under pressure” on your resume. Anyone can claim this and it’s difficult for a hiring manager to verify.
Instead, use a specific example to show how you work well when the pressure is on. For instance, say something like “Met 50+ monthly deadlines for the planning and implementation of online marketing strategy.” This shows that you’re able to juggle pressure and meet deadlines on the job.
Use Simple Words
Don’t use business jargon or overly complicated words to get your personality across. Instead, keep it simple when it comes to your language and write like a human, not a robot.
For instance, skip words like “utilized” instead opt for “use.” Remember, this document should be easy to scan and reader friendly, so choose the simplest, clearest language. If you use overly complicated words to describe yourself and your abilities, you might come off as dry, boastful, or both.
Focus On the Positives
When it comes to personality traits, make sure you are painting them in a positive light. For instance, if you think you’re stubborn, don’t say that on your resume. Rather, talk about how you’re resilient and persistent on the job. Using the right words and phrases is key, so that you’re putting your best foot forward and not scaring off employers by showing too much personality.
Some other examples of personality traits that employers like to see include ambition, humility, creativity, dependability, adaptability, and flexibility.
Leave Out the Negatives
Everyone has personality traits that could be perceived as a weakness. Just make sure in whatever you say about your personality, that you don’t potentially leave the wrong impression with the hiring manager.
If you’re not sure after you write your resume, ask for a second opinion. Give it to a trusted friend or family member to see what they think. If they see something off, then remove it. It’s not worth taking the risk. A few negative personality traits to avoid discussing include being stubborn, controlling, judgmental, critical, pessimistic, and rebellious.
Share Your LinkedIn Profile
You know hiring managers are going to Google you if they’re interested in interviewing you. You might as well put your social media profiles front and center and use them to reflect your personality.
Before you do, though, audit your profile to ensure it paints you in a positive light and best reflects your personality traits. It might seem scary to send a hiring manager right to social media. However, they’re going to find you anyway. By opening the door and welcoming them in, it could make the difference between you and another candidate who’s more evasive.
Dig Deeper In Your Cover Letter
If you’re having a hard time infusing personality into your resume, then focus on the facts there and tell more of a story in your cover letter. This is where you dig a little deeper into who you are, what you do, and key accomplishments you’d like to highlight.
In whatever you do on your resume in terms of adding personality, keep it short and simple. Even if you think you wrote the world’s greatest resume and it’s now three pages, pare it down. The hiring manager only takes a few seconds to scan every resume and you don’t want them to skip yours because it’s too long. Offer up just enough to get them interested, so they call you.
Do You Need Help Putting Some Personality Into Your Resume?
Turn to the professionals at ResumeSpice. We’re here for you with resume writers who know how to craft winning resumes and cover letters that showcase who you are – and why a company would want to hire you. Ready to get started? Simply reach out at 832.930.7378 or contact us online.
Writing your resume can be a challenge for a range of reasons – one involves length. If you’ve only been on the job for a short period, this might not be a big deal.
However, if you have years of experience, how are you supposed to boil all that down to a one-page resume? Is it even necessary?
You can’t use a seven-point font, unless you want your resume to land in the trash. Instead, we dive deeper into the art of resume writing for a few tips to concise things, and to see if it's even required to shrink your resume down to a page.
Shorten Text Where You Can
Now’s the time to go through your resume with a fine-tooth comb and remove any extra words, phrases, or sentences. Read through every bullet under your “Work History” section and all the other sections to ensure there isn’t any extraneous text.
If you have any bullet points that are three lines, aim to cut them down to two. If you have one word alone on a line, then do whatever you can to cut or edit the sentence and get rid of the dangling word.
If you’re stacking all the information on your resume, like job title, employer name, location, and dates of employment, this takes up four lines. Instead, combine them to one or two lines, depending on the length. For instance:
Marketing Manager, ABC Communications, Houston, TX – July 2018- Present
Other areas where you can get rid of stacked text include under your “Education” section. See if there’s a way to get your college name, degree and dates earned onto one line, such as:
Augusta University, Bachelor of Science in Business, Graduated: May 2015
This way, you’re not using up multiple lines. Another area to check is your contact information at the top of your resume, like phone, email, and any other details you list. Make sure they’re not all on separate lines and instead combine them into one line that is below and across your name.
Narrow the Margins
When you’re trying to get your resume down to one page and you’re almost there, the next place to look is at your margins. Keep in mind, white space is key and important to the look and feel of your resume. You don’t want to send in a resume with a tiny font point size and even tinier margins.
However, you can play with your margins a little and narrow them down to see if this helps you remove the final few lines that are running to the next page. If, for instance, you have one-inch margins all the way around your resume, see what happens when you trim them down to .75 or even .5 inch margins. Whatever you do, make sure it still looks reader-friendly.
Adjust the Line Spacing & Font Size
If you’re still in need of a little bit of space, this should be your final step. If you have your line spacing set to the default, then it might be too much. You can adjust it so it’s a little tighter. That said, don’t make the line spacing so tight that it becomes hard to read your resume.
Also, if your font size is set at 12 for all the text, adjust it to 11 to see if it works to shrink your resume. Just make sure you don’t go any smaller than 10 and keep your section headers and your name larger, such as 14.
Does It Even Need to Be One Page?
If you've done all of the above and it’s still not fitting – no need to worry. If you have enough work experience feel free to have your resume take up two or even three pages depending on the amount of years you have worked professionally. One of the biggest myths out there is that you need to have a one-page resume.
Employers want to see your entire job history. They'd rather scan a few pages to get a good overall view of your career than miss something important for the sake of saving paper or time.
Need More Help Writing the Right-Length Resume?
Turn to the pros at ResumeSpice. We’re experts when it comes to writing resumes and knowing what hiring managers want to see. We can help you make edits to your resume or start from scratch, so you put your best foot forward. Ready for help? Simply call 832.930.7378 or contact us online to get started.
After an interview, you can’t sit back and breathe easy. There’s still more work to do. Once the interview is over, it’s time to write a post-interview thank you note – and increase your odds of getting the job or at least another interview.
In fact, consider these statistics from a recent CareerBuilder study:
- 22% of employers say they’re less likely to hire a candidate who doesn’t send a thank you note
- 56% said not sending a thank you note showed the candidate was not serious about the position
- And 86% of hiring managers said not sending a thank you note demonstrated a lack of follow-through
If that’s not enough, there’s yet another reason to write a note. It can be a deciding factor for the hiring manager. If you’re neck-in-neck with another candidate and they write a great thank you letter, guess who will likely get the offer? It’s not worth risking job offer rejection. Writing a solid thank you note after the interview is an easy way to separate yourself from the 57% of job seekers who don't send a thank-you note.
Not sure where to begin? Here’s a template to follow and examples to inspire you.
Thank you letter email template:
Dear [Name of Hiring Manager],
Thank you so much for meeting with me today. It was a pleasure speaking with you and I am truly excited about the possibility of working for [Company Name].
I’d love to be a part of your team and help you to [increase sales, retain more customers, create new products, or expand service offerings]. My [skill, such as customer service, graphic design, leadership, etc.] experience and [another skill] expertise would help me to thrive in this position while making valuable contributions.
I look forward to hearing about next steps from you. If you need additional information, please reach out.
Sample thank you email letter #1:
I just wanted to take a moment to thank you for meeting with me today. After discussing the accounting manager position, I’m excited about the chance to work for such a dynamic company. My experience as a CPA and specifically in business tax planning will help to ensure ABC Company can reduce exposure and minimize liabilities, as I’ve done with my current employer.
I look forward to hearing from you about the next steps. If, in the meantime, you have any further questions, please let me know.
Sample thank you email letter #2:
Dear Mr. Frey,
Thank you for the opportunity to discuss the administrative assistant position. Our conversation gave me more insight into the job and I believe I’m an excellent fit for it, as a result, especially with 10 years of experience and strong interpersonal skills. I’m also already proficient in the software you use, as we discussed, and can hit the ground running with your team faster.
Please let me know about next steps when you get the chance. If you have additional questions in the meantime, call or email me. Again, thank you for your consideration and I look forward to hearing from you.
All the best,
Sample thank you email letter #3:
Hello Ms. Michaels,
I wanted to thank you for inviting me in today. It was great to hear more about the position and your company. It seems like an amazing place to work, one I’d feel lucky to be a part of. You mentioned so many unique aspects to your business – it’s all so impressive!
Anyway, please let me know if any other questions came up or if you need additional information. In the meantime, I look forward to hearing from you.
Have a great day,
Sample thank you email letter #4:
It was great meeting with today. Thank you for explaining more about the company and role. It’s such an incredible opportunity.
I’m very interested in the job and believe my experience as a project manager will be valuable to your company. You mentioned that you’re in the process of building a new product to increase customer retention. I already have a few ideas I’d love to discuss. For instance, [include idea here].
Please contact me if you have any additional questions. I’m also including a link to my LinkedIn profile, where you can view additional information about my background. I look forward to hearing from you.
Need more help writing your thank you note?
At ResumeSpice, we can help you craft a well-written thank you letter that will give you a leg up over other candidates, so you get the job you want. Our service includes a phone consultation, a personalized draft within two business days, and one round of revisions, followed by your final letter.
Ready to get started? Simply reach out at 832.930.7378 or contact us online.
Whether you’re just entering the workforce or are a seasoned professional, writing a resume can be a challenge. It’s difficult to know what’s important to hiring managers and which areas in your background to focus on and promote.
However, since hiring managers only spend a few seconds screening each resume, yours needs to stand out – quickly. One way to do that is with the skills you include. These can differentiate you from other candidates, so you get a call for an interview. It can also impact the offer you get, including salary and benefits. With so much on the line, where do you even begin, though?
Here’s a look at what to include on your resume, so you get the results you want.
Hiring managers will be scanning your resume for the right technical abilities. This means if you work in accounting, experience such as with accounting principles and knowledge of software like MS Excel are important. For working in marketing, experience with content management systems and data analytics are key. For graphic design, listing your Adobe Certified Expert (ACE) certification is important.
If you’re struggling with which hard skills to include on your resume, look back to the job listing. What are the qualifications and requirements included there? These are the areas you should be focusing on when showcasing your skill set. Make sure you also list any degrees or credentials that are relevant to the job.
When you’re looking at the job listing, another important step is to identify pertinent keywords. Since most companies use Applicant Tracking Systems to sort and screen resumes first, a resume optimized with keywords is more likely to get into the hands of a hiring manager.
Besides hard skills, hiring managers want to know about your soft skills and if you’ll be a fit for the role and the company culture. These reflect your personality and other personal attributes, like your ability to collaborate, cope with stress, and communicate clearly.
These can be harder to promote since they’re not easy to measure. However, look once again to the job listing for an idea of what soft skills are most important to the employer.
When you’re writing your resume, don’t just say you’re a “team player,” which is vague and generic. Instead, give specific examples of accomplishments or results you achieved through collaborating with others.
Keep in mind, soft skills can often be a deciding factor for a position. In many cases, two candidates have equally strong backgrounds when it comes to technical abilities, so an employer will use the soft skills to tip the scales one way or the other.
Whether you’re writing about soft skills or hard skills, don’t simply state the ones you have. Offer an example of what you achieved. This is the best way for you to stand out with your resume.
For instance, rather than saying you have experience in “project management,” say you “led a team of 10 to successfully complete multiple mission-critical projects, on time and on budget.”
If you want to promote your communication skills, don’t simply state that you have “strong written and verbal communication skills.” Instead, discuss how you “wrote and published weekly company emails, reaching an audience of 2,500 clients and increasing traffic to the corporate website by 18%.”
If leadership skills are important to the job, don’t just say you were on a company board. Instead, state that you: “Chaired a company volunteer board that organized the annual corporate fundraising event, raising 12% more than the previous year.”
What Not To Include:
Now that you know what to include on your resume in terms of skills, what should you avoid? Here’s a look.
- Don’t ever lie or exaggerate your skills. During the reference checking process, the hiring manager might discover the truth. Even if you do get the job and can’t perform, you’ll be miserable and your boss will be unimpressed. It’s best to be honest about your skills and abilities, even if it means you don’t get the job. False claims aren’t worth it.
- Too much information. Since hiring managers only scan resumes for a few seconds each, it’s important to avoid dense paragraphs and lengthy text. Instead, make sure your resume is written in a clear and concise way without flowery language, like “outside the box” or “taking a deeper dive.”
- Simple mistakes & common typos. When you’re done writing your resume, give it to someone you trust to proofread it. You might be missing a glaring error, simply because you’ve been looking at it for too long. A fresh eye can quickly spot with formatting, grammar, typos and inconsistencies.
Need help writing your resume?
It’s easy with the professional resume writers at ResumeSpice. We can craft an honest, authentic and impactful resume that helps you stand apart from other candidates. You’ll get more calls for interviews and find the job you want sooner. Simply call 832.930.7378 or contact us online to get started.
So, you’re not a graphic designer. That doesn’t mean you should send in a resume that looks boring and unpolished. In fact, the look of your resume is just as important as the content for a few reasons.
If your resume is hard to read, for instance, due to narrow margins, tiny fonts, and too much text, then it’s going to wind up in the “no” pile. That’s if it even makes it into the hands of a hiring manager.
Most of today’s employers use an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) in order to screen resumes and filter out the weaker candidates. These systems have a hard time reading certain graphics, images, and fonts, which is another reason why proper design and formatting is so important for your resume.
So how do you make your resume stand out, yet still make it through the ATS? Here are five easy tips to put to use:
1. Don't be afraid of white space.
When it comes to your resume, white space is your friend. You don’t want cramped quarters anywhere near your resume. Imagine if you received a resume with corner-to-corner text that was tiny, formatted in five different ways, and hard-to-read. Would you want to wade through it all, or just move onto the next resume?
If you’re like most hiring managers, it’s probably the latter, which is why white space is so important. This helps you put the spotlight on important sections, like your Work History, so hiring managers can find them quickly. Your resume is more likely to be read and to persuade the hiring manager to call you for an interview.
2. Avoid too many fonts.
There are so many fonts on hand, which makes it tempting to use too many, or a creative one. You might thing this makes you stand out. However, it can be difficult for ATS software to parse a lot of fonts and ones that look like script in particular. So don’t use several fonts and instead stick to one or two, at most. For instance, you can use one font for section headings and another for body copy.
When you’re deciding, consider fonts, like Arial, Times New Roman, Calibri, or Verdana. These are effective when it comes to the ATS and also attractive and easy-to-read for the hiring manager. When you’re formatting your resume, make sure your point size is also at least 10 or more. If it’s any smaller than that, it will be difficult for the hiring manager to read when it lands in their hands.
3. Include bullet points.
Bullet points are key when it comes to your resume. These are what makes all your accomplishments and background so easy to read for the hiring manager. Since they spend such a limited time on each resume – a few seconds only – it’s important to grab their attention quickly and communicate effectively. Bullet points help you do that. Just make sure when you’re using them, you stick to around 3-6 for each job. Any more than that will make your resume appear overcrowded.
4. Bold & italicize certain areas; but don’t underline.
You should bold and italicize certain areas on your resume to make them easier to read. For instance, the Work History and Education section headers should be bolded, as should your job titles. You can then italicize the names of your past employers, or your dates of employment.
Whatever you choose, make sure it’s consistent across your whole resume. For instance, if you italicize your most recent job title, then check that all your job titles are italicized. If you decide to use all-caps for the names of your employers, then do so for all of them. The same goes for the dates of employment. If you abbreviate the months for one, then follow suit for all of employment history.
However, don’t get too heavy-handed with your use of boldface or italicizing. Also, don’t underline anything, ever. This looks unprofessional and is also difficult to read.
When you’re consistent with your approach to formatting, it makes your resume easy to read and more polished looking. It also establishes a pattern that the hiring manager can easily follow, so they can scan your resume quickly yet thoroughly. This can help set you apart from other candidates who don’t have consistently formatted resumes.
5. Use the right file type.
If you’re in a creative field, like a graphic design, then it makes sense to use software, like InDesign to create your resume. For any other field, creating your resume in MS Word is the best way to go. When you’re emailing your resume directly to a hiring manager, you can save it as a PDF and attach it that way.
If, however, you’re not sure if it will go through an ATS, then a Word Doc file is the safest way to go. Some software has a hard time parsing a PDF, which can impact your chance of getting a call for an interview. Whatever you do, don’t ever send your resume as an image file, like a .jpg.
Get help writing and designing your resume with ResumeSpice.
A strong resume is key when it comes to getting your next job. If you need help writing and formatting yours, turn to the professional resume writers at ResumeSpice. We know how to create a first-rate resume that makes the best impression possible. Simply reach out at 832.930.7378 or contact us online to get started.
There’s been a lot of changes in the job market during the pandemic. However, one thing that’s remained the same is the need for a solid resume. It’s your ticket into the interview process to land the job you want.
To help you create a polished and professional resume, here are some trends for 2022 to keep in mind:
Optimize for Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS).
Good, bad, or indifferent, ATS software is here to stay. So, make sure you’re optimizing your resume to get through them. In fact, according to reports, around 75% of employers now use them during the hiring process. This helps them screen out candidates who aren’t the right fit. However, if your resume isn’t optimized for ATS software, then it won’t make it into the hands of a human – even if you’re the strongest candidate.
What do to: To optimize your resume, review the job description first. Look for relevant keywords and phrases. You can also check the company website for other verbiage that’s important to include, related to your particular industry or the job.
Once you have a list of keywords, incorporate them into your resume where it makes sense. Keep in mind, you also want it to be reader-friendly for a hiring manager, so don’t use stuff your resume full of them.
Another important area to focus on when considering ATS software is your social media profiles. The latest technology is able to pull in online information from your social profiles. To avoid any red flags, take a look at your profile on sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and others to make sure there’s no content that will make a negative impression.
Keep it simple with resume formatting.
When it comes to formatting your resume, you want to make it as easy-to-read as possible for the hiring manager. Remember, they only spend a few seconds on each resume. If yours is packed with tiny text and tight margins, then they’re going to have a hard time understanding why you’re a fit for the job.
Another reason to keep formatting simple? If you try to get fancy with graphics or the font, the ATS software won’t be able to read your resume. You can sabotage your job search efforts in the process.
What to do: Keep your resume clean and simple with plenty of white space around the margins. Don’t include any borders, images, artwork, or script-like fonts. This will ensure your resume is further optimized for any ATS that scans it.
Also, skip the functional resume fad, which is typically used to hide employment gaps. Instead, for 2022, the tried-and-tested reverse chronological resume is the way to go when you’re organizing and formatting your resume. This simply means you should list your most recent job first and go back from there.
In addition, make sure each section, such as Work History and Education, is easy to spot and scan. Your Work History is the most important section and should therefore be at the top, followed by your Education, Certifications, Specialized Skills, and Industry Associations.
Leave out unnecessary information, like an objective statement or a saying that “references are available upon request.” This simply wastes valuable space and makes your resume look dated. Other areas to skip are personal details, like your age, gender, birth date, street address, and headshot.
Don’t just talk about tasks, demonstrate results.
Today’s employers want to know about your track record in past positions. It’s why using facts, figures and any metrics is key to showing your value. A list of skills and tasks you’ve handled is boring and won’t stand out. However, when you quantify your accomplishments, it makes a more memorable impression. It also brings your background to life, so you’re not just another candidate, but a unique and compelling performer.
What to do: As you’re writing your Work History section, you should gear the content toward results, not just listing the skills you have or tasks you were responsible for. This can include anything from the size of the team you managed, how much you increased sales or improved customer retention, and the percentage by which you boosted web traffic.
This gives the hiring manager a clear picture of what you bring to the table if they hire you. It also helps to make the case as to why they should consider you over another candidate.
However, don’t include everything you’ve achieved. Instead, focus on 3-6 examples that are the most relevant for a particular position. You might need to customize and edit your resume for each position, as a result. Doing so, though, will help you to easily spotlight why you’re a strong contender for the job.
Avoid buzzwords and be straightforward.
Since hiring managers don’t spend long on a resume, it’s important that you use language that is clear and concise. This means avoiding buzzwords, cliches, and hyperbole.
What to do: Avoid vague words like “hard worker,” “strong work ethic” and “motivated team player.” These should be sidestepped because they don’t really mean anything to the hiring manager. Instead, use simple, straightforward language. Also, emphasize your strengths and accomplishments. Anyone can claim to be a “team player,” which is why it’s important to give examples of why and how you’re a strong team player, instead of simply stating it.
Ready for professional help with your resume?
At ResumeSpice, we’re the #1 resume writing service for a reason. Our approach has been designed by recruiters who know what hiring managers want to know about you. We can help you put your best foot forward, as a result. Simply call 832.930.7378 or contact us online to get started.
A resume is a resume is a resume, right? Not so fast! You can’t simply send out the same resume, time and again, for every job opening and expect the best results – namely, a call for an interview.
These days, you need to have one resume that you tailor for different audiences; or possibly even two or more, depending on your situation. While most of the information will remain the same, some small tweaks can be the difference between getting the interview and being rejected.
So just how many resumes will you need? Here’s a look at the different versions and why each one is important.
Your Main Resume
The goal of your primary resume is to create a clear, compelling case as to why you’re a strong candidate and a good contender for the jobs you’re applying to. It should cover your work history and experience, education, specialized skills, and any other important details to highlight, such as volunteer work.
Keep in mind too you’ll want to include a mix of hard and soft skills on your resume, as well as quantify accomplishments. This resume is the template you will use to create different versions from.
Your ATS Resume
In today’s world, many companies use Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to screen resumes. This makes it easier for them to review the hundreds of resumes they receive and focus on the handful of candidates they want to call for an interview.
When you’re optimizing your resume for an ATS, there are some important tips to keep in mind. If you don’t follow them, you might be out of the running even if you’re an ideal fit. These include:
- Finding keywords in the job description and using them, as well as variations, throughout your resume.
- Using a simple layout without any graphics or visuals that is easy for the ATS to scan.
- Avoiding script or retro-looking fonts and instead using fonts, like Times New Roman, Arial, Cambria, Georgia, Calibri or Verdana.
Keep in mind, though, your resume still needs to be reader-friendly for a human. So, make sure you use one-inch margins, send in a two-page resume, rather than cramming text onto one page, and use a point size of at least 11 for the font.
Your Employer-Specific Resume
You might wind up using the same or similar resumes for many of the positions you apply to. However, it’s best to review the job description first and edit your resume in a way that will make it as relevant as possible for each job and employer.
Some areas to focus on when you’re doing this include:
- Summary of Qualifications. You can add new details or re-order the bullet points so the most important ones are first.
- Job History. Include the experience, skills and accomplishments that are most pertinent to each position and employer.
- Miscellaneous Information. For instance, in some cases, adding hobbies can actually improve your chance of getting an interview, if it’s related somehow to the company.
- Keywords. These will be different depending on the job listing and the description.
When You Need Another Resume
That said, if you’re interested in two different kinds of jobs, then you’ll need two separate resumes. For instance, if you’ve held management roles, as well as task-specific ones, and are open to both, then you’ll have to create a resume for each of these unique opportunities. There might be some overlap. However, for the most part, they will be different.
Another instance when you’ll need multiple resumes? When you’re changing careers. If you’re making a move to a different industry or a new field, then you will need to have resumes for each type of position you are applying to. When this is the case for you, make sure you are highlighting those transferable skills that can be valuable across industries.
Finally, if you’re applying for your first job and are interested in multiple areas, then you might need to create individual resumes for each position. Again, you can use some of the same information. However, when you’re writing each resume, focus on your abilities and course work that are most relevant to the position or industry you are applying to.
Whatever You Do, Stay Organized
No matter the number of resumes you have, it’s important to stay organized with each one you send out. Create a spreadsheet, for instance, that lists the company and position you applied to, which resume version you sent, and the date you sent it.
Not only will this give you a visual to work with, so you can stay on top of your job search, but it will provide a timeline for following up. Likewise, if a hiring manager reaches out for an interview, you’ll know exactly what resume you sent them and when.
Need More Help with Your Resume Writing?
At ResumeSpice, we can help you create a compelling resume, as well as optimize it for ATS software and employers. You’ll get more calls for interviews and land a new job faster with our expert team. Simply reach out at 832.930.7378 or contact us online to get started.
When it comes to job interviews, there are lots of questions that might make you squirm. However, they are perfectly acceptable for a hiring manager to ask. That said, there are actually questions that are asked often – yet are out of bounds and even illegal.
For instance, an employer can ask questions related to your work history, skills, career experience, and why they should hire you. What they cannot ask about are questions pertaining to your personal life, like whether you’re married, have or want kids, or what religion you practice.
To help ensure everything you’re asked is above board – so you know what to answer and what you can politely decline – here are some illegal job interview questions to be aware of.
Questions Related to Family or Home Life
These include questions such as:
- How old are your kids?
- Do you have child care arrangements made?
- What does your spouse do for a living?
- Do you have any relatives that work for our competition?
Asking anything related to your family, your spouse or partner, or your children is off the table. This is simply because your answer can bias the hiring manager, whether in a negative or positive way.
For instance, they might be concerned about hiring a candidate with three small children at home if they know that’s your situation. On the other hand, if you’re married with kids and so is the hiring manager, they might feel like they have more in common with you and could be more likely to offer you the job, as a result. Legally speaking, though, hiring managers can only ask questions directly related to the qualifications of the position.
One area they can ask that relates to both your personal and work life is about your personality traits. This includes your leadership or work style and the types of environment you work best in. Asking questions related to soft skills and personality will help them to assess whether you’re the right fit for the company’s culture.
Questions Related to Politics or Religion
The only time an employer can ask questions related to these areas is when you are interviewing for a religious or political organization. Otherwise, questions such as “Do you need time off for religious holidays?” or “Do you follow politics? What are your views?” are off limits. These don’t relate to the job, the company, or your ability to perform the role, and can even lead to discrimination.
Questions Related to Age
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 is designed to protect job seekers over the age of 40 and limits the age-related questions that can be asked during the interview. Some that are illegal include:
- How old are you?
- When were you born?
- When did you graduate from high school?
- There’s a large age disparity between you and other co-workers. Will that be a problem for you?
- How much longer do you plan to work until you retire?
The only time an employer needs to know your age is to ensure you’re old enough to legally work, such as in an environment that serves alcohol. Instead of asking your age or birth year, they can ask something like: “Are you legally old enough to work for our company?”
Questions Related to Citizenship or Nationality
For most companies, asking about citizenship and nationality are also off limits, as long as the candidate has the proper paperwork in place. Some forms of out-of-bound questions include:
- Where did you grow up?
- Where are your parents from?
- Were you born in the U.S.?
Employers can, however, ask questions such as “Are you legally allowed to work in the U.S.?” or “Can you speak, read, and write English proficiently?” Another question you can be asked, legally, is: “If we hire you, can you provide proof of citizenship?”
Questions Related to Health or Disabilities
An employer can’t come right out and ask about your health or any physical disabilities. In fact, the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) says it’s illegal to discriminate against an applicant or employee with a disability. What they can ask, instead, is whether you are “able to perform the duties of the position you are applying for.”
Other related questions that are not allowed include:
- Have you experienced a workplace injury in the past?
- Have you filed a worker’s comp claim before?
- Are there any medical conditions you have that would get in the way of you doing the job?
Questions Related to Gender
Questions about gender should be avoided altogether since they don’t have any bearing on job performance. So, if you’re asked a question like, “should I address you as ‘Ms.’ or ‘Mrs.,’” it’s actually illegal. Also, questions like “Are you comfortable working for a boss who is female?” are likewise prohibited.
Questions Related to Criminal Records
This can be a gray area and depends on the state you live in to determine whether it’s legal or not to ask. However, if you’re applying to a position with a law enforcement agency, for instance, then inquiring about a criminal background is legal and expected. Likewise, if you’re applying for a position where you’ll be handling money or overseeing children, finding out about your background does, in fact, relate to the position and is allowed.
Questions Related to Credit or Finances
In some cases, credit records can be screened in compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act of 1970 and the Consumer Credit Reporting Reform Act of 1996. However, an employer cannot ask you questions, such as “Do you own a home?” or “Have you ever declared bankruptcy?”
Get Professional Help with Your Next Interview
There are many questions that are off limits and that you can decline to answer. However, for those questions hiring managers can ask – ones that can be difficult to know how to answer – it’s important to prepare. This way, your responses are thoughtful and impactful.
If you’d like help getting ready for your next interview, turn to ResumeSpice. We know what hiring managers are looking for in responses and can help you improve your interview game, so you stand out and get the offer. Simply call 832.930.7378 or contact us online to get started.
Writing a resume that gets results is a challenge for most people. Yet, it’s imperative if you want to get hired. So how can you tell if you’ve made your case and created a resume that stands stronger against other candidates? You need to make sure yours is optimized, easy to read, and compelling. Ask yourself these questions to check that it is.
What is an ATS and why is it important?
Answer: An ATS is an Applicant Tracking System. It’s software that uses algorithms based on parameters set by an employer. It screens resumes that are submitted in response to a job posting, so that hiring managers and recruiters can focus on other aspects of the hiring process, like interviews.
This means, in many cases, your resume is first seen by a robot to determine if you’re a good fit. According to reports, around 75% of resumes don’t make it through the ATS due to improper formatting and lack of keywords.
How long should my resume be?
Answer: This depends on how much experience you have. If you have several years or more in your field, then a two page resume makes sense. It will allow you to dive deeper into your background and showcase your accomplishments. A longer resume also enables you to better optimize it for an ATS since there’s more opportunities for keywords.
If, however, you’re an entry level worker, stick to one page. There’s not enough experience in your background to justify writing a two-page resume.
Should an objective be included?
Answer: Gone are the days of the objective at the top of every resume. This simply wastes space with a statement that the hiring manager knows: you want to get the job. Instead, use this space to list a Summary of Qualifications in bullet point format. These should be your key skills and accomplishments that are most relevant to the job opportunity. The information you list here should therefore be customized for each position you apply to.
How long does a hiring manager take to read through a resume?
Answer: Around 10 seconds. It’s a shocking number but a good reminder that you really do only have a few seconds to make a good impression. This is why a Summary of Qualifications can be especially impactful. It’s also important to format your resume in a way that is easy to read, with bullet points, bolded job titles, one-inch margins, and a font size no smaller than 11 points.
What’s the best way to start each sentence?
Answer: When you’re writing your resume, use action verbs and descriptive language, rather than passive words. Examples include “Analyzed,” “Led,” “Researched,” or “Spearheaded.” This type of language is more powerful and persuasive, showcasing your actions and the results you achieved.
Is it ok to use abbreviations?
Answer: Think of your resume as a formal business document. Use the full name of colleges, cities, degrees and other words (like Street instead of St.) and skip the abbreviations at the first mention. However, if you mention the word again, then you can abbreviate it. This also helps with optimizing your resume for the ATS since it allows you to utilize variations of keywords.
What’s the biggest reason resumes are discarded?
Answer: There are several. The first primary reason is due to spelling and grammatical errors. One won’t ruin your chances, but a resume filled with them will be passed over.
Another issue that is surprisingly common? Including a headshot. Unless you’re applying for an acting gig, it’s never ok to include a headshot. If you do, it can actually increase your odds of not getting called for an interview because a hiring manager doesn’t want to be perceived as biased based on your appearance.
Another reason resumes get the boot? An unprofessional email address. Make sure your email address isn’t something like email@example.com and create a professional one with just your name.
Should references be on a resume?
Answer: No, the hiring manager will either ask you to bring a list of references to an interview, or ask about references later in the hiring process. So, you don’t need to include references.
However, if you have a mutual acquaintance, you can mention it in your resume as an ice breaker (as long as you check with your acquaintance first). Also, skip the “references available upon request” statement on your resume. This wastes space and is unnecessary.
Do you need help avoiding mistakes and crafting a killer resume?
Answer: Whatever type of job you’re looking for, the resume writers at ResumeSpice can help you make your case as to why you’re a great fit candidate. We can simply edit your resume if it just needs some polishing, or completely write it from scratch, so it’s more compelling. When we’re done, you’ll get a great resume that stands out. Simply reach out at 832.930.7378 or contact us online to get started.
Writing a resume is hard enough. But in today’s world you have to write it for human beings and for the Applicant Tracking Systems that screen them first. Where do you even begin?
While it’s tempting to just ignore the ATS and focus on hiring managers, this isn’t a smart approach. In fact, 75% of resumes submitted to companies get blocked by automated systems. Even worse? More than 95% of Fortune 500 companies use an ATS to streamline the recruiting process. The bottom line is that if you want to get an interview, you need to factor in the ATS.
Here are some tips for getting your resume through the ATS and into the hands of a human:
Review the job description.
This is your ticket to optimizing your resume for both ATS software and hiring managers. Read through it again and make a list of key skills, qualifications, keywords and phrases that are important. Then link your background to these areas on your resume.
You can even mirror some of the wording from the job description on your resume to get the best results. However, don’t copy large blocks of text; only certain phrases that can help your resume stand out to the ATS.
Research other keywords.
Beyond what’s in the job description, think about other keywords that are important to include. These can be anything related to your industry, such as common lingo, certifications, responsibilities, licenses, or procedures. Again, adding this kind of relevant wording on your resume will further optimize it for the ATS.
Use variations of keywords.
Sometimes, it’s hard to know which word the ATS is actually screening for. For instance, if you’re applying for a marketing position, you might want to include your experience related to “SEO” and “Search Engine Optimization.” By using variations of important keywords, you can ensure all your bases are covered.
Don’t stuff keywords into your resume.
There can be too much of a good thing when it comes to keywords. Use them sparingly – a couple of times throughout your resume in different areas. Don’t overuse them again and again, which will make your resume sound awkward. You likely won’t even be able to get through the ATS since the newest technology is designed to spot keyword stuffing.
Use bullet points, not paragraphs.
When you’re writing your resume, use bullet points throughout it, not long paragraphs of copy. This will make it easier for the ATS to scan your resume, as well as the hiring manager once they are reviewing it.
Don’t put any content into the headers or footers.
If you usually put your contact information or any other text in the header or footer of the word document, you might wind up confusing the ATS. As a result, your resume could get screened out. Skip using this area at all to avoid the risk.
Avoid graphics and keep it simple.
Unless you are in a creative industry, like graphic design, avoid embedding graphics, logos or any other type of visuals on your resume. This will jam up the ATS software’s algorithm and it won’t be able to scan your resume, as a result. In general, keep your resume as simple and clean-looking as possible. This will up the odds of it making it through the system.
Use a professional font.
You’re best off with a sans serif font, such as Verdana or Tahoma, instead of the often-used Times New Roman. In fact, some screening software will reject the serif fonts, as well as script fonts completely. Also, keep your font to a readable size, never smaller than 11 points.
Skip PDFS and Word Docs.
In the past, these have been the file format that most resumes have been formatted in. However, when it comes to an ATS – especially older ones – it reads text format more consistently. A PDF or Word Document, on the other hand, can cause parsing errors and problems, which can cause your resume to get screened out. It’s not worth risking it and instead best to stick with a text format.
Don’t worry about length.
It used to be that a one-page resume was the gold standard. Today, though, a two-page resume is fine as long as you have the experience to back it up. In fact, a longer resume can even give you an advantage over other candidates with shorter resumes. It allows you more opportunities to sprinkle in keywords for the ATS software and helps you make a stronger case to hiring managers as to why they should hire you.
Get professional help optimizing your resume.
The takeaway here is that when you’re writing your resume, you need to take the steps above and account for the ATS. If you’re having trouble doing that, turn to a professional resume writing service like ResumeSpice.
We know how to create a resume that makes it through the ATS and impresses hiring managers. You’ll have a better chance at getting an interview, as a result. Simply call 832.930.7378 or contact us online to get started.