Why People Lie on Their Resume (and Why You Shouldn’t!)

As one of the country’s leading resume writing companies, ResumeSpice knows how competitive the job market can be. Unfortunately, in their battle to land a job, some candidates are tempted to stretch the truth on their resumes. In fact, some studies estimate that over half of all resumes contain some fibs. We’re here to warn you that if a lie is caught on a resume, two scenarios can occur:

If a lie is uncovered during hiring, you will be removed from the hiring process, which would be a disaster if you were a perfect fit for that position.

If you’re hired and then the lie is discovered, you could get fired for providing misinformation during the hiring process.

Either way, your best bet is to stick to the truth.

What areas are candidates commonly exaggerating, inventing, or flat out lying about on their resumes? Let’s take a look:

Employment History

If you worked with a company for six months, don’t try to stretch it out to a year.  Remember, it’s okay to round up a month when you worked some time in that same month, but don’t try to stretch your employment dates or lie about gaps in employment. It’s a silly lie and it’s easily discovered through a reference phone call or email.

Job Titles

Job titles are one of the most common areas employment-seekers try to lie about. They may attempt to pump up their title by adding a “senior” in front of it, or invent a position that doesn’t even exist in the company. In most cases, hiring managers will research your work history before they offer you the job. Don’t ruin your chances of your dream job by trying to create new job titles that your previous employer can’t confirm.

Education

If you don’t meet the educational requirements to get the job, don’t lie about it on your resume. All it takes is one quick phone call or email for an employer to verify your educational background. If you’re currently attending school, it’s okay to list that on your resume, just make sure it is clear that you have not received your degree yet.

References

Reference checking is one of the last steps in the hiring process. If you’ve made it to this far, don’t sabotage all your efforts by providing a potential hiring manager with fake references. In addition, avoid giving your friends and family acting lessons to impersonate someone else. Instead, talk to your coworkers and see if you have anyone who would be willing to provide a reference.

Skill Level

When you lie about your skill level on your resume, you could really be setting yourself up for failure. Should you get hired, you may not have the knowledge and experience to actually perform on the job. For instance, if the position requires SharePoint design and you only know the basics, you could be in for a struggle. Instead, highlight your ability to learn and adapt to new pieces of software on the job.

Most potential employers don’t expect perfection. However, they do expect candidates to be honest about their background and experience. If you’re not, and you do get hired, you may find yourself constantly be looking over your shoulder. Don’t dismiss what you bring to the table by stretching the truth – it’s not worth it.

Need more help creating a strong resume – let us help! As one of the country’s leading professional resume writing services, ResumeSpice can help you produce a winning resume. Contact us today to learn more at 832.930.7378.

Is Bad Advice Killing Your Job Search?

It seems like everyone (and their well-meaning cousin) has a piece of career advice when it comes to job hunting. As one of the leading resume writing agencies in Houston, ResumeSpice has seen firsthand how the advice of even the best-intentioned friends, family members, and trusted colleagues can actually foil your job search and prevent you from landing a new position.

So what advice should you toss out of the window? Let’s take a look:

Myth #1: A Resume Must be One Page
Sure, this was the standard practice years ago, but not anymore. Your resume can be and should be, if you’re highly experienced, more than one page. It’s better to have an easy-to-read and well-formatted resume that’s two pages long, than an unreadable and poorly formatted resume that’s crammed into one page. That said, don’t go overboard and submit a resume that’s longer than it needs to be to reflect your experience. The one page resume myth is so pervasive, we wrote a blog post about it.

Myth #2: You Should Apply to As Many Jobs as You Can
Hiring managers can quickly identify whether or not you’re right for the job. So if you’re sending your resume like spam mail – just because “hey, you never know” – you’re only wasting your time and the hiring manager’s by applying to every position under the sun. Instead, spend your time crafting customized resumes and cover letters for the few positions you truly are a great fit for.

Myth #3: Companies Post All Openings
If there’s a company you’re interested in working for – say you love their product or you’re a loyal user of their service – reach out to them, even if they haven’t posted a position. In your cover letter, be sure to communicate why you are passionate about working for the company and what you plan on bringing to the table to create a positive impact there. The fact that there isn’t a job posted can actually help your chances, as there’s likely to be less competition. Company’s love hearing from candidates who have a true passion and desire to work for them.

Myth #4: Staffing Agencies Don’t Help
Back in the day, staffing agencies were used to fill administrative and industrial type positions. Today’s staffing agencies place highly skilled professionals in fields ranging from accounting to IT to human resources. If you’re someone with plenty of experience under your belt, and you’d like some professional help finding your next job, a staffing agency can help get you there.

If you’re ready to begin your job hunt and need a resume that works for you – let us help! As one of the country’s leading professional resume writing services, ResumeSpice can help you produce a winning resume. Contact us today to learn more at 832.930.7378.

Should You Add Color to Your Resume

Before you ask yourself how to add color to your resume, consider whether you should add color to your resume. It’s not uncommon for job seekers to seek out tips and tricks to make their resume stand out. You may have searched through several sites to learn the “dos and don’ts” of resume writing and ways to set yourself apart. We’re here to tell you that color is usually not the answer. The team at ResumeSpice shares some of the reasons why… 

It May Be Unreadable

There’s simply no font color choice better than black because bright or bold colors can be overwhelming or difficult to read. Typically, your resume will be printed on a gray-scale, making a non-black color light or even unreadable. Employers and recruiters prefer it and it eliminates unnecessary risk in your job search.

Stay Professional

Adding a touch of personality to a resume can be accomplished, but using purple or red text isn’t the way to achieve it. We recommend letting your accomplishments and your achievements section demonstrate what you bring to the table. Those sections can help communicate your values, passions, and personality. Employers know this, which is why they look to that section to get a better idea of who you are.

Multiple Platforms

We live in an age where everything, from a desktop computer to a watch, can display digital information from all over the world. What does this mean for color on resumes? Your resume may not look the same on your computer as it does on someone else’s device. Adding color to the background or theme of a document may not translate well to another platform. You may also want to consider what looks best on smaller screens. You want your resume to be easy to read for recruiters and employers

The Exception

So should anyone use color? Yes, if you’re a graphic designer or in a similar creative role where the design of your resume is a reflection of your skillset, color can be used. But that’s the rare exception – for the non-creative professionals, it’s a better idea to stick to black.

Need more help creating a strong resume – let us help! As one of the country’s leading professional resume writing services, ResumeSpice can help you produce a winning resume. Contact us today to learn more at 832.930.7378.

6 Quick Tips to Enhance Your Resume

When was the last time you updated your resume? Whether you’re currently looking for a role or just want to be ready for when the right opportunity comes your way, it’s important to have a resume that is no longer than 6 months out of date.  Longer than six months and you may have trouble recalling specifics about your responsibilities and accomplishments. As one of the country’s top resume writing and career coaching providers, the team at ResumeSpice has put together a list of six quick tips you can use to give your resume a quick refresh.

#1: Keep a Destination in Mind

Your resume displays your career history and accomplishments, but it should project your future career destination. When you’re thinking about what to emphasize, consider where you want to go next. If job duties at a past position don’t apply to future career goals, then reducing the amount of information about that role makes sense. Concentrate on the experiences that relate to your future career destinations.

#2: Goodbye, Objective

Get rid of the professional objective. Objectives tell the reader what you want out of a role rather than what you can do for a company. Chances are high that no one will read your objective, so instead replace it with a professional branding statement which briefly identifies your unique expertise, tenure, and career highlights.

#3: Show Them Your Proudest Moments

The strongest resumes demonstrate outcomes alongside duties and responsibilities. Employers and recruiters want to know what you’ve achieved. A few brainstorming questions will help reveal key information for each role:

  • What areas did you excel at in past positions?
  • What accomplishments are you most proud of?
  • Which achievements can you back up with figures, dollars, and percentages?
  • What information would entice an employer to request an interview?

#4 Keep it Clean

Make your resume easy to read. As you create your updated resume, remember that recruiters and employers have a small window of time to view it. Avoid excessive bullet points, images, cramped text, and unconventional formats.

#5 Contact Information

If you only have your name and address, it’s time for an update. Your mobile number, email, and LinkedIn profile should all be listed. Remember, edit your LinkedIn profile URL to avoid an odd-looking link on your resume.

#6 Keywords are Your Friends

Most companies use an applicant tracking system (ATS) to find candidates. If you don’t use keywords from the job posting, you could be screened out before you even start. Keywords should be used in moderation, so don’t overdo it or you may get flagged by a company’s ATS.

Need more help creating a strong resume? Call ResumeSpice. As one of the country’s leading professional resume writing services, we can help you produce a winning resume. Contact us today to learn more at 832.930.7378.

3 Reasons To Never Use a Functional Resume Format

One of the most common questions we receive here at ResumeSpice is, “Does format really matter?” It’s been well established that recruiters don’t spend a lot of time screening resumes. So it’s crucial to keep their attention and it begins with the correct format. We don’t want you to lose out on your dream job due to resume formatting, so we’re here to tell you one format you should never use.

It’s called the functional resume.

This format is designed to highlight your achievements under a skill set rather than a chronological order of date and place of employment. Recruiters and employers who see functional resumes immediately become disengaged or, even worse, look over the resume altogether. Simply, a functional resume should never be used and this is why.

6 Seconds of Comprehension

We’ve mentioned in a previous blog that you may get around six seconds of a recruiters’ time when they pull up your resume. That’s a very short period to decide if a candidate should move forward or be taken out of the running for a potential position. A functional resume hinders recruiters from understanding your career path timeline – or the details. Functional resumes require digging and recruiters do not have enough time to connect your skills to your job history. Stick to a format that always places your skills and achievements next to your company and tenure.

Hiding Information

Hiring managers and recruiters carry suspicions of any resume with a functional style. They have a good reason; the vast majority of job seekers who utilize this resume format are doing so in order to hide something. And recruiters know it. Oftentimes the candidate has the best intention when trying not to display a job gap or a string of short-held positions. However, a functional resume only highlights those pieces of information. Reverse chronological order is best at highlighting that you’ve moved forward despite the bumps.

Unclear

It may seem like your skill set is lost amongst your job history but it’s actually not. When you provide context by showing where, when, and how you accomplished an achievement or mastered a skill, it speaks to the employer.  Functional resumes, simply put, make poor story-tellers. They give no context for an accomplishment or skill. Remember, how you did it holds just as much merit as what you did. That’s why it is not ideal to separate what you achieved from your place of employment.

If a functional resume isn’t a solution, then what can you do? If you have resume gaps or perhaps a time period you weren’t thrilled about in your career, I suggest reading How to Handle a Career Gap on Your Resume. You can also utilize a chronological format which will display your most current position and allow recruiters to effectively review your resume.

Need more help creating a strong resume – and finding a new job? Call ResumeSpice. As one of the country’s leading professional resume writing services, we can help you produce a winning resume. Contact us today to learn more at 832.930.7378.

Should You Include an Objective Statement in Your Resume?

One of the most common questions our team at ResumeSpice hears from candidates is “should I include an objective statement on my resume?

The short answer is no. Reason being, there’s little upside to doing so, but significant downside. An objective statement can work against a job seeker if their objective doesn’t match up perfectly with what an employer is looking for in a candidate. Our goal is for an employer to evaluate a candidate’s fit for a role based on the entirety of their resume and qualifications, rather than on one statement at the top of the document. It’s easier than ever to submit a resume, so hiring managers will see hundreds, sometimes thousands of resumes for a single role. They are looking for any reason to screen out a candidate – an objective statement that doesn’t perfectly match the role and the company is one easy way to screen a candidate out.

Secondly, an objective statement is written from the perspective of the candidate, which (we’re sad to report) isn’t the same perspective that a hiring manager or HR professional brings to the resume. From their end, it’s all about what you as the candidate can do for the company, not what they can do for you. The fact that you’re “seeking a marketing role at a fast-growing company” may be important to you, but filling the role with someone whose background and skills fit the position is what’s most important to them.

Are there ways to create visual impact at the top of a resume, without including an objective statement? Absolutely. Let us review your resume and we’ll give you some thoughts on how to do so.

Need more help creating a strong resume – and finding a new job? Call ResumeSpice. As one of the country’s leading professional resume writing services, we can help you produce a winning resume. Contact us today to learn more at 832.930.7378.

Resume Not Getting Responses? Here’s What to Do

As one of the country’s leading resume writing servicesResumeSpice knows you only have a few seconds to make a positive impression on a hiring manager. It’s not a lot of time to stand out and get noticed. The good news is that just a few small tweaks can lead to big improvements on your resume. Here’s a look at 5 you can make right now:

#1: Stick to standard.

In other words, unless you’re applying for a job in a creative field, don’t get flashy on your resume. Instead, format it in a traditional way, with bolded job titles and bullets underneath. In addition, when emailing your resume, always send in the preferred document type. Some employers prefer PDF, while others prefer Word or a simple text version. 

Also, stick to traditional fonts on your resume. That means no Comic Sans or script fonts. Times New Roman and Garamond are always good choices.

#2: Keep it concise.

Get rid of unnecessary verbiage. This includes stating that “references are available on request.” It also means ditching the objective at the top of your resume. In addition, don’t include more than six or seven bullets under each job title. And make sure each one is succinct and makes sense for the reader.

#3: Pull out that personal information.

Details such as your marital status, the number of kids you have, or your religion don’t belong on your resume. In fact, it’s illegal for an employer to consider these factors when hiring and including them makes you look out of the loop.

#4: Concentrate on accomplishments.

The single best way to get noticed by a hiring manager is to promote your proven track record. That means highlighting awards, successes, achievements, praise, and positive comments you’ve received over the years – and that are most relevant to the job you want. Add numbers and percentages to quantify accomplishments wherever you can.

#5: Phone a friend.

Once you’ve polished your resume and think it’s as good as it’s going to get, ask a friend or colleague to review it. Not only can they check for mistakes and typos, but they can also offer you some insight and inspiration into how to position your background.

Need more help creating a strong resume – and finding a new job? Call ResumeSpice. As one of the country’s leading professional resume writing services, we can help you produce a winning resume. Contact us today to learn more at 832.930.7378.

To Whom Should I Address My Cover Letter

You’ve just composed a beautiful cover letter. You’ve expressed your enthusiasm for the role and the hiring company, you’ve communicated what makes you uniquely qualified for the position, you’ve included the employee’s name who referred you to the role…you’ve diligently followed everything ResumeSpice preaches about writing cover letters.

Last, minor detail: to whom should you address your cover letter? Below are our suggestions, ranked in order from ideal to least effective:

Address the letter directly to the hiring manager (i.e., Mr. Wilson)

The ideal scenario is that you know the person’s name who is hiring for the role. You don’t? Ok, time to do some research. The first step is to search LinkedIn for the hiring manager’s name. Many roles list the hiring manager directly in the job posting. Next, check the company’s website to see if you can match the hiring manager to the person the role reports to, as outlined in the job description. Next, do you know someone at the company who can fill you in? Have you called into the company (without providing your name) and asked who the person is who is hiring for that role? It takes some effort and ingenuity, but addressing the letter directly to the hiring manager is one small factor that can help set your cover letter apart in a sea of generic applications.

Dear Hiring Manager:

When you’ve exhausted all options for uncovering the hiring manager’s name, the next best option is to address the letter “Dear Hiring Manager”. This salutation makes it clear who you’re trying to contact and is slightly less generic than the other options listed below.

To Whom It May Concern:

The perfect salutation when applying for a position that was posted before 1980. This was “the” catch-all salutation for the pre-Internet years, but in a business culture that, for better or for worse, has become progressively less formal, “To Whom It May Concern” seems conspicuously outdated.

Dear Sir/Madam:

Ideal for situations where you are applying to be someone’s butler. In all seriousness, we recommend avoiding this salutation 🙂

Interestingly, the results of a study by Saddleback College, in a survey of more than 2,000 companies, found that employers preferred the following greetings:

  • Dear Hiring Manager (40%)
  • To Whom It May Concern (27%)
  • Dear Sir/Madam (17%)
  • Dear Human Resources Director (6%)
  • Leave it blank (8%)

Hopefully the above information has helped shed some light on cover letter salutations. Need some help composing your cover letter? The team at ResumeSpice would love to help!

If you would like to talk to a career consultant about how to – ahem – spice up your cover letter, give ResumeSpice a call or contact us to chat with one of our consultants about how our professional services can help you.

How Long Should A Resume Be?

Does My Resume Need to be One Page?

One of the most common questions our team at ResumeSpice hears from job seekers is some variation of “I heard that a resume needs to be one page. Is that true?”

The short answer is no. Somewhere along the line, a hiring manager must have expressed a strong preference for one page resumes – and all across the candidate landscape, the mythology took off. And it stuck in candidates’ heads. The reality is that we have yet to encounter a hiring manager, human resources executive, or anyone else in a hiring position who has ever rejected a candidate because their resume was more than one page.

So how long should a resume be?

Again with a short answer – as long as it needs to be to effectively, yet concisely, communicate a candidate’s background and experience. As a general rule of thumb, we recommend the following:

  • New grad: 1 page
  • Two years of experience: 1 to 1.5 pages
  • Two to ten years of experience: 1 to 2 pages
  • Ten or more years of experience: 1.5 to 3 pages

Important caveat: the above should be used as a guide, as every candidate’s situation is different. For example, a job seeker with ten years of experience, who has a college degree and who has held one job their entire career, may be able to fit their entire work history in one page. Conversely, a job seeker with four years of experience may require two pages in order to fit their college degree, advanced degree, multiple internships while in school, and the responsibilities and accomplishments from two different work positions.

Can a resume be too long?

Yes. In very rare instances is there a need for a resume to go beyond three pages. A resume, unlike a traditional CV (curriculum vitae), is not a complete summary of one’s work history. Rather, it’s a document that highlights one’s career and education, focusing on the parts most relevant for a particular role.

Hopefully that helps clarify a very common question. If you have questions about your particular situation, call or email us. We would love to talk to you! Contact us today at 832.930.7378!

Four of the Worst Interview Answers – And What to Say Instead

Four of the Worst Interview Answers – And What to Say Instead

Have you ever browsed the web and come across an ad targeted to you, but the message doesn’t fully resonate because you’re distracted by the stock photos? The overused photos take away from the credibility of the product being advertised because they’re not unique. That’s akin to what an interviewer experiences when you give a “stock” response to interview questions. They’ve heard them all before and the interviewer believes your answer isn’t authentic.

If you’re new to interviewing and/or haven’t been on the candidate side of the interview process in a while, we put together some cliché interview responses to avoid.

“I work too hard” or “I’m a perfectionist” or “I’m too hard on myself”

These responses, and similar variations, are often answers to the classic (and dreaded) question, “What are your weaknesses?” Employers ask you to talk about your weaknesses because they’re testing for self-awareness and what actions you’ve taken to improve your shortcomings.

A more authentic-sounding answer might sound something like, “I become deeply invested in projects I work on and in many ways I feel the work that I produce is me, so if a project gets scrapped halfway through I can sometimes be deeply disappointed. However, I’ve learned to prepare myself for any outcome when taking on new projects. As I’ve reached positions of more authority, I’m more aware of the global business rationale for which projects the company pursues and do my best to convey that to my team. I remember being in their shoes not long ago – so I believe in consistent communication. That way when a project is put on the backburner, they stay understand the rationale and stay engaged.

“I always meet my goals.”

If you’re trying to set yourself apart from other interviewees, it can be tempting to claim that you never make mistakes, that you never miss your goals, and that all your projects are completed on time and on budget. Most experienced interviewers will believe that either you’re not being truthful or that you don’t have enough experience to have endured and overcome failure.

If you want to set yourself apart, talk more about how you never stop striving for your goals – even in the face of failure and setbacks – and that you keep pushing forward and putting in the work to succeed. Give specific examples of a challenge you faced, how you overcame it, and what the result was. Most candidates won’t go through that process – and you’ll have the edge.

“In five years, I see myself in your position.”

Employers want to know that you’re ambitious and that you can visualize being with the company in the foreseeable future, but you don’t want that to be interpreted (correctly or incorrectly) that you’re gunning for the interviewer’s job. If you really want to earn a managerial role in the future, it’s okay to communicate that, but we recommend expressing it in a more diplomatic way. You don’t want to give an answer that will put the interviewer on the defensive.

“I’m a team player / people person”

You may very well be a team player and/or a people person, but unfortunately those terms are so overused, they’re virtually meaningless. A better way to convey that you’re a team player is to give specific examples of successful projects you’ve worked on with other team members and how you were able to achieve a successful outcome working together. And if you’re a people person – that will come across by the way you great the receptionist, smile warmly, conduct yourself throughout the interview process, and follow-up after the process.

Are you getting ready to interview for a new job and you don’t know quite how to prepare? Give ResumeSpice a call today at 832.930.7378! Our interview prep services will have you polished and ready to impress!