5 of the Most Common Resume Mistakes & How to Avoid Them

Your resume is your ticket into the job interview. If you have a strong, polished and compelling one, your chances of getting a call are good. If, however, you’re making any of the following five mistakes, you’ve got some work to do before you apply:

Grammar errors and typos.

It doesn’t matter what field you work in or the kind of position you’re applying to. If you make these kinds of elemental mistakes on a resume, hiring managers will wonder about your work quality. One typo won’t kill your chances of getting a call for an interview. However, if your resume is filled with them, then it’s going to get tossed aside.

A boilerplate approach.

If your resume sounds like everyone else’s, then the hiring manager isn’t going to take a second glance at it. That’s why you need to tailor it to each job you’re applying to. For instance, you might focus on your time management skills with one employer and your communication abilities with another. Just make sure you’re reviewing the job posting first and making your resume as relevant as possible to the employer and the role. 

Focusing on duties too much.

Of course, hiring managers want to know that you have the ability to perform the job successfully. But don’t simply list all your duties under each position. Instead, you also need to focus on what you’ve achieved in each role. Quantify the results wherever you can.

The wrong length.

For most candidates who have at least a few years of experience, a one- to two-page resume is reasonable, as long as it’s not too crowded with dense paragraphs and narrow margins. If, however, you send in a longer one, it’s not going to get read. In fact, the faster you can get to your strengths and abilities the better.

Including the wrong information.

For instance, skip the objective statement and instead include a summary of qualifications at the top. Also, don’t let hiring managers know “References are available upon request.” They already expect this, so you’re simply wasting space. Finally, don’t include any hobbies or personal information that’s not directly related to the job.

Get more resume tips and advice.

At ResumeSpice, we’re a top resume writing team in the field and know what to include – and what to leave out – so you get noticed by a hiring manager. Find out more by reaching out to us at 832.930.7378 or by contacting us online.

When to Use a Recruiter – and When You Shouldn’t

If you’re looking for a new job, you don’t have to go it alone. You can bring in the expertise of a professional recruiter to assist you in the process, so you find your next role, faster. However, not all are created equal and sometimes it’s best to go it alone. How can you tell and determine whether or not you should use a recruiter? Here are some tips to consider:

When to Use a Recruiter

When your job search seems stuck.

If you’ve been searching for a job for a long time without good results, a recruiter can review your resume and cover letter and assess your interview skills, all to pinpoint any areas that need improvement. They can also give you insight into what hiring managers are looking for in candidates, so you can promote your background and abilities in a way that will get you noticed.

When you’re in-demand or have a hard-to-find skill.

When this is the case, recruiters can evaluate your background and abilities and help to match you with the best-fit position. One of the benefits of working with a recruiter is that they have a lot of insight about the employers they partner with, so you can assess whether they’d be right for your goals, personality and career needs.

When you’re too busy.

Is your current job keeping you too busy to apply to positions and follow up on leads? If so, a recruiter can help. They’ll stay on top of current openings, from advertised ones to those that are hidden, as well. You’ll be able to find out and apply to them faster and more efficiently while having an advocate working for you.

When Not to Use a Recruiter

When you’re entry-level.

Most employers who are using a recruiter aren’t looking for an entry-level employee. That said, there are some recruiters who specialize in placing entry-level workers, so if you’re just starting out in your career, look for those instead.

When you need advice.

Are you interested in changing fields? Are you uncertain about your career next steps? A professional career coach is a better fit for you than a recruiter. They can discuss your strengths and accomplishments, talk about your lifestyle needs and goals, and then help to put a career plan together that will put you on the trajectory that’s right for you.

Interested in getting the help you need in your career from a coach?

Turn to the professional career coaches at ResumeSpice. We can offer you the insight, guidance and feedback you’re looking for, so you make the right career move. Find out more by reaching out to our team at 832.930.7378 or by contacting us online.

Nail the Phone Interview! Phone Interview Question & Answer Examples

Phone interviews can often seem more stressful than in-person ones. What if someone calls or texts you during it? What if your service cuts out for some reason? And how can you read the hiring manager when you can’t see their body language?

These are certainly valid concerns to have. But, just like a face-to-face interview, the best approach to take is to be well-prepared. When you are, you’ll feel calmer and more confident, so you can ace your answers. A few to get ready for include:

Tell me about yourself.

It’s such a small question and yet it can be so difficult for candidates to answer. How do you sum yourself and your career up in a few short sentences? Focus on your abilities and accomplishments that relate most to the position. Connect the dots for the hiring manager as to why you’re the best fit for the job. They don’t need to know that you delivered pizzas in college. However, they do need to know you have the skills and experience for the job.

How do you answer it?

One way is to use the past, present, future formula. In other words, explain where you’ve been career-wise in the recent past, what you do now and where you’d like to go. Be sure to highlight your strengths that are most relevant to the job.

What do you know about our company?

Answering with “not much” certainly isn’t the way to get on the good side of the hiring manager. Nor is repeating what’s on the “About” page of their website.

How do you answer it?

Instead, you can say something like: “I’ve been reading about your company online and find it particularly interesting that your mission is to do A, B and C. I spent the last 10 years doing A, so feel my background is a good fit for the job. From what I’ve read, it sounds like you’re also moving into D, which is an area I’d love to learn more about.”

Why are you / did you leave your last job?

This can be tricky, even if you’re leaving on good terms. You want to be honest, without ever talking in a negative way about your past boss or employer even if they deserve it.

How do you answer it?

One way includes stating something like: “I’ve been working in administration for several years and really love it. I’m ready to move up, but there simply isn’t room for advancement with my current employer.”

What are you looking for in your next job?

This is an important question to get right. The hiring manager knows what they need and what they can offer as an employer. They’re trying to assess whether you’re the right fit for it all.

How do you answer it?

Always be honest. If you’re not, you could wind up with a job or in a culture that’s not a good fit for you. So if you want a position where you can advance, say so. If you’d like a position that offers a different culture, explain why. For instance, you can say: “I’ve been working for eight years and am at a point where I know the kind of culture in which I’ll thrive. Unfortunately, my current employer doesn’t offer that. I’m looking for more of A and B.”

Why do you want this job?

A shorter commute. Better pay. More vacation time. These are all great reasons, but not what a hiring manager wants to hear. Instead, focus on what first attracted you to the job, the employer’s needs and what you can do for them.

How do you answer it?

As you’re preparing, go back and look at the job posting or research the company online for inspiration. For instance, if the firm has a strong reputation as an industry leader, say something like: “What caught my eye most about your company is your level of innovation. I’m always working to improve my skills and abilities through different training courses and seminars and it seems like your company strives too to stay on the leading edge.”

Need more help getting ready for your next interview?

Contact the professional interview preparation experts at ResumeSpice. We can guide you through the process so you impress the hiring manager and get a callback. Find out more by reaching out to our team at 832.930.7378 or by contacting us online.

Best Answers to the Interview Question: Describe Yourself in 5 Words

When it comes to your interview, you’ve got a lot of prep work to do. While you won’t know every question you’ll get asked, the good news is that there are many common ones that most hiring managers cover. One of these is to describe yourself. If you’re not prepared to give a solid answer, this request can throw you off track. But what should you say, in five words or less? Here are a few tips from our interview prep experts to keep in mind as you’re figuring it out:

Take the question seriously.

Don’t laugh it off or act like it’s a joke or silly request. You’ll offend the hiring manager and make a bad impression in the process. Instead, make sure you’re taking the question seriously, just as you would any other question.

Be honest with your answer.

You want to position yourself in the best light. However, don’t go overboard and exaggerate your qualities or list those you know you don’t have simply because it will make you look good. Instead, think through the requirements for the job and how your unique attributes can best meet them.

Make a list.

It’s best to start writing out your thoughts when thinking about how you’d answer this question. Don’t edit yourself in any way. Continue to write until you can’t think of any other qualities you want to highlight. Then start to edit until you have the top five that best represent you for this particular job.

Avoid generic words and clichés.

Don’t include vague or boilerplate words like “good” or “superstar.” These don’t mean much and won’t impress the hiring manager. Instead, when you’re preparing your response, consider some of the following word choices:

  • Flexible
  • Hard-working
  • Persistent
  • Reliable
  • Enthusiastic
  • Responsive
  • Smart
  • Confident
  • Encouraging
  • Motivated
  • Friendly
  • Creative
  • Methodical

If you’re still unsure about which words describe you, ask a family member or friend. They might be able to offer you more insight into how others view you and how you can best describe yourself.

Need more help preparing for your next interview?

Turn to the interview prep team at ResumeSpice. We know what hiring managers expect from top candidates and can help you better prepare so you ace your next interview. Find out more by reaching out to our team at 832.930.7378 or by contacting us online.

10 Easy Tips & Tricks to Perfect Your Resume

If your resume isn’t reaping the results you want, then it’s time to take a step back and re-evaluate. The job market is always competitive; however, there are some steps you can take to drastically enhance your resume, giving it a better shot of getting noticed by a hiring manager. To help you in the process, here are 10 easy tips and tricks from the resume writing experts at ResumeSpice:

#1: Customize everything.

Before you send in a resume for a job, make sure you customized it for that particular opportunity. This means tweaking your tasks and accomplishments, so you’re featuring what’s most relevant.

#2: Include keywords.

Many companies use applicant tracking systems that screen resumes based on relevant keywords. So look to the job posting to identify those keywords and phrases that are most fitting for the position, then sprinkle them throughout your resume.

#3: Place your focus above the fold.

Hiring managers skim resumes, starting at the top. So if you focus your effort anywhere, make sure it’s above the fold – in other words, the top half – where they’ll spend the most time.

#4: Use active language.

When writing your resume, use the active voice, not the passive one. For instead, instead of saying: “Was able to achieve a 14% increase in sales,” state that you: “Achieved a 14% increase in sales.”

#5: Get rid of the objective.

This is an outdated item on your resume, one that simply wastes space. Instead, include a Summary of Qualifications and few bullets listing your key strengths and accomplishments at the top, under your contact information.

#6: Add numbers to your accomplishments.

Anywhere you can add facts or figures to your accomplishments or job duties is a good thing. However, don’t overdo it and add numbers to every single statement on your resume. Otherwise, it will be overwhelming and hard to remember for the hiring manager.

#7: Stay consistent with your formatting.

Don’t use multiple fonts, point sizes or bold some job titles and not others. Instead, make sure your resume is clean and polished with consistent formatting throughout.

#8: Don’t include unnecessary items.

For instance, don’t list any hobbies unless they are directly related to the job you’re applying to. Likewise, don’t make statements like “References are available upon request.” These simply take up space unnecessarily and take away from the focus on your strengths.

#9: Keep it short.

Brevity is key when it comes to your resume. You need to use clear and concise language that effectively persuades the hiring manager that you’re a fit. So don’t include every job you’ve ever had or write heavy paragraphs. Use bullet points, precise language and keep it all to one to two pages.

#10: Proofread everything.

Don’t send in a resume without proofreading it first. Take it a step further and ask a friend or family member with an eye for detail to review it before you submit it.

Get help with your resume for expert writers.

If you want to avoid common DIY resume mistakes, call the resume writing team at ResumeSpice. We’ll work to get to know your background, skills and strengths, all so we can help your resume stand out. Find out more by reaching out to us at 832.930.7378 or by contacting us online.

Top Questions to Ask a Recruiter Before Working With Them

You’re looking for a great new job, but seem to be hitting a wall. Or a recruiter just called and left you a message and you’re not sure what to do. Either way, you’ve never worked with one before and aren’t sure how to approach the potential relationship. The professional career coaches at ResumeSpice are here to help. Before you partner with one in your job search, here are some top questions to ask:

How long have you been in the industry?

When you’re putting your career into someone else’s hands, you want to ensure they have substantial experience. Asking this question will also give you a sense of whether they’ve worked with candidates like you in the past and their placement success rate.

What types of positions do you fill?

Recruiters come in all shapes and sizes. Some focus solely on temporary or contract opportunities, while others fill full-time jobs only. Some do a mix of both and can even specialize in specific industries. It’s therefore important to ensure the recruiter you’re considering is filling the kinds of openings you’d be interested in securing.

How long has this position been opened?

If there’s a specific opportunity a recruiter is calling you about, asking this question will give you a good idea of how the search is going and any potential red flags about the employer. For instance, if the job has been open for a year, then it’s a warning sign for you about the position or the company. If it’s been open for a week, then expect an application and interview process that will last at least several weeks or even months.

What are the top three or four qualifications for it?

Before you move ahead, you want to ensure you have the capabilities to handle the job. Asking this question will help you understand whether or not you can perform successfully in this position.

What do you know about the hiring manager?

This will give you more insight into how to best position your skills and background to them. It’s an especially good idea to ask this question if the hiring manager would also be the person you’d be reporting to. You’ll be able to get a better sense of whether their personality and leadership style are a good fit for you.

What’s the next step?

The recruiter might simply be trying to gauge your interest, or could need to fill the job by next week. In any case, you need to know what their timeline is and next steps are if you are interested in the job. If you’re not, be honest about it.

Want professional help from a career coach in your next job search?

Turn to the professional career coaches at ResumeSpice. We know what hiring managers look for in top candidates and can help you get the edge you need to get hired, faster. Find out more by reaching out to our team at 832.930.7378 or by contacting us online.

 

 

The Most Common Job Search Errors & How to Avoid Them

Everyone messes up. But when it comes to your job search, the stakes are high and one wrong move can make a bad impression on the hiring manager. So what are some of the most common ones to avoid? The career coaching service experts at ResumeSpice have the answers you need. Here’s a look at a few:

Not customizing your resume.

Resumes are hard to write. Once you’ve polished yours, you might be ready to call it a day. However, you need to customize it every time you apply for a position. Otherwise, you’re missing out on an important opportunity to highlight your most relevant strengths and set yourself apart from other candidates.

Including too much information.

Whether it’s your cover letter or your resume, hiring managers only take a few seconds to scan each one. That’s why you need to write in clear and concise language, communicating your value with as much brevity as possible. Long sentences and dense paragraphs simply won’t get read.

Applying to jobs you’re not really qualified for.

Sure, there might be a job that sounds like a dream, one you want desperately. And it’s ok to take a long shot once in a while. But don’t make it a habit, applying to everything that sounds interesting, even if you’re not really qualified. Instead, if you want the best chance at finding the right job quickly, aim for quality over quantity in terms of where you apply.

Missing the mark during the interview.

Whether you arrived late, weren’t dressed properly for the interview, or gave vague answers, a hiring manager isn’t going to think twice about you once you walk out the door. The job interview is your first chance to make a great face-to-face impression and you need to seriously prepare for it if you want the job.

Poor references.

You nailed your resume, aced the interview and are pretty much guaranteed the offer. But how strong are your references? If you only included a list of coworkers and colleagues, then the hiring manager is going to wonder why you don’t want them calling a manager. Likewise, make sure your references are all well-informed ahead of time, so they understand the role and why you’re a great fit for it.

Failing to follow up.

It might sound old-fashioned to you. However, following up after the interview, whether it’s via email or a note, is just another way to set yourself apart to a hiring manager. This is critical if the decision is between you and another candidate. If you follow up with a carefully written email sent in a timely manner – and the other candidate does not – your odds of getting the job are much higher.

Want an expert in your corner to help with your job search?

Contact the career coaching service professionals at ResumeSpice. We can help you with every aspect of your search, from resume, cover letter and LinkedIn profile writing to interview preparation. Find out more by reaching out to our team at 832.930.7378 or by contacting us online.

 

Can I Change My Job Title on My Resume to Make Myself More Marketable?

Looking for a new job? Afraid your current title will limit the kind of position you can secure? You might be thinking about editing, tweaking or changing it altogether in order to make yourself more marketable.

But you should take a cautious approach when doing this. Otherwise, a hiring manager could call your existing company to confirm your job title and employment dates, then get a nasty surprise in the process. Rather, if you’re concerned about your job title impacting your search, consider tweaking it slightly instead.

For instance, if your title is “office assistant,” but you in reality, you manage the office down to the tiniest detail, you don’t want that junior title sabotaging your ambitions. So how can you get around it? Consider writing something on your resume along the lines of:

ABC Company, Any City, USA

Office Management Team, Sept. 2016 – Present

Then, in the bullets underneath, make sure you talk up your accomplishments. This includes quantifying them with facts and figures, such as “negotiated a new contract with office supply vendor that saved company 10% on future orders.” These are the kinds of details that will stand out to a hiring manager, more so than a job title.

If you do get an interview, you can then dig deeper into your role at the company. So be ready to promote all you’ve done – and all you’re capable of doing – to the hiring manager.

However, don’t ever change your title altogether. If you are not, in fact, the “office manager,” but state you are on your resume, one call from the hiring manager can undermine all your job search hard work. Not only that, but you’ll look dishonest and be knocked out of the running for any future opportunities that might come along.

Also, if you haven’t started your search, but are interested in making a move in the near future and have the experience to hold the next job title up, ask your boss for a change. Don’t be shy about going after the title that more accurately reflects what you do at your company each day.

Need more resume tips and advice for your job search?

Turn to the professional resume writers at ResumeSpice. We can help you stand out in today’s competitive marketplace, so you land the job you want. Find out more by reaching out to our team at 832.930.7378 or by contacting us online.

How Much Should I Write About Each Job on My Resume?

When it comes to your resume, your job history is the most important part. After all, this is what tells a potential employer whether or not you’re a good fit for the role. But when it comes to actually writing about the different positions you’ve held in the past, what’s important to include and what should you leave out? Here are some tips from the resume writing experts at ResumeSpice to help you:

Write a brief overview of each position.

It’s important for hiring managers to understand what you’re capable of. To do that, determine which tasks and responsibilities were primary to each role and most pertinent for the job you apply to, then write them out in bullet point format.

Align each task with an accomplishment.

Once you have a clear sense of which duties and tasks are important to include, connect them to a clear accomplishment. For instance, rather than just stating that you answered phones and transferred calls, say something like: “Managed a system with 10 phone lines, seamlessly transferring calls and taking detailed messages whenever necessary.”

Prioritize each task and accomplishment.

When it comes to your resume, hiring managers only spend a few seconds glancing at it. That’s why the most relevant information needs to be front and center. To do that, make sure you’re ordering your lists of tasks and accomplishments, so the ones that are most important are at or near the top.

Edit it all down so it’s as concise as possible.

Once you have all the details that are important to include, you then need to edit it down so it’s clear and concise. Go through each point looking for any unnecessary information that you can cut out.

As you’re editing, keep in mind that your resume doesn’t need to include every job you’ve had since high school. It’s meant to be a marketing document that offers your career highlight reel to potential employers, showcasing why you’re a great fit for their position.

Get help with the process.

If you’re tired of spinning your wheels on your resume and want to bring in experts, call the resume writing team at ResumeSpice. We’ll work to get to know your background, skills and key strengths, all so we can help your resume stand out. Find out more by reaching out to us at 832.930.7378 or by contacting us online.

Spruce Up Your Profile: Take Advantage of LinkedIn’s Capabilities

Set up your LinkedIn profile a few years ago and haven’t given it a second glance since? You’re certainly not alone. However, if it’s been months or even years since you last laid eyes on your profile, it could have a negative impact on your job search.

Even if you don’t have a lot of time, investing just a little effort can go a long way in sprucing it up, so it has more appeal among hiring managers and recruiters. And our LinkedIn profile writing experts can help. Here’s how:

Post a professional headshot.

If your profile picture looks too casual, or worse, you don’t have one at all, then it’s going to reflect on you negatively. In fact, far fewer recruiters and hiring managers will take you seriously. So make sure you post a professional-looking picture, one that positions you in a positive light.

Make sure it includes keywords.

The ones you use depend on the types of jobs you’re looking for. But whatever they are, be sure to optimize your profile page with these keywords, including them in the top portion of your profile, especially in the Summary.

Don’t forget about your industry.

If you work in a particular industry and want to remain in it, then be sure to include it in your profile. When you do, you’ll be more likely to be found by potential employers in that industry looking for professionals like you. Not only that, but this positions you as more of an expert in a specific field, rather than a generalist.

Spend some time on the Skills section.

Don’t include every possible skill. Instead, focus on those that are most relevant to the kinds of opportunities that you’re looking for. In addition, order them by priority, making the most relevant ones first.

Get recommendations

One of the best ways to stand out and attain more credibility is through recommendations. So don’t be afraid to reach out to past colleagues and managers and ask them to write one for you. When you do, it will be one of the first areas that a recruiter or potential employer will read.

Want professional help reworking your LinkedIn profile page?

The LinkedIn profile writing experts at ResumeSpice can help you build a more powerful online presence. Find out more by reaching out to our team at 832.930.7378 or by contacting us online.