I’m not a big fan of the breakfast or lunch interview. Perhaps for an all-day, meet-tons-of-people type of interview, a meal might serve as a nice break from the standard format. However, I’ve been witness to many interviews where the only meeting is at a dining table. Why am I not a fan of the mealtime interview? A simple rule my mom taught me years ago: Don’t talk with your mouth full.
I’m sure you can provide your own tips for interviewing while eating. Feel free to add comments to add to my list of tips on lunch or breakfast interviews.
As old as the art of resume writing is, you’d expect there to be changes in standard practice, right? After all, the way we communicate has changed dramatically, both in content and speed. We like our information given to us Just-In-Time and in Sound-Bytes. However, many resume writers still provide the same formula in presentation, format, and content to be included.
My guest blogger, Brendan Cruickshank, Vice President of Client Services of Job Search Engine, provides his thoughts on the subject, and of course, I couldn’t resist adding my two cents along the way. If you know me at all, you’re not surprised.
See if you agree with our thoughts. If not, feel free to chime in within the Comment Section.
Thinking Outside the Margins:
Five Old-Fashioned Rules of Resume-Writing that You Should Break
Job-hunting can be a job in and of itself – and it’s a job that has changed over the past several decades. The rules of resume-writing that applied in the 1980s don’t always apply today. Here are five old-fashioned rules that you would be well-advised to break:
1. Your resume should be no more than one page. The length of your resume depends on you and the job you are applying for. If you are a recent graduate, chances are that you don’t have enough experience to justify more than a page – but if you do, don’t hesitate to run a little longer. On the other hand, if you feel strongly that you want to keep your resume to one page, but you have more experience than will fit, the solution is to include a link to a web site where a potential employer can get the rest of the details.
Jeff’s Two-Cents: Couldn’t agree more. Many hiring managers first review a resume on their computer, not paper. There are no pages to turn, just scrolling down. Often times, you don’t even notice you’re on page two or three. The key is to include all pertinent info, but be concise. I’m not a big fan of a second source (link to a web site)–don’t make your reader do extra work to learn the pertinent facts. A good use of links: examples of your work.
2. You must include an objective or a summary section. Most career advisers still swear by this, but my feeling is that you should include personal objectives or a summary at your own risk. A well done summary can do wonders. But I can’t remember the last time I saw one. Most summary sections, and most objectives, are full of corny jargon that make the job candidate sound sycophantic and brainless.
Jeff’s Two-Cents: I definitely agree an Objective statement is not needed when you are applying for a job that matches your background. If you are changing your career path (i.e., from Finance to Sales), you’ll have to spell that out (likely in a cover letter or email). However, I think Professional Summaries are critical. The first one-fourth of Page 1 must tell the reader who you are and what you’ve achieved. As cautioned above, stay clear of the generic, mundane phrases: A team-player who contributes to the bottom-line of successful companies using clear communication, excellent problem-solving skills, and keen decision-making.
More on this topic is covered in a video with Peggy McKee–link is below.
3. You must include an education section. Whether or not you include an education section depends on you – and whether or not your educational background will help you in the job you are applying for. If you didn’t finish your degree, mentioning the college you attended for only two years will only draw attention to the fact that you didn’t finish. There is no need to mention your high school diploma or where you attended high school.
Jeff’s Two-Cents: I agree. Keep in mind, Education includes training and certificate programs. Where you have applicable skills through training include it. Often times, I tweak resumes to have the heading: EDUCATION and TRAINING.
4. Include a letter of reference with your resume. If you include something like this, it is most likely to be thrown into a file and never looked at again. Likewise, don’t add a line to your resume that says “References available upon request.” Instead, bring names and phone numbers for your most recent supervisors when you go to your interview. Most human resource managers will not check references for all job candidates, just for the ones they are seriously considering hiring – so they won’t check any references until they have already talked to you.
Jeff’s Two-Cents: Correct. And do you really want to bug your references that much? You want to have them called only when the hiring manager is serious. And obviously, if you hold references until asked, you will know when to give your references a head’s up on who might be calling them. Some hiring managers will ask for three completely different references than provided.
5. Print your resume on the nicest paper you can afford. This rule is an outgrowth of the rule that says you should wear a suit to your interview. You should still wear a suit to your interview if you can, but printing a resume on special paper is just silly.
Jeff’s Two-Cents: Yes, any paper will do, because most likely the interviewer will have their own copy anyway. I always thought fancy paper was a distraction. It’s like saying, the content of my resume isn’t so great, so let’s make it as pretty as possible. Again, in the digital age, paper is secondary. Although, always bring the extra copy. One of my most recent interviewees didn’t, and my client was testing him to see if he’d bring it. Never know…
Brendan Cruickshank has been involved in the online job search and recruiting industry for over eight years and has acted in senior client services roles with companies like Juju.com and JobsInTheMoney.com. His advice is often sought on topics in employment and jobs trends from publications including the Washington Post, Forbes and US News & World Report.
Video with Peggy McKee on this topic: Formatting Your Resume to Be Read!
Have you noticed I’m on a little bit of a rant lately with my posts about job seekers. I absolutely hate to pick on them as their job is so difficult and I don’t expect them to be experts. After all, if they were experts at job searching and interviewing, that would imply they do it often (not a good indicator of a loyal employee).
But, some recent events have prompted me to identify more pitfalls job seekers fall into. Practically on a daily basis from my perspective. If you are applying for jobs, talking with recruiters, or interviewing, please read my latest article for AOL.
Article: Are You Sure You Want This Job?
Recently, I’ve had several discussions with colleagues and candidates about the value education plays in their candidate selection. There is no doubut that formal education enhances one’s standing amongst candidates. In past articles, I’ve even mentioned going back to school during the job search to show you’re proactive about keeping skills sharp or learning new talents.
Brian Jenkins, a member of the BrainTrack.com, offered to share his insights on the topic of online college courses and provided several resources in the guest article below.
Online college courses provide a great way to enhance your resume and improve your chances of getting a job. Taking the courses shows prospective employers that you’re making an effort to increase your value to a company. They help you stand out from the rest of the job pool, which is probably full of people just as qualified as you. For example, engineers seeking a management position can greatly enhance their report and memo writing skills by taking free online writing courses. Once you’ve completed a course, you can include it in the “education” or “specific skills” section of your resume.
Taking relevant free courses also gives you a competitive edge over co-workers for higher-level jobs. Besides the additional skills you’ll acquire, taking the classes shows initiative and a strong desire to learn as much as you can.
Through OpenCourseWare, many colleges and universities offer free access to courses taught during previous semesters. OpenCourseWare provides actual materials used in classes, suggestions for reading material, and lecture notes. Some classes include audio or video lectures, and others offer quizzes so you can test your knowledge before taking the next course.
To see a list of the colleges and universities that offer free courses through OpenCourseWare, check out the OpenCourseWare Consortium’s web site. Some of the schools that offer free classes in a wide variety of subjects: Yale University, UMASS Boston, Utah State University, UC Irvine, and Notre Dame.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
MIT offers a a great deal of free courses in Business; Engineering; Architecture and Planning; Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences; Health Sciences and Technology; Science; and Management. MIT’s Sloan School of Business Management also allows you to take many of its popular undergraduate business courses free of charge.
Columbia University’s Seminar in Branding
Branding is important to many businesses. Columbia University’s Columbia Interactive provides a three-part series on Brand Leadership. Part one of the e-seminar, Brand Identity and Strategy, includes a video lecture, visual examples of strong brand identities, and guest speakers from the private sector. The second part of the series focuses on experiential branding while the third part delves into branding and the creative organization.
Free Writing Classes
Many employers complain that employees lack good writing skills. This can be a major problem for those seeking management positions due to the need to write reports and memos. MIT’s Advanced Writing Seminar exposes you to the various types of writing you may encounter in a professional career. The UK-based Open University offers a free class called Essay and Report Writing Skills. New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) makes available its Technical Writing Course which combines theory and practice to prepare people to become technical writers. NJIT also provides a free Proposal Writing Course.
Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing has become extremely important for many businesses with an online presence. Laura Lake, a marketing consultant, social media marketing strategist, and About.com guide, provides a free, seven-day Social Media Marketing Online Crash Course.
Many small businesses would like a strong online presence but may not be able to afford an expert web designer. Also, even if a company has a web site, management needs someone to maintain it. You can get the skills to create and maintain web sites at w3schools.com, an organization that claims to be the world’s largest web development site. Training is available in HTML, Browser scripting, XML, server scripting, web services, multimedia, and web building. These types of skills make you valuable, especially to small businesses that don’t have a Web expert on staff.
Savvy job seekers can take these free online courses to enhance their resume and to get an edge on the competition. And since you can take these courses online, it’s easy to work them into your busy schedule.
Time and time again, I remind job seekers that your attitude in the interview can make or break your chances of getting the job. Keep in mind though that, “attitude” covers a lot of ground. Job seekers are reminded to keep a positive demeanor on interviews. Attitude also encompasses projecting an air of confidence during interviews. However, there can be a danger if it borders on cockiness. On the opposite end of the spectrum, some are not comfortable with listing their accomplishments as it sounds like bragging.
Managing this gray area of an interview can be tricky. But if simple guidelines are followed, you don’t have to worry about taking it too far.
You likely have heard that interviewing is like dating. Or interviewing is a complex dance with lots of steps. The translation: Interviewing is a unique conversation where there seem to be many rules and traps that could lead to failure. You can interview almost perfectly and still not get the job. So this prompts the question: If I’m a superstar on paper and meet all the requirements, why didn’t they hire me? Perhaps, it was the other major requirement: Because the boss has to LIKE you.
Read more on this reality in interviewing in my latest article for AOL:
It seems whenever I set up a panel interview for a job seeker, he or she groans, “Not a panel interview! I’d rather meet each interviewer one-on-one.” Many job seekers seem to have a fear of being interviewed by several people at once. In reality, panel interviews have many advantages. You actually may be better-suited for this style of interview. Check out my article for AOL for more on this topic: