For Job Seekers

How to Find Information About a Company Before Your Interview

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When it comes to job interviews, candidates are no longer the only ones in the hotseat. Today, companies have to compete, too, and they all want the cream of the crop. If you know you're a top-notch candidate, then there's certainly no harm in letting potential employers compete for you. Of course, that's going to require a little work on your end, as well, because you'll need to research the companies in order to compare the pros and cons of each.

Here are some tips for researching a company before your first meeting:

  • Become acquainted with the company's financial situation using public reports, Crunchbase, and even a simple Google search.

  • Check out the company's social media profiles. Are they young and hip and energetic, or is the vibe a little more formal than that?

  • Call the company and pretend to be a prospective customer. Ask questions, and pay attention to their sales pitch.

  • Learn about who their competitors are and what sets this company apart.

  • Read online reviews from current and former customers.

Any chance to gather information about the company is one you should take! A career move is a big decision, and you certainly don't want to let anything sneak up on you.

5 Soft Skills Employers are Looking For

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Employers always seek out employees with specific skills for each position and organization, but even though these skills are important, there are other “soft skills” that are equally important to hiring managers.

In fact, many hiring managers believe that a person’s “soft skills” are just as much an indicator of on-the-job success as hard skills.

So, just what are soft skills?

Soft skills are those skills that an individual might possess that ultimately make them good employee no matter their position. These skills include a positive attitude, verbal and nonverbal behaviors as well as personal habits, all of which make a person easy and pleasant to work with and therefore a valuable member of any team. Soft skills also include things like confidence, manners, empathy, fairness, compassion, flexibility and more. Essentially, these skills are deeply rooted in an individual’s character.

Let’s take a look at five of the most coveted soft skills employers are looking for:

  1. A Positive Attitude – A positive attitude is contagious and can work wonders in turning department morale around. For managers, it’s important to have this kind of positive energy flowing, because it just takes a couple of negative employees to bring an entire organization down.

  2. A Strong Work Ethic – A strong work ethic is key to the success of any position and is not something that can be taught. Those who have it will thrive no matter what’s thrown their way.

  3. Time Management Skills – Employees who are results-oriented will also possess excellent time management skills which are key to completing assignments on time and accomplishing goals.

  4. Outstanding Communication and Interpersonal Skills – To succeed in any position, communication is absolutely key. A great employee needs to be able to communicate clearly as well as listen to work effectively within a given organization.

  5. Problem-Solving Skills – An individual who isn’t afraid to jump in and work to find a solution will make for a most trusted and competent employee.

Learn to hone your soft skills, and you will be able to succeed in any interview or position that comes your way.

The Differences Between a Resume and a CV

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When it comes to preparing for job applications, usually the first thing that comes to mind is writing a resume. But, what about a CV? Should you also be writing a CV? What is a CV? And, what’s the difference between a CV and a resume? Let’s take a closer look:

The Resume

The key goal of a resume is to make an individual stand out among their competition. It is typically a concise one page document that highlights your most recent and relevant experience and is highly adaptable to any position being applied for. In fact, a resume should always be tailored to the specifics of each job position. You should use a resume to:  

  • Emphasize skills

  • Apply for a position in industry, non-profit and public sector

  • Highlight experience and skills in no more than two pages, with an additional page for publications and/or poster presentations when relevant

  • Apply after one year of industry experience. (Then, lead with your work experience and place the education section at or near the end, depending on your qualifications)

The CV

A CV, or Curriculum Vitae, is an in-depth document that is usually laid out over two or more pages. They are extremely detailed about achievements (after all, Curriculum Vitae does mean ‘course of life’). A CV covers your education as well as all other accomplishments, like awards, honors, publications, etc.

 

These documents tend to be organized chronologically to provide an overview of an individual’s full working career. A CV is static unlike a resume; it does not change for different positions. Rather, differences are tailored in the cover letter. A CV is used to:   

Emphasize academic accomplishments

  • Apply for positions in academia, fellowships and grants

  • Give a chronological overview, beginning with education, and can include names of advisors and your dissertation title or summary.

  • Evaluate merit/tenure review and sabbatical leave

Your chosen industry, career track or specific position will ultimately help you determine which format is necessary for a given application, but it’s never a bad idea to have both prepared ahead of time.

How to Discuss Your Weaknesses During an Interview

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You’re in the interview and all is going well. You’ve talked about your skills, your best attributes and your greatest strengths. Then, they ask that most dreaded question – What are your biggest weaknesses?

This is a question that hiring managers always ask and one that is the most difficult to answer. But, know that it’s not a trick question. Hiring managers are simply looking for examples of how you faced and overcame obstacles in the past.

So, how can you best answer this question? Here are a few tips to help you gather your thoughts and talk about weaknesses during an interview:  

  • Know your weaknesses – If you don’t know your weaknesses, then you may not really know your strengths. So, take some time for self-reflection before you go into an interview.

  • Don’t mention an essential skill – Be honest in your response, but don’t mention that your weakness is one of the very skills that they are hiring for. Read the job description carefully so that you don’t make this mistake. For example, if you’re being hired for detailed work, you probably shouldn’t say that your weakness is getting too hung up on details.  

  • Talk about how you overcome your weaknesses – Be prepared with examples of how you conquered a previous short-coming that you were able to successfully turn around into a strength.

  • Only talk about work-related weaknesses – Don’t use personal drama as a situational example of a weakness. Only discuss weaknesses that you’ve overcome while on the job.

  • Don’t use go-to answers, like you’re a perfectionist or you work too hard – These common responses are almost always dismissed, so don’t blow this opportunity to discuss how you’ve overcome professional challenges. Managers want to hear how they made you better.

Hiring managers understand that people make mistakes, but they want to know how you handle yours. Being aware of your weaknesses and able to discuss them is a great sign that you know your boundaries, abilities and strengths.

Leadership Skills Employers are Looking For

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When it comes to leadership in the workplace, being identified as a “leader” or as a “potential leader” in any organization is a key indicator that you’re highly valued as an employee.

Not all leadership skills and abilities are seen in the same light, however. In fact, there are some that are more highly regarded than others.

These are the five considered most important:   

  1. The ability to inspire and motivate others – To be a great leader, you must be able to motivate and inspire those around you. These acts are what will essentially bring your, and your company’s, vision to life. A great leader makes their team feel invested in the accomplishments.

  2. Acting with honesty and integrity – Strong leaders set an example for their team, as they conduct themselves, always with honesty and integrity. This includes displaying these core characteristics in upholding company values and beliefs, promoting honest and ethical behavior, promoting a healthy work environment and encouraging others to following suit.  

  3. The ability to communicate clearly – Being able to clearly and succinctly explain what you want done is extremely important for anyone in a leadership position. Communication is key for relating your vision to your team so that everyone remains on the same page, working towards the same goal.

  4. The ability to problem solve and analyze situations – The true test of a good leader is in their ability to problem solve. In the workplace, you must be able to find ways to overcome obstacles. This includes clearly identifying problems, generating solutions and determining the best means of implementation.

  5. Acting with emotional intelligence – A great leader must be able to recognize, hold accountable and manage their own emotions as well as those around them. This helps to develop meaningful relationships as well as to help manage external stressors that may hinder forward movement.

While there are many skills that make a great leader, these are the most common that employers recognize.

Tips for Negotiating Your Salary

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You’ve sent in your resume, gone through the interview process and landed the job – congratulations! Now, it’s time to start thinking about salary negotiations with your prospective employer. In other words, you need to find out how much the job is worth and how much your skills, experience and expertise are worth to your employer.

Entering into negotiations may seem like a scary process, but with a little preparation, you’ll be able to go in confident. Here are a few tips that we suggest to get the ball rolling:

  1. Wait for the appropriate time. Before you even start the conversation, do your research on salaries for your particular position in your particular field. Then, to go about getting what you’re worth, you have to be patient. When interviewing, it’s best not to even mention compensation until the employer brings it up.

  2. Let them throw out the first numbers. Resist the urge to throw out the first numbers. Instead, when you’re asked what your salary requirements are, say that they’re open and that it will be based on the position and the overall compensation package. You can also simply say that you’d like to hear more about the position’s specific responsibilities before discussing.    

  3. Look at the data. If you must give a number, make sure that your salary request is based on data from your research. Again, knowing the research and industry data will help inform your negotiating technique.

  4. Take your time. Once a potential employer puts a number on the table, you don’t have to respond right way. It shouldn’t be a rushed decision. Simply say that you need to think it over. This response alone can get you an increase in offer.

You can also apply these tips toward negotiating your benefits package. The bottom line is that you have to go in knowing your worth and be confident in your abilities.

Tips for Using Job Search Engines

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Job search engines instantly put thousands of open positions right at your fingertips. They’re an excellent resource, yes, but there are a few things that you should keep in mind in order to get the most out of them. Here are some tips:

  • Posting resumes isn't enough – Getting your resume up is the first step in getting started on most job search sites, but you can't just post your resume and assume the job offers will find you. Make it a regular habit to check job postings, and be proactive in submitting applications as soon as listings go up.

  • Use keywords - When companies search resumes for potential candidates, they use narrowly-defined keywords. Make sure your resume uses current and specific terminology (as well as more common terms for unconventional titles) for work history, degrees, and certifications.

  • Formatting matters – When you upload a resume to a job site or attach it to an email, you have no control over how it turns out in its digital appearance. That’s why you should pay close attention to spacing, indents, bullets and graphics (e.g. lines) that might get lost in translation. To avoid this, upload files as PDFs to preserve their original appearance.

  • Target applications – Just because job search engines allow you to apply to dozens of positions at once doesn't mean that you should. Instead, target your responses. Craft one or two job-specific resumes and cover letters instead of copying and pasting generic information.

  • Track all sent applications – If you’re sending out multiple applications, responses can get confusing. Create a simple spreadsheet to track your progress. This way you won’t send out the same application twice, and you’ll know when it’s time to follow up on sent applications.

Job search engines are a fantastic resource for job seekers. You just have to stay organized and focused on your overall goal.  

Top Buzzwords to Include and Avoid On Your Resume

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When it comes to resumes, you don’t have much time to make an impression. Nearly every single word that you include will be analyzed and either help get you noticed or knock you right out of the competition.

Buzzwords to Include on Your Resume

The best buzzwords to include are those that show action. You see, action words and phrases demonstrate concrete accomplishments that you’ve done for past employers that can translate into results for your future employer. They also like to see numbers, as they best demonstrate in clear, measurable terms how you added value to your previous companies.  

With all of this in mind, these are the top buzzwords you should include in your resume to better grab a potential employer’s attention:

  • Achieved

  • Improved

  • Trained or mentored

  • Managed

  • Created

  • Resolved

  • Volunteered

  • Influenced

  • Increased and decreased

  • Ideas

  • Launched

  • Revenue or profits

  • Negotiated

  • Under budget

  • Won

Buzzwords to Avoid on Your Resume

Employers don’t want to read vague, clichéd words. Terms like, “hard worker” and “team player” come to mind, as they do nothing to demonstrate how you actually added value to your previous position. So, avoid the following buzzwords to stay on any potential employer’s radar:

  • Go-getter

  • Think outside of the box

  • Synergy

  • Go-to person

  • Value add

  • Results-driven

  • Team player

  • Bottom-line

  • Hard worker

  • Dynamic

  • Self-motivated

  • Detail-oriented

  • Strategic thinker

To make your best impression, we recommend focusing more on the skills, results and accomplishments that are related to any potential job you will be applying for. Once you start doing this, you’ll be able to get your resume noticed and sent straight to the top of the list.  

 

Tips for Writing a Targeted Resume

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Job seekers are often told to have multiple resumes prepared when it comes to job hunting. But, do you know why? Targeted resumes are an excellent way to improve your chances of making it to the top of a very short list. They are tailored to each job and their requirements, highlighting varying, specific skills and experiences. And, it’s as simple as edit, proof and repeat. Here are some tips to help you write a great targeted resume:

  • Review the Job Description. First, ask yourself, “Is this job a good fit for me?” Don’t waste time making needless, time-consuming revisions unless you are sure that you would be a good match for the position and that your resume will make an attractive statement.

  • Emphasize Your Qualifications. Edit to highlight the exact qualities and skills that the job requires.

  • Use Keywords. Tailor your resume to include the exact keywords that were used in the job description to describe your skills and experiences. The closer the match, the more likely your resume will stand out.

  • Write a Summary. If you don’t have time to rewrite your entire resume, write a brief, position-targeted Summary section that highlights your strengths, and put it at the top of your resume.

  • Proofread! Every time you alter your resume, check and re-check for spelling, grammatical and accuracy errors.

  • Review. Make sure that your education, experience and credentials (that best match your targeted position) are up top in your Summary section. Then, list your positions and experiences in reverse chronological order. Check dates, job titles, skills, etc. one last time.

  • Target Your Cover Letter. As you’ve tailored your resume, do the same with your cover letter, again, highlighting the skills that best match the job description.

While editing your resume to target each individual position may take some time and effort, remember that each specific alteration will better help to make a clear and lasting impression on the person who reads it and is more likely to land you the job!

Skills That are Essential to Any Career

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Today's workforce is incredibly demanding! The competition is fierce, and once you have a position you love, you really want to do everything possible to keep it. There is a certain skillset that can help you do exactly that, and it applies no matter what profession you are in. Here are five skills that no modern worker should ever be without:

The ability to establish boundaries and maintain them. If you think that giving up your entire personal life is going to win hearts at the office, think again. Instead, learn how to set boundaries for yourself, and your boss, coworkers, and customers will respect you more for it.

The ability to manage your time wisely. No matter what task you take on, you should have an idea of how long it will take and how that fits into your overall schedule for your day. The same applies when you're looking ahead to next week or next month. Where your work day is concerned, any time that you waste on irrelevant tasks is just going to create obstacles for you later.

Strong written and oral communication. The way you write an email can make or break the underlying message. Your word choice when speaking can be the difference between coming across as a thought leader vs. coming across as an arrogant know-it-all. Most importantly, a firm grasp on spelling and grammar is essential in every field, no exception.

The capacity to think one step ahead of the game. Being a forward thinker not only improves your job performance, but it enhances your ability to get the jobs you want. You should always be thinking about the next task or what you can do to receive a promotion in the next 3, 6, or 12 months.

The ability to "play nice" with others. Even if you choose the most secluded line of work and you work as a freelancer for most of your career, there is no avoiding the fact that you are going to have to interact with others. So, hone your ability to play nice! It will serve you well for many years to come.

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