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Interviews and Your Resume Writing Checklist

In a recent blog post, I mentioned the importance of a high impact resume on the interview process. Clearly, a well written resume gets you in the door, but it also stacks you up against your competition and ranks you in the employer’s eyes even before you get in the door.

If your resume puts you in the top three out of ten great – you can work with that. However, if your resume places number ten out of ten, you’ve really got a lot of work to do in the interview. To get an edge over your competition, here is a resume writing checklist that might be of use to you. This is for those DIY resume writers.

Resume Writing Checklist

1. Your contact information is up-to-date ____


2. The resume is tailored to the job you’re seeking ____


3. Summary is clear and compels employer to read on ____


4. The resume is relevant to the position and contains position/industry related keywords ____


5. Length of document is appropriate ____


6. Document is free of grammatical and spelling errors ____


7. Resume contains no personal information and no photos ____


8. Font is in keeping with a professional business document ____


9. Paper (if mailing/personally delivering) is high quality. Color white/off white ____


10. Resume is not cluttered and is easy to read ____


Over the length of my coaching and recruiting career, all kinds of resumes have come across my desk. The ones that stand out are either really well put together documents or terrible. Yours should stand out because it represents you well and looks ultra professional.

That said, be sure that your contact info is current. If you prefer that the employer call you on your cell, don’t list a home phone. If you’re going to include an e-mail address, be sure isn’t personal, political or religious. Keep it professional because if I am your prospective employer, I do not want to see any of these:

[email protected][email protected][email protected]

Moving on to the next item… Your resume summary should be articulate and compel employers to read on. You want it to demonstrate your level of expertise and prove that you are a match for the job for which you’re applying. When I mention writing a resume tailored to the job for which you are applying – the summary is the perfect place to start. If appropriate, your summary should include relevant keywords.

Document length is usually one or two pages (two tops). Remember that if you have 20 years of experience, you don’t have to limit your resume to one page – unless the employer requests one page. If you have two years of experience, then a one page is fine.

In terms of document appearance, a resume with errors can be enough to get you thrown out of the applicant pool. Proofread several times. Use top quality paper if you print the document out and use a white or off white.

Look at your resume – is it easy to read? You do not want to intimidate the reader with tiny fonts, too much information packed into a page or with endless bullets. These are enough to get your resume tossed to the side.

Remember that writing a quality resume can mean the difference of thousands in salary and can determine how you are positioned as an applicant.

A well written resume can make the difference between thousands of dollars in salary, being stuck where you’re at or interviewing for the job of your dreams. Patricia Erickson writes high impact resumes for job seekers and career changers hoping to get interviews. She has a 99+% client satisfaction and success rating and guarantee results or will rewrite the resume at no charge.

You might also be interested in Patricia Erickson‘s latest work, Get Interviews, Get Hired Now! the complete guide to job winning interviews. For more information about Get Interviews, Get Hired Now! visit: http://www.avitacareermanagement.com/get_interviews_get_hired_now.html

Joe Lavelle- Author Act As If It Were Impossible to Fail

Joe Lavelle says “I have dedicated my career as a strategic business adviser to ensuring that my clients achieve maximum performance while insisting that members of my consulting teams experience accelerated personal growth. My desire to positively affect as many people as I can has led me to personal coaching which allows me to share the expertise that I have gained from thousands of hours of coaching and mentoring my teams and clients. My aspiration to impact even more people has led me to brand “Act As If It Were Impossible to Fail” (Kindle & iPad version available) and to write my first book.

Achieving the “Act As If It Were Impossible to Fail” mindset requires inspiration and a strong determination to make each piece to the world better because of your interaction with it. Living with the “Act As If It Were Impossible to Fail” is possible when you know, and eventually master, the strategies that have made others successful. I will provide you with the strategies, tools and advice that will make it impossible for you to fail and that will empower you to accelerate your career.”

Tips For Questions to Ask at Interviews

It is well understood that sales training can improve specific skills, but what do you look for when recruiting a new sales person?For all sales positions a willingness to achieve is an important factor. Thus, in recruitment, the key question to answer is: what level of commitment and stamina do they have? This question is important because these two factors are vital to future success in the increasingly demanding sales role. In an interview, the sales manager must try to form a picture of the applicant through specific questions and a systematic analysis of their personal history.

It is an advantage to have a repertoire of standard questions that you can ask every applicant in the same form. This gives you a feel for how to interpret the different answers given. The examples below should help you choose your own ‘catalog of questions’:

To assess financial motivation you can ask questions such as: How much do you earn at the moment? How much do you want to earn per year? How much do you want to earn in 3-5 years’ time? What is the ceiling which, as you see it, you probably won’t exceed? How important is money for you compared with other factors which make you happy or unhappy in your job?

A materialistic outlook forms part of the motivation of a good salesperson. Their financial objectives should be ambitious. However, too heavy financial pressure can admittedly prevent success. A salesperson whose motivation is exclusively material cannot again be stretched during barren periods. Work must also be fun and suit the salesperson.

To check for non-material motivation of the sales applicant you can ask them questions such as the following examples: Other than financial rewards, what does working as a sales person give you? What arguments would you use to recommend to a good friend that they should take up the profession of a salesperson? What difficulties/drawbacks would you also point out to them? What periods in your career do you like to think back to? What times don’t you like to remember? What would a job that was tailor-made for you be like?

The questions that the candidate asks at interview will tell you a lot about their level of achievement motivation.

Note down the questions asked and analyze them after the interview. Stable motivation ‘stands on two feet’: both material and non-material work motives must be present in a balanced mix in a good salesperson.

To assess the applicant’s personal objectives a different set of questions is required. These can include: What are you intending to do over the next 3-5 years? What are your plans and desires in the professional and private field? Regardless of whether we come to an agreement or not, what do you hope will change for the better for you over the next few years? In your work, and outside work? What position are you aiming at in the medium term? When you look at your present life, what do you want to stay the same and what do you want to change over the next few years?

Sales people who are achievement-orientated are clear about their own personal objectives and have a clear idea about their future. Where these are lacking, the capacity for self-motivation is wanting too. Applicants often come prepared for such questions and give pretended objectives. To decide whether these sentiments are genuine you have to listen carefully and be prepared to ask precise questions.

In the interview you will also need to assess whether the applicant is up to the challenge of the job. Here the person hiring has to work out a sober equation: what know-how does the applicant possess and how does it match their new job?

Both overstretching and understretching are disadvantageous. Beware of obviously overqualified applicants who are looking for a job out of an emergency situation. There is a big risk that they will get out again as soon as an opportunity presents itself. When in doubt, always favor the underqualified applicant, the one for whom the new job is a challenge which mobilizes their energies. In such cases it is likely that you will have to invest in a programme of sales training for the applicant.

Do not forget to check whether the applicant identifies with the role of a sales person. You can do this by setting the scene and asking questions, like the examples below.

You are asked by strangers at a party what job you do. What do you introduce yourself as and how do you describe your work? Why do you think a lot of people enjoy working in the sales force? What negative opinions and prejudices do people have against this job?

The last question is projective in nature: The things applicants say about others reflects their own attitudes and opinions. They just put these in the mouths of other people. Therefore, always ask questions in a general and indirect way when you are after an unvarnished reply.

Many people have become salespeople without this being a planned career move. What is important is have they over the course of time identified with the job and role of being in a sales position – or whether they use defensive paraphrases like ‘consultant’, ‘agent’ etc.

You will also want to find out their reasons for changing jobs. If a candidate has changed jobs frequently this could indicate that they have little staying power, low willingness to identify and a tendency to change jobs just for the money. Ask these types of question to find out their reasons:

What were your reasons for moving from company x to company y at that time? What were you earning at x in the end, and what did you start off with at y? Which of your expectations were fulfilled at y and which were not? Why do you want to change your job now? What would your present company have to do or change in order to keep you?

When assessing job changes, you can make a sober calculation by subtracting one year from the length of employment at each company: training and familiarisation take half a year, and another six months go by between the internal notice, the search for a new job and the expiry of the period of notice. Someone who has three changes of company within five years has, in fact done only two years of ‘real work’. Changes of job must also be differentiated on an individual basis according to age, industry and economic situation.

By asking questions that get the applicant for self-references you can check out the maturity of the applicant. Count self-critical statements as a sign of maturity and a realistic self-image. Experience shows that active leisure interests (competitive sports, club activities etc) show a positive correspondence with high willingness to perform at work. The following questions can be helpful.

Where do you see your weaknesses as a salesperson and where are your strengths? What makes a good salesperson in your opinion? How have you got on with bosses so far? What would your ideal superior be like? If you could turn the clock back, what in your life would you do differently (from today’s standpoint)? Have you ever had a barren period in your career so far, how did you cope with this? What do you do outside your work? What are your hobbies and interests?

In summary, to select the right person for a position in sales requires the preparation, and asking of, a number of questions designed to explore the key areas that demonstrate a willingness to achieve. Identifying the motivations of the applicant are important in the selection process: skills can be taught and honed through sales training but the underlying attitude, commitment and stamina needed to succeed in the tough role of a salesperson must be present.

Richard Stone is a Director for Spearhead Training Limited that runs management and sales training courses that improve business performance.

Chuck Martin – New York Times business best-selling author

Chuck Martin offers invaluable context and pragmatic solutions to the problems leaders at all levels face today, helping them refocus on effective leadership, management, team building, and matching people with the best job. He is the author of seven business books, including most recently, Work Your Strengths and previously  SMARTS (Are We Hardwired for Success?) AMACOM/American Management Association, co-authored with two noted psychologists. The book deals with what qualities truly define successful people and shows how each person possess 12 specific and very important cognitive functions, including Time Management, Organization, Focus, Working Memory and Stress Tolerance, which begin developing in the brain at birth.

He is also the author of Tough Management (The 7 Ways to Make Tough Decisions Easier, Deliver the Numbers, and Grow Business in Good Times and Bad), which investigates how companies large and small lead and manage in today’s world of work. He is the author of Managing for the Short Term, Net Future, The Digital Estate, and (co-author) Max-e-Marketing He also has written a business fable, entitled Coffee at Luna’s, about an overworked manager who can’t get off the treadmill of work until he learns three valuable lessons that totally improve his situation and those around him as well.

Martin is currently leading a major primary research effort to determine the cognitive characteristics of high-performing individuals at leading companies throughout the world. He is working with a research team from the Whittemore School of Business and Economics at the University of New Hampshire and many participant members from the American Management Association. The findings are the basis of a new book Martin is writing to be published in 2009 by AMACOM/American Management Association.

As the Chairman and CEO of NFI Research, Martin is at the nexus of a global idea exchange and the leader of a research engine that regularly samples the mood and intentions of 2,000 senior executives and managers from more than 1,000 organizations in multiple countries, including many of the Fortune 500.

This gives him a significant amount of useful information and a true, up-to-the-minute view of today’s workplace. The broad base of his network, the robust and virtually instantaneous nature of his process and his experience analyzing results give him unusual insight into business and workplace trends

A former vice president of IBM responsible for a global division dealing with Media and Entertainment, Martin has helped identify successful corporate business strategies for some of the leading companies in the world. Prior to joining IBM, he was the founding publisher and Chief Operating Officer of Interactive Age, the magazine credited with helping to define the interactive marketplace and the first publication to launch simultaneously in print and on the Web. He has been Editor-in-Chief of four national magazines and has been a journalist at five daily newspapers. He was Editor, Corporate Technology, of Time Inc., and was the Associate Publisher of InformationWeek Magazine.

Martin writes a nationally syndicated newspaper column on management and business issues and regularly appears on television business shows. He also teaches Marketing Research and Consumer Buying Behavior at the Whittemore School of Business and Economics at the University of New Hampshire. Martin resides in New England. He can be reached at [email protected] or (603) 750-3020.

Randi Bussin – Reinvention Strategist

Randi Bussin is the Founder and President, Aspire! She is a career reinvention “strategist,” a rare quality that distinguishes her from other career coaches. She thrives on partnering with bright and successful New Englanders seeking more meaningful work aligned with their values, and reignites the internal spark and passion that has been dimmed by their current professional role. She guides them to gain clarity, a renewed sense of direction, and an actionable career reinvention plan. Reinvention could be an entirely new career, a new job more closely aligned with one’s values, an entrepreneurial pursuit based upon a passion, or a retirement game plan.

Randi’s personal story is one of gutsy and enterprising reinvention and renewal. With a newly minted graduate degree in Romance Languages, Randi ventured into high technology marketing, driven by the excitement and growth potential of the industry. Spurred by the growth of technology in Europe and a passion for global business, she set off to Paris to redefine herself and earn an MBA from one of the world’s top international business schools, INSEAD in Fontainebleau, France. She worked in Paris for the next 10 years, savoring the food, the culture, and the local sights and sounds.

After 15 years in the technology industry, Randi became disillusioned with the industry’s frenetic pace, lack of creativity, and sole focus on profits. At this point, she left corporate America to launch her first company–an international strategy consulting firm. Trilogie Consultants helped to launch U.S. technology firms into international markets.

Ten years into this entrepreneurial pursuit, Randi felt plagued by work-life balance issues and became more passionate about helping others enrich their lives and find their passion. At this point, Randi embarked on a journey of self-discovery, learning that she was gifted and motivated in helping and inspiring others to lead their lives anchored by passion, meaning, and balance. After spending four years as an MBA career counselor in higher education, she launched her coaching practice.

Kristi Daeda – Social Media and Marketing Strategist, Speaker, Coach

Kristi Daeda is the founder of LaunchSummit.com and the CareerAdventureBlog.com She says “my own career has been a rambling road, which may be why I’m so passionate about helping others find their path.  Anyone can have a job, but a career that’s your calling…  that’s something else entirely. I started this site to provide resources and spark conversation among all of us that are looking to develop ourselves in pursuit of that calling, whether it be the corner office or a home office, as team members or running the show on our own. What’s my inspiring work?  I work with you to help you find your inspiring work.  We talk about dreams, we focus on what makes you happy, we learn more about the impact you want to have on the world.  Then, we get to work making things happen. I also work with organizations to develop the competitive advantage that comes with a world-class team.  You know, the kind that you’d like to work for”

Friend Or Foe – The Importance of First Impressions in Interviews


Not to get too bogged down in technical mumbo-jumbo – it’s commonly understood that the brain has two hemispheres, the left dealing with logic, and the right with creativity. This is what we know as the cortex, or new brain. But there’s also a third dimension, the hypo-thalamus or pre-historic brain (in fact, the brain stem) which is solely responsible for instincts. In ancient times, this was essential for making split-second life saving decisions.

More recent research from Switzerland refers to the pre-historic brain as the ‘Gatekeeper’. Incapable of rational thinking, the Gatekeeper’s sole function is to instantly decide whether someone is a friend or a foe, and it judges purely on instinct. If the Gatekeeper is stressed by an approach, it switches on the fight or flight response, and immediately shuts down all other message receptors, making any further attempts at communication impossible. In today’s terms that translates into you never get a second chance to make a first impression!

Understanding how this relates to modern life is essential for effective communication. Interviewees must learn to build a ‘Language of Trust’, and as the Gatekeeper doesn’t have the capacity to think, that language isn’t just verbal. In the first 10 to 20 seconds of meeting an interviewer, your instinctive signals must convey the message of a ‘friend’.

This will come through in your body language, with movements, gestures, facial expressions and eye contact being open and relaxed. Your voice modulation and tone must be calm, and the speed of your speech controlled and gentle. Finally, don’t invade his or her personal space. The Gatekeeper’s decision will also be based on your appearance, clothes, smell, enthusiasm and posture.

The total focus at this stage is to get past the Gatekeeper so you can develop and build rapport, and open the interviewer’s message receptors. Once you’re past this initial first impression, you can get on with the job of developing a relationship with your interviewer, as the gate will be open to what you have to offer.

Finally, let’s look at research done at The Thomas Gordon Institute on communication. They looked at the impact of words, voice, face and body, and their contribution to believability. Measuring the effectiveness of each component of communication, they came up with the following:

Words = 7%, Voice = 23%, Facial Expression = 35%, Body Langauage = 35%.

In other words, our appearance, the gestures we make, and how we deliver our words are more important than what we actually say. Remember, the Gatekeeper has no capacity for rational thought, just an instinctive reaction honed from ancient times. That gut-feeling is really a pre-historic brain feeling. Understanding this will help you to take control and ensure you get off to the very best start.

After 30 yrs in the industry, the author, Jason Kendall, is an avid spokesperson for lower-cost, high quality interactive training in the UK. To find out more about Computer Courses, visit LearningLolly IT Training Courses.


Group Interviews – What to Expect

A group interview means that you will be assessed at the same time as all other candidates for the same position. If you are interviewed as a group, this is generally the first stage, and a one-on-one interview may take place afterwards or at a later date, if you are successful.

The main aim of a group interview is to enable the employer to monitor your behaviour as a member of a team. It will allow the employer to see how you react in a group scenario and see whether you fit in well with a team and help complete objectives, or hinder the progress of the team as a whole.

A group situation will allow the employer to see what role you undertake within the group. Certain candidates will inevitably take to the forefront and adopt leadership roles while others may take a back seat. If you do lead a group, the employer will want to see if you are capable of delegating tasks and controlling the team.

Why?

If the job role you are applying for is fundamentally about teamwork then the employer may choose this type of interview to see how you behave in a group situation; as this will be essential to the job role.

Some employers may choose a group interview process as a way of saving time if they have a lot of candidates to interview. They might use the group stage to quickly and efficiently ‘weed out’ those candidates who are unsuitable.

What to expect:

The good news is- the group interview shouldn’t be a surprise. Most employers or recruitment agencies will let you know that you are being interviewed as part of a group beforehand. This enables you to prepare and approach the interview with some consideration.

Role Play: You may have to act out a scenario with some of your fellow group members based on the type of work the company does. This could include simulating a phone call, giving an example of a sales pitch, or good customer service technique. Ensure you are fully aware of what the company does beforehand and listen carefully to what the interviewer wants you to do.

Presentations: This is often an important part of the group interview. You may have to present an idea as part of a group or as an individual. If you present with a group you should ensure that you take an active role in the presentation. Those who do not speak during the presentation will be questioned as to why they have not taken part, even if they came up with the ideas that are being presented. Ensure you make your points clearly and effectively. If you are allowed visual aids, then these could help to get your message across.

Team Building Exercises and Problem Solving: In order to let the employer see how well you participate within a group there will invariably be some team building exercises which will involve problem solving. Ensure you interact well with the group and take a thoughtful, proactive approach to the task.

How to be a good candidate:

Be proactive: You should voice your opinions and take an active role in the process to ensure you stand out. Even if you decide you do not want to be the outright leader of a task, ensure you are voicing opinions and participating fully to ensure you are noticed.

Respect the group: You can make your voice heard without being overbearing. Respect other people’s opinions and allow them to voice their opinions. Be polite and respectful and don’t engage in negative interaction with another team member- even if you don’t agree with what they have to say.

Be confident, not bossy: If you do take a leading role in a task, assert yourself confidently, but do not shout or order people around. Ensure to take people’s suggestions on board; don’t let the power go to your head! You can be an effective leader without dominating group discussion and ideas.

Avoid showing off: Invariably there is always at least one member of the group who believes that the way to get noticed is to make jokes, be very loud and show off. Remember, there are better ways to get noticed! Pay attention to the tasks and what is being asked and focus your attention on completing task successfully and to the best of your ability.

Have fun and good luck! Whether you get to build a lego robot or do a presentation about a block of cheese, group interviews are different and can be a lot of fun. Just remember to be confident, respect others and enjoy yourself!

[email protected] FreeMyCV.com’s resident CV expert- The UK’s free CV distribution service. http://www.freemycv.com and http://www.allthetopbananas.com

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