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Before the Interview


As you begin your journey toward your ideal career, start here to find helpful information to prepare you for the interview process.

Resume Tips
Managing your Online Presence
Tips for Referrals and Recommendations
Research Company Prior to Interview

Resume Tips

The purpose of a resume is to market yourself on paper and is your opportunity to sell yourself! It should serve as the "advertisement" that entices the "buyer" (the hiring official) to examine and evaluate the product (you).

Don't hesitate to get assistance. There are many free resources, such as your local library, the Internet, state employment agency, and staffing and placement services such as ours that can help you craft a winning resume.

Your resume should include only information related to your career goals. Remember, the purpose of the resume is to display your qualifications and what you have to offer in order to get an interview. The interview is the time to get all the details out.

Here are some tips to writing an exceptional resume - one that will catch the attention of prospective employers.

Format
Construct your resume in a clear, concise format.

  • Condense your resume to one page, two at the very most.
  • Set your margins at approximately 1 to 1.5 inches.
  • Avoid small or very large print - use a font size between 10 and 12 point.
  • Use a single, conservative font such as Times New Roman or Arial.
  • Keep your type size consistent. Use bold lettering and italics sparingly, so they do not lose impact.
  • Include your name, address, phone number, cell phone number, and email address at the top of your resume. If you are planning to move in the near future, state this in your cover letter and include alternate contact information.

Content
Begin your resume by defining what you have to offer.

  • Make a strong start by summarizing your skills. This approach provides some opening sizzle and explains what you have to offer the employer, rather than what the employer can do for you.

List your work history or professional experience.

  • Start with your current or most recent position and list your job experience chronologically. Take every opportunity to emphasize your skills and accomplishments. This is your time to shine!

Summarize your education at the end of the resume.

  • List your highest degree first, followed by lesser degrees, certifications, and relevant coursework.
  • List any honors you received or honor societies you belong to.
  • If you currently belong to any professional organizations, include these at the end of your resume, but only if they are relevant and enhance your profile. If you held a position in any of these organizations, include the position title.
  • It is not appropriate to include hobbies, personal information, and political or religious affiliations.
  • It is unnecessary to offer "references upon request" as it is obvious that if you want the job, you will supply them.

Presentation & Proofing
Make sure to follow the instructions given in the job posting when applying for a new position. Most applications and resumes are now accepted online using a digital form or by emailing a copy of your resume. Make sure you fill out the online form completely and upload the specified digital format of your resume to ensure that it is transmitted, downloaded, and opened without problem.

MS Word is widely used and will most likely be readable by the recipient. If you are using a recent version of MS Word, it's to your benefit to save it to a lesser version, as your recipient may not have undergone a recent software upgrade. The Acrobat PDF file type is a well-received document format as well.

If you are asked to mail your resume, make sure to print it on white or off white paper and that the paper you are using is clean, crisp, and without blemishes.

Use of Bullets
Use of bullets is a simple way to present your information in a clean, easy-to-read format versus a large block of text. This is especially true when detailing your past work experience. Choose the round bullet, as it's universal to most PCs as opposed to designer fonts such as check marks, arrows, or stars.

Other Considerations
Do not use tables and graphs as part of your resume. Separate sections with white space versus dashes, dots, and tildes.

Proofing
Don't forget to check the spelling and grammar of your resume!

  • Run spell check on the document before you print.
  • Ask at least one qualified individual to read your finished product as an objective critique. They should look at the overall content and search for typos and grammatical problems.

Managing your Online Presence

As online social sites and marketing tools become increasingly popular, managing your online presence is more important than ever. Being aware of what is searchable on the web about you and regulating the information you make available on sites such as LinkedIn.com, Facebook.com, and other social sites can be vital to the success of your career search as more and more hiring officials turn to these sources for background information about a potential candidate.

Google Yourself

  • Search for your name in various spellings on a regular basis or set up Google Alerts to scan what has been posted about you on the Internet. You don’t want to find out too late that someone has spoken badly about you online or posted a photo that might damage your reputation.

Create an Online Presence

  • If you have a Facebook profile, restrict access to it and make sure that your friends don’t publish embarrassing pictures or videos of you.
  • Make sure you find and delete any pictures, videos, and articles online that might give a wrong impression of you. In the event you cannot delete the offending media, make sure to leave a reply telling your part of the story or comment to defend yourself.
  • On professional networking sites like LinkedIn.com, point out your key areas of expertise and get recommendations from people you trust and that have something valuable to say about you.
  • Be careful in how you use Twitter, which allows for real time search. That means if you’re writing about how bad your boss is or how boring your job is, a recruiter could end up seeing that.
  • Having an opinion and commenting on message boards or on a blog is appropriate, but be sure to always maintain a high level of professionalism and double check your grammar and spelling before posting your message.
  • Keep your private content private and protected and make sure your key strengths are visible online.

Tips for Referrals and Recommendations

Just as reading a product review is important before making a big purchase, personal referrals play an important role during the hiring process. Referrals act as a testimony to the quality of a candidate’s professional abilities and convey a level of value offering a hiring authority reassurance that they’re making a good choice.

  • Personal referrals can be recommendations in letter form, given over the phone, or can simply be an introduction from someone in your network to a contact of theirs about a position you were interested in.
  • Recommendations should come from respected peers within your industry or come from people you have reported to in the past. Getting recommendations from people you’ve worked with in a variety of capacities, however, will give the best overview of your skill set.
  • When asking for a referral or recommendation from one of your contacts, it’s important to be targeted and specific in your request whether it is for a contact at a company you may be interested in or an actual recommendation letter.
  • LinkedIn.com recommendations count as well, but focus on quality versus quantity. Contrived or ambiguous recommendations can be more negative than positive.

Research Company Prior to Interview

Once you’ve got your foot in the door with the first interview, capitalize on your opportunity by doing research on the company before the meeting. Having significant knowledge about a company will help you make a good first impression, but beyond a simple Google search, take time to gather important facts and details about the company and make sure you have a clear understanding of the products or services the company offers.

  • Read through the company website paying close attention to the About Us section for a profile of the company. Follow up by checking out the News or Press Release sections, if available, for information on new projects and changes within the company.
  • For more comprehensive information about a company or industry, search Hoovers.com.
  • Prepare a list of the products and services the company offers and see what markets it targets. It might also be helpful to search for information about the company's competitors.
  • Search online job networking resources and LinkedIn.com to see what people are saying about the company and to search for any contacts you may have who already work at the company. If appropriate, reach out to your contact with questions about the company. You may also want to check out the company blog if they have one, or blogs by employees of that company to get more information.
  • Knowing when and how to use the information you have collected is as important as having it at all. Make sure you present the information you've gathered in a positive way and do not overtly point out negative press or comments from employees you uncovered in your research. If you truly have concerns about what you learned, wait for a more appropriate time to bring up your fears or reconsider if the company would be a good fit for you.