Master Your Resume with this Checklist

May 23rd, 2017

When I was a child and actually read real paper books, I remember what it was like to make a selection at the library. If the cover of a book caught my eye, I would flip it over and give it a chance to sell itself to me. And if it did not catch my eye, the book would remain untouched on the shelf.

In the world of resumes, the process is actually quite similar. There’s a lot to be said for the concept of marketing, despite the fact that we aren’t supposed to judge a book by its cover. Now, this doesn’t mean you should take your administrative resume and create a work of art (though, those folks in the creative field can and should take a more creative approach). Instead, what I’m referring to is a focused effort to ensure the overall look is visually appealing and easy for the reader to follow, resulting in a resume that actually gets read. Essentially, it comes down to consistency and organization.

  • Font–Keep it simple with the classics like Arial or Times New Roman. They’re easy to read and will not get in the way of anyone’s ability to decipher your resume. And once you’ve selected a font, keep it consistent throughout.
  • Font size and other formatting options–With regards to font size and formatting, consistency is key. If you bold and/or enlarge the font for headings of each section of the resume, ensure each heading has that same formatting. In the end, there are not specific rules on when and where to bold, italicize, or underline; the only rule is that of consistency. Are you sensing a theme, here?
  • Bullets–In all honesty, no resume is really complete without bullets. Definitely use the bullet function that exists within every word processing program. Using dashes or asterisks as bullets just doesn’t deliver the same look as the bullet function. And within that function, you can select which symbol to use as a bullet. As with other methods of formatting, what matters here is uniformity. And when arranging your bullets, create what’s referred to as a hanging indent. That simply means that the second line of your bullet is in line with and begins right under the first letter of the top line in the bullet (just like I have done my bullets here in this blog).
  • Page Breaks—At the end of the page, it’s best to complete one particular job and its bulleted list of responsibilities before the page ends so nothing carries onto the next page. In order to accomplish this, you may need to adjust margins or manually create page breaks.
  • Spacing–Keep an eye on how many spaces or lines you leave between each section of the resume. If you leave two blank spaces between the end of one job and the beginning of the next, ensure you have the same spacing throughout the employment section of the resume.
  • Dates–When it comes to dates, there are many different methods of formatting and placement. There is no wrong way; again, it’s a matter of consistency. If you choose to use the xx/xx/xxxx format, it would be incorrect to use xx/xx/xx at some point later in the resume. Some resumes have the date at the left side of the document while others have it at the right margin. Both are correct. However, if aligning the date to the right margin, it’s best to use the tab key or set the align right tab stop in your document. Simply using the spacebar to place that component does not work and can create a bit of a mess.

It’s entirely possible you may create this flawless resume in your word processing program only to have the formatting get destroyed when the reader opens it in a program that is not compatible with yours. The good news is that there is an easy, painless way to fix this! Simply save your resume as a PDF file. This will ensure that the reader sees the document in exactly the way you intended them to.

And last, always double-check your entire resume when you make any edits or updates. Since the formatting can be rather sensitive, it’s easy for an edit in one part of your resume to throw off the formatting somewhere else. For example, adding some extra lines near the top of the resume will bump things down and could potentially throw off the page break you manually created at the bottom of the page. Taking a couple moments to double-check will help make sure your resume remains a professional, consistent document.

Written by:
Tiffany Appleton, Director, Accounting & Finance Division
Adam Lafield, Recruiter & Marketing Specialist

The Secret to Writing Compelling Job Advertisements

May 18th, 2017

If you truly want to attract top talent to your company, it is well worth the time spent on tweaking your job advertisements. A job description is not the same thing as a job advertisement. A job description is a list of duties an employee will perform. The job advertisement is a marketing piece you use when advertising a job opening to attract top talent.

A well written job advertisement includes:
Company Description: This is an overview of what your company does, what industry you are in, how long you have been in business, exciting growth, and types of customers you serve.

What the Employee Will Do: Here is where you may want to include the duties from the job description, but that list won’t serve you well. Instead, a future employee wants to know what they will be able to accomplish and contribute. Take your list of duties and turn them into active statements about what they will accomplish and what the end goal looks like. For example, a receptionist may have a job duty of “answering phones.” Instead this could read as “create a warm and inviting environment for all customers greeted both in person and via the phone.”

Job Requirements: This list should be short and only include the requirements that are absolutely essential. It is ideal if your requirements list is skills based and speaks to the challenges this job will present. For example “extensive knowledge of Excel pivot tables and v-lookups” speaks to the level of analytical complexity the right candidate will have.

The Right Personality: Include a blurb about the soft skills which lend to success in this role. It may read like this if you are seeking a self-starting, team player “You see what needs to be done, and you do it, without needing to be told. You love being part of a team doing whatever it takes to meet a common goal of company success!”

Company Wow’s: Let the world know why your company is awesome. Do you have any special benefits or perks? These would be the things your employees talk about like free lunch on Fridays, stocked snacks in the kitchen, 100% paid healthcare benefits, lots of holidays or PTO, generous retirement plan contribution, bonus eligibility, gym or cafeteria located in the building or nearby, ability to work remotely on occasion, a commitment to really working only a 40 hour work week, awesome management team that actually listens, or simply amazing people who like to work as a team. Even if you don’t offer any “special” perks, there are still reasons why people like working there – ask your existing employees if you are not sure what to include.

In the current market, candidates have choice as well as access to lots of information about prospective employers (think Glassdoor or Google News searches). Knowing they desire this information, it is best to provide them much of this information upfront in the job advertisement. Ideally, your job ad is complete enough the candidates feel compelled to apply without additional research.

~ Tiffany Appleton

Graduates: Success in 5 Easy Steps

May 9th, 2017

Congratulations on your big achievement! After years of hard work as a student, you’ve reached the end. Well in reality, it’s the beginning…of your career! Since this is all very new, figuring out next steps can be a bit confusing. To help get you started, let’s do a quick breakdown and give you a rough outline of how these next steps might look.

Five Steps to Success after Graduation

1. Graduate and celebrate
I know you’re all excited to just jump right into the search, but take some time to pat yourself on the back for a job well done. Look back on all that you’ve accomplished before you start looking forward into your future. Let yourself feel all the potential that lies ahead on your career path.

2. Create your resume, cover letter template, and other crucial documents
We actually have a bunch of blogs in our archives that would be helpful for this. In the beginning, you’ll just need the basics and can then later customize your resumes and cover letters as you apply for various positions. And while it’s a bit early in the game, it’s still not a bad idea to start thinking about professional references so you can create that document as well.

3. Take stock of your resources
Your school’s career center is a great place to start; they may be able to help you with leads and/or job-searching tips. And of course, staffing firms like Johnson & Hill (there’s my inevitable shameless plug!) can be a really great resource. Also don’t forget the power of networking. Meet new people and steward those relationships over time. You’ll find that they are your most valuable resource and can unlock lots of doors for you. And the rest of your search will likely be comprised of ads on specific company websites and job boards like CareerBuilder, Indeed, and LinkedIn.

4. Apply!
These days, most application processes begin online. Think of each application as a seed that you plant. You have to plant lots of them because you don’t know which ones will take root. And keep in mind also that some may not grow immediately, but it’s still important to keep planting because that’s the only way to achieve a fruitful harvest. And on that note, the punny farmer metaphor has officially come to an end.

5. Interview
The first couple interviews can seem overwhelming, but they really don’t have to be! Honestly, it’s a conversation. This is your chance to talk about yourself and your goals while also learning a great deal about a company. Don’t let it freak you out! And before you start getting interviews lined up, think about what you’ll want to wear so you’ll be ready to dress your best before you even get your first interview request.

If you have questions about resumes, cover letters, interviews, or any other part of the job search process, please check out our blog archives! We have a nearly limitless array of information there to help you shine like a star candidate. Good luck!