Monday, 27 August 2018 14:21

How to Add Personality to Your Resume

We typically see one type of resume in the job hunting world - white paper, black font, and probably not much (if any) color.

While this is the standard and will work for its intended purpose, it often doesn’t have a lot of personality.  Certain jobs require more formality, so the standard is your best option, but for those jobs that ask for creativity in the job description, or simply demand something unique - add some personality!

Here are some of our favorite ways to do just that:

  • Change the design: Most resumes follow the same standard layout, but they don’t have to! You could put your document into unique, colorful sections, or simply add blocks of color for each section heading.

  • Add some color: Color is just more fun to look at! If you’re keeping it conservative, simply add color to your name at the top so it stands out.  Or, you could really go all out and do your whole resume in one color. Of course, ensure that this is still easily readable, and also send over a copy that doesn’t include so much color in case they’d like to print it.

  • Be conversational: Formal language has its place, but it’s not always in a resume. You can still talk in a conversational way that uses layman’s terms. Be sure to include all relevant data and qualitative data, but present it more casually.  For something extra fun, you can even include charts or graphs with your numerical data!

  • Make it fit: Are you interviewing for a position at an art gallery? You could change your resume to look like an easel, or feature a paint palette in a way that’s relevant.  You can always tailor your actual resume to the job position in a memorable way.

  • Add something unexpected: Most hiring managers are used the same old thing. Surprise them! Add a creative drawing or graphic, use a custom font, or simply present it in a unique way.

  • Try a different format: Resumes don’t always have to be on paper! You can try a video or slideshow resume. Of course, make sure this is okay with the hiring manager, and possibly leave these for the job positions that say they’re actively seeking something different in your application.

  • Add a photo: It can be nice to put a face to a name. In some cases, you might want to include your photo.  You could also include a photo of something you accomplished, whether it was a build in your job work, or an event photo from something you planned.

  • Include what’s needed: No matter how you choose to add personality to your resume, it’s important that it still includes important information.  Be sure you’re not leaving out any important and relevant job positions, accomplishments, or education. At the end of the day, that will still be the most important part!

 

Published in Work from Home Tips
Monday, 13 August 2018 14:08

5 Tips for A Professional Job Application

We all know the importance of a resume when you apply for a job, but there’s often more to the application than just that. There’s the cover letter, recommendation letters, resume, and anything else requested by that particular position.

We’re sharing our best tips to keeping your whole job application professional and effective, so you’re ready to apply when those ideal positions come along.

Keep it up to date

Even if you’re not actively job searching, sometimes the right position just pops up. Be ready for these opportunities! Every month or so, take a few minutes to update and review your materials.  This will keep things fresh, keep you from scrambling, and help you avoid losing future opportunities due to time.

This is also a good time to prepare all potential documents.  If you only have a resume so far, draft a cover letter and seek out at least 2-4 professional recommendations to have on file.

Short and sweet

A professional application is short and sweet! You may think you need to elaborate or sound wordy to be impressive, but employers receive a ton of applications.  They will greatly appreciate that you kept to the most essential information.

Use bullets

Along with keeping things short and sweet, don’t be afraid to use bullet points liberally! It allows employers to easily scan your information for items that jump out, and keeps information in bite-sized pieces.

You can utilize bullet points in all areas of your application - the cover letter and resume, as well as any other documents required by the posting.

Free from errors

If you want to submit a professional application, it should be free from spelling and grammatical errors. Take the time to really proofread well, and ask a friend or family member to take a look as well.  We can miss small errors by seeing the same piece of writing so many times, so don’t be afraid to have several sets of eyes on it.

Errors and mistakes can make you come across as careless, even if that couldn’t be further from the truth.  It’s worth the extra time to ensure that all of your materials are perfect!

All materials

These days, not all job postings are standard.  Some of them require additional writing samples, tests, and so on.  You need to read very carefully! They’re often looking for someone who follows directions.

Be sure that you include everything that is asked for, and don’t include other things that are not.  Each employer usually has a very specific skill set and documents that they’re requiring, so it’s best to stick to that.

To start, ensure that you have a cover letter, solid, updated resume, and recommendations, which can either be attached or ready upon request. This will give you a foundation, and any other requested materials can be created quickly!

Published in Work from Home Tips

There’s nothing more disheartening than sending out job application after job application and not getting a reply to a single one. This is especially true when you’re trying to find a work-at-home job, feeling isolated but trying to stay on task job-hunting instead of binging the latest Netflix show. The struggle is real - but I’ve got a few tips to help your applications get noticed!

Read and follow the instructions in the job listing.

Remember how every teacher you’ve ever had told you again and again: read the instructions? Follow the instructions! Don’t ignore the instructions! Well, that’s the first rule in getting your application noticed too. Read the instructions, and follow them to the letter.

Some companies even throw a trick into the instructions - seriously. For example, the instructions may direct you to put a certain word into the subject line of your email. This proves that you read completely through the job listing and application instructions. Congratulations! You make it through the first round, and you’d be surprised to hear how many don’t. Other companies might instruct you not to include any attachments with your initial email, specifying that any emails with attachments will be deleted unread. (A worthy precaution on today’s Internet.) If you skip over that request and include your résumé as an attachment? You won’t even be considered, no matter how qualified you are for the job.

Following directions is the easiest “in” you’ll ever get with a company, so don’t skip over this simple step.

Personalize each email introduction or cover letter.

My next tip is equally as straightforward: personalize every cover letter or email introduction that you send. Start with who to address your letter to - researching the company in question should turn up who’s head of HR or hiring. If you can’t find out the person’s name, address your email to the Human Resources department or to the Hiring Manager.

Follow that personalization up with a letter that shows you’ve looked into the company and understand who they are and what they do. Focus on how your skills and experience can help you deliver on the company’s promise to their clients. Try to give specific examples of what you’ve accomplished previously that back up your claims of how you can be an asset to them.

Whatever you do, don’t write one letter and send it everywhere you’re applying. Hiring managers see enough form letters that they’ll most likely pick up on it and delete your application before reading any further. It is okay to write the overall structure of a letter once and use it as a template - I know there’s nothing scarier than a blank page, especially when you need to sell yourself. Just make sure you’re tweaking and customizing it for each application.

Tailor your résumé for each position.

Just as you must personalize each cover letter for each job application, you should also tailor your résumé for each application. As much as we’d love to believe every résumé is one-size-fits-all, they’re just not. You might be able to get away with one résumé for each job type - say you’re applying for writing jobs, teaching or tutoring jobs, and customer service jobs. Say you also have relevant experience for each. You could make three different résumés: one that prioritizes your skills and experience related to tutoring children in a certain subject, another that highlights your amazing customer service capabilities, and so on.

In fact, having a résumé for each job position you’re pursuing is one of the more efficient ways to manage your time when job hunting. You do the bulk of the work up front when you write your résumés, and then simply tweak it when you find a position you’d love to land.

How should you tweak your résumé for each job application? Look at the job listing, and pay attention to the specific qualifications they’re looking for. Note which ones they list first, or seem to put the most emphasis on. Then make sure your résumé uses similar language and puts your most desirable qualifications first.

Use keywords to stand out.

This tactic for getting your work-at-home application noticed is a little trickier, but it’s a great skill to develop to improve your chances at jobs that attract tons of applicants. Essentially, you need to use the right keywords in your résumé to get your application in front of an actual person. That’s right: sometimes you need résumé SEO to beat an applicant tracking system (ATS).

The problem is that some large companies receive applications in such high volume that it’s impossible for them to examine each one. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day. So, they use a set of keywords and an applicant tracking system to automatically weed out those résumés that don’t feature the correct qualifications for the job. Of course, this means that you might have the best qualifications in the world, but you’re never going to get your résumé read if you don’t use the correct keywords.

A great way to choose the best keywords is by getting specific - use terminology that’s unique to the industry and position, and make sure you both use common acronyms and spell out what that acronym stands for. For example: “Certified Coding Specialist (CCS).” The Muse has some other great tips to help beat the robots.

Be concise but memorable.

My last tip is this: follow the KISS rule, but also be memorable. KISS means “Keep It Simple, Sister,” of course, and is a great mnemonic device that’ll keep you from getting long-winded or muddled in your cover letter, introductory email, or résumé. But keeping it simple doesn’t mean being bland, boring, and just like every other applicant in their giant pool of applications. Instead, infuse a bit of creativity into your application - use a unique subject line (while still following any instructions given about the subject line!). Write a sentence or two that’s funny, or surprising while describing what you can do for the company - just make sure it’s also appropriate and accurate! Don’t promise anything you can’t deliver. 

With these tactics in your back pocket, you should be well on your way to breaking free from the crowd and getting a hiring manager interested in you. Good luck, and drop me a line about how these tips work out for you!

 

Author Bio: Angie Nelson began working from home in 2007 when she took her future into her own hands and found a way to escape the corporate cubicle farm. Today she shares her passion for making money from home on her blog The Work at Home Wife. Visit her site for a great list of places to find virtual assistant jobs.

Published in Work from Home Tips
Monday, 20 February 2017 18:29

6 Tips for a Stand Out Job Application

 

We all know what’s needed to apply to a job - a strong cover letter, resume, and great references.  Unfortunately, this isn’t enough to secure an interview or the job!  Those hiring today are truly looking for quality applicants, and that doesn’t just include your experience.

Quality applicants take the time to truly invest themselves in the hiring process, and in turn, receive much more response from these applications.  Check out our top tips for a job application that stands out!

Read the description

First and foremost, take the time to really learn about the position for which you are applying.  When you really want a job, it’s best to focus on those positions that excite you while playing to your professional strengths.

To stand out on your application, include words and skills that you have that match the job description.  This presents your qualifications in the best light, while showing that you paid attention and took the time to apply specifically for that position.

Learn about the company

If you want to be a stellar applicant, you must take some time to learn about the company.  Read their website, visit social media profiles, read press releases, news articles, and so on.  It’s also helpful to read about the industry, especially if there isn’t too much information available from a specific company.

This helps you to prepare for the interview, but it also allows you to be more connected to the application process.  This exercise might also help you realize, one way or another, if you’re the best fit for this particular company.  In speaking with a hiring manager, you may have to answer questions that include a bit about the company and why it’s a fit, so take the time in the beginning to really get to know them.

It’s also helpful to ask yourself, “How can I best contribute?”  Learning about the company will also show you where they shine and where they struggle, allowing you an opening to show where you would best fit in.

Be precise

Make sure your grammar and and spelling is impeccable! Your application should truly have zero mistakes and put your best foot forward.

To avoid any errors, run all spell check and grammatical checks in your word processing program, but also send your resume to friend and/or family members who may be willing to help.  Having a few extra sets of eyes look over your work can truly be the difference between a stellar and mediocre application.

Be prepared

When you decide to embark on your job search, gather all of your information into one place.  In addition, create a checklist that ensures that you have everything you need to be successful.  Create or edit your resume, draft a brief (but bulleted) cover letter, contact your references, and be specific to the position in all of this.  With all of these materials ready to go, you’ll be set to go when the right position presents itself.

It’s much easier to set aside time before your job search, and it avoids procrastination in applying, as well as forgetting anything when you come across an ideal opportunity.

Be specific

Create each cover letter and resume for each job position.  You shouldn’t have to change your resume too much, but you can still spend some time focusing on specific sought-after skills and experience to highlight.   Focus on the best attributes for this particular position, not simply which results or experienced that you liked best.

Also, ensure that your cover letter is specific to the job position.  Hiring managers and employers don’t want to feel like you aren’t a good fit, nor do they want to feel like you’ve just sent your information in a mass spree to dozens of other jobs.  Show that you took the time to highlight what they’re seeking, and your response should be much greater!

Put in your best effort

The ultimate hiring decision is up to the company or hiring manager, but you can send the time to put forth your best self.  It’s very apparent when an applicant takes the time to do their best, which will reflect in you receiving more calls and interviews.  

It can seem daunting to create separate documents and edits for each position, but that’s why you should truly pick positions for which you’re qualified for and very interested in.  Invest the time and care in those applications that will be a great fit for you, and you’ll find that you might be the ideal match for your future employer!

Published in Work from Home Tips
Monday, 16 January 2017 14:58

4 Keys to a Strong Job Application

It’s the time of year that we reflect and reevaluate our goals, and that often includes our careers.  If you’re feeling stuck, or you know it’s time to move on, your job application will be a valuable tool in the upcoming months.

While you may have a solid cover letter and resume complete, read along to ensure that you’re well-prepared and ready to take on the job market.

Reference ready

Do you have references ready to go?  You will likely want to note this in your resume and cover letter, as it shows that you are ready and willing for employers to speak to those who will vouch for you.

Be sure to set up your references ahead of time, so that these people have adequate time to prepare their notes and/or a letter of recommendation.  It’s a good idea to have 2-3 solid references on file, both in writing and available by phone or email for contact.  Ensure that these are people that you’ve worked for or spoken with in the not-so-distant future, so they’re able to speak to your current work and characteristics.

Strong but brief letter

Your cover letter should be thorough - but also brief.  This is the challenge of a great cover letter! Begin by conveying your interest in the specific position and company, followed by demonstrating why you’re the best person for the job.

From here, it’s best to include relevant positions and skills that are a match to the position, which is best presented with bullet points.  No one likes to be faced with huge walls of text, so bullets are a welcome break, and employers are able to digest your information in bite-sized bits.  This is a huge help to them, which helps your chances and makes your information appear more deliberate and efficient.

Resume without errors

Don’t go through all the trouble of writing a cover letter and resume without considering grammatical errors! From spelling to spacing to grammar issues, nothing is worse than discovering that you’ve made an easily-avoided error.  It’s better to take the time to fix them before they’re sent in, which can be accomplished with a keen eye and some help from family and friends.  Send your job materials to as many people as possible, and be open to feedback and revisions.

In addition to a resume without errors, it should also be concise.  Keep your resume to a maximum of two pages, and be sure to only include relevant information.  This is more labor-intensive, but it makes a huge difference to employers.

Confidence in your abilities

The number one tool you can bring to your job application is confidence in your abilities - and in yourself.  While you can have pages full of experience and accomplishments, if you lack the confidence to back it up, you will look less prepared to take on the job.  Job skills are incredibly important, but soft skills like communication and confidence are also key.  

When you have confidence in your ability to do the job well, your potential employer will sense this, giving them more confidence in you.  Since an employer doesn't yet know you at this point, it’s a great time to speak to them with authority and expertise with what you know you are capable of accomplishing!

Published in Work from Home Tips