With the high rate of unemployment and so many people clamoring after the same jobs, it pays to stay ahead of the employment game. The trick is discovering and perfecting ways and means of doing so. If you are performing a sales vacancy search, there are many other job seekers doing the same thing. One of the best ways to stand out is to boost your job profile to get noticed by prospective employers. Here are five easy tips that will help:
The purpose of a resume is to get you an interview. Using the right resume format will make sure your application isn't tossed out just for being unreadable by a machine. Related: Top 7 Resume Trends For 2015 These days, companies screen candidates and resumes in two ways. The first is through Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS). All resumes (including those directly emailed to companies) are loaded into the computer, parsed and automatically searched for a match with keywords from job announcements (or keywords entered into the system by the recruiter/hiring manager). Only those resumes that have a good keyword match are selected for further review by the hiring manager. If a resume cannot be read by the Applicant Tracking Systems, it is rejected. The second method recruiters and hiring managers use to find candidates is “sourcing” candidates by searching online resumes for possible matches using keywords. Again, if a resume cannot be read by search engines, it will not be selected. Therefore, you should avoid using JPG and PDF files. Many Applicant Tracking Systems can reliably read only text or Word files without tables. Applicant Tracking Systems cannot read JPG files at all. If a resume is in JPG format, it will not even be seen by the hiring manager. In addition, many older Applicant Tracking Systems also cannot read PDF files, and if an applicant submits a PDF that is not readable, it will also be rejected. You may be the most qualified candidate, but that you will not be chosen for an interview unless the Applicant Tracking System can read your resume. If you want a fancy online resume, using PDF as a format is far preferable to JPG, since PDF files can be searched for keywords by search engines. As noted above, you want hiring managers and recruiters to find your resume through online searches. If a search engine cannot read the resume, you will not be found. I strongly recommend using simple Word formats for resumes, with standard fonts, no tables and margins of at least 0.6 inches. Resumes like that will print on all printers, will not be rearranged even by outdated versions of Word, can be read by Applicant Tracking Systems and can be searched online. This post was originally published on an earlier date.
In the last article of our How To Stand Out series, life coach Bibi Caspari talked about how considering your passions can help separate any job seeker from the competition. Though passions are powerful, Caspari also finds that defining your strengths in order to articulate them to your potential employer is another way to help a job seeker stand out. Watch: 3 Tips For Making Your Resume Stand Out To Recruiters “Everybody has strengths,” said Caspari. Caspari works with a lot of at-risk individuals, both youth and adult. She's found they typically feel they don’t have a whole lot to offer a company because they’ve been in jail or prison. They don’t think they can get hired, which sets them up for failure. “A lot of people don’t see their own strengths,” said Caspari. “Whether you’ve done time or not, getting a fresh perspective from a life or career coach can help you notice things about yourself you never thought could be strengths in the workplace.” But how does one even begin to define strengths or how to stand out? One of Caspari’s courses, "Looking at Strengths," helps answer this question by asking five questions that help individuals pinpoint what they are good at. The questions include:
- What kind of activities do I like to do?
- What makes me happy?
- What are my talents and skills?
- What are my accomplishments?
- What are my best qualities?
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When you're presenting yourself to employers, you want to stand out from the crowd. Some people try to use gimmicks, like pink resume paper or a quirky cover letter. These kinds of attempts nearly always backfire; they scream "I'm trying too hard! I don't have any other way to stand out!" and discredit your candidacy. Related: How To Stand Out To Employers When Applying Online Instead of relying on a gimmick, choose one of these ways to stand out to employers and hop head-and-shoulders over the hundreds of "uniquely qualified" candidates.
Prove You're Serious With A Professional WebsiteThe first thing a hiring manager is going to do, when he or she is interested in your candidacy, is search your name. Yes, you need a LinkedIn account and a professional-looking Facebook page, but every candidate is going to have one of those. Go a step further by having your own professional website be the very first hit an employer sees, when searching your name online. Either design your website yourself, or use a service like About.me to create a professional website. Make sure the site includes your contact information, a flattering photo, a resume, and a portfolio of your work as applicable.
Illustrate Your Career With A Graphical ResumeYou'll want to give a standard, 1-to-2 page resume as part of your application. However, you also want to include a graphical resume as part of your professional website. A graphical website helps you make connections between areas of your career that aren't immediately visible on a standard written resume. Designer Michael Anderson used a graphical resume to show how his work history tracked with his growth in skills, as well as how much time he spends every day working in different design applications. A graphical resume is a good way to show employers that your skills match their needs. It's easy to leave the words "increased sales by 50%" on a resume, but hiring managers will better process that information in a colorful bar graph or chart. Create a graphical resume, then make it a key part of your professional website.
Answer The "Strengths And Weaknesses" Questions With A Personal ReviewYou know those tried-and-true interview questions you're going to get asked? Hit the bar out of the gate in advance by adding a personal review component to your professional website. A good personal review is positive, and clearly shows both your strengths as well as the areas in which you're working towards improvement. Brand.com reviews are good examples of deftly placed profiles that also serve as online reputation management. The purpose of the personal review is to show employers that you are, in fact, a person; that you understand how to work well with others (perhaps by illustrating an example of how you handled conflict in the workplace), and that you are aware of both your strengths and your weaknesses. Draft a personal review, and show it to a handful of friends before posting it online. Then make sure it's a link on your professional website.
Show Them You're A Team Player By Learning An Industry SportAs we noted earlier, many industries have associated sports- Silicon Valley and biking or Washington, D.C. and softball, for example. Learn that sport, include it in the hobbies/interests line of your resume, and add it as part of your professional website with a link to a few photos of you in action. The more an employer can picture you as part of the team, the more likely you are to get hired. It's worth noting that all five of these strategies hinge on you developing a polished, professional website. This is one of the most important ways you can set yourself out from other candidates, but it also requires you to get past the initial hurdle of the job hunt: for a hiring manager to search your name or find your website, he or she has to cull your resume out of the stacks first. If that isn't happening, you need to rethink your job strategy, expand your network, and practice other general job hunt guidelines. That way, once a hiring manager pulls your resume out of the pile, you'll be ready to go.
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Just because you may not feel the pressure of layoffs doesn’t mean you can rest on your laurels in your career. Maybe that’s not the situation you’re in. Perhaps, you have a job that makes you unhappy. No matter your scenario, there are plenty of reasons to leave a stable job. Every job is temporary these days. Employers are still complaining about the lack of qualified applicants for their openings, which means there are ample opportunities for smart job seekers to improve their conditions, no matter how good or bad they may be. These signs (and similar points) have simple solutions: with a little homework, you could find the perfect company for your career development.
Signs It's Time To Leave A Stable Sales JobHere are some signs that it's time to leave your stable job:
1. There’s no more room for employee growth, a raise or a promotion.
- Working smart (not just working hard) hasn’t given you a better reputation at work.
- You want a career, not just a job.
- When you negotiate or meet with your boss, it’s more like speaking to a wall than to having a worthwhile discussion.
2. You want a new challenge.
- You’re going through the motions, with every day feeling even more monotonous than the last.
- You feel your talents would work better in another role or another industry.
- You want to meet new people.
3. You want more autonomy.
- You are micromanaged.
- You are taught how to do everything out of an outdated rule book.
- You feel you aren’t given credit for your victories.
4. You want more support.
- No one at your company knows how to help you.
- No one is willing to lend you a hand.
- Your co-workers don’t understand how much work you have to do when you help them.
5. You don’t enjoy your current job.
- You don’t like your boss.
- You don’t like your coworkers.
- You don’t like office politics or unnecessary drama.
6. You don’t like the direction the company is headed in.
- The leaders of the company are unwilling to accept responsibility for big-picture issues.
- Co-workers and bosses of your deflect blame and do the bare minimum to get by.
- Everyone talks a big game, but no one follows through with their ideas or works with others to help their ideas come to fruition.