Wanted: Valuable Skills

It probably comes as no surprise that your list of skills is a pivotal part of your resume. Your skills are what defines your working ability and, as you may have guessed, your potential employer is looking for specific skills that show you are the right person for the job. Many jobs require a list of technical skills, but other skills are universally sought after by employers. And while your Skills section on your resume looks amazing on paper, you also need to back them up and demonstrate your abilities for each.

Communication

Communication skills are universal; all employers want an employee who can effectively speak and, in most cases, write. Listening is also a large part of communication. So how do you demonstrate your communication skills?

The first step is your resume. Your resume should be efficiently written and free of spelling and grammatical errors.

The next step is being prepared for your interview. Before your interview, practice your responses to the typical interview questions; this helps you quickly and effectively answer the questions in a precise manner. Look your interviewer in the eye, answer quickly, and know what questions you want to ask.

Multi-tasking

Multi-tasking is a strong skill for anyone to have. Being able to handle different projects at one time helps the interviewer gauge your ability to work under deadlines and get things done.

To showcase your multi-tasking skill, make a mental list of times you were “under the gun” and got things done correctly. Put a large emphasis on difficult tasks you completed in previous jobs. Let your interviewer know how you prioritize tasks and can juggle multiple projects at one time.

Problem-solving

Problem-solving is another universally demanded skill. People with this skill are able to be in a difficult situation and come up with creative ways to overcome them. Problem-solving is an ideal skill for anyone who works in a customer service position, but it’s also imperative for other fields. Give examples of difficult situations you overcame and how you did so.

Conclusion

While these are only three examples of universally sought after skills, they are three of the most important. During your interview, ensure you are able to effectively communicate your skills and develop an action plan to show your interviewer why you’re the best candidate for the job.

New Resume Trends vs the Basics

Today’s technologically savvy world requires a few twists on things we once considered the norm or status quo. Your resume is no different; there are a few basic “rules” that still apply while new trends are stepping in and merging with the “old way.”

Creating a resume is sometimes difficult, especially with the ultra-competitive job market. You know it needs to stand out without being falsified; it needs to be to-the-point while still showcasing your skills and achievements.

The standard resume rules (read that as required information) that still apply are as follows:

  • Contact Information

    • Make sure your email address is professional (your name is always a good start)

  • Work Experience

    • Highlight your work history including skills and achievements at each position

  • Education

    • Only if you have higher education or have taken classes outside of high school

  • Qualifications

    • Certificates you’ve achieved, past training

  • Achievements

    • Brag a little — if you’ve received any achievements or recognition, let it be known

  • Keywords

    • Buzzwords are all the rage and can be the deciding factor on whether or not your resume gets noticed. Some hiring managers rely on software that picks out keywords, so add them in. They will also stand out to the eye of a hiring manager that goes through resumes manually.

New Trends to Consider

Of course the basics are solid, time-tested and downright important; that being said, however, it may be time to take the next step as far as your resume is concerned. Show off your web skills and savvy by employing one — or more — of the following new trends:

  • Tweeting

    • Harness the power of the almighty tweet — but only if you have a Twitter account with a large number of followers AND you’re professional on your account (you use it more as a branding tool than a personal platform).

  • YouTube

    • Make a short, 1- to 2-minute professional video resume and upload it to YouTube. These videos give you a little edge — the employer gets to see you and get a feel for your personality.

  • Infographics

    • Jump on the infographics bandwagon and create a professional, colorful and efficient infographic that will stand out. If you don’t know what you’re doing, hire someone or skip it! A poorly created graphic will be an eyesore and turnoff to potential employers.

If you choose to employ the hot, tech-savvy trends, follow some of the basic rules of resume building: Target your resume to the job you’re after, be specific, and be ready to supply supporting facts to anything on there.

 

Tips for a Successful Job Search

Oh, the dreaded job search. For many of those out of work or looking to better their careers, the job search isn’t a simple search, it’s a time-consuming dilemma that may as well be a job you’re not getting paid to do. Frustrating doesn’t even come close to describing the job search process for most.

If you have been on the hunt for a new job or career for any length of time, the job search has probably become mundane. You may sit at your computer for hours scrolling through pages and pages of job titles, all of which don’t seem appealing because you’ve seen 1.73 billion links on the page to jobs you aren’t qualified for, don’t pay enough for your bills or something else.

Take a fresh approach to your job search by following a few of these tips:

  • Reach Out

○      If nobody close to you knows you’re looking for a job, you’re potentially missing out on some networking options.

■      Someone close to you (family or friends) may know of a prime opportunity somewhere, maybe somewhere that they work.

  • This can help you more than you know; employers are likely to hire a qualified individual that comes with a recommendation from a current employee.
  • Network

○      Get out there and meet people. It’s not as difficult as it seems. You never know who you’re going to meet. Social gatherings, such as dinner parties, are ideal venues for meeting new people.

■      You don’t need to introduce yourself by saying “I need a new career.” Bringing up your current position in casual conversation, however, can lead to an opportunity for fruitful conversation.

  • Spruce up Your Resume

○      Your resume needs to be targeted to the career path you’re looking for.

■      Today’s job market isn’t easy which has led to many seekers applying to many different types of positions. Your resume needs to be targeted to the career or job.

  • Having a couple versions of your resume isn’t always a bad thing, especially if you’re looking at jobs which are completely unrelated to each other.
  • Get Prepared

○      Print off fresh copies of your resume to have at the tip of your fingers whenever you may need one.

○      Keep a few copies in a folder in your car or briefcase; you never know when you’ll meet someone.

  • Keep Track of Your Contacts

○      It’s difficult, but worth it. Keep a spreadsheet or handwritten paper that details which job you applied to and when.

○      Keep a contact file that has names, phone numbers and email addresses of people you’ve interviewed with or spoken with.

■      Send out thank you notes to people you’ve interviewed with.

If you’re sitting at the computer for hours a night or flipping through the pages of your newspaper looking for leads, switching up your game plan can help you keep your sanity while giving you a fresh pair of eyes.

Polishing Your Cover Letter

Your cover letter can mean the difference between landing an interview and having your application tossed into a rejection pile. While your resume is an outline of your greatest career accomplishments, experience and skills, the cover letter is your chance to truly introduce yourself to your potential interviewer. You can expand on your resume while highlighting your ability to communicate effectively through written word.

Like your resume, one of the easiest mistakes to avoid is spelling errors. Nothing turns off potential employers more — especially during the application stage — than gross spelling or grammatical errors.

While there are many spell-checkers online, even in common word-processing programs, beware that they won’t catch common spelling confusions such as transposing letters or homonyms. Advanced spelling/grammar checkers can help you out, but you’ll still need a dedicated eye to catch where you put “hear” instead of “here,” “fate” instead of “feat” and so on. Having another person read it over can help, as well, so call up that one friend who happens to be particularly skilled in the writing department.

Your cover letter should be professional-yet-personal, business-yet-casual. Don’t try to be funny and steer away from puns. Your letter should start out with a personal greeting (Tip: Make a call or research to find out the head of the department or human resources), offer relevant details about the position and introduce you in a professional manner.

Your cover letter shouldn’t just spell out your resume in paragraph format, it should, ideally, explain your resume and add to it. This is your opportunity to shine, so to speak, so do so. Explain any training you’ve gone through or special achievements. Like your resume, your cover letter is a tool in helping to sell yourself to your potential employer.

After you’ve written your cover letter, go over it with a fine-toothed comb. After you’ve read it, read it again. After that, have someone close to you read it and ask them for their honest opinion on your writing, mistakes and content. The cover letter needs to make an impact and is not an accessory to your resume, but a complementing partner to it.

Mistake-Proofing Your Resume

In a competitive job market — much like so many are experiencing now, an outstanding resume can mean the difference between getting a call for an interview or it going to the next resume in the pile. Making your resume stand out among the stack of dozens, hundreds or, in some cases, thousands of resumes the employer receives is almost always a positive thing, unless, of course, it’s sticking out for the wrong reasons.

A great resume always includes contact information, including your first and last names, phone number and a professional-sounding email address. Throughout the resume, dates are listed as well as pertinent skills.

Spell Check

Although it may seem redundant in the time of technology we live in, spell check is more than necessary on your resume and you should always check it through a dedicated spell check application and on your own. After all, almost nothing will stick out to a potential employer than misspelled words. You don’t want to say a “Bachelorette” when you mean to write “Baccalaureate” in your education section. Within the same line of thought is to always spell out your words unless you’re using widely accepted or industry-specific acronyms or abbreviations. Although “text speak” may be acceptable on social media platforms and, well, texting, it’s not acceptable on your resume.

Keep it Relevant

Your resume should be relevant to the position — and nothing else. Even if you have a “Skills” section, the skills you list should offer support to the position. Explain — briefly — what a skill will offer to the position if the relevance doesn’t automatically present itself.

Keeping the information on your resume relevant also means not offering personal information, particularly involving your personal life. Your potential interviewer may ask certain questions about your personal life to get to know you during an interview, and you should keep it at that.

In this same line of thinking, your resume should be tailored to the position you’re applying for. During these economic times and this competitive job market, many people are applying to several different positions at the same time. If you’re one of these people, making several resumes tailored to each industry is your best bet.

Deciding What to Exclude

Your resume should always be honest — never lie. That being said however, you may choose to exclude certain work experiences or other experiences. The resume should highlight your skills and what you will offer to the company. In essence, your resume is a sales brochure for you. A good resume gets you noticed, a great resume gets your foot in the door for an interview.

Exclude very short past work experiences and highlight work experiences that pertain directly to your potential position. If none of your past work experiences are in the same industry as the position you’re applying to, offer your best work experiences and the skills you gained that will pertain to the position.

Conclusion

Having your resume stand out is a requirement, but having it stand out because you consistently misspelled words or mentioned personal information instead of skills can cost you the interview.