10 Tips to Improve Verbal Communication in Your Job Search

This post was originally seen on Career Rocketeer and was written by Perry Newman.

Every situation you are in during a job search requires verbal communication so here are some pointers to improve your ability to communicate with others when networking, at a job fair, in a job interview etc.

1) When preparing an “elevator speech” and responses to questions you anticipate being asked during an interview carefully contemplate what you want to say and how you will say it and then consider if it is useful or useless information. Then go over it again to make sure the response is as succinct as possible in getting your point across.

2) Make an effort to know as much as possible about the background, feelings, and knowledge base of the people you speak to because the responses you get are greatly influenced by these factors.

3) During an interview, or when questioned by someone you want to network, avoid speaking in generalizations and speak directly to the question, topic or idea at hand. This will earn you more respect than trying to be evasive.

4) Be genuine. People want to know your opinions so make sure they understand what you have to say [without overkill] before yielding the floor or moving on to a new question or topic.

5) Speak clearly, pleasantly, and with confidence, and throw in a smile or two every so often to make the listener feel he or she is a part of the conversation.

6) If you’re a natural with humor don’t be afraid to use it. People are comfortable with someone who can make them chuckle. Tactful humor in the right situation is OK.

7) Listening is the key element of communication. You can’t respond appropriately if you fail to hear what the other person has to say; especially when it comes to reading the tone, nuances and body language between the lines. When someone else is speaking listen closely with the intention of grasping what they have to say without focusing your mind on formulating an immediate reply.

8) Show that you are interested in what’s being said by others. You can do this in two ways, by asking the right questions at the right time and by making regular eye contact.

9) Conversely pay attention to what you shouldn’t do. Don’t rush, interrupt, or finish the other person’s sentences, or come across as always in the right.

10) Watch your body language. Too much fidgeting, tapping your pen or fingers, eye rolling, or making exasperated faces show that you don’t care what someone is saying.

As always, I’m available to critique U.S. resumes and offer suggestions to you at no cost. You can send me an email with your current resume to perry@perrynewman.com

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Perry Newman CPC/CSMS is a nationally-recognized career services professional; an executive resume writer and career transition coach, certified social media strategist, AIPC certified recruiter and charter member of the Career Rocketeer team. Passionate about all things related to career management, Perry has been critiquing Career Rocketeer readers’ resumes at no cost since 2009. For a complimentary critique, email your resume to perry@perrynewman.com.

What’s Your Personal Brand?

We often equate branding with large companies like Coca-Cola and Apple, but branding is essential on every level from the employee, the team, to the bigger picture of the corporation. When it comes to your personal brand, it’s important you have clearly defined what it is you want to portray to job seekers and future companies.

Not sure where to start? Think about these things.

1. What’s the story you want people to know about you when it comes to your career? Have you climbed the corporate ladder the traditional way, being sure never to miss a step—or have you had some other strategy with super star ideas? Once you define your personal story, you can begin to create your brand in more depth.

2. If you had to pick three words to describe your personality and working-style, what would those words be? Now, once you know those words, go and review everything that represents you and ask yourself if those three words can be felt through what you’ve put in front of someone. Check your LinkedIn, references, resume and even your personal appearance when you show up to a meeting.

3. Next, it’s time to look at the evidence that supports your personal branding story and “feel.” Do you have proof to back up what it is that you want to portray or are you trying to create an image of what you think people want to see from you? If you have the evidence, create a portfolio – even if it’s just for yourself, so you don’t forget. If you lack the evidence, begin to create it. Take on an extra assignment, enroll in additional coursework or find another way to coincide your brand with your actions.

Make a statement about yourself and your career by being clear about what you want to portray. But what you portray isn’t everything, it’s also got to be accurate!

What other tips would you share on creating a personal brand? What are you doing to create yours?

15 Second Resume Test

We often read about the importance of elevator or thirty-second pitches – how we need to know our personal brand well enough to coherently communicate this vision to someone with whom we find ourselves on an elevator.  And while being able to verbalize your brand is critical, we also need to consider what our marketing materials say about us.  What kind of impression is your resume making to a recruiter?  Is the resume communicating your desired message a hiring manager?  If you are not sure, why not take the 15-Second Resume Test?

Ask your friends or colleagues for help. Tell them you are going to give them a document to scan for 15 seconds. Do not mention that the document is a resume or that it is yours.  Hand them a copy of your resume with no header (name/contact information) to make it anonymous – at least initially. Allow your friend to read the document while you keep track of time.  After fifteen seconds take the resume from the reader – do not allow the reader to continue past 15 seconds.  Ask what your friend to tell you what he/she remembers about the document and record their comments.  Keep track of the comments and repeat this test with other friends at least 3 more times.

After a handful reviews, one usually discovers themes from the readers – the common comments tell you what are the most memorable parts of your resume.  In other words, this is what a recruiter is remembering about you, this is what you are promoting as part of your brand.  Now ask yourself if this is the most crucial information you want a hiring manager to remember about you?  If not, you have some work to do in crafting a document that communicates what you want an employer to remember.

So what should a resume communicate in 15 seconds?

  • Work experience for the past 7-10 years (less if a younger professional)
  • Level – are you senior executive, middle management, etc.?
  • What field/industry are you seeking employment?
  • Skills you can offer (technical, language, industry certifications – CPA, CFA)
  • Major accomplishments/tangible results

When crafting your resume, consider your brand and what you want the reader to remember about you and accentuate these pieces on your document.  Then, take the test; you may be surprised by what your resume communicates about you!

Author:

Kevin Monahan is the Associate Director of the Notre Dame Career Center.  In this role, he leads the center’s  employer relations efforts in addition to coaching young professionals in career management and career change capacities. He combines career consulting services with employer outreach to help find opportunities for both constituencies.  He is the author of the Career Seeker’s Guide blog.

This post was originally seen on the Personal Branding blog.

 

5 Ways to Impress Employers at the Top of Your Resume

This post was written by Laura Smith-Proulx and was originally seen on CareerRocketeer.

 

Ever leafed through stacks of resumes, looking for critical skills or words to catch your eye? Ever sat at a job interview and wondered why the company representative seemed lost going through your work history?

If you’ve experienced these situations, you already know why the top half of your resume is so important: it’s difficult to absorb much, if anything, from a quick scan, and the details often don’t register until the interview begins!

Even though most companies have automated the process of scanning your resume from among hundreds, managers eventually turn to the tedious work of sorting through each document, looking for signs of intelligent life.

Instead of fighting this trend, embrace it – and take steps to make your resume pop, right from the beginning:

1 – Tell employers what’s new or relevant.

Just earned your MBA? Fluent in more than one language? Able to relocate wherever you’re needed?

These are details that are meant to be put up front in your resume, as they quickly distinguish you from candidates who are less willing to move, or have a more limited repertoire.

As an example, “Cornell graduate pursuing Executive Leadership certificate at Northwestern” helps demonstrate a commitment to education.  “Canadian citizen; no sponsorship needed” is another example of how to answer an employer’s critical questions (before they begin).

2 – Show your career progression.

If you’ve consistently been promoted, worked at a string of prominent companies, or quickly progressed into roles that show your unique blend of competencies, consider adding a short Career Progression section right up front in your resume.

For executive candidates, this may mean showing “Board of Directors,” “Committee Chairman,” “CEO,” and“Senior Vice President” in a Career History listing on the first page.

A rising star in banking could also list “VP, Strategic Programs at Citibank”  and “Management Associate at HSBC Bank” in a resume summary—quickly showing how you’re qualified to move to the next step.

3 – Give your resume a title.

Instead of launching right into Professional Profile or Qualifications Summary (yawn), consider cutting to the chase with a title that spells out your goal.

Don’t protest; you’ll need to make your ultimate job target obvious to employers, or they WILL pass you by.

You can, of course, straddle the line between career levels with a general title such as “Business Development / Account Executive,” or try going for broke with specifics (“Director, Cloud Services & Managed Hosting Alliances”).

Either way, a bold title tells employers where to categorize your skills, and points them to seek out the reasons you’re uniquely qualified—by reading further, of course.

4 – Try a branding headline.

Also referred to as a tagline, a branding headline does exactly what it should: frame your peak value-add to employers.

Placed front and center on your resume, the branding statement can be as dynamic or conservative as you believe it needs to be, based on the audience for your skills. Keywords or references to your desired career level will help employers hone in on what you offer.

As an example, if you’re pursuing a new position in a highly regulated field such as the audit industry, an appropriate tagline could be “Municipal Audit Leader Behind Large-Scale Cost Recovery & Compliance.”

A sales professional, on the other hand, might try a headline with more energy, such as “Aggressive Retail Sales Expert Creating Multimillion-Dollar Deals.”

5 – Present your ROI right away.

There’s no law of resume writing that says you must hide the good stuff until later in the document. In fact, you can start off with a bang by describing achievements within the first few lines of your resume.

“$400M+ growth with launch of Cloud Partner offering in Q3 2012, leading to $800M forecasted 2013 results”says more about your ability to get results than a list of sales skills.

In short, don’t settle for writing your resume the same way, hoping for different results!

Recruiters and hiring managers are crazy-busy looking for the perfect candidate, with little time to read your resume and absorb every detail. The top part of your resume can be as important as the remainder of the document – all put together.

Make it easier for them to spot key qualifications by trumpeting core facts front and center, where they’re much more likely to land you a coveted interview.

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Laura Smith-Proulx, award-winning executive resume writer and founder of An Expert Resume, is a former recruiter who partners with CIO, CFO, CCO, COO, CTO, CEO, SVP, and Director candidates to win top jobs at Fortune-ranked corporations. A credentialed Professional Resume Writer, Career Management Coach, Interview Coach, Social Networking (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter) Career Strategist, and Personal Branding Analyst, she is the author of How to Get Hired Faster: 60+ Proven Tips & Resources to Access the Hidden Job Market, with work featured in 8 career bestsellers. She serves as a media source to Wall Street Journal FINS, CIO.com, AOLJobs.com, LocalJobNetwork.com, and other outlets.

4 Tips to Go from Job Seeker to Employed Professional

(This post was originally seen on the Simply Hired blog, written by Grace Williamson.)

As you prepare your new job search or transition to another career field, here are four essential strategies that will help you stand apart and land the job.

Refine your Resume

The first step to a successful job search is creating a well-written resume. It’s important to select a format that aligns with your career goals. If you’re a traditional job seeker and intend to remain in the same career field, a chronological resume is the best option. However, if you’re trying to break into a new field, you may consider using a functional resume. The functional format allows you to demonstrate your proficiency by focusing on specific skill sets instead of relying solely on your work history and previous positions.

Include keywords that will pique the interest of hiring managers and recruiters. Find and reiterate words that are included in job listings that refer to specific skills or functions sought by the employer. Most companies use applicant tracking software to initially review resumes and online applications by searching for assigned keywords. Integrating keywords will improve your qualification ranking and possibly get you one step closer to an interview.

Lastly, make sure you use spellcheck and proofread.  Nothing hurts your credibility more than stating you have strong attention to detail followed by typos or factual errors in your resume.

Audit your Online Presence

Many companies conduct online searches to see what they can learn about candidates before an interview. Keep private information private by utilizing the appropriate privacy settings on social networks. Google yourself and review the results. Be sure to remove any information that may be difficult or embarrassing to explain during an interview. Auditing your online presence will ensure that you have an opportunity to create a positive first impression.

Use LinkedIn

Sync your LinkedIn information with your resume—there shouldn’t be any inconsistencies. If you don’t have a LinkedIn account, sign up for one immediately! Connect with coworkers, employers, and other professionals in your field. It’s a great way to join professional groups, stay informed about industry trends, and grow your network. Consider asking for recommendations or endorsements from trusted colleagues and supervisors to draw attention to your accomplishments and to showcase the quality of your work. Encourage your connections to endorse your skills and write recommendations for you.

Use your connections to your advantage. Check LinkedIn to see if you’re connected to someone in the organization to which you’re applying. LinkedIn connections may help you obtain an interview especially if your shared connection is willing to act as a professional reference. You can also research information about a hiring manager in preparation for a meeting.

Prepare for the Interview

Do your research and be prepared to clearly articulate what you know about the company and how your job relates to its mission. Provide examples of accomplishments that demonstrate your skill level and proficiency. Practice common interview questions so that simple inquiries such as, “Tell me about yourself,” prompt you to give engaging answers that clearly demonstrate how you can deliver outstanding results. Practice succinct responses to these types of common questions and you’ll appear professional and polished in your response and delivery.

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Grace Williamson is the Senior Manager of Corporate and Strategic Relationships at American Public University.  As a certified career counselor with a strong background in employer relations and career services, she has lectured on many topics related to private industry and federal careers for Transition Assistance Programs at Walter Reed, West Point, and other military installations.  Grace serves as an adjunct college professor and has instructed courses in computer science, management, business and communications at private universities.  Grace has many years of experience in academia focused on establishing strategic relationships with Fortune 500 employers, federal agencies and government contractors interested in hiring students and alumni.  She is passionate about education and has a special interest in supporting career transition for federal service employees, military veterans and their dependents.