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Optimizing Your Resume with Buzzwords

Most likely, when you apply for a position your application doesn’t go straight into the inbox of a recruiter; you’re added to a database of possibly hundreds of other applicants. The recruiter will then search through the database using strategic keywords to figure out which resumes are most likely to meet their needs. Their strategy is designed to get to the best candidates fastest, by selecting the criteria that matter to them, then evaluating candidates who are the most promising. You need a strategy to optimize your chances of appearing in the “promising” pile. We’ll focus here on the word choices and keywords that can help you move closer to your next job.

To optimize your resume’s keywords, it’s very useful to use similar words in the job description- of course, only if you are skilled in those areas and have the experience to show it. By leveraging the skills you already have that are also keywords in a job description, your resume is a step ahead of those who didn’t check for strategic vocabulary first. Also, make sure to include industry-specific wording. This step helps you to stand out in an electronic search, but also helps the recruiter think of you in terms of their ideal candidate. Don’t make them match your experience to her needs. Show that you’re already a match.

Never use passive verbs in your resume; if you led a specific part of a task or project, say exactly that. Don’t mention “assisting” or “aiding” the entire project when you can take control and responsibility of a certain area. Use these strong verbs to start off your bullet points, and make sure to state when an assignment was successful or not- never leave the reader wondering about the outcome.

Know thyself. Do you lead, plan, organize? Analyze, report, evaluate?  Represent, promote, advertise? Each of these groups of words begins to create a mental map of a set of prominent skills, which map better onto certain roles (managerial, quantitative, and communications respectively). This is of particular interest for people looking to switch industries. Focus on the verbs and wording of the field you want to be in, using your past experience to illustrate those skills.

For additional help, here are some lists of resume buzz words:

This is a guest post contributed by the Ivy Exec Blog, an exclusive site where pre-screened, high caliber professionals find relevant job opportunities with leading companies.

5 Things to Bring to a Job Interview

You finally landed a job interview. Congratulations! After patting yourself on the shoulder, you need to start preparing for it right away. Interviews are about 80% preparation and 20% execution. You cannot leave anything to chance on your big day. It is important to remember all of the little details. As I said before, it is the details in life that counts.

I heard a story of a man that went on an interview for his dream job. He was introduced to the hiring manager and hit it off right away. However, when the hiring manager asked for his resume, this man simply forgot to bring a copy. The interview went downhill from there. The company did not make him an offer. He said if he had not forgotten to bring his resume, he would have landed the job. On the day of your interview, these are the 5 things you need to bring with you.

1. Resume copies

Interviewers usually have a copy of your resume. However, don’t assume that the people interviewing you will always have a copy of your resume. Printers do break down or run out of ink. My advice is to print out your resume on nice professional paper. Make a few copies just in case you will be interviewed by many people.

2. A pen and notepad

You don’t want to look silly when you need to write something down but don’t have a pen. Your future employer will probably make a mental note that you did not bring something as simple as a pen to an interview.

You need to have something to write during an interview. When interviewing candidates, I pay attention to whether they have a notepad with them to jot down notes while we talk. If you want to stand out from the crowd, bring a notepad. It is even better when you use it during the interview.

3. Questions

Don’t forget to bring a list of questions to ask the hiring manager. Some people forget to do this in their rush to prepare for the interview. They think they can just make up some questions during the interview. I believe the questions you ask is just as important as your replies to questions. Never leave this to chance. In the heat of the moment, your mind might freeze up and you will forget to ask those great questions you wrote down before the interview. So bring your questions along.

4. References or testimonials

Some interviews require you to bring a list of references so that the hiring manager can check them afterwards.  Depending on your industry, it might be common practice to bring along your references. Testimonials are also another form of references that can really make you stand out from the crowd. Testimonials let the hiring manager know how great other people think you are.

5. Work samples

Certain professions might require you to bring some of your work to show the interviewer. For example, a programmer can show his/her latest coding projects on a laptop or iPad. An artist can show his/her portfolio of creative work.

Job Search Myth: There Are No Jobs In The Summer Months

We are quickly approaching the summer months. The summer months are usually associated with lazy days at the beach or family vacations. Most job seekers mistakenly believe that hiring slows down during summer time. This is not true. I have successfully landed jobs during the summer months and also done a lot of hiring during this period. I sometimes browse the job boards during the summer time and the number of jobs listed decreases a bit but you don’t see a major drop off.

Although the summer seems like a slow time for business because everyone takes vacations, the majority of companies do hire in the summer months. And if you’re looking for a job right now, you can actually take advantage of the summertime job market.

In fact, the summer months can be the most fruitful because employers are more likely to read your resume and ask you to come in for an interview. There is less work pressure and demands because the summer months are usually the slowest months at most companies. They will have more time to devote to searching for and interviewing job candidates. Also people tend to be in a better mood when it is sunny and warm. You can use this to your advantage.

The best time to apply for a job is when you need one. The month of the year should not dictate your decision on whether to launch your job search. If you are looking for a job from now until September, you should not slow down under the mistaken assumption that employers are not hiring. You should be consistent in your job search efforts regardless of the time of year. If you stop your job search, you could miss out on some great opportunities.  And you may face less competition if other job seekers are buying into the summer slowdown myth. If you are thinking about looking for a new job, there is never a better time to look than the present. Don’t let the “summertime job market myth” stand in your way of your goals.

7 Signs You Should Quit Your Job

We have all decided at one time or another to quit our jobs. It might be for various reasons such as not getting along with the boss, the stress that the job is putting on you or the simple fact that you are being underpay. Working at a job you can’t stand is a waste of your time and life. We spend countless hours each year working. If the work is no longer making us happy, it is our responsibility to decide if it is time to move on to something else. Before you do anything drastic such as quitting your job, you should start job hunting or have another opportunity waiting in the wings. It is not wise to leave your current job without having a solid plan of what you are going to do next. Below are the 7 signs that will tell you that you need to quit your job.

1. The work stress is affecting other areas of your life.

It is okay to sometimes be stressed because of work. What is not okay is when it starts to affect your physical and mental well-being. If you are having trouble sleeping, unhappy, anxious, always think about work even when you are not in the office, or come home very tired, these are some of the alarm bells that you need to pay attention to. You need to determine if this stress is a temporary situation or something more chronic. If it is happening everyday and you feel it is not improving, this can be a wake-up call that you need to decide if it is better to quit your job.

2. You dread going to work.

Do you feel terrible on Sunday nights because you know you have to go to work the next day? Do you feel like not waking up or getting out of bed to go to work? Do you daydream of other places or other things you can be doing besides going to the office? Do you start counting the minutes until it is time to go home? Do you pray for the weekends to come sooner? Do you feel an enormous sense of relief when the day ends? These are red flags that the job might not be right for you.  

3. Your company is in trouble.

When you start to see layoffs and other signs of financial troubles at your company, it can be a good reason to bail. Sometimes sticking it out to the bitter end is not the wisest decision especially if you can relate to the other signs on this article. A few years ago I worked at a mortgage company. When I started to hear about the problems the company were going through, I decided to find another job. A few months later, I heard the whole department that I had worked was let go.

4. You are not being fairly compensated.

If you feel you are not getting paid comparable to your peers or industry average, this can a good sign that it is time to polish up the old resume. The constant worry about money is not good for your health and livelihood. You need to decide if it is worth working at a company that is causing you so much financial difficulties.

5. Not getting along with the boss and/or co-workers.

If your relationship with your boss and/or co-workers are not as good as it should be, it might be time to look for another job. If you are not getting along with people at work, it will affect your job performance as well as your personal life. You might have a boss from hell that is driving you crazy and making your life miserable. Perhaps you can mend these relationships. If you think it will be nearly impossible to fix it, then you can start looking elsewhere.

6. Your job is not challenging or exciting.

If you are bored, not fulfilled, not learning anything new, constantly surfing on the Internet, watching the clock, engaging in hours of meaningless activities or just not satisfied with your work, these are red flags to pay attention. Life is too short to not be excited about your work. If you want to be successful in your career you need to find a job that gives you a sense of fulfillment, challenge, purpose and excitement.

7. Your values are different than the company’s.

If you do not agree with any aspect of the company such as the products/services, future direction, current business practices, culture, ethics, and core values, it is time look elsewhere. For example, if one of your core values is spending more time with your kids, but you are expected to work 80 hours a week at the office.

4 Tips to Look For a New Job While You Are Employed

I believe it is better to look for a job while you are still working. That is because potential employers see these job seekers as more desirable than those who are unemployed. This has been my case as both the job seeker and the hiring manager. But looking for a job when you are currently working is tricky. You need to do it discreetly and professionally so that it does not become an issue at the office or interfere with your normal work. Besides being tricky, it can be very tiring because not only do you have to do your work responsibilities but you have an additional task of looking for a new job. You might be thinking it is better to quit your job then look. But from my experience having a job while looking for a new one will put you in a position of strength. There are a few things you need to know in order to pull it off successfully. 
1. Keep your job search a secret from your co-workers.
I typically do not tell my colleagues that I am looking for a new job because as soon as you tell someone you can assume it will spread like wildfire. Obviously you wouldn’t tell your boss that you are looking because that can be awkward and they might decide to let you go immediately. The only scenario when it makes sense to tell someone is if they can help you find a new job. You just have to careful whom you talk to about your job search.
2. Do your job search outside of normal working hours.
I typically do my search before work, during lunch and after work. I try not to use work time for my job search. I do not want to have other people see or hear me looking for a new job during office hours. I am not going to preach to you about how you should never use company time for personal business. It might be tempting to do your job search while at the office but think twice before doing this. I will leave it up to you to decide if it is appropriate for your situation. I would only say to be careful if you do decide to look during your work hours. You just have to be discreet and low key. 
3. Do your job-related phone calls outside the office.
First of all, I do not give out my work number or work e-mail address to anyone during my job search. I will use my personal cell phone and email address instead. I don’t want any calls or emails coming into my work phone or company inbox. You might be working at a place where it is possible to make and take your phone calls in the office without anyone overhearing your conversations. Otherwise it is best to make your calls outside the office on your cell phone. If you get a phone call while in the office, you can always step out to take the call or call back later when you have some privacy. Most potential employers will understand that there are times during the day when you can’t be reached.
4. Schedule your interview outside normal working hours.

It is tricky if you have to go on an interview during business hours. I have done this before but you have to be discreet about it. For example, I have gone on interviews in the mornings and come to work afterwards. I just need to be sure to take off my tie and suit jacket so that no one gets suspicious in the office. Depending on how far away and how long the interview will be, you can take a whole day or half day off from work. If you have any vacation or sick days, then you can use those to take time off for your interviews.

How to Follow Up After Submitting Your Resume

Do you ever feel your resume that you sent out to a recruiter or potential employer just goes into a black hole? You wait patiently for an email response or a phone call with good news of how much they can’t wait to bring you onsite for an interview. Don’t hold your breath for that email or phone call because most of the times you will not hear back from them at all.

There is no way to know if your resume has been read. What you can do is ensure that it is reviewed. One of the best ways to ensure that someone looks at your resume is to follow up with them. Following up after sending your resume is a critical step that you should not overlook. Your chance of landing a job quickly will improve dramatically by following-up.

First of all, you need to have a way to keep a record of all your resume submissions otherwise it will be out of control. You have to be on top of the situation if you have submitted your resume to multiple places. So it is a good idea to have a system to monitor and track your job search progress. I use a spreadsheet. The spreadsheet contains all of the usual information including when I sent my resume and when I should follow up.

If you sent your resume today, you can follow-up with them the next day or up to a week later. This is a judgment call and you need to decide how many days are reasonable and appropriate. Every situation will be different so use your common sense. Also if the job posting clearly states to not call or email, you should respect their wish. In this situation, you have no choice but to wait for them to get back to you.

You can follow-up with an email, but I prefer calling the person directly assuming you have a contact at that place. Be aware that some places don’t like phone calls so you need to decide if this is appropriate. When I call, I want to speak to a person and not go into their voicemail. If the person is not there, I will call back at different times of the day. Or I will try to speak to a different person who can help me.

Once you get the right person on the phone, tell them briefly that you sent your resume on this date and you are calling to follow-up. The reason you are calling is to make sure that they received your resume. Assuming they have your resume, you can tell them that you are interested in the job and want to know what the next steps will be. You can also use this opportunity to highlight a few reasons why you are the right person for the job. This is your chance to distinguish yourself from other candidates who did not take the time to follow-up.

In conclusion, it is very important that you follow-up after submitting your resume. Following up will show the recruiter or employer that you are interested in the job. You will be surprised how few job seekers take this very important step. If you do it, you will stand out from the crowd. You will also be amazed at the results you can get by the simple act of following up.

Start-up Hiring Trends

In 2011, the number of startup jobs jumped 23.5% from a year ago according to As you can guess, the state with the most startup jobs is California. I live in the heart of Silicon Valley. This is really ground zero for startups in America. I am surrounded by some of the most well known companies in the planet such as Apple, Google and Facebook. These giant companies were once startups too. It seems that every business park is cramped wall to wall with young companies hoping to make it big or get acquired. The amount of money being poured into new ventures is just incredible. Some of the best and brightest people in the world are coming to Silicon Valley to make their fortune. This reminds me of the Internet boom that we experienced in in the late 90′s.

This new gold rush is presenting an enormous opportunity for people with technical skills. Right now in the startup world, the jobs with the most openings are centered around the software industry. These are companies that are creating the next cool iPhone app or cloud-based service. The most common job title in 2011 was software engineer followed by senior software engineer. Not only are there more computer jobs than people but the pay is averaging closing to $100,000 annually in Silicon Valley.

There is no better time to be in the tech industry. The graph below shows some interesting information about startups.

Resume Myth: Resumes Should Be One Page

During my last class a student asked whether the resume should only be one page long. This is one of the most common resume myths perpetuated by job seekers. I want to tell you this is not true. Back in the days before the common use of computers, this was the case. But nowadays, resumes are scanned into big computer systems and searched for keywords.

There is no hard and fast rule about resume length. In my professional career I have yet to see any job candidates with a one page resume. The normal length of a resume is two to three pages. I personally believe this is the ideal length for most job seekers. I have seen resumes that go beyond three pages too. Anything more than five pages is overkill unless you are seeking an academic job or a senior executive level position.

If you try to squeeze everything in one page, you might leave behind important information that will prevent the employer from accurately evaluating your qualifications and experiences. Your resume should be as long as necessary to convey what you need to impress the people reading it. Remember, the purpose of a resume is to convince someone to give you an interview. Regardless of how long your resume is, be sure to put the most important and eye-catching information on the first page. Most resumes are given a quick glance before it gets discarded or move along in the process.

A one-page resume is only appropriate for a recent college grad or someone who is just starting out on their career. Once you have a few years of experience, you should not feel you need to stick to one page.

Your resume is your personal marketing tool. It is up to you to decide whether you can market yourself convincingly with one or more pages.

Top 10 Tips to Ace the Phone Interview

One of my favorite ways to interview new candidates is with the phone interview. I find that it can be quite effective in interviewing many candidates very quickly. This is also known as a screening interview. This type of interview is convenient for both you and the hiring manager or Human Resources department to conduct because it does not require an in-person meeting. The purpose of a phone interview is to ‘screen out’ candidates in order to find the most qualified people to invite for in-person interviews. I have participated in many phone interviews as both the interviewer or interviewee. Today I want to pass along some tips that you need to know to ace the phone interview.

 1. Prepare for the phone interview.

You need to treat the phone interview the same way as an in-person interview. This means you should go through the same amount of preparation as you would when interviewing onsite. Be sure to research the company, study your resume and job description. Be prepare to have responses to common questions.

2. Have your resume visible.

The nice thing about a phone interview is that you can have all your documents in front of you without the other person on the other line seeing it. Have your resume in front of you either printed out or on your computer screen. You will be referring to your resume throughout the interview to answer questions about your experiences and qualifications. If you have the job description, print this out too so that you can review it during the interview and tailor your answers to the job description. Another great idea is to have a cheat sheet with answers to a bunch of questions that the interviewer might ask you.

3. Find a quiet spot.

I recommend you find a quiet and private place where you won’t be disturb so you can take the call. It can be quite annoying when I hear a lot of background noises when interviewing someone over the phone. If you are currently employed while looking for a new job, you need to find a place outside of the office to take the call to avoid your co-workers from eavesdropping on your conversation.

4. Use a landline phone.

Unless you know that you will get great cell phone reception where you are I advise on using a landline phone. You don’t want to risk have issues with your cell phone during an interview. I have spoken to candidates on cell phones that are less than perfect signal and it can be hard for both the candidate and myself to hear each other clearly. This can be quite distracting, embarrassing and can lead to the interviewer having a poor impression of the candidate. Under no circumstances should you place the call on speaker phone.

5. Smile.

In my many years of interviewing candidates over the phone, it is rare for me to sense someone smiling on the other line. When you smile during the interview, it projects a positive image and confidence. It will elevate the tone of your voice and will make you sound more pleasant. In a phone interview, there is no way to read body languages so when you smile it will make a difference. The interviewer might think you are more self-assured, easy to get along with and friendly.

6. Speak slowly and clearly.

When doing a phone interview, you want to treat it as seriously as if you are meeting the interviewer in person. When answering questions you should take your time, answer it clearly and slowly. That is because the interviewer is judging you on your communications skills as well as your experiences and qualifications. You might have the greatest resume in the world but if you can’t communicate, then you are not going to move to the next step of the hiring process.

7. Don’t talk too much.

Be prepared for moments of silence on the phone. Do not feel you need to keep talking when there is a moment of  silence on the other line. This is normal and does not mean the interview is going downhill. The interviewer is just taking notes or thinking of the next question to ask you.

8. Stand up.

When you stand up you will sound more confident, energetic and assertive. The other person on the other line will not know you are doing this. Some people are better thinking on their feet.

9. Take notes.

Have a pen and paper ready to take notes. It is annoying for me to hear the candidate typing on their computer so pen and paper works well in this situation. Your notes can come in handy if you are invited to an in-person interview.

10. Thank the interviewer.

Your goal for a phone interview is to get an in-person interview. You need to express your interest in the job and ask the interviewer to tell you what the next step will be in the interview process. You want to end the call on a high note. You don’t want to end the phone interview without letting the interviewer know how much you appreciate their time in conducting this phone interview and how you look forward to meeting them in person.

How to Organize Your Job Search

Looking for a new job can feel overwhelming sometimes when you are dealing with so many people and companies. This is especially true if you have been looking for many months. After a while, you forget small details such as when you sent your resume to a certain company or what salary range you told the hiring manager at the interview a month ago. You forget to follow-up with people, you feel a lack of control, and you sense that the job search is not going as well as you liked because you have been disorganized. Does this sound familiar? Having an organized and structured job search system will increase your productivity, reduce stress, increase your confidence and minimize the time it takes to find a new job. Your attention to detail is critical to your success. I want to discuss a few things that have been helpful in my own job search.

1. Create a schedule.

I will commit a block of time each day to do my job search. If I was out of work, I would put in 8 hours each day Monday through Friday on the job search. I would treat looking for a new job as a full-time job. During the day, I will try not to get sidetracked by projects around the house, errands or other things that are not adding value to my job search. I wan to establish a routine that will work for me but is also flexible because everyday will present new challenges and opportunities that I need to focus on. For example, I might spend the mornings looking on the job boards, sending resumes and responding to emails. I want to allocate time in the afternoons following up and working on administrative tasks. Having a routine will keep me disciplined, focused, consistent and committed to my job search. I make my job search one of the highest priorities during the day.

2. Create a spreadsheet.

The spreadsheet is your database of people and companies you have contacted during your job search. It will help you monitor, keep track and follow-up on companies, people and jobs. For example, if I saw a job posting online for a job that I wanted, I will enter all the pertinent information into the spreadsheet such as company name, contact person, email address, website, phone numbers, etc. I will have a column that  shows the date I sent my resume. I will have a column that describes the next action I need to take and by when. Finally, I will have a column for notes that I will jot down for this job that I am pursuing. The key is to use it consistently and to keep it updated. You don’t want to have multiple sources scattered all over your computer, the Internet, phone, email inboxes, Facebook and Twitter accounts and desk because you can quickly lose track of the details. I know this requires extra work and effort but it will pay off in the end.

3. Develop an organization and filing system.

In addition to the spreadsheet, I will have a way to organize the emails, print-outs and computer files pertaining to each job that I am applying for. For example, I might create a folder on my computer to hold the different versions of my resume. This will help me locate it quickly when I need to print it out or bring it up. For the job posting, I would save the webpage as a PDF file so that I can reference it in the future. The key is to have a system that will work for you.

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