“What Sets You Apart From Other Job Candidates?”

"What Sets You Apart From Other Job Candidates?"

You are sitting there in your job interview and things are going well. You are qualified for the job, you’ve developed a rapport with the interviewer, you believe you can be an asset to this company.  The thing is there are ten other candidates interviewing for this position with just about the same qualifications. The interviewer has to determine what sets you apart from the pack. There’s a good chance he or she will come right out and ask – What makes you unique?

 

Don’t underestimate the importance of this question

If you’re not prepared for this question you might be inclined to go with the first thing that pops into your head. Something about your love of Fellini movies or a joke about never actually feeling unique because you are a twin.

 

Go deeper into your qualifications

This is not the time to try and wow the interviewer with unexpected answer or a joke, it’s time to double down with particulars of your qualifications. Get specific with details or anecdotes about your skills, or your experience. Talk about unique experiences you have had and how they will benefit your new employer. Or a situation where your skills made a difference either in a previous job or some other relevant aspect of your life. This is a good time to bring in numbers to back you up. With my X skill I was able to implement a time saving strategy that saved my co-workers Y hours a week.

 

Demonstrate how hiring you will make their lives better

Many people have similar qualifications. What is it about you that will make life in their location more productive/more pleasant/smoother. Are you particularly good at motivating others? Are you particularly adept at problem solving? Again don’t just say “I’m good at motivating others.” Put that statement into some sort of context with details to back it up.

 

The point here isn’t to toot your own horn about how great you are. It’s to talk about things you did that made a difference in previous situations. Let the interviewer conclude for themselves how great you are.

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Jobs You’d Rather Forget

Jobs You'd Rather Forget

A resume is a constantly evolving thing. Always being added to and subtracted from as you switch jobs, take courses, attend conferences. In general, we add the newest jobs and experiences we’ve had to our resumes and when there’s no more room, condense or remove the less significant ones altogether.

Swept under the carpet

But sometimes you come to a job you really hated and the feeling is on the mutual side. Your first instinct might be to simply try to forget that job ever happened and put it behind you. However, if you do that, there may be a significant gap on your resume. One way or another you will probably need to talk about it in your next interview.

Relevant or not relevant?

Sometimes the decision is made easy by the degree to which the job was relevant to your career. For instance, if the job you hated was in the service industry, but you plan on making a career in sales, you can just leave it off and simply say why at the interview (without ever saying anything negative about your previous employer).

However, if the job is directly related to what you’re applying for now, you have to choose. Either leave it off and hope the gap isn’t a big deal or leave it on and hope no one contacts them. In the article, Can You Leave a Really Bad Employer off Your Resume from Chron they suggest the best course of action is to actually include the job, but not use the employer as a reference.

Find positives in the experience

Did you learn any new skills during your time there? Did you have any new responsibilities? Find something positive to say about it during your interview and finish off by saying it was no longer a good fit. Don’t give in to the temptation to say something negative about a former employer. It will only serve to put you in a negative light with your prospective new one.  Focus on your achievements and your potential and that’s what the interviewer will focus on too!

Resume To Get You Started In The Job Market

Resume To Get You Started In The Job Market

If you’re just getting started on the job hunt, you’re going to need a resume. There’s a lot of information out there about what your resume should and shouldn’t be. But what about the basics? If you’re new to resume writing, this quick resume for beginners guide will give you everything you need to know to create a great one.

Resume Sections for Beginners

Every resume is different. There’s no single way to make your resume look. There are, however, a couple things every resume should have.

What to Include in Your Resume

  1. Contact Information: Have your name, phone number, email and home address at the top. Make your name stand out by using a larger font or using bold type.
  2. Profile: Include a little bit about yourself and why you’re right for the position. This section should be about 3 or 4 sentences.
  3. Skills: This section should be considered optional as you can include skills a little later in your resume. If you do have a skills section, use bullet points and make sure to address the skills required in the job posting.
  4. Past Experience: List your past jobs. In the first line include your position, the company name and the dates you started and finished. If you’re still working there, you can put: Start date to current (ex. March 2013 – Current). Underneath this write a couple of sentences about what you did here. This is the other area you can include specific skills.
  5. Education: Like the Past Experience section, your education section should have a title. This title should include the institution’s name, its city and your graduation date. If you haven’t graduated yet, put the date you expect to graduate. Under this title, add your specific area of study.

Writing for Beginners

Now that you know the different sections of a resume, you’ll want to start writing it. Not everyone finds it easy to talk about themselves in the way a resume requires, but selling your best attributes is a key part of the resume. When talking about yourself, the career website The Ladders suggests to avoid the following words:

  • Highly qualified
  • Results focused
  • Has talent for
  • Energetic
  • Confident
  • Professional
  • Successfully

These are overused terms that tend to lose the employers attention. The hiring manager is only spending a couple moments looking at your resume, so you don’t want them to gloss over anything. Focus instead on terms like:

  • Achieved
  • Resolved
  • Improved
  • Influenced
  • Created
  • Managed

No matter what terms you use on a resume, the best thing you can do is back up the terms with evidence of what you achieved, resolved or managed. Use specific examples if you can, while keeping things brief.

Resume for Beginners: Rumors

You may have heard any number of rumors about what resumes are and aren’t supposed to be. One of the most common rumors is that a resume can’t be longer than a single page. There’s some truth to this rumor, but it’s more like a rule of thumb. Most employers spend as little as two minutes looking at your resume, so having all your information on a single page makes it easier for the employer to look it over.

Another suggestion is that you can have a page for every 10 years of work. Chances are if you’re new to resume writing you’re not there yet. Our advice is to stick to the single page to make sure your resume gets looked at.

Rumor number two is that your resume needs to be creative and cool to get noticed. This really depends on the job and industry you are applying to. If the industry is a creative one, like advertising or design, having a creative looking resume can be a showcase your skills. For other industries, overly creative resumes can distract from what their really trying to see, you!

Choosing The Perfect Words For A Standout Resume

Choosing The Perfect Words For A Standout Resume

 

Passionate. Managed. Team player. You’ve heard these words before, and you’ve probably used them on your resume. They’re not bad words, but there is one problem with them. Everyone uses them. If you want to create a standout resume, you’re going to need to do better than just using the same, uncreative words that everyone else uses. This doesn’t mean you should go reaching for a Thesaurus to find the longest words. You still need your resume to be clear and to sound like you wrote it.

 

The trick then, is finding the right words for your resume. Creative words that clearly explain who you are and what you did in your past work experiences.

Words to Avoid

Words that are generic, common and don’t actually say much of anything are to be avoided at all costs. Words like go-getter, hard worker, proactive don’t say anything interesting about you. Of course you’re a hard worker. No one is writing “average worker” on their resume.

The Right Words

There is no shortage of lists filled with words you can use for your standout resume. You can find some here, here, and here. You don’t need to use words that sound smart, or ones that you’ve never heard before. You do need to find the word that best describes what you did in your role. Rather than writing that you “were responsible for” something, clarify whether you implemented it, formalized it, executed it or pioneered it.

 

Using the right words on your resume, and in your cover letter, will give the hiring manager a clearer idea of what you specifically did in your various roles. This will help them get to know you and your abilities, and put your standout resume at the top of their list.

 

Six Questions To Ask During Your Next Interview

Six Questions To Ask During Your Next Interview

You’ve done all your prep for your upcoming interview. You’ve researched the company, you’ve got a handle on their attitude and aspirations because of all your scoping on social media. You have prepared answers to questions you know they will ask you, like Where do you see yourself in 5 years? And What is your greatest flaw? Great. Now what about the Do you have any questions for us? Question. Are you ready for that? Here are six possibilities:

 

What would a typical day be like in this role?

When you ask this question, you demonstrate that you are already picturing yourself in the role, figuring out exactly what will be expected.

 

Can you describe the corporate culture?

If you’ve done your homework you should already have a pretty good idea of the answer to this question. Still, it’s always good to ask because they probably don’t post everything on social media.

 

What are some of the company’s initiatives in regards to extra learning?

This demonstrates your excitement about expanding your credentials and growing with the company.

 

What are some of the possible future opportunities associated with this role?

This question indicates that you are envisioning a long-term career with the company, as opposed to taking the job as a stepping stone to something else.

 

How would my performance be measured?

Will you be assessed monthly? Quarterly? Who will be doing this assessment? It’s important to know.

 

What are some of the company’s long term and short term goals?

With this question you can determine whether or not this company is a place where you actually want to invest a large swath of your time and dedication. If for example you want to be part of a large organization and this small company is planning on expanding then it would probably be a good fit for you. If however they’re more interested in staying small then maybe it’s not quite right.

 

The questions you ask should be two way. Helping them realize exactly why you are the perfect candidate and also helping you figure out if this is somewhere you would actually like to work.

Keep Negative Discussions Out of The Interview

Keep Negative Discussions Out of The Interview

You got the interview and it’s going well but the questions have come around to difficult or negative situations. For example, they might ask you to describe a negative situation or person you had to deal with in the past.

 

Keep the soap opera out of it

The employer is asking about difficult situations or people to see how you handle yourself professionally in those situations. They don’t want a long drawn out discussion about the impossible person you had to deal with or all the rotten things that happened in association with the situation.

 

Essentially, they’re looking for the positives buried in the negatives. That means if there are no positives do not use that example! Instead find one where because of your hard work or problem solving or negotiating skills a negative was turned into a positive.

 

Don’t try and skirt the issue

Some people try to find a work around for the question by saying they have never dealt with a negative situation or person. Well no one is going to believe that. Every one of us runs into negatives all the time. If not professionally then personally or on the bus or in a grocery store. If you have been asked a question then find a way to answer it.

 

Before your job interview anticipate this question and come up with a few situations in which you can demonstrate your ability at turning negatives into positives. Describe the situation and the steps you took to resolve it. Remember to highlight your great contributions!

 

Don’t speak badly about your last employer

Even if your last work situation was hell on earth with an impossible to please boss and co-workers that made the thought of coming to work less palatable than the idea of skinny dipping with sharks don’t dwell on the negatives. You probably learned something from the experience. Touch on that quickly then end the discussion with it didn’t work out or we had different expectations. Something brief. Then talk about how excited you are at the prospect of new challenges and move the conversation back to the positives.