Friday, February 25, 2011

The Benefits of Contract Employment

Many professionals aren't aware of the rewards that accompany being a contract employee. For years, myths have surrounding contract employment. However, we want to share with you some of the most overlooked or neglected facts about a career in contract services, as conducted by the National Association of Temporary Services (NATS):
  • Never pay a fee for placement.
  • More money than a permanent employee for the same work.
  • Opportunity to travel to different job locations.
  • Professional challenge of working on major projects across the world.
No Fees
The contractor never charges a fee for registration, testing, or placement. Additional training may require a contract employee to pay a low cost, in some instances. We assume all the costs of locating assignments for our contractors.

Increased Wages
For comparable assignments, a contract employee generally receives 30 - 100% higher gross pay than a permanent (or direct) employee does. Frequently there is overtime available for the contract employee, which can substantially increase take home pay. Contract employees are paid higher wages because their jobs are temporary, and therefore less secure than those of permanent employees. In addition, a contract employee must pay for their own overhead costs such as medical insurance, retirement savings plans and travel costs (in most instances). Contract employees are usually released from their assignments upon completion of a project. In an ideal situation, their contract services company will be able to locate another suitable assignment immediately. However, contract employees must be prepared for the possibility that they will be out of work for a period of time. Thus, a contract employee should always budget their paychecks when they are working to cover those times when they are not working.

A contract employee may frequently accept jobs that allow them to discover different areas of the world. Contract employees are often willing to move, particularly for long term or highly paid assignments. A contractor may also wish to work in the northern part of the country during the summer months and might only accept an assignment in a warm area during the winter. Occasionally a contractor is willing to travel when a particularly interesting job is available, or if they want to work for a specific client. It is important to remember that a contract employee is usually responsible for the costs of their travel.

A contractor can build an impressive resume by accepting assignments on the leading edge of technology. A contract employee usually possesses a broader range of skills than a direct employee does due to the fact that a contract employee works in many companies that use different equipment, software, and techniques. Contract employees' resumes may be very long and detailed to show their broad technical background.

Contract employees can concern themselves primarily with the task at hand, rather than get caught up in office politics or a difficult boss. The contract employee knows that their situation is temporary, however, a contractor knows that they cannot be perceived as a job hopper either. A contract employee may occasionally choose not to work at all, especially if they have recently completed a long, lucrative assignment.

Pride of Accomplishment
The pleasure derived from a job well done provides real satisfaction to the technical artisan. Many important projects in many fields were completed on time and were done right the first time by contract professionals. The engineering of space shuttles, environmental cleanups, redesigned automobiles, and huge telecommunications projects are typical contractual assignments that are completed by contract professionals. Our contract employees are always proud to tell you about their accomplishments.

Monday, February 21, 2011

44 Resume Writing Tips & Tricks

Having a solid and effective resume can greatly improve your chances of landing that dream job. That is beyond discussion. How does one make sure that his resume is top notch and bullet proof, however? There are several websites with tips around the web, but most bring just a handful of them. We wanted to put them all together in a single place, and that is what you will find below: 44 resume writing tips.

1. Know the purpose of your resume
Some people write a resume as if the purpose of the document was to land a job. As a result they end up with a really long and boring piece that makes them look like desperate job hunters. The objective of your resume is to land an interview, and the interview will land you the job (hopefully!).

2. Back up your qualities and strengths
Instead of creating a long (and boring) list with all your qualities (e.g., disciplined, creative, problem solver) try to connect them with real life and work experiences. In other words, you need to back these qualities and strengths up, else it will appear that you are just trying to inflate things.

3. Make sure to use the right keywords
Most companies (even smaller ones) are already using digital databases to search for candidates. This means that the HR department will run search queries based on specific keywords. Guess what, if your resume doesn’t have the keywords related to the job you are applying for, you will be out even before the game starts.
These keywords will usually be nouns. Check the job description and related job ads for a clue on what the employer might be looking for.

4. Use effective titles
Like it or not, employers will usually make a judgment about your resume in 5 seconds. Under this time frame the most important aspect will be the titles that you listed on the resume, so make sure they grab the attention. Try to be as descriptive as possible, giving the employer a good idea about the nature of your past work experiences. For example:

Bad title: Accounting

Good title: Management of A/R and A/P and Recordkeeping

5. Proofread it twice
It would be difficult to emphasize the importance of proofreading your resume. One small typo and your chances of getting hired could slip. Proofreading it once is not enough, so do it twice, three times or as many as necessary.

6. Use bullet points
No employer will have the time (or patience) to read long paragraphs of text. Make sure, therefore, to use bullet points and short sentences to describe your experiences, educational background and professional objectives.

7. Where are you going?
Including professional goals can help you by giving employers an idea of where you are going, and how you want to arrive there. You don’t need to have a special section devoted to your professional objectives, but overall the resume must communicate it. The question of whether or not to highlight your career objectives on the resume is a polemic one among HR managers, so go with your feeling. If you decide to list them, make sure they are not generic.

8. Put the most important information first
This point is valid both to the overall order of your resume, as well as to the individual sections. Most of the times your previous work experience will be the most important part of the resume, so put it at the top. When describing your experiences or skills, list the most important ones first.

9. Attention to the typography
First of all make sure that your fonts are big enough. The smaller you should go is 11 points, but 12 is probably safer. Do not use capital letters all over the place, remember that your goal is to communicate a message as fast and as clearly as possible. Arial and Times are good choices.

10. Do not include “no kidding” information
There are many people that like to include statements like “Available for interview” or “References available upon request.” If you are sending a resume to a company, it should be a given that you are available for an interview and that you will provide references if requested. Just avoid items that will make the employer think “no kidding!”

11. Explain the benefits of your skills
Merely stating that you can do something will not catch the attention of the employer. If you manage to explain how it will benefit his company, and to connect it to tangible results, then you will greatly improve your chances.

12. Avoid negativity
Do not include information that might sound negative in the eyes of the employer. This is valid both to your resume and to interviews. You don’t need to include, for instance, things that you hated about your last company.

13. Achievements instead of responsibilities
Resumes that include a long list of “responsibilities included…” are plain boring, and not efficient in selling yourself. Instead of listing responsibilities, therefore, describe your professional achievements.

14. No pictures
Sure, we know that you are good looking, but unless you are applying for a job where the physical traits are very important (e.g., modeling, acting and so on), and unless the employer specifically requested it, you should avoid attaching your picture to the resume.

15. Use numbers
This tip is a complement to the 13th one. If you are going to describe your past professional achievements, it would be a good idea to make them as solid as possible. Numbers are your friends here. Don’t merely mention that you increased the annual revenues of your division, say that you increased them by $100,000, by 78%, and so on.

16. One resume for each employer
One of the most common mistakes that people make is to create a standard resume and send it to all the job openings that they can find. Sure it will save you time, but it will also greatly decrease the chances of landing an interview (so in reality it could even represent a waste of time). Tailor your resume for each employer. The same point applies to your cover letters.

17. Identify the problems of the employer
A good starting point to tailor your resume for a specific employer is to identify what possible problems he might have at hand. Try to understand the market of the company you are applying for a job, and identify what kind of difficulties they might be going through. After that illustrate on your resume how you and your skills would help to solve those problems.

18. Avoid age discrimination
It is illegal to discriminate people because of their age, but some employers do these considerations nonetheless. Why risk the trouble? Unless specifically requested, do not include your age on your resume.

19. You don’t need to list all your work experiences
If you have job experiences that you are not proud of, or that are not relevant to the current opportunity, you should just omit them. Mentioning that you used to sell hamburgers when you were 17 is probably not going to help you land that executive position.

20. Go with what you got
If you never had any real working experience, just include your summer jobs or volunteer work. If you don’t have a degree yet, mention the title and the estimated date for completion. As long as those points are relevant to the job in question, it does not matter if they are official or not.

21. Sell your fish
Remember that you are trying to sell yourself. As long as you don’t go over the edge, all the marketing efforts that you can put in your resume (in its content, design, delivery method and so on) will give you an advantage over the other candidates.

22. Don’t include irrelevant information
Irrelevant information such as political affiliation, religion and sexual preference will not help you. In fact it might even hurt your chances of landing an interview. Just skip it.

23. Use Mr. and Ms. if appropriate
If you have a gender neutral name like Alex or Ryan make sure to include the Mr. or Ms. prefix, so that employers will not get confused about your gender.

24. No lies, please
Seems like a no brainer, but you would be amused to discover the amount of people that lie in their resumes. Even small lies should be avoided. Apart from being wrong, most HR departments do background checks these days, and if you are buster it might ruin your credibility for good.

25. Keep the salary in mind
The image you will create with your resume must match the salary and responsibility level that you are aiming for.

26. Analyze job ads
You will find plenty of useful information on job ads. Analyze no only the ad that you will be applying for, but also those from companies on the same segment or offering related positions. You should be able to identify what profile they are looking for and how the information should be presented.
27. Get someone else to review your resume
Even if you think you resume is looking kinky, it would be a good idea to get a second and third opinion about it. We usually become blind to our own mistakes or way of reasoning, so another people will be in a good position to evaluate the overall quality of your resume and make appropriate suggestions.

28. One or two pages
The ideal length for a resume is a polemic subject. Most employers and recruiting specialists, however, say that it should contain one or two pages at maximum. Just keep in mind that, provided all the necessary information is there, the shorter your resume, the better.

29. Use action verbs
A very common advice to job seekers is to use action verbs. But what are they? Action verbs are basically verbs that will get noticed more easily, and that will clearly communicate what your experience or achievement were. Examples include managed, coached, enforced and planned.

30. Use a good printer
If you are going to use a paper version of your resume, make sure to use a decent printer. Laser printers usually get the job done. Plain white paper is the preferred one as well.

31. No hobbies
Unless you are 100% sure that some of your hobbies will support you candidacy, avoid mentioning them. I know you are proud of your swimming team, but share it with your friends and not with potential employers.

32. Update your resume regularly
It is a good idea to update your resume on a regular basis. Add all the new information that you think is relevant, as well as courses, training programs and other academic qualifications that you might receive along the way. This is the best way to keep track of everything and to make sure that you will not end up sending an obsolete document to the employer.

33. Mention who you worked with
If you have reported or worked with someone that is well known in your industry, it could be a good idea to mention it on the resume. The same thing applies to presidents and CEOs. If you reported to or worked directly with highly ranked executives, add it to the resume.

34. No scattered information
Your resume must have a clear focus. If would cause a negative impression if you mentioned that one year you were studying drama, and the next you were working as an accountant. Make sure that all the information you will include will work towards a unified image. Employers like decided people.

35. Make the design flow with white space
Do not jam your resume with text. Sure we said that you should make your resume as short and concise as possible, but that refers to the overall amount of information and not to how much text you can pack in a single sheet of paper. White space between the words, lines and paragraphs can improve the legibility of your resume.

36. Lists all your positions
If you have worked a long time for the same company (over 10 years) it could be a good idea to list all the different positions and roles that you had during this time separately. You probably had different responsibilities and developed different skills on each role, so the employer will like to know it.

37. No jargon or slang
It should be common sense, but believe me, it is not. Slang should never be present in a resume. As for technical jargon, do not assume that the employer will know what you are talking about. Even if you are sending your resume to a company in the same segment, the person who will read it for the first time might not have any technical expertise.

38. Careful with sample resume templates
There are many websites that offer free resume templates. While they can help you to get an idea of what you are looking for, do not just copy and paste one of the most used ones. You certainly don’t want to look just like any other candidate, do you?

39. Create an email proof formatting
It is very likely that you will end up sending your resume via email to most companies. Apart from having a Word document ready to go as an attachment, you should also have a text version of your resume that does not look disfigured in the body of the email or in online forms. Attachments might get blocked by spam filters, and many people just prefer having the resume on the body of the email itself.

40. Remove your older work experiences
If you have been working for 20 years or more, there is no need to have 2 pages of your resume listing all your work experiences, starting with the job at the local coffee shop at the age of 17! Most experts agree that the last 15 years of your career are enough.

41. No fancy design details
Do not use a colored background, fancy fonts or images on your resume. Sure, you might think that the little flowers will cheer up the document, but other people might just throw it away at the sight.

42. No pronouns
You resume should not contain the pronouns “I” or “me.” That is how we normally structure sentences, but since your resume is a document about your person, using these pronouns is actually redundant.

43. Don’t forget the basics
The first thing on your resume should be your name. It should be bold and with a larger font than the rest of the text. Make sure that your contact details are clearly listed. Secondly, both the name and contact details should be included on all the pages of the resume (if you have more than one).

44. Consider getting professional help
If you are having a hard time to create your resume, or if you are receiving no response whatsoever from companies, you could consider hiring a professional resume writing service. There are both local and online options are available, and usually the investment will be worth the money.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Resume Dos and Don'ts

Resume writing can be challenging, but it's an essential skill for anyone in the job market. Whether you're hunting for work or just brushing up your credentials, the following tips can help you build a professional, effective resume…
Rock That Resume
Your resume is your most important tool for the job hunt. Along with your cover letter, it gets your foot in the door and shows your would-be employer why, out of all the other applicants, he or she wants to meet you. So before you send in that next job application, review these dos and don'ts to make sure your resume is polished and ready.
Do...Be Concise
Common wisdom holds that unless your potential employer has asked for a curriculum vitae (C.V.), the long-form resume, no one will read past the first page. While this may not always be true, it underscores an important point: Brevity is your friend. Use short, declarative sentences and concise phrasing to convey only the most essential information. This makes it easier for the employer to find what you want him or her to see; you can elaborate on your cover letter.
Do...Be Selective
Unless you don't have much work experience, you don't have to include every job you've ever held. The same goes for awards, skills and any other element on your resume besides education (include all degrees held from the bachelor's level and above, but always exclude high school). In order to keep it brief, just focus on the most relevant and interesting items, while making sure that you still show the full breadth of your abilities.
It's important to tweak your resume for each job application to make sure that you're highlighting the most relevant work experience for the position. You can do this by switching out items in your 'selected experience' (see above), or emphasizing the duties from your past jobs that most overlap with the requirements of the one for which you're applying. It can also be helpful to go through this process once a year, even if you're not seeking a new job, just to keep your 'master resume' fresh.
Layout is important! It helps you direct the eye to key information, and shows that you pay attention to detail. Consider using elements like bulleted lists and bold headers, think about things like alignment (left aligned is usually better than justified) and, above all, make sure everything is consistent throughout.
Little errors on your resume can make you look sloppy, or even incompetent. Check for spelling and grammar as well as consistency in the layout and accuracy of information. If you can, have someone else check a resume over at least once before sending it in.
Including selective information and highlighting different job skills does not mean making things up. It may be tempting to 'pad' your resume to more closely match the job requirements, but when you get caught - and you will - not only will you lose this job, you may find yourself blackballed. In small towns and tight-knit industries employers do share information, and getting caught fabricating your resume is a fast way to shut doors on yourself forever.
Don't...Be Flashy
It's important to be creative and use a layout that catches the eye, but you also want to make sure that information comes first. Avoid colored paper or layouts that bury your relevant experience. However, you may have a little more flexibility with certain jobs. For example, if you're applying for a graphic design position, you want to ensure that the layout showcases your design skills.
Don't...Exclude Key Information
There are certain oft-forgotten things that you should always include on your resume:
·      Contact information: Include as much as possible, including home or office phone, mobile number, email, professional website and any info the employer would need to contact you during the day.
·         Dates: Make sure to include the month and year of when you started and finished each job, as well as the year that you received each listed degree.
·      Locations: Most employers expect to see the city and state of each job you've held. If a position was via telecommuting, include the city and state of the main office and a note that indicates that you were a telecommuter.
Don't...Get Personal
First, your resume should never include the pronouns 'me' or 'I.' Write in short phrases that exclude pronouns, such as 'Collaborated on the award-winning project....'
Second, you should never include a photo of yourself or intimate details like your age, race, date of birth, social security number, marital status, religious affiliation or sexual orientation. This information is irrelevant, and can be controversial - it's against the law in most places to hire based on these details.
Finally, there are certain details of your previous jobs that are also 'too much information.' Don't include your salary, reason for leaving past jobs or specific contact information of past employers. Your new employer will get this information if and when he or she needs it.

By Megan

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Five Ways to Improve Your Resume

Declutter Your Resume:

Avoid long descriptions of jobs and experience. Format your resume so that you have as much white space around the text as possible. This makes reading your resume easier and quicker, a plus to busy human resources professionals and recruiters. By increasing the white space on your resume, you make your content stand out more.

Use Bulleted Points:

Using bullets or point form text in your resume makes it easier to read and encourages you to only list the important points of your past employment. Be concise with your information and highlight important qualifications as they relate to this position.

Be Clear:

Clearly define what your job was using terms that are simple and easy to understand. Clarify by explaining any qualifications, spell out acronyms, and use common formats for any software you have experience with.

Check Your Spelling:

Nothing shows lack of attention to detail like spelling mistakes or typos on your resume. By using a spell checker, you eliminate some of these, but make sure you give it a complete, thorough read-through because some words aren't caught by spell-checkers.

Use an Easy to Read Font and Format:

Stick to the basics when creating your resume. Make sure the layout is broken down into appropriate sections, the font is easy to read at a glance, and that your font size isn't too large. Choose a good quality plain paper to print your resume on. 


Monday, February 14, 2011

7 Strategies to Overcoming the Resume Black Hole

We hear from job seekers every day who are sending out hundreds of resumes and job applications never to be heard from again. It’s hard to tell if it’s the resume that’s at fault or the company that’s not hiring, already hired, or just sitting in a stack of 500 others never to be found. So I’ve compiled a list of seven ways to overcome the resume black hole that so many resumes seem to go into.


There are great tools and resources out there to track the applications you submit, responses you receive and more. For is an excellent tool to keep your job search organized and it beats using an old fashioned spreadsheet. When you’re tracking who you’re applying to, what positions and more it gives you the big picture so you’re not guessing how many applications you’ve sent. It also tells you who is responding and what the next steps are.


In a normal job market I’d say go for it, apply to whatever you want for whatever reason you want. In fact, when I first graduated from college I applied for positions that I wasn’t qualified for and knew it hoping they’d take a chance on me and train me. Well I didn’t get the exact position I applied to but I got a call from the company saying they had another position that I was perfectly qualified for would I come in and interview. Of course I did and that’s how my career in human resources and recruiting started. In this economy, it’s tough to advise you to apply for something you’re underqualified for when there are hundreds of other qualified candidates. The chance you’d hear back is so slim that you’re asking to have your resume disappear in a deluge of others and never be heard from again. Conversely, applying for positions you are overqualified for will get you about the same results. And I will tell you the God honest truth about it. Hiring managers are NERVOUS to hire overqualified people for one reason – they don’t want to risk that if they hire you now when something better comes along you will get up and leave. Then they have to start all over training someone new and it costs them money. They’d rather hire someone who meets the requirements versus grossly exceeds them. It’s a safer bet right now and unfortunate for unemployed job seekers it’s an employer’s market they can be as picky as they want.


If you’ve spoken personally to a contact at the company send your resume to them. If you know someone at the company send it to them. An association with someone either over the phone or in person means you will be remembered you won’t be just a faceless piece of paper in a stack.


All the time you’re going to be saving from not applying for positions you are under- or overqualified for can be better redirected into optimizing your resume. Use the job descriptions of the positions you are applying to as a guide for what keywords to include in your resume and cover letter. You can usually tell which ones the company wants the most because these fall under position REQUIREMENTS. These should be in the TOP third of your resume, what I would call above the fold. It’s important the employer sees this in their initial 5 second review. This will gain you additional time from the employer to review the rest of the resume. Make sure to include the PREFERRED qualifications as well this makes you an even more desirable candidate. If you’re showing them in your resume you meet all their required and preferred qualifications why wouldn’t they call you? That would make you the ideal candidate. Then their search is over and you have the interview.


Just as the housing market has moved from a seller to a buyers market so has the job market. It’s a buyers market they have choices and they can take as much time as they want and be as picky as they want. I assure you hiring managers are the same way. It’s an employers market and they can take the time they want and need to make the right choice. So don’t waste your time sending out resumes and cover letters that tell the employer a laundry list of what you want and need in a job. It won’t get you very far. Instead be specific about what you can offer the employer that aligns with their needs. This goes back to the required and preferred qualifications. So back away from the objective… better yet erase it from your resume altogether and replace it with a powerful personal branding statement.


Let me tell you exactly what your resume format is saying to the employer – it’s either saying organized, professional, well put together, and detail-oriented or it’s saying “help, I’m a mess!”.
If you were a hiring manager would you rather hire someone that was professional and well put together or someone who was a mess? Point blank – your format speaks VOLUMES about you and if you want to get their attention it better make the right first impression otherwise it doesn’t matter how qualified you are you’ll never hear back from them.


Statistics prove again and again that accomplishment-based resumes are far more effective than ones that just list your job responsibilities. My take is this – responsibilities are for job descriptions and resumes are for selling yourself through previous wins! I hear job seekers say all the time I don’t have any accomplishments or my job wasn’t numbers based. Let me be direct – if you had no accomplishments at your past positions you would have been fired from all of them. If you haven’t been fired from every job you have ever had then you must have been doing something right! What was that something right you were doing? Put that on your resume!
This list is certainly not all inclusive but it is a running start towards ensuring your resume stops disappearing into the job application black hole that so many seem to fall into these days. Our clients are finding tremendous success with these strategies and others. We heard from one client this week who was called for an interview the first day she posted her new resume… and another client who is in the final stages of interviewing with a fortune 500 IT company within two weeks of using her new resume and cover letter. We’re so happy for their success and want you to know it can be your success too!

By: Jessica