joanne and travis

My organization is […] Can you confidently fill in the blank?

Recruiting is a perfect time for self-reflection, well, organizational self-reflection that is! To be able to hire the best person for the position, and prepare for the selection and interview process, you need to be able to answer of few questions yourself. How easily, confidently and accurately can you fill in the blank in the statement “My organization is…” or answer the question “How would you describe your organization?”

The hiring process should prompt you to assess your organization so you can be sure to bring in the right talent. So, when was the last time you thought about your organization’s vision, mission and goals? Have you updated them lately? If it has been a while, do they still reflect the organization today and its intended purpose? Have the values you relied on evolved over time or are they even more relevant today? Actually, what are those values? Can you name them? What are the organization’s commitments and why are they important? How do the organization and its employees demonstrate these commitments? To bring someone new in the fold you need a good understanding of the organization’s mission and the values and behaviours it relies on to accomplish its objectives, as this will help you determine the most appropriate type of person you will need to recruit.

Beyond a person’s education, training, skills and experience, they need to be able to “fit” within the organization. It means that new recruits have to be receptive and agreeable to adopt and share the organization’s vision, mission and values; they also have to be able to adapt, contribute and ultimately enhance the organization’s culture. Again, to be able to adequately assess potential recruits, you should be aware of your workplace culture. How would you define your current workplace culture? What makes your workplace unique and allows you to attract and retain talent? How would you describe interactions and interpersonal relations among peers and with management? What are some of the common behaviours and attitudes that differentiate your workplace from others or that are not tolerated? How do people communicate in the workplace? Would you consider the work environment as formal, informal or casual? What does your current team look like, is it diverse? Work practices, processes and policies also play a part in the culture in that they reflect the organization’s philosophy and its ability to evolve and assess its strategy to achieve its goals. Having a thorough understanding of the culture is essential to ensure the success of the recruitment process.

Organizations often identify the need to recruit because a position is left vacant or a new opportunity arises that requires the creation of a new position, however rarely do they take the time to assess the recruitment needs as part of the overall organizational outcomes. At Essence Recruitment, as your partner in the recruitment process, part of our role is to help you make sure that your new recruit will effectively contribute to your mission, share your vision, respect your values and deliver your commitments. Being able to complete the statement “my organization is…” is the first step.

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Small Businesses Can’t Afford NOT to Hire a Recruiter!

When it comes to hiring, many business owners don’t think twice about the process, they get caught up in just filling the position. By the time they zone in on the fact that there is a skill to hiring the right person for the right position at the right price, they have likely already experienced large amounts of frustration, wasted valuable time and either wondered why they haven’t found a suitable candidate yet or why their new recruit doesn’t actually fit in their organization or worse is not able to deliver the anticipated results.

Recruiting agencies provide a skill set that unfortunately many internal human resources teams really do not have the time or means to develop and maintain. When the market place is flooded with potential hires because the economy is in the tank, the right recruiters will help you identify the best candidate for your organization. Likewise, when the potential candidates are far and few between because the economy is hot and there are more job openings than qualified professionals, a partnership with a recruiting firm will ensure you gain access to the right potential hires. Recruiters cultivate a deep knowledge of the job market and its correlation to the economy of the region and the local business community. They nurture relationships with a wide array of potential candidates across sectors and keep their ear to the ground in terms of people who may be willing to entertain a job switch. They are also keenly aware of the recent positions offered in the region and the total compensation packages they commend. Recruiting agencies’ value comes from being able to match the right person not only to the position but also to the organization, hence ensuring a high hiring and retention success rate.

All recruiters are not equal. The most efficient recruiters will want to create a partnership with their client. They will know and understand your organization so they can source the most appropriate candidate for the particular vacancy faster and ensure the right fit. There is no doubt that most businesses understand the value that recruiters bring, unfortunately, many choose to ignore recruiters’ track records in a misguided way of protecting their bottom line.

Yes, many assume that recruitment fees are out of their reach. The fact is that the questions you should ask yourself are:

  • How much time can we afford to go without XYZ’s position being filled?
  • How is the vacancy affecting overall productivity and existing employees’ moral and efficiency?
  • What will hiring the wrong candidate cost the organization in the long run?
  • Does our internal human resources team have the manpower, resources and job market knowledge and sourcing ability to find the best candidate for the job?

If the answers matter to you and your bottom line, you cannot afford not to partner with a recruiter to ensure you hire the right candidate in the least amount of time, and who will fit within your organization and deliver the results you expect. Hiring is more than placing an ad online and sifting through resumes. It’s about finding the person who has the skillset, experience, knowledge and values to thrive in the environment your business offers.

Tracy, Joanne and Nicole at Essence Recruitment pride themselves in knowing and understanding their clients and their business to ensure they can source and deliver the best-fit employees. Their deep understanding of the recruitment process and professionalism in sourcing and securing candidates can save you time, effort and money in the long run.

You wouldn’t leave running your business to chance, why would you leave the recruitment of your team to chance?

Essence Recruitment
(306) 652-5209
tracy@essencerecruitment.ca

1815 D Lorne Avenue
Saskatoon, SK  S7H 1Y5

 

 

Candidates 2

DO YOU REALLY KNOW YOUR TEAM?

When is the last time you’ve taken some time to really think about the people you see at work every day? The fact is that once the organization chart has been defined, the people hired to fill the positions and that that the teams seem complete, we rarely take the time to truly evaluate our in-house talent.

In most cases, we hire people at a specific time, under given circumstances and to take on defined responsibilities and projects. Just like people evolve, develop their skills and grow their experience, teams and projects transform. From time to time it pays to assess our current talent to ensure that the organization still has the right people in the most appropriate positions, with the adequate responsibilities and working on the projects best fitted for their skills, experience and aspirations. Regular performance management is one way to gather some of the information necessary to evaluate talent. It is necessary to keep track of people’s skills, any additional education and training they may have received since being hired and specific experience they may have developed. However,  to fully evaluate the organization’s talent, people have to be assessed in the larger context of functional and cross-functional teams and the overall organization chart. The objectives of current activities and projects and the specific expectation for people to achieve them also have to be taken into consideration to provide an accurate picture of the internal talent pool.

So, why should organizations take steps to assess their talent? Well, it’s about people. Most organizations agree that they are only as strong as their people and teams and many even recognize that “employees are a company’s greatest asset – they’re your competitive advantage” as said Anne M. Mulcahy, former CEO of Xerox Corporation. Yet, few organizations take the time to regularly question whether they continue to have the best suited people in the right roles and whether their people have what they need to be successful in their positions – be it the skills, experience, team members and equipment. Do your people have what they need to continue to develop and achieve their highest potential and to continue to positively contribute to the organization’s success? What does it take to be able to protect and nurture your “greatest assets” and preserve your competitive advantage? Maintaining and growing its activities as well as launching new projects require that the organization have the right mix of people who continue to share the organization’s values and an organizational structure that supports the organization’s vision, mission and objectives. Are functional and cross-functional teams adequately staffed to be successful? Could the organization be in need of different or more talent to reach its goals?

Really knowing your people will help you make sure you have the right individuals, in sufficient numbers, making up the best teams that fit together to accomplish the mission and reach for the vision. It does take some effort to get to know your talent pool. Do you have people within your group who can ask the right questions, review the documentation and gather the information required to fully assess the organizational chart? Essence Recruitment has the expertise to provide Talent Assessment in order to fully understand your organization, its past, present and future. We aim to understand your current team, your values, your culture, your vision and your organization’s potential limitations in terms of talent pool. Essence Recruitment’s Talent Assessment can help you reach your aspirations in terms of organizational structure and people performance.

Essence-why hire a recruiter

WHY HIRE A RECRUITER

As a professional recruiter, this is a question I often get. I’m going to answer it and give you some food for thought. But first things first – let’s be clear on the definition of a recruiter. A quick Google search will lead you to the business dictionary’s definition of a recruiter as “an individual who works to fill job openings in businesses or organizations.” However, according to the Association of Professional Recruiters Canada, professional recruiters have more to offer beyond trying to match job seekers with open positions. They have the knowledge and skills required to reduce recruitment costs, lower the risk of erroneous hiring decisions and avoid needless litigation. In short, a professional recruiter can save you time and money.

Many people think that because they know the job and went through the interview process once or twice before that they can recruit. We, recruiters, beg to differ. There’s a lot more to successfully recruiting than just dusting off the job description, placing an ad and meeting a few candidates. Effective recruitment matters because ultimately your organization can only be as good as the people that make it. As James C. Collins put it in his book Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Others Don’t, “Those who build great companies understand that the ultimate throttle on growth for any great company is not markets, or technology, or competition, or products. It is one thing above all others: the ability to get and keep enough of the right people.” Getting the right people requires method and skills, it means having a solid recruitment strategy and implementation plan.

Before starting any recruitment process, you need to ask yourself a few questions? For example, if you are recruiting for an existing position, now is a good time to reassess it. What are the duties and responsibilities? Do you need the position in its existing form? How does the position contribute to your organization’s goals? Does it require special skills and education? How about the personality requirements? Doing a thorough assessment early will allow you to be clear on the type of position and person you require. An experienced recruiter will ask the right questions so you end up with a precise job description and compensation package, a well-formulated job ad and position marketing strategy, and a fitting matrix to select the right candidate.

Beyond the job itself, how well do you actually know your organization? You may wonder why that matters, but having a clear understanding of the impact of its structure, culture and values will also help you recruit the best candidate. Successfully filling a position means more than just getting someone to do the job. Experience, education and drive are not enough. How will the individual fit within the organization? Are their values in alignment with yours? Would you hire a vegetarian to sell meat? Probably not! Is your organizational structure optimized to reach your goals and help your employees meet or excel their objectives? Again, a professional recruiter can help you take stock of your organization’s features and screen potential candidates with these features in mind.

Why do I need a recruiter when I already have a human resources department? That’s another question people often ask me. Well, the real question should be – is our human resources team well versed in recruitment? Not all human resources departments are created equal. There are many diverse disciplines within human resources, although they all contribute to people management. It’s kind of like carpenters and bricklayers; they each contribute to the construction of a house but bring different skill sets. Internal human resources professionals often focus on the management of employees once they have been hired, such as management of their benefits, training, discipline, promotions and more. Recruitment professionals focus on all the aspects that have to be aligned to ensure your satisfaction and that of the new recruit for a positive long-term relationship. We bring expertise in the design of the right position to meet operational objectives, the offer of fair rewards for the position, the delivery of pointed interviews to efficiently identify potential recruits, and finally the selection and attraction of the best candidate.

As CEO of Essence Recruitment, I believe in “hiring slow” – that means taking the time necessary to understand your organization and its existing workforce. It is about establishing a partnership to contribute to your organization’s overall success. So, next time you think you need to hire for a new or existing position, think professional recruiter first.

Tracy Arno

CEO, Essence Recruitment

February 2017

employee-retention-strategy

Quits Are Up: 7 Employee Retention Strategies Your Company Must Have

A comprehensive people strategy is not comprehensive if it doesn’t include a proven retention strategy for holding on to the employees you’ve worked hard to recruit into your company.

That may sound logical, but many, if not most, small businesses overlook this critical component in their human resources program. In a recent Watson Wyatt survey, more than 50 percent of the responding companies said they didn’t have a formal strategy for retaining employees once they had been successfully recruited.

So why is that? I think the answer lies in a misperception about what factors actually drive retention.

Here are 7 vital employee retention strategies:

  1. Track retention. If you don’t measure it, it won’t improve. If you don’t know which line managers are doing well and which are not, you’ll not know who needs coaching. And if you don’t know where you stand relative to your industry, then you’re probably one of the worst.
  2. Train first level supervisors. I don’t claim to be an HR expert, but good supervisors are crucial to retention. Steve Miranda, who is an expert, says, “Employees don’t quite jobs. They quit managers.” That’s an overstatement, but not by much. Top on the list of best practices is regular meetings with employees about performance and expectations.
  3. Hire right in the first place. Too many employment interviews are about personality: whether the job candidate matches the manager’s personality. Focus more on job skills and you’ll get a better fit, which is more likely to lead to a long employment tenure.
  4. Offer employees a path to greater pay, recognition and responsibility. Not everyone can rise to CEO, but every employee can build skills. Find a way to recognize those skill and challenge employees to gain even more skills. That makes not only a better employee, but one who feels a sense of accomplishment and success.
  5. Look for ways to increase flexibility in work conditions. Can you accommodate non-work responsibilities and desires of your employees? Overly rigid work rules can drive good workers away.
  6. Look for stressors, and train leaders on how to help employees in stressful positions.
  7. Re-evaluate your benefits package. This isn’t to say that benefits need to be increased, but that the package should meet the needs of those employees most likely to leave the company. All too often, very senior managers think about what is important to them, not the 30-somethings who are considering changing jobs.

What’s not on the list? Salary. Sometimes you need to adjust total pay, but companies usually spend too much time thinking about pay and not enough time thinking about the other issues that make employees feel good or bad about their jobs.

 

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Assessing Leadership: 3 Reminders When Evaluating Your Leadership

“True leadership cannot be awarded, appointed, or assigned. It comes only from influence.”

Influence can make or break the success of your ability to lead well and determine the direction of a company itself. However, we too often move through the motions without thinking about ways to increase in influence.

Leadership is tough. Growing is hard. Any leader will tell you that the giving and receiving of both criticism and encouragement from others is crucial for leadership growth.

How are you intentional in these areas? How well do you receive it?

Today, we challenge you to think of the following…

When was the last time you:

  • Reflected on your own leadership?
  • Had your boss assess your leadership?
  • Invited your direct reports to review your leadership?
  • Sought feedback from your family on the way you lead?

In answering those questions, you may realize that it’s been a while since you had the chance to assess your leadership and learn from it.

Here are a few reminders as you begin to evaluate your leadership:

  1. “A leadership position is usually given to people because they have leadership potential.”
    This seems fairly simple, right? You are a leader because you have potential. However, you must make great use of that potential. Recognize that your leadership is only as good as the lowest level you’ve mastered. As you assess your skill level and aim for growth, you are the master of your own influence. You realize that small things matter. Mastering the basics of influence only grows your platform in the long run.
  2. “Leadership is action, not position.”
    When assessing your own leadership, go with your first instinct on your skill level. Begin by truthfully and honestly discovering where you stand. From there, you will know how to take action. If leaders aren’t acting upon their influence, they likely are resting on their laurels or position without making progress in their abilities.
  3. “Every leader has these two characteristics: (A) they are going somewhere and (B) they are able to persuade others to go with them.”
    Do you have those two characteristics? Do you feel like you are using them well? If you recognize that you are going somewhere, but you are going alone, now is a great time to assess your leadership and evaluate how you can improve. Knowing where you’re going and effectively sharing that with others is a recipe for success.

Overall, know your team. Know how they perceive you. And lastly, know yourself.

As you begin to think about your leadership level, we’d love to know: When was a time you received feedback from a team member that made an impact on your leadership?

An article by the John Maxwell Team. 

5-year-tracy-pic

Celebrating 5 Years!

Today is an exciting day for Essence Recruitment. Believe it or not, today marks 5 years since opening the doors and taking a leap into life as a small business owner. It’s crazy to think about how the years have flown by, but I am proud of what has been accomplished in those years!

In 2011, we opened the doors (well, partially anyways) to a one person show in a VERY small office. Over the years, a lot of lessons have been learned and mistakes made, but the key organizational values have always stayed intact – transparency, respect, community, integrity and honesty. Our goal was to be a business that worked hard to build long-term relationships, so we focused on fit and culture as opposed to just filling a job. This way of thinking has been the number one reason for our growth.

In the 5 years, we have had a lot of successes. Year over year, we have grown our client and referral base. We have a built a positive reputation, expanded naturally from professional recruitment into executive recruitment. And, as in most other small business, we will continue to evolve our services.

Over the next few months we will introducing our newest division, “People Strategies”. This division of Essence will focus on looking at the organization as a whole prior to the actual recruitment process. This approach will ensure that the organization understands what skillsets already exist within their team and where the gaps exist. It is also an important service to help organizations better understand their culture and values.

We are excited about how far we have come, but we are even more excited about the future! Thank you to everyone who has been part of this journey and hope you will continue to trust your recruitment needs to Essence as we continue to grow.

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5 Signs Your Company Culture May Actually Suck

Great company culture is visceral. We’re talking about the type of culture that is so real, it envelops you from the minute you step into the office. It’s refreshing, like splashing cool water on your face in blistering hot weather. It radiates from every person in the business.

Having a strong company culture is the secret ingredient to modern success. Airbnb’s Brian Chesky has gone so far as to proclaim company culture as the sole subject of a company’s legacy. Company culture, he says, is the foundation for all future innovation. It’s that important.

Most companies want great company culture, but only a few do what it takes to actually have it. It certainly doesn’t come easy, but pinpointing your weaknesses and shifting your work environment will put you on the right path.

The first step of improving your culture is to identify where it’s lacking. Here are five indications that your company culture may actually suck, and solutions to make it better.

  1. Your culture relies on perks.

It can be tempting to say you have good company culture since you have a company-sponsored happy hour every Friday or because you recently hired an in-house barista to make lattes every morning. But culture does not come from perks, it’s rooted in a shared philosophy that brings your people together. Perks are used to empower your culture by supporting the company philosophy.

Buffer, for example, has a philosophy of transparency. One of the company perks is a free Jawbone’s Up wristband so that the whole team can share their sleeping, eating and activity information in full transparency. In this case, the perk supports the philosophy while helping build strong relationships among a remote team.

  1. Your company has a generic mission statement.

It’s not enough to simply plaster a mission statement from your first business plan across the office wall. Your company must have strong core values and a noble cause at the foundation of everything you do to achieve great company culture.

noble cause captures your company’s higher purpose and what your team is working to accomplish every single day. It is a statement that defines the direction of the company, everything from business development to new employee orientation. The company’s core values and shared beliefs are the soul of a company and its foundation for outstanding company culture.

  1. Your culture only exists at work.

Great company culture doesn’t drop off when you exit the building, it is carried out into the world by your people, ambassadors and witnesses of your culture. It is internalized and adopted by your team, shaping them as people and helping them to evolve at work and beyond.

At Digital Telepathy, they empower employees from the inside out through betterment bonuses. Every year, each team member receives $1,500 for a project to simply better themselves or others. They choose something they have always wanted to do, work on the project throughout the year and share their experience with the whole team.

Betterment is a core value at Digital Telepathy, so as their team betters themselves, they are evolving the culture inside and outside of the office.

  1. You hire skills, not people.

Every person you hire either adds or detracts from your company culture. Employees who don’t fit into the culture, no matter how talented they are, will not contribute to the longevity of your business.

study from RoundPegg found that new employees with strong cultural fit were 27.2% less likely to leave within their first 18-months on the job. If you don’t have job applicants going through intensive, culture related interviews before you hire, you may want to rethink your hiring process. Consider using a personality profiles, in addition to a skill tests and reference checks, to help decide if an applicant is a cultural fit.

  1. You discourage risk.

Part of learning and growth is trial and error. Not everything can be predicted, practiced and projected. If your company culture awards short-term performance and punishes risk takers, you’ll be cultivating a norm of anti-innovation. Allowing employees to fail quickly without repercussion encourages your team to explore possibilities and be more innovative. Your team will feel more valued when it has a voice and that will benefit your business.

The bottom line: Building great company culture is about being inclusive of all employees, creating a shared philosophy to guide your decisions and protecting that foundation by bringing on and empowering the right people.

When you have great company culture, you’ll feel it, and so will everyone in and around your company. It is not easy to achieve but, once done right, it can’t be ignored.

Written by Chuck Longanecker, Founder of Digital Telepathy and Filament.io. 

 

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Everything You Need To Know About Resume Writing

When you haven’t updated your resume in a while, it can be hard to know where to start. What experiences and accomplishments should you include for the jobs you’ve got your eye on? What new resume rules and trends should you be following? And seriously, one page or two?

Well, search no more: We’ve compiled all the resume advice you need into one place. Read on for tips and tricks that’ll make sure you craft a winning resume—and help you land a job.

Telling Your Story

  1. Don’t Put Everything on There

Your resume should not have every work experience you’ve ever had listed on it. Think of your resume not as a comprehensive list of your career history, but as a marketing document selling you as the perfect person for the job. For each resume you send out, you’ll want to highlight only the accomplishments and skills that are most relevant to the job at hand (even if that means you don’t include all of your experience). Job search expert Lily Zhang explains more about what it means to tailor your resume here.

  1. But Keep a Master List of All Jobs

Since you’ll want to be swapping different information in and out depending on the job you’re applying to, keep a resume master list on your computer where you keep any information you’ve ever included on a resume: old positions, bullet points tailored for different applications, special projects that only sometimes make sense to include. Then, when you’re crafting each resume, it’s just a matter of cutting and pasting relevant information together. Think of this as your brag file.

  1. Put the Best Stuff “Above the Fold”

In marketing speak, “above the fold” refers to what you see on the front half of a folded newspaper (or, in the digital age, before you scroll down on a website), but basically it’s your first impression of a document. In resume speak, it means you should make sure your best experiences and accomplishments are visible on the top third of your resume. This top section is what the hiring manager is going to see first—and what will serve as a hook for someone to keep on reading. So focus on putting your best, most relevant experiences first—and then check out these five other marketing tricks to get your resume noticed.

  1. Ditch the Objective Statement

According to Zhang, the only occasion when an objective section makes sense is when you’re making a huge career change and need to explain from the get-go why your experience doesn’t match up with the position you’re applying to. In every other case? Consider whether a summary statement would be right for you—or just nix it altogether to save space and focus on making the rest of your resume stellar.

  1. Keep it (Reverse) Chronological

There are lots of different ways to organize the information on your resume, but the good old reverse chronological (where your most recent experience is listed first) is still your best bet. Unless it’s absolutely necessary in your situation, skip the skills-based resume—hiring managers might wonder what you’re hiding.

  1. Keep it to a Page

The two- (or more!) page resume is a hotly debated topic, but the bottom line is this—you want the information here to be concise, and making yourself keep it to one page is a good way to force yourself to do this. If you truly have enough relevant and importantexperience, training, and credentials to showcase on more than one page of your resume, then go for it. But if you can tell the same story in less space? Do. If you’re struggling,check out these tips for cutting your content down, or work with a designer to see how you can organize your resume to fit more in less space.

  1. Consider an Online Supplement

Can’t figure out how to tell your whole story on one page, or want to be able to include some visual examples of your work? Instead of trying to have your resume cover everything, cover the most important details on that document, and then include a link to your personal website, where you can dive more into what makes you the ideal candidate.

 

Formatting

  1. Keep it Simple

We’ll talk about getting creative in order to stand out in a minute. But the most basic principle of good resume formatting and design? Keep it simple. Use a basic but modern font, like Helvetica, Arial, or Century Gothic. Make your resume easy on hiring managers’ eyes by using a font size between 10 and 12 and leaving a healthy amount of white space on the page. You can use a different font or typeface for your name, your resume headers, and the companies for which you’ve worked, but keep it simple and keep it consistent. Your main focus here should be on readability for the hiring manager. That being said, you should feel free to…

  1. Carefully Stand Out

Really want your resume stand out from the sea of Times New Roman? Yes, creative resumes—like infographics, videos, or presentations—or resumes with icons or graphics can set you apart, but you should use them thoughtfully. If you’re applying through an ATS, keep to the standard formatting without any bells and whistles so the computer can read it effectively. If you’re applying to a more traditional company, don’t get too crazy, but feel free to add some tasteful design elements or a little color to make it pop. No matter what, don’t do it unless you’re willing to put in the time, creativity, and design work to make it awesome, or get help from a professional.

What does a “tastefully designed” resume look like? Check these examples from Elevated Resumes, which will catch a hiring manager’s eye without being distracting or unprofessional.

  1. Make Your Contact Info Prominent

You don’t need to include your address on your resume anymore (really!), but you do need to make sure to include a phone number and professional email address (not your work address!) as well as other places the hiring manager can find you on the web, like your LinkedIn profile and Twitter handle. (Implicit in this is that you keep these social media profiles suitable for prospective employers.)

  1. Design for Skimmability

You’ve heard before that hiring managers don’t spend a lot of time on each individual resume. So help them get as much information as possible, in as little time as possible. These 12 small formatting changes will make a huge difference.

  1. Get Help From a Professional

Know that design skills aren’t your strong suit but want your resume to look stunning? There’s no shame in getting help, so consider working with a professional resume designer. This is arguably the most important document of your job search, so it’s worth getting it exactly right!

 

Work Experience

  1. Keep it Recent, Keep it Relevant

As a rule, you should only show the most recent 10-15 years of your career history and only include the experience relevant to the positions to which you are applying. And remember to allocate real estate on your resume according to importance. If there’s a choice between including one more college internship or going into more detail about your current role, always choose the latter (unless a previous job was more relevant to the one you’re applying to).

  1. No Relevant Experience? No Worries!

Don’t panic if you don’t have any experience that fits the bill. Instead, Zhang explains, focus your resume on your relevant and transferrable skills along with any related side or academic projects, and then make sure to pair it with a strong cover letter telling the narrative of why you’re ideal for the job.

  1. Curate Your Bullet Points

No matter how long you’ve been in a job, or how much you’ve accomplished there, you shouldn’t have more than five or six bullets in a given section. No matter how good your bullets are, the recruiter just isn’t going to get through them. Check out these tips for writing impressive bullet points.

  1. Bring it Down a Level

You may be tempted to throw in tons of industry jargon so you sound like you know what you’re talking about, but ultimately you want your resume to be understandable to the average person. Remember that the first person who sees your resume might be a recruiter, an assistant, or even a high-level executive—and you want to be sure that it is readable, relevant, and interesting to all of them.

  1. Give ’Em the Numbers

Use as many facts, figures, and numbers as you can in your bullet points. How many people were impacted by your work? By what percentage did you exceed your goals? By quantifying your accomplishments, you really allow the hiring manager to picture the level of work or responsibility you needed to achieve them. Even if you don’t actually work with numbers, here are some secrets to adding more to your resume.

  1. Take it One Step Further

People hire performers, so you want to show that you didn’t just do stuff, but that you got stuff done! As you look at your bullet points, think about how you can take each statement one step further and add in what the benefit was to your boss or your company. By doing this, you clearly communicate not only what you’re capable of, but also the direct benefit the employer will receive by hiring you. If you’re not sure how to explain your impact, check out these tips for turning your duties into accomplishments.

  1. Show—Don’t Tell—Your Soft Skills

Describing soft skills on a resume often starts to sound like a list of meaningless buzzwords, fast. But being a “strong leader” or an “effective communicator” are important characteristics you want to get across. Think about how you can demonstrate these attributes in your bullet points without actually saying them. Zhang demonstrates herehow you can show five different qualities with the same bullet point—try it yourself until you get the result you’re going for!

  1. Don’t Neglect Non-Traditional Work

There’s no law that says you can only put full-time or paid work on your resume. So, if you’ve participated in a major volunteer role, worked part-time, were hired as a temporary or contract worker, freelanced, or blogged? Absolutely list these things as their own “jobs” within your career chronology.

  1. Mix Up Your Word Use

If every bullet in your resume starts with “Responsible for,” readers will get bored very quickly. Use our handy list of better verbs to mix it up!

  1. Use Keywords

Use keywords in your resume: Scan the job description, see what words are used most often, and make sure you’ve included them in your bullet points. Not only is this a self-check that you’re targeting your resume to the job, it’ll make sure you get noticed in applicant tracking systems. Stuck on which words to include? Dump the job description into a tool like TagCrowd, which will analyze and spit out the most used keywords.

  1. Avoid Empty Words

What words shouldn’t you include? Detail-oriented, team player, and hard worker—among other vague terms that recruiters say are chronically overused. We bet there’s a better way to describe how awesome you are.

 

Education

  1. Experience First, Education Second

Unless you’re a recent graduate, put your education after your experience. Chances are, your last couple of jobs are more important and relevant to you getting the job than where you went to college.

  1. Also Keep it Reverse Chronological

Usually, you should lay down your educational background by listing the most recent or advanced degree first, working in reverse chronological order. But if older coursework is more specific to the job, list that first to grab the reviewer’s attention.

  1. Highlight Honours, Not GPA

If you graduated from college with high honours, absolutely make note of it. While you don’t need to list your GPA, don’t be afraid to showcase that summa cum laude status or the fact that you were in the honours college at your university.

  1. Include Continuing or Online Education

Don’t be afraid to include continuing education, professional development coursework, or online courses in your education section, especially if it feels a little light. Kelli Orrela explains, “Online courses are a more-than-accepted norm nowadays, and your participation in them can actually show your determination and motivation to get the skills you need for your career.”

 

Skills, Awards, and Interests

  1. List Out Your Skills

Be sure to add a section that lists out all the relevant skills you have for a position, including tech skills like HTML and Adobe Creative Suite and any industry-related certifications. Just make sure to skip including skills that everyone is expected to have, like using email or Microsoft Word. Doing so will actually make you seem less technologically savvy.

  1. Divvy Them Up

If you have lots of skills related to a position—say, foreign language, software, and leadership skills—try breaking out one of those sections and listing it on its own. Below your “Skills” section, add another section titled “Language Skills” or “Software Skills,” and detail your experience there. Again—we’re going for skimmability here, folks!

  1. Show Some Personality

Feel free to include an “Interests” section on your resume, but only add those that are relevant to the job. Are you a guitar player with your eye on a music company? Definitely include it. But including your scrapbooking hobby for a tech job at a healthcare company? Don’t even think about it.

  1. Beware of Interests That Could Be Controversial

Maybe you help raise money for your church on the reg. Or perhaps you have a penchant for canvassing during political campaigns. Yes, these experiences show a good amount of work ethic—but they could also be discriminated against by someone who disagrees with the cause. Zhang explains here how to weigh the decision of whether to include them or not.

  1. Strut Your Stuff

Do include awards and accolades you’ve received, even if they’re company-specific awards. Just state what you earned them for, e.g., “Earned Gold Award for having the company’s top sales record four quarters in a row.” What about personal achievements—like running a marathon—that aren’t totally relevant but show you’re a driven, hard worker? Zhang shares the proper ways to include them.

 

Gaps and Other Sticky Resume Situations

  1. Kill the Short-Term Jobs

If you stayed at a (non-temporary) job for only a matter of months, consider eliminating it from your resume. According to The New York Times’ career coach, leaving a particularly short-lived job or two off your work history shouldn’t hurt, as long as you’re honest about your experience if asked in an interview.

  1. Deal with the Gaps

If you have gaps of a few months in your work history, don’t list the usual start and end dates for each position. Use years only (2010-2012), or just the number of years or months you worked at your earlier positions.

  1. Explain Serial Job Hopping

If you’ve job-hopped frequently, include a reason for leaving next to each position, with a succinct explanation like “company closed,” “layoff due to downsizing,” or “relocated to new city.” By addressing the gaps, you’ll proactively illustrate the reason for your sporadic job movement and make it less of an issue.

  1. Explain a Long Break in Jobs

Re-entering the workforce after a long hiatus? This is the perfect opportunity for a summary statement at the top, outlining your best skills and accomplishments. Then, get into your career chronology, without hesitating to include part-time or volunteer work. See more tips from Jenny Foss for killing it on your comeback resume.

  1. Don’t Try to Get Cute

Don’t try to creatively fill in gaps on your resume. For example, if you took time out of the workforce to raise kids, don’t list your parenting experience on your resume, à la “adeptly managed the growing pile of laundry” (we’ve seen it). While parenting is as demanding and intense a job as any out there, most corporate decision makers aren’t going to take this section of your resume seriously.

 

Finishing Touches

  1. Ditch “References Available Upon Request”

If a hiring manager is interested in you, he or she will ask you for references—and will assume that you have them. There’s no need to address the obvious (and doing so might even make you look a little presumptuous!).

  1. Proofread, Proofread, Proofread

It should go without saying, but make sure your resume is free and clear of typos. And don’t rely on spell check and grammar check alone—ask family or friends to take a look at it for you (or get some tips from an editor on how to perfect your own work).

  1. Save it as a PDF

If emailing your resume, make sure to always send a PDF rather than a .doc. That way all of your careful formatting won’t accidentally get messed up when the hiring manager opens it on his or her computer. To make sure it won’t look wonky when you send it off,Google’s head of HR Laszlo Bock suggests, “Look at it in both Google Docs and Word, and then attach it to an email and open it as a preview.”

  1. Name Your File Smartly

Ready to save your resume and send it off? Save it as “Jane Smith Resume” instead of “Resume.” It’s one less step the hiring manager has to take.

  1. Constantly Refresh It

Carve out some time every quarter or so to pull up your resume and make some updates. Have you taken on new responsibilities? Learned new skills? Add them in. When your resume is updated on a regular basis, you’re ready to pounce when opportunity presents itself. And, even if you’re not job searching, there are plenty of good reasons to keep this document in tip-top shape.

About the Author

Erin believes in the power of content to spread ideas, build communities, and engage and delight people—which is why she spends her days helping employers and brands do just that. During her time at The Muse, Erin has also worn the hats of personal website expert, video producer, Shutterstock wrangler, master lunch-packer, and company librarian. Erin is always looking for new places to explore on the weekends, and she almost never says no to tea and a croissant. Invite Erin to tea at eringreenawald.com or on Twitter @erinaceously.

Composite image of businessman holding his jacket

How much money to ask for in a salary negotiation?

How much can I ask for in a salary negotiation without leaving a bad taste in the employer’s mouth or losing the job offer?

When you’re finally down to the wire on your impending job offer, there will come a time to talk numbers. That one last conversation — where you negotiate salary — can unnerve even the most savvy job seeker.

While most employers expect you to come back with a counteroffer, many job candidates avoid the practice and leave money on the table. You don’t have to be one of them. You’d be well served in your career to become comfortable with the process. You get one chance to accept a final compensation package at your company, so be prepared to make a persuasive argument.

So how do you stay true to your target without alienating the hiring manager or hurting your prospects?

First, to prepare for that discussion, you’ll want to do your research ahead of time and figure out what someone with your experience and skills typically makes in this particular role.

Once you hear their offer and it’s time to negotiate, you should keep those numbers in mind, but also consider the nature of the first offer and how much bargaining power you think you have. And think about whether you’re currently under- or overpaid.

As a general rule of thumb, however, it’s usually appropriate to ask for 10% to 20% more than what you’re currently making. 

That means if you’re making $50,000 a year now, you can easily ask for $55,000 to $60,000 without seeming greedy or getting laughed at.

If the original offer is on the low side of the scale, you have more leverage. If you get an offer for 20% over your current salary, you can still negotiate for more — ask for an additional 5% — but know that you’re already in good stead.

The bottom line: Do the math (and your research!) beforehand — know what a 10% to 20% pay increase would total, and what the going rate for someone with your skills is — and ask for that amount. Worst case scenario, the employer says “no.”

Written by Jacquelyn Smith of Business Insider. Based on an interview with Lynn Taylor, a National Workplace expert.