Who Else Wants a Resume That Captures the Real You?

To write a resume these days you need to squeeze yourself into one page, check off all the required keywords, and avoid saying anything that might get you screened out. No wonder you often wind up looking like just another systems administrator or social studies teacher!

Meanwhile, employers want to know who candidates really are. Researchers at Texas Christian University studied 244 recruiters and found they made inferences about applicants’ extraversion, openness to experience, and conscientiousness based on their paperwork. Unfortunately, those guesses were largely invalid and unreliable.

It’s time to help each other out. Learn how to use the style and content of your resume to let the real you shine through.

Style Tips

  1. State your name. Small items like nicknames and middle initials can add up to a big difference in the impression you make. Ask a friend for their opinion of what sounds professional and engaging.
  2. Choose your font. As long as it’s easy to read on a phone or tablet, you can pick from a wide range of options. Maybe you prefer the traditional Times Roman or Calibri or you’re prepared to be a little more daring with the less-common Garamond.
  3. Set your margins. Even your margins can say something about you. Justified text that’s even on the left and right tends to look more formal. On the other hand, ragged edges look friendlier, and can be easier to skim.
  4. Print it out. As long as your potential employer isn’t committed to minimizing paper, you may want to send a backup copy after your electronic submission. Take the opportunity to stand out with lightly patterned paper that won’t interfere with readability. Choose a neutral color like cream or light grey.
  5. Proof read. In addition to anything else you want to communicate, let the hiring manager know you’re conscientious. Have a second pair of eyes check your materials for grammar and spelling.
  6. Videotape it. Call ahead to see if the company you’re interested in welcomes video applications or tries to avoid them to minimize the risk of bias. If you receive the go-ahead, you can use technology to make a personal appearance early in the process.

 

Content Tip

  1. Tell stories. Why settle for saying you’re energetic when you can use a real-life example that shows your strengths in action? Edit your accomplishments and career summary to include some interesting anecdotes.
  2. Focus on recognition. Reinforce your point by mentioning what others say about you. Drop in a testimonial from a former boss or client. List your honors and awards.
  3. Use numbers. Create a vivid and specific image by quantifying your track record. Tell how many employees you’ve supervised or how much time you’ve saved.
  4. Include skills and training. Your proficiency with computer software or foreign languages may give you an advantage. Make it memorable by adding in some background on how you stay current, whether it’s summer travel or evening courses.
  5. Describe interests. Personal interests don’t have to sound silly. You may discover that you and your new boss have something in common like tennis or baking.
  6. Report your volunteer work. Community service will impress any progressive organization, and suggest your values. Record the hours you’ve spent building homes or answering phones.

 

Personalizing your resume helps you stand out and find a workplace where you’re more likely to feel like you belong. When you’re customizing your application for each positon, take a few extra minutes to include some details that will tell hiring managers what makes you special.

Why Your LinkedIn Head Shot May Be Holding You Back

Recruiters, colleagues, and potential clients are 14 times more likely to click on your LinkedIn profile if you have a photo. If you’re spending hours editing your summary statement, ensure you give equal time to the images.

Speaking of images, researchers also say that most viewers take only about one-tenth of a second to form judgements about how trustworthy and competent you are. Learn how to make your LinkedIn photo say what you want it to say and deliver the message quickly.

Tried and True Tips for Your LinkedIn Photo

Numerous studies show some techniques are effective for any line of work or any stage in your career. When you’re trying to convey your professionalism, it’s usually okay to look a little conventional.

  1. Smile and squinch. A smile makes you look friendly and approachable, and even increases your happiness. Squinching refers to the lines that appear when you narrow your eyes, a sign that your grin is genuine.
  2. Stay updated. You may lose some credibility if your photo doesn’t look like you when you show up in person. Take a new shot every couple of years.
  3. Focus on your face. Making your face about 60% of the image is a good rule of thumb. Crop it from the shoulders up.
    Make eye contact. Holding eye contact encourages positive feelings. Take off your sunglasses and watch out for glare so the viewer will be able to connect with you.
  4. Dress for work. Put on clothes that you would wear to an interview for your dream job. For most professionals, that means business or business casual looks. Solid colors tend to be more flattering than busy patterns.
  5. Hire a professional. Investing in a visit to a professional photography studio could pay off. Ask around for referrals and check out work samples. If you’re on a tight budget, ask a friend or family member who’s handy with a camera.
  6. Skip recycling. Suppose you have a shot you love from your last vacation or your cousin’s wedding? Unfortunately, you’ll probably lose points if you have to crop out the background or your girlfriend’s knees.
  7. Be consistent. Become more recognizable. Use the same image on other social media platforms and websites.
  8. Seek feedback. Check out photofeeler, a free online service that gives you unbiased opinions from strangers. It even breaks down the ratings for qualities like confidence, trustworthiness, and influence.

Innovative Tips for Your LinkedIn Photo

 On the other hand, maybe you need to stand out or communicate your unique personal brand. Experiment with these more creative ideas.

  1.  Play with color. Vivid background colors grab attention. See how you look in a field of orange or purple.
  2. Highlight your passions. While it’s usually a good idea to leave pets and children out of LinkedIn photos, you may be the exception if you’re a veterinarian or a nanny. Similarly, a musician playing or a chef cooking may be more persuasive than the usual head and shoulders shot.
  3. Create balance. If your photo is a little daring, let the rest of your profile show your serious side. Write a compelling headline. Gather impressive recommendations and endorsements. Change your custom LinkedIn URL to your full name.
  4. Supplement it. Add additional media to your profile. SlideShare presentations, YouTube videos, and Instagram posts help to make you more interesting and engaging.

Your LinkedIn photo is an important ingredient in your professional brand. When you’re picking images that will advance your career, appearing approachable and competent is more important than looking like a movie star.

8 Mistakes Successful People Don’t Make – or Don’t Repeat

Do you keep making the same mistakes? If you do, you might find that you make little progress in your life. There is a huge opportunity to learn from your mistakes. Those that successfully learn from their mistakes wind up being highly successful. Those that repeat them struggle. Imagine how your life would be different if you never made the same mistake twice.

Learn from your mistakes and vow to never repeat them:

1. Successful people avoid making excuses. Excuses are preparations for failure. An excuse is a justification to fail or quit. No one will resolve your challenges for you. Take responsibility and do the best you can.

2. Fail to have an objective. Life without goals is a random experience. Unfortunately, without a direction, your life will tend to get worse rather than better. Have a goal or expect to be disappointed.

• What are your goals right now? Do you have them written down? What do you think you’ll accomplish over the next six months if you don’t have any goals?

• Create 3-5 goals that you can accomplish over the next six months.

3. Fail to have a plan. If you have a goal, you must have a plan for achieving it. One isn’t much good without the other. Avoid hoping and wishing your goals will come true on their own. Take the bull by the horns.

4. Successful people don’t repeat their mistakes. Most of us make the same mistakes repeatedly. Whether it’s making a poor choice in a mate, overspending, or trying to gain new customers through ineffective means, people are creatures of habit. Make habits of your effective behaviors, rather than your ineffective behaviors.

5. Expect others to change. Is it easy to change your own attitudes, beliefs, or behaviors? And you want to change! Consider how hard it would be to change someone else. And they don’t want to change! You can’t change others.

6. Choosing comfort over progress. Perhaps the largest mistake of those who struggle in life is the tendency to place short-term comfort over long-term advantages. This is a very ineffective way to deal with life. This is the friend that asks to sleep on your couch for a few days and is still there after three months.

7. Not playing to their strengths. The most successful people take full advantage of their strengths at every opportunity. While it’s admirable to work on your weaknesses, most successful people choose to avoid them. You can’t be good at everything. Use your talents and strengths as much as possible.

8. Ignoring the little things. It’s the little things that will derail your efforts. It’s easy to ignore the seemingly mundane details, but those details can make all the difference in the end.

Make use of your mistakes. Learn from them and decide to avoid them in the future. Life is easy if you don’t repeat your errors.

What are the major mistakes you’ve made repeatedly? Why do you think you repeat them? Do you lack awareness of your mistakes?

Examine the challenges in your life and ask yourself why they occurred. What could you have done differently to avoid those challenges? It’s worthwhile to spend some time each week reviewing the past week. Determine your mistakes and ensure that you don’t repeat them. Watch how quickly your life changes!

The Secret to Staying in the Loop at Work

Whatever your job description says, staying in the loop is a primary responsibility. You need information and knowledge to do your work effectively.

However, there are many reasons why you might wind up on the sidelines. While your employee manual probably tells you how to fill in your time sheet and follow the dress code, it doesn’t mention how to ensure you’re invited to essential meetings and debriefed when you return from business trips.

Discover the secret to keeping current on what’s going on at the office. Use these tips to identify and fix common obstacles to staying in the loop.

Internal Obstacles to Staying in the Loop: 

  1. Network internally. To see the big picture, you probably need to look beyond your own department. Reaching out to staff members in sales or human resources can show you how your tasks affect each other. Invite someone out to lunch or join them in the break room.
  2. Attend meetings. Accept invitations even when your presence is not required. Let others know that you’re interested in upcoming events.
  3. Manage projects. Volunteering to coordinate activities helps you stay on top of details. You have a valid reason to confirm whether milestones are being reached and how that affects related deadlines.
  4. Contact former colleagues. Ex-employees may feel free to discuss sensitive subjects. Stay in touch.
  5. Monitor your industry. Do you keep up with business news in your field? Being informed about downturns or key leadership changes could prevent unpleasant surprises.
  6. Share information. The more generous you are with your resources, the more likely others are to reciprocate. Try to be transparent whenever possible.
  7. Confirm rumors. The office grapevine may contain some gems, but you need to separate fact from fiction. If appropriate, ask management to clear up the confusion while you keep your eyes and ears open.
  8. Be patient. There may be legitimate reasons why some information is confidential. Give others the benefit of the doubt. Instead of taking things personally, work at finding solutions.

 

External Obstacles to Staying in the Loop: 

  1. Promote cooperation. Employees might hoard information as a way to protect their turf due to insecurities and competitive pressures. You can help them to relax by encouraging team spirit and demonstrating a commitment to helping others succeed.
  2. Appeal to self-interest. For fast results, let your peers know what’s in it for them. Your office mate might give you those figures you’ve been waiting for right away if she knows you’ll finish a report you’re both responsible for.
  3. Repair oversights. Is a former buddy giving you a cold shoulder because you forgot to tell them that a project was cancelled? Let them know that you appreciate their efforts and regret how your actions affected them.
  4. Find alternatives. Maybe your co-workers are just too busy to give you the status reports you’re hoping for. Be creative about taking another route like checking meeting minutes or reorganizing the work flow.
  5. Communicate with your boss. Your supervisor may not realize how much time and energy you waste digging for data to complete your assignments. Collaborate on procedures that make optimum use of your resources, whether it’s weekly calls or daily chats. Treat each other with respect and earn each other’s trust.

 

Feeling left out can take a heavy toll on job satisfaction and performance. Focus on building an inclusive office culture where each team member has the opportunity to be valued and connected. Staying in the loop will help you to enjoy your work and accomplish more.

 

Tired of Working Without Recognition?

Employees want it, managers know it’s important, and it usually doesn’t cost a dime. When you look at it that way, you’d expect to be drowning in recognition at work.

Yet, a recent Gallup poll showed that lack of workplace appreciation is a major concern among employees.

It’s not that surprising when you think about the possible reasons. Some of your coworkers could feel too competitive to notice you. Your boss could think that keeping you on the payroll proves they’re satisfied with your performance, and any of your colleagues could be uncomfortable or unfamiliar with handing out praise.

If you want to feel valued, you may need to shake things up. Start with these suggestions for creating more recognition for yourself and your colleagues.

Giving Recognition to Others

If you encourage a more grateful and caring office culture, some of the benefits are bound to come your way. Plus, you’ll avoid the potential pitfalls of conspicuous self-promotion

  1. Share credit. Put your ego aside and show that you’re interested in the whole team. If you acknowledge others’ contributions, they’re more likely to do the same for you.
  2. Praise skillfully. Specific feedback is more effective than general statements. Recognize your coworkers for their negotiation skills or marketing savvy instead of just saying that they did a great job. Remember that sincerity counts too.
  3. Support formal programs. If your employer has established recognition programs, learn the details and participate enthusiastically. You may be the next employee of the month.
  4. Socialize more. Ensure you get to know your colleagues. Take time out for small talk and listen closely to what they have to say. Communicate in person rather than relying on email and texts.
  5. Build your network. Develop a habit of helping others. Nurturing relationships will give you allies who believe in your abilities and talents.

Gaining Recognition for Yourself

You can still call attention to your accomplishments in a constructive way. Learn how to increase your visibility without having to brag

  1. Ask for feedback. Find out what others think of your performance. Constructive feedback helps you to learn and grow.
  2. Track your achievements. Document your victories on a regular basis so you’re ready to show how your work makes a difference. Come up with compelling stories to make your experiences interesting to share on social media or your next job evaluation.
  3. Stay updated. Be knowledgeable and informed about your industry. Read annual reports and news stories. Attend conferences and networking events.
  4. Accept compliments graciously. When you do receive recognition, take advantage of the opportunity. Express your gratitude and let others know that they’ve brightened your day. Enjoy your moment in the sun without feeling self-conscious.
  5. Talk with your boss. Work at having a strong and positive relationship with your supervisor. Clarify their priorities and make them your own.
  6. Expand your role. Pay attention to how your position fits into the bigger picture. Think strategically and look for ways to take on more responsibility. Volunteer for high-profile projects or serve on a committee with coworkers you want to get to know better.
  7. Project confidence. You’re more likely to receive recognition if you believe in your own worth. Stand tall and minimize nervous gestures. Make eye contact and speak up at meetings.

Unconditional self-esteem is the most profound recognition you can receive at work or home, but it’s nice to know that your colleagues appreciate you too. Being acknowledged for your contributions makes your job more enjoyable and increases your chances for advancement.

Is Working From Home a Good Choice for You?

Do you fantasize about waking up in the morning, walking sleepily down the hall to your home office with a steaming Cup of Joe, and plopping down in your chair to start working? Imagine the amount of money you’ll save on gas, clothing, and childcare working from home. With today’s technology, it’s possible to make your fantasy of working at home a reality.

Consider the following as you decide whether you’re a good candidate for working from home:

  1. Do you work for a national or international company? The larger the company, often the more flexibility you’ll have to work from home.
  2. Is your company progressive? If the owners and management think out of the box and embrace change, you’re in a great position to inquire about working at home.
  3. Do you have a computer-oriented job? If most of your work is on the computer, present a good argument as to how you can remain productive working from home. As long as you have a computer at home, you can get the proper software to perform your job at home.

          You’ll have less co-worker interruptions when you work at home. If your house is quieter than working in a buzzing, lively office setting, you might be able to get more work done each day.

  1. Can you obtain the special supplies your job requires? For example, a design architect will need a drafting table and various drawing tools, plus a computer to work from home. The nature of your work is a huge determinant as to whether you can work from home.
  2. You’ll need a designated workspace. Nothing fancy, a desk and chair devoted to work will suffice, along with a computer and internet connection.
  3. How flexible is your boss? Supervisors and managers who demonstrate more flexibility in the work setting are more likely to agree to a trial period where you work at home. If your supervisor knows you well and understands your work, then they might be more willing allow a trial work at home situation.

During the trial period, you have an opportunity to demonstrate how well you can perform in your own home setting.
When speaking with your supervisor, remember to mention that companies that promote more flexible work schedules benefit from less absenteeism and have reduced turnover. 

  1. Can you motivate yourself to get your work done? If you want to work from home, it’s important for you to possess certain personal and professional characteristics. Are you a self-starter? Can you diligently follow a work schedule?

If you’re self-motivated and super-responsible, it’s likely you’ll be able to work from home with great success.

  1. Can you prevent distractions at home? Think about everything that could interrupt or disturb your work efforts at home. It will be necessary for you to take steps to ensure your work won’t be disrupted.

However, if you live alone or with a partner that works away from home full-time during the same time you’ll be doing your job, you’re already ahead of the game in terms of creating a productive work environment

Depending on your company, the type of work you do, and your motivation, working from home might be a perfect solution. Think through these considerations to help you determine whether working in a home office setting is right for you. In the end, it just may pay off for you and your employer in terms of productivity and employee satisfaction.