This is an interview question that can be a cinch or difficult for job candidates to answer, depending on the reason for leaving their position. Always expect this question in an interview. It only makes sense that the interviewer would like to know why you left your previous job.
How you answer this question—most likely the first one asked—will set the tone for the rest of the interview. Many people interviewing for the first time are surprised when they get this question. It’s as though they don’t expect it.
Not only should you expect this question; you should have the answer to it already formulated. It should not take you by surprise. Expect it. Be prepared. If you get it wrong, shame on you.
Also, be aware of a zinger like, “Steve, tell us why you want to leave (company X) and come to work with us?” To answer this two-part question successfully requires an in depth knowledge of the company and position. Both of which are topics for another article.
What are employers looking for?
Is there a wrong answer? Not really. It’s how you answer it, for the most part. There’s no way to change the past, so your calm response is the best policy. They want transparency, not lies. They also don’t want a drawn-out story; your answer should be brief.
If you become emotional, it will send a negative message to interviewers. If you hesitate, they may distrust you or question your resolve.
Three possible scenarios
Let’s look at the reasons why people lose their job and how to address them.
1. You were laid off
This is easiest way to answer the question, “Why did you leave your last position?” As mentioned above, your answer should be short and sweet. You may say, “The company had to cut cost and restructure after a poor second quarter.“
To beat them to the punch, you might add, “I was among 15 people in my group who were laid off. I was told by my manager that she was sad to see me go.” The reason for doing this is because you might get a follow-up question about how many people were laid off.
Caveat: some people think being laid off is the same as being let go or fired. It is not. Being laid off is do to company failure.
2. You were let go
This is harder to explain, but not impossible to come up with a viable resonse. This especially needs a short answer. It’s important that you are transparent and self-aware with your answer. In other words, if you were at fault, be honest about it.
You must also explain what you learned from the experience and state that it will not be repeated. Perhaps it was a conflict of personality between you and your manager, poor performance, or a “mutual departure.”
Conflict of personality. “A new manager took over our department. I was used to the way the previous person managed us. The new manager had a different style, which I didn’t adapt to quick enough. I now understand I need to be more adaptable to other types of management.“
Poor or inadequate performance. “As the project manager of my department, I was responsible for delivering a release of a new data storage software. We failed to meet the deadline by a week. My VP saw this as unforgivable. I see where I could have done a better job of managing the team.“
You were not a fit for the role. Yes, this is a not a cliche in this case. “When I was hired for the role, complete knowledge of Excel wasn’t a requirement, but as the job evolved it became apparent that my Excel skills were not strong. As this position doesn’t require expert knowledge, I am confident I’ll do a stellar job.”
Caveat: the interviewer might want to dig deeper into the situation. Be prepared to answer the questions directly with little emotion. Always keep a cool head. Resist the temptation to speak negatively about your previous boss.
3. You quit or resigned
To quit a position—especially without a job in hand—means there was an existing problem. One common reason I hear for quitting is a conflict of personality with the employee’s supervisor. Another one is a toxic work environment. And a lame reason I hear is because advancement was not possible.
Regardless, a red flag will go up with interviewers if you quit your position. What some people don’t realize is that you give up your right to collect unemployment, if you quit; another reason why this is not a great scenario.
Conflict of personality. “While my previous boss and I got along well, we didn’t see things eye-to-eye on certain decisions he made, and tension was high, so I decided the best move for me was to resign.” To show you have nothing to hide, you can add: “I would be happy to discuss further if you’d like.”
Unsafe environment. “I felt the work environment was not as safe as I was comfortable with. For example, there were many fire hazards in the warehouse. Additionally, the air quality was tested, and it failed. I feel fortunate that my wife brings in a substantial income; otherwise I might have stuck it out longer. My only regret is that I miss the people with whom I worked.”
Work-life balance was in jeopardy. “My job required me to drive into and out of (city), which was at times an hour and a half each way. I was missing a great deal of my son’s activities, and my health was suffering. Although commute isn’t a reason for taking this job, it will be a relief.”
Caveat: again, it is important to be transparent and honest when answering this question. To simply say you quit or resigned is not good enough. Do not be bitter when you answer this question; just state facts.
Always expect the question, “Why did you leave your last job.” Any interviewer who doesn’t ask this question isn’t doing his job. The reason for departure is essential information. I find this traditional question to be one of the most important ones for job candidates to able to answer.
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I’ve found that my spelling errors and errant typos have gotten increasingly worse over the years. Is it because most platforms have spellcheck and alert me to my mistakes, thus making me lazy? I hope it’s the technology and not my waning memory.
Do you find yourself misspelling words and making silly typos? If you do, you know how it feels to see them on the screen after you’ve published your posts or articles for the whole world to see. It might be cause for you to stop writing all together. Don’t let your mistakes get to you. You’re not going to be judged as harshly as you think.
A poll I conducted on LinkedIn surprisingly resulted in a mere 12% of voters who are intolerant of spelling errors and typos. The remaining 88% will allow a few or more mistakes in people’s writing. In fact, 55% of voters answered yes to, “Hey, everyone is human,” meaning that more than three is acceptable.
For the majority of voters who don’t expect perfection might imply that content is the key. A few or more mistakes can be overlooked. Another message I derived from the poll is that it depends on where the mistakes are made. For example, resumes and cover letters must be devoid of spelling errors and typos.
Not on resumes and LinkedIn profiles
Good resume writers are careful to deliver flawless products to their clients. Case in point, Erin Kennedy writes: “Well, as a writer I am probably the hardest on myself–but I’m hard on my staff as well. Our job is to write for other people so mistakes aren’t an option. In other jobs, it may not be as important.”
TIINA JARVET PEREIRA concurs:“It’s important to have a resume that looks clear and is without typos. In my job as a Headhunter I would ask the candidate to correct the typos before passing the resume to the Hiring Manager. It gives a better first impression.”
The strongest argument comes from Wendy Schoen, who writes: “I believe that your resume reflects your character. If you do not take the time to make sure that the product (the temporary stand-in for YOU) is fantastic, what am I, the hiring entity to think of the “real” you? Of course, in the long run it does depend somewhat on the industry, but my feelings as a recruiter transcend the industry.
“Take that extra moment and have someone else proof your product before unleashing it on the world…
“BTW, it isn’t just misspellings. It is also the improper use of “s” and “‘s” after numbers on a resume that turn me off.”
And for those who write their own resumes, they should carefully proofread them. In fact, job candidates should have others review their resumes and cover letters. We know that once we miss a mistake two or three times, forget about noticing them. But others will.
Okay in articles and posts?
My insecurities began to arise as I re-read some of my articles and noticed said mistakes. Grammar isn’t as much of a problem, but spelling and punctuation errors spring up like dandelions; no doubt a matter of not proofreading or having someone do it for me before sending my content live.
Erica Reckamp assuages my insecurities, writing: “Ideally, if it’s public-facing or client-facing, our content would be subjected to another round of edits, but posts/blogs are understood to be fairly free-form and it is my impression people would rather have timely, raw content than ‘airbrushed’ content.” (Read the rest of her comment below.)
You might think this is a simple topic, perhaps one that only English teachers would appreciate. Au contraire. At this point in the poll–with four days left–8,011 people have voted and 444 of them have commented.
Let’s not forget grammar
You can be the best speller in the world, but if your grammar sucks, you’ll lose your audience very quickly. Verb tense, punctuation, point of view, nouns, pronouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs, propositions, conjunctions; am I leaving something out? There’s just too much to remember.
Victoria Ipri didn’t forget grammar: “I fall somewhere between the 1st and 2nd choices. It’s not only spelling that is a problem, it’s grammar too. I’m not the grammar police, but do feel when the writing is for a professional or business document (from resumes to blogs), those who lack spelling or grammar skills should consider tapping a proofreader. (By the way, I own a shirt that says ‘I’m silently correcting your grammar.’) 😨“
The fact is that sucky grammar can be more of a turnoff than poor spelling and typos. I’ve read books that contained mistakes but were so compelling that I glossed over spelling errors and typos. Thanks for bringing this up, Victoria.
There were so many excellent comments. Let’s look at some of the standout ones.
Chris Hogg:“You say, ‘I wonder if this makes me less credible as a writer.’
“I don’t think it does, but it does indicate that you need to take more time before hitting the send key.
“Why not write an article, post, resume, whatever, and let it sit for a day or two while working on the next one, and build up a small backlog that you can proof before rushing to publication.
“Also, there is a ‘rule’ in writing/publishing that once a gremlin gets into our stuff, it’s almost impossible to get it (or them) out. This is why editors and proofreaders have jobs, because they can see what we cannot.”
“For me it depends on the medium, *if it’s a medium that doesn’t have built-in spell check*. Most modern web browsers do, as does every major mobile phone. So ignoring the red squiggly line on those platforms is potentially problematic to me.
“Otherwise? We’re all human, and being a jerk about this stuff–or really any stuff–isn’t my idea of good networking.“
“If the person will be involved in developing corporate communications, I’m going to need to see a pattern of mostly flawless writing. If the individual is C-level and will be communicating directly with top tier partners, investors or customers then there is a need for error-less writing (which may be achieved by having others proofread it first). If accuracy is a critical element of a role (like in an Accountant position), typos could indicate deficiency in this skill.
“Presentation matters, but perfection does not. We should strive to write well and give ourselves (and others) grace when we make mistakes.”
Erica Reckamp: “Communication is the goal and content outweighs polish, in my opinion. If the errors obfuscate meaning (alternate word or wrong URL) or perpetuate more errors (candidate scripts with errors), then it’s more of a concern. If they’re little glitches, most readers will gloss right over them.
“Ideally, if it’s public-facing or client-facing, our content would be subjected to another round of edits, but posts/blogs are understood to be fairly free-form and it is my impression people would rather have timely, raw content than ‘airbrushed’ content.
“As a former editor, I’ve had my fair share of contacts apologize profusely for a typo. They assume we’re out for blood, but even in books released through major publishing houses, you can find 4 errors per page if you know the style sheet. We get it the best we can in time for release, so the ideas shine through! Then you just have to let it go until the next round of edits”!
Kevin D. Turner: “Passion, Caring and Knowledge Sharing to me Bob is the most important components of writing that I’ll read. You always deliver all of that. A bit of spelling or grammar issue I will forgive to get to the right valued message, especially in this global world. That being said I write and can’t read between my own mistakes, too hot and too close to the subject, so I’ve started to use a few tools to double check before posting.”
MARY FAIN BRANDT: “As someone who has dyslexia, I often overlook spelling errors, even though I know how to spell.
“Just the other day, I was proofreading an social post, which I had read 3 times and I caught another typo.
“What’s worse is that when I was younger, I had dyslexia of the mouth, I would change the order of words or letters and not realize it. one time I asked my mom if we could get fable mudge cake mix…3 times in a row.”
Paula Christensen: “I’m surprised by the 12% (so far) one error and done votes. I suspect with the current low unemployment rate and hiring difficulties that many more errors are being accepted. My personal view- everyone makes mistakes so a few less egregious errors are okay, more than three may signify the candidate didn’t take the time to present professionally.”
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In this article, I revisit the LinkedIn profile to discuss what was and what is. Creating a profile that brands you is the ultimate purpose of your LinkedIn profile. However, your profile alone won’t effectively accomplish this goal; you also need to create a focused network and engage with your connections.
Although not a lot has changed since August 2018 when I wrote the original article, there are changes worth mentioning.
Brand or Message
This is more important than many people realize. If you don’t create your profile with a clear brand or message in mind, you’ll have an unfocused profile. Delivering a message that expresses your value consistently is key to keeping your brand alive.
This goal remains the same and is more important than ever considering COVID-19 has sidelined us from in-person networking.Online branding spills over to in-person branding when if you reach out to people after you’ve connecting with them. Case in point, when I meet someone in person, I’m often told they’ve seen my profile, posts, and articles.
Major profile sections
1. Background image
Your background image is your first chance to brand yourself on your profile. It is important to use a photo that is relevant to your work or what you enjoy doing. Your image should be sized at 1,584 by 396 pixels for the best results.
More job seekers are getting the message that their background image, also called background banner, is a necessity, lest they want the bland image LinkedIn provides (see below).My valued colleague, Kevin Turner, would call this #blanding.
2. Profile photo
If you think a photo is unnecessary, you are sadly mistaken. A profile sans photo gives the impression you can’t be trusted. In addition, people won’t recognize and remember you. LinkedIn says profiles with photos are 21 times more likely to be viewed than those without.
Your photo is a huge part of your brand. You don’t have to necessarily dress to the nines for it. Just look professional and presentable. This is one area of the profile where I haven’t seen a huge difference. However, LinkedIn users are pushing the limit, as illustrated by Recruiter Amy Miller‘s photo. I think this works forher.
Perhaps the most critical component of your branding, your headline tells readers your title and areas of expertise. Don’t scrimp on this one — it carries a lot of weight when optimizing your profile. You have 120 characters to use — make them count.
LinkedIn increased the character count to 220 for all, which allows you to tell a longer story. I’m a huge fan of the extended Headline, as it contributes to your story and keywords.My Headline (below) is about 180 characters long.This allows me to include four titles, a tagline, an accomplishment, and my hashtag.
Much has been written about the About section, so I’m going to spare you the verbiage and simply say your summary must tell your story. It needs to articulate your passion for what you do, how well you do it, and a call to action (how you can be reached).
There’s been a significant change here in terms of character count. At this initial writing the count was 2,000. Now it’s 2,600. What is one to do with the additional 600 characters? I personally didn’t add much to my About, other than excerpts from Recommendations.
Think the About section isn’t important? Recruiter Bernadette Pawlik reads About before going onto the Experience section.
In the past, your dashboard area contained a lot of handy information: views of your profile, views of your latest post, and the number of searches you appeared in. In addition, you could ask for career advice, turn on “career interests,” and check out the salary range for your position.
This area changed significantly. Creator Mode was introduced which has not been a deal maker for me. It shows the number of your followers in the Snapshot area, as well as the number of views for your recent posts. Two nice touches are having access to your network and easy access to your saved items.
Career Interests has morphed into Providing Services. You can also indicate that you’re open to work by selecting Open to in the Snapshot area.As well, you can choose to don the #OpenToWorkBanner, which leaves me with mixed feelings.
6. Articles and activities
This area below your dashboard is visible to everyone who visits your profile. Visitors will see how many articles you’ve written and the number of posts you’ve shared. When I see very little info in the activities section, that means the person hasn’t made an effort to engage with their network.
This section hasn’t changed and it’s still an area I look at to see how much my clients are engaging on LinkedIn. I’m adamant about my clients not only reacting (Liking) to posts, but also commenting on them. Better yet, they should write their own posts.
Too often, people skimp on the details in their Experience section. This is particularly the case with C-level job seekers. You don’t need to include everything, but your major accomplishments are required. Note: Your job titles carry significant weight in terms of keywords.
Don’t be afraid to add a little more character here than you would on your resume. Were you a D1 athlete? Mention that under “Activities and Societies.” Did you complete your degree while working full-time? Mention that in the “Description” area.
Nothing has changed here, but I still tell my clients that this is a section where they can continue to brand themselves by adding more description of what occurred when they attended school.
Plus: One of the best ways to brand yourself as a hard worker and possess time-management skills is to write that you earned your degree while working full-time. That’s if you did, of course.
9. Volunteer experience
Don’t neglect this area. Employers appreciate people who give to their communities. This is also a section where you can showcase your personality. Your volunteerism doesn’t have to be job-related. But if it is and is extensive, list it in your experience section.
I’ll continue to promote this area on a LinkedIn profile. Sadly, too many people don’t list their volunteerism, thinking it’s not pertinent. Well, it is.
10. Skills and endorsements and Recommendations
You can list a total of 50 skills, and others can endorse you for those skills. Take advantage of this section, as recruiters pay attention to the number and types of skills you have. When you apply for a job through LinkedIn’s “Easy Apply” feature, the number of skills you have for the job are counted.
Once considered one of the top features, Recommendations (seen above) have been relegated to the basement of your profile. Should you continue to ask for and write recommendations in light of this change? In my opinion, yes. Recruiters will continue to read them.
I would like to report that Recommendations can be moved toward the top of your profile, but this hasn’t been the case for many years. The best you can do is direct people to your recommendations from the About section, as I have done at the bottom of my About .
One of the major blunders LinkedIn has committed is anchoring this section in the basement of the profile. I say this because important information lies within, including lists of projects, organizations, publications, and patents.
This section shows visitors your interests in influencers, companies, groups, and schools. Recruiters might glean some information about you, based on the groups you’ve joined and the companies and schools you follow.
When this article was first written, this section was called Rich media and resided in your Summary (now called About), Experience, and Education sections. Here you can post videos, audio files, documents, and PowerPoint presentations. See this as your online portfolio.
This section is much approved. One click and you are taken to the media of your choice. I call this an extra because this feature isn’t used as much as LinkedIn would like. This is too bad, as it is your online portfolio.
15. LinkedIn publishing
LinkedIn gives you the opportunity to blog on topics of interest and share the posts with your connections. If you’re consistent in blogging, you’ll develop a following. Promoting your blog is entirely up to you. In the past, whenever you published, your connections would receive notification of your posts. Not so anymore.
Not a great deal to report here in regard to changes. LinkedIn still doesn’t push out the articles published on their platform. Approximately 1MM of its users utilize Write an Article. Some members have been granted a newsletter license, and it’s not clear why only a handful are.
Video is becoming more important to stand out on social media. A good video must contain content that is relevant to your network. Small technical things like smiling, proper lighting and sound, and a steady camera are important.
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You might not want to hear this, but research is the key to success before and after you apply online. It would be great if you could send an application to the company of your dreams; get a call from HR to invite you to an interview, the only one you’ll have; and be offered the job. But that’s not how it works these days.
Most people, about 60% based on multiple surveys I’ve conducted during my webinars, only apply online. And probably many of them sit and wait for the phone to ring. These are the people who are in for a lengthy job search.
But it doesn’t have to be this way if you are applying online. There is work you’ll need to do in order to be successful. Six steps to be exact.
Before applying online
1. Understand the most important skills for the position
Consider this scenario: you see a job on LinkedIn.com for a Senior Marketing Manager, Website, Amazon Advertising. It’s right down your ally. You’ve been a marketing manager for more than five years and before that a marketing specialist. However, there are certain qualifications you must meet to be considered for an interview.
The job of which I speak was advertised two weeks from this writing. First things first, to get an interview for this position, a job candidate must satisfy 6 Basic Qualifications. This means if you can’t meet these requirements, you don’t get an interview, no matter what.
Aside from the 6 Basic Qualifications you also have to show you meet Amazon’s 7 Responsibilities/Requirements. It doesn’t end there. Amazon has Preferred Qualifications which are the least important but, nonetheless relevant. These are the three list of requirements you need to meet.
2. Research the position
Most of the questions asked during the interview will be about the position at hand. Therefore it’s important to research it extensively; at least two hours is advised. Going back to understanding the basic, specific, and preferred requirements, highlight what you consider to be the most important requirements.
“If you have the job description- you have a cheat sheet to prepare for your interview. Always read through the entire job description as it provides the pain points of the role and specific qualifications that the hiring company is looking for.
Understanding the companies pain points or problems, like Sarah says, is essential to getting a leg up on the competition. Many job candidates don’t consider how they’ll be the solution to a company’s problems, but you’ll be the difference maker.
3. Write a targeted resume
I tell my clients that in order to pass the applicant tracking system (ATS) process, they must write resumes that contain the required skills for the job at hand. The ATS has recently been referred to as a file cabinet that stores resumes until hiring authorities need to call them up by using a Boolean search.
Other important characteristics of your resume must, at the very least, include:
Brand a candidate with a value proposition or headline. This is a two-line statement that includes the title from a job add and below that some areas of expertise.
Contain accomplishment statements with quantified results. Agreed, not always possible to quantify results with #s, $s, and %s but they have more bite to them.
Work history within15 years. If you have all accomplishments, your resume can be as long as three pages. Acceptation to the 15-year rule would be executive-level job seekers.
Be readable with paragraphs no longer than 3 or 4 lines. No one likes to read 10-line paragraphs. Shorter ones are more digestible.
It’s also important that your resume passes the person/people reading it. Hiring authorities are people, after all, so you must satisfy them with a well-written resume that speaks to their needs.
Note: It’s not all about writing a resume that passes the ATS process. Virginia Franco, Executive Storyteller, Résumé & LinkedIn Writer, writes:
Because applicant tracking systems (ATSs) are so inundated with résumés, increasingly more people are recognizing the wisdom of throwing their hat in the ring via alternative channels that include a focus on networking and getting in the door through referrals.
After applying online
4. Research the company
The simplest way to research the company is to visit its website and peruse it for many hours. But as a marketing manager, you realize the the information on the company’s website is marketing material. In other words, it’s smoke and mirrors.
So dig deeper. Scour the company’s site for press releases and annual reports. Be prepared in an interview to talk about the good and the bad and the ugly. I tell my clients a question you should be able to answer is, “What are some of our company’s problems?” Really.
To know more about the company’s pain points talk with someone who works for the company. In the case of Amazon, you’re in luck. One of your neighbors works there, and he is willing to reveal some problems under anonymity.
The neighbor reveals two things you weren’t able to ascertain about the company’s pain points. Even though you read press releases and annual reports, motivation among the staff is low and there’s a need for more snappy material. This is great intel, as you will use it to modify some of your answers to the questions if need be.
5. Use LinkedIn to research interviewers
If your reaction to this step is, “But I’m not on LinkedIn,” get on LinkedIn. This is where roughly 78% of hiring authorities are searching for talent, including the people interviewing you.
Given that the recruiter informed you of the four people who would be interviewing you, you can look them up on LinkedIn either by names or titles. Let’s say the recruiter told you the hiring manager, HR director, the VP, and the CFO will be present in the interview; but didn’t give you their the names. Take the following steps:
Go to the company > click on the number of people who are on LinkedIn > go to All Filters > type in their titles in the keyword field. Voila, you have the names of the people who will be interviewing you. No read their profiles carefully and see if there are any commonalities. This can make for good fodder in the interview.
Why do I want to research the interviewers, you ask? It’s nice to know what commonalities you have with them and how to mention them in the interview. Let’s say you and the CFO went to the same university or like hiking. Bazinga, great fodder for conversation.
6. Prepare for the interview
Sarah Johnston offers great advice on how to prepare for the interview based on the job ad:
“What should you do with this information? Prepare a talking point for each skill mentioned. Make sure you always include RESULTS. Look for how the success of the role will be measured.
“For example, if it mentions that you will need to deliver results in client adoption and engagement and account retention, prepare STAR (situation, task, action, results) stories that speak to this. Invest the time to critically think through job description. This will allow you to share your experience in a way that matches or connects with the role.”
Adrienne Tom, Executive Writer and Career Coach, emphasizes the need to practice answering interview questions you predict will be asked.
While it may feel a little silly to speak to yourself on camera, recording practice of your most compelling answers will help you see what’s working and what could use a little tweaking. While it may feel a little silly to speak to yourself on camera, recording practice of your most compelling answers will help you see what’s working and what could use a little tweaking.
Now you’ve made it to the interview by following the steps above. This was done with minimal networking. Am I saying don’t network? Quite the contrary; networking is a more effective way to land a job. But, if you’re going to apply online, don’t simply sit by the phone waiting for the employer to call. Take action.
Most people get nervous when they’re being interviewed for a job. They are peppered with questions that are meant to get to the core of their technical abilities, motivation, and fit. It’s a stressful situation. This is called “getting the nerves,” and it’s natural. Most likely you feel the same way about interviews.
But what if you are unable to get past the nerves because of anxiety? What can you do that will prevent you from losing the opportunity for the job? How can you stop your hands from shaking, your voice cracking, or even breaking into tears. In this post I’ll talk about what to do if it’s more than having the “nerves” in an interview.
Admit to yourself that you’re anxious
You’re not alone in feeling anxious. Knowing this should give you solace. Many job seekers have told me that they felt so anxious that they couldn’t think straight and answer the questions entirely. A few have even told me they had to remove themselves from the situation. While this is not “normal behavior,” it does happen.
Telling others, job counselors, a therapist, or even friends, could be helpful. Talking about how you feel can relieve some of your anxiety. Hearing from those you talk with that being anxious is understandable will be of comfort. Further, talking with someone who felt anxious in interviews, but landed a job regardless will give you a better sense of hope.
Know that the interview/s are barriers to getting a job, and once you’ve overcome the barrier, you will be able to do the work required to succeed. Remember that you want the job for which you’re applying; it’s the end game. This will take preparation, though.
Do your research before an Interview
I tell my clients that being prepared for an interview will give them confidence. This means thoroughly researching the position and company. If you’re really good, you’ll research the competition. People who interview without preparing—winging it—generally perform poorly in an interview.
While it’s important to research the position and company, you will benefit also from preparing mentally for the interview. This will include getting a good night’s sleep the day before. The day of the interview, you should take a leisurely walk and rehears answering the questions you predict will be asked. Or you might prefer answering the questions while looking into a mirror.
You might benefit from participating in a taped mock interview which will show you how you respond to questions, as well as your body language. I conducted a mock interview with someone who my colleague believed to be anxious. The client’s answers were fine; however she appeared tense and fidgeted with her fingers. My suggestion to her was that she keep her hands in her lap.
Admit to the interviewers that you’re anxious
Chances are that at least one of the interviewers—if it’s a group interview—suffers from anxiety and can relate to your condition. Perhaps one or more of the interviewers know others who suffer from anxiety. They should be empathetic if they know your condition.
You can simply say before the interview begins, “I’m a bit anxious at the moment. Interviews are stressful for me. I hope you understand.” Chances are that they’ll understand your feelings.
In fact, anxiety is more prevalent than you might suspect. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately 19 percent of adults suffered from anxiety.
An estimated 19.1% of U.S. adults had any anxiety disorder in the past year.
Past year prevalence of any anxiety disorder was higher for females (23.4%) than for males (14.3%).
An estimated 31.1% of U.S. adults experience any anxiety disorder at some time in their lives.
It is possible that you aren’t clinically anxious, but interviews and other social situation cause symptoms of anxiety. The most important thing is the message you deliver. Focus on expressing the value you will bring to the table. If you have to pause at times, that’s fine.
When your anxiety is debilitating
You may suffer from clinical anxiety, in which case you’re probably taking medication or attending therapy to keep it at bay. Healthy Info Daily describes the biological reasons for anxiety:
For a person with severe anxiety, their neurotransmitters are not working properly, and important messages can’t get through properly, which in turn causes the brain to work improperly, leading to anxiety, depression and other stress-induced disorders.
There are obvious signs of anxiety. Some symptoms of anxiety are excessive worrying, sleeplessness, panic attacks, fear/discomfort around crowds, and fear of speaking in public. Compound your anxiety with the pressures of an interview, it’s no wonder being interviewed is difficult. However, knowing you’re suffering from anxiety will explain the fear you experience in an interview.
In some cases, job candidates may need intervention or help from a vocational professional. This is in severe cases and usually for candidates who won’t be serving customers. Jobs that are individualistic would be best for them. If you fall under this category, it’s important that you apply for jobs appropriate for you.
Disclose your disability at some point during the interview, perhaps at the beginning. You have the ability to handle the responsibilities of the job; however you will require accommodations. It’s best to let employers know this before they hire you, as if you’re hired and then disclose your disability, your supervisor will most likely distrust you and might find reasons to let you go.
Interviews can cause mild to server anxiety for many people. If you happen to be one who gets anxious in an interview, reflect on why you are, ask for help from others, and if your anxiety is severe consider medication as a means to keep your anxiety at bay.
This guest article is from Sonal Bahl. I recently read her original article and felt my audience had to know about this very relevant topic, spotting a bad boss.
People don’t leave companies, people leave bosses. Yes, yes, we’ve heard this for years. Then I heard something else: people don’t leave bosses, they leave a toxic work culture. Then I read that the number one reason people leave is because their position didn’t fulfil them. Then I heard about a Gallup study where 70% of leavers claimed it was due to their manager, not the position itself. (I can’t find that survey but have heard it quoted).
My head is spinning, is yours?
The point is: a toxic work culture and an unchallenging position are HUGE problems (or opportunities, for the optimists) for managers to fix. Some do, but most don’t.
It always starts with the top, it starts with strong leadership. To quote the spider superhero, with great power comes great responsibility.
So, what does this have to be with being a job seeker?
A lot, actually.
A recent post by the brilliant Dorothy Dalton got me thinking.
I always tell my clients during our interview preparation sessions, when they meet their hiring manager (who will be their future boss), that they are assessing for fit as well, not just the other way around. It’s a two-way street, always.
If you say: this is ridiculous, I don’t have a job, so how can I be the one assessing?
I say: you can, and you should. If you see tell-tale signs of a bad boss and you go ahead anyway because you need the money, then don’t ever complain when (not if, but when) things go south, your health starts to suffer, you bring your troubles home and your family doesn’t recognize you anymore. What’s the price of your mental health?
If you say: but I need the job more than they need me.
I say: hmmm… I’m not sure. The job market is tough right now, I know. But do you know times are hard for companies too? Not to sound dramatic, but there’s a war for talent, to quote my friends in HR. Good, very good people are hard to find. Companies are working hard to craft their EVP (Employer Value Proposition) so they attract the right kind of people and look good in the job market. You’re not the only one trying to impress someone.
The best relationships are relationships between equals.
The employer is not better than you. You are unique. You bring a standard, a point of view, a skill and a value that they need. Please don’t lose sight of that. I hope you’re convinced.
Anyway, coming back to the title of the article, let’s talk about the interview. You’ve just arrived at the office, you’re going to the meet your future boss. You’re prepared, you’ve done your homework, you’re dressed to impress. You shake hands, sit down. Now the assessment begins. They’re assessing you and you’re assessing them. Two-way street.
Look for the following, they’re part of a bigger picture called Emotional Intelligence, that I break down further:
Here’s the thing. You don’t have to love or even like some people.Seriously. But if you can’t respect them this means they don’t have respect for:
a. For your time: Did they make you wait for a long time before they finally showed up for the interview? Of course, in their defense, there can be an occasional fire to douse, and they got stuck, totally understandable. But did they apologise for keeping you waiting? A good boss will say sorry and mean it. If they don’t, they value their ego more than they value your time. Period.
b. For what you say: Did you have a chance to be heard? Were you interrupted a great deal? Active listening comes from a deeper place, in my opinion. It comes from a genuine respect for what the other is saying, and then listening to them, really listening. Not with their phone flashing in front of them, not with interruptions, not with a crowded mind.
c. For others: Did they gossip? Did they bad-mouth others to you? If they did, they will most definitely bad-mouth you to others too. Danger sign!
‘We’re all human, duh’, you say. Yes, I know, I will ignore the scoff in your tone. Jokes aside, we’re all human, we’re all born as babies with the exact same needs. But at some point, something has happened to some of us, we became cold and lost touch with our humanity. Human Resources feels like only the ‘Resources’ part matters, not the human being. How can you check on the .. um… humane-ness of your boss?
a. How do they talk about things? Listen carefully, really listen to them, when you ask about the challenges of the position, for example. How does their face look when they speak about such things? Do they make eye contact with you? Do they treat it like just another transactional piece, or do they they take pains to give you the bigger picture? How are they under duress? Are they are only compliance or process driven, or are they secure enough to be open and human?
b. Ask them about opportunities for professional developmentand listen to their answer to see if this matters to them. The best bosses know that when their team succeeds, they succeed too. Egos are put aside.
c. Ask thought provoking questions. A lot can be revealed by asking thought provoking questions, like “How would you describe your leadership style” or “What do you like best about working in this organisaion?” etc. Through their answers you can learn about how they deal with crises in their team, how they deal with exceptions. Just do the asking, and let them do the talking.
3. A sense of Humour
This is a tricky one, I know, and it’s not fair to judge someone based on whether they know how to have a good laugh or not. But the thing is, life is serious enough as it is, and the world is going through some tumultuous times. We spend nearly 1/5th of our life at work, so it really needs to be enjoyable, and not feel like going to prison or a punishment. Working with someone who doesn’t take themselves too seriously has personally helped me to keep the engine running during some rough patches.
Of course, as a disclaimer, I do want to mention that everything stated above is through my own lens: my own life experience, observations, research and lessons learnt. This is by no means a thorough and exhaustive list, because we are all different. What I look for or what matters to me may not hold the same gravity for you. You could follow this list or your own list to the letter, and still land up with a horrible boss. But when you approach the hiring process as an equal and with the intention of mutual fit, the chances that you do are a lot slimmer.
In conclusion, I’d just like to add that spotting a good boss is not rocket science and doesn’t need to be complicated. Good bosses are also good people. Do they smile, do they hold the door for the person behind, do they speak politely to the receptionist, the assistants, the colleagues, will provide you with a better idea of what you’re getting yourself into.
With these thoughts I just want to challenge the adage that you don’t get to pick a boss.
Yes, you do.
If you’re facing two doors: behind the first is the right company or job and behind the second, the right boss, pick the right boss. That boss, or leader, “doesn’t create followers, she creates more leaders.”
And who does not want that?!
Now over to you: What are some of your best tips to spot a good boss during a job interview? Are there some red flags you’re always wary of? Share in the comments below!
I’ve been a proponent for a long time of writing some of the text on job-search documents (resume and LinkedIn profile) in bold. I stress some of your text, not all of it.Because to bold all the text would diminish the impact of your sentences. It would be like having too much frosting on a cake.
I’m not alone in my preference for bold text. A poll I recently conducted says that 63% of voters favor using bold text on their resume. This poll garnered 4,564 votes, so we could say this is a valid case study. Some of the comments are listed below.
To be clear, I’m not talking about just the documents headings or your titles. I’m talking about select text to which you want to draw the reader’s attention. Text you want their eyes to settle on like:
𝗦𝗮𝘃𝗲𝗱 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗰𝗼𝗺𝗽𝗮𝗻𝘆 $𝟭𝟬𝟬,𝟬𝟬𝟬 over the course of 2 years by bringing social media campaign in house; revamped the campaign while 𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗮𝗴𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗮 𝘁𝗲𝗮𝗺 𝗼𝗻 𝗮 𝗹𝗶𝗺𝗶𝘁𝗲𝗱 𝗯𝘂𝗱𝗴𝗲𝘁.
This is important for one obvious reason. It’s said that hiring authorities take six to 10 seconds to glance at your resume after it has been stored and accessed from the applicant tracking system.
This will help hiring authorities to capture important text on your resume within the six to 10 seconds and decide whether it goes in the “must read pile” or the “don’t read pile.”
When it comes to your LinkedIn profile, bold text also draws readers’ attention to important points you want to make. I use bold text in my Headline and About section.
Example: 👊 I’m on the front-line fighting 𝗧𝗵𝗲 𝗚𝗼𝗼𝗱 𝗙𝗶𝗴𝗵𝘁 for job seekers. For a little emphasis, I use the fist emoji; something you wouldn’t do on your resume. If you’re wondering how to employ bold text on your LinkedIn profile, here’s a site I use: https://lingojam.com/BoldTextGenerator.
The naysayers to bold text on their resume and LinkedIn profile think it’s nontraditional, just like using sans-serif font in nontraditional. Here’s some news for those people; if you’re using Times New Roman, you’re dating yourself. Perhaps there will be a time when not using bold text will be nontraditional.
Let’s read what others feel about using bold text.
Kevin D. Turner: If 𝗯𝗼𝗹𝗱 is used, IMO it must be sparingly, perhaps to highlight a few of the really big achievements, Bob, otherwise it can get a bit messy and if almost everything is 𝗯𝗼𝗹𝗱, there is then no emphasis.
Tejal Wagadia (She/Her): I don’t particularly like bolding. It takes my eyes away from what I am looking for. If I have downloaded resume that has bolding I will remove that formatting.
I have seen it done well a few times but most of the times it’s random bolding with no rhyme or reason!
Bernadette Pawlik: If a client who comes to me as a #CareerSTrategist wants to know how to use bolding, my advice is based upon 25 years of evaluating resumes as a career recruiter. Having evaluated thousands of resumes, what makes it resume instantly easier to consider first is being able to find what I needed: Name, Experience, Education. Bold those in all caps.
Then, after that I look for chronology, so employers, bold those but not in all caps. Then, I read the rest. I see resumes that are bolded in mid-sentence to accentuate an accomplishment.
Accomplishments should go in bullet points. Donna Svei, Executive Resume Writer who also has extensive recruiting experience has some great samples of resumes on her website which show how to use bolding, color, and italics…and I’ve spoken to Donna and we have no affiliate relationship..but her resumes make finding what recruiters/employers need to find wonderfully clear.
Erica Reckamp:Strategic bold, bullets, and shading allow key elements to pop off the page for stronger reader response and retention.
Stand out as a top candidate by highlighting your headline (demonstrate clear target and alignment), keyword bank and job titles (establish candidacy), and key phrases in accomplishments (preferably results: # s, $s, %s).
LAURA SMITH-PROULX:Bold text in a resume works very well, but only IF you limit it to notable career stories and IF you avoid drawing attention to items you’d rather not emphasize.
I see resumes all the time that apply bold text to “unfortunate” facts in a work history, such as dates that make you look like a job hopper. Go ahead and apply bold, but think carefully about the message you’re sending when doing so.
Sarah Johnston:The goal of the resume is to make it easy for the end user to consume your story. Design elements such as bolding, shading, and call out boxes (used sparingly) make the resume easier to read. Resume writers are also trained to use design to “trick the eyes” to read what we want the target audience to read.
Ed Han (He/Him): Absolutely yes on my own and I counsel the same to draw emphasis to proper nouns, names, brands, technologies (in IT), or anything else salient.
I also use them to call out hyperlinks, which I use incessantly for schools, former employers, trade associations, certifying bodies, etc.
The vast majority of resume reading takes place on a screen: optimize for this reality.
Adrienne Tom: Bolded text can help key content pop off the page. The important thing to remember is to only highlight top/best/relevant information and details. Be strategic with what you bold in a resume. Too much bolded text will cause key points to blend together again.
Angela Watts: As a screener, I’m drawn to read bolded text, even when doing an initial skim. If used well, it can encourage a reader to digest compelling content they may otherwise have missed.
Donna Svei:Bold narrative text jerks the reader’s attention around the resume in a graceless fashion, says “this is the only information in this document that matters,” and begs the reader to look at it. Thus, it signals desperation and lack of confidence in your story and story telling ability.
Story telling is a key leadership skill. If you want a leadership role, don’t use this awkward device on your resume.
Share this: Please share this post if you enjoyed it.
There’s no debate when it comes to which document hiring authorities turn to first when evaluating you on “paper.” The resume wins this debate. For the time being. But with 78% or more recruiters looking for talent on LinkedIn, the profile comes in at a strong runner up.
Like the resume, hiring authorities (recruiters, hiring managers, and HR) want to see accomplishments on your profile. Additionally, if you don’t have a LinkedIn presence, you might not be considered for the role.
One stat claims that nearly 40% of employers won’t consider a candidate if they aren’t on LinkedIn.
You’ll notice that your profile sections are arranged similarly to your resume sections. This is because recruiters prefer to read your profile in the same order they read a resume. Still, your LinkedIn profile is different; it’s more dynamic than your resume. This is not lost on hiring authorities.
Following are 10 reason why hiring authorities dread reading your profile
1. They can’t find you
This is the most obvious reason why hiring authorities dread reading your LinkedIn profile. After reading your resume, they can’t find you on LinkedIn. You are lost in a sea of other job seekers. The most likely reason, you don’t have the keywords by which hiring authorities are searching to fill a role.
Many hiring authorities use the Search field to find talent because they don’t have access to LinkedIn Recruiter, which allows them to search for possible job candidates based on skills and other criteria. Without the expensive Recruiter package, they are left with entering your title and areas of expertise in Search.
2. It’s your resume
This is my number one gripe when it comes to LinkedIn profiles, and I’m sure hiring authorities feel the same. I’m 100% on the mark when I see a profile that is a copy and paste of a client’s resume. The give away is that there’s no subject in the sentences, e.g., “I,” “My,” “We,” etc.
It’s fine when you’re crafting your profile to copy your resume to your new profile, but from there you need to take it further and personalize it. A personalized resume, if you will. Hiring authorities want to see something different from your resume. After all, your resume most likely led them to you.
Erica Reckamp says it nicely: Oh, the drudgery of reading something you already read. Mix it up! the phrasing should be completely different. Shift to a friendly voice and convert those accs from months to years or $ to %s to keep it fresh!
3. Your photo is of poor quality
I know some of you are concerned about ageism and are hesitant to post your photo on your profile for fear that you’ll be passed on. Here’s the thing: if you are passed on by a hiring authority, you’ll never be the wiser. Whereas, if you are contacted by them, this means your age is not an issue.
Therefore, your photo is a must. Without one you are not memorable, trusted, or liked. What’s important is that your profile photo is of high quality and recent. Have someone who has a good camera—today’s phone cameras will suffice—take your photo.
Hint: Don’t post a photo with you and other people in it. Also, don’t use a selfie.
4. Your Headline is your job title and company
I wrote an article on writing a powerful Headline in which 15 LinkedIn pros participated. To a person, they all agree that simply leaving only your title and company name in your Headline is bad taste. The only thing worse than just listing your title and company is writing, “Seeking next opportunity,” or “Open to next opportunity.”
Hint: Hiring authorities aren’t typing in Search: “seeking next opportunity.”
You should include in your Headline a desired title, areas of expertise, and if you like a tagline. The idea is to demonstrate value that you’ll deliver to an employer. Listing only your title and company does not accomplish this.
However, don’t confuse creativity with clarity. Calling yourself “Chief People Person” isn’t as clear as “Human Resources Specialist, Employee Relations, DEI” which is what hiring authorities will be searching for.
Another hint: If you were unfortunate to be named that by your company, make sure you have a common title in your headline.
5. You’re hiding your email address
This might not be your fault if you’re unaware that the default setting in your Contact Info is that only 1st degrees. But if you know you can change it to “Anyone on LinkedIn” but don’t, shame on you.
You must have your email available for hiring authorities to reach you. They won’t take the time to search for you by other means if they have to fill a position, trust me. You should also have your email listed in your About section. Read this article for more ways to be visible to hiring authorities.
6. There’s no bling in Featured
The Featured area is improved from days of old; it’s now a one-click process for links to websites, YouTube, documents, PowerPoint presentations, and audio. Before it was clunkier. Take advantage of your online portfolio.
Leaving this section barren fails to demonstrate the work you’ve accomplished. Display what’s most important to hiring authorities. If you’re a Business Developer, present a document on your biggest project to date. Have you been featured on a podcast as a Sales Leader? Lead with the podcast in which you were interviewed.
7. Your About section doesn’t tell your story
Hiring authorities don’t want a tomb describing the passion you developed for landscape architecture as a young child, but they want to see what drives you in your occupation, why you enjoy your trade.
Don’t forget to list some accomplishments in bullet format so their easier to read. Here’s an opportunity to show the value you’ll deliver to potential employers. For example:
Improved supply chain operation 90% over the course of 2 years by implementing Lean Six Sigma methodology, earning accolades the CEO.
As a recruiter, when I am finding talent via LinkedIn profiles, I conduct a search based on keywords. Keywords can appear anywhere in a LinkedIn profile, but it’s easiest and most natural for them to appear in either the member’s 220 character headline or the 3,000 character About section.
Another recruiter values a strong About section and wants to know where you’re going in your career:
Kristen Fife (she/her/hers:)You know what I care about? What you are looking for (About section), and what your career trajectory looks like – who do you work for, what is your title, and WHAT DO YOU ACTUALLY DO? I could care less about your photo or headline.
8. You don’t emphasize your accomplishments in Experience
Hiring authorities dread reading an Experience section that precludes a clear idea of what you did at your past positions. I get this. All to often I see job entries with the company name, title, and tenure at said position. That’s it. Tejal Wagadia writes in an article on how to write a powerful Experience section:
The experience section is the most important part of your LinkedIn profile. You can have the best Headline, About and Education sections, and recommendation; but if a recruiter or hiring manager can’t tell what you have done as work experience there is no point.
This is an area on your resume where you can’t be shy with the accomplishment statements. As I tell my clients, “Hit them over the head with the accomplishment. Ideally the job summary explains your overall responsibilities and the bullet statements are all accomplishments.
Here’s an example of a job summary followed by a bulleted accomplishment:
As the Director, Marketing Communications at ABC Company, I planned, developed and executed multi-channel marketing programs and performance-driven campaigns, using digital marketing principles and techniques to meet project and organization goals.
Grew marketing department to achieve an average of 34% growth two years running by developing and nurturing a digital marketing campaign from inception.
9. You don’t utilize description in Education
Oh what a waste. I see too many LinkedIn users who don’t utilize the space in their Education section. This area is an ideal place to talk about what you did while at university of high school. Did you start a Outward Bound club? Were you the editor of the school newspaper? Did work full time while earning a degree?
Hiring authorities don’t want to see what’s on your resume: Degree, Institution, Location, Year of Graduation (please don’t list the date you graduated.) Again, they probably saw this on your resume or will. Throw in some narrative to make your profile more exciting.
10. You leave your Volunteer section blank
Rarely do people list their volunteer experience on their resume. There’s usually no room and it’s not considered vital information. But if you think about your volunteer work, you either gave of your time to help a community of organization or to enhance your skills.
Both are great reasons to list your volunteer work. I tell my clients that employers love to know that you were/are a giver. Consider this scenario: you read before an interview that the hiring manager volunteers at the local soup kitchen. You also volunteer at your soup kitchen. If you can work this into the conversation during the interview, you’re golden.
One more, your Activities section is a wasteland
You have not shared a post, commented on what others have written, shared an article and written a synopsis. Essentially you joined LinkedIn to create a profile and connect with as many people as you could, which wasn’t many. “I’m not serious about being on LinkedIn,” is what you’re telling hiring authorities.
What others have to say on this topic
Wendy Schoen: Every recruiter and/or hiring manager reads your resume. That is still the name of the game. But increasingly, they want to turn to the LinkedIn profile in the hopes that it will shed more light into who and what the person behind the resume really is. But at the moment, they dread doing that because what they find is a bare, unattended profile.
Bernadette Pawlik:Some things people don’t like to think about they should, and this is going to sound very blunt–we are always in transition. We may not be fired or downsized, but we might outgrow our jobs, our wonderful boss might leave, our spouse moves the whole family to a new state. There is “job search” and there is “career management”..we all want to put the “job search” behind us…but if we are active career managers we are taking control of our careers, instead of letting life happen to us and derailing them.
Karen Tisdell: I have a story for you. I ran two LinkedIn webinars early 2020. Of all the people who attended one of them saw the massive potential I was advocating for to build relationships with partnering businesses and clients and became an avid user, hugely growing her network with the right people and producing 1-2 pieces of meaningful content a week consistently. (Many others did the same but tapered off after a month or so.) Fast forward nine months and the business sadly wasn’t doing well because of covid, supply issues and market sentiment. Many people were made redundant. The LinkedIn superuser was explicitly told her job was safe because her network and links with industry had become a valuable asset to the company.
We’d like to think people are employed and retained for their skills, but a closer look at many job adverts will reveal that it’s the relationships we bring to the organisation, and the relationships we have internally that can make a huge difference. In an environment where, here in Australia, travel is restricted and there are few face-to-face meetings, LinkedIn is an amazing tool to find and deepen relationships!
Hannah Morgan: I’ve known people who use LinkedIn to learn! – Courses (learning and networking) – Asking for recommendations for new software or service providers – Problem solving (asking for help solving a problem) – Giving a shout-out or congrats to people in your network – Meet people in your profession There is some overlap with what you’ve listed but wanted to be more specific. Great reasons to make LinkedIn a lifetime career habit!
One thing my wife and I disagree on when we go on vacation is whether we should make the bed when leaving a hotel. I tell her that the kind staff would rather we don’t make the bed, because if we do it’s more work for them.
I try to convince her that the staff who make our bed before we arrive for vacation, and while we’re there, make hundreds of beds. It’s easier for them if we leave the sheets and covers on the floor. She insists it’s better to leave a good impression than leave the bed unmade.
Similarly, hiring authorities read hundreds of resumes per week. You need to make reading your resume as easy as possible for them. Making it easier for them to read your resume depends on six obvious factors.
1. Make the paragraphs short
I tell my clients that readability is a big sticking point for me. I’m opposed to 10-line paragraphs, as they’re difficult to read. In fact, I won’t read them. The important information they’re trying to convey gets buried in all that text, much of which is usually fluff.
Instead, they should write paragraphs that are 3 to 4 lines each. When we read we digest information easier if the text blocks are shorter. This is important if you’re trying to make a hiring authority’s job easier.
You should use bullets to highlight your accomplishments and, again, the lines should be short, no more than 2 lines at most. One line can suffice in some cases.
You’ll note that none of the paragraphs in this article exceed four lines; most are three or two lines. My valued LinkedIn connection, Donna Svei, reminds us that resumes aren’t only read on the computer screen. She writes:
A big trend impacting all content consumption, resumes included, is the practice of using mobile devices as people’s preferred reading platforms.
Thus, your resumes needs to be easy to read on a phone. Send your resume to yourself, open the file, and make sure you can easily read it. Check for:
A font suited to being read on a mobile phone, such as Calibri.
Adequate font size. I like 11-point.
2. Prioritize statements
This means strategically placing on your resume the information relative to the job ad in order of priority. You want to make it easier for the reader to see that you meet the requirements of the job.
This applies to every section of your resume, even your Education section. For example, if you notice in the job ad that a Bachelor’s degree is the first or second requirement, strategically place your Education section under your Summary.
In the sections below, I’ll talk about resume areas where you can prioritize statements, starting with the very next one.
3. Use a Headline
Only professional resumes, it seems, have a Headline that brands them. You can call it a branding Headline if you will. It simply tells the hiring authority the title for which you’re applying and some areas of expertise. Here’s an example for a candidate applying for a Project Manager position.
Project Manager Operations Management | Team Building | Lean Six Sigma | Business Development
Prioritize statements in your Headline. With the example above, the project manager identified Operations Management, Team Building, etc. as the important areas of expertise in order of priority. This makes it easier for the hiring authority to place your qualifications with the requirements of the job.
4. Point out your relevant accomplishments
Have you ever read a resume and said to yourself, “So what.”? You don’t want the hiring authority saying the same to themself. Rather, you want them to say, “Exactly, this is what we need.”
In the job ad you noticed that the marketing manager position requires a candidate who can lead a team of more than 5 staff, coordinate multiple projects with sales, and oversee external communications on a global scale.
Start of by highlighting your relevant communications in your tailored Summary statement:
Meets deadlines while leading teams to communicate companies’ external global communications.
Expand the broad accomplishment you mention in your Summary, making it one of the top bullet points in your Experience section:
Earned accolades for leading a team of 10 to meet deadlines—coordinating projects with Sales department—producing compelling external communications.
But wait; the job ad also states the successful candidate will have to manage the team, on a limited budget, to revamp the company’s social media campaign. You’ve successfully done this, so you write:
Saved the company $100,000 over the course of two years by bringing the social media campaign in house; revamped the campaign while managing a team on a limited budget.
5. Keep your work history shorter rather than longer
You’ve accomplished a great deal in your 25-year employment history. Here’s the thing, employers are more concerned about what you’ve accomplished within the most recent 5-10 years. Anything beyond 10 years is probably irrelevant. I can hear the silent boos from my clients when I say this.
I understand their displeasure when I tell them to cut their work history to 10—okay 15—years. They’re proud of what they’ve done throughout their career, but they have to realize that their resume should be written for the employer, not them.
Am I saying that your resume must be one page long? No, the winner of page length is two pages by most career-development pundits. This article, which includes many resume luminaries, settles the great resume-length debate.
6. Include keywords
We can’t forget the keywords that will help your resume to be found when hiring authorities are searching the applicant tracking system for winning resumes that will lead to interviews.
(There is much debate as to if the ATS automatically selects resumes to be read or if recruiters and HR do manually search for them.)
Most important, though, is that your resume is readable and demonstrates the value you’ll deliver to the employer. You can stock your resume with keywords, but doing so will make it negligible if your resume fails to accomplish the aforementioned.
Your keywords should be sprinkled throughout your resume. I tell my clients that the job-related and transferable skills should be highlighted in the Skills area, while the personality (adaptive) skills should be implemented in the paragraphs within the Experience section, NOT the Summary.
The argument of to make the bed or not after our hotel stays is not one I find worth fighting; however, I pity the poor staff who have to unmake and then remake the bed after my wife makes it. I also feel sorry for hiring authorities who struggle to find the value candidates offer as they read their resumes.
This article is based on a poll I conducted yesterday. Some of the excellent comments are at the end of the article.
Many of my clients don’t give enough thought to helping hiring authorities find them on LinkedIn. What I mean by this is that they don’t list their contact info on their profile. Essentially, they’re hiding from the very people who could be instrumental in them landing a job.
Perhaps the word “hiding” is too strong. Hiring authorities (recruiters, hiring managers, HR) could use Inmail to contact them through LinkedIn, but that takes additional time. Further, some candidates don’t check their LinkedIn account on a regular basis.
If you’re in the hunt for employment, at the very least list your email address on your profile. Even better would be to include your phone number, as it would speed up the process. List your cell, not your landline. This is because hiring authorities frequently text job candidates.
The bottom line is that hiring authorities don’t have time to look around for your contact information.
Picture this: a recruiter needs to fill a software engineer position and she comes across your profile. You’re a slam dunk, but she can’t find any contact info. No email address. No phone number. Nothing. She’s on to the next candidate.
Reasons why job seekers don’t list their contact info
Here are some reasons my clients have given me for not including their contact information on their profile.
It never occurred to them
I understand LinkedIn is new to you. You’re trying to craft the best profile you can. Every ounce of your energy has gone into writing the content of your profile. But you didn’t considered how important it is to let hiring authorities find you easily. Now you know.
They don’t want spam
One of my clients told me he’s tired of getting emails for insurance sales positions. To this, I told him I felt sorry that he was receiving unwanted emails. I followed by telling him it was better than not getting any emails at all. It only takes the right contact.
Further, I told him that if he doesn’t want emails for sales position, remove any hint of sales he has on his profile. Hiring authorities looking for candidates for insurance sales positions will search for “sales” when doing their search. My client saw it my way.
They don’t know where and how to list your contact info
In my LinkedIn Unleashed webinar, the majority of my attendees don’t know where and how they should list their contact info. This leads me to the next part of this article.
Where to list your contact info on your profile
The answer to where you list your contact info is anywhere you can. There are four obvious places to list your contact info in order of least to most important.
You may be wondering where you could insert your contact info in the Experience section of your profile. One obvious reason for doing this is if you have a side hustle while your looking for work—or even while you’re working—and you want people to contact you.
Serious entrepreneurs will also include their telephone number. If you’re not squeamish about receiving phone calls from strangers at all times of the day, include your phone number. However, I respect people who want to communicate by email alone.
This is my third choice of where to list your contact info, because I prefer to see people sell themselves with keywords or a sharp branding statement. Remember that you only have 220 characters with which to work. However, this will certainly grab the attention of a recruiter.
2. Contact Info section
You might think this would be the best place to list your contact info, but I’ve found that few people even know about this gem of a place to list their contact and other info. It goes to reason that some hiring authorities don’t know about it, as well.
Below is where your Contact info resides on your profile.
LinkedIn provides fields for your phone number and email address. Smart job seekers will fill in both. It also provides a field for your address. Take this to mean an additional email address, not your home address.
Bellow is my expanded Contact Info. You should fill out the boxed-out fields.
Note: You can show your email address to 1) Only visible to me, 2) 1st degree connections, 3) 1st and 2nd degree connections, and 4) everyone on LinkedIn (highly suggested). You set this up in Settings and Privacy under Who can see your email address.
This is the the best place to list your contact info. My connection, Sarah Johnston—a former recruiter and now a successful job coach—advises job seekers to include their contact info in the About of their profile. She also says job seekers should include their telephone number.
To make the ultimate impact, list your info on the first line of your About. Keep in mind that LinkedIn only shows the first three lines of this section. When placed there, your contact info won’t go missed.
A former client of mine and now a salesperson, follows this rule of thought with her About. She really wants to be found and writes:
To reach me: (email address) and (phone numbers). As a lifelongathlete I have learned to be competitive within myself. This is the reason I have succeeded in my sales career. Like my fitness training I persist and never give up. Relentless and persistent until I land the sale.
What other LinkedIn authorities have to say about listing your email address on your profile (in order of commenting)
Wendy Schoen: As a recruiter I find it very difficult to reach candidates sometimes. You MUST have either a personal email or cell phone number in your contact information at all times.
AND this is not just for #jobsearch. EVEN for #businessdevelopment purposes, you need to do this. REMEMBER, people use TEXT messaging ALL the time and you need to know someone’s personal phone number to do that!!!
HOWEVER< I do not think that your email address belongs in your headline. You have too much other information that you want to include there. Of course, I am not one to talk as my contact information is in my banner!
Angela Watts: I must concur with Ed Han and Erica Reckamp about spam concerns. Those stinkers find my contact details even though I only list them in my Contact Info section.
As a recruiter, I tend to reach out to candidates via LinkedIn messages first (if I’ve found them on the platform). I’ve found that my emails often land in spam/junk mail so it tends to be safer to go through messaging. Once we’ve connected and I’m continuing the conversation, however, I do search for their email address on their LI profile. I’ve also looked for this info here when reaching out to colleagues.
Kevin D. Turner: I’m all in on 1, 2, & 4 Bob plus in my Custom [Background photo]. To keep my contact out of the hands of automation scrappers I parse my email as Kevin @ TNTBrandStregist.com (allows a person to copy it, paste it, and remove the spaces) and I set my phone number uniquely as +1-214-724-9111 (which is a math equation not a phone number formatting).
A data scrapping SPAMBot will not see either email or phone number, nor collect it for SPAMMING purposes, and yet a person visiting my profile knows immediately how to get in touch with me. Of course in a graphic you don’t have to takes these precautions because an image is not scrapable anyway.
Loren Greiff concurs, the price for characters in the headlines is too precious to give up for me BUT have contact area covered, business page and added call to action with email in the FEATURED SECTION!! This could be some fertile ground!
Sonal Bahl states that [Experience] and [Headline] are a bit much, especially the Headline, as it’s precious real estate. About and Contact, for sure. ALSO: the setting should be on which allows ANYONE to see your email address, not just first degree connections.
Ed Han:Technically, you could also include it in posts and articles, making it possible for the highly-motivated/very lucky. This is something that I have done when posting about a position for which I am hiring.
I realize that I erred in my response: I do have mine in the Contact Info. But I don’t make it visible in the other profile elements, as I get quite enough email and there’s a lot of web scraping off LinkedIn.
Adrienne Tom It’s amazing how many profiles I visit that don’t have contact info listed anywhere! Perhaps people are wary of spam?
I see a profile as just a starting point. You want to encourage engagement and follow-up — keeping conversations and opportunities moving forward. Inmails may be limited for some, so email is a great alternative.
Susan P. Joyce: This is SO important! The email address MUST be public (About). My advice: set up and use a permanent NON-WORK email address, your “professional email address.”
Make the address one that will work for you regardless of who you work for, where you live, OR who provides your home internet service:
🔹 Buy your own name as a domain name (annual fee), and then set up the email account using that domain name. Most of the domain registrars, like GoDaddy, provide email service for a low monthly fee. You do not need to build a website, but you can build one if you want to, someday.
🔹 If you attended a college (often, even if you didn’t graduate), the school probably offers an email service like email@example.com. This can be great personal marketing, too.
🔹 Set up a Gmail account (NOT Yahoo or AOL).
❌ DO NOT ADD YOUR BIRTH YEAR TO YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS! ❌ If you must add a number, use your area code or other number that doesn’t look like your birth year.
You can usually forward all messages from the above email accounts to your personal (not work!) email account. Remember, your employer will not be thrilled to learn that a recruiter has emailed you. Respond from the professional account or the message might not be seen or read.
Karen Tisdell: I think it insane that people don’t list their contact details, hugely missed opportunity because in a time-poor world we want, and are accustomed to, immediacy. To not have contact details in a few places to put up a massive barrier because we are all so distractable. It is like having lots of products on display in your shop window, but no online purchase facility. We may want to do business with you, but not want to connect or book in for a chat via Calendly… An email address opens opportunities!
Brad W. Minton: I think it boils down to context. If I’m a job seeker, I’m putting it everywhere because I don’t want to miss a chance to be contacted. I think for recruiters or coaches the contact or about sections are adequate simply because they do run into the spam issue more often!
Loribeth Pierson: I would say no to the headline Bob McIntosh. I know a lot of people miss out on opportunities when they omit the email address. If you’re looking for a job, make it easy to reach you. You can even get a free google number and list that instead of your personal cell number.
Shelley Piedmont: I have it in #4, #2, and #1. The headline seems a bit much for me, but I can see how it makes people so easy to contact. I once was on a webinar where the topic was how to source candidates. Many recruiters do not have the paid sourcing products offered by LinkedIn. For them, having your contact information easily accessible on your profile is invaluable.
Virginia Franco: I’m all about one-stop shopping — which means making it as easy as possible for a decision-maker to get in touch with you when they visit your profile.
If someone owns their own business, I’ll include the info in About, Experience and Contact section. If they work for a company, usually just the About and Contact section. I’ve hesitated with including in the headline because I want to maximize keyword searchability.
Laura Smith-Proulx: I’m so glad you brought this up, Bob. It’s amazing to see people who would otherwise welcome a new connection or job inquiry – but who never list ANY contact information on their Profiles. I insert email addresses into my clients’ LinkedIn Profiles and recommend adding it in the Contact section. Why not make it easier for a recruiter to reach out or stay in touch?
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