These days, we mostly submit resumes online as PDFs, but if you’re asked to mail a resume old-school style, there are a few things you should do. If you look at your resume and can’t help but feel that it looks like every other resume, you are not alone—and employers notice!

Make Sure to Use the Right Buzzwords

Dropping the right buzzwords into your resume can be tricky, but if you’re mailing your resume, you have to be especially careful. The wrong word sticks out like a sore thumb on paper. Make a good list of industry-specific keywords, and try to weave them into your resume naturally, in your professional profile or summary, and in your previous job descriptions.

To know if you’re using the right words, look at resumes for successful people in your industry on LinkedIN. Pay attention to the words used in their profiles. Also take a good look at job advertisements in your industry and in your location. Many industries have local buzzwords, too. Job advertisements are a good place to see local inflection.

Tailor your Resume to the Job Advertisement

You should always rework your resume for the job advertisement you’re answering. This is a huge, important step because application software look for keywords in your application materials. Having trouble guessing the keywords? Here’s the secret: 90% are in the ad!

If the advertisement says 2-5 years of experience managing high-volume call centers, then you need to specifically use that language in your resume. “2 years of experience overseeing call center operations” will not trigger the keyword search. Specifically echo the language in the advertisement: “2 years of experience managing high-volume call centers.”

If you are applying for rn jobs then make sure that you include this in your resume. It’s all about crafting yourself as the perfect candidate for the job.

Related: Do I Need a Custom Resume for Every Job Ad?

Check for Errors

If your resume is riddled with misspellings and typos, they will be more glaring on paper than if they were online. Print out your resume and read it one line at a time to find errors. If you have a friend who majored in English, send it to her/him to read it for you. Run it through Grammerly. Make it shine.

Format Your Resume for Printing

When formatting your resume for mailing, use a 12 or 14 pt. font and 1-inch margins. Stick to easy-to-read fonts like Times New Roman, Calibri, Garamond, Bookman Oldstyle and the like. Now is not the time to show your favorite Star Wars font.

Remember that white space is your friend. If all of your text is cluttered together, it becomes hard to read.

Choose Decent Paper for Your Resume

When choosing a paper for printing your resume, don’t take shortcuts. Cheap copy paper can make colors and text look dull. I use Xerox’s high-gloss paper for my resume, but mine is very colorful, with golds and blues. If your resume is plain black and white, opt for a nice, textured paper, like Southworth’s cotton linen resume paper.

Presentation plays a big part in whether or not your resume is seen by the right person, so consider sending your resume in a nice, business folder. You can put your cover letter in the left pocket and your resume on the right, or you can include samples of your work in one of the pockets. If you have business cards, folders often have a spot to include them, which makes for a clean, lovely presentation.  

Mail Your Resume

Even if you don’t use a nice folder to hold your resume and keep it nice while in transit, you should at least use a big envelope to mail your resume so it doesn’t arrive crinkled and folded. Even the Dollar Tree has packs of paper-sized envelopes, so no excuses!

Related Posts that May Help You

Double-check the address before you mail your resume, and take the time to hand it to your mail carrier or nice postal worker instead of bending it and stashing it in your mailbox for pick up. Make the extra effort to ensure it arrives fresh and crisp because if you don’t care enough to make sure your resume arrives looking nice, you probably don’t care enough to do the job for which you’re applying, and employers will know it.

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6 Steps to Mail a Resume and Make an Awesome First Impression - #resume #waitaminutemrpostman #mail #snailmail #career #careeradvice

If you’ve been searching for a job for awhile, it’s easy to get discouraged when you can’t get an interview—or worse, when you land interviews, but never hear from the employer again. After countless applications and resume tweaks nothing is coming back positively for you. You wonder if you will ever manage to get a job and you’re starting to lose hope.

The first thing you should do is read our article on the 9 Reason I’m Not Hiring You. Katie talks about her experience as a hiring manager for our parent company, and the biggest mistakes that keep her from hiring applicants.

Then, there are three positive actions you can take right now to improve your chances of finding a job. Take a deep breath, then get started!

Spruce Up Your Resume

You will start to notice a much quicker and more positive response rate from your applications if you give your entire resume an overhaul. You need an excellent resume objective in order to land an interview. You might need to tweak your resume for each individual job you apply for, so that you can showcase and highlight your strengths. This will take time to refine but once you have got the hang of it, you will soon become a pro.

Our Top Resume Articles

We will makeover your resume for just $49!

Raise Your Interview Game

Landing the interview is one of the most difficult parts of obtaining your dream job. Once you have the interview in the bag, you will need to brush up your interview techniques. Don’t rest on your laurels or credentials in order to bag the role, you will need to be articulate and well informed during the interview. Making a good impression in the interview room is easier than it sounds. All you have to do is be yourself, tell the truth and tell stories about how your previous experience will help you in this job. Make sure you can explain exactly why you applied for this job too, otherwise the panel won’t feel invested in you.

Our Top Interview Articles

Strengthen Your Skill Set

In order to reach your career goals you need keep your skills on top form. The more you can talk about first-hand experience in an interview environment the more impressive it will be to your prospective employer. Go above and beyond to meet the criteria of the job description and you will be sure to impress your future bosses.

Our Top Articles about Strengthening Your Skill Set

Bonus Tip: Start a Side Hustle

If you’ve been out of work for awhile, you’re probably running low on funds. One way to make some money and strengthen your resume is to start a side hustle. There’s a million ideas, from teaching English to Chinese students online for VIPKid, to selling your freelance services on Fiverr.

Our Top Articles on Side Hustles and Saving Money

So get your resume together, gain the skills you need, and get some hands on experience. Employers will be jumping at the chance to hire you as long as you aren’t afraid to showcase your skills and talents. It can be a cut throat world, so there is no time to be shy and reserved. Know your worth and always be positive about your abilities.

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Are you ready to record a video resume and start rocking your job search? If so, you need a script. Our “What to Say in a Video Resume Guide” will help you figure out what to say so you can start getting noticed in your job search right away. Enter your email address below to get your free guide!

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3 Things to Do if You Can't find a Job - #career #getajob #resume

A video resume is an especially good addition to your job application materials if you’ve been applying to a lot of jobs, but haven’t landed an interview. It’s a quick and easy way to stand out in a stack of boring resumes. It shows a glimpse of who you are, and it gives you a chance to show your poise and professionalism.

If you’re one of those people who know that if you can just land the interview, you’ll get the job, then a video resume is a great way to introduce yourself to a potential employer. Here’s what you need to know about video resumes:

1. It’s Not a Live Reading of Your Resume

When I say “video resume,” a lot of our clients think I mean that they should turn on their webcam and read their resume to the camera. That’s boring, and it’s not going to get you interviews.

Think of your video resume as an introduction of your skills and experience to an employer. You’re also trying to show that you have personality and poise—you’re not just a name on a piece of paper. You’re the best person for the job, and they’d be fools not to hire you.

2. Good Video Resumes are Very Short

Your video resume should be no more than three minutes. In fact, that’s a bit long. Keep it short and to the point. You need a script, but you don’t want to look like you’re reading it on camera. You want to seem like you’re speaking directly to your potential employer.

3. You Need a Good Camera

Good, HD-quality cameras are everywhere these days. Anyone can buy a GoPro, and our iPhones take fantastic videos. For example, check out this video of my kid’s lion mosaic I shot with an iPhone 8 in my back yard:

In broad daylight, your cell phone’s camera is a great choice. For best results, shoot early in the morning (before 10 AM) or an hour before sunset. The lighting is naturally flattering, and you won’t be squinting against the sunlight.

4. Get a Friend to Help You

A video resume is not the time to show off your selfie skills. Instead, have a friend help you run your camera. They can hit record and stop in the right places, and signal when you should start speaking. Plus, having a friend there gives you someone to look at as you’re speaking so you look more natural on camera.

A good friend will also help you adjust your script to sound as natural and professional as possible. Good friends who will tell you the truth are one of your strongest assets.

5. Use a Tripod or a Stable Surface

Even with a friend’s help, you still need a stable surface to set your camera on while you record, otherwise your video will turn out bumpy and shaky. You don’t want to distract your audience with a shaky camera.

Ideally, you need a tripod. Luckily, they aren’t as expensive as they used to be, and you can get them anywhere, from Amazon to Target. If you’re recording with your iPhone, you will need a tripod mount. Most GoPro kits come with one included in the box.

6. Your Sound Quality is Very Important

Your beautiful, HD video isn’t worth the memory space it’s written on if your sound quality sucks. Many career gurus say you should invest in a professional microphone for a video resume, but it’s not necessary. As long as you are close to your iPhone or GoPro when you speak, and you limit background noise, you can shoot a professional-looking video without a fancy microphone.

To make sure your video sounds crisp, clear, and professional, don’t shoot your video outside when it’s windy. Your hair may look amazing, but all you’ll be able to hear is the wind.

Make sure noises like barking dogs and traffic aren’t audible on your video, too. Always listen to your recording as soon as you make it so you can make adjustments as necessary.

7. Choose Your Background (or Shoot Location) Wisely

Your background is important. You have to have balanced lighting, which is why an outdoor location is a solid choice. But, if you have a lovely home office, with your fancy degree and awards hanging strategically on the wall behind your office chair, you have the perfect background.

If you choose an indoor location, make sure you have good lighting. You can always reposition lamps or shoot your video sitting next to a window.

You might also think of an industry-specific place for your video shoot. For example, if you’re applying to be a lifeguard, shoot your video resume at the beach or beside a pool. If you’re applying to be a Web developer, position your computer in the background. Get creative!

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8. Dress Professionally, but not in all Black

This should go without saying, but every time I think everyone should know to dress professionally when on camera with a potential employer, I end up in a Skype interview with a candidate dressed in a ratty T-shirt and disheveled hair. So, I’m saying it: Dress professionally for your video resume.

Black is not the best color on camera. It usually makes you look like you’re heading to a funeral or hanging out with the mob. If you must stick to a dark color, go with navy or charcoal grey—and don’t forget a pop of color, like a blue scarf or a pink camisole.

Dress as if you were headed for an interview. You want to look polished. Make the time to look your best—you won’t regret it!

9. Just Like Your Paper Resume, You Need More than One

If you’re becoming an expert at job searches (and we hope by now you are), you are applying for several different kinds of jobs within your chosen industry or career field. For example, as an instructional designer, Jarell and I pick up instructional design jobs, but we also look at web development gigs with an education focus, educational writing gigs, retention and student success consulting gigs, teacher training gigs—anything related to educational support. Obviously, the same video resume wouldn’t work for all of those types of jobs. That’s why you need more than one.

Think about your different audiences when you’re writing your video resume scripts, and write a different script for each audience. Most people should have 3-5 different video resumes.

10. Video Resumes Aren’t for Every Industry

Of course, video resumes aren’t for every industry. If you’re applying to be a police officer or a fireman, a video resume probably won’t help you as much as if you’re applying to be a journalist or consultant. If you’re an entrepreneur, a video resume can do wonders for attracting clients. Use your best judgment, and if you find yourself in a situation where you’re not getting any bites on your job application materials, it never hurts to try a video resume.

Example Video Resumes

What to Say in a Video Resume – Our Free Guide!

If you’re ready to make a video resume, the first thing you should do is draft a script. To make it easy for you, we’ve drafted a What to Say in a Video Resume guide that includes examples and a “mad libs” like template for writing your script! Fill out the form below to download your free copy.

Enter your email address to download our “What to Say in a Video Resume” Guide:

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Not Getting Job Interviews? You Need a Video Resume. Free "What to Say in a Video Resume" Guide! #videoresume #career #getajob

Why I won't hire you - confessions of a hiring manager

Have you ever wondered why you didn’t get a job that you thought was perfect for you? It’s easy to blame the employer for not giving you a fair chance, but the truth is, it might be your application materials or some other easy-to-fix thing that’s keeping you from your dream job.

Jarell and I are currently looking for a marketing intern for our parent company, Escape the Classroom. We love to hire interns because it makes us feel like we’re “giving back” for all of the help we’ve had along the way in our own careers. We know it is nearly impossible to break into most industries right out of college unless you have some sort of experience. So, we are happy to provide experience to students majoring in fields like education, marketing, graphic arts, and technology.

The problem is, a lot of intern applicants make giant mistakes that keep us from hiring them, and I don’t think they even know it—which is why I’m writing this probably-too-honest post. This list isn’t just for interns. If you’re having trouble getting a job, take a deep breath and ask yourself if you are guilty of any of these very correctible job application sins:

1. Your Application is Incomplete

The number one reason we don’t hire a job applicant is simply because their application is too incomplete for us to decipher who they are, what their experience is, or what they want to do. We know job applications are annoying, so we try to keep ours rather short, but we still have applicants who don’t answer the questions we pose.

We have no choice but to reject applicants who don’t bother to fill out the entire application. We look at every application with a compassionate spirit, but not all employers do. Most are going to take your unwillingness to complete the application as a sign that you don’t really want the job…and they won’t bother to call you for an interview.

No matter what, always complete the job application in its entirety. It’s the first impression for a lot of employers and you don’t want their first impression of you to be that you’re either uninterested in the job or you’re lazy.

2. Your Resume (or application) is Unprofessional

When we see short resumes for intern candidates, we understand that they don’t have a lot of experience and that’s why they’re coming to us for an internship. What we don’t understand is why they list “JV Cheerleader” as work experience on their resumes.

Here’s a quick list of unprofessional things we’ve seen on recent resumes and applications that you should change immediately:

  • Parents or other family members listed as references
  • High School clubs and awards listed as work-related accomplishments
  • Traits like “punctual” and “hard worker” listed as skills
  • Email addresses like “PookieBear92” or “SandysSister34”
  • Missing contact information, like your phone number or mailing address
  • Missing “professional profile” that starts the story of your resume
  • Glaring typos and spelling errors (the obvious kind that elementary students would notice)

3. Your Resume Does Not Fit the Job Description

Employers don’t have a crystal ball. They can’t see how your skills and talents align for the job they advertised unless you show them.

You need to craft a customized resume for every job advertisement you answer. This means rewriting your professional profile at the top of your resume to include keywords from the job description, rewriting your job descriptions for previous jobs to show that you’ve done tasks that will transfer to the job for which you are applying, and rewriting your skills list to reflect the skills the job advertisement lists.

If you’re applying for a web designer job, don’t turn in the same resume you used for a chicken fryer job at KFC. You may be qualified for both jobs, but you have to reframe your resume’s story to show an employer you’re the right person for the job. Click To Tweet

4. You Didn’t Include a Resume at All

One of the most disheartening things we see in job applications is when a job applicant doesn’t send us a resume at all. Instructional designers like our Escape the Classroom mottos of rebelliously smashing boring educational experiences, so they often fill out the contact form and tell us how much they’d love to work for us…but that’s it. They don’t include a resume or cover letter.

We always answer our emails. We answer these well-meaning educators and ask them for their resume, cover letter, and online portfolio. They never respond.

You need a resume. It’s your argument that you’re the right person for the job. You can’t apply for a job (outside of retail or food service) without one and expect to land an interview.

We will makeover your resume for just $49!

5. You Didn’t Include a Cover Letter

Probably 50% of the job applications we receive do not have cover letters included. It only takes a few minutes to craft a cover letter, so why would you avoid it?

The cover letter is your introduction. It tells an employer who you are and starts your argument as to why you are the perfect person for the job. Not writing one for each individual job tells the employer you aren’t serious about the job and don’t really care if you get it or not.

6. Your Cover Letter is Rude

Believe it or not, the only thing worse than not submitting a cover letter at all is submitting a rude one. When you try to bully an employer into hiring you or making a quick hiring decision, you are not going to get the job. No way. No how.

I say this because we have applicants send us cover letters that end with a statement like, “I have many other job offers, so I need to know right away if you plan to hire me.” No, I don’t plan to hire you.

This kind of statement tells the employer that you are high maintenance, conceited, and trouble. You might think it shows confidence, but it doesn’t. Employers want confident employees, but they also want kind employees that they can trust to make good decisions and impress clients with their diplomacy and helpful attitude.

As a female business owner, the last thing I want to do is hire someone that tries to bully me into it. It’s just not going to happen.

7. You Don’t have Work Samples

We don’t expect our interns to have full portfolios yet, and we give a lot of thought into assigning interns to projects they will be able to use to build solid portfolios so they have something to show future employers. However, if you are applying for a full-time or part-time job in any sort of art, design, writing, or technology-related industry, you must have work samples.

If you don’t have anything you can show, make something. In instructional design, I always want to see finished projects from potential designers so I can have a conversation with the designer about how they planned and built the project. It tells me a lot about whether or not the designer is a good fit for the kind of work we do, because not all instructional design is the same. We focus on high-end projects with a lot of media. Some designers were only trained to plan instruction in text-based format. Both are important types of instructional design, but the skill sets are very different.

The same is true with graphic design. Every artist has her own style, so employers want to see if the artist style matches their needs. Samples are key to this sort of job.

If you work in an industry that requires work samples, make sure you have them!

8. Your Reference Leaves You a Bad Review…or Doesn’t Know You at All

When you list someone as a reference, make sure you have their permission. Believe it or not, we have potential employees list references without telling the reference they plan to list them. So, we call the reference, and they tell us unflattering things about the job applicant. Even worse, some don’t remember the job candidate at all!

Your references are your allies in finding a job. When you list a reference, you’re telling the employer that this person has nice things to say about you. It’s absolutely tragic when your reference trashes you. There’s no coming back from that one—we simply aren’t going to hire you.

9. You Don’t Answer Your Email Regularly

If incomplete job applications are our number one reason we don’t hire someone, number two is when a job applicant doesn’t respond to our emails. Once we’ve chosen our interns, we always email them and confirm that they still want the job and then ask them to attend an information session with us. After the information session, we send them a contract to sign, which includes a start date. Amazingly, at least 1/3 of the potential interns we select never bother to reply to our emails.

If you want the job, monitor your communication channels. You should check your email no less than twice per day.

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Who am I Going to Hire?

This post may come across as negative, and it’s not meant to be that way at all. Everything I’ve listed in this post as a reason I don’t hire someone is completely fixable on the part of the job applicant. I will interview the job applicant that completes the application in its entirety, attaches a resume that shows he or she is the perfect person for the job, writes a lovely, friendly cover letter that explains why he or she wants the job is qualified for it, and answers my emails in less than 24 hours. Most employers feel the same way.

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Why I Won't Hire You - Confessions of a Hiring Manager

If you’re still in college or just graduating high school, you’re probably looking forward to summer vacation. This year, instead of lying around the pool all summer, you could use your time to gain skills and experience for your resume.

The truth is, it’s hard to get a job right out of college if you don’t have both experience and a strong skill set. Use your summer vacation productively, and you could have both!

Here are ten things you could do this summer to prepare for your launch into the real world:

1. Get a job

The obvious thing to do to improve your resume, gain experience, make new contacts, and learn new skills this summer is to get a job. It doesn’t have to be a horrible, soul-sucking job, though. You can find a job that lets you enjoy the summer sun and have a bit of fun, too. Here are a few job ideas to get you started:

Lifeguard

You can make money sitting beside the pool or the ocean with a job as a lifeguard. You will need to take a Red Cross certification course, but they’re easy to find in most every area. This job comes with perks like getting to use the pool everyday, gaining valuable prioritization and life-saving first-aid skills, and a killer tan (wear sunscreen kiddos. Skin cancer is a bummer).

Camp Counselor

If you’re into arts and crafts, campfire songs, and s’mores, you could find a job as a summer camp counselor. Most offer on-the-job training, but you’re ahead of the game if you have first-aid certifications. You don’t necessarily have to live at the camp all summer, either. You can find day camps pretty much everywhere these days.

Theme Park Ride Operator

If you love roller coasters and cotton candy, you can find work this summer in one of the many theme parks across the country. Outside of Florida and California, most theme parks operate on a seasonal basis, which means they have hiring blitzes in May, just before school is out for the summer. The perks with this job include free theme park admission, unlimited rides, and discounts on food and merch.

Tutor

If the hot sun and summer mosquitos aren’t your thing, you can sit in the cool air conditioning with a tutoring gig. Check with your local library, community college, or high school summer programs for tutoring positions in your strongest subjects.

If you’re traveling this summer and looking for an online tutoring gig, try VIPKid. They help children overseas learn conversational English.

Retail

Online shopping hasn’t killed the retail market yet. A job in your favorite store can be a great way to spend the summer. You can network with people from all walks of life while scoring an excellent discount on your favorite stuff.

2. Take an Internship

Internships are one of the most valuable things you can do to improve your resume and network with people in your industry. It’s a great way to try on a career before you commit. You can find internships at places like internships.com, and if you’re majoring in education, communications, or graphic art, you can always intern online with our parent company, Escape the Classroom. Email your resume (no judgment) to info@escapetheclassroom.com if you’re interested.

3. Start a Side Hustle

You can show your future bosses that you’re a disciplined self-starter by starting a side hustle this summer. You could mow your neighbors’ yards, babysit school-aged children, teach senior citizens how to use their phones, or walk dogs. The business opportunities are endless, and we found 15 ideas in our Summer Side Hustles for College Students post.

4. Learn to Cook

Learning to cook will benefit you in more ways than you can imagine. First, you’ll save money by not eating out as much. Second, you’ll be able to impress colleagues at office parties with your baking cred. Finally, you will always know what to do to welcome a new boss or greet new clients—you’ll bake them something delicious!

Check Groupon for deals on local cooking classes. Your local community college likely has a few, too. If you’re looking for a solid cookbook that will solidify its place in every kitchen throughout your lifetime, pick up theBetter Homes and Gardens New Cookbook. I use the 1953 edition,but it’s very hard to find.

I recently discovered the Thug Kitchen cookbooksand love them! If you’re into tell-it-like-it-is language and very good nachos, try this cookbook series.

5. Volunteer

One of the best ways to beef up your resume is to volunteer for local charities. It’s a great way to network and help your community, and it shows that you’re willing to put yourself out there for a good cause. It’s also a good opportunity to explore your passions.

Help Disaster Victims

If helping people in crises sounds exciting to you, try volunteering with the Red Cross. They always have volunteer openings, and their trainings look great on a resume. You can volunteer as little as four hours per month!

Show Love to Rescue Animals

If you love animals, you could spend your summer volunteering with your local humane society. Humane societies take in animals of all sorts, including cats, dogs, horses, and livestock. They need help with everything from simply socializing rescues to bathing and feeding them.

Build Houses for Families

Habitat for Humanity has projects all over the country. Building houses can be a lot of fun, and you’ll learn skills that will help you as a homeowner later.

Help Your Local Charities

Of course, your local Rotary and Kawanis clubs have community interest projects, too. You can also Google to find local soup kitchens, homeless shelters, food banks, and special interest charities. My favorite places to volunteer are state and national parks. You’ll find plenty of volunteer opportunities if you do a little research.

6. Travel

We’re not talking about traveling two hours to see grandma this summer. Instead, think about traveling somewhere that you can volunteer, work, or meet people working in your industry.

A good place to start is with a Google search for “volunteer abroad.” You’ll find websites likeVolunteerHQ that put together trips abroad for specific projects like teaching, childcare, art, healthcare, community improvement, or wildlife conservation. The catch is that you have to pay your own way, which can cost $150-600 per week, plus a $300 registration fee.

7. Learn to Drive a Stick

Driving a stick is a solid life skill. If you can master this skill, it means you’ll be able to drive cars when you travel internationally. Some places reserve automatic rental cars for Americans, but they charge a small fortune for them.

Driving a stick opens doors to driving bigger and faster vehicles, and you’ll be able to drive any company car without the embarrassment of having to request an automatic. While it may not be a skill you list on most of your resumes, it’s still a productive way to spend a few hours (or days) this summer!

8. Build an Online Portfolio

Believe it or not, most people Jarell and I interview for our instructional design business do not have online portfolios. They rarely even have work samples to show us. Even though we’re open minded and glad to help those new to our business, we have a hard time hiring anyone who can’t show us they can do the job.

You need an online portfolio in a lot of industries. If you create anything at all, you need an online portfolio. The summer is the perfect time to start one.

If you don’t have a lot of web development knowledge, you can use a drag-and-drop tool to build your online portfolio. There are a lot of options, but our favorite is BoldGrid via our web host, InMotion Hosting. You choose a magazine-worthy layout and then just add your content to it. What could be better?

Other options include free tools like Weebly, or tools included with Adobe’s Creative Cloud. Remember though, the more professional your online portfolio looks, the more employers will want to hire you. As soon as you have your portfolio up and running, link it to your LinkedIN account and other social media.

9. Attend Job Fairs

You can learn a lot about many industries all at once by visiting job fairs this summer. If you are undecided about your major and your career path, a job fair is a great place to explore ideas.

Put on your favorite dressy outfit, upgrade your resume, and hit the job fair with an open mind. You’ll find job fairs listed on social media, on flyers at your library and community center, in your local paper, and on Craigslist. Your morning news may cover them as well.

Shake hands, network, and grab business cards and brochures. Even if you don’t find a job you want while at the fair, the networking you do there can get you a job later. Don’t forget to follow everyone you meet on LinkedIN when you get home.

10. Learn a New Skill for Free

Instead of letting your brain rest all summer, why not spend it learning something you really want to learn? You can learn most anything you want for free with just a few good Google and Pinterest searches.

Is there a piece of software that’s used throughout your target industry? Grab a book about it from your library or watch Linda.com videos to learn it. Most schools have memberships to Linda, so check your college library for information.

Do you need quick roll-out-of-bed hairstyles to make your life easier when you go back to school this fall? Pin your heart out and watch YouTube videos to master any ‘do. The Freckled Fox is my favorite blogger for hair tutorials. She makes it easy with videos and step-by-step picture tutorials. In fact, here’s an easy bouffant bun for if you decide to take my advice and go to a job fair.

Your local library offers free classes every week about technology, books, and the community. Look at their list and see if anything appeals to you.

The point is, do anything but nothing this summer. Time is too valuable to squander. It’s the students who use their time wisely that will score the good jobs at graduation. Build your resume while you have the time.

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15 Things You Can Do this Summer to Build Your Resume Before You Graduate College

Time Magazine ran an article this week about the #1 thing employers don’t want to see on your resume: “Proficient in Microsoft Office.” Really, though, you shouldn’t say you’re proficient at anything.

“Proficient” has become synonymous with “adequate” in the job market. It’s an over-used term that has lost its real meaning. It’s time to move on.

The #1 Thing Time Magazine Says You Shouldn’t Put on Your Resume

Time’s article claims that employers are simply sick of seeing “proficient in MS Office Suite,” and that it’s the equivalent of saying you can “use a knife and fork.” It’s a “duh” skill for the modern American office—everyone applying for office jobs knows how to use Office.

Time goes on to say that “padding your resume with ‘skills’ shared by everyone with an office job signals to employers that you actually don’t have any skills at all.” That’s a pretty scary message to have on your resume!

Take a good, long look at your resume. How many statements do you have on it that everyone else has? If your resume doesn’t make your skill set look unique and perfect for the job you want, it’s not doing you any favors. It’s time to make a few changes!

Why “Proficient” is Killing Your Resume

It’s not just being “proficient” at MS Office that’s killing your resume—it’s the word “proficient” in general. See, in the English language, when a word is overused in a specific way for a decently long amount of time, it loses its power. It’s not enough to be “proficient” at something.

Think about it: Would you go to a “proficient” doctor? He’s adequate. His skills are fine. If you have a scraped knee, he can certainly put some Neosporin on it and give you a band-aid. If you have a sinus infection, he can prescribe you Amoxicillin with the best of them. But what about the day you have a heart attack? Will you still want the care of Dr. Proficient, or will you insist on the top rated heart doctor in your community?

You’ll want the best. So do employers. No one wants to hire the employee with “proficient” skills. They want the employee who excels. They want the employee who achieves. This is you, but you have to show it through better word choices.

What to Say instead of “Proficient”

You have expert skills in something. Those are the skills you should highlight. If you aren’t sure what your best skills are, ask a friend—or better yet—ask a co-worker. What is the thing that everyone asks you to do for them?

Instead of “proficient” try words like:

  • Advanced
  • Expert
  • Experienced
  • Highly adept
  • Savvy
  • Accomplished
  • Proven

Time Magazine suggests being specific in the skills you list. They give the example of making amazing pivot tables in Excel as a skill you might highlight (if you can, indeed, make kick-ass pivot tables).

Industry-specific software master is always good to highlight on your resume, too. When Jarell and I bid on instructional design contracts, we always list our mastery with the many learning management systems in our bios. Employers in our industry always want to know that we can use the software they’ve decided to use to build their learning products, so we list education-specific software like Lectora, Captivate, and Articulate.

So, as you’re replacing “proficient” on your resume, think about your future employer. What skills will they need from you? What will they be impressed that you can do? What makes you more than adequate to do the job?

Remember: Make it easy for employers to see that you’re the perfect person for the job. Perfect isn’t “proficient” and neither are you. You are much better, so let your resume reflect it!

What to write when emailing a resume

Applying for jobs can be awkward, especially when companies ask for an application process that feels disjointed. We often see employers ask for applicants to email both a resume and cover letter. Since you’re emailing a cover letter, you have to wonder…what do you say in your email? Obviously, not the same thing you said in your cover letter!

If you are faced with this awkward application situation, keep your cool and follow these rules and examples:

What to Write when Emailing a Resume and Cover Letter

Use a Professional Email Address

If you are still using email addresses with fun code names, like Princess98@yahoo.com or HuggyBear@hotmail.com, it’s time to create an email address for your professional life. We get it—you want to be cute, or geeky, or whatever, and that’s great when you’re emailing your friends and family, but employers see these email addresses as immature, and that’s the last thing you want to seem to an employer.

Your email address is the very first impression employers will have of you since they will see it even before they open your email. Think of it like this: Would you show up to a job interview in your ripped jeans and Chewbacca t-shirt? We hope not. So why would you show up in an employer’s inbox as ChewyFan123?

When choosing a professional email address, use your name. You can use any combination of your first name, last name, middle name or middle initial. Examples include:

  • SamanthaCollins@gmail.com
  • CollinsSamantha@gmail.com
  • SamanthaMCollins@gmail.com
  • CollinsSamanthaM@gmail.com

Definitely do not add a number to your email address, especially not your birth year. You can use most any email service you like, but some, like Hotmail and AOL, look outdated. We prefer Gmail, just because we like it.

Your Email’s Subject Line Should be the Job Title

Keep your email’s subject line short and to the point. To make sure the employer knows exactly why you’re emailing, make sure the job title is in the subject line. Here are some example subject lines:

  • Computer Technician Position Advertised on Indeed.com
  • Computer Technician Application
  • Computer Technician Applicant
  • Replying to Your Computer Technician Job Application

Start Your Email with a Professional Greeting

Emails have become quick communications where we just jump in with what we have to say rather than greeting the person we’re emailing. When you’re emailing a potential employer, don’t skip the greeting. If the advertisement identified to whom you should address your email, use that person’s name as part of the greeting. If you can figure out his/her name from the email address, the user name of the person who posted the advertisement, or something else, go for it. Try one of these greetings:

  • Good Morning, Mr. Sanderson,
  • Greetings, Ms. Johnson,
  • Dear Human Resources,
  • To All it Concerns, (this is your last resort, and skip the “To Whom it May Concern” idea completely)

Explain Your Email’s Purpose (But Keep it Short)

Since your cover letter explains why you’re the perfect person for the job, your email should be short and to the point. Explain why you’re emailing and what you’re attaching, and that’s about it. Tell where you found the job advertisement, the position for which you are applying, and that your resume and cover letter are attached. Your email’s body paragraph should look something like:

I found your advertisement for a computer technician on VelvetJobs.com and believe my skill set fits your needs perfectly. As requested, I have attached my resume and cover letter to this email.

Close Your Email on a Positive Note

When you conclude your email, end with something besides “sincerely.” Remember, you want this person to email you to set up a job interview, so encourage them to do so. Show them that you’re open to further discussion and communication. Try one of these closings:

  • Looking Forward to Speaking with You Soon,
  • Looking Forward to Discussing Your Goals,
  • Looking Forward to Learning more About Your Needs,

Final Checks

Before you send your email, double-check that you have correctly entered the employer’s email address, and make sure you have attached both your resume and cover letter. Be sure your file names tell both your name and what the file is, like Katie_Evans_Resume or Cover_Letter_Jarell_Fox. The more you can make the employer’s life easier, the more they will see you as an asset.

Example Email

TO:  KSmith@private-eye.com 

FROM:  JonesG@gmail.com 

SUBJECT: Private Eye Position Application

Good morning, Mr. Smith,

I found your advertisement for a private investigator on LinkedIn and I believe my skills are a perfect fit for your needs. I have attached my resume and cover letter, as your advertisement requested.

Looking Forward to Learning More about Your Goals,

Gloria Jones

 

Dear HR,

I was just laid off and I need a job fast! What is the best way to spend my time in my job search? I know you say I should tailor my resume and cover letter for each job I apply for, but that takes a lot of time. If I just have one resume and cover letter, I can send it out to at least 25 places every day. At most, I can only apply for five jobs per day with a custom resume for each job.

Wouldn’t it be better to be seen by a lot of companies rather than just the few that I have time to write targeted resumes for? Explain to me why sending out a large quantity of resumes won’t work.

Thank you,

Confused about Resumes

 


Wouldn’t it be better to be seen by a lot of companies rather than just the few that I have time to write targeted resumes for?

Dear Confused about Resumes,

First, we are sorry to hear that you’ve been laid off! We know that is a scary thing to face, and we applaud your tenacity to find a job quickly. Unfortunately, sending out dozens of generic resumes everyday isn’t going to shorten your search. In fact, it might lengthen it.

Do you remember the Friends episode where Rachel sends out hundreds of resumes, all with a major typo on them? Well, that episode is more than 20 years old, and even then, it’s not how Rachel landed her first job in the fashion industry. It’s the act of a desperate person who doesn’t know how to job-hunt and is just hoping for a miracle.

Recruiters can smell desperation. Would you hire a desperate person? In most industries, probably not. Recruiters are looking for competent employees who actually want to work for their companies. They are looking for the person who is going to bring value. If you send them a generic resume and cover letter, what message are you sending? The message they will see is that you didn’t care enough to take the time to craft your materials to their job description.

Even worse, if your resume and cover letter doesn’t fit their job description, how does the recruiter know that you are the right candidate for the job? If you don’t customize your keywords and skill list for the job, your materials might not fit the job description. Even if you know you can do the job, remember that the recruiter or potential employer doesn’t know you.

So, your question is about what will work faster to find a job: quantity or quality. The answer is, undeniably, quality. There are a couple short cuts you can take to speed up your search, though.

Create a resume for each kind of job you want to do

If you are like most job searchers, there’s a few jobs you think you could do reasonably well. The wise thing to do is to create a resume for each kind of job that reflects the keywords employers are looking for in that industry. That way, when you need to customize a resume for a specific employer’s advertisement, all you have to do is take your pre-created resume that most closely fits the advertisement’s criteria and make minor changes to wording to reflect the words used in the ad. This step should save you at least an hour on each job application, but you do have to do a bit of work up front to create a few different resumes.

Keep a text-only resume so you can copy/paste information in job applications quickly

One of our favorite time-saving methods is to have a basic, text-only resume saved in NotePad or TextEditor. You can easily copy/paste information from your previous jobs into each job application, which saves a ton of time.

Keep a log of your answers to job application questions

Job applications usually ask you questions at the end that require a typed response. Before you submit your response, copy/paste the question and your answer in a Word file. Then, next time you have an application with the same question, you can clean up your answer to fit the employer’s job advertisement. Time saved!

Tap Your Network

The absolute best way to find a job quickly is through your network. You should have a solid LinkedIN profile, and you should set the recruiter alert to show you’re looking for a job. You should also email colleagues and let them know you’re looking for a job so they can keep an eye out for jobs that are right for you. You never know—someone might have the power to hire you on the spot. Your network is your most valuable job-hunting asset.

Best of Luck,

HR