References on Your Resume: Must-Have or Big Mistake?

June 20th, 2016

You’re putting the finish touches on your resume and you’re just about ready to attach it to your cover letter and submit it to your target employer (or employers in general). You’ve customized your document for your specific audience, you’ve assembled the supporting materials your recipients have requested, and you’re just about ready to go. Just one question remains: Should you include a list of professional references within the text of your document? Your target employers have provided no clear guidance or instructions on this point. But if they haven’t asked, should you do this anyway? Here are some things to keep in mind before you make your decision.

References are not standard inclusions.

If your employers have not asked you to include your references, then they probably don’t expect you to do so. This isn’t a standard or traditional move, so they won’t receive many in-text references from their applicant pool. You might stand out from the crowd if you do this, but you’ll fit right in if you don’t.

References can confuse automatic filing systems.

Many employers use applicant tracking systems that automatically upload resumes upon receipt, and these systems typically break each document down into its component parts, like contact information, education, and work history. Additional and optional subheadings can potentially confuse the system and lead to errors, so bear this in mind.

Ask your references first.

When they agree to serve as references, most people expect to be called or contacted by employers only after the candidate passes through several stages of the selection process, including the initial resume review and one or more rounds of interviews. That’s usually the point at which employers ask candidates for their references and start reaching out to the people on the list. If you blindly send their contact information to total strangers, your references might be annoyed. Just let them know what you’re doing and get their okay before you proceed.

Don’t waste valuable space.

If you really want to send your reference list to a target employer during the initial resume submission process, send it as a separate document; don’t embed these names and phone numbers into the text of your resume. Save the valuable space on the page to showcase your accomplishments and credentials, and list your references elsewhere.

Under all circumstances during your job search, read your target employer’s instructions carefully and follow them to the letter. Every hiring process varies from one to the next, and if you follow the instructions you’re given, you’ll make things easier for your employers and increase your odds of a positive outcome. For more information, reach out to the Cleveland County job search team at PSU.

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Generation Y in Today’s Workplace

May 19th, 2016

There’s no getting around it: Millennials are integral to the modern workplace, and with each year that passes, more members of the generation born after 1980 flood into the offices and factories of the adult world. This much-maligned and much-celebrated generation is getting older, for sure; the first are now entering their late 30s. But new arrivals are constantly appearing, and “digital natives” and the children of helicopter parents are now the new normal in most workplaces.

So if you’re managing a team of millennials, what can you do to keep them happy and productive? Keep these considerations in mind.

Know what they want and need.

In order to keep your employees onboard and reward your top performers, you’ll have to provide the basic compensation they need and the special bonuses they’re willing to reach for. Which means you’ll have to find out what these things are. The best method is to ask them. But if you’re managing a large team, some broad strokes and general assumptions can help. For example, members of this generation tend to value time as much as (or even more than) money. So consider providing schedule flexibility and more time off for high performers.

Let them connect to the company network.

Millennials typically come with devices, since they were born with cell phones and tablets in their hands. Allow them to connect their devices to the company network, and set clear boundaries and rules regarding connectivity and response times. For example, do you expect them to close down or stay connected during weekends and vacations?

Push them a little.

Millennial employees are not known for their willingness to step outside of their comfort zones. Since the dawn of time, workers in their 20s have always been optimistic, ambitious, long on idealism and short on experience. In earlier generations, this often made them bold (sometimes even foolish) risk takers and cheerful mistake makers. But modern millennials are historically concerned about messing up and incurring the disapproval of their supervisors, so take this into account. Give them room to stumble, fail and grow. If you crowd them too much, they’re not likely to push back. But if you nudge them toward independence, they may astonish you with their youthful and innovative decisions and ideas.

For more on how to work with millennials and encourage them to thrive under your supervision, reach out to the Belmont staffing team at PSU.

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How to Use Keywords to Keep Your Application Out of the Garbage!

April 14th, 2016

When you submit your resume to a potential employer, it probably won’t end up in the hands (or on the screen) of a reviewer right away. Most employers use a system that deposits resumes into a database immediately upon receipt, and that’s where they tend to stay until they’re actively called up and drawn out via a strategic keyword search. So how can you make sure your document appears in the results of such a search? Here are a few tips that can help you choose the best keywords and use them to your advantage.

Look for clues in the job post.

Read the text of the job post carefully. Chances are the keywords that will be used to search for resume matches are right there in the post. Use them in your document where appropriate, and use the exact wording that you see. For example, if the post says “CPR certification required,” make sure your resume contains the phrase “CPR Certification”, not just “certified in multiple areas including CPR.”

Use as many different keywords as you can.

It won’t help you to repeat the phrase “CPR certification” 10 times in your resume. Once will be enough. In the meantime, look for ways to use other distinct words and phrases that might help you.

Insert key phrases seamlessly.

There’s almost no chance you’ll be offered a job (or an interview invitation) based solely on an automated scan of your resume. At some point in the process, your resume will certainly end up in the hands of at least one human reader (if you make it that far). So make sure this reader isn’t turned off by robotic language and keywords that have been awkwardly inserted where they don’t belong. If you have to choose, always prioritize clarity, readability, and accuracy over keyword use.

Don’t stretch the truth.

Don’t use “clever” strategies to pack your resume with keywords where they don’t belong. Eventually your document will be reviewed by a human reader, and you’ll end up in the recycle bin if you engage in trickery by using phrases like “I don’t hold CRP certification, but…” or placing your keywords in white text so you can fool the scanners.

Don’t neglect your cover letter.

Cover letters are often subject to keyword searches as well, and your letter may be examined first. Make sure you emphasize keywords in the opening paragraph of your letter and the summary section of your resume.

For more information on how to help your resume stand out in a crowded applicant field, reach out to the Belmont job search and career management experts at Personnel Services Unlimited.

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Make Your Meetings Better

November 20th, 2015

Your meetings may be efficient, short, and productive, but there’s a strong chance you could be getting more out each session than you already do. And there are plenty of reasons to make this happen: meetings consume a huge portion of the working day for an average employee, and every minute NOT spent in a meeting can be spent on other tasks that require focused individual attention. These extra minutes add up. Just a simple tweak to your meeting structure can help you—and your employees—accomplish more over the long term. Here are a few ways to streamline the process.

Cancel when you can.

If there’s any way to avoid scheduling a meeting or any alternative methods that can be used to accomplish the same goals, consider these alternatives. Meetings should be a last resort. As you create a list of invitees, keep the list short. Before you add a name, consider this person’s hourly salary and imagine how this time and money might be better spent.

Write down goals.

The person who decides to schedule a given meeting should document the goals of the session before distributing invitations. He or she should also type up an agenda so the session stays on track. Distributing the agenda before the meeting can help each participant know what to expect, how they can contribute, and when the session is expected to end.

Encourage contributions, but stay focused.

A totalitarian approach to meeting sessions can keep your meetings short, since everyone at the table will be afraid to speak up and will just scribble notes until it’s time to leave. On the other end of the spectrum, a relaxed open forum may encourage contributions that haven’t been fully thought out, and may turn your meeting into a rambling free-for-all. Find a sweet spot in between; encourage participants to speak up, but keep the atmosphere formal, focused, and respectful.

Planning or status?

Don’t confuse a forward-thinking planning session with a status update. If the goal is to inform, check in, and report on progress, keep the conversation centered on the present. If the goal is to look ahead and lay the ground work for future action, stay focused on the road. Make sure each participant clearly understands his or her next steps and action items before leaving the room.

Provide background before the meeting begins.

Don’t spend the first half of a long session providing updates and backstory that most of the participants already know. Distribute this information beforehand, or encourage participants to inform and educate themselves before showing up. Again, weigh the value of this time against the hourly salaries and alternative tasks of each participant.

For more on how to keep your meetings focused and purposeful, contact the staffing and business management team at PSU.

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Social Media Tips for Small Businesses

October 23rd, 2015

Your small business is finally up and running, and it’s a proud day! You’ve been working toward this goal for a long time, and you finally have your infrastructure, financing, tax plan, and business model in place. You’re learning how to manage your budget, and you’re doing everything you can to keep your new clients happy and your micro-team of employees busy and content. But if you’re like most small business owners, your thoughts are already turning toward sustainable growth. You have a trickle of customers that can keep you moving, but how can you expand your reach and gain more traffic? How can you tell the world about your product or service and start bringing the crowds to your door? You can start by leveraging the power of social media. Here’s how.

Take care of the basics.

Before you make another move, set up the basic foundations of your social media footprint. These first steps will cost almost nothing and won’t take more than a few hours. Establish a page for your business on Facebook. Start a website by purchasing a domain name and getting design and management help from any number of site hosts and providers.

Make it easy for your customers to find you.

The most important page on your nascent website isn’t your home page; it’s your contact page. Make sure anyone with any interest in your business knows exactly how to find you by email, by phone, or on a map.

Build outward from the core.

Once the basics are covered and curious clients can reach you within a few clicks, you’ll be on your way. The next step will involve targeting a passive, rather than active audience. At this point, your marketing game will need a boost, and it may be time to reach out for serious help. Turn to a professional social media marketing firm and learn more about the simple moves and applications that can help you track the flow of traffic to your site, raise your position in a list of search results, and get your ads in front of the people who are most likely to show interest in your product.

Cultivate relationships.

While you try to expand your footprint and build name recognition, protect your relationships with the customers you already have. Develop a friendly and responsive online “voice”, a blog with content that’s always relevant and fresh, a customer-focused return/complaint procedure, and an easy, appealing way for current customers to learn more about your product offerings.

For more on how to attract a growing audience of loyal followers, site visitors, blog readers, and—most important—paying customers, turn to the small business management experts at Personnel Services Unlimited.

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Three Salary Negotiation Tips

September 11th, 2015

You’ve just received an offer and even though you aren’t ready to say so just yet, you know the truth: you want this job. You ready—more than ready—to set a start date, grab your employee badge, leave the job search behind, and start the next chapter of your career. There’s only one problem. The salary on the table just doesn’t meet your terms. Ten minutes of internet research make it clear that you can do better. Someone with your skills and experience in this specific geographic area can expect to earn more, and you’re not ready to sign on the dotted line until you know your hard work and sacrifices will be compensated fairly. So how can you let these employers know that you’re willing to deal? Here are a few tips to keep in mind.

Don’t say too much too soon.

Ask for plenty of time to think over the initial offer, and let the employers do most of the talking. When you receive an opening bid, pause before you respond. Think carefully and speak slowly. And ask for at least 24 or 48 hours to consider your answer. Even if the initial number is insulting, or just a few dollars away from perfect, don’t get excited and keep your emotions and thoughts to yourself. If your employers change or raise the offer within the allotted time frame, don’t rush to respond. Insist on taking your full 24 hours.

Consider what you’re willing to give back.

Before you being the negotiation process, have a clear idea in mind regarding the items on which you’re willing to compromise. For example, what if your employers can’t budge on salary, but they’re willing to add to your benefits package or offer a generous list of perks? Will you be caught off guard by this suggestion? Ideally, you’ll be ready for a twist like this and you’ll already know what you are and aren’t willing to take off the table.

Know the difference between standard and additional.

If you’ve researched the topic, you may know perfectly well that a 50,000 dollar salary, ten PTO days per year, and dental benefits are all very common expectations for an employee in this role. But there’s a strong chance that your employers will claim to sweeten the deal by adding these elements as gesture of interest or an act of generosity. Be careful, and expect what’s reasonable. Don’t assume that this offer comes at great sacrifice to these employers, even if they claim that it does. If they have to break the bank to offer the bare minimum of what you deserve for your labor, that’s their problem, not yours.

For more on how to land the job you need at the salary you want, contact the staffing team at PSU.

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Three Tips for Newly Graduated Job Seekers

August 14th, 2015

You’ve recently completed your degree and taken your first shaky steps into the “real” world. Like an optimistic baby bird, you’re setting your sights on the sky and hoping for the best. Which, in your case, will be a stable, fulfilling entry level position that you can eventually leverage into a lasting and meaningful career. At this stage in your life, you won’t be able to throw a stone without hitting someone who’s eager to give you advice. Friends, mentors, employers, recruiters, and total strangers will tell you exactly what you need to do to find “success”. So instead of adding to the chorus, we’ll just offer three simple tips drawn from our experience in the staffing field…These are the three that we’ve found to be the most useful for new graduates like you.

There is only one definition of “success”: yours.

Success does not mean tons of money. It also doesn’t mean a wall full of degrees, a dozen children, or non-profit foundation launched in your name. Success can be defined in only one way: Imagine your life five years from now if everything works out the way you’d like it to. That’s what success means to you, and that’s the only vision that matters. Ironically, this vision will probably change before the five years are over. When that happens, you’ll need to restart the clock. And then you’ll need to do this again, and then again, and then again, for the rest of your working life. If you enjoy this exercise at any given moment, congratulations! You’ve succeeded.

Take praise and criticism with a grain of salt.

You won’t get where you’re going if you hang your happiness on the approval of others. Your boss will criticize you on some days and praise you on others, and these moments of criticism and praise have much more to do with her and with the circumstances of the moment than with your actual value as an employee and as a person. The same rule applies to job offers and rejections. Don’t be confused or deterred by the responses and evaluations you receive from strangers. Just do the best you can.

Stay in motion.

Most of the time, when you ask happy middle-aged people how they got where they are in their lives and careers, they can’t precisely tell you. Many of their greatest moments and amazing opportunities came their way by chance, and they happened to be standing in the right place at the right time when the moment occurred. But here’s something on which most of them will agree: when the moment came, they weren’t sitting on the couch watching TV. They were doing something. Working, studying, trying, failing, playing, reading, meeting new people, exploring, doing chores, or even just digging a big hole in the ground for no apparent reason. But they were doing something. If you stay in motion, you help opportunity find you, and vice versa. Slow down, make wrong turns, and reverse when you need to…but don’t stop moving.

For help and guidance as you shape your career path, contact the staffing experts at PSU.


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