Salary Negotiation 101, Part 1

Recently, the Career Center’s own Anne Nowak gave a seminar about negotiating your salary with your employer. In case you missed it, we’d like to present some of the takeaways here. Today;s post will focus on salary negotiation when you start a new job. (There will be a follow-up posts discussing other aspects of this seminar.)

Why should you negotiate?

While the answer to the question, Why should you negotiate your salary? might seem obvious, there are reasons beyond the immediate payday. For example, consider two employees: Chris and Fraser. Both were hired on the same day, by the same company. Both were initially offered $100,000 a year in salary. Chris decided that was a good deal and took it, no questions asked. But Fraser asked, “What can you do for me?” and was able to negotiate a 7.4% higher salary, for a total of $107,400 the first year. Afterwards, both men stay at the company for 35 years and receive identical 5% raises each year. When it’s time to retire, the men compare their portfolios and Chris is caught by surprise – if he wants to end up with as much wealth as Fraser, he’ll need to work 8 more years! Fraser’s simple, ten-second question saved him 8 years down the line. Negotiating your salary can do the same for you.

The big 4 rules of negotiation

  1. Ask. 84% of employers in the private sector (the number is lower in the public sector) expect you to negotiate. Accepting a salary offer without questions is the same as paying sticker price for a car – you’re only doing the other party a favor. You may be worried that your offer could be rescinded if you ask for more compensation, but let’s look at facts: if you have an offer, the company wants you to work for them. Hiring people is a lot of work – they’ve already published the job vacancy, read dozens of interviews, interviewed multiple people, maybe even multiple times, and they’ve arrived at their decision: you. They think you’re a great fit and they want you to come work for them. So it won’t hurt to ask for something extra. (Of course, we can’t guarantee they won’t rescind their offer – there’s always a risk, but it’s small.)
  2. Be Prepared. Use websites that compile salary information, such as payscale.com, www.salary.com, www.glassdoor.com, and www.vault.com. (Also, if you have any friends in the industry, or even better, at the companies you’re applying to, ask them how much they make. If they don’t want to tell you, don’t push it – even though you’re usually well within your rights to discuss your salary.)  Take note: pay range will change depending on the job level, your qualifications and experience, and your geographical location. For example, companies in California tend to pay more than those in Louisiana to offset the higher cost of living. You’re also better positioned at the negotiating table if you have more education, certifications, or experience than the job posting calls for. Take note, too, of wider economic trends affecting your industry – you might have more leeway to negotiate in a fast-growing industry, as opposed to one that’s shrinking.  Use that information to your advantage!
    You should also think about your own goals: how much do you want to make? How much do you need to make, for your housing, transportation, groceries, and life expenses? If your dream job can’t offer you enough to live on, you can’t accept that job offer – and it’s better to know before you work there for six months and fall into debt.
  3. Whoever says a number first loses. Negotiating a salary is similar to negotiating anything else: information is ammunition, and you want to keep your cards close to your chest. If you’re asked about what your desired salary would be early on in the application cycle, such as on the application, leave it blank if you can. If it’s a required question, then answer it, but be aware that HR can use desired salary to screen applicants out of the consideration pool. Don’t bring up salary or compensation during your interview. If the interviewer does, try to deflect the question by saying something like, “I’d like to discuss salary after we’ve both determined I’m a good fit for the position.” If you’re a finalist for the position, you can ask them what range of salaries they have in mind, or what their budget for the position is. You’re just trying to get them to say a number first.
    Of course, there’s a small exception: if you’re extremely prepared in your salary negotiation, and you have a very good estimate, you can try “anchoring” the negotiation with a salary. Anchoring is a phenomenon that retailers use in sales: the first value we hear for an item tends to “anchor” its worth in our minds, regardless of its actual value. That’s why you’ll see “Was $1999, now $1300” in stores – they’re tricking us into thinking $1300 is a good deal, even though they were never going to charge $1999 for it. You can do the same in salary negotiations, but again, only if you’re prepared. You’ll need to know a lot about the job you’re about to begin, the industry, and your skills’ worth.
  4. Always make a counter-offer. Once you’ve successfully gotten them to say a number first, you say a bigger number. Make sure to back up your counter with your experience and expertise, and your research on salaries in your area and industry. They might accept your number, which is great! However, they might not be able to move on salary. If not, try asking them about other perks, such as bonuses (such as a sign-on bonus or year-end bonuses), benefits (like better healthcare or retirement), vacation packages, car or technology allowances, or an earlier performance and salary review. They’ll probably be able to give you something more if you just ask.

Conclusion

Remember, 84% of private companies expect salary negotiation for new hires. At the same time, they’re trying to save money. They’re not going to volunteer giving you more money or benefits – you have to ask. The same goes for companies you’ve been working for: if you think you’re worth more than they’re paying you, and you’ve got the receipts to back it up, ask. The vast majority of the time, the worst that’ll happen is they’ll say “No.”

Stay tuned for further posts on salary negotiation.

Written by Case Duckworth

Who’s Hiring During the Pandemic

This is a uniquely challenging time to search for a job. Concerns over COVID-19 have shuttered many businesses, and large numbers of people have been temporarily or permanently laid off. Given this uncertainty, most companies are slowing down hiring – but not all. Certain fields are growing quickly in response to consumer demand during the outbreak, including:

  • Hospitals and Medical Centers: Locally, this includes Our Lady of the Lake, Baton Rouge General, and Ochsner, all of whom are hiring both medical and non-medical staff.
  • Janitorial Companies: Janicare, Janiking, and Aramark are among those hiring locally.
  • Grocery Stores: This will include national chains like Walmart, Target, Costco, Sam’s Club, and Albertson’s, plus local chains such as Rouse’s and Associated Grocers.
  • Pharmacies: Walgreens and CVS, as well as smaller local pharmacies, will need more employees.
  • Home Repair Stores: Both Lowe’s and Home Depot have been categorized as essential stores that will remain open throughout the crisis, and both are hiring.
  • Delivery Services: Amazon is having explosive growth due to online ordering. Food delivery services such as Waitr, UberEats, and GrubHub also need staff to keep up with demand. And grocery delivery services such as Shipt and Postmates are rapidly growing.
  • Transportation Services: For non-CDL drivers, check FedEx, UPS, and the Post Office. For CDL drivers, there are a variety of companies to choose from, so your best bet may be an aggregate job search website such as Indeed.

Additionally, you could use this time as an opportunity for some entrepreneurship. Think creatively about what services you could sell. Could you offer to provide lawn care, handyman services, housecleaning, cooking, or grocery pickup for your community? Could you babysit neighbors’ children while the parents are at work? Sign up as an online tutor? Craft items to sell on Etsy? Your skills and hobbies could help you fill in the cracks financially.

We wish you luck with your job search through this challenging time. As always, feel free to call the Career Center at 225-231-3733 for answers to your job search questions.

Written by Cynthia Payton and Lynnette Lee

Tech Talk: Learning Express Job and Career Accelerator

The East Baton Rouge Parish Library recently acquired a new resource to assist jobseekers: the Job and Career Accelerator service of the Learning Express database.

How to Access It:

The Learning Express database is free to anyone with an East Baton Rouge Parish Library card. Go to the library website, then click on The Digital Library. Choose to search the “A-Z List”, then find “Learning Express 3.0” which takes you to the Learning Express database. Now click on “Job and Career Accelerator”.

How it’s organized:

There are six sections to this resource.

Find a Career Match: These assessments can be a good career planning tool for people who don’t know where to start. The Interest Matcher asks you about how much – or how little – you are interested in doing certain types of tasks.  The Skills Assessment is similar, except it asks about what skills you already have.  Each assessment will, based on your answers, provide you with a list of professions and types of work which match your interests or skills.

Explore Occupations: This tool provides detailed information about 1000 different careers.  There are several different options for how to search and narrow down results. For each job title, the database gives information on job description, average salary, projected demand, education needed, skills preferred, and more.

Search for Jobs and Internships: This takes you directly to job postings and internship opportunities on Indeed.

Tools to Get Hired: This section provides samples of job search-related documents, including resumes, cover letters, networking letters, and post-interview thank-you notes. There is also a how-to-interview tutorial and a resume-building tool.

Career Library: This section has in-depth guides on how to start a career in several common fields, including healthcare, teaching, paralegal, police, and culinary arts. There are also specialized guides for how to change careers and how to use social networking in the job search.

School and Scholarship Finder: The Scholarship Finder helps you search among 24,000 different scholarships to find scholarships for which you might qualify. The School Finder helps you locate a school that meets your educational goals and needs. It includes a Quick Match tool that helps you find schools that might be a good match for you.

What do we like most about this resource?

One-stop shop: This database brings together a lot of resources for different aspects of job searching and career planning under one roof. You can take an assessment, choose a career, write a resume, apply for jobs, and find a school, all under one roof. That can be very convenient.

Good information: There are lots of tools here to help you become a savvy jobseeker. For instance, the sample letters in the Tools to Get Hired section are helpful examples. And the guides in the Career Library are extremely informative, if there is a guide for your chosen career.

Resume Keywords: This was our absolute favorite part of the database. The Resume Builder contains a list of Job-Specific Keywords which you can use to plug into your resume. For example, if you look for “Accountant”, a long list of keywords and skills related to accounting and finance will come up. You can then choose some of those keywords to fill out the “Skills” section of your resume. This is a great way to make sure your resume bursts with the key skills that will grab a hiring manager’s attention.

What do we dislike most about this resource?

Derivative: This database has very little in it which is original. The job postings come from Indeed. The career information comes from ONET. And the general structure of the resources comes from Career Cruising, another career database which we’ve discussed extensively.

Resume Builder: We know, we seem to be contradicting ourselves. We said that we loved the Keywords section of the Resume Builder. And that’s true. But we found the rest of the Resume Builder inflexible and hard to use. It uses a one-size-fits-all formula for the resume template, making it difficult to tailor a resume to suit your specific skills and audience. We much prefer referring our patrons to our own resume templates, which are 100% customizable.

Written by Richard Wright and Lynnette Lee

The Seven Deadly Sins of Job Searching, Part 6

This is the sixth post in a series of posts about the most common and damaging mistakes jobseekers make. Read the full series here.

6th deadly sin: going it alone

You read our blog posts about the first five deadly sins of job searching, and have all your ducks in a row. Your resume and social media presence are top notch, and you are well prepared for job interviews. You are staging a great search. . .and yet, after a few weeks, no success. You are starting to doubt yourself. Are there any jobs out there? Are you good enough? Yes, you are! But job searching takes time and patience. The higher your desired position and salary the longer your search will take. The longer the search takes the more demoralizing and discouraging it can become. Don’t commit the 6th deadly sin of job search and try to go it alone!

The best antidote to the job search blues is community

Not feeling needed anymore is one of the prime stressors after job loss. Build a support system that shows you are not alone in this and that makes you feel needed and appreciated. What constitutes a support system will look different for everybody depending on their individual needs. Support systems are often drawn from:

Family – If you have a supportive family that listens and encourages you, perfect! If they make you feel needed, even better. Unfortunately family members often, mostly unknowingly, add to stress with well intentioned but unfounded advice and pressure.

Religious/Spiritual groups – If you have a religious or spiritual home you can fall back on, this can be invaluable. Being involved and helping others can make you feel better about your own situation.

Sports teams/hobby groups – Physical activity is very important for emotional wellbeing. Again, helping others by coaching or leading groups will make you feel better as well!

Job Search Support Groups – Jobs search support groups or job clubs are groups of job seekers that meet on a regular basis and bring job seekers from different backgrounds together for mutual support, networking, accountability and job search tips. Research shows that job club participants on average find employment faster than seekers who go it alone. They also report better wellbeing due to being able to help other group members with networking leads or other advice. You can find these groups in most larger cities and they are often sponsored and run by churches and community organizations. Here at the Career Center we are big believers in this concept and have facilitated weekly job club meetings for years.

If you are a job seeker in a professional career and are interested in joining our job club, you can find more information here or give the Career Center a call at 225-231-3733.

Stay tuned for the next deadly sin of job search.

Written by Anne Nowak

Different Types of Job Fairs

April and May are job fair season in South Louisiana. There are a number of job fairs to choose from each week. But, job searcher beware, not all job fairs are created equal. If you don’t do your research ahead of time you might well waste your time and return frustrated. Different job fairs work for different job searchers. Here is an overview of the different kinds of job fairs and who will benefit most:

College Career Fairs

These job fairs are organized by colleges mainly for their students and alumni, but sometimes they are open to the general public as well. Colleges put on general job fairs, which include a wide selection of employers and professions. Before you go and attend a general job fair, find out which employers will be present and if they are interesting to you! In addition to the general job fairs, colleges often organize fairs specific to certain professions: e.g. health care careers, engineering, media, or skilled trades. These are preferable to the general fairs since you know each employer present has an interest in hiring candidates from your field.

In general the employers present at college career fairs are mainly interested in entry-level and recent graduate candidates. Though alumni are usually invited as well, there will be fewer opportunities for mid-career candidates. However, talking to a live human recruiter or hiring manager is always preferable to just applying online. So the chance to talk to hiring managers directly, learn information about the company and making connections might make it worthwhile for mid-career professionals to attend.

General Public Job Fairs

These are often organized by local non-profit organizations, media outlets or workforce centers. They are unfocused and represent a wide variety of employers and fields. Often the majority of employers present at these general fairs are from companies or fields with high turnover jobs who need new employees frequently. These occupations are often found at the lower paying level of the world of work. If you need a job fast and are not picky, these job fairs might work for you. If you are an experienced professional, do your research and find out beforehand which employers will be present to see if it is worth your while to attend.

A drawback that college and general job fairs have in common is that some of the companies present are not really actively hiring. Sometimes they attend more for the public relations value. They want to be seen as thriving companies that are attractive to potential employees. Yes, they will still take your resume at the job fair but it will not lead to anything.

Single Employer Job Fairs

These are the best job fairs. As the name suggests, this is a job fair for/with just one employer who is normally looking to fill a number of different positions. These are the best job fairs because the companies conducting them are in need and actively looking for people. They are usually very organized and ready to interview and process applicants on the spot. This means that there is very little time between the job fair and starting a new position. Single employer job fairs are conducted by companies in all fields, from high tech and IT, to warehouse, healthcare and hospitality.

The career center can help!

The best way to find out about any kind of job fair in your area is social media. Follow any company you are interested in on social media. They will normally announce their job fair participation on their different accounts. Also follow your school’s career center social media as well as your local workforce or unemployment center, Dept. of Labor and public library. For the Greater Baton Rouge area the Career Center at the East Baton Rouge Parish Library is your one stop shop. We post all upcoming job fairs on our social media, we frequently host them, and we help you prepare for an impeccable job fair performance with our Job Fair Success seminars, like this one.

Written by Anne Nowak

The Seven Deadly Sins of Job Searching, Part 4

This is the fourth post in a series of posts about the most common and damaging mistakes jobseekers make. Read the full series here.

4th deadly sin: an unmanaged and unmonitored social media presence

If you followed the advice of our blog posts about the first three deadly sins of job searching,  you now know what you want and what you can contribute, you have a networking strategy in place, and you have a well-written resume. Great, well done! You are ready to get the word out to your network and to recruiters that you are on the market. Yet despite good qualifications, you get no leads or interviews.

Have you monitored your social media presence lately?
Is your social media presence holding you back? You want to be on social media while job searching! Social media platforms can be of tremendous help in finding a job. But your presence can also cost you the job if not managed carefully. The vast majority of recruiters and/or hiring manager will check you out on the internet!

LinkedIn: If you are in a professional career, you need a LinkedIn profile. The profile needs to be complete, including a professional picture. All LinkedIn content needs to be professional; this is not the place for your vacation pics or party exploits. For more information on LinkedIn see our previous post.
Facebook: If you use Facebook exclusively for private non-professional content, make sure to lock it down and set your privacy settings to the most restrictive settings possible. Don’t let anybody tag you in pictures; don’t let anybody post anything to your timeline. Delete old profile pics. Don’t post incriminating pictures, and be careful about what you post or articles you share or like. Beware of public groups. Despite all these potential negatives, Facebook can be a good networking tool.
Twitter: Twitter is inherently public. So adjust your strategy while job searching. If you follow any divisive or questionable groups or organizations, drop them while you are on the search. Also refrain from commenting on, posting, or retweeting such content. Do not share or retweet incriminating pictures of any kind. Do use Twitter to follow, comment on, engage in and retweet content that is highly relevant to the job you are looking for.
Instagram: Again, beware of the pictures you post, what you like and comment on. Do use Instagram to post pictures, follow, and engage in content and organizations that support your job search and show your interest in the subject matter.

Personal Branding
Ideally you want to use all your social media accounts for a branding campaign. You know what kind of job you are looking for and you know the kinds of organizations you’d most like to work with. Now you can utilize social media to learn as much as possible about these organizations and engage with them. Follow their social media presence, engage with and comment on their posts, post relevant content on your own feeds, and use targeted hashtags. If you do this well, maybe your next job will find you.

If you need assistance in creating LinkedIn profiles or learning about social media for the job search, call the Career Center at 225-231-3733.

Stay tuned for the next deadly sin of job search.

Job Searching with Facebook

If you’re a savvy job-seeker, you already know that social media is a crucial job search tool – for establishing your personal brand, expanding your network, and discovering the hidden job market. But what you may not know is, there is a new tool you can add to your social media job search toolkit. Facebook has recently launched Facebook Jobs, an app which allows you to find and apply for jobs directly through Facebook.

How to use facebook jobs

Once you log into your personal Facebook page, the Jobs tool is visible on the left sidebar under “Explore.”

Click on the Jobs tab and you will see:

  • the Location that determines which job openings are shown
  • a list of Job-Type boxes so you can narrow down the search by Full-Time, Part-Time, Internship, and so on
  • a list of Industry boxes so you can narrow down what types of jobs interest you
  • a Search jobs field if you would like to search for jobs with certain key terms

Depending on what search terms you use, you will see “posts” for job openings in your Location area, Industry, and Job Type. If you see a position that interests you have the option to click on Apply Now – but you might not want to.

One Major caveat

The Facebook Jobs tool has one great advantage, which is that it makes it very easy and convenient for you to look for a variety of jobs at once. Much like aggregate job posting sites such as Indeed, it’s a time-saving one-stop shop for job searchers. But once you find a job you’d like to apply for, we recommend that you do not actually apply for the job through Facebook itself (unless that is the only option). We strongly recommend that you go to the company’s official website and apply there instead.

We have two major reasons for this recommendation. First, many people see Facebook as a place of play, not a place of business. Submitting your application that way may cause you to be taken less seriously, especially if the application links directly to your personal Facebook page – which is probably much less polished and professional-looking than your resume or LinkedIn profile. Second, there is always a risk that you will be sharing your information with a suspicious source. There are a lot of scam artists who lure in victims with fake job offers, and Facebook may not be able to thoroughly vet them all. Thus, the company’s official website is the safer bet.

Applying for a job through facebook

Again, we recommend that you don’t do this, and use the company’s official website instead. However, sometimes that’s not an option. If the job can only be applied for on Facebook (and you’re certain that it’s legitimate),  click “Apply Now” on the job posting. This opens up a rudimentary job application form where you can provide contact information, education, and experience. There is also an option to be notified by that organization about other job openings.

Advertising a job through facebook

If you run a small business with a corporate Facebook page, you can use the Facebook Jobs tool to advertise your job openings. This may be a good way to expand your pool of applicants, because far more people will see your openings here than on your company website. Once you log into your corporate page, there is a button for Publish a job post.

That opens a form on which the organization can post the open position with places to add information about Job Title, Location, Salary, Job Type, Details, Additional Questions, and a Photo if desired (such as a business or company logo).

Overall impression

Whether the Facebook Jobs tool is useful to you will depend on your needs and circumstances. If you have highly specialized skills, or if you are only interested in a handful of companies, this tool may not help you find what you’re looking for. If, however, you’re not completely sure what you want or where to find it, this tool can be a great way to look at a large variety of local job listings with a minimum of fuss. We saw lots of openings for retail, food service, caregiver, and labor positions, but there’s a little of everything and a few off-the-wall postings you’d have trouble finding elsewhere. In general, we think it’s a good tool to help both companies and job-seekers.

Written by Richard Wright and Lynnette Lee

New Resource: Job Search Quiz

Test your Career know-how with our Job Search Quiz

The Career Center recently added a new resource to its website: a job search quiz. This 20-question, true-false quiz will test your knowledge of general job search techniques, interviewing, resume-writing, and networking.

The quiz’s most helpful feature: after your test is scored, you will be provided with detailed explanations for each question. These explanations will help you become a savvier job-seeker and increase your likelihood of success landing a great job.

You may take the quiz here or on the Job Search page of our website. As always, if you would like further assistance with any aspect of your job search, contact the Career Center at 225-231-3733.

Written by Lynnette Lee

Work@Home 101: How to Find Legitimate Work-From-Home Opportunities

If you’ve missed our seminar “Work @ Home 101”, here are the key takeaways:

No commute, no dress code, no office politics, and more flexibility. That’s what attracts most people to look into working from home. Thanks to technological advances, work-at-home opportunities are more plentiful than ever before. But how to find the best opportunities? How do you beware of scams? And is working from home really as good as it seems?

While the before mentioned advantages are real, there are distinct disadvantages to working from home as well. Do you have the self-discipline not to give in to the distractions of being at home, such as surfing the web, doing housework, reading a book, or talking to friends? Are you okay with no person-to- person interaction all day? Many jobs feature interaction through chat, phone, or video call, but it’s still not the same as being around others in person. There are also no clear limitations between being “at work” and “at home”.

However, if you have determined that working from home suits your lifestyle, the next step is to figure out, which opportunities are the best fit for you.

Independent contractor or employee?

Both kinds of employment are available virtually and both have their pros and cons. Being an employee usually means that you only work for that specific employer, have regular hours, and receive benefits such as paid time off and, ideally, health and retirement benefits. In most cases, the employer will furnish equipment like laptop and/or telephone.

As an independent contractor, you provide services to an organization but are not their employee. As such, you are not eligible for benefits and mostly have to furnish your own equipment. But you can also set your own hours and only work when you want to. This set-up provides ultimate flexibility and you can work for several organizations at the same time. The majority of work at home opportunities will fall into this category!

Where to find legitimate work-at-home jobs?

There is a one-stop-shop for virtual job postings. Your first go-to website should be Rat Race Rebellion. It’s not the most user-friendly site, but in turn it is free. Rat Race Rebellion provides the most comprehensive list of links to legitimate work-at-home opportunities of all kinds: employee and independent contractor, large and small companies, from healthcare to education to call centers, it covers every industry.

Another legitimate website is Flexjobs. Flexjobs’ mission is to provide flexible work opportunities, not just virtual ones. Therefore, a lot of their jobs are actually not work-from-home, so you have to dig through their listings to find the virtual opportunities. You can browse the listings for free, but in order to get company name and contact information you have to join flexjobs, which charges you a monthly fee! Therefore, browse the listings first in order to determine if it is worth for you to join.

Last but not least there are online market places such as Upwork and Workmarket. Upwork is literally an online marketplace where anybody can post projects that they need to hire somebody with a specific expertise for. Project posters are often individuals, small companies, or start-ups. On the flip side, contractors can sign up and advertise their services. Projects cover a wide range of fields: creative, legal, translations, software and web design, proofreading, accounting, etc. You can browse the jobs without registration. But in order to bid on/apply for the projects, you need to register and create a profile. Unless you have a rare expertise or skill, it takes some time before you can make decent money on Upwork. You need to build a good reputation project by project. Once your reputation is established, you can demand more money. It is pure supply and demand. Upwork can be great for people wanting to break into a new field or who want to build a portfolio of projects. It is also a good resume filler for people who are unemployed and want to avoid long gaps in their work history.

Workmarket is also an online marketplace, but the projects posted are usually by larger employers. You can’t just browse jobs on the site —  you have to register before you can proceed. Since the jobs are by larger employers who have an urgent short-term need, the pay is usually good. Both Upwork and Workmarket only provide contract work, not employment.

If you want to move ahead with getting an online job but don’t know how to proceed, the Career Center can help. Give us a call at 225-231-3733 and we will help you discover options and tackle applications.

Written by Anne Nowak

The Seven Deadly Sins of Job Searching, Part 3

This is the third post in a series of posts about the most common and damaging mistakes jobseekers make. Read the full series here.

3rd deadly sin: Resume Blunders

Regardless of what job you are looking for, you now need a resume. No big deal you think, there are plenty of templates available on the internet and if those don’t work out I’ll hire a resume writer. Let’s see what could go wrong:

1st blunderone resume fits all. No, it usually doesn’t. Ideally you want to adjust your resume to each job you are applying for. Most times, it just needs little tweaks and not major rewrites.  If you are applying through an Applicant Tracking System (ATS), each resume needs to contain as many of the keywords in the job description as possible to make it through the ATS. Those keywords will differ from job to job.

2nd blunder – an unfocused resume. You have done a lot of good work in your life and you want every potential employer to see all you can do. That’s understandable, but you don’t want to drown the reader in irrelevant information. Be strategic about what you include in your resume. You want to stress those parts of your experience that are most relevant to the job you are applying for and minimize the experience that is not relevant. You also don’t want to go back too far in time. Normally going back about 15 years is customary. Resume space is at a premium; use it wisely. The reader will only spend a few seconds skimming it. Those few seconds need to be enough to convey that you have what they are looking for.

3rd blunder – no accomplishments. Everybody has accomplishments! Many job searchers don’t recognize their accomplishments and see it as “well, that’s just part of my job”. Don’t sell yourself short! Talk to colleagues and friends (or resume writers and career coaches) and let them help you identify what you do well. Then include those accomplishments in your resume.

4th blunder – not proofreading your resume. You have created a top notch resume, focused and filled with relevant accomplishments and keywords. You have read it a thousand times, so it must be okay, right? Too often it’s not. After working on a document for a while, you are not able to recognize the little typos and mistakes. Give your resume to a friend to proofread!!! Grammatical mistakes and typos will usually get you screened out right away. Recruiters will interpret it as carelessness.

5th blunder – not vetting a professional resume writer. Resume writing is hard, so you decide to hire a professional resume writer. There are a lot of excellent resume writers out there. There are even more poor ones! We have seen our share of poorly written resumes that job seekers have paid good money for! Anybody can call themselves a resume writer, so do your research. As with most things, word of mouth is best. Ask friends if they have been successful with a resume written by a specific resume writer. Also, check the resume-writer’s credentials. There are a number of certifications that resume writers can attain. Some of the best are:

  • MRW – Master Resume Writer: only very experienced resume writers get this credential.
  • ACRW – Academy Certified Resume Writer: this credential is given after a comprehensive certification class, exam and document submission for review.
  • CPRW – Certified Professional Resume Writer: resume writers have to pass a test and submit a resume for review.

Resume writing includes substantial communication between the writer and the job seeker. If your resume writer does not ask you many questions, or only asks you to complete a standard written form and then doesn’t talk to you again, beware.

You can learn more details about resumes in our previous blog posts on the topic. If you need assistance in creating a resume, call the Career Center at 225-231-3733, and we can help (we actually have two Certified Professional Resume Writers on staff). More information on resumes and a number of templates can be found here.

Stay tuned for the next deadly sin of job search.

Written by Anne Nowak