Questions & Answers from Power Seeker Workshop
University of North Florida
January 6, 2011
Presenter: John Wolfe
Q. I’m an older job seeker, should I include dates on my resume?
A. If you are an older worker, you may have 25, 30, 35 or even more years of employment experience, and college degrees earned several decades ago. Trim your resume back to the most recent 10, 15, or 20 years. Your resume is a sales brochure. It is NOT an autobiography. Be sure to list all courses and professional-development activities that illustrate your willingness to learn and keep your skills updated. Potential employers want to know what you have done recently to add value with your recent employer and, more importantly, how you will add value to their organization. Also, make it relevant experience to the job descriptions. Also, you do not need to include graduation dates in the Education section.
Q. Can I use colored paper for my resume?
A. You may use colored paper as long as you still maintain a professional image. Make certain the resume is easy to read on the color you select and also that the paper photocopies well. You should not use scented paper as the reviewer may be sensitive to scents. What's more important is the weight of the paper. A resume printed on heavy paper stands out amongst those that are printed on regular copy paper. The most important factor is still the quality of your resume.
Q. Can I use a mixture of a chronological and a functional resume?
A. It’s best to stick with one format when creating a resume. However, we’ve mentioned it’s important to have multiple versions of your resume. You can use both formats to create two different resumes tailored to the job for which you’re pursuing.
Q. Which resume style works best for a recent college grad with little to no experience?
A functional resume is usually best when you have little to no experience. Describe courses, school projects, internships, extracurricular activities and volunteer work that are relevant to your career goal. In other words, include areas where you have a lot of passion and interest. Focus on experience you have had, and craft them into a message that would translate into a professional environment. If you've ever been in a position of responsibility, provide details and examples on your resume to show you are reliable and trustworthy. Write about leadership responsibilities that you've had and completion of assignments for which you were selected over your peers. If you have work experience, you can mention your perfect attendance record, additional duties assigned to you because of your excellent performance, and experience training new employees.
Q. Where do you find the Military Skills Translator?
A. You can go to http://www.military.com/skills-translator/mos-translator
Q. Most of the jobs require a degree. Should I apply if I do not have a degree?
A. Some employers are sticklers for degrees - and many want at least a bachelor’s degree — especially for higher-level positions. If you don’t have a degree, use your cover letter and resume to describe how your experience meets the job requirements. In addition, look for jobs that accept commensurate experience.
Q. Any tips for getting the interviewer to discuss salary negotiations?
A. Best practice is to let the organization bring up the salary conversation. Once you have had two interviews and it has not been discussed, it is ok to simply ask, “I am very excited about this opportunity. One area that we have yet to discuss is in regards to salary. When would be a good time for that conversation?”
Q. Most of the jobs I interview for fall short of my salary requirement. Any suggestions?
A. You will want to evaluate what is most important to you. Is it the role, the responsibilities, growth, or job satisfaction? If all those elements are there, salary may not be as important. However, only you can determine what salary level is acceptable to you and you will have to make that decision according to your personal situation. Take a hard look at your living expenses. Which are fixed? Which are variable? Which are discretionary? Once you've determined your salary requirements to keep body and soul together, make that the bottom of your salary range, and add $10,000 to that number to establish the top of your range. Some argue that you should add $20,000 to establish the top of your range, but where you put that top amount depends on how willing and able you are to negotiate once an offer is made. Now, if you're asked to provide salary information as part of the application process, you can do it without worrying about pricing yourself out of the market or grabbing a job that won't pay the bills.
Q. Does the interviewer only want work related information when they say, “Tell me about yourself”?
A. When an interviewer asks you to, “tell me about yourself”, it is best to stick with adjectives that describe you professionally. Remember it is ok to be likable; however, you do not want to get personal.
Q. With the rise in companies researching employee profiles, should individuals scan their profiles for anything controversial?
A. Yes. Absolutely! You should always be aware of how you are portrayed online. Make certain all your privacy settings are being used. Also, check to make certain you are not being tagged in photos without your knowledge.
Q. I really have a hard time in selling myself in an interview. I actually tense up and don’t do my best. What can I do to perform better?
A. The purpose of the interview is to be able to present yourself as the best candidate for the job! And to be able to speak passionately about what you are able to bring to the company. What’s important is to be sincere. Preparation is key in overcoming the fear of interviewing. The best way to prepare for an interview is to have a thorough understanding of what the employer is seeking. Use the job description for this. Then, take inventory of the work you’ve done in the past and the accomplishments you’ve made that tie directly to what the employer is seeking. Be prepared to talk about specific scenarios that you encountered at work that illustrate how these experiences can benefit the employer and the role they’re looking to fill. Also, practice answering possible interview questions out loud. Enlist the help of a trusted friend or family member to conduct a mock interview with you. This will get you comfortable with answering questions and talking about yourself. Practicing in this manner makes it okay to stumble over words in a “safe” environment. The goal is to use that time to make your mistakes and improve each time thereby making you much more prepared and comfortable for the real interview. There is an article in the CD that you received titled “Get over Interview Jitters”, I encourage you to read it.
Q. What is the best way to get into a field when you have no experience? How do you get a company to notice you?
A. When you do not have the specific experience for the job it is best to talk about your transferrable skills. Research is key to marketing your transferable skills to prospective employers. Do your homework by researching the organizations to which you're applying. In your resume, feature what you could do for them in the future, rather than what you've done in the past. A functional resume offers you the best opportunity to showcase skills rather than job experience; it's more of a forward-looking resume. The highlights or profile section at the top serves as a sort of editorial page where you can show the relationship between the kind of person you are and the job’s demands. At some companies you may be able to ask to be considered for a trial period or internship.
Q. When your resume is public on Monster or any other site, how can I know my personal information won’t make me a target for identity theft?
Q. What are companies looking for when they do a credit check?
A. An employer will conduct a credit check to review your ability to manage your finances, particularly if the job involves finance, accounting, cash or valuable merchandise. How you manage your finances will often be an indicator as to how you are going to manage the companies’ resources. If your credit is poor or you’ve filed bankruptcy, be ready to provide interviewers with a short, contrite explanation and to redirect the conversation to one of your strengths as well as to a reference that can back up your story. If a company has requested a background check they are looking for criminal activity in your background.
Q. How does your credit rating influence the hiring process?
A. If your credit is poor or you’ve filed bankruptcy, be ready to provide interviewers with a short, contrite explanation and to redirect the conversation to one of your strengths as well as to a reference that can back up your story. For instance, you might say: "I came from humble beginnings, and when I went away to college, I'd never had any experience with credit. I got overextended, and that was wrong, but I learned a lesson and worked hard to pay off all my debts. Since then, I've had clean credit and I hope this won't hold me back, because I really want to work for your company." If you are turned down for a job because of credit problems, the employer has to give you a copy of the report and explain your rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
Q. Can a company perform a background check before an interview?
A. It is illegal for an employer to run a background check before extending an offer.
Q. Are classes available to advance your computer skills?
A. Yes. There are many classes available the can enhance your computer skills. You should contact your local CareerSource Career Counselor for additional information on classes that may be available in your area.
Q. Are these slides available on the CD?
A. The topics and detail that were presented are in the file titled “Monster Tip Cards”. CareerSource can direct you to the actual presentation on their site.