A Hodge-Podge Of 5 FAQs For Your Job Hunt

 iStockphoto.com | MonkeyBusinessImages

iStockphoto.com | MonkeyBusinessImages


As a resume writer and a career coach I get a lot of questions about a variety of job-related topics, but they're not necessarily so detailed that they require a full-length article to answer them. Here's some of my favorite job hunting FAQs. Enjoy!

Question: How do I reject an internship offer?
Answer: Turn it down with absolute grace and gratitude. The company who offered you the internship may be a potential employer in the future. Call the person (as in pick up the phone and make a call, not email, not text) who extended you the offer. Express to them that you very much appreciate the offer, and loved the experience with their organization, but you have selected at this time to pursue another internship which is a better fit for reason X (location, alignment with career path, whatever, so long as you don’t make it about the compensation). And thank them very much for the consideration. Then stick the recruiter’s contact information in your files. You never know what the future may hold...

Question: Should I include self-study on my resume? How do I do so?
Answer: If you’ve studied topics which are directly relevant to your employability, you should indeed add them. Online classes or correspondence courses (does anyone still use this term?) should go under “Training & Education”. List the provider and the subject matter. Self-guided reading, such as a book, can go under another section that you add under something called “Self Study” or “Advanced Independent Studies.” In any case, if you put it on the resume, it’s fair game for an interviewer to ask you detailed questions about it. Prepare accordingly.

Question: What's a complete deal-breaker on a resume?
Answer: That’s an interesting question. There’s no single, consistent deal breaker when it comes to the resume. I’ve seen hiring managers toss resumes aside for grammatical and spelling errors, job-hopping, unappealing past or current employers, lack of required skills, or some other vaguely articulated attributes. That said, the hiring manager’s decision is usually about filling a need. If you’ve got a really unique skill (for example, you know a required programming language or software package that’s not widely adopted yet) and they need your skill badly enough, they may be willing to overlook all the other stuff in order to stem the bleeding. It happens – but don’t count on that. You can optimize your resume by minimizing errors and enhancing your accomplishments. And it’s a lot easier to get a hiring manager to say “no” than “yes.”

Question: Should I try to bypass the recruiter and apply for a job directly?
Answer: There are actually two questions here:

  1. Should I go around an agency (ie, outside) recruiter who presents me the job? No. That’s a violation of trust, since they found you and introduced you to the role, and by going around them you’re taking money out of their pocket while putting the hiring company in the uncomfortable position of having to arbitrate how, exactly, they received your resume.
  2. Should I go around the corporate (i.e., in-house) recruiter? Yes. The hiring manager and the recruiter are all on the same side here. Apply online first. Then send a note through LinkedIn or email to the hiring manager letting them know that you’ve applied and have the skills they’re looking for. You could be presenting the solution to their staffing issue.

Question: What is an acceptable time frame to request of an employer for responding to an offer?
Answer: There’s no single answer to this. The “standard norm” is two weeks, but there’s no hard and fast number of days. Be smart about this. If you’re serious about the job offer, and you have nothing else on the table, asking for a couple weeks looks really iffy to an employer and they may pull the offer based on your lack of interest. If you know you want the job, and you are clearly communicating that you want the job, then ask for a couple days to talk it over with your better half so that you don’t look desperate. But a quick “yes” will build goodwill for you upon entry. If you have other parts in motion - other employers you’re waiting to hear from, for example - try to be up front with the offering company in such a way that you will not burn any bridges. Say something like, “I have a lot of irons in the fire right now, and I’m very, very interested in this offer. But I do have some other considerations - can I have until x date to provide you an answer?” And if you don’t feel like explaining yourself, go ahead and ask for the two weeks to think about it. The company will tell you if that’s acceptable.

*All of these responses by the author previously appeared on Quora.com under his own responses.

Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, and career coaching services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at scott.singer@insidercs.com, or via the website, www.insidercs.com.

What Does That Recruiter REALLY Think About My Resume? And What Can I Do About it?

 iStockphoto.com |  AndreyPopov

iStockphoto.com | AndreyPopov


Recruiters review resumes for a living (among other things...). A busy recruiter easily reviews THOUSANDS of resumes every month. Did you ever wonder what recruiters like and dislike in a resume?

I decided to ask them! I conducted a highly informal poll (totally nonscientific - I asked a bunch of corporate and agency recruiters and HR managers in email and on LinkedIn) what they like to see in resumes, and what they don't care for. Here are the results, according to real-life recruiting folks!

FYI, these comments reflect the feedback of 20 or so HR folks, and are listed in no particular order. I didn't leave any out, so there are some recurring or slightly conflicting themes. Ready? Let's dive in!

I LOVE a resume that...

*Has enough detail of actual accomplishments, not just responsibilities. I love when results are indicated clearly.

*Is one page.

*Reads like my job requisition!

*Has achievements/metrics vs tasks.

*Is concise and to the point.

*Is organized and straight to the point.

*Provides clear details of one's work history

*Follows the STAR approach (in other words - details a Situation, Task, Action, and Result)

*I do love resumes that have the last 10 to 12 years of experience, each with less than 15 bullets, and a snapshot of skills at the top with a summary. Much easier to read and evaluate.

*When it is really focused on their expertise and their passion of what they do. Showing immediately their dream job.

*A resume that indicates contract positions and reasons why the person left a previous position. It can aid in pre-explaining tenure issues.

*Is organized and shows me what I am looking for, right away. I also like an executive summary, right at the top.

*Has a relevant work history for the job they are applying for.

*Is a clean, concise, well-constructed resume.

*Catches my attention at first glance. Good me format, experience, industry or education.

*Is visually appealing, in chronological order, has details on job duties, and is grammatically (well-written) proficient.

*Really paints the picture of what they do in their job.

*Easy to read, legible font.

*I LOVE a resume that reads like a menu and not a cookbook.

*Has proper formatting.

*Includes a hyperlink link to LinkedIn (or professional social media) profile.

*Accurate employment dates and specific job duties.

*Clearly highlights skill set.

*Clean, concise with relevant information to the role they are applying to.

*Easy to read, quick to see what you want and what you can do for me. Drolly serious bogs me down and I stop reading.

*I also like it when the candidate provides a brief snapshot of the company they worked for; # of employees, annual revenue, industry, and the title of who they reported to as well as number of direct reports.

*A resume that is easy to read (bullets not paragraphs, no small or crazy font and is set up traditionally in a proper format).

*Nicely formatted and easy to read w/ bullet points


It drives me BANANAS (in a bad way) when I see in a resume...

*An objective line that has nothing to do with the position applied (i.e. seeking a job in marketing when the job is technical).

*Their SSN#, nationality, marital status and # of kids.

*No email/phone, and spelling errors.

*Resumes with typos, gross grammatical errors, and incomplete sentences.  But what really drives me crazy is when candidates include their work history back to the 1970s and the resume is 5 pages long.

*When a title does not stand out immediately.

*When I see misspelled words on a resume

*When I see a resume for someone with 5+ years of experience, but has crammed it onto one page. That is not the way to market yourself. Having two pages does not disqualify someone - it simply makes the document easier to read.

*I do not care if you garden, or whatever in your spare time...that is up to you and won't help you get the interview.

*When a resume shows detail on personal information: Birth date, Marital Status, Religion, # of kids etc.

*When candidates don't take the time to research the company they are interviewing with.

*Incorrect job titles referenced in cover letters. We know candidates use cover letter templates but they should take the time to ensure the information quoted is correct.

*Resumes with pictures, age, gender, WEIGHT! No, no, no! This is a big trend in Latin America that is slowly creeping up here in the states.

*A picture on the resume. Unless you are applying to be a model, just no. And weird personal details also do not belong. I also can't stand non specific and useless objectives.

*Major typos, or it's poorly formatted.

*They have worked less than a month at a job and list a half page of their responsibilities.

*That is not in chronological order and does not provide detailed summary of job duties and has misspelled words.

*When a candidate writes a stock introduction in the resume and leaves the wrong title they are pursuing or company name. They batch send it to any company and they don’t take the time to change this.

*Resumes that are too long, 5+ pages.

*Illegible font.

*Cluttered resume with blatant typos

*It drives me b.a.n.a.n.a.s when I see in a resume the word "Manger."

*In different fonts and sizes (that is obviously not on purpose).

*Spelling errors.

*Disorganized format.

*Not putting months with employment dates - If you only put 2013-2014 I assume you were there for a short period of time and immediately start questioning it.

*Poor formatting.

*Poor grammar or spelling.

*Contains portrait pictures.

*Lacks employment dates (Month/Year).

*Does not list dates of employment on their resume.

*Does not spell check.

*The objective is not remotely close to the role that they are applying for (please leave off the objective altogether).

*Typos, including spelling the name of your degree incorrectly. This is suppose to be the "best you" -- find friends to quintuple check your CV.

*When I see in a resume with misspellings.  What an indication that the person does not check their work.

*Generic objective statement, poor formatting and typos.


If there's a message here, it's that there are plenty of things in a resume that can annoy a recruiter and get you knocked out of the process. Here are some key takeaways to make sure your resume doesn't take an express trip to the circular file:

  • Organize your thoughts. Organize them well. Tell a clear story about who you are, what you do, and what you can contribute.
  • Typos and misspellings will kill your application, they demonstrate carelessness. As does putting the wrong job title on the resume or cover letter.
  • Keep it short but relevant. 2 pages, maximum, unless you've got a compelling reason to go beyond that. But most of us don't. Your mommy may believe you're special, but you're not special enough to have a 5-page resume.
  • Leave out the personal stuff unless geography dictates it. In some countries, it's normal to include portraits, social security numbers, dates of birth, etc. The United States is not one of them, and the same rule applies in several other countries. Know your market.
  • Readability matters. Use an attractive font. Format your resume so that there is enough white space. Typeset your pages. If you can't maneuver Microsoft Word, hire somebody who knows the application well to format your resume.
  • Dates of employment are important. Know them. List them.
  • Consider format. There are a lot of creative ways to format a resume. Before doing something trendy or unique, ask yourself if your audience will receive it well. Some career fields, like marketing, may better accept a creative format as a sign of the candidate's own creativity. Others, like IT or accounting, not so much.

Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, and career coaching services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at scott.singer@insidercs.com, or via the website, www.insidercs.com.

4 Steps You Can Take To Restart the Interview Process When An Employer Has You On Ice

 iStockphoto.com |  kjekol

iStockphoto.com | kjekol


You interviewed with an employer for a job about a week ago.

You felt it went well. Really well.  But you haven't heard anything.

And you're getting frustrated.

What do you do?

Tread gently. This is some delicate territory, and how you handle this will demonstrate to the company your ability to negotiate a challenging situation. I would recommend the following.

Step One: Send an email to the hiring manager to thank them again for their time on the date of the interview, and reiterate your interest in the position, and that you look forward to hearing great news about the opportunity to work with them. Thank them for their time and consideration.

Step Two: Reach out to the Corporate Recruiter in a polite email reiterating the same as you have to the manager.  Ask for any feedback they can provide in terms of when they believe a decision will be made, and if you can provide anything else which may help them in their hiring decision. Thank them for their time and consideration.

Step Three: Wait. Be patient. I know, this is difficult, but if you reach out too often, people will think of you less as a potential candidate, and more as a stalker (think: John Cusack in "Say Anything").

Step Four: If either individual replies, listen to the message. If the answer is that they are continuing to interview, you may or may not still be under consideration (the other interviews may have been scheduled at the same time as yours). Anything they ask of you, do quickly. i.e., Need references? Done.

If they tell you they have decided to proceed with another candidate, thank them for their time and reiterate what a great experience you had interviewing with the company, and that you hope you may be considered for a future opening.

Try to remember, companies can - and do - often go back to other candidates, especially if their dream candidate falls through. Never burn that bridge. Sometimes things just move at a glacial pace.

Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, and career coaching services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at scott.singer@insidercs.com, or via the website, www.insidercs.com.