Candidate Tools

Searching for a job can be a job in itself; that’s where we come in. Over the years, we’ve built up a large knowledge base consisting of information about how to get people the jobs of their dreams. Below you’ll find some of our best tips and tricks on how to better prepare yourself with a well crafted resume, important interview techniques, and counteroffer know-how.

Resume Writing

Your future employer will probably spend ten seconds or less scanning your resume. To be remembered, you must be clear about why you’re a great fit for the position at hand. In order to best highlight your experience, create a resume that explains who you are and what you’ve done in a concise and simple manner. Below are some helpful hints for basic resume formatting:

Style

Humor, design and style are all subjective resume components. Be careful here. Leave out pictures, quotes, graphs, and columns that make your resume too personal or unique. Be consistent with your use of color, font, size, and style (bolding, italicizing, and underlining). Use normal (3/4-1”) margin widths. Use fonts between 10 and 12 points.

Format

Consider either a chronological or functional format. Chronological format lists your work history in reverse chronological order with the most recent position listed first. This is the preferred method of format because an employer can easily see what jobs you’ve held and duration for each. The functional resume focuses on skills and experience, rather than on a chronological work history. Stick with this format if you have an employment history with gaps or you’re considering a change in career.

Length

Your resume should give your future employer a concise and complete picture of who you are as a candidate. As a standard reference, entry level candidates should have a one-page resume, mid-level candidates should have a two-page resume and senior level executives with extraordinary work experience can have a three-page resume. Should your employer request additional information, prepare supplemental to include grants, consulting work, and other pertinent information.

Focus

This is a critical component to your resume. Keep your career objective in mind as you craft this document. Include any and all information pertaining to your experience, accomplishments and skills that relate to your career goal. Do not include irrelevant information.

Objective

The majority of objectives that we see are vague one- liners that ultimately prove unnecessary. Include an objective only if it convinces your employer that you are interested in the specific job at hand. Consider a summary statement instead. Craft a short statement on who you are professionally and what your primary skills are.

Name

Bold. CAPITALIZE. Center or right justify. The text you use here can be up to six points larger than the body of your resume.

Phone Numbers, address, email

You must include a phone number. If you expect your number to change, provide the number of a stable friend or family member. Be sure to leave a voicemail message that is professional and courteous. Provide a reliable address. If you’re moving to a new state or are in a temporary housing situation, borrow the address of a reliable friend of family member. Include your personal email address, preferably one that is not incriminating, embarrassing or inappropriate.

Education and skills

Include college, degree and graduation year. Recent graduates should put this information at the top of their resume; others can include this information towards the end. The highest degree reached should be included on your resume. If you have a bachelor’s degree or higher you do not include high school graduation information. Include computer and language skills, and other skills that you believe make you a worthy candidate to the specific job you’re applying to.

Salary and references

Do not include salary information anywhere on your resume. For references, simply include ‘references upon request’ at the bottom of your resume. If this line adds page length to your resume, scrap it.

Verbiage

The written job description to the position you’re applying is a great place to find verbiage to include in your resume. Start phrases with concrete action verbs and include descriptive nouns. Try not to be repetitive. Economically shape your phrases. If possible, list information in priority order. Do not use personal pronouns such as “I”. Quantify whenever possible.

Work history

The substance. Create and maintain a solid format through this section of your resume. List employers, job titles, dates of employment, and responsibilities and accomplishments in bulleted list form. Title the paragraph with either the name of your former employer or the title of your last job. List achievements, responsibilities and contributions. Past experiences should be in past tense, present experiences in present. This is your opportunity to shine. Be sure to include information here that details your positive influence on the position you held.

Dates

Omit months if possible. Simple year marks make for a cleaner reader and a smoother look. This is also a great way to show off your experience to the greatest capacity.

Affiliations/interests

Include pertinent professional affiliations or memberships that pertain to your professional identity. We do not advise including any information about personal interests or family situations. To avoid identity theft, do not include private information such as your social security number.

Proofread

Typos and misspellings are unacceptable and could garner your resume an immediate visit to the garbage bin. Look over your resume carefully. If possible, have friend or family member look it over as well.

Paper

Bring multiple copies of your resume with you to every interview. This should be printed on good quality, white paper.

Interview Preparation

There is more to going on an interview than showing up, looking good, and asking for the job. There is a lot of preparation that needs to be done before you even set foot in the door. Below are some of our suggestions to help you ace your interview.

The resume and other materials

Your resume is the first step in getting your foot in the door. Be sure to bring multiple copies of your resume and read the document over before you interview so that you are familiar with it. You can also bring materials that illustrate an important aspect of your work. Don’t bring college diplomas, letters of commendation or bowling trophies. Consider bringing a leather folder, day runner, or notebook with a pen to take notes.

Appropriate dress and appearance

A general rule of thumb is to dress one level above the person you are meeting with. It is important to make a great first impression. You can always dress down after you get the job. If you have questions about what to wear, talk to your Bradsby Group recruiter.

Travel, arrival, and departure

Know the route you will take for the appointment and how long it will take to get there. Consider traffic, rush-hour hour and other time constraint issues. It is possible to be too early. Arrive no sooner than 15 minutes prior to your meeting. Never be late.

The Interviewer

Before an interview you should know who you will be speaking with and what their job responsibility is. You’ll want to prepare for how long the interview will take, and schedule your day accordingly. Turn off your cell phone. Provide the interviewer with your undivided attention. At the end of the interview, make sure to get a card or contact information from everyone you met with. You’ll be sending a thank you card to the interviewer(s) and it is important to remember the names of the people you meet with should you need to refer to them later.

Researching the Company

You should walk in to your interview full of knowledge about the company. Showing that you have researched relevant information about the company before your interview proves you’ve done your homework and are sincerely interested in the company and the position you are applying

Be prepared for the following types of topics and questions:

  • Company personnel – Who are the major players in the company? It would be a good idea to know who founded the company and who is in upper management. How does management manage?
  • Company structure – What products or services does the company provide? Who are their customers? Whether they are privately or publicly held?
  • Company vital signs – How is the company doing financially? How’s their stock? Are they growing or shrinking?

Your Questions

It is important to have a list of questions to ask before you go into an interview. The questions you ask should be very specific and important to you. One suggestion we always make is to not look selfish. Take a “what can I do for my country, not what can my country do for me” approach to your questions.

Questions could deal with the following topics:

  • Company questions deal with the organization, direction, policies, stability, growth, market share, and new products of the prospective company.
  • Industry questions deal with the health, growth, change, technological advancement, and personnel of the industry as a whole.
  • Position questions deal with the scope, responsibilities, travel, compensation policies, and reporting structure.
  • Opportunity questions deal with the potential for growth and advancement, as well as educational opportunities and future growth.

Pointers

There are four intangible fundamentals to a successful interview. These intangibles will influence the way your personality is perceived, and will affect the degree of personal rapport, or chemistry that you share with the employer.

Enthusiasm – You should leave no doubt as to your level of interest in the job. Employers are interested in employees that are excited about being there. Also, it’s much better to be in a position to turn down an offer than to not get it in the first place because of a lethargic interview.

Technical Interest – Employers look for people who love what they do and get excited by the prospect of jumping in to the position with their feet running.

Confidence – No one likes a bragger, but if you are sure of your abilities be confident. Confidence will almost certainly be more favorably received over uncertainty.

Intensity – The last thing you want to do is come across “flat” during an interview. There’s nothing wrong with being a laid-back person; but sleepwalking through your interview won’t get you hired.
Questions, questions, questions

Asking questions is the key to gathering knowledge. The more you know about the position and what the employer is looking for, the more relevant information you can provide to prove you’re a good match. You should always ask “Do you have any concerns about my qualifications?” Some other potential questions could include:

  • What is the most important issue facing the department?
  • How can I help you accomplish this objective?
  • Is there any particular skill or attitude you feel is critical to getting the job done?
  • Is there a unique aspect of my background that you’d like to exploit in order to help accomplish your objectives?
  • Ask for the job or at least let the employer know that you are interested and excited.

Answering questions

The most common mistake candidates make while interviewing is talking too much. Employers are interested in finding out about you, but keep the anecdotes professional and related to the task at hand. There are two ways to answer interview questions, the short version and the long version. A good line to use is “Let me give you the short version. If we need to explore some aspect of my answer more fully I’d be happy to give you the long version.”

Money, Money, Money

Typically we recommend not talking about money during the first interview. A great response is “My recruiter knows exactly what I am looking for, and I would feel more comfortable having you discuss compensation with them.” If they keep pressing you, let them know what your target compensation is by giving them a range, not a specific number. Be honest. Don’t bring up the subject of benefits, salary, or bonuses during the first interview. You’ll get to those at the later stages of negotiation or during the second interview.

No brain questions to be ready for:

Here are seven questions you will most likely be asked in any given interview. It’s always a good idea to be prepared for them with an honest answer. Be careful on the final question. Never bad-mouth your previous company. Employers don’t like to hire negative people.

  • Why do you want this job?
  • Why do you want to leave your present company?
  • Where do you see yourself in one to five years?
  • What are your personal goals and interests?
  • What are your strengths? Weaknesses?
  • What do you like most about your current company?
  • What do you like least about your current company?

To sum it all up

Look good, be prepared, take notes, have fun, and be yourself.

Types of Interviews

Lunch Interview

Navigating the lunch interview ritual can be difficult; you must demonstrate that you are poised, intelligent and pleasant, while gracefully eating the food in front of you. Be personable, polite, use your table manners and follow these guidelines for a successful interview.

For starters, obey the rules of a regular job interview: dress appropriately, show up on time, and bring any required paperwork. Being late to any type of job interview is unacceptable, particularly lunch interviews. Odds are the interviewer is meeting with you at lunch because of an already tight schedule. Try to remain upbeat and pleasant during the entire interview. Remember, the interviewer is assessing your skills and your personality to judge whether you’re a fit for the organization and the position.

A job interview held at lunch offers you the chance to show a more personable and social facet of yourself. Let your interviewer lead the conversation. He/she will most likely avoid business discussions until the food has arrived. Be prepared for small talk; ask thoughtful questions, listen to responses, and act attentive. No matter how casual the interview becomes, don’t forget to keep your manners in check: keep your elbows off the table, turn off your cell phone, and do not interrupt if someone is speaking.

Be polite and respectful to the wait staff. Let your attitude toward them reflect your professionalism and your ability to get along with others. Order an item that is reasonably priced and easy to eat. Let your interviewer lead the ordering. You do not want to order the most expensive item on the menu nor the least expensive. Let conversation come naturally. Act relaxed, professional and interested in the interviewers conversation lead.

The end of the meal signals the bill. Do not ask for a doggy bag, or bring any food home with you. In most instances, the company you are interviewing with will pay for the meal. Bring cash with you on the lunch interview to prevent any uncomfortable or awkward moments should you need to pay. End the meal with positive sentiment. Shake hands with your host and if he/she paid for the meal be sure to thank him/her.

Send a thank-you card to your interview within a day of your meeting.

Phone Interview

Phone interviews are a common way for organizations to screen candidates in order to narrow the pool of applicants who will be invited for an in-person interview. Just as in any resume situation, first impressions matter. In today’s marketplace 80% of job interviews are won or lost during the first five minutes of a phone interview conversation. Here are some tips meant to help you do well in your interview and move on to the next round.

The Call

If you’ve been given a specific time to call your interviewer, call at exactly the correct time. If you call and cannot reach your appropriate contact, speak with the receptionist to show you called at the correct time. If you’ve been given a time when the interviewer will call be prepared for an early, on-time or late call.

Be prepared

Prior to the phone call you should find a quite, distraction-free room. Try not to be near a computer, television or anything that could distract you. Inform anyone who could interrupt you that you cannot be disturbed unless there is an absolute emergency. You should have a pen and paper in front of you to take notes during your interview and a copy of your resume to reference past experience.

Speaking

Know that the second you answer the phone you are on. Your interviewer is listening closely to you; make an effort to remain positive and enthusiastic. Smile. What you say and how you present yourself to the interviewer is critical. Consider standing if this makes you feel more animated. A lively voice makes you seem upbeat and full of energy.

Focus on what you offer

The interviewer is interested in hiring someone who can do exactly what they are looking for. Describe your background and reinforce your skills that meet their needs. Avoid the negative. Stay focused on the key skills and requirements of the position you are interviewing for and relate these back to your specific experience. This is your time to highlight your specific qualifications and make your background shine.

Listening

Do not interrupt the interviewer and let him/her complete their thoughts before you respond. Listen carefully to what is being said. This is a good time for you to gather information on the position, the company and the hiring authority. If you’re confused ask for further details or clarification. Ask open-ended questions. The more information the interview provides, the better you can respond.

Practice

Consider practicing for your phone interview. Prepare a 3X5 card with statements about your qualifications, strengths and positive attributes. Prepare a list of questions you have for the interviewer about their position, the company and the position you are interviewing for. Practice answering some common interview questions that you may be asked, such as:

  • Tell me about yourself?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • Do you consider yourself a team player?
  • Describe your management style?
  • What do you know about this organization?
  • Describe your work ethic.
  • Do you have any questions for me?

If possible, emphasize your answers with answers that illustrate your skills and relate directly back to the position you are interviewing for. Use real-life examples in your responses that highlight your real-world experiences and skills.

Silence

Silence during a phone interview can be unnerving. Be patient. Some silence is normal and to be expected. Your interviewer may be thinking or recording information. If you feel the silence goes on too long refer to your 3X5 card and ask a question.

The next step

As the interview draws to a close be sure to ask the interviewer what the next step is and what the hiring timetable is. If you are interested in the position for which you interviewed, express this. Ask the interviewer if she/he has any concerns about your abilities and skill set as they relate to the job you are interviewing for. This is the only time you may have to clarify any questions or concerns, so try to do so. Be sure to thank your interviewer and follow up with a thank-you note.

Counteroffers

After months of searching and interviewing you land a new position that means more money, a better situation, and greater opportunity. You prepare your resignation speech, walk into your boss’s office and give your notice. Much to your surprise instead of awkward silence, anger or defeat, your boss offers a surprising counteroffer.

Collected data from the past few years shows that only in isolated incidents has the acceptance of a counteroffer benefited the employee. Human nature is such that the boss may be doing whatever needs to be done to keep you from leaving – until he or she is ready for you to leave.

Before jumping at a counteroffer, think long and hard. If you were worth X dollars yesterday, why is your company suddenly willing to now pay you Y dollars today? Take some time to think about the negative consequences involved in accepting the counter-offer.

You have now made your employer aware that you are discontent in your position. After your acceptance, your loyalties will be in question. Statistics show that 80% of people who elected to accept a counteroffer are not with their company six months later. The counteroffer was made in response to a threat to quit. What will happen the next time you think you deserve a raise or promotion? Though the offer seems appealing, your initial reasons for wanting to leave the company still exist.

Think carefully about all these facts before making a final decision. Evaluate your reasons for leaving your current position, the reasons you accepted your new position and what your career goals are. A mistake in your career path could cost you your professional growth.