These 8 Resume Writing Tips Will Help You Get a Job

It’s crazy, but that little Word document called a resume is still very important to your job search. Employers use resumes to get to know your career history and a good one can get you an interview. Having a resume with typos, or one that lacks keywords that seem to fit the job you’re applying to, will cause the hiring manager or recruiter to discard you as unfit for the role. Here are some tips to get your resume noticed.

  1. Keywords
    Keywords are important words that crop up in the job description you’re applying to. Take those key action words and work them into your resume. This will help employers searching on job boards to find your resume. Each resume you send should use keywords specific to the job you’re applying to. Pay particular attention to the words in the qualifications section of the job description.
  2. Look at other resumes to improve yours
    Try doing an online search for resume examples of people in your industry. There are so many resume samples out there; it can be helpful to determine what some popular styles are in your field.
  3. Common resume best practices
    Do not make your resume too long or you’ll lose your audience. Each section of the resume should be concise and full of action, with concrete examples of achievements in each job. Focus on the most key and relevant information that will impress future employers. But also use numbers and metrics that show your accomplishments.
  4. Use a simple but professional font
    Skip Comic Sans and instead go for Times New Roman or Arial. Keep your font size no larger than 12 points. Selecting a clear and readable font will also ensure applicant tracking systems (ATS) can easily read your resume, so that nothing will be lost.
  5. Put the most relevant information first
    Resumes are typically chronological, but they should be brief. Start with your last job and work backward. While you may have extensive work experience, try to encapsulate everything into just a couple of pages. Hiring managers do not spend more than a few seconds to a few minutes looking at each resume, so give them the concise version of your work history with the high points right on the top of the front page.
  6. Use action language
    Power words are important on a resume. Earned, completed, accomplished and achieved are all action words perfect for the average resume. Speak in very concise language with short sentences that emphasize your accomplishments. Reduce words by cutting out anything unnecessary.
  7. Skip the Objectives section
    Trust us, the employer knows your goal is to find a challenging new job. Save space on your resume by eliminating this section and go straight to the heart of your experience and expertise.
  8. Margins matter
    Use a one-inch margin all around the page. Single spacing is fine unless you have too much white space. You can increase the margins, too, if this is a problem but don’t go over two inches.
  9. Edit and proofread
    There is nothing worse than sending out a resume with a typo. Go through several rounds of editing and then ask your friends and colleagues to take a look. There are online proofreading and spelling tools you can use, but there is nothing like the advice from an objective third party.

The Top Stack team is standing by and would be happy to take a look at your resume. Contact us today.

Not Sure How to Answer an Interview Question? Here’s What to Do

It’s going to happen. You’re going to run into an interview question you can’t answer. You may have prepared extensively for the interview, gotten plenty of sleep, and went in primed to rock it. But then there’s a curveball question and you draw a blank. What should you do?

  1. Slow down and take a breath.
    You can control the interview process by using a stalling tactic. For example, try saying, “That’s a good question,” or use some other phrase to acknowledge you’re thinking about it. Tell the interviewer you’re thinking about it. While it’s natural to want to fill the silence with words, try to just sit still with the silence for a moment as you try to work out the question. You can also ask clarifying questions. Then move to step two.
  2. Solve the problem out loud.
    Sometimes interviewers want to figure out how you think, so they deliberately ask questions that require you to figure out a problem and provide a solution. After you’ve taken a moment to clarify the question and get control of the conversation, walk through the steps necessary to come up with the answer. For example, if you’re asked about a particular process you don’t have a series of steps for, describe the steps you would likely take to accomplish your goal. Try to frame the conversation in steps, such as, “First, I would probably do X,” and finish with “Lastly, I would.” That will help frame your conversation for the interviewer.
  3. Redirect the conversation to something you do know.
    If you’re asked a question you can’t answer, try redirecting the conversation into an area you know. Try to think about crossover skills you bring to the table, even if you don’t have the specific skill they’re asking about. That approach is better than admitting you don’t have the skill or just cannot answer the question. Talk about how you would use your existing skills to solve the problem or how you’re a great troubleshooter able to learn new things quickly.
  4. Have a fallback answer, just in case.
    If you get a question that requires a definition you simply don’t know or an explanation of a concept you haven’t learned yet, try to work through it if you can. If you simply can’t answer because it’s a term you’re not familiar with, try expressing that while you haven’t learned about that concept yet, you are very excited and eager to learn more about the industry. You can also say you don’t know, but you’re going to Google it as soon as you leave and learn it immediately. Then, when you do your interview follow up, make sure you email the answer to the question to show your ability to learn and your eagerness for the job.

Working with a recruiter is one of the best ways to prepare for your next interview. Recruiters work closely with their clients and can fully prep you for the questions you’ll be asked or at the very least the interview team you’ll meet. They are your best tool to help you land the job you’ve been dreaming about. Contact Top Stack to take the next step in your career.

When Should You Ask for Help at Work?

Some people are built to never ask for help. Their pride may prevent them from ever reaching out a hand in need. Or, they may just really have their act together to the point they get through work and life without ever crying “Uncle.”

But being too stubborn to ask for help when you’re not sure what you’re doing at work could ultimately affect your performance and the teams you’re trying to help. Here’s how to know when it’s right to ask for help at work.

Hello, I’m Completely Lost

It happens. You may have missed the memo or the project you’re working on could be outside the scope of your personal experience. If you’re in a position where you don’t understand the goals of the project you’re working on and the steps in how to get there, it’s time to reach out to someone in the office to seek some assistance and clarification. Why in the world would you torture yourself and waste your time trying to figure out what’s going on? This is especially true if you’re new to the company. Don’t be afraid to raise your hand and admit you’re a little lost. It’s better than wasting time going down the wrong path.

Suggested way to ask for help: “Hey, sorry to bother you, but I was hoping you could help me figure out the details on this project. Could we find some time to sit down and go over it so I’m sure we’re on the same page?”

My Plate is Overflowing

If you find yourself overworked and bogged down, it’s time to ask for help. You may have over committed to all the cool projects coming down the pipeline. Or, you may find that one project got too big too fast and you have to reprioritize. No matter the issue, you must recognize when it is time to say that you are buried by your work. Saying you’ve reached your limit is no crime; everyone has limits to what they can do in a day. If you don’t ask for help now, you’ll likely miss deadlines or turn in shoddy work. Now is the time to delegate to other members or your team or go to your boss and ask for help.

Suggested way to ask for help: “I hate to do this, but I need help. I’m totally overwhelmed and need help with a couple parts of this project. If you have any extra time, is there any way you can help me out?”

Oops I Made a Mistake

To err is human, right? You may be a superhero, but the truth is everyone makes mistakes in their lives and in the job. That’s why it’s important to own the mistake, ask for help if needed, and fix the problem. Don’t think sweeping the issue under the rug is the best approach. It can be humbling and embarrassing to admit your mistake, but do it now before that little snowball turns into an avalanche.

Suggested way to ask for help: “I feel terrible, but I completely messed up. I’m sorry for the confusion, but can you help me with XYZ to get us back on track?”

Top Stack is standing by to help you with your job search. All you have to do is ask. Contact us today to find out how we can help.

Tips for Following Up After Submitting a Resume

You can feel powerless after submitting a resume. You’ve done the work of creating a clean, crisp resume you feel represents your best work. The job description seems to fit your skills. The company even checks out well on sites like Glassdoor. But once you hit the send button on the electronic submission of your resume, it’s just a waiting game where all the power rests in the hands of the employer.

Or does it?

Here’s What to Do After You’ve Sent Your Resume

Today’s resume application can feel cold and impersonal. Sending a resume into the void without even the name of the hiring manager makes for a potentially awkward process if you’re trying to follow up. However, sites like LinkedIn allow the job poster to add their profile picture and a link to their page. Check the ad you submitted to see if the job poster took this friendly approach. See if you can, first, connect to the poster. Send a note with your request that alerts them to your application and thank them for allowing you to share your credentials.

LinkedIn is generally a good resource for job applicants, because you can find the job poster or perhaps someone in the HR department in your connections or through a simple search. While you don’t want to come across as a stalker, you can certainly try to follow up on your application, whether you applied on LinkedIn, a job board like Indeed, or perhaps on the company website.

It’s perfectly appropriate if you haven’t heard back in two weeks or so to reach out to check on the status of your application. There are several ways to do this:

  • Email gives the hiring team a record of your correspondence; so many prefer this method of contact. Generally, tracking down an email isn’t hard; most websites have some sort of electronic contact information. Make sure your subject line is concise. “Following up on (date) resume submission” is a good subject line to use. The body of the email should include the name of the job you applied for. If you don’t know the hiring manager’s name, the salutation should be, “Dear Hiring Team:”
  • Some people choose to send a paper letter at this time to follow up. This isn’t a bad idea, because it’s an unusual approach in today’s electronic submission process. Use a standard business-style format and the same kind of content you’d use in a professional email. Make sure to include your contact information in the signature line.
  • A phone call could also work. Try these either first thing in the morning or late in the afternoon, when people are not usually stuck in meetings. If you haven’t been able to find out the name of the hiring manager, just ask for the HR department when you call. Try calling twice before leaving a brief message with the job you applied to and your name and contact information. Offer to clarify any information they might need and thank them for their consideration of your credentials. 

One important caveat is to check the ad you applied to; sometimes they will say not to call the company directly. If this is the case, follow their request.

One way to take the guesswork out of the hiring process is to work directly with a recruiter at Top Stack. We take our candidate and client relationships very seriously and work hard to keep you in the loop at every step in the process. If you haven’t worked with a recruiter before, it’s a free service that will give you a leg up on other candidates who are blindly submitting an online application. Contact us to talk about your future.