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Let's say right off the top - Technologies are boring. Can you make them more exciting? Probably not, but you can make them less boring. I have seen resumes with a page of technologies, each one listed on a different line. By the time I am halfway through them my brain is going "blah blah blah". How do you catch the employers eye and highlight your technical skills at the same time? Try these simple tips. 

Pertinent Technologies need to stand out

If the job description is asking for a certain technology then put it in your profile.  

"Over 14 years of Java development experience including 7+ years in design, development, implementation, testing, deployment and support of Java based web applications. Working knowledge of Object Oriented Design and Programming methodology. Able to learn new technologies and applications quickly."

Highlight them in each position.  

"Complete redesign of the web application suite to incorporate recommended design patterns (Front Controller, Synchronization Token, Business Delegate, DAO, Singleton, etc.), iterative preparation of project specifications and implementation, AJAX-based modification of data entry pages, estimates per clients’ requests."

Have a Technology Section on the first page of your resume. 

1.    Group your technologies by category, ie Operating Systems, Programming Languages, Scripting Languages, Databases, Tools, Hardware, Software, Methodologies, etc depending on your skills.  

2.    List the ones that are pertinent to the position you are applying for. If it is listed on the job description then it should be in your technology section.  

3.    List the technologies that are current.

4.    List the current versions of a technology especially as they are pertinent to the position you are applying for.

5.    Don't list old versions of technologies, ie Windows ME.  

6.    Don't list old technologies - there are very few jobs that use Fortran or Cobol, they don't need to be included in the technology section. 

Do you need a Technology/Tools section for each job.  

Try incorporating your technologies into the actual detail of the position. Use them with action words in your achievements. This way you don't need an actual list of Technologies/Tools for each position. It is much more interesting to read about how you used the technology then to just list them. A Technology/Tools section is just clutter, so often you are using the same tools in multiple jobs so you are just repeating the section over and over again. It ends up filling your 1 to 3 page optimum resume size up with "blah blah blah". 

Don't Lie

This applies to every section of your resume. Don't Lie. Don't exaggerate. Your technical skills should reflect your actual abilities. Trying to learn the skill as you go will almost always backfire. If your supervisor doesn't notice, your co-workers will and if you are in a position where you are supposed to be mentoring someone - watch out for the fireworks.  

It doesn't take long for an employer to find out that you don't have the experience in the technology you alluded to. Having to do a technical test is quite common nowadays, often followed by a technical interview where you will be quizzed by professionals on the required skills. If you don't have the skill all you are doing is wasting your time and theirs.  

Technologies are boring, but it is the way you use them that can be exciting. Updating 2000 desktops with the newest version of Windows without any glitches is what an employer wants to know. The employer wants to know how and when you have actually used your skills, not just see a tedious list of every technology you have ever worked with. Remember, resumes should be 2 to 3 pages telling the story of your professional life, not just a list of technologies and education. 


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Why didn't I get the job? What was I missing? What do I need to do for next time? These are all valid questions to ask the company you have been interviewing for.

There is nothing more difficult after being rejected for a job than to find the confidence to phone the interviewer and ask WHY? You were so excited, felt the interview went great, what happened? You were enthusiastic and really wanted to work for this company and this group. What happened? You won't ever find out if you don't pick up the phone and ask.

First thing you need to do is be honest with yourself.  

Would you have taken the job if it was offered?  

Were you as qualified as you thought?

Did you have as good an interview as you thought?

Was there anything you said, or did that might have produced a negative impact in the interview?

​If you answered all of these positively then there is no harm in trying to get some feedback.

Did you get the interview through a recruiter or directly with the company? If you worked through a recruiter, than your first phone call is to him/her.

Recruiters

You have a much better chance of getting constructive feedback from your Recruiter. They are like your agent and there is nothing they want more than for you to get the position. The recruiter also wants to fill this job in the future so they want to know exactly what the company is looking for so they will be asking the company what my Candidate was missing.

Keep in mind that a Company isn't going to want to tell you or the recruiter much more than "your candidate didn't have enough experience in ....". The interviewers are employees of the organization and they owe a fiduciary duty to their employer. This means they will be very careful about what they say. The last thing they want to worry about is a lawsuit because they said something about your personality or age or sex.

Wait a few days if calling the Company directly.

Don't call right away, wait a few days. Call the interviewer you seemed to have the best rapport with. Re-introduce yourself, be positive.  

I wanted to thank you personally for interviewing me. 

I love your Company and was wondering what I could do to improve my chances for the next time.  

Is there anything that I did that prevented me from getting the job?

Are there other positions coming up that would be more suited to my experience and skills?

If you want truthful constructive criticism, then you have to be willing to listen. And don't get defensive. The Interviewer doesn't want a confrontation and you aren't going to change their mind. Getting defensive will only reinforce the fact that they made the right decision and there go your chances for a future chance. Ask specific questions:

Were my answers too short?

Did I seem confident when I answered your questions?

Was I too relaxed or too stressed looking?

What could I do to come across more effectively in the future?

What was the one thing I did best?

What could I improve on?

If it was a skill or experience, then these are things you are going to have to improve with education or more time in a junior position. Cultivate a positive relationship with the Interviewer, let him/her know that you are going to work on their recommendations and would love a chance to keep in touch about future opportunities.  

Do Mock-up Interviews

Ask your recruiter or a career coach, or at least a friend to take the interview questions and do a mock-up interview with you. Treat it like a real interview. You want to be relaxed in an interview but also hungry. Being too relaxed in an interview can come across as arrogant, being too hungry can come across as too aggressive. Finding that happy medium is very difficult, especially if it is a job you really want. If you were trying out for a hockey team you would be out there shooting pucks every day. So why not practice for an interview?

Look at the positive

You got an interview, maybe even a 2nd and 3rd. Wow - you know how many people applied for these positions. Your resume got you in the door., that's the hardest part. Take the constructive criticism and wow them the next time!


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Do you have a LinkedIn account?  If not, you should make one right now! There are 11 million Canadian users. These are both employees and employers, which makes LinkedIn one of the best places to connect with like minded professionals. It is a great place to network and share experiences and look for a job or look for an employee. The LinkedIn Professional Profile allows you to highlight the key achievements of your professional life. It's like a resume on steroids. There isn't a future employer out there who doesn't check out your LinkedIn Profile after receiving your resume. Your resume is a 2 to 3-page document to catch the employers' eye. The LinkedIn Profile, if done correctly, will move you to the interview stage.

Let's take a look at the LinkedIn Summary, it is just one small part of your Profile page, but it can pack a big punch if done right.

The LinkedIn Summary - The 2000-word Elevator Speech

Next to your picture, this is the first thing everyone sees. It's like a "Coles notes" of your professional life. You are allowed to write 2000 words - all about you. Make them count.

Start off with an upbeat opening paragraph. Be personal. Your resume is a list of dates, positions, companies and point form notes. The Summary is the story of your professional life, make it interesting. You want to let people know who you are, not just be a list of duties and responsibilities.

You have 2000 words. That's a lot of talking about yourself! 2000 words using a 10 pt font is almost 6 pages. If you are going to use all 2000 words, then make sure you make it interesting. Break it up into different paragraphs, highlight some key points or skills. Watch out for run on sentences and paragraphs and be careful about using too much "I did", “I do", “I am", specifically when starting new sentences. Yes, this summary is all about you, but there are more entertaining ways to talk about yourself than "I I I I I". After you write it go back and edit it, if there are too many I's then try to replace them with "my" or reorganize your sentence so that the I is in the middle of the sentence rather than at the beginning. This is your first impression, proofread it just like that final philosophy exam you took to get your degree.

List your Achievements. 

This is not the time to talk about your job duties and responsibilities. Talk about your achievements. Highlight your promotions, surpassing sales quotas, improving a reporting system - how did you make a difference and improved the operation of your company?

Highlight your Leadership Skills. 

Taking your valuable hands-on skills to the next level and adding in your mentoring and leadership skills show an all-around employee. Maybe your job right now doesn't give you the opportunity to do that, then add in your volunteer work. "During the past year I organized a team of 10 people to participate in the Walk for Cancer and helped raise $10,000 through different fundraising events". Coaching, Girl Guide Leader, on a Board of Directors for a Volunteer Organization - all of these show a part of your character that doesn't come across in your resume.

Don't use overused sayings in your Summary. You know what they are, if you have a craving to put in comments like: self motivated, hard working, team player, can work independently - don't. Use some of the other 1 million words in the English language.

Remember, this is a Professional Summary. Your ultimate goal on LinkedIn is to further your career, whether that is finding the next career move or finding that star employee to bring on board. When writing your summary, keep in mind who your target audience is. Is it a Recruiter, is it in a specific industry? Try and highlight times in your professional life that will promote your chances of being noticed by the right audience. You want to get back into the financial industry but haven't been working in it for a while, you can still put down "Over 5 years financial services industry experience working in .....".

Specialties. 

A successful end to your Summary is to list your specialties. This can be done as a list: Content Marketing, managing and hosting webinars, team leadership, email campaigns, building communities, Java, HTML.

LinkedIn is a wonderful way to advance your career, to increase sales, and to network. It is a professional community, use it wisely and you may get some great tips, form some lasting relationships and receive some great career advice!


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Your resume Professional Experience is the most important part of your resume. This is the section where you can shine and show off all your talents and experience.  

1.  LAYOUT

Keep the layout simple and easy to read. No Logos, No Boxes. Emoticons and clipart are not needed on your resume, they’re just clutter. If you are a graphic designer, then put those in your portfolio. Dates, Company Name, Location, Title, Detail. Repeat.

2.  SECTION TITLE

It's your PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE. You are a professional at what you do. Name the section that way. It's not "work experience".

3.  COMPANY NAME

You want people to know who you work or worked for. Putting down MGS will only be helpful for people who work in the government. If you want to use initials, then put in the name as well "MGS - Ministry of Government Services". TD - Toronto Dominion Bank. IBM is okay as IBM. Hiring Managers, Recruiters and ATS systems search on specific words. Those words may relate to a specific company, like banks, ministries, etc. Use Title Structure for your company name - i.e. capitalize each word and underline. If the company is obscure or in a different country, then putting in a 2 line write up is very helpful. 2 lines explaining what the company does, specifically industry:

"A telecom company, employing 15,000 people specializing in _____”

Start Date and Company Name are on the first line.

4.  LOCATION

City, Province, or City, State is all that is necessary. If your jobs are not in Canada or the US then you can just put down the country, i.e. United Kingdom, India, etc. 

End date and Location are on the 2nd line.

5.  TITLE

The all important "what are you" title. ALL CAPS so that it stands out. Your title should be an industry appropriate name.
Make it find-able for search strings and ATS systems. SENIOR PROGRAMMER ANALYST will tell everyone what you are, HEAD JEDI is a cute funky name, and within a company can be fun but will not be found doing a search.

6.  DESCRIPTION

Duties and Responsibilities are the same thing. The key is to make sure you aren't copying down the job description. You want to put in point form the details of what you actually do on a day to day basis. The important ones, not every little detail. Start every point off with an action word, "Updated, Implemented, Created". Don't start sentences off with an "I", instead you should be using the action word. Don't put in the heading "Duties or Responsibilities" just start off with the points (or if needed the 2-sentence company introduction as mentioned above followed by your points). Don't overdo the points, 5 to 10 at the most.  

Follow the duties/responsibilities with your actual ACHIEVEMENTS. Put a heading down for your achievements after your last point. Then list your achievements. 

 "Designed and implemented the company's new webpage on schedule using ____".

7.  DATES

Start date and end date, use actual month not the number, i.e. January 2000. I put the start date on the same line as the Company name with the end date on the same line as the company location. This way the job title stands out by itself. 

8. WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU HAVE HAD MORE THAN ONE POSITION IN A COMPANY?

Your first heading shows your original start and end dates. This allows the hiring manager/recruiter to see your length of service with the company. Beside your title put your service dates for each position. The first position should be your most recent position.  

For each following position instead of putting down the company name use "Same Company". Again this helps to show longevity within the company.  

 

9.  SELF EMPLOYED VS PERMANENT POSITIONS

If you are a professional contractor then we group all your clients, projects, companies under a blanket heading of Self-Employed. Contractors can have a ton of short engagements, if they are all listed with dates down the side, first glance can make you look like you change jobs a lot. As you can see in the example below grouping them leaves no room for judgement. You are a professional contractor.

 

10.  BE ACCURATE

Don't embellish, exaggerate or LIE. When your references are called, they will be asked details from your resume. Did he/she do this? The last thing you want is your reference being put in a position to lie about what you did.  


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Twitter is one of our favourite social media platforms. Keep up to date, look for jobs, engage with like minded people. But be careful, your tweet could cost you your job. 

All social media platforms should be treated with kid gloves when you are job hunting. Companies will check your social networks out before they hire you. And after you are hired, if you are too offensive be prepared to be fired or reprimanded. LinkedIn is a professional social media platform that you control, not only in your posts but also in who you let see your information. Facebook is used for more personal posts - announcements, things you like, things you don't like, etc. It again is safer because you have to allow people to connect with you. Unless someone else tags you and then voila! - you are open to their list of friends. Most Twitter accounts on the other hand are open to everyone on the worldwide web. 

When things happen on Twitter, they happen fast. Sometimes "trending" can be a bad thing. 

What types of things should you never tweet about on Twitter or post on any social media platform?

  • Your current company in a negative light

  • Your current boss, make that even your previous boss either in a negative or funny light. OK maybe he was really drunk at the Company Golf Tournament, and you took a picture - don't post it, ever!  
  • Getting a little too cosy with the boss' wife could be a deal breaker too. Just to be careful leave your phone in your purse at company functions. What seems funny at the time, might not be 24 hours later.  
  • Racist comments are always a big NO/NEVER
    • Justine Sacco a PR Exec with only 200 followers was fired over comments made on her personal account. (DailyMailUK)
  • Sexist comments.  
    • 2 Toronto Firefighters were fired over sexist comments on their personal twitter accounts. (National Post Story)  
    • Ted Bishop, a very well respected PGA of America President, until he sent what he thought was a harmless tweet. (Golf.com)
  • Accidentally posting on a company website, not only was the employee fired but Chrysler cancelled their contract with the agency where he worked. Huffington Post)


  • Don't rant on Twitter - rants should be done in the privacy of your own home, preferably when no one is around.  
  • Don't joke about bombing or hurting someone.  
  • Watch out for tweets that could be breaking your company's confidentiality rules, this could not only result in you being fired but also in a court case. 

Follow these "Rules of Thumb" when thinking about posting something:  

  • Don't post when you are intoxicated.
  • Be careful posting late at night, it is harder to call something back if you are heading into bed. Do you really want to wake up and find out you have gone viral?
  • The "24 hour" rule. If something is really bugging you, wait 24 hours to see if you calm down.
  • Funny - maybe not when you look at it later. Funny comments in the privacy of your own home stay there. If you offend someone they can mention it right then. Funny comments on Twitter will probably be found offensive by someone so be careful.  
  • If you start to write something and have doubts about how it will be perceived. then delete it.  
  • Use the "Mom Test". If it won't pass Mom, then don't post it.  

In this day and age is there anything truly private anymore? Have a little fun at your birthday party - *click* someone takes a picture. A conversation around the dining room table - someone tapes it. It isn't just affecting the rich and famous anymore. Everyone is under scrutiny. And this is especially true when job hunting. Keep your social media clean and your tweets scandal free!