Saturday, January 25, 2014

Progressive's Charlene Long offers 10 tips for job hunters

Charlene Long, the Talent Acquisition Specialist for Progressive Insurance, kicked off our monthly Career Coffee Talks Thursday.

The talks are organized by Ohio Means Jobs Lake County and we host them at our Main Branch.

Long offered a lot of great advice for people who are working on their resume or preparing for a job interview.

While we can't recapitulate verbatim all her helpful suggestions, here are 10 of her best tips—five for resumes and five for job interviews.

Tips for resume writers

1. When drafting your resume, think about he company to which you're applying and the job that you want.

Don't write that your objective is to be a manager if you're not applying for a management position. (Likewise, if immediately being a manager is important to you, then maybe you shouldn't apply for that job.)

2. Don't feel the need to make a resume one page, but make sure everything on the resume is relevant.

Along those lines, what's relevant information for one potential job might be irrelevant for another.

3. Make sure your resume tells your story.

If you have gaps in employment, don't be shy about explaining them. (You don't have to get too specific. You can always say "personal reasons," Long said.)

Also, on a related note, you probably did more than you realize during your gaps in employment. If you volunteered or got any training, make sure to include that. It helps tell your story.

4. Keep your resume free of spelling and grammatical errors.

Spelling and grammar gaffes upset some people more than others. Some folks will ignore them if they think a person is, otherwise,a strong candidate. But for some people, it's an automatic disqualification.

Err on the safe side and don't make any spelling errors.

5. To write a cover or not to write a cover letter?

Long acknowledged that cover letters don't always get read. However, depending on circumstances, they can also be a difference maker.

"When we do read them, we depend on them to learn your motivation for the job.
Tips for job interviewees

6. If you put in time to prepare, you'll be much better off.

Research the company beforehand. No what questions you want to ask, which brings us to our next point.

7. Ask questions.

Ask about the culture of the company. Ask about the expectations of the job. (Don't ask about salary yet. Save that for when they make a job offer.)

You're interviewing them too.

Also, bring a pen and pad to the interview.

You don't have to record everything they say, but you should at least jot down the answers they provide to your questions.

8. When the interviewers ask you a question, answer with a specific example.

For example, if they ask how you dealt with an angry customer, don't say, "I would do that a lot." Say "I did..."

9. If you're on a phone interview, focus on the interview.

Long had some horror stories.

"You hear the flush," she said.

10. Thank the interviewer afterward.

It's OK to thank them via email.

The next Career Coffee talk is Feb. 20 at Mentor Public Library's Main Branch. the speaker will be from Lake Health. You can register for it here.

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