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Resume Do's & Don’t’s for those starting in the work force

Here are a few ways to ensure that your resume makes a good first impression and finds its way to the top of the stack.

Organization: The structure of your resume should present your information clearly.

Use a chronological format, which will list your jobs (with your achievements and duties for each), and your education in reverse chronological order. This means that if you just graduated from college and have not yet been employed, place your “Education” section first, directly below the letterhead, making sure to include your school name, degree, and major/minor.

Other categories you might include are “Language Skills,” “Relevant Work Experience,” “Computer Skills,” “Volunteer Experience,” “Publications,” “Activities and Honors.” Do not include personal information (i.e. hobbies, physical descriptions or your social security number).

Appearance: Along with effective organization, appearance can make or break your resume. Don’t forget the importance of fonts, formatting and presentation.

Fonts: whether you fax, mail or e-mail your resume to prospective employers, you should keep your font plain and easy to read. Try keeping fonts at 12 points, and using a legible font like Arial or Times New Roman.

Formatting: be a minimalist and only use purposeful formatting. Simple bullets are great for separating your duties and skills; and a mix of small letters and capital letters is the perfect way to highlight each job.

Paper: even if you don’t mail your resume to employers, you should have hard copies on hand to bring to interviews. These copies should be on tasteful resume-quality paper. White, off-white, cream, and gray are the easiest to read.

Content: Now that you have organized your resume, you need to know what to put in it.

Action verbs:  for example use words such as: (Your text should be proactive and full of energy.)

Acted As          

Completed          

Conducted        

Consulted

Coordinated 

Created

Developed 

Enhanced

Initiated 

Led

Maintained

Participated 

Pioneered 

Prospected

Reported 

Sold

Translated

Supervised 

Length:  Keep it to one page. Less is more, so make your statements concise. Look at your text, see where you get longwinded and pare it down. Your text should flow easily and quickly.

Accuracy is key:  Always proofread your resume before sending it.  Typos are easy to make and must be corrected before anyone reviews it.  You get only one chance to make a “first impression”.

Eliminate any guess work:  Be as precise with your dates, titles, employers etc as you can.  Leave little room for doubt or questions.  Start and end dates should be stated in “month and year”.  Be very familiar with the content of your resume so you are able to accurately respond to the inevitable questions/clarifications coming your way.

References: Professional references are generally required. Personal references can also be helpful.

While your references should not be listed on your resume, you should keep a printed list of them handy; as well as a list of your past employers/volunteer organizations and your participation in community organizations.

Resume... Do’s, Don’ts & Maybe’s

Do include:

Your name, street address, telephone number and e-mail address.

Description of your work history and other accomplishments, e.g., leader at Summer Camp, Captain of High School basketball team, First Aid certificate, Jr. Lifeguard, CPR certification etc.  Show you are interested in others and you are able to complete tasks successfully.  If you have successfully demonstrated initiative, let that be known.

Educational background

Professional licenses or certificates

Computer skills - be specific

Maybe Include:

Job objectives and career goal or summary

Memberships in professional organizations

Published articles or works

Job related hobbies

Military Service

GPA if 3.0 or above (for recent graduates only)

Don’t include:

Reasons for leaving past jobs

Past or present salaries

Religious affiliations

Race

Date of birth

Social Security Number

JOB HUNTING ATTIRE

In job-hunting, first impressions are critical.  Remember, you are marketing a product — yourself — to a potential employer, and the first thing the employer sees when greeting you is your attire; thus, you must make every effort to have the proper dress for the type of job you are seeking. If you overdress (which is rare but can happen) or underdress (the more likely scenario), the potential employer may feel that you don’t care enough about the job. Depending on where you live and what type of organization you are interested in working for, properly preparing yourself for the interview may vary.  However, here are the basics:

Attention to details is crucial, so here are some tips for both men and women. Make sure you have:

  • clean and polished conservative dress shoes
  • well-groomed hairstyle
  • cleaned and trimmed fingernails
  • minimal (or none) cologne or perfume
  • no visible body piercing beyond conservative ear piercings for women
  • well-brushed teeth and fresh breath
  • no gum, candy, or other objects in your mouth
  • minimal jewelry
  •  no body odor
  •  check your attire in the rest room just before your interview for a final check of your appearance

INTERVIEW INSIGHT

Some jobs that Staffingpower fills will not require an interview with the employer.  Other jobs will result with an employer interview, even if it is a temporary, contract or temp to hire position.  So we thought you should be informed on the “inside track” of the interview process.  

Many of us wonder what is going through the mind of the interviewer.  Here are some of the questions they are looking to answer:

  • How you compare to the other candidates in meeting their essential hiring criteria for that position
  • The employer looks for optimistic statements and positive reactions to questions
  • The employer looks for an interest in the company and the position
  • The employer looks for indications of longevity of service (as appropriate)
Answering the Tough Questions…

You should prepare answers to a number of difficult questions that are almost sure to be asked. 

Your responsibility is to know what the interviewer is really asking and to respond in an honest, sincere and convincing manner. Some typical tough questions are: (Some of these questions will not be applicable in entry level or temporary positions, but it is valuable to know what may be asked in the future.)

  • “Why don’t you begin by telling me about yourself?”
  • “Do you have any questions?”
  • “Why do you want to work for our company?”
  • “Why are you considering leaving your current position?” (as appropriate)
  •  Salary Questions e.g. how much are you looking for?  What hourly rate will you accept?  What are you currently making? 

Discussion on the Ins and Outs of Interviewing

Before the interview

Leave nothing to chance: know where you are going, how to get there, where to park, with whom you will be meeting. Plan your route and if needed, an alternate route, leave additional time to get there, and dress appropriately.

Know your resume.  For example, if you have included specific software programs, equipment, or certifications on your resume, you should be able to respond to questions without looking at your resume.  

How well do you meet criteria when compared to other candidates?

The employer looks for a person who is technically qualified to do the job. You must focus on the employer’s wants and needs. Be sure to communicate your training, skills, certificates, anything that will reassure them you are able to do the tasks and learn the job.

Remember, there will be more than one candidate who meets this first test. Therefore, the things the employer is subconsciously looking for become as important as the qualifications, perhaps even more important.  If you believe you are a “good fit” for whatever reasons, include that in your answers at some point in the conversation.  Perhaps you are interviewing for an entry level job as a receptionist in a brokerage firm.  It is a Temp to Hire position and you are interested in having a chance to get started in the industry.  Mention that you would be appreciative to have a chance to take the first step to grow into an account executive in a brokerage house and this beginning would mean a lot to you.  You will therefore be absorbing as much as possible about the business to prepare for a future in a brokerage house.

The employer looks for optimistic statements and positive reactions to questions.

Negativity never won a job offer for anyone. The idea when interviewing is to elaborate on those things that you can discuss optimistically. If you are optimistic and positive about any facet of the position, don’t fail to show it.

The employer looks for an interest in the company and the position.

If you like anything related to the available position; do not be afraid to enthusiastically say so. The employer looks for someone who has a high opinion of the company and position.  Its up to you to let them know that you’re interested.

The employer looks for indications of longevity of service. (for Temp to Hire, Contract, or Permanent placement)

The employer looks for someone who indicates that he or she will stay with the company for a reasonable time. The problem is that employers seldom ask direct question about longevity. Instead they ask: “Why are you looking for a position?” or “What are you looking for in a new position?” It is important to realize that these questions, or variations of them, are seeking a response that indicates what the prospective employee’s longevity might be. When answering these questions, you must indicate an intention to remain on the job.

“Why don’t you begin by telling me about yourself?”

This is not an invitation for a long biographical discourse. This is the interviewer’s way of starting the interview and getting organized for the interview process. You should confine your answer to three or four well-chosen sentences outlining career highlights.  Especially if you are just starting out, pre-plan your response to this question.  You may want to say you are looking forward to starting in the work force and anxious to learn what it takes to be a great employee.  You may want to add something like “when I was in Cub Scouts my goal was to rise to the highest level Boy Scouts has to offer.  I set my mind to it and was very proud to reach that goal.  I am determined to duplicate that experience in my career.  Being so new to the workforce, I have not yet set that goal.”  Just this bit of information will make you an attractive candidate.  Of course, you will take a story out of your own life to show an example of your determination, your persistence, your talent, your ability to commit, or your ability to learn.  No matter what, prepare your answer to this question before the interview.

“Do you have any questions?”

The temptation here is to ask “me” questions (salary, benefits, etc.). Don’t. You should only ask questions that are job-related prior to the offer. Instead use this time to ask question that you may know about the company or the position.  You may want to prepare 2 questions about the company, the job, the culture of the company before you go to the interview.  Most people “fake” this, and a prepared question or two will surely help you stand out.

“Why do you want to work for our company?”

This is a wide open question – perhaps you like its location, people, and products. This could be an opportunity to pay the company a few compliments.  If you get a chance, find out about the company, the size, the product, service etc BEFORE the interview.  Being prepared makes a huge difference.  Pre-plan your response to this question so you are not flailing around in front of the interviewer trying to sound clever or professional.  Prior proper planning will pay off.

“Why are you considering leaving your current position?”

This is the classical query that seeks an indication as to your willingness to stick with the position. If your job history shows that you’ve moved around quite a bit, you should turn a negative into a positive statement – that longevity in a job is one of your goals. You should also avoid “bashing” your current employer at all costs.  You may want to say that you had the instinct that it was time to move on to find a better fit, one that you can commit to and grow in.

Salary Questions

Some of the most important questions are related to salary. Salary is extremely important, but it not the sole consideration. Other facets, including opportunity, benefits and potential for growth may outweigh starting salary as a consideration. When responding to a salary-related question, you should avoid committing to a specific salary level. A figure too high or too low may end in unsatisfactory results for you.  If you can find out the salary range for the position or a similar position before you get there, your confidence level during the salary discussion will serve you well.  

Send a follow-up letter thanking the interviewer for his or her time.

This is not necessary for a Temp assignment or even a short term contract assignment.  It is a nice touch following an interview for Temp to Hire or Direct Placement position.  Limit the letter to one page and be certain that it is error free. Mail your thank-you note directly following your interview either to your Staffingpower Representative for forwarding or directly to the person who interviewed you. Discuss this option with your Staffingpower Representative before the interview so you can be prepared either way.

KEEPING THE JOB

Be prepared

On the first day of a new assignment, plan to arrive 15 minute early.  Know where you are going, how to get there, where to park, and who you are reporting to.

Be dependable

Adhere to your assigned work hours and breaks.  Check in with your superisor or other colleagues before leaving your desk or work area unattended.

Be professional

Always act in a polite and respectful manner, even in a more casual work environment.  Wear the proper attire and when required, protective gear.

Be adaptable and proactive

You may be asked to complete difficult or unfamiliar tasks.  Ask questions.  Do your best with the resources at your disposal.  Again, ask questions.

Be discreet

Keep your work confidential.  Do not share the information with anyone and especally do not post anything on Social Media.  You may have been asked to sign a Confidentiality Agreeement which will limit or prohibit information sharing.  Keep your word!

Be responsible

It is best to avoid conducting personal business, talking on your cell phone, checking personal e-mail, messages, or texts while on duty.

Be respectful

Always leave your work area neat and organized.  Do not change computer display or personalize the voicemail unless you have specific permission to do so.  

Be thorough

When completing an assignment, do your best to tie up any loose ends on the project or task. Let your supervisor know the status of your work, when appropriate.

FAQ'S

1. How do I get selected for an assignment through Staffingpower?

When a Client company sends us a job order, we find the best match for the job requirements amongst our candidates.  If you are the match and the Client company agrees, we will call to see if you are available to work.  If you accept the assignment, we will provide you with all the information you need.  Once you complete the job assignment, contact your Staffingpower office to be placed back on our list of available workers and be considered for future assignments.

2. Do I pay anything for placement through Staffingpower?

No.

3. What type of jobs will Staffingpower help me find?

All Types!!!  While we specialize in Administrative, Light Industrial, and Professional placements, we may receive requests to fill any job throughout the year.  Just ask!  We focus on Temporary, Contract, Temp to Hire, and Direct Placement.

4. How often can I work?

It is mostly up to your availabiity that determines how often your work.  However, ultimately it depends on how "in-demand" your skills are and whether or not we have open job orders that require your skill set.

5. Do I have to accept every job assignment?

You determine whether or not you accept an offered assignment.  Once you accept an assignment though, we expect that you intend to complete it.

6. What are the benefits to me for accepting temporary job assignments?

All experiences enrich you on one level or another.  A temporary job provides income and a chance to gain new skills, meet new people, possibly stay on full-time.  You may "earn" an additional reference for future employment.

7. What happens if I am not happy in a position I have accepted?

Call your Staffingpower Representative.  Our focus is finding the right fit for you.  We will look for another candidate to fill the position and consult with the Client company on replacing you as soon as possible.

8. How many temporary jobs turn into full-time positions?

80% of Client companies throughout the United States report that using staffing services firms is a good way to find new permanent employees.  On the other side of the coin, 77% of employees (nationwide) working through staffing companies report that this an effective way of finding full-time employment.  These statements were obtained through the American Staffing Association.

9. If I am going to be late to my assignment, who should I notify?

Whenever possible, call your Staffingpower office to let us know you are going to be late reporting to work.  Staffingpower will notify the Client company.  If your shift starts after normal working hours, contact your supervisor at the job site and leave a message for Staffingpower.

10. What happens if I am injured on my assignment?

Report the injury immediately to your onsite supervisor.  As soon as it is practical, report the injury to your Staffingpower office.  Your health and safety are our #1 priority.  We will advise you who to see and what information is required if your injury requires medical treatment beyond the initial treatment.  Once the initial treatment is rendered, and you are able to speak with us, continuing communication will be the key.  

11. Does Staffingpower keep a portion of what I make?

No.  

Staffingpower is focused on getting you the best possible pay rate for a given position.  We charge the Client company a service fee beyond your pay rate.  You are not responsible for compensating Staffingpower.  We are compensated by the Client. 

12. How do I get paid for a temporary assignment?

As a Staffingpower Associate (temporary employee), you will be paid on an hourly basis each week worked.  Staffingpower Payroll Department MUST receive your completed time record by Monday at 10:00 A.M. following the week worked.  You are paid the week following the work performed.  Pay rates are based upon the job description and skills needed to do the job.  If you have any questions regarding your time record, direct deposit, or paycheck, please call us.