What Your Resume Should Look Like in 2019

LinkedIn

Resumes get a bad rap. We write them begrudgingly, usually during periods of transition, or tumult. We fiddle with phrasing and format, agonizing over how to craft our qualifications into the best resume possible. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

For smart job seekers, resumes are an opportunity — to make a case for their candidacy, to get the salary they’ve earned, and to convince any hiring manager she would be crazy not to hire them.

Yahoo MONEY teamed up with Dana Leavy-Detrick, founder of Brooklyn Resume Studio, to help you become one of those job seekers. Here’s how to write the perfect resume — and a free resume template that you can download and use for your next job interview.

Resume sample-Yahoo MONEY

(Resume design courtesy of Dana Leavy-Detrick; click here for a free downloadable template)

[1] The Best Resume Format

When it comes to resume format and design, opt for a clean layout. A recent study from the job site Ladders found that resumes with so-called F-pattern and E-pattern layouts, which mimic how our eyes tend to scan web pages, hold a recruiter’s attention for longer than those aligned down the center, or from right to left.

There is no one specific “best” font for resumes. You should use the same font style throughout, Leavy-Detrick says, but play with different weights and sizes to draw a recruiter’s eye to key parts of your resume. Sans serif fonts usually work best — Franklin Gothic, Calibri, and Avenir (the last of which we used for the attached template) are three of Leavy-Detrick’s favorites.

[2] Make Your Resume Stand Out

If you’re applying for an investment banking job, a hot-pink resume probably won’t do you any favors. But subtle pops of color, like the orange used here, will work for just about everyone.

“It’s very minimal, and gives a bit of a design element,” Leavy-Detrick says.

If you do use color, “Use it sparingly,” she warns. “Stick to one color, and one color that’s going to print well.”

[3] Add a Skills Section in Your Resume

Lead with the good stuff. The top of your resume should include “critical keywords and a quick snapshot of your core strengths,” Leavy-Detrick says.

Hard skills, tangible attributes that can easily be measured, take precedence here, so highlight them accordingly. If you’re in a tech-driven field, software and programming expertise is what employers want to see on your resume. If you’re in a creative industry, design and communication skills might be your best bet.

[4] Make a Resume That Shows Impact

To prove you’re worth a hiring manager’s time, highlight recent examples of what you bring to the table. Statistics that build upon your skills section are most impactful — bonus points if they show a track record of growth, revenue, and profitability, Leavy-Detrick says.

If you’re drawing a blank, she suggests adding resume skills that can help solve a “problem area” for the company you’re applying to.

“Impact doesn’t always have to be measured by metrics,” she says. “Cultural improvements, special projects, customer growth … anything that showed success can work.”

[5] What to Leave Off a Resume

Be discerning with the content—don’t list salary requirements, use tables or columns, or tick off every job you’ve ever had. The same goes for social media profiles. Unless your Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook feeds are relevant to the job you’re applying for, it’s probably best to leave those off your resume.

“Only include them if they add value in some way,” Leavy-Detrick says. “If you have zero followers, you may not want to advertise that.”

Continue on to Yahoo MONEY to read the complete article.

4 Questions Candidates Should Ask During a Job Interview

LinkedIn
Professional Woman standing with her arms folded

It’s a great time to be searching for jobs and exploring different opportunities. And ideally, that’ll mean going on lots of interviews.

Now, you’re surely aware that as part of the interview process, you’ll be asked a number of questions about your work experience, skills, and goals. But at some point during each conversation, you’ll most likely also be asked to come up with questions of your own. And that’s where a lot of job candidates find themselves stumped. Rather than let that happen, go in prepared with a list of insightful questions that show you’ve put thought into the role at hand. Here are a few you can start with.

1. How has the company evolved over the past few years?

Generally speaking, it’s best to work for a company that’s been showing signs of growth. And a good way to figure out whether the employer you’re applying to falls into that category is to see how it’s changed over the past few years. Ideally, your interviewer will give you insight as to how the company has progressed and developed its staff and product or service line. As a follow-up question, you might also ask how the company has adapted to recent challenges to get a sense of how it operates. Not only are these thoughtful questions, but they’re ones whose answers will inform your decision of whether to accept a job offer if you get one.

2. What has your experience been like working for this company?

Asking your interviewer about his or her personal experience working for the company you’re applying to is a good way to gain insight as to what your own experience might entail. It also shows that you’re taking an interest in your interviewer, and that you value his or her opinion.

3. What’s the company culture like?

You want to enjoy going to work, and a company whose culture promotes a pleasant environment is generally one worth pursuing. It’s always smart to ask about company culture during an interview because it can give you great insight into what your days might be like. Ask how the typical day goes for the average employee, and what steps the company takes to foster collaboration and teamwork. Along these lines, don’t hesitate to ask whether employees generally manage to maintain a decent work-life balance. While the answer might vary on a case-by-case basis, you should try to get a general sense of whether employees get enough personal time or are pushed too hard to always be available for work purposes.

4. What made the last person who filled this role successful?

Assuming you’re not the first person to land the position at hand, it pays to ask what made the previous employee good at what he or she did. Was that person a strong project manager? Was he or she a risk-taker? Asking this question shows you’re invested in being successful yourself.

The last thing you want to do during a job interview is come off as apathetic or unprepared. Before you sit down to meet with a prospective employer, jot down some important questions to ask in advance, or use the ones we’ve discussed here.

Continue on to YahooNews to read the complete article.

Have a Job Offer? Consider these 5 things before saying yes

LinkedIn
Diverse-Workforce

Corporate culture may be the key to happiness at work. You can have an exceptional job offer, but if the culture is not a match, it could be problematic.

You deal with a lot—coworkers, the boss, and office politics. If you can’t succeed in a certain culture, you can’t succeed in the job.

Why Corporate Culture Matters

It is too simplistic to think that corporate culture is solely about mission and values. It manifests itself in other avenues, such as working overtime, availability of flextime and telecommuting, how people interact with each other, the dress code, benefits, professional development opportunities, how performance is evaluated, leadership style, and the decision-making process. In essence, everything is culture-driven.

When you have a pending job offer, primary consideration may be compensation, benefits, and perhaps the commute. Those are all significant factors, but when you are thinking about making a move, dig a little deeper.

Key Considerations Before Accepting the Job

1. How did you feel when during the interview?

It is normal not to feel completely at ease, but you should have some sense of feeling comfortable. During the interview, be a consummate observer—from the time you walk in until the time you leave.

Pay attention to the way you were greeted and how were you treated during the entire process. Were all communications professional, timely, and respectful?

If you hear a common theme in the questions the interviewer asks, that is a clue about what he or she will expect from you. For example: “Tell me about a time when your workload was particularly heavy. What steps did you take? “How do you establish priorities to never miss a deadline?”

Also observe how people interact with each other in the office—were they friendly or did you detect friction? Pay attention to how they act when their boss is around.

2. Can you thrive with the office vibe?

Is it a suit-and-tie culture when you are a business-casual person who loves jeans on Fridays? Is it the ever-popular open office space? I’m the quintessential introvert, and I know that an open office space would severely limit my performance. It is simply not how I work best. If that defines you as well, see if you can tour the office before you make a final decision. The physical space, noise level, and interactions with staff will all play a crucial part. There’s most likely not going to be a perfect environment, and all jobs will include some sort of give and take. The bottom line is to know your deal breakers so that your performance and satisfaction are not inhibited.

3. Is the company on firm financial footing?

Due diligence is the name of the game. If the company is public, you may be able to gather information on their financial stability from public filings and reports. If you are thinking about working for a government contractor, it is OK to ask about the length of the contract. If the contract is nearing an end, will they be able to place you elsewhere? You can also uncover information from a simple Google search and checking their social media mentions. You’ll be able to get a sense of whether there might be trouble ahead. Try to ascertain whether they have been adding jobs consistently or if hiring has been shrinking.

4. Will you be better off after taking this job?

Here is a million-dollar question: If you had to find a new job in the following year, will this job help you with your professional development? Before you start any job search, you should have a strategy. Accepting a new role should be a stepping stone that inches you closer to your career goals. By the same token, if you stay with this organization can you see a path of career development? Avoid exchanging one dead-end job for another one.

5. Can you respect and like the person to whom you will report?

Studies have shown that a significant number of people leave a position because of their boss. Having a great manager can make or break your work experience. When you’re in an interview, it is a two-way conversation. You owe it to yourself to ask questions. Find out how success will be determined. Learn as much as you can about your manager’s expectations beyond the job duties, as well as his or her leadership style. This will give you an indication of whether you’ll be working for a leader who is reasonable or one that will make you unhappy.

Author
Jan Johnston Osburn
news.clearancejobs.com

7 Examples of What Being an Ally at Work Really Looks Like

LinkedIn
Ally at work

Diverse and inclusive workplaces can be both difficult to find and hard to create. But if you care about making your own workplace truly inclusive, you have the ability to effect real change—as an ally.

An ally is someone who is not a member of an underrepresented group but who takes action to support that group.

It’s up to people who hold positions of privilege to be active allies to those with less access, and to take responsibility for making changes that will help others be successful. Active allies utilize their credibility to create a more inclusive workplace where everyone can thrive, and find ways to make their privilege work for others.

And wielding privilege as an ally doesn’t have to be hard. I’ve seen allies at all levels take action with simple, everyday efforts that made a difference—often a big one!

Here are a few roles that allies can choose to play to support colleagues from underrepresented groups in beneficial ways.

1. The Sponsor

I once worked for a software company that was acquired by a larger company. In the first few months following the acquisition, I noticed something interesting. My new manager, Digby Horner—who had been at the larger company for many years—said things in meetings along the lines of: “What I learned from Karen is the following…”

By doing this, Digby helped me build credibility with my new colleagues. He took action as an ally, using his position of privilege to sponsor me. His shoutouts made a difference, and definitely made me feel great.

When an ally takes on the role of the Sponsor, they vocally support the work of colleagues from underrepresented groups in all contexts, but specifically in situations that will help boost those colleagues’ standing and reputations.

How to Act as a Sponsor

  • Talk about the expertise you see in others, especially during performance calibrations and promotion discussions.
  • Recommend people for stretch assignments and learning opportunities.
  • Share colleagues’ career goals with influencers.

2. The Champion

In May 2015, Andrew Grill was a Global Managing Partner at IBM and a speaker at the Online Influence Conference. He was on a panel along with five other men when a female member of the audience posed the obvious question to the all-male lineup: “Where are the women?”

The moderator then asked the panelists to address the topic of gender diversity, and Andrew, after sharing some of his thoughts, quickly realized he wasn’t the best person to respond. In fact, none of the panelists were. He instead asked the woman who asked the question, Miranda Bishop, to take his place on the panel. By stepping aside, Andrew made a bold statement in support of gender diversity on stage and championed Miranda at the same time.

Since then, the nonprofit organization GenderAvenger has created a pledge to reduce the frequency of all-male panels at conferences and events. It reads, “I will not serve as a panelist at a public conference when there are no women on the panel.” Anyone can sign the pledge on their website.

When an ally takes on the role of the Champion, that ally acts similarly to the Sponsor, but does so in more public venues. Champions willingly defer to colleagues from underrepresented groups in meetings and in visible, industry-wide events and conferences, sending meaningful messages to large audiences.

How to Act as a Champion

  • Direct questions about specific or technical topics to employees with subject-matter expertise instead of answering them yourself.
  • Advocate for more women, people of color, and members of other underrepresented groups as keynote speakers and panelists.
  • If you’re asked to keynote or serve in a similar public role and know someone from an underrepresented group who’d be an equally good fit (or better), recommend that person (after asking them first if they’d like to be put forward).

3. The Amplifier

In a Slack channel for female technical leaders, I met a data engineer who was working at a 60-person startup. One team inside the company had an unproductive meeting culture that was starting to feel truly toxic. Yelling and interrupting frequently took place, and women in particular felt they couldn’t voice their opinions without being shouted over.

One of this engineer’s colleagues decided to take action to ensure that the voices of those who weren’t shouting would be heard. She introduced communication guidelines for a weekly meeting, and saw an immediate improvement. The guidelines included assigning a meeting mediator (team members would take turns in this role), setting clear objectives and an agenda for every meeting, conducting a meeting evaluation by every participant at the end of every meeting, and reminding the members to be respectful and practice active listening.

When an ally takes on the role of the Amplifier, that ally works to ensure that marginalized voices are both heard and respected. This type of allyship can take many forms, but is focused on representation within communication.

How to Act as an Amplifier

  • When someone proposes a good idea, repeat it and give them credit. For example: “I agree with Helen’s recommendation for improving our net promoter score.”
  • Create a code of conduct for meetings and any shared communication medium including email, chat, Slack, and so forth.
  • Invite members of underrepresented groups within your company to speak at staff meetings, write for company-wide newsletters, or take on other highly visible roles.

4. The Advocate

Shortly after she became the CEO of YouTube, Susan Wojcicki spoke up about how tech industry titan Bill Campbell had advocated for her. In an article for Vanity Fair, she wrote:

I learned about an important invitation-only conference convening most of the top leaders in tech and media, yet my name was left off the guest list. Many of the invitees were my peers, meaning that YouTube wouldn’t be represented while deals were cut and plans were made. I started to question whether I even belonged at the conference. But rather than let it go, I turned to Bill, someone I knew had a lot of influence and could help fix the situation. He immediately recognized I had a rightful place at the event and within a day he worked his magic and I received my invitation.

When an ally takes on the role of the Advocate, that ally uses their power and influence to bring peers from underrepresented groups into highly exclusive circles. The Advocate recognizes and addresses unjust omissions, holding their peers accountable for including qualified colleagues of all genders, races and ethnicities, abilities, ages, body shapes or sizes, religions, and sexual orientations.

How to Act as an Advocate

  • Look closely at the invite list for events, strategic planning meetings, dinners with key partners, and other career-building opportunities. If you see someone from a marginalized group missing, advocate for them to be invited.
  • Offer to introduce colleagues from underrepresented groups to influential people in your network.
  • Ask someone from an underrepresented group to be a co-author or collaborator on a proposal or conference submission.

5. The Scholar

I’m a member of the Women’s CLUB of Silicon Valley, a nonprofit leadership incubator for women. Many of our events are open to guests, who come to hear the speakers and participate in our workshops. Most guests are women, so it stood out when a male guest started attending our events. I asked one of my friends who he was, and she told me he was a former colleague who wanted to better understand the challenges women face in the workplace. He spent many evenings at our events, listening and absorbing information about the issues we discussed so he could be a better ally.

When an ally takes on the role of the Scholar, that ally seeks to learn as much as possible about the challenges and prejudices faced by colleagues from marginalized groups. It’s important to note that Scholars never insert their own opinions, experiences, or ideas, but instead simply listen and learn. They also don’t expect marginalized people to provide links to research proving that bias exists or summaries of best practices. Scholars do their own research to seek out the relevant information.

How to Act as a Scholar

  • Investigate and read publications, podcasts, or social media by and about underrepresented groups within your industry.
  • Ask co-workers from marginalized groups about their experience working at your company.
  • If your company or industry has specific discussion groups or Slack channels for members of underrepresented groups, ask if they’d be comfortable letting you sit in to observe. Asking is essential: Your presence may cause members to censor themselves, so be sure to check in before showing up.

6. The Upstander

I remember being impressed by Lisa, a white software engineer who stepped outside of her comfort zone to be an ally. When asked to name her “spirit animal” as part of a team-building exercise, Lisa spoke up. She wasn’t comfortable taking part in an exercise that appropriated Native American spiritual traditions.

When an ally takes on the role of the Upstander, that ally acts as the opposite of a bystander. The Upstander is someone who sees wrongdoing and acts to combat it. This person pushes back on offensive comments or jokes, even if no one within earshot might be offended or hurt.

How to Act as an Upstander

  • Always speak up if you witness behavior or speech that is degrading or offensive. Explain your stance so everyone is clear about why you’re raising the issue.
  • In meetings, shut down off-topic questions that are asked only to test the presenter.
  • Take action if you see anyone in your company being bullied or harassed. Simply insert yourself into a conversation with a comment such as, “Hi! What are you folks discussing?” and then check in with the victim privately. Ask if they’re okay and if they want you to say something.

Continue on to The Muse to read the complete article.

12 Proven Strategies to Prepare for a Job or Career Fair

LinkedIn
Career fair

Knowing the right way to prepare for a job fair can help you land the next great job on your career path. Whether you’re seeking your first job or your fifth job, attending a career or job fair is a smart strategy for marketing yourself to potential employers.

Forget reviewing hundreds of online ads or spending countless hours filling out applications and emailing resumes! At a job fair, you can connect directly with recruiters and hiring managers from a wide range of companies, learning about them as they learn about you.

Yet, knowing how to effectively prepare for a career fair means you’ll stand out from other attendees and ultimately find your next great career role. Follow these steps to make the most of every job fair you attend.

How to prepare for the career or job fair

A key contributor to your success will be in your preparation. Here are some tips:

If you can, pre-register for the event: This can include submitting your resume and/or other information just in case attending employers review your information before the fair.

Research the companies that are attending: Having a background on these organizations means you can ask specific questions about the job and company. “This impresses [company] representatives because it shows a genuine interest in them,” according to the UC Berkeley Career Center.

After researching, decide who you’ll talk with: By doing this, you don’t have to waste precious time wandering around and deciding who to start a conversation with. You’ll know when you walk in the door, greatly increasing your chances of success. If you can get a layout of the fair beforehand, you can make a “plan of attack” to see each employer in order of interest.

Prepare and print your resumes: Bring more than you need, as some companies may want more than one copy. If you have multiple job objectives, make sure you bring enough versions of each resume, and of course, be sure your resume is well-written and free of errors.

Create and practice your elevator pitch: This 30- to 60-second speech should explain who you are, what your skills are, and what your career goal is. This is one truly important piece of learning how to prepare for a career fair, and Carnegie Mellon University has a page with some great tips on creating a solid elevator pitch.

Prepare for potential interviews or interview questions: Check out this list of the most common interview questions and prepare your answers beforehand. This will ensure you present yourself professionally and help calm your nerves.

What to do on the day of the fair

Arrive as early as possible, come dressed appropriately for the job fair, and then follow these tips to make the most of your time:

Be confident and enthusiastic: Introduce yourself with a smile and a firm handshake. Companies are there because they want to meet you, and more importantly, make a hire. Be ready to give your elevator pitch when appropriate. If you’re still a student, talk about your academic and extracurricular experiences as well as your career interests.

Take notes if necessary: Do this especially “when you inquire about next steps and the possibility of talking with additional managers,” says the UC Berkeley career center. “Write down the names, telephone numbers, etc. of other staff in the organization whom you can contact later.”

Ask the company representative for a business card: This will give you all the information you need to get in touch with this person if necessary and to send a thank-you note for the time the representative spent with you. Believe it or not, many a candidate has won the job because of a thank you.

Network, network, network: In addition to the company representatives, make time to talk with other job seekers to share information on everything from the companies to job leads and get their contact information if possible. Also, definitely approach any professional organizations at the fair and get information for future networking opportunities.

Actions to take after the event

Once you’ve prepared for the career or job fair and then actually attended, there are a few important things to do once it’s over. Here’s what to keep in mind:

Follow up with company representatives you talked to: As mentioned above, send a thank-you note as soon as possible after the fair. Review your interest in and qualifications for the job and promise to follow up with a phone call. You can also attach another copy of your resume to the note or email.

Continue to network: Reach out to fellow attendees you talked with to share your experience of the job fair and ask about their successes. Tell them you’ll keep them in mind if you see an open position they might want and ask them to do the same for you. Join any of the professional organizations that were at the fair if they are appropriate to your career goals, as well.

In addition to the tips above, the University of Minnesota has advice from employers on various aspects of how to prepare for a job fair, which is helpful for both students and experienced professionals alike.

By following these guidelines at your next career fair, you’ll give yourself an excellent chance of landing that next great job in your career path.

Continue on to read the complete article at topresume.com

What Is an Intrapreneur and Why Does Everyone Want to Hire Them Right Now?

LinkedIn
African American businessman

Sure, there’s plenty of talk nowadays about entrepreneurs and freelancers—people who work for themselves, set their own days, and run their own businesses. But there’s another crew in town that’s becoming increasingly popular: intrapreneurs.

If you’re not familiar with this term, you’re not alone.

The first time I heard it was from William Arruda, a global personal branding expert whose clients include many Fortune 100 companies and the author of Career Distinction: Stand Out By Building Your Brand. In it, he describes an intrapreneur as “a person who demonstrates an entrepreneurial spirit within an organization.”

This concept shows just how much the employee-employer relationship has evolved. And when you think about it, it makes a lot of sense in today’s working world. Employees are demanding more freedom and autonomy in order to grow. And employers are understanding the need to create a strong company culture that retains top talent and fosters innovation.

The result? Companies are eager to welcome and embrace people who are creative, proactive, and flexible—in other words, intrapreneurs. I’ll explain what it means to be one and the benefits they bring to employers—and how you can be an intrapreneur, too.

What Is an Intrapreneur?

In many ways, an intrapreneur could be considered an in-house entrepreneur. If we go back to Arruda’s definition, this group of people is classified as having an “entrepreneurial spirit.”

So, what does that mean, exactly?

Well, entrepreneurs are driven by the desire to create new services or products. In doing so, they develop original ideas, think beyond what’s already been done, and are always looking to provide valuable solutions to common problems. They’re personally invested in achieving a successful outcome.

The same thing can be said about intrapreneurs. They’re creative freethinkers who are passionate about sharing new ways to get things done. The difference is, they operate within a company rather than solo. While no one’s job title is likely to be “intrapreneur,” you can adopt the mindset in pretty much any role.

What Are the Characteristics of an Intrapreneur?

You can instantly spot an intrapreneur within a company because they treat their job as if it were their own business. Also, an intrapreneur’s ingenuity makes them a star employee—they’re always coming up with resourceful ways to approach challenging situations.

Here are some more characteristics that make them truly special.

They’re Authentic

An intrapreneur’s greatest trait is being consistently humble and sincere—whether it’s in an email, meeting, or passing conversation. This makes them experts at establishing trust and highly respected and liked throughout a company.

They’re Savvy Collaborators

Ever known someone who can pick up the phone to ask for a favor or information and get an immediate response? Well, that’s a classic intrapreneur move. As masters of building relationships, they never run out of people to contact who are willing to help—because they’d do the same in return.

They’re Highly Confident

It takes a certain level of confidence to express creative ideas and proactively start a project. Intrapreneurs are risk-takers, so they trust their actions and aren’t afraid to try something different or learn from trial and error.

They’re Uber Resilient

Whether it’s about finding an answer to an ongoing problem or hammering out the details of a new plan, an intrapreneur won’t give up. An intrapreneur is not easily deterred and hasn’t met a challenge they’re not willing to tackle head-on.

They Have Strong Personal Brands

Intrapreneurs are highly aware of how they communicate their unique strengths and work hard to maintain a positive external reputation in order to promote their expertise and services. Because their professional image is important to them, they also have just as strong of a presence online as they do in person.

Why Are Intrapreneurs So Valuable to a Company?

You may think, “Hmmm… Wouldn’t these kinds of people be perceived as a threat to a company’s success? And wouldn’t they just take off the second something better came along?”

But it’s actually to a company’s advantage to have employees who take ownership of their work. Employees who feel like their talent and contributions matter (for real) will work smarter, feel more satisfied, and bring forth their best ideas—which will ultimately become the company’s ideas and products.

Some may fear that allowing employees to be too innovative will lead to folks using what they do at work to benefit their own side hustle. However, even if that’s the case, there’s nothing wrong with it, as long as there’s no conflict of interest (for example, working on outside projects during work hours or working on something that’s a direct competitor to the company).

Why Should You Be an Intrapreneur, and How Can You Be One at Any Company?

So as you’re thinking of ways to grow your career, consider how the mindset of an intrapreneur is also an asset to your own brand and success. Sure, your ideas are going toward a company’s vision, but you know where else they’re going? Into your resume and LinkedIn profile—your own portfolio!

Every successful initiative you’re a part of gives you concrete examples of scenarios when you took action and delivered results. This increases your potential to make more money and access more growth opportunities down the road (for example, a promotion, a new role you get to define, or a completely new start somewhere else). Plus, being an intrapreneur allows you to pursue a passion project with the added benefit of having a company’s resources and budget—as opposed to having to start from scratch and launch it all on your own.

As an intrapreneur, your experience is tied to in-demand skills that are transferable anywhere you go, instead of a specific job title.

Continue on to The Muse to read the complete article.

Cliché Answers to the Most Common Interview Questions

LinkedIn

By Brianna Flavin

The internet offers a massive amount of job interview advice, sample questions and potential responses. When you are trying to land a job, it’s easy to devour this advice in bulk, but that might actually be more detrimental to your career than you realize.

What’s resulted is hiring managers hearing the same cliché responses over and over again. When your objective is to learn about applicants to determine if they will be a good fit for the position, and they all say their biggest flaw is “perfectionism,” it’s frustrating, to say the least.

As a job seeker, you want to do your homework and come to the interview prepared to answer the most common interview questions. But how can you avoid sounding like an echo of every other candidate?

“The preferred response to any question is one that is honest and upfront,” says staffing and onboarding coach Jen Teague. Ideally, your circumstances, interests and aspirations will factor into every answer, leaving your interviewer with a clear and accurate impression of who you are.

To get you started in the right direction—and to help you steer clear of some responses that could leave a bad impression—we asked hiring managers to share the most cliché answers they encounter when interviewing job candidates. See what the folks in the hiring seats are sick of hearing and their advice on how to craft a more impressive response.

  1. Why would you excel at this job?

What NOT to say: “I like working with people.”

“This is one of the most robotic answers a candidate could provide,” according to Beth Tucker, CEO of KNF&T Staffing Resources. She says though it might seem like a friendly answer, it doesn’t actually reveal anything about you as a person or employee.

“Most people like to work with other people,” Tucker explains. “Instead of saying this, try thinking of the core message you’re trying to communicate.” Are you an especially strong communicator? Do you work harder when you’re collaborating with coworkers on a project? Do you enjoy delegating responsibility?

“You’re much better off giving an example that demonstrates your abilities,” Tucker says.

A better approach: Talk about a team project where you interacted with a diverse group of people—or difficult people. This will have a much bigger impact and make a better impression on the interviewer.

  1. What do you know about our company?

What NOT to say: “Not much. I was hoping you could tell me.”

“This answer highlights your lack of initiative and preparation,” says Mike Smith, founder of SalesCoaching1. He urges to always do your research on any company you are interviewing with and come prepared to dazzle.

A better approach: Smith suggests a statement that displays what you understand about the company and what you might still want clarification on. An example is, “I found your annual report and noticed your company has grown your market share and is opening other branches. What is the next location planned?”

  1. Why do you want to be in this business?

What NOT to say: “It looks like a cool company to work for.”

This vague enthusiasm also reveals a lack of research. Smith says experienced interviewers hear this same answer time and time again. Why would you prefer to work for this company, rather than some of their competitors? Even if you do plan to interview at both companies, you are better off being specific.

A better approach: “I have done a lot of research in this marketplace. Your company and your competitors (name them) are in the fastest growing sector. I want to be a part of that growth.”

  1. Why did you apply for this position?

What NOT to say: “I want to get my career started.”

“The worst cliché answer I receive is something along the lines of, ‘I’m not picky about my position; I just want a chance to work,’” says Shell Harris, President of Big Oak Studios Inc. He says this kind of answer typically comes from the mouths of college graduates having difficulty landing their first job.

“When I hear this response, I am thinking this person is desperate to work and will say anything to get any job, even a job they may not like,” Harris says. He adds that this is often an indicator that the candidate will continue job searching even if he or she does land the position. He believes applicants who have specific expectations about what kind of work they will do in the company come off much better.

“It tells me they understand what we do, how they can help and, most importantly, that they want to be a part of the company,” Harris says. “Sure, I believe they want to work, but they aren’t being honest with me or themselves if they say they’ll take any job.”

A better approach: Talk about what the role you’re applying for does for you. Could it help you develop a skill you’re hoping to sharpen? Does it align with your strengths or expertise? What excites you about the position?

  1. What is your biggest weakness as an employee?

What NOT to say: “I’m a perfectionist.”

This is one of the biggest clichés out there in interviewing world. “The age-old advice about spinning any negative about yourself into a positive only works when it’s specific,” says Gail Abelman, recruiter at Staffing Perfection.

“I can’t tell you the number of times I have heard people tell me, ‘I’m a perfectionist,’ or ‘I’m too honest,’” she says. “These are about as cliché and phony as it gets.”

“You can tell immediately when people are not being genuine,” says Rebecca Baggett, Director of Human Resources at Bigger Pockets. She says responses like ‘I’m a perfectionist’ or ‘I’m too loyal’ really communicate either a lack of honesty or a lack of self-awareness. “I always appreciate when a candidate says, ‘I messed up and this is how I corrected the situation,’” she says.

Ableman advises telling a story to answer this kind of question. It will sound more personal and realistic, and you will provide your interviewer with a better picture of who you are and what it will be like to hire you.

A better approach: Describe an issue you experienced at a previous job, the problem you had solving it and the steps you took to ultimately overcome it.

  1. What are your long-term goals?

What NOT to say: “I want to move up within the company.”

Advancement might seem like the only right answer to give to this question, but thinking of your goals in terms of a one line track to the top is actually rather limiting. Teague says personal goals as well as professional goals can play into your answer here, particularly if they could intersect (i.e., Wanting to learn another language).

Once again, get specific. Your interviewer wants to know what motivates you. Try to think beyond a larger paycheck and detail some goals that make you excited about what you do.

A better approach: Explain that you’re motivated to advance as a professional, and list some particular goals you’d like to achieve (both personal and professional).

  1. Do you have any questions for me?

What NOT to say: “No, I think you covered them all.”

This answer if often on the tip of everyone’s jittery tongue at the close of an interview, but it reveals no preparation or willingness to research the industry, according to Smith. As this is often the question that will conclude the interview, your response has the potential to leave a particularly lasting impression.

Smith suggests thanking interviewers for what they did cover and offering at least one, in-depth question. You can riff off something they already mentioned in the interview or bring up something you found in your research. “This shows a business maturity and a professional approach,” Smith adds.

A better approach: Ask about a recent announcement you encountered in your research or ask the interviewer about what brought them to the company.

About Rasmussen College

Rasmussen College is a regionally accredited private college that is dedicated to changing lives and the communities it serves through high-demand and flexible educational programs. Since 1900, the College has been committed to academic innovation and empowering students to pursue a college degree. Rasmussen College offers certificate and diploma programs through associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s degrees in seven schools of study including business, health sciences, nursing, technology, design, education and justice studies.

Source: Rasmussen.edu

Phil Freelon, America’s most prominent black architect, designs for the culture

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The ‘Blacksonian,’ Atlanta’s civil rights center — and a Durham bus station — are all part of his legacy.

It was a brisk early afternoon in January, and I was sitting in a van in Durham, North Carolina, with Phil Freelon, arguably the most prominent working African-American architect in the country. Freelon is best known for designing the National Museum of African American History and Culture and other major museum projects — among them Atlanta’s National Center for Civil Rights, San Francisco’s Museum of the African Diaspora, and Charlotte’s Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture. But on this day, we were admiring, of all things, a bus station.

“If you go around the country and visit bus stations, they’re usually seedy and dirty,” he said. “But they don’t have to be.”

And the Durham Station Transportation Center, which Freelon designed, wouldn’t be out of place on the gilded campuses of Apple or Google. The center, which opened in 2008, has a glass exterior topped by a sleek metal roof sloped like a beret, covering an airy, minimalist interior lounge and ticketing area.

“In my career, I’ve learned that if you build something beautiful, people will respect it,” he said. “You’ll notice there’s no graffiti. Now, I don’t think everyone going to catch a bus looks around and says, ‘Wow, this is a beautiful building.’ But I think they soak in the ambiance, and I’m happy about that.”

The paradox of architecture is that it’s all around us, and yet, for many people, the profession remains esoteric. “If you have a talented young African-American, their family will likely know a lawyer, doctor, teacher or a clergyman, but not an architect,” Freelon said. “My parents, who were both college-educated, didn’t know an architect of any color, and certainly not a black one.

“Diversity is a huge problem in our profession. The profession is small — there are only 110,000 licensed architects in the United States, compared to 1 million attorneys and 800,000 physicians. And only 2 percent of architects are African-Americans, a lower ratio than with lawyers and doctors.”

Freelon, 65, has attempted to change that on several fronts: through his hiring practices, visits to predominantly minority schools to speak about his work, and the establishment in 2016 of the Freelon Fellowship, which provides financial aid so a student from an underrepresented group can attend the Harvard Graduate School of Design. And since he founded his eponymous firm in 1990, much of his work has been focused on designing libraries and other academic buildings for historically black colleges and universities and cultural projects in traditionally black neighborhoods.

Currently he’s involved with a major expansion of the Motown Museum in Detroit, a mile-long open-air museum along Crenshaw Boulevard in Los Angeles and the North Carolina Freedom Park in downtown Raleigh. “He’s designed nearly every major museum or public space dedicated to black culture in the United States,” Fast Company magazine observed when it named Freelon its Architect of the Year in 2017.

“Of course, you don’t just wake up one morning and the Smithsonian wants you to build a museum,” Freelon said. “There’s 30 years of work that leads up to that.”

Before he had ever met an architect, Freelon had decided to become one. He grew up in Philadelphia, where his mother was a school administrator and his father was a salesperson for Cordis, a Miami-based medical device manufacturer. Freelon attended Central High School, an academically rigorous, predominantly white, all-boys magnet school, which also produced the famed architect Louis Kahn. Citing the influence of his grandfather, Allan Randall Freelon Sr., a Harlem Renaissance-era painter, Freelon said he was drawn to classes in the visual arts, as well as drafting and design. He also took inspiration from his strolls through the city, visiting the Franklin Institute and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. “Only later,” Freelon said, “did I learn that a black architect, Julian Abele, helped design the museum,” including the iconic steps featured in Rocky.

Freelon had his mind set on attending a historically black college or university (HBCU) and enrolled at Hampton University in Virginia. “It was the height of the civil rights movement and Black Power, and I had an Afro and was very socially engaged,” he said.

Freelon plowed through the curriculum. “He was an excellent student, meticulous and curious,” said John Spencer, chairman of the architecture department, whom Freelon credits as his first mentor. Believing he would be more challenged at a larger university, Freelon transferred to North Carolina State, although he was anxious about moving deeper into the South. “When my father used to attend his company’s annual conference in Miami in the ’60s, he couldn’t stay in the downtown hotels and would stay in the black neighborhood of Overtown,” Freelon recalled. But a visit to Raleigh reassured him.

“At N.C. State, Phil and I were two of only a handful of black students at the College of Design, and there weren’t any black professors in our discipline,” recalled Percy Hooper, now an associate professor of industrial design at N.C. State. “We didn’t feel segregated from the white students, but we ended up spending a lot of time together, supporting one another.” The coursework was demanding, and there wasn’t a lot of downtime. To unwind, the friends would ride their bikes or, more ill-advisedly, toss around ninja stars.

During summers, Freelon worked for a professor at the Durham-based architectural firm of John D. Latimer and Associates and continued at the firm’s Taunton, Massachusetts, office while pursuing a master’s degree at MIT, which he completed in 1977. He worked briefly for a large firm, 3/D International in Houston, before returning to Durham to join O’Brien Atkins Associates, where he soon became the firm’s youngest partner.

Freelon helped design schools, churches and other buildings around the state. “As a young architect, you’re not a specialist and you tackle a wide variety of projects.” A significant step in his career, he said, was being tapped as lead designer for Terminal 2 of the Raleigh-Durham International Airport. “Of course, it’s since been demolished and rebuilt,” he said, chuckling. “At this stage of my career, there are a few buildings that I’ve designed that have been torn down.” (He later designed an award-winning parking garage at the airport, as well as the airport’s general aviation building.)

In 1989, Freelon received a fellowship to study independently for a year at Harvard. The next year, he left O’Brien Atkins to launch his own firm, the Freelon Group. It began as a one-man shop and grew to more than 50 employees, about 40 percent of whom are women and 30 percent people of color.

Continue onto The Undefeated to read the complete article.

A New Generation of Black Founders Is Rising in Atlanta–and the Startup World Is Taking Notice

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Forget Silicon Valley. Black entrepreneurs have discovered the best tech scene in the country.

On the 7th floor of Atlanta’s historic Biltmore Hotel, high above the Bird and Lime e-scooters below, Paul Judge stands by a window. He points toward nearly every building within a few-block radius. “Five years ago, these spaces were all dirt,” he says.

Now, they’re full of startups–and Judge, a serial entrepreneur who’s been on the tech scene for 21 years, is responsible for much of that growth. The cybersecurity firm he co-founded in 2011, Pindrop, occupies office space on three floors of the Biltmore. Judge’s early stage venture capital firm, TechSquare Labs, is a five-minute walk away–and as he passes by, a man leans out the front door. “Hey, Paul!”

Judge is practically a celebrity in Atlanta’s entrepreneur world, partly because he’s the most accomplished black tech founder in the city. The 41-year-old Baton Rouge native moved here in 1995 to attend Morehouse College, and never left. After a few successful startups, he started using his capital to help other Atlanta-based entrepreneurs get off the ground. Now, a new generation of young and ambitious black founders are working to craft their own versions of his career path.

Atlanta has a 52 percent black population, according to census data, and it’s brimming with entrepreneurs who benefit from what Judge describes as the “three Cs”–colleges, corporations, and culture. Atlanta’s schools–including Georgia Tech, Georgia State, and black universities like Morehouse College and Spelman College–are churning out talented black developers and engineers. Pair that with the city’s thriving black culture–from actors and musicians like Tyler Perry, Donald Glover, and Outkast to politicians like John Lewis and current mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms–and the result is what Mike Ross, a local black angel investor, describes as an atmosphere “like Harlem was in the ’20s.”

Three years ago, entrepreneurs Ryan Wilson and T.K. Petersen opened The Gathering Spot, a private membership club created to build community between black entrepreneurs from local colleges, Atlanta’s celebrities, and executives from corporations like Coca-Cola and Home Depot. “The Gathering Spot, humbly, has become one of the places in town where people know that important conversations are going to be held,” Wilson says. “We’ve been fortunate that other people have come to see this space as one of those central places where you can connect with people.”

His proof: The club has more than 1,000 members, including founders of black-led startups like consumer robotics maker Monsieur, political engagement app Empowrd, and visual recognition tech company Partpic, which was sold to Amazon for an undisclosed sum in 2016.​​ In particular, Partpic co-founder Jewel Burks Solomon, 29, is one of the city’s most recent success stories.

Growing up in Nashville, Burks Solomon dreamed of moving to Atlanta and starting a business. Upon doing it in 2013, she found plenty of like-minded black entrepreneurs experiencing a common challenge: difficulty securing funding. Of the $2 million Burks Solomon raised for Partpic, only $25,000 of it came from a local source–Ross, one of the city’s few black angel investors.

“Atlanta has a high population of black entrepreneurs. The investor landscape doesn’t necessarily look the same,” explains Burks Solomon. “I’m a black person, and I’m also a woman–and if you look at the numbers, we don’t get invested in at the same rate as our white male counterparts.”

Shawn Wilkinson, founder of blockchain cloud storage company Storj, faced similar hurdles when he was trying to fundraise in 2015. “Then I brought on an older, white co-founder,” says Wilkinson, who’s 27 years old and black. “And suddenly, we’re just getting so many more leads and actually closing deals.” The company has since raised $33 million over seven funding rounds, according to Wilkinson.

Some of Atlanta’s black founders believe they can change that equation by building or selling successful companies and then investing in other black founders. “We’re trying to create this momentum where we can start having major exits or major growth in our businesses to really start shaping the ecosystem,” says Candace Mitchell, 31, founder of Atlanta-based digital hair-care startup Myavana.

Burks Solomon is already leading the way. She’s helped fund five minority-led startups since selling Partpic, including a surplus food management platform called Goodr and The Gathering Spot. And successful companies are emerging–the increasingly popular online scheduling tool Calendly, for example, was founded by Tope Awotona, an Atlanta-based native Nigerian.

Black entrepreneurs in other parts of the country are taking notice. In December, Tristan Walker sold his personal care business, Walker & Company Brands, to Procter & Gamble. Rather than relocate his operations from Silicon Valley to P&G’s Cincinnati headquarters, he threw a curve ball: The company would be moving to Atlanta. “I’ve been spending more time over the past year in Atlanta, and I get this feeling that I had back in 2008 when I came to the Bay Area where you knew something was about to pop off,” Walker explains. “I feel that way in Atlanta now across every industry.”

Continue onto Inc. to read the complete article.

How This Executive Is Enhancing Diversity And Inclusion Within The NBA

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Meet Liliahn Majeed, Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion for the NBA, in honor of National Girls and Women in Sports Day today, Majeed has shared her career journey, and most importantly, why she’s passionate about diversity and inclusion within the National Basketball Association. She’s responsible for providing best practices and leadership on inclusion to the league offices and teams, identifying minority and women suppliers for programs and events, creating coaching programs for people of color and women, and partnering with marketing, sponsorship, and social responsibility league and team leaders to ensure authentic engagement with the NBA’s communities.

Majeed recently joined the Diversity and Inclusion group after 12 years in the Team Marketing and Business Operations (TMBO) group. TMBO is an in-house consultancy focused on helping NBA, WNBA and NBA Development League teams strengthen employee and fan engagement and grow revenues. In her role in TMBO, Majeed led strategy for TMBO’s arena experience, season ticket membership, and premium consulting arm.

We recently spoke about what sparked her passion for diversity and inclusion within the male-dominated organization.

Dominique Fluker: Share your career journey. What attracted you to a career in sports?

Majeed: I was fortunate enough to have two loving parents and was raised in a household with little conflict or dysfunction. But I never took any of these blessings for granted, as I know this is not the story of many children. Rather than feel disconnected from struggle, it inspired me to help change the trajectory of others’ lives so more children could have many of the opportunities I did.  This also gave me a sense of bravery to try things I’ve never done despite being a little afraid. One of the reasons I was attracted to the NBA is because we use our platform to bring attention to numerous social issues, particularly those that aim to level the playing field of kids and families of color.

My first 12 years at the NBA in Team Marketing and Business Operations as the first and only, but not the last as of 3 weeks ago, women of color in the most senior role, our team constituents viewed me as an advocate who took the time to understand the uniqueness of their business, empathize with their struggles and design solutions in collaboration with them versus coming in arrogantly and telling them what to do. I was also an advocate for my NBA colleagues and still am, standing up for people who feel voiceless.

My new role allows me to allocate a lot more of my time to helping other women and POC move into our most senior roles at teams.  I’m also ecstatic that my new role is also providing me the platform to start a belonging movement at the NBA, and I hope to refine our D&I tools to spread the movement across the business world.  I’ll pause there but what fuels me is the desire to change the trajectory of children’s lives, particularly young women, stand with the powerless, and be brave for self and others.”

Fluker: As Vice President in the Diversity and Inclusion Group of the NBA, share why you are passionate about D&I.

Majeed: As a woman of color, I have always felt it is my obligation to do whatever I can to help women and people of color realize their personal definition of success.  However, it wasn’t until I went through a very difficult moment where I was consumed by self-doubt and constantly questioned if who I was, was enough, that I found a much broader purpose and passion for diversity and inclusion work. I believe all pain has a purpose. After going through that moment and emerging a survivor, I felt this urgent responsibility to make D&I a full-time role.  This is more than a job for me, it’s very personal.

I agree with Brene Brown and many other researchers and scientists who believe we are in a crisis of disconnection. While the challenge of belonging affects all of us, there is research that shows that people in a minority spend 20-30% of each day worrying about trying to fit in and belong.  At the NBA we believe equality, diversity, and inclusion at all levels is essential to the future success of our game and our business. We are laser-focused on ensuring ALL our colleagues are inspired and empowered to have that deep engagement that only comes from a true sense of belonging. Creating an environment where ALL employees at the NBA and our teams feel safe, seen, heard, and respected is something our entire league is passionate about, and that I purse every day in my work alongside our Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, Oris Stuart.

Fluker: Talk to your role as Vice President in the Diversity and Inclusion Group. What does your day-to-day look like?

Majeed: I have always sought out roles where there is no typical day-to-day, and that is absolutely true in my current role. I will tell you about yesterday: one of our marquee events is coming up next week, NBA All-Star 2019 in Charlotte. During All-Star, we are hosting our second forum for women in basketball operations designed to accelerate the development of women at our teams, and others we can bring into the league.  I spent the majority of yesterday finalizing the last few details with a powerhouse planning committee of both league and team women.

In the weeks after All-Star, we are visiting two teams to hold diversity and inclusion-related strategy sessions with their senior leadership teams and lead an inclusive recruiting learning session to help us proactively eliminate bias from all aspects of the recruiting process.  Yesterday we had calls with leaders from those teams to customize the experience to that team’s unique needs.

As I mentioned earlier, the league, its teams, and players have a long history of using our game to bring people together and speak out on important social issues.  We also realize the critical importance of open-mindedness, diversity in thought and continuous learning. One of the ways we prioritize this is by hosting conversations at various events and conferences across many industries to share our work and learn from our peers.

Fluker: Share how the NBA champions diversity and inclusion activations and initiatives within their organization.

Majeed: There are a large number of initiatives we’re driving within the NBA Diversity Inclusion group, but let’s focus on the 4 key areas of focus at both the team and league office level:

  • Employing innovative recruiting and retention strategies to grow representation and engagement of people of difference in business and basketball.
  • Shifting mindsets and making a daily practice of effective bias interrupting techniques, so that being a successful leader and teammate is synonymous with championing diversity, inclusion, and belonging.
  • Strengthening cultural competence at across all levels of our organization to engage authentically and meaningfully with diverse customers and the community.
  • Leveraging diversity of thought to inspire continuous innovation.

Continue onto Forbes to read the complete article.

The Institute for Educational Leadership Launches Rise Up for Equity Campaign to Eliminate Barriers to Equity in Education and Workforce Development

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education campaign for African-Americans

The Institute for Educational Leadership (IEL) announced  the launch of Rise Up for Equity, a digital and grassroots campaign  to prepare, support, and mobilize leaders to eliminate systemic barriers to equity in education and workforce development.
This so everyone – especially transition-age youth and families in communities with inequitable opportunities across the United States – has the opportunity to succeed and lead independent lives.

“IEL incentivizes communities to innovate and prepares and supports local and state leaders to improve opportunity and outcomes, and close gaps in access and achievement in education and workforce development in under-resourced communities,” said Johan Uvin, President of IEL. “To us, equity is about creating more opportunities for success in education and workforce development for children, youth, adults and families, particularly in communities where that opportunity is lacking due to systemic and structural reasons.”

IEL’s strategy intends to help alleviate poverty and its impact and to contribute to creating new gateways to prosperity. Today 15 million children, or 21 percent of all children live in families with incomes below the federal poverty threshold, and 51 percent of students across U.S. public schools are low income.[1] Childhood poverty is associated with negative outcomes in adulthood, such as lower academic achievement, employment rates, and poorer health.

For more information about how you can Rise Up for Equity to support leaders so all children, young adults, and communities can succeed, visit www.riseupforequity.com or join the conversation on social media using #RiseUpforEquity.

[1] According to the 2016 fact sheet of the  National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP)

Black chefs break the glass ceiling in the culinary world

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The culinary business world is as cut throat as any other. It’s also known as an industry that hasn’t always allowed for much diversity in management and ownership at its higher echelon.

However, it appears that African-Americans are finally breaking barriers, starring in many kitchens around the nation and serving up fine delicacies and treats that have those of all races and backgrounds coming back for second-helpings.

“Memphis is a foodie town with a minority-majority makeup … thoughtful discussions about equity in the food industry are at the forefront here and folks care about presentation, which is at the heart of the issue,” said Cynthia Daniels, the founder of Memphis Black Restaurant Week. “I’ve also seen the difficulty that Black-owned restaurants experience with not having big marketing budgets to advertise for new business.”

That’s why she founded Memphis Black Restaurant Week and has advised other cities to do the same.

“It’s a celebration that advocates for Black chefs, brings more awareness around their food and beverage traditions, generates new income, and moves the needle in terms of inclusivity in the culinary world,” said Daniels.

That inclusion and enthusiasm appears to have caught on.

“I am truly optimistic for the future with the culinary industry because while there are still a lot of areas in which to grow, we are slowly chipping away the stereotype of what African-American chefs have to offer,” said award-winning executive chef and QVC food stylist Kristol Bryant. “We are diversified in our skills, talents and cuisines. African American chefs are no longer just soul-food or southern cuisine chefs, we are so much more. Through education and exploration, we can finally break into areas that we never knew were there. Being seen on television is great for us but being a legitimate authority in culinary in the corporate, private and entertainment sectors is the next step.”

To read the complete article, continue on to Insight News.

How to Write an Impressive Cover Letter From Scratch in 30 Minutes

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You know enough to regularly update you resume—so if you find a job posting you’re interested in, you’re halfway through the application process. The other half, of course, is your cover letter. If you have some time and are just rusty, you can make a game plan to write a draft, then take a break, and come back to it with fresh eyes.

But if you see the deadline to apply is just 30 minutes away, you don’t have any time to spare. Here’s how to write a cover letter that will bolster your application—in just half an hour. (And if you need to revamp your resume or prep for interview in the same amount time, look here and here.)

Minutes 1 Through 10: Write Down Your Main Points

Maybe it’s just me, but I often struggle the most on the opening line of a cover letter. I know I shouldn’t lead with “My name is…,” and I want something that’ll grab the hiring manager’s attention. But my quest for the perfect beginning can lead me to spend 15 minutes (or more) typing and deleting the same line over and over. (And at that rate, my 30-minute cover letter would be all of two sentences.)

So, skip the intro if need be, and just start writing about why you’re a great fit for the open position. Don’t stress about the very best way to phrase your current responsibilities. Just write down your main points.

Need a prompt? Answer these questions: What do you find most exciting (or interesting) about the position? What relevant experience do you have? What would you bring to the role (and/or company) that’s unique to you?

Definitely make sure to have your resume and the job description open or printed out next to you. That way you can glance over at both and make sure you’re highlighting the right experience.

Minutes 10 Through 20: Add in Examples

OK, so you’ve written out all of reasons why you’re perfect for the job. Now it’s time to make sure you’re on the same page as the hiring manager. How so? Go back to that job description.

Re-read what the position calls for. Did you mention the experience and skills they’ll be screening for? To connect the dots in a way that’s clear—but wouldn’t be confused with a laundry list—add in an example or two.

If the job calls for people skills, swap out the line that reads, “I have excellent people skills” with a line that explains how in previous roles you’ve managed relationships with board members, which taught you about working with opinionated stakeholders. Does the position call for someone with sales experience? An anecdote about how you’ve been in sales since you set up your first lemonade stand when you were seven years old is memorable.

Continue onto Muse to read the complete article.

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