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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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During the interview not only does the company find out about you, this is also your opportunity to find out if this is a job, position, and company that you really want to work for. Engaging with your interviewer is the first step in forming a relationship with him/her. Starting with a smile and a firm handshake and keeping upbeat during the interview process are all the basics needed for a successful interview.

THE COMPANY NEEDS YOU

You are being interviewed because the company has a need for someone with your qualifications. Answering the interviewer's questions precisely and confidently will help put you in the driver's seat. You have the qualifications. It's important to remember that an interview shouldn't be an interrogation, if it feels like that, you need to quickly try and turn it back into a conversation between 2 people who have the same goal - filling a position in the company.

ARE YOU INTERESTED IN THE POSITION?

The next step in the process is to show them that you are interested in the position and the company. Researching the company is always the first step before your interview. (Truthfully it should be the first step before you send in your resume.) Making a list of questions to ask during the interview process is all part of the preparation. The answers to some of these questions will come up as a natural part of the interview process. Now it is your turn to ask specific questions. Don't stall the interview by asking questions just for the sake of asking a question. Make sure your questions are going to help further your relationship with the interviewer. They need to be engaging and smart. Do not ask a question that is answered on the company webpage, this shows you didn't do your research. Try not to repeat questions that have already been answered. Break your list into 2 parts, questions likely to be answered during the interview and questions more likely to wait until the end.

QUESTIONS LIKELY TO BE ANSWERED DURING THE INTERVIEW

  • What would a typical day be like for the person in this role? Do different time frames affect the position? ie does the job vary at month/quarter end?
  • What is the most challenging part of this position?
  • What are your future plans for this position?
  • Is this a replacement for someone or a new position? If a replacement, was the employee promoted, transferred or left the company?
  • Is there travel involved?
  • Will I be on call? How often?
  • Who is my direct report? How many members are on the team?

QUESTIONS TO END THE INTERVIEW ON

  • What is the chance of advancement for this position? Does the company like to promote from within?
  • Is there training/education possibilities?
  • Are there team and company events?  
  • What do you like most about working for this company?
  • Are there performance reviews? How frequently?
  • What is the start date for this position?
  • What are the next steps in the interview process and when should I hope to hear from you?
  • Is there anything else I can provide you with?

QUESTIONS NOT TO ASK

Yes, surprisingly, there are questions you shouldn't ask during the interview - especially the first one below. These questions should be saved for the negotiation stage or discussed with your recruiter before hand.  

  • What is the salary?
  • How do yearly bonuses and performance raises work?
  • How much vacation would I get and when can I start taking it?
  • What are the benefits?


Interviews are stressful. Being prepared is the first step towards relieving some of your stress and anxiety levels. When you smile your whole body relaxes and smiling is contagious, so start the interview with your smile and a handshake and end it the same way with an added Thank You to all the interviewers.


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Interviews are stressful. Whether this is your dream job you are interviewing for, a promotion, or your first job, there are little things you can do to help ease the stress. There are very few people in the world who don't get pre-interview jitters. These jitters will be worse if you are not prepared for your interview. Here are our 5 tips for helping to get you to the interview with a few less jitters.  

DON'T BE LATE

There is no valid excuse for being late to an interview. You should plan on being there at least 10 to 15 minutes early. You don't need to check in until 5 minutes before but at least be in the building 10 to 15 minutes before the interview. This allows you to go to the washroom and check your hair, teeth, wash your hands and relax before you are called in.

DO A PRACTICE RUN

If you aren't sure where you are going or where parking is or how long it will take, then do a practice run. Schedule your practice run around the same time as the interview if you can to get a feel for traffic flow and/or public transportation glitches. Nothing worse than being on the subway and having an emergency stoppage. Find that nearest taxi stands and get going.

PREPARE YOUR OUTFIT THE NIGHT BEFORE

Yes, lay out your whole outfit. Hopefully you have picked up your suit from the cleaners ahead of time! This is also a good way to know if you must leave earlier to pick up a new pair of nylons. Are your shoes shined? Yes, people do still shine their shoes or at least get the dust and grime off of them! Remember don't overdo the cologne or perfume, if possible just don't use any. Cleanliness and hygiene is more important than your cologne.

PREPARE YOUR KIT

Take a couple of extra hard copies of your resume with you. They will ask you questions relating to your resume, so this gives you the chance to reread it before your interview. Kleenex, a couple of safety pins, a charged phone, and breath mints, can come in handy in case of an emergency. Don't forget to put in a hard copy of your references (that you have prepped ahead of time) just in case the interview goes really well, and they want to move to the next stage.

FIND OUT HOW TO PRONOUNCE THE INTERVIEWER'S NAME

In our multi-cultural Canada, it's important to verify how to pronounce the person's name. The last thing you want to do is walk in and say "Hi Mr/Mrs ........" and have them say "well my name is .........". Ask your recruiter, phone the actual company and ask for their extension - hopefully if you pronounce it wrong they will correct it for you. Write it down phonetically so you will remember the pronunciation.


Being prepared for your interview will help to set the tone for the whole interview. Let us know what little practices/rituals you do before an interview to help you start your interview off on the right foot.


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Every interview is different. Each Interviewer uses different tactics. Most interviews start with trying to put you at ease by asking a little about yourself. There are the technical questions - you better be able to answer these questions – “you stated on your resume that you had the technical skills to be able to do the job.” Then come the off the wall questions - "what superhero would you be?"

 

"What strength would you bring to the position?" This is a standard question that you will be asked in most interviews. The best way to be prepared for this question is to sit down and write down your strengths from a previous position, or if you are a new graduate then experiences from school. Below are a few examples of strengths that can be expanded upon with your experience as they fit the job description:

  • Team Player
  • Time Management
  • Good at managing people
  • Meeting deadlines
  • Always finish my tasks
  • Good listener
  • Deal well with difficult customers/situations
  • Able to see the big picture
  • Good with detail
  • Pick out a skill from the job description, ie “With my strong web design, creative writing, phone skills, etc”, then expand on this strength.
  • Problem Solver
  • Able to juggle more than one task at a time
  • I am very good at listening and putting people at ease, this allows me to deal effectively with difficult situations. In my previous position there was a customer/employee…
  • Although I am a detail orientated person, I am also able to see the big picture, in my previous position (or while at school) I was assigned the task of…
  • My creativity has been tremendously helpful in designing web pages over the last 5 years. One particular webpage was just not… and I…

If you are having a hard time coming up with a strength, then ask your family, friends and co-workers. You will be surprised at what they come up with. Just don’t get too bloated from all the accolades, it is important to be a little humble with this question. You don’t want to come across as having an “I’m GREAT, I’m a STAR” attitude.


Don’t stress about this question, you have applied for the job because you know you can do it. Now tell them why and how. Be a "star".


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Sometimes it's the simple things in life that can make a difference. You can practice the answers to your interview questions until you can say them without a pause. You can research the company so that you know everything there is to know about them. And life throws you a curve ball. As you get ready to sit down you notice your fly is open. You go to shake hands and you drop your purse on the interviewer's foot. All that great preparation flies out the door as you try to calm yourself down and relax.

These are our 10 simple tips to get you through the door and sitting down feeling comfortable, relaxed and as confident as the person in your resume says you are:

Keep your dress professional

Seems pretty basic, but you would be amazed how many people show up for interviews realizing they had forgot to pick up their shirts at the drycleaners. Pick your outfit out the night before and make sure it is:

  • clean and crisp
  • a suit for men
  • a skirt and blouse, or basic business dress for ladies  
  • No sundresses or shorts

This is an interview not a date - don't overdo the makeup or wear too much jewelry. Gentlemen, do you shirt buttons up, and no gold chains hanging out. Polish or at least dust your shoes off.

No Perfume or Cologne 

Have a shower, put on some deodorant, nothing else is necessary. Why? A lot of companies/businesses are "no scent" zones. Imagine what would happen if the person who is interviewing you is sensitive to scents and has a reaction to your latest Hugo Boss cologne. They’ll reschedule if you are lucky!


How do you get to the Interview

Google it, and do a test run if you aren't sure. If you are driving make sure there is parking nearby. 9am and 5pm interviews mean rush hour. Be prepared for it to take 30 minutes longer to get there. Check the weather - rain and snow can add extra time to your trip. Be prepared!

Never be late for the Interview

It goes without saying that being late for an interview starts you off on the wrong foot.

And yes, there can be extenuating circumstances, but you better be able to prove them. "The dog ate the directions" won't work in the business world. And you'd better have called to at least let the interviewer know.

Be polite to everyone

That older lady in the elevator might be "mom" going to visit her son the interviewer. You don't want her saying anything negative about pushy people in the elevator. The person blocking your way into the bathroom might be one of the interviewers. Be polite to everyone all the time. It is a good road to travel down.

Verify how to pronounce the Interviewer's name

We live in a very multicultural country, let's try our best to pronounce names properly. Ask the recruiter or phone the company. Write it down phonetically and practice.

Keep your right hand free

Your right hand is needed for shaking hands as you enter the interview. Move your portfolio, purse, or extra copies of your resume to your left hand before you enter the office.

Just before you get to the Interview

Turn off your phone and tablet.

Chemistry is a very important part of the interview

It starts as soon as you enter the room. Smile, firm handshake, and speak clearly. Relax and take part in the conversation.

Tell me about yourself

This question is totally about relaxing you. Take your elevator pitch and expand it "a bit". The Coles Notes version versus the Game of Thrones version. Keep it professional.


Don't let a little thing muck up your interview. Be prepared for every aspect of the interview process. Remember they liked your resume - you look good on paper - now is the time to shine in person.

Good luck job hunting!