Resume writing and career advice
job search tips/workplace trends
Featuring career experts, recruiters, hiring managers and decision makers who help you get hired
It happens. People want to stand out when writing a resume, so they use big words, or corporate buzzwords. We know the corporate world is full of buzzwords. Terms like "leverage," "low-hanging fruit," "synergy," "client-centric," and "value-added" are all used in various corporate communications, meetings, presentations, and so on.
But, these buzzwords should not be used in a resume. Some recent buzzwords that I have seen on resumes that should be avoided include:
1. Big picture thinker: As in, a big picture, like an 11X17 instead of a 5X7, or a movie, like a motion picture? Yes it's supposed to mean someone can see the "big picture" but that tells the employer nothing. Absolutely nothing.
2. Team player: You want to tell employees you are able to work in a team. But this isn't a sporting event, and while you do work on a team, saying there is no I in team is not going to stand out. Instead of saying you are a team player, simply show proof, backed up with accomplishment. I recently wrote this for an engineering grad, when discussing some project work he completed:
3. Think outside the box: Again, this is a common corporate buzzword. In fact, this is used in every facet of life, much more than it should be. But I get it. You want to prove you are open-minded, analytical, a problem solver, someone who looks at all angles or at things differently. So why not show that instead in a resume? Provide a bullet or two of results, or solutions, where thinking outside the box resulted in a cost savings, helped complete a project quicker, or developed a better process. Don't make them think what you mean by thinking outside the box. Simply show them.
I could share another example here, but I can't give away all my resume writing secrets, right?
4. Client engagement: So, you and a client were engaged? How did that go? Okay, that's a stretch. But what does that REALLY mean? Did you go to happy hour with your top client? Did you go to a sporting event? Did you host them in your office? Truly, stating you excel in client engagement tells nothing without a proof of that accomplishment. Show, don't tell!
5. Detail-oriented: It’s all about the details, right? What details are we talking here? And how does you being detail-oriented help you make a sale, lead a project, develop a marketing plan, or drive results? Sure, the little things count, but your entire resume should be a series of details that show your successes and that you fit the job you are applying for. That’s the details employers want. That’s what stands out.
Some other buzzwords recruiters and employers dread include results-driven, hard worker, and synergy, among others. These are only a few of the many words to avoid on a resume.
Check back next week when we highlight words and language you should use, to impress employers.
Is your resume full of these buzzwords? If so, chances are, your resume isn't getting noticed, or getting you interviews. To update your resume to a results-focused document that gets you interviews, I can help.
Contact me today to learn how I can help you write a resume that gets noticed, and gets you interviews - without the corporate buzzwords that drive recruiters bonkers!
Do workers "like" the idea of office friendships crossing over into social media?
More than seven in 10 professionals (71 percent) polled by staffing firm OfficeTeam said it's appropriate to connect with colleagues on Facebook. Slightly fewer feel it's OK to follow coworkers on Twitter (61 percent), Instagram (56 percent) and Snapchat (44 percent). In contrast, less than half of senior managers interviewed think it's fine to engage with fellow employees on Facebook (49 percent), Twitter (34 percent), Instagram (30 percent) and Snapchat (26 percent).
According to the worker survey, male employees and those ages 18 to 34 find it more acceptable to connect with colleagues on social media than their counterparts.
View an infographic of the research and data tables with breakdowns of the results by gender and age.
"While the lines between our personal and professional lives continue to blur, not everyone's comfortable connecting with colleagues on digital channels," said Brandi Britton, a district president for OfficeTeam. "Before friending or following someone, check if that individual has other coworkers in their networks. When in doubt, let fellow employees make the first move online."
Britton added, "Interacting with colleagues on social media can help build stronger relationships. But it should be done with care — you might not want to share everything with work friends that you would with closer personal contacts."
OfficeTeam offers the following don'ts when connecting with coworkers on social media, along with advice for what to do instead:
DON'T: Add everyone you work with to your social networks
DO THIS INSTEAD: Be selective. If a colleague's connections are limited to a few office buddies, sending an invite could be overstepping your boundaries.
DON'T: Reject a coworker's friend request
DO THIS INSTEAD: Explain that you prefer to keep your account limited to personal use and suggest connecting on a professional networking site like LinkedIn. In some cases, it may be best to accept the offer so you don't offend the person. Adjust privacy settings to control what information he or she has access to.
DON'T: Post updates or photos that reveal too much
Do This Instead: Use your best judgment when sharing. Not everyone needs to know what you did last night, and certain topics can come across as unprofessional. Remove questionable images from your profiles.
DON'T: Interact with people in your network only when you need something
DO THIS INSTEAD: Pay it forward by helping your online contacts and show support for their personal interests. You may discover things in common you can bond over.
About the Research
The surveys of workers and senior managers were developed by OfficeTeam. They were conducted by independent research firms and include responses from more than 1,000 U.S. workers 18 years of age or older and employed in office environments, and more than 300 senior managers at U.S. companies with 20 or more employees.
OfficeTeam, a Robert Half company, is the nation's leading staffing service specializing in the temporary placement of highly skilled office and administrative support professionals. The company has 300 locations worldwide. For additional information, visit roberthalf.com/officeteam. Follow the OfficeTeam blog at roberthalf.com/officeteam/blog for career and management advice.
For the last decade, marketers, employers, and brands alike struggled to understand the Millennial workforce. However, now that the oldest Millennials are reaching their mid-thirties, it is time to shift focus to the next generation – Generation Z.
Membership in Gen Z requires a birth year from the mid ‘90s to the late ‘00s, meaning that the oldest members in this generation started entering the workforce in the last few years. While members of Gen Z and Millennials share some traits, Gen Z is far from a carbon copy of its predecessor.
“For most members of Generation Z, Internet usage has been a constant since birth, making them the first true digital natives. They know their way around technology, and they use their technological savvy to avoid content that doesn’t interest them,” said Andrew Challenger, Vice President of global outplacement and executive coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.
Indeed, according to a study by CNBC, 69 percent of Generation Z members actively avoid advertisements. If you are looking to capture the eyes of Gen Z members, you need to look for ways to integrate your content into the digital experience, as opposed to disrupting it.
Generation Z is the most diverse generation yet, as its makeup is 56 percent Caucasian, 24 percent Hispanic, 14 percent African-American, and 4 percent Asian, according to Ad Age. For members of this generation, cultural differences are not only accepted, but also expected in life and in the work world. For many, the United States’ first black president was their first president in general or, at least, the first president they can remember, and same-sex marriage and other equality movements are ingrained in their upbringing.
According to a recent Challenger survey, 55.6 percent of companies are currently targeting the Generation Z cohort. When it comes to Gen Z in the workforce, one of the biggest differentiators between Millennials and Generation Z are their levels of practicality and desire for stability. Members of Gen Z grew up during the Great Recession, meaning they watched first-hand as their families learned to cope with unemployment and frugality. A 2015 Adecco Way to Work survey found that more than half of Gen Z members listed student loan debt as a major contributing factor in their schooling and career decisions.
Despite looking out for their finances early, Generation Z members are willing to forgo a higher salary for job stability and career growth opportunities. Members of Gen Z are driven to succeed and look at each position as a stepping stone to a more fulfilling career. Generation Z does not mind doing some grunt work, as long as they feel they are gaining experience, but do not expect them to stay around for too long. With 83 percent of current students believing they should stay at their first job for three years or less, according to the Adecco survey, you may find yourself retraining for entry-level positions often.
Like Millennials, Gen Z members clearly are not afraid to jump quickly from company to company in search of the best possible opportunities, but three quarters of them state they are willing to work from the bottom. So, the question is, how can you recruit and retain Gen Z workers?
“The best answer is – invest in them. Generation Z members are looking for culturally diverse companies that value their employees,” said Challenger
“One great way to engage this cohort is through mentorship programs where members of Generation Z can interact with managerial-level staff. These are especially important, as they allow Gen Z to see the opportunity for their future growth and where they can move within a company. They will also be open to leadership conferences, development classes, and programs where they get to interact with people from all departments,” added Challenger.
Another effective method of attracting members of Gen Z is offering them competitive pay and benefits. According to the same Adecco survey, only 10 percent list friendly work environments as the most important part of their first job, and 7 percent list flexible schedules as their most important qualification. While fancy new offices may provide an exciting first impression, what it really comes down to for Generation Z is being able to feel secure about their finances and know that they will be able to complete meaningful work for the company.
Staying results-focused while remaining ahead of market changes and new competitors gives managers more than enough to do. Engaging and motivating employees without the need to micromanage or losing sight of the main goal is where your priorities should lie. By supporting a productive workplace and employing effective employee feedback questions, you can meet company goals more easily while getting the most from your team.
But how do you keep your team headed in the right direction and producing the results you need without constant supervision?
Employee motivation has little to do with constant supervision and more to do with accountability, trust, and communication. When you show that you value your team enough to trust them to do their job, clearly communicate with them, and show accountability for their actions, they will respond with responsibility, integrity, and focus. Without needing added incentives or rewards, they’ll become empowered to work autonomously towards shared goals.
Trust Vs Fear
Intimidation and fear have never yielded authentic accountability, and neither will it develop a true sense of responsibility. People who are managed with fear perform only to a standard that avoids your wrath.
Establishing trust, on the other hand, will lead to engaged and motivated people who are willing to exert extra effort to reach shared goals that push the company forward. Trust is the core of accountability. By fostering relationships based on trust with managers and peers, people will be more likely to invest emotional energy into their work and become fully engaged in your mission.
Trust is built through actively listening, supporting people, and showing them that you hold yourself accountable for your actions. A vote of confidence can go a long way towards people becoming committed to their work and accountable, reliable staff members.
Transparency and Accountability
Be open with employees about what's happening at the highest level so there are no surprises. It will also give everyone a chance to ask questions and give feedback. If employees feel included in big decisions and committed to the direction your company takes, it will help sustain motivation and increase company loyalty and pride.
Show integrity with transparency and demonstrate that you hold yourself accountable for your duties, too. When you don’t show that you are also accountable and open about your goals (both the ones reached and the ones missed), no one else will feel compelled to do the same.
You can’t expect others to be accountable for their work and goals unless the expectation of this is clearly conveyed and regularly updated as things change. Without articulating expectations, employees will become frustrated or disillusioned and start searching for their next job.
Regular conversations about projects let your team know exactly what is expected of them and how they can reach the targets set. By setting smaller goals along the way and communicating these regularly, people become more engaged.
Provide and accept regular feedback and don’t forget a simple "please" or "thank you". Politeness goes a long way to building good relationships in any sphere.
When it comes to suggestions and ideas, if employees feel that their voice matters, they in turn feel confident about their position in the company. Positive communication and recognition of a job well done will reinforce the idea that a manager supports and values an employee’s place in the business.
Don’t wait for the yearly performance review to discuss work ethic or individual direction. Provide regular opportunities for goals to be articulated, and you’ll find that your employees will be more productive and motivated. These feedback sessions also allow you to discover the best ways to motivate your team, and follow those practices for an overall more efficient and positive workplace.
By Denise Dudley, author of Work It! Get In, Get Noticed, Get Promoted
We all dream of loving our jobs, don’t we? Of getting up each morning, fresh and ready to go, eager to walk into the office and greet the new workday. Your dre-e-e-am job. Ahhh… It even sounds heavenly.
But what if you’re just not feeling it right now? What if you haven’t found your dream job yet—in fact, you’re far from it. You may be a gofer for Attila the Hun, or sitting in a windowless room, inputting reams of data in a huge IT department, or literally scrubbing floors. Trust me, I’ve been there, including the “scrubbing floors” example—from when I was a nightshift waitress in a truck stop. (And I promise I am not making that up!) I’ve held down many “interesting” jobs, simply to pay the rent and put myself through school. I’ve also worked with all sorts of people during my career as a trainer and consultant. Pilots, salespeople, engineers, managers, realtors, teachers, you name it. And I’ve observed an important secret:
Whatever it is you’re doing, no matter how insignificant it may seem, if you do it with excellence, you’ll be noticed.
And you may even be promoted.
If you want to stand out from the crowd and move ahead, no matter what your current position, do the following:
1. Be the best at something: Because it’s so unusual to see a person who really excels at her job, someone in the higher echelons is inevitably going to think, “Hmmm, I wonder whether we should consider her for another position …” That’s why you should set your sights on being the very best sandwich maker, floor scrubber, or assistant-to-the-assistant you can possibly be. It may not be a glamorous job right now, but if you demonstrate excellence, it’s highly likely that you’ll move up—and probably sooner rather than later.
2. Meet your responsibilities: One of my mentors once told me, “Just show up on time and do your job, and you’ll be ahead of 90 percent of the other people.” And guess what—she was right. In the working world, I’m afraid it’s all too true. However, this makes it that much easier for you to look great. So be punctual, always. And take your job responsibilities seriously; see to it that your work is completed properly and on time. It’s amazing what a good impression you’ll make simply by doing what you’re supposed to do.
3. Do more than you’re asked—and do so cheerfully: When Rachael Ray was in her early twenties and selling fancy foods at a gourmet food shop in Albany, New York, she noticed that her well-to-do customers bought prepared foods but shunned the grocery aisles. That’s because they either didn’t know how to cook or didn’t want to spend the time. So Rachael started doing in-store demonstrations, showing her customers how to make quick, delicious, no-fuss meals. Her presentations became wildly popular and sold out quickly, and it wasn’t long before a local TV station asked Rachael to do a regular segment featuring her “30-minute meals.” Her career as a TV food star was on its way. Rachael’s demonstrations were her own idea, the result of her boundless energy and enthusiasm, and they landed Rachael her dream job. And you can do the same. Look around your workplace and see what needs to be done. Is there a problem you might be able to solve? A mess you can clean up? A way you can improve things, not only for yourself, but also for others? Do more— it’s a great way to get noticed.
4. Say “yes” to things nobody else wants to do: I may be an honest-to-goodness psychologist, but I began my career on the very bottom rung—as an aide in a psychiatric hospital. My job duties were far from glamorous: I got the patients up and dressed, fed them, took their vital signs, broke up altercations, supervised smoke breaks (which meant I had to light everyone’s cigarettes and make sure they didn’t smoke them down to their fingers—and I truly hate cigarette smoke), and many other similar chores. I also had to clean up lots of messes of all kinds. (Go ahead and let your mind wander—you get what I mean.) Early on, I vowed to stay pleasant, no matter what, and often volunteered to take on patients who were combative and difficult. It was rough, tough, physical work, but I loved the patients and they loved me back.
One day, there was a particularly bad smell coming out of a locked closet assigned to a patient I’ll call Alice. She was difficult, violent, and almost impossible to handle, but she liked me, so I volunteered to go into her closet and find out what was going on. There was just one big problem. Alice could become extremely agitated and aggressive if anyone touched her body or her belongings. As gently as possible, I tried to explain to her that something in the closet had gone bad and we needed to find out what it was and get rid of it. Alice protested and cried, but finally relented; then a few of us donned gowns, masks, and gloves and approached her closet. I unlocked the door and made a gruesome discovery—stacks and stacks of used sanitary napkins. Alice didn’t want to throw them away because they were “part of her body.” I pulled the ghastly mess out by myself, piece by piece, and the other staff members carted it away. Yeah, it was pretty gross. But I did it anyway, with as much professionalism, positivity, and empathy for Alice as I could muster. And I believe my willingness to tackle all kinds of chores like that one helped to make me a standout—showing that I was a team player, a hard worker, and the kind of person who could handle just about anything. It was undoubtedly a major reason that I moved up fast in that organization and was awarded my very first dream job, becoming corporate clinical director while still in my twenties.
Countless people have climbed the corporate ladder and found their perfect dream jobs this way—by taking on clients no one else wanted to deal with, doing dirty jobs, staying late, and working on holidays when everyone else was off having a good time. It might be unpleasant or even difficult, but it can solidify your image as a go-to person—one who can accomplish the impossible and work with the unmanageable.
5. Take chances: Whether or not you’re currently searching for your dream job, during your career, you’ll encounter many forks in the road—times when you can either play it safe or go out on a limb. In most cases, I think it’s best to go out on a limb; that’s where you’re more apt to reap the benefits. For example, when an enticing job opportunity arises, go for it—especially when you’re young, but that doesn’t mean only when you’re young; I’ve met scores of people who’ve found their dream jobs after years and years of searching. Hanging on to your current job because it’s safe and provides a regular paycheck can lead to years (or an entire career) spent stuck in the same position. In large corporations, there’s an adage that often holds true: To reach the next level, you sometimes have to go away and then get hired back. This means that the longer you sit in your current job, the more likely you’ll be viewed as a person who can handle only that position. In short, if opportunity beckons and it looks reasonable, take a chance! Almost everyone who has ever found her dream job has taken a gamble like this while reaching for the stars.
So, is finding your dream job a real possibility, or is it, well, just a dream? I’m here to tell you that it can be done—in waking life! I’ve found no fewer than three dream jobs in my lifetime, but I had to keep moving, work hard, stay open to opportunity, and take some crazy chances. (In hindsight, one of ‘em actually scares me to think about, but it ended up being totally worth the risk.) So stay positive, don’t give up, believe in yourself and your abilities, and know for certain that good things will happen as long as you continue to pursue your dreams.
Need more motivation? Then check out Work It! Get In, Get Noticed, Get Promoted
Need a new resume to start the job search and apply for your dream job? Then contact Matt Krumrie, and hire him to write a resume that gets results - and gets you on your way to your dream job.
About Matt Krumrie
In addition to writing resumes, Krumrie has published over 2,000 career and job search articles for CollegeRecruiter,