Tag Archives: Career Development

Resume Tips and Tricks Program Recap

Your resume is your brand and it is important that your resume effectively communicates the most relevant information possible related to the position you are applying for.  Your resume is a living and breathing document and it should change for each position you apply for as well as every time you learn a new skill, take on additional responsibilities, or complete a major project.

Types of Resumes

  1. Chronological – This is the most common type of resume and focuses on your work history.  It is used to emphasize continuous employment as well as highlight the major duties and accomplishments for each job.  You should use this format if you are applying for a job in your current field or if your experiences and skills are intimately linked.
  2. Functional – The least common format, yet it does have its purpose, especially if you are transitioning careers or have long gaps in your employment history.  This format emphasizes the skills and knowledge you learned throughout our education/work/volunteering, including job/field specific skills (software) and soft/transferable skills (communication, problem solving).  Use this format if the profession or job cares more about your skill set rather than strictly work experience.
  3. Hybrid – A more popular format, it allows you to combine the best elements of your skill set and work history, allowing you to showcase how your skills were used in your job duties/responsibilities.  Additionally, you can include any professional experience such as coursework and volunteering within a Professional Experience section, focusing on relevant experience rather than just all of your past employment.  This format allows for much more flexibility and customization which can be useful when applying to multiple jobs, especially across different fields.

Once you have your general resume written, it is important to tailor it to each specific job you apply for.  It is recommended to go through the job description and highlight keywords, skills, and other important requirements, including numerical qualifiers – years of experience, number of people supervised, etc.  Once you have finished this, go back to your resume and see how much of your resume matches what is in the job description.  The more overlap you have, the more likely your resume will pass through the Application Tracking System many organizations use to filter out electronic applications.  You may need to rewrite major portions of your resume, especially your job duties and responsibilities, to better reflect what is stated in the job description, but the extra will pay off with a more professional and better targeted resume that will impress.

Other General Tips

  • Keep your resume to 1 page, 2 at most if everything is related to the requirements of the job
  • Use san serif fonts, such as Courier, Times New Roman, or Helvitica – these fonts are easier on the eyes and allow Applicant Tracking Systems to more accurately pull information from your resume
  • Keep font sizes between 10 – 12, except for major headings which can be up to 14
  • Adjust your margins as needed to fit all of your information on 1 page, but be aware that some programs will not print out anything beyond the standard .5 inch margins
  • While graphic resumes are eye-catching and allow you to express yourself in bold and impressive ways, there is a higher chance that they will be unreadable or significantly altered if opened in a different software program or uploaded to an Applicant Tracking System.

Cover Letter Tips

  • Should complement, but not duplicate your resume
  • 1 page in length
  • Address the cover letter as specifically as you can
  • Describe your general qualifications and relevant skills as it relates to the job
  • Reference the job you are applying for in the first paragraph
  • Thank them for their time and invite them to follow-up

You can download a copy of the presentation at https://www.njstatelib.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Resume-Presentation.pdf.  You can download a copy of the resume examples at https://www.njstatelib.org/assets/resume-samples.pdf.

How to Be a Good Remote Worker

The current health crisis has forced many organizations to close physical spaces, creating an opportunity for many employees to work from home.  For many people, this is a dramatic change in their work lives. Distractions from television or children can make it difficult to concentrate, especially if you do not have a dedicated space at home where you can seclude yourself to work. However, there are many strategies and tips that can make us into productive workers.

The information below is from the JobFlex webinar “How to Be a Good Remote Worker”.

Setting shared expectations

    • Be open with your team and managers about your new reality, including any challenges or home commitments
    • Determine if you need to shift your work priorities in order to accommodate for a lack of equipment or resources
    • State your hours of availability and the best way to reach our when offline
    • Determine communication methods and regularity ahead of time
      • Determine when phone or email conversations are better

Manager and coworker dynamics

    • Engage in frequent communication, especially to provide or seek support; something as simple as a positive email can boost you or your teams’ morale
    • Engage in proactive relationship building, including sharing stories or tips of adjusting to the new work environment
    • If something is late or someone is struggling with a task or deadline, assume a mistake rather than malice – we are all working out the kinks of working from home and it make take some time to adjust or understand new directives
    • Consider using appropriate memes, gifs, or emojis to communicate feelings or humor in written communications if appropriate
    • Self-management and co-management are key to a healthy working dynamic
      • Keep yourself focused and put a system in place to meet your goals and deadlines
        • The Pomodoro Technique uses a timer to break down work into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks
        • David Allen is a popular speaker and author related to time and task management
      • Simple check-ins can be a helpful way of co-managing and create a positive working relationship
        • Encourage others to check in on you
    • Be sure to clarify and reclarify goals and priorities to ensure comprehension and prevent miscommunications or quickly changing directives

Create a dedicated home office space to create order and control

    • If possible, find a quiet place that is out of the way such as empty closets, finished basements or attics, or even your vehicle
    • Try to set up your space that will allow for easy transition from sitting to standing work

Ensure you have the appropriate gear and equipment to meet your essential work needs

    • Determine what you can borrow from the office or see if your organization will offer a stipend to purchase work-related items
    • Some popular work from home equipment include
      • an external or larger monitor
      • full keyboard and mouse
      • Good pair of headphones, including microphone
        • Noise-canceling ones if you need quiet
      • Wired internet or wireless boosters

Some other best practices include:

    • Set expectations with family, friends, or roommates along with coworkers and managers
      • Create visual reminders such as a daily schedule, signs, or physical barriers to enforce your work commitment
    • Watch for overwork and isolation
      • It can be easy to feel you are not accomplishing enough so you may work too much
        • A laptop sitting out can be tempting to answer one more email or finish another task that is not crucial
      • Many workspaces have some element of social interaction that can get lost at home and add stress or lower productivity
        • Take time to walk outside, if able, chat with friends or family, or just enjoy a few moments watching a favorite television show or spending time with your family

To view a recording of the webinar, please visit https://www.flexjobs.com/blog/post/webinar-recording-how-to-be-a-good-remote-worker/.

Check out these other resources for more tips and strategies for working from home:

  1. PC Magazinehttps://www.pcmag.com/news/get-organized-20-tips-for-working-from-home
  2. HubSpothttps://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/productivity-tips-working-from-home
  3. Good Housekeeping https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/life/career/a31436581/working-from-home-tips/

Mock Interviews

One of the best ways to develop your interview and communication skills is to practice, whether it be in a formal setting, with friends, or by yourself in the bathroom mirror.  Mock interviews provide you with a chance to rehearse you answers while also identifying areas for improvement based on feedback from someone active in the workforce.  The New Jersey State Library will be hosting a limited number of Mock Interview sessions.  Each session will be 30 minutes and you will be interviewed by a library staff member.  All participants will receive a list of the most common interview questions that are used across a variety of careers and professions.  There will be 4 sessions per each 30 minute Block, as listed below:

Block 1:   12:00 pm – 12:30 pm (4 spots available)
Block 2:   12:30 pm – 1:00 pm (4 spots available)

If you are interested in registering, please contact Andrew Dauphinee at adauphinee@njstatelib.org or 609-278-2640 ext. 155 with your preferred times.

PLEASE NOTE: There are only 4 spots available for each Block.  Please do not register unless you are able to attend.  

Interview Tips and Tricks Program Recap

The interview is the final stage to finally getting that new or dream job.  Your resume impressed, now it’s your chance to convince them that you are the best person for the job.  However, the interview process can be daunting and it’s important to be confident and well-spoken.  The following tips will help you build your interview skills and are applicable to any interview situation, from a preliminary phone interview to a formal panel interview.

First and foremost, it is important to prepare for your interview through a variety of ways.  You should have an understanding of your career goals so that you can effectively communicate them to others.  Also, be prepared to discuss everything in your resume and cover letter because you never know what questions will be asked of you.  Before the interview, look up some common interview questions and practice how you would answer.  Practicing your answers allows you to come up with appropriate responses and remain confident throughout the interview.  Check to make sure your social media presence is clean and appropriate as some employers may look to see what you are posting before deciding whether to extend an interview.  Avoid embarrassing or compromising pictures and stay away from public posts on controversial topics, such as politics or religion.

One of the most overlooked aspects of preparing for an interview is to research the company or organization.  By understanding more of the company’s values or goals, you can tailor your interview answer to align with them and find important information that you may want to ask about in the interview.  Look for mission statements, press releases, or strategic plans on their website or check out Glassdoor or LinkedIn for more information you can use to better inform your answers and career decisions.

Some of the most popular interview questions you should be familiar with are:

  • Tell me about yourself
  • What are your strengths/weaknesses
  • Where do you see yourself in ___ years
  • Tell me about a time when…

Being prepared to answer these questions with thoughtful and appropriate responses will set a positive tone for the interview process and demonstrate your confidence in your own abilities.  Let’s take a look at 2 methods to help us answer the different types of interview questions we may encounter.

The SHARP Method is designed to help you craft answers to more general or information questions, such as tell me about yourself or what are your strengths/weaknesses.   SHARP stands for:

S – Specific
H – Honest
A – Appropriate
R – Relevant
P – Positive

When asked about yourself, use the SHARP method to discuss your previous position(s) that are applicable to the field or career, talk about specific duties or accomplishments, and avoid negative critiques of former employers or supervisors.

For more situational questions that ask you how you handled a situation or need to elaborate on a specific outcome, use the SOAR Method.  SOAR stands for:

S – Situation
O – Obstacle
A – Action
R – Result

Clearly identifying each of these components in your response will demonstrate your ability to identify problems, weigh your options, and come to a reasonable solution to the obstacle.  These questions are designed to test your critical-thinking and problem-solving skills and are a great way to bring in experiences from other jobs that may not be related to the career or job your are currently in or applying for.  There are no “right” answers to these questions, so use positive examples from your past that highlight your qualifications.

It is important to point out that there are questions that employers are NOT allowed to ask you.  These relate to:

  • Martial status
  • Race, religion, national origin
  • Sex, gender identity, or sexual orientation
  • Disability or pregnancy
  • Current or previous salary/benefits (NJ specific)

If an interviewer attempts to ask you any of these questions, politely decline to answer and shift the focus back onto the job and your qualifications as a candidate.  Additionally, you should not ask about salary in the interview unless it is disclosed by the interviewer.  If you wish to know the salary of a position, you can inquire with the HR department, which may disclose that information, or check Glassdoor, through which current and former employees may post their salary and other useful information about the employer.

To obtain a copy of the presentation, please visit https://www.njstatelib.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Interview-Tips-and-Tricks.pdf.