The importance of References

References are so important when applying for a job.  Many people disregard the importance of references or simply don’t understand how to use references properly. I can’t tell you how many times candidates have had no idea what references are relevant to the job they are applying for.  For example when applying for an office position, don’t give your recruiter a reference from your first job at a bakery.  It’s not relevant because (1) it was 10 years ago, and (2) the fact that you can bake good bread and smile at customers does not help you in an advanced office position.   There is nothing wrong with working at a bakery but it’s just not a relevant reference.

A second common response I get from candidates is the 10-minute story about why they couldn’t supply me with a reference or references from the most recent jobs on their resume. NOTE: If there was bad blood between you and your last employer and you make up a crazy explanation – STOP.  It is an extremely awkward time for the both of us and the more complicated your explanation, the less we believe. Make it simple and honest.  Things got bad between you and your last employer.  Life happens and sometimes you didn’t leave your last employer happy but save the stories.  No one will believe you unless your explanation is simple and to the point.

My third beef is the reference list that goes on forever. I can tell you without exaggeration, I had a candidate who gave me a reference list so long it took THREE pages.  This is too much information. Make it tight, recent and pay attention to the 4 W’s (who, what, where, why).  I do not want a list that gives me 15 references. It is a waste of my time and yours. When you apply for a new job, supply only those references that are relevant to the position.

The number one rule in applying for work is to be organized. Don’t just throw references out there that aren’t relevant. Be thoughtful in every step of the process – it might take a bit more time preparing your resume, but it will save you much more time in the end. If you are confused on what references might be relevant, that is what I am here for!  Recruiters will help in the whole process.

Any questions? Contact me and let’s chat – melissa@careercontacts.ca

 

List of Red Flags to to be Aware of During an Interview

Interviewing is a fine art. If done correctly, it allows for you to learn a lot about a potential hire in a short period of time. Quite often, the interview is the deciding factor of

whether to hire or reject a candidate. Ideally, after a positive interview an employer will want to hire and move forward with the candidate.

Below is a list of Interview Red Flags; looking for these signs can save your company a lot of time and money in the long run. An interview could be going very well but one negative comment or omission that seems insignificant at the time, can have much larger impact further down the line, and it’s important to know what to watch for.

1 – The candidate is late.

If a candidate shows up late for the interview you can bet they will show up late for work. Being late for an interview also does not show appreciation of the interviewees time. However, it is important to remember that everyone has good and bad days. If a candidate is late, but calls ahead and has a sincere reason it’s a red flag but not a deal breaker.

2 – Candidate provides TOO much personal information.

 

If a candidate informs you of a lot of personal information during the interview, this is a bad sign. The information they are supplying may be too informative, or inappropriate. This shows a lack of interpersonal skills and is a sign that they may cause unnecessary drama in the work place.

3 – Candidate left previous jobs for bad reasons.

As you talk through the candidate’s work history, make sure to ask why those other jobs ended. A candidate may give vague answers for one or two, out of respect for the employer and in an effort to not speak badly about the manager or brand, so be flexible. However, a red flag may be if the person has unexplained dismissals. My favorite personal excuse is “I forgot why I left that role”. THIS IS NEVER A SUFFICIENT ANSWER.

4. Candidate has large unexplained time gaps in their work history.

Large time gaps in work history can be caused by a lot of reasons. Some acceptable explanations may be, death in the family, severe illness, travelling, or childbirth. If the candidate cannot provide you with a valid explanation of their absence from the work force or if they blame it on not being able to find work, they could be unmotivated or hiding something. This is not the type of person you want to join your team.

5 – Candidate shows an overly high interest in pay and benefits.

The person you are interviewing is of course looking for a paycheck. This is understandable, however, if their only concern or question is regarding pay and personal benefit, this is a bad sign. These types of questions display lack of interest in the position and a low level of motivation and dedication. If a person only cares about money they are likely going to leave your establishment when a higher paying position becomes available.

Those listed are just a few red flags to look for when interviewing a candidate. Others may include, bad attitude, poor posture, foul language, too much enthusiasm, etc. The bottom line is follow your gut. If you feel there is something off about the candidate, there is a reason, do not move forward with them. Always follow your intuition and be sure to follow up with references for credibility.

If you have any questions about the interview process or what to look for when interviewing a candidate please call 604-606-1831. One of the recruiting specialists at Career Contacts will be happy to help. Please see our other blogs at www.careercontacts.ca for more hiring tips! ????

 

Interview Tips From the Recruiters at Career Contacts

Becoming a master at anything requires last focus, awareness and positive action daily.  Mastering your mindset to be ready and prepared for the job search or a job interview is no different.  Interviewing takes practice.

If you don’t quite know where to start check out some of the tips from the recruiters at Career Contacts for ultimate success.

Andrea’s Tips:

  • Spend 20 minutes the day before a job interview and practice answering the questions that you think may be asked. You will probably be correct 80% of the time.  Be prepared to provide examples through story telling.  Here is an example of this.
  • At the interview, focus on the interviewer – sit up straight and use eye contact. Listen to the conversation; be in the moment.
  • Smile and enjoy yourself. Your smile will show confidence and your interest in the employment opportunity.  It is important to show commitment in the opportunity that you are being interviewed for as well as others that my come available.

Melissa’s Tips:

  • Show passion for your work. If your work is meaningful to you, you work life will be a joy.  Think about a task you are proud of at your last job and express it in the interview.
  • Practice is the only true way to master a new skill. Be patient with yourself while your learn something new, such as interviewing. Express your want for growth and learning at the interview.
  • Surround yourself with positive people and you will have a positive outcome. Supporting your team members and their ideas show the interviewer that you support the growth of your team.

 

Danielle’s Tips:

  • Be prepared with questions about the company as well as the position. (Do not ask about pay – this should be discussed when there is a job offer)
  • Dress professionally no matter what position you are being interviewed for. This will leave a good impression and make you feel more comfortable.
  • Be cautious of body language and eye contact. Strong eye contact and good posture show confidence.

Everyone is on track with work, employment opportunities and ultimately career advancement.  Be prepared for opportunities in or at work to move you to grow personally and professionally.

Resume Writing Tips – The Truth and Myths Behind it All

As a recruiter, I’ve had hundreds of resumes come across my desk, some great and some not so great. But what is it that makes a resume great? Today I will be going over the truths and myths of resume writing. I think there are a lot of undefined rules when writing a resume that people tend to follow. These are rules that have been passed down by our teachers, parents, and employers; these undefined rules are a good guideline but with innovation in the workforce comes innovation in resume writing. Over the years some of these rules, that were once correct and good guidelines to follow have, been altered or changed to keep up with the fast-changing world we live in.

Here is a list of Myths and Truths that will help you create a great resume; shining light on new resume writing methods as well as altering old.

 

  1. A Good Resume Will Get You a Job – MYTH  

Many people believe a good resume will get them a job. Don’t be silly! YOU get you a job. The purpose of a resume is to provide a summary of your skills, experience and accomplishments. You should be providing the employer with a quick introduction of who you are with the intentions of securing an interview. A good resume will not get you a job but it will get you an interview!

 

  1. A Resume Must be One Page Long-  MYTH

A resumes purpose is to display a snapshot of who you are. This cannot always be done in one page. It is acceptable to have a resume longer than one page but it is important to keep it to two pages. Any more than two pages and you lose an employer’s interest. With that being said your skills and qualifications should always be listed on the first page- typically these are what the employers look at the most. Â

 

  1. Colour is Acceptable on a Resume – TRUTH

Some people will disagree but I say yes, colour is great on a resume! No colour on a resume is one of those set-in stone rules that have stuck for years but with millennials being the most innovative and creative generation yet, we will see a lot more colour and design incorporated with resume writing. It is important when using colour on a resume that it is used in moderation. When using colour and design it is important to still keep it simple and professional, one colour is enough.

 

  1. You Need Your Contact Information on a Resume – TRUTH

With online applications being used so much by employers some people believe you do not need to put your contacts details on a resume. This is not true – you should always have contact information on a resume. Some online filtering systems will not pick up a resume if your location is not listed and if an employer has a hard copy of your resume with no contact info than they may not bother to call.

  1. The More Detail the Better – MYTH

On a resume, less is more! When it comes to work experience, do not list every job you have ever had, it is important to list your past 5-10 years’ worth of work. If you changed jobs frequently maybe list the five most recent jobs, any more and an employer will lose interest. When listing job descriptions on a resume bullet points are completely acceptable, you do not need to use full sentences. Always remember a resume is just a glimpse of who you are. Short, sweet and to the point is best!

The points above are my opinion on resume writing truths and myths, based on my experience job searching and recruiting I feel that these tips will best assist you when writing your next resume. However, it is ultimately up to you to decide what makes or breaks your resume!

If you have any questions about resume writing please call Career Contacts at 604-606-1831; Andrea, Melissa or myself would be happy to assist you. Please visits our blog at www.careercontacts.ca to find more helpful job searching tips!

Times You Actually Don’t Need to “Set the Record Straight” at Work

If a friend offends you or says something wrong, you’re probably quick to call them out for it. And if it got to a point where they were really starting to annoy you, you might even stop hanging out with them.

At work, we don’t have that luxury. We can’t just call people out who do something that bothers us. So, how we respond to comments or actions that rub us the wrong way becomes a tad trickier.

When should you speak up? And when should you let it slide?

There are certain situations in which it’s definitely OK to interrupt to set the record straight, but other times, doing so ends up escalating the situation and putting other people on the defense. And you know that rarely ends well.

To help guide you through those gray areas, here are three times it’s better to stay quiet in the moment (even when it feels unfair):

 

  1. When Your Co-worker Presents Your Idea as Their Own in a Big Meeting

While it’s obviously not cool for your colleague to take credit your ideas, you can’t exactly blurt out in a meeting. Instead

Your best bet? Approach them after the meeting in private and approach them with the mindset that this wasn’t on purpose.

Now that doesn’t mean you can’t be direct; it just means you don’t want to start the conversation by making them out to be the bad guy:  heard you mention the new data strategy in our meeting. I’m really excited for it and that’s why I shared it with you yesterday. In the future, I’d appreciate if you credited me in team meetings when you’re discussing ideas we spoke about.

Sometimes this approach leads to an apology or an explanation one that makes you feel like it’s resolved. Other times it doesn’t.

If they try to defend themselves or pretend they did nothing wrong, you should make a mental note not to share your ideas with them in the future. That’s not the most ideal response, but it might be in your best interest if you think they’re actively using your ideas to get ahead.

  1. When Your Boss Calls You Out for a Mistake in Front of Everyone

Part of being successful and getting ahead at work is learning how to own up to your mistakes and learn from them. But, this is easier said than done when your boss embarrasses you in front of your whole team by calling you out on a misstep. Your first instinct may be to defend yourself, but that’s not always the best move. Why? This will automatically put your boss in a bad light, which will likely respond in him getting defensive and perhaps even doubling down.

Instead

Assuming you did in fact mess up, apologize in front of the group (even if you have privately to your manager already). Keep it short and professional no need to go on and on or be too hard on yourself.

Then, avoid this situation going forward by setting up a meeting with your boss and discussing how they can give you feedback in a more appropriate setting.

It may look something like this: Again, I truly apologize for what happened, and would love to continue working with you to meet expectations. After you discussed [my mistake/where you feel I’m lacking] in front of the team, my confidence in my work was a bit shaken. Would it be possible in the future to meet one-on-one to discuss those types of personal issues?

Often times, your manager will apologize to you and refrain from doing it again. After all, they didn’t wake up with the goal of bursting your ego.

When You Get Passed Over for a Promotion or Project and Your Less-Than-Favorite Co-worker Gets the Job

There are few things worse than being turned down for something you really wanted and worked hard for, but knowing a colleague (and especially one you’re not fond of) landed it instead of you just plain sucks. And you might want to respond to the announcement with, That’s not fair I’ve worked here longer But, as you know, saying that won’t exactly give off the leadership vibes you’re looking for.

Instead

First, put aside any personal feelings and send along a (sincere) congratulations even if you don’t like them, you’d expect the same respectful reaction if the roles were reversed.

Then, don’t be afraid to approach your boss about why you got passed over. It shouldn’t be an better than him conversation, but rather an honest and candid one asking what you’d have to do or change to land a similar promotion.

In addition, look to the promotee for pointers. Because, as Muse writer Lily Herman says about taking the high road when a colleague is more successful,You learn some of the tips and tricks that are pushing your colleague ahead and you give this person a nice little ego boost that l’ll probably make him or her like you more.

You may not be able to control how others treat you, but you can control how you react to them. And by being the bigger person, you prove you’re a professional who knows how to pick the fights that matter.