By Brenda Bernstein
The Essay Expert
If you want effective resume tips and spot-on interview tips, one good source is the Human Resources Director of a large organization. You might be thinking, “Brenda, I’m sorry, but I simply don’t have access to a dozen human resources directors at Fortune 500-sized companies who are sitting around waiting to talk with me about what hiring managers are looking for!”
Thankfully, people like me attend informative events such as the National Resume Writers Association (NRWA) annual conference. In the September 2012 event, we were graced by a presentation from Tim Moran–Human Resources Director at Hallmark, Inc. Hallmark is a privately held company with a size comparable to a Fortune-500 company.
Here’s what he says about what hiring managers want:
Mr. Moran also shared tips for getting interviews, performing well in them, and entering into salary negotiations:
Top 7 Tips for Interviews & Negotiations
- The best way to get an interview is to take advantage of your networks. Get out there and talk to people!
- Confidence is key. The most important thing you can do is exude confidence, regardless of how long you’ve been unemployed or what “weaknesses” other people might think you have.
- It’s essential to have a short statement at the ready (your “elevator pitch”) that identifies your unique strengths and what you offer.
- How you carry yourself physically is extremely important. Confidence shows through your posture, facial expressions and handshake.
- You must exhibit a willingness to learn and adapt, over and over again. Come prepared with examples of how you embraced change and excelled.
- Do your salary research. Educate yourself on payscale.com and salary.com so that you can back up your salary request with knowledge about industry standards and cost of living in the relevant geographic area.
- Remember the 5 Ps: Positivity, preparedness, professionalism, perseverance and persistence.
Did any of these words of wisdom surprise you? Are you going to change anything about the way you present yourself on paper or in person?
Top 7 Tips for Resumes and Cover Letters
- The reverse chronological resume still rules. If at all possible, arrange your experience you’re your most recent position first, and continue from there. There is a definite bias against skills-based resumes.
- The resume gets you in the gate; it does not get you hired. The goal is to spark enough interest that someone wants to know more.
- Most hiring managers do not read your summary section. They want to know concrete facts about what you’ve done. Specifically, and I quote, they are “interested in what the heck you did to make things better.”
- Hiring managers don’t like the Core Competencies or Skills sections that list a bunch of nouns and noun phrases. These lists are useful for computers (if formatted correctly) but not effective with people. Use the space taken up by these keywords to report your successes.
- Age is not always an issue. Many hiring managers realize that people are healthier and younger at 60 than they used to be. The trend also is for employees to stay 3-5 years, not 20, so age has become less of a liability. It’s not uncommon for Hallmark to hire people, especially artists, in their 60s.
- A Hobbies or Interests section is welcome! It can indicate intellectual curiosity and personality.
- You are judged on your cover letter. It’s important to put your thoughts together well and make a good impression. If it takes getting help from a resume writer to string your thoughts together well, it’s worth the investment!
I found it enlightening (and somewhat of a relief) that Mr. Moran has no problem with people who get professional help with their resume and cover letters. He believes the goal of these documents is to get you in the door; as long as nothing is fabricated it doesn’t matter who writes them!