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Resume & Interview Tips & Tricks from a Pro

Hello UWS achievers!  Delighted to share valuable insights from Miranda Thompson, a seasoned recruiter for New York-based Merlin, to help us improve our resumes and interviews in pursuit of our next career steps (thank you, Miranda!).  Here is her Linkedin profile: I encourage you to connect with her if you’re exploring new opportunities:  My questions are in bold and her responses in bullets.  Without further ado:    

What are the most common resume mistakes or less-than-best-practices you see?

  • As simple as it sounds, we see so many resumes with spelling and grammar mistakes. One thing to watch for, the tense you use.  Use present tense if you are currently in the role and past tense for anything else. 
  • Formatting errors - always submit your resume as a PDF so you can ensure it looks the way you intend it to regardless of the program someone uses to view it. 
  • Be mindful of the font you choose. You want something professional and easy to read.  Be sure to watch for inconsistency in sizing and color
  • Objective statements that are all fluff.  If you are going to put an objective statement or professional summary on your resume, make it concise and specific. 
  • Missing/Incomplete dates - use and month/year format.  Just listing a year leaves me to wonder if you started in January and have a full 12 months of experience, or in December and one stayed 1 month in the year. You’re leaving room for people to think you are hiding something when you are not specific. 
  • Putting your picture on your resume.  
  • Using a template and leaving unnecessary or unused formatting on the document

What are the most common interviewing mistakes or less-than-best-practices you see?

  • Be early but not too early.  5 minutes early is plenty. The person you are meeting with likely has a packed schedule. You showing up 15 minutes early just puts pressure on them to finish early and be ready for you early.  No need to put added pressure on them before you get a chance to meet with them. 
  • Telling the interviewer what you think they want to hear.  We do this for a living, we can tell when you’re blowing smoke.  
  • Being vague.  Get concise. 
  • When you are asked for an example, be specific. Use the STAR method of answering. 
  • Situation
  • Task
  • Action 
  • Result
  • Dress for an interview.  Even if you know the company is a Jeans a t-shirt environment, you always want to dress for an interview.  One to two steps up is appropriate. 
  • As a female, don’t fall into the flirtation trap!  Be confident, but not flirtatious. 

How would you summarize the key resume-writing best practices?  Will you please note if and how they change with candidate experience?

  • Put your linkedin profile on your resume, make it easy for people to find you. 
  • Make sure you have a professional LinkedIn picture: no selfies, gym, car or mirror shots. Use a proper headshot, not a cropped picture of you with someone else's shoulder in the corner. 
  • Make sure the dates on your resume match the dates on your LinkedIn Profile.  Inconsistencies are a killer
  • Always submit your resume as a PDF to ensure it is presented how you intended regardless how or with what program someone views it. 
  • Sales resumes should always include stats!  This is your opportunity to brag about yourself, make the most of it and put your best foot forward. 
  • If you are new and starting out, be sure to list other relevant experience on your resume I.e. sports, leadership, sorority/fraternity involvement, volunteer/missionary service. As recruiters we are looking for anything to tell them you have the core competencies/attributes to perform the role; self-motivation, determination, grit, leadership, confidence, etc. 
  • If you have years of experience in the same role, be sure to focus on how you have grown.  How you have stretched and what you have accomplished. While there is nothing wrong with having the same role for 5 years, a recruiter/hiring manager wants to know how you are continuing to evolve and grow.  Don’t let them think you are stagnant. 

How would you summarize the key interviewing best-practices?  Will you please note if and how they change with candidate experience?

  • Always, always, always send a thank you email. 
  • Know who you are meeting with.  The interviewer has most likely looked at your LinkedIn profile, do the same.  You never know what you will find to help you connect with them. 
  • Do your research! Know what the company does, how long they have been in business, who their competitors are, etc. 
  • Be prepared with relevant questions.  Questions that relate to the role you will be doing. Be thoughtful… while benefits are important, if your only question is what type of benefits do you offer, the recruiter knows you are just looking for a job, not “this job”. 
  • Be clear about what you want.  
  • What is important to you in a leader, a culture, the day to day of the role.  
  • Read the confirmation email thoroughly to ensure you are 100% prepared.

Do you recommend any resume-writing and interview coaches- people, books, blogs, and/or other resources?

  • There are resources all over the internet, but my biggest suggestion is to send your resume to 4 or 5 recruiters or hiring managers in your network and ask them to review and offer feedback.  Make sure to use people that are looking at 

Are there tips and/or unwritten rules you feel specifically apply to women or men on how to optimize resume-writing and interviewing?

  • I think females face a few different challenges in the job search. 
  • If you have been a stay at home mom, it is hard to jump back into the workforce without starting at the bottom.  While you do need to start somewhere it is important to relate the experience you have to the role. i.e. if you have been involved with the PTA or as a den leader, use that experience as it relates to the role. 
  • In the sales world specifically most of the leaders you will meet with will be men.  While it isn’t bad to use examples like the above, don’t dwell here. Male leaders (not all by any means) can have an unconscious bias about women with children. 
  • Don’t be afraid to showcase your success. Give them a reason to care and listen to what you have to say afterward. Let people know what they are getting. 
  • Don’t be afraid to negotiate.  Know your worth and value and don’t be afraid to ask for it. 

Do you have any other tips or thoughts you wouldn't mind sharing you feel should be top-of-mind when resume-writing and interviewing? 

  • The interview process is just as much about you deciding if this is the right company for you as it is the company deciding if you are the right employee for them.  Take advantage of every step of the process. 
  • Know what you want and only apply for companies that offer that.  
  • Read reviews but keep in mind, that just like with anything, reviews are going to hit all the extremes.  Don’t discount a company because of their reviews, ask them questions about the areas that concern you, then decide from there. 
  • If at some point you decide you are no longer interested in a company, let them know.  No reason to burn a bridge by ghosting someone
  • Practice!  Just like you would role play to get better with a sale, role play to practice your interview skills.  Ask Recruiters or Hiring Managers from your network if they are willing to do a mock interview with you. 
  • If possible, do it with people you don’t know super well. If you’re too comfortable with the individual you don’t get the real experience.

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