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Landing your first job after leaving high school

When you are new to the job market it can seem hard to land your first job, especially when lots of job ads seem to need experience even for junior roles. Here are some tips to help you land that all-important first job. 

Craft a professional resume



When you a going for a job against a lot of other applicants you need to have a resume that is visually appealing and helps draw the eye. You also want to keep your resume professional, so it's a good idea to try and avoid gimmicky tricks that can make you seem less professional. It can be a good idea to get someone who is experienced at looking at resumes (such as a hiring manager or resume writing service) to review your resume for readability and to offer some tips on how to make your resume pop to the person who is considering it. 

Emphasise your skills



Even if you haven't worked before you probably have some life experience that you can use to help show that you are a great potential hire. If you have worked in a volunteer capacity (such as umpiring sports games or helping out at the local animal shelter) you can show that you are able to keep to your commitments and turn up on time. You can also use your studies to show that you have developed skills in basic maths, reading and writing to show that you can follow written instructions and fill in paperwork for the job that you are applying for. 

Include references



In early career jobs, one of the most important aspects an employer will use in deciding the best person for the job is the attitude. Having a persevering, 'can-do' attitude can help to separate out similar candidates when you apply for jobs. It can be worth asking school teachers, church leaders or sports coaches to be personal references, especially if they can speak to the kind of attitude you have shown when faced with difficult circumstances. 

If you are looking to improve your resume so that you can land a first job, it can be a good idea to get help from our professional resume writing service. We can help to craft and polish your resume to perfection. 
  • Author Nicole C
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5 Reasons You Didn’t Get an Interview and What to do About It

5 Reasons You Didn’t Get an Interview and What to do About It

Conducting a job search is time-consuming and can be very stressful, especially if you’re unemployed and need the income a job can provide. When you submit hundreds of resumes and don’t get selected for an interview it can be frustrating. Sometimes you’re passed over due to circumstances out of your control. Perhaps they’ve decided to go with an internal candidate or their hiring has been put on hold. But other times, you might get passed over for another reason. Maximize your time spent by avoiding the common (and uncommon) pitfalls of job searching. Highlighted below are 5 reasons why you might be passed up for an interview and what to do to prevent it the next time.

You Submitted a General Resume

It’s easy to fall into the time-saving trap of submitting the same resume over and over again for each job that interests you. But in the long run, it can hurt your chances of getting selected for an interview. Instead, take a few moments and compare your resume and the job description side by side. Are there different ways you could phrase the wording in your resume to more closely match the description? What about your experience? Is there a job that more closely aligns with the position that you don’t have currently listed? Spending as little as 5-10 minutes reviewing and editing your resume can make an enormous impact. Some companies use automated systems that screen resumes before they even make it to a recruiter or hiring manager. Tailoring your resume can increase your chances of making it past those screenings and into the hands of a real person.

 

You Didn’t Proofread

It might be as simple as a spelling error. Sometimes that’s all it takes for a hiring manager to move your resume into the trash pile. You want to put your best foot forward. To do that, read and re-read your resume before submitting it. When you think it’s perfect hand your resume over to a couple of friends or family members and have them read through it. You can order our Resume Proofreading Services to have our expert to help you with your resume.

 proof-reading

You Wrote a Novel when they Wanted a Short Story

You might have heard that your resume should be confined to one page. While that’s not always true, don’t go beyond two pages unless specifically instructed. When recruiters receive a resume that is pages long, it can immediately turn them off. They’re busy and are sifting through a lot of resumes. They don’t want to spend more than a few minutes looking one over. Keep your resume to 1-2 pages by highlighting your most recent and relevant experience. If it’s old news, ditch it. If they want more information about your experience, you can elaborate during an interview.

 novel vs story

You Didn’t Follow Instructions

Perhaps the hiring manager requested a cover letter or other application material in addition to your resume. Or, there might be a specific deadline for applications to be received. Whatever the instruction, not following it exactly can quickly get you eliminated. Failing to follow instructions sends a couple different messages to a hiring manager. Primarily, it tells them you didn’t carefully read through their application process which demonstrates carelessness and lack of attention to detail. If you willingly don’t follow instructions, be sure to include a reason why. This lets a hiring manager know that you did read through the instructions and are trying to explain why a portion was not followed.

 listen to instructions

Your Salary Expectations Were Too High (or Perceived that Way)

Sometimes a position has a salary cap. If you list salary expectations on your resume, it’s a good way to get passed over. If you set those expectations up front and it’s too much or at the top of the salary range, there’s goes your chance for an interview. At an interview, you have the opportunity to show a hiring manager what you’re worth through your skills and experience. Once meeting you and discussing your qualifications, they may be more willing to give you compensation at the top the range. Or, if the salary is still too low, now they’ve met you and can keep you in mind for other positions that might be a better fit for you within the company. Considering those points, wait until after a successful interview to discuss salary expectations and avoid listing those on your resume. That includes not listing previous salaries (unless requested). A few extra minutes to tweak your resume can make all the difference. Invest some time up front and avoid the mistakes listed above to ensure your job search doesn’t take longer than it needs to.

too high expectation

Loft Resume provides multiple writing services, do contact us if you need any help with your resume.

 

Author Bio

Rachel is a writer for the BuiltforTeams.com blog. She loves to offer tips and advice on everything from interviewing and resume building, to management and employee development. She also enjoys reading, cooking and creative writing.
  • Author Nicole C
  • Category Resume Content
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How should you address your cover letter?

Formal cover letters can seem a bit old-fashioned in the age of email, but when it comes to job applications they are timeless. It’s still important to include a bespoke cover letter for every job application and a sure fire way to impress is to include a personalised and formal salutation. Here are a few tips to help you get your cover letter salutation right. 

Be specific

Include the full name and job title of the hiring manager. Using a generic salutation immediately tells the hiring manager that you haven’t taken the time to research the company. Your cover letter is usually your first chance to make a good impression on your prospective employer so it’s important to start off on the right foot by including their name. This also speaks directly to them, helping to grab their attention, and goes some way to show you've taken the time to tailor your cover letter for the job and company. 

 

Do your research

Don’t despair if the position description doesn’t include the name of the hiring manager. A little internet sleuthing should help you figure out who you need to address your cover letter to. Search the company website or on LinkedIn for the head of the department the position you are applying for falls under. 

Another option is to call the company directly and ask. This method can put you in a good light as a serious candidate but make sure the information isn’t easily searchable online before you call or you will run the risk of appearing lazy. 

Use formal salutations

The casualness of email can make it tempting to slip into using conversational language and greetings, but formal salutations are still the best option for cover letters. The correct format is to include the hiring manager's first and last name and include the title “Mr.” or “Ms.”

Try searching on LinkedIn if the hiring manager has a non-gender specific name as most LinkedIn profiles include a profile picture. Alternatively, skip the title and use both first and last name e.g. “Dear Sam Jones.” 

Also, don't forget that if you use the addressee's name, it is considered best practice to sign off “Yours sincerely”. “Yours faithfully” is reserved for instances when you don't know the recipient's name.

Hiring managers see a lot of cover letters every single day, so it’s important to stand out for the right reasons. Loft Resumes can help get you noticed with our editable cover letter designs with every resume purchase, or you can buy our cover letter writing services but the research you do to get the salutation right is what could make or break your application.
  • Author Nicole C
  • Category Cover Letters
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Preparing for a mid-life career change

Many people find that middle age is a natural reflection point on what they have been doing in their life, including the field that they have been working in. It can be a great time to make a change in your career, especially if you have not been happy with your work situation. 

 

middle age career

Here are some tips to help you make a mid-life career change. 

Do some volunteer work in the field

It can be hard to get an entry-level job as a middle-aged person, especially if people are not clear about why you are swapping careers. Doing some volunteer work is a great way to show that you have put some consideration into moving into the new field and that you are committed to working in this area. It can also be a good way to narrow down exactly what kind of jobs or workplace you are looking for and can also be a great way to get a reference for your job applications. 

volunteer work



Get professional help redesigning your resume

As many of your previous roles and responsibilities won't align that well with your new field, you will need to describe your duties in each role to show that your other career has helped you to develop other useful skills. Skills such as time management, leading a team, working with difficult people and managing processes and procedures are all skills that stretch across different industries and which might be useful to a new employer as well. A professional resume service, such as Loft Resumes, can be a great help as they can help to craft a resume that highlights your most relevant skills and training. 

professional  design resume

Stay positive 

It can be hard get your foot in the door and to change careers, so try to stay positive. You may need to apply for more jobs and go to more interviews before you get your first job offer. Remember to stay positive and thank people for their time and consideration, as you may run into them in the future if you stay in the industry for a while. A positive attitude can go a long way in helping people to remember you for future job openings.

Stay positive

If you're looking to change careers, you'll need a new resume. Get in touch with us today to find out how we can help.

  • Author Nicole C
  • Category Career Advice
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Four hacks for improving your LinkedIn summary

LinkedIn rules Google, which means it's via your LinkedIn summary that many prospective employers will first encounter you. If you're keen to make a good first impression, getting it right is of the essence. Here are four hacks to get you moving.

1. Write in a personal style

The best way to stand out from the crowd is by injecting an element of your personality into your LinkedIn summary. Avoid technical jargon, cliches and boring, predictable language. Instead, write in first person and try to mirror the way you speak. Are there any quirks about you that are fun, appealing or demonstrate your work ethic? Don't be afraid to include them. For example, "I start every day with an ocean swim, so I'm fresh when I get to the desk." 

2. Include your extraordinary qualities 

Do you have an extraordinary skill? Have you achieved something incredible? Whether it's work-related or not, don't leave it out. Prospective employers want to know what's different about you. For example, "I once wrote an article about monkeys that inspired 20,000 social media shares" or "I walked across the Nullabor Plain to raise money for my favourite charity."

3. Use no more than 3-5 pithy paragraphs

Long, verbose paragraphs are off-putting. Make sure your LinkedIn summary is no more than 3-5 paragraphs. You don't need to use all 2,000 characters. Each paragraph should make one important point and be separated on either side by a blank line. Replace complicated words and detailed descriptions with simple, clear words and phrases. Use dot points where appropriate, so key information is easily accessible. 

4. Include your values

Your values can be just as important as your achievements. Start by brainstorming: what qualities in yourself, in other people and in a work culture do you deem essential? Are you a whizz-bang creative thinker? Do you have a good rapport with groups? Are you fast, always on-task and efficient? Don't try to be everything to everyone: narrow your values down to three, if you can.

Do you want more help with getting your LinkedIn summary right? Call or email us today to talk about it or any other aspect of resume writing.  View what we have to offer for Linkedin Summary writing services.

 

  • Author Nicole C
  • Category LinkedinLinkedIn summarywriting
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How to explain a career gap on your resume

Many job hunters have gaps in their resumes. This can be for a variety of reasons, including taking a gap year to study, taking time out to care for parents or children or spending time in a correctional facility. It can be hard to know exactly how to explain this in an interview, but we've outlined a few ways in which you can fill in the gaps.

Career Gap - Resume writing services

Arrange a non chronological resume

In many cases, the employer is more interested in looking at your skill set, rather than your specific working history. You can look at rearranging your resume to group experiences, both paid and unpaid, which help to show that you are the right person for the job.

Show how you spent the time

Many people who are out of the paid workforce still spend time on activities that build their work skills. If you've been volunteering in some capacity, for example, if you've been spending time volunteering for your child's school P&C or sports team management, then you should include this experience on your resume as well. 

Equally, if you took the time when you were out of the workforce to do some studying or short courses that helped to update your skills, you should also emphasise this in your resume as it can help to show that you remained active and focused.

Be honest

If you get questioned on your resume and the interviewer asks about a career gap it is important to be honest, even if you did spend time in prison. By explaining what you did that lead up to that time and how the experience changed you, you can show that you have learnt from it. While it may be off-putting to some employers, it is better to be honest in the initial stages of your interview as many employers will find out in another way, such as through a police check. Many employers will appreciate your honesty.

If you want to craft a powerful resume that explains a career gap, it can be a great idea to get in touch with a professional resume writing service, such as Loft Resumes.

Click here to view our writing packages: https://loftresumes.com/collections/writing-services

  • Author Nicole C
  • Category career gapResume ContentResume Tips
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Three Things Employers are Looking for in Resumes in 2018

2018 is almost here! Hard to believe, but another hiring cycle is about to start, and it’s time to tune up your resume and get it up to date with the latest standards. We’ve talked to several recruiters across healthcare, finance, marketing, B2B, and engineering/construction industries, and we’ve gathered a few of the key things employers look for that makes resumes stand out. This list is our compilation of “general advice” applicable to almost any resume – in our follow-up posts to this we’ll give you the insights from the recruiters of each industry and the specific things they look for during the hiring process.

 

1. Strong Aesthetic

 

By and large, a resume’s visual layout is the most valuable way it can differentiate itself – it can make an employer either cringe or gaze in amazement. Attractive fonts, good visual spacing, and the right design can dramatically improve a first impression before a reader even has time to read the written content and process it. This happens because human beings are hired-wired for emotional responses to visual content, and less so to logical processes that require higher level thinking. Of course, your reader will eventually have to get to the written content as well and truly think about it, but it’s much better that they do so starting from a positive reaction.

Take a look at some of the best resume templates to get an idea of what a strong aesthetic looks like:

Design 1

Design 2

Design 3

 

2. Skip the Paragraph Summary – Unless it’s Truly Unique

Readers want the quick low-down on your skills and competencies, and typically the big lengthy first paragraph is an eyesore and a chore to read that misses this objective. Furthermore, most people write their paragraph summary in a generic way that does nothing to stand out from the pack and is full of meaningless fluff statements. Statements like “proven leader” or “hard worker” are both subjective and not provable, which renders them meaningless. Employers will look right through this.

 

3. Instead, Lead with Your List of Skills

For any serious job with an actual hiring team and a rigorous hiring protocol, it should be a guarantee that you can communicate well, work hard, work well with others, and be a team player. So instead of putting these “soft skills” into a paragraph statement, create a bulleted list that lists out stronger technical skills and unique attributes that fit the job descriptions you’re shooting for. Replace “works well with others” with “Team Building and Leadership”, and you already have something that other people aren’t providing.

 

Beyond these 3 points, the job history content does need to be strong – which we will discuss in a later post. But it is important to know that these are 3 key areas where candidates often undersell themselves or simply botch their presentation.

  • Author Satjot "SJ" Sawhney
  • Category Resume Tips
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How to Make Friends at a New Job


Congratulations! You’ve done it. You’ve landed a new job! (Maybe you even used a Loft Resume, which got your foot in the door?) There are many joys that come with a new job especially if you’ve experienced a time of unemployment. A new job could feel like your saving grace. Hey, maybe it IS your saving grace? Although there’s much that could be discussed in regards to starting a new position, one topic that shouldn’t be over looked is making friends in your new work place. Perhaps making friends comes naturally to you and you’re used to being the most liked person in the office. Even so, it’s never a bad idea to be reminded of a couple of good habits and best practices for your first day in a new environment. 

Before your first day, be prepared to answer the same few questions over and over again. For example: Where did you work before? How did you come about getting hired here? What’s your background in? Do you like it here so far? More specifically, be prepared to answer every inquiry with a smile and a question in return. Even if someone brings up a sensitive subject, keep the conversation light and remember that everyone’s favorite subject is really him or herself. If there’s something you don’t want to talk about, simply turn the conversation around. This will help you avoid an awkward situation and will easily help you win some new office buddies. Some people may jump right in and ask if you’re on Facebook so they can befriend you. If you don’t like befriending workmates in this way, then we suggest having a graceful answer or alternative. Linked In or Google Plus accounts can come in handy for these types of situations and are also great ways of networking. 

If you receive invitations to join a group for lunch then be sure to go along. Even if you’ve already packed a brown bag full of your favorite left overs, it’s a good idea to accept these invitations regardless. Don’t worry, that spaghetti pie will only get better. Unfortunately lunches can also be a time of gossip and business bashing. Take our advice from the previous paragraph and master the skill of changing the subject. There’s no worse way to start a job with a new company than to learn why the current employees are not happy with said company. This is a fresh start for you and could be the same for them. Use lunches and break times to learn the names and interests of your fellow coworkers and develop a sincere interest in other people. Remember, when it comes to making new friends, it’s important to be a better listener than talker. 

So, there’s a few insightful ways to help get you through your first days at a new job. If you’d really like to master the art of interpersonal skills just look to Dale Carnegie. His book, How to Win Friends & Influence People is full of priceless knowledge. This book holds many nuggets of wisdom and advice, but here are some of the best tips summarized for your convenience: Become genuinely interested in other people. Smile. Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language. Be a good listener and encourage others to talk about themselves. Talk in terms of the other person’s interest. Make the other person feel important and do this sincerely. 

Follow these basic guidelines and your first days are sure to be a social success!

  • Author Emory Cash
  • Category Career AdviceFirst ImpressionFirst JobLife Lesson
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An Offer is Just a Starting Point: Tips for Negotiating a Higher Salary


For many job-seekers, the excitement that comes with receiving a job offer is tempered by the anxiety-inducing salary negotiations that go along with it. In today’s economic climate, so many of us have heard, “You’re just lucky to have a job!” so much, we’re nervous about pushing our luck when it comes to money. The negotiation process can be particularly nerve-wracking for people just beginning their careers, but even the more experienced among us get weak in the knees just thinking about haggling over compensation with their future boss. 

The thing is, most employers expect you to respond to their initial offer with a counter-offer. Think about it. Who would you rather have work for you—someone who meekly accepts every proposition, no matter what, or someone who has the knowledge and confidence to negotiate the best possible outcome? Besides, if a company wants you to work for them badly enough to make you an offer, they’re not going to yank it off the table just because you asked them to reconsider terms. So take a deep breath, arm yourself with knowledge, and let’s make a deal.

Be informed. Get educated about the salary you can expect for your level of experience and education in your field in your region. There are lots of online salary calculators out there (salary.com is one that comes up a lot) to help you with your research. You can also ask trusted contacts within your field for a reasonable range, which may give you a more accurate picture, especially if you’re asking people within your search area. Know what you’re willing to accept going in, and have a number in your head you absolutely won’t go below. Be realistic, but don’t low-ball yourself. It’s a delicate balance, and the reality is that the end result will probably fall somewhere between the number you ask for and your floor.

Get them to make the first move. You’re better off if they throw out the first number, because that gives you a sense of where their heads are, but this isn’t a hard-and-fast rule. If they ask you for a range and you sidestep the question, you run the risk of seeming A) shady or B) uninformed. You can either ask them what they have in mind, or refer to the above and tell them your range.

Take a breather. When they make the offer, express how happy and excited you are about the position, then tell them you’d like consider the official offer and call back. Once you see something from HR, you can call and negotiate. Here’s where you want to make your polite, professional case for the salary you want, based on your research and the value you can bring to the company. Once you’ve done so, stop talking. The ball is in their court.

We know it’s scary, but you have nothing to lose and lots to gain. Go get ‘em, tiger.

  • Author Emory Cash
  • Category Career AdviceFirst ImpressionFirst JobLife LessonSalary
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You, The Brand

 

You’ve heard it before, but it’s worth repeating: there is only one you. Now, don’t quote us on this, but we’re pretty sure that makes you about as valuable as the Mona Lisa (there’s only one of her, too.) No one else can offer the unique combination of skills and personality traits you can bring to the table. That one-of-a-kind combo is what constitutes your personal brand. 

When you’re building your career, a good way to get noticed is to think of yourself as a brand.  A personal brand is simply what you want people to think about you. Every piece of communication you put out there for potential employers to see should tell that story—your website, your (public) social media profiles, and of course, your cover letter and resume. It’s no different than any other kind of advertising, except in this case, you’re the product. So how do you start creating your brand story?

Know yourself: Your first step is to figure out exactly what you offer. You should be able to state it succinctly, meaning in a single sentence or less. It’s not enough to just be a photographer or a wedding planner or an accountant. You have to isolate the unique combination of skills and personality traits that sets you apart from all of the other photographers/wedding planners/accountants. Then you have to tell people about it.

Find your strengths:  Start by talking to your friends, colleagues, professors, group members, and anyone else who has worked closely with you and knows you well. They’ll see your strengths in a completely different light than you do, and talking to them will probably help you uncover some positive attributes you never knew you had. You might also consider taking a personality inventory like the Myers Briggs test. It’s not a crystal ball, but it can reveal things about your personality and leadership style that can help you formulate your personal brand. You can also make a mood board as an exercise to focus your personal brand concept.

Know your audience: To make your brand work its hardest for you, you have to know who you’re talking to. Think carefully about the kind of person or company you want to work for, and tailor your personal brand to appeal to them. What do they need in an employee? What unique niche can you fill? Answer these questions, and then build your brand accordingly.

For more in-depth personal brand-building tips, check out this article

  • Author Emory Cash
  • Category Career AdviceCover LettersResume Advice
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