Little white lies on your resume equal big black marks on your reputation


You don't need us to tell you it's tough out there. In a crowded job market, it's tempting to do whatever it takes to make yourself appear to be the most desirable candidate, and that includes what might politely be called “stretching the truth.” It may not seem like such a big deal to tell a little fib on your resume, but if you ask Scott Thompson, the Yahoo CEO who stepped down last Sunday because he claimed he graduated with a computer science degree when he actually earned a degree in accounting, he'd tell you it's a very big deal.

The really sad part of the story is that Thompson might have turned out to be the greatest CEO in the company's history. We'll never know. He didn't have to lie. A little smart marketing could have gotten him the job, without the regrettable ethical violations. You can learn from his mistakes. We have a few ideas that won't come back to bite you.

Let your cover letter tell your story.

A cover letter is the place for you to connect the dots for your potential employer. Your resume lists the facts; your cover letter lets you turn those facts into a narrative that shows your employer how your education and previous experience works together to make you the right candidate for the job. Let's say you have a degree in psychology, but you're applying for a marketing position. You can use your cover letter to tell your potential boss how your study of psychology taught you to understand how people think, giving you the ability to understand your clients' motivations and making you a better marketer. Your resume alone can't do that story justice.

Consider your references carefully.

Choose references who have a thorough grasp on your strengths and your background, and who you trust to give you a glowing recommendation. If you feel comfortable with them (and if you've asked them to provide a reference, you should), prep them before anyone has a chance to call. Let them know what the position entails and give them a heads-up that someone might contact them.

Know the company.

The more research you do on the company you're courting, the better able you are to emphasize the right experiences and skills. This ABSOLUTELY DOES NOT mean lying or exaggerating. This means reflecting upon your experience and abilities and applying them to the challenges the position presents.

Play up your skills, but don't exaggerate.

This is where marketing comes in. Think carefully about your work or educational experience and consider the skills you've developed that may not be immediately obvious to a potential employer, but that do make you a great candidate for the job. Let's consider Scott Thompson again. On the surface, a degree in accounting might not seem to qualify him for the role of CEO at Yahoo as well as a computer science degree does, but if he had taken the time to really consider the skills that degree helped him develop—an analytical mind, the ability to solve real-world problems, a logical thinking process—he could have helped Yahoo see that the sum of his experience makes him the best candidate for the job, regardless of his degree. You don't have to lie on your resume. You simply have to help potential employers understand how the experience and education you do have make you the best fit for the position.

Break through the clutter.

You know what's always completely honest? A professional and stylish Loft resume. Hey, would you really trust us to give you tips to market yourself if we didn't take every opportunity to do the same?

(Photo Credit: Discoodoni)

  • Author Dodd Caldwell
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Keeping Your Job Search Under The Radar At Work


We've all done it. Dreamed of greener pastures on company time. And maybe we've even pursued those other options, only to find ourselves on the hunt again after the honeymoon wears off. There's nothing wrong with keeping an eye out for better opportunities; honestly, in today's economy, it's in your best interest to always be aware of what's available in your industry. The prevailing wisdom says that the best time to find a job is when you already have one, but navigating the interview process without arousing suspicion is a delicate art. That's why we've come up with a few helpful tips to keep your current boss from noticing that you're stepping out.

Watch what you Google. We don't claim to be IT wizards. We don't know what kind of dark magic your company employs to spy on your non-work-related interweb browsing. We kind of imagine that every job-search-related search term or web address sets off all kinds of alarms and red alerts inside your IT department's hidden underground lair. That's why you should save your active search for home. We suggest that you don't even answer job-search related personal emails sent to our personal address on company computers. It may be best to turn off the wireless on your smartphones and answer emails on 3G, safe from prying eyes. We’re not 100% sure if it matters, but it will make you feel more confident.

Your interview attire makes you look suspicious. Every office has that guy who thinks it's the most hilarious thing in the world to ask anyone who happens to wear ironed pants to work, “Hey, ya got an interview? HA HA HA!” First of all, if you're that guy, quit that. It's not funny and it makes people feel weirdly guilty, even if they're not. However, if you do plan on going to interviews in the future, and you wear t-shirts and jeans to work every day, start priming the office now. Occasionally put on something nice for no reason so people get used it. If they comment, say you ran out of clean clothes, or you have post-work plans and can't get home to change, or you grabbed the first thing you saw in your closet. Pretty soon, they'll stop noticing your fancy attire and you can interview freely. Alternatively, you can also just change in your car like some kind of interview superhero.

You need a good excuse to leave. When searching for your new job, it's important to have a good reason for your absence. Obviously, it's best to schedule your interviews before work, right after work or during lunch in order to arouse the least suspicion, but you'll probably need a cover story in case things run long. Personally, we like the vague but all-encompassing “appointment.” You do, in fact, have an appointment. You are meeting someone at a pre-determined time. But the word carries enough weight and suggests enough Serious Business to hush up even the most determined office Nosy Nellie. If you really want to bring out the big guns, tell them it’s a personal matter, which both shuts them up and makes you sound mysterious and exciting, like you may be inheriting your late great-uncle’s oil wells.

Do you have other job search subterfuge tips? Let us know. Tweet them to @loftresumes or send us an email.



  • Author Dodd Caldwell
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Don't Fear the Fail: Conduct a Social Media Reputation Audit Before Applying for a Job


When you apply for a job, most employers will look at more than your resumé: They’re likely to scour the web for your name to see what else they can find out about you. According to a recent study, nearly half of all employers make a habit of checking applicants’ Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social media profiles before inviting them to be interviewed. In some cases, that’s a good thing: 68 percent of employers have hired individuals specifically because of something they spotted in their profiles. If something in your profile hits a sour note, however, you could miss out on a job because of it.

Here’s how to audit your profiles and make sure that they make a great impression.

Check your privacy settings. The easiest way to ensure that potential employers don’t come across something they wouldn’t like is to limit their access to your information. Make sure that elements of your Facebook profile such as photos and Wall posts are limited to “friends” only, and you’ll have no need to worry about them finding any questionable photos, even if they exist. Likewise, if you prefer, you can lock your Twitter account so that it is visible only to people who are following you.

Clean up your profiles. If you don’t want to put your profiles on lockdown, however, you can use them to make a positive impression—just make sure that they represent a polished, professional image that will appeal to the employer you’re trying to impress. Make sure that any publicly available photos and posts are boss-friendly, keeping the photos of your family hike and filtering others to “friends only.” However, make sure that your profiles still give a sense of your personality: CareerBuilder found that 50 percent of employers hired employees after getting a positive impression from their social media profiles.

Google yourself to see what’s out there. Employers are likely to use Google to find out about you online. So, Google your full name (and location, if it’s a common name) to see what’s out there. Is there an old blog on LiveJournal you might want to take down, or an old MySpace page that makes you look immature? Remove these pages, or modify the privacy settings so they aren’t accessible to the general public.

Create a website with your name as the domain. If you want to give employers a sense of yourself as a professional, it helps to create a professional website, using your full name as a domain if it’s available. This site will likely come in at the top of the search results for your name, so make sure to include your online resumé, a photo, and any other information that would appeal to a potential employer.


  • Author Dodd Caldwell
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Not Getting Interviews? Check Your Resume for These 3 Mistakes…


Human Resources professionals have the Herculean task of sorting through hundreds of resumes within tight time constraints, which means that job applicants have a lot of competition and only one chance to stand out from the crowd. If you’re working through a recruiter, a recent study reveals that resumes receive approximately 6.25 seconds of assessment. If you have been applying for positions, but keep getting passed up for interviews, you may be making resume blunders that send your resume straight to the “no” pile. Here are some resume red flags to avoid:

Don’t objectify. Summarize. Objectives on a resume can be a double-edged sword. If tailored to the specific job at hand, it may be beneficial, but if the objective is only industry-specific or (worse yet) generic, it can be the nail in the coffin. The better bet is to summarize who you are based on your experience, allowing your past accomplishments to be bolstered by figures and percentages that prove your contributions produce results. This provides potential employers with a “story” that shows your worth right up front.

Don’t come across as a card-puncher. Ever meet someone who was a zombie of workplace obligation, punching in and punching out with an apathetic, despondent attitude? How excited would you be to hire them? You wouldn’t. Employers are looking for employees who want to contribute to their organization, not just show up to keep a seat warm.

Such individuals often give themselves away on a resume, however, and HR pros recognize it right away. If someone gives bulleted points that use words like obligations, duties, and responsibilities, it’s obvious that initiative is not an applicant’s strength. warns job seekers that this may be one of the biggest three mistakes you can make throughout your search. Make a deliberate point to explain how your actions produced a result (e.g. “Wrote award-winning articles for the bi-annual magazine, increasing annual fund giving by 78%.”). If you can’t talk about how you’ve helped your previous employer be successful, it will be assumed that you didn’t.

Don’t focus on accomplishments that aren’t relevant to the job. For the sake of brevity and professionalism, list jobs that are relevant to the position you want. If you’re applying for a clerkship at a law firm, you can skip the burger-slinging summer job you held in undergrad. Keep things short, sweet, and pertinent. Just starting out and your experience is a little lean? Don’t underestimate the power of internships and volunteer or research work. It shows drive, a determination to gain exposure to your industry, and a willingness to sacrifice material gain while you acquire knowledge. Include it.

  • Author Dodd Caldwell
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Huntsy: Get Organized and Get Employed

When looking for a new job, most experts agree on one thing – be proactive in your search. But between networking, job boards, application tools and HR hurdles, finding the right fit can be daunting. If you're feeling overwhelmed by the hunt, you might need a hand. Huntsy is a new organizational tool that helps job seekers stay on track, so they don't fall prey to the process.

Hailed by the popular blog, Lifehacker, Huntsy has been called “a Pinterest for job seekers.” But the tool does more than simply tack your favorites to a page. Huntsy streamlines the process so you can keep tally of job postings, multiple resumes, e-mail drafts, follow-ups and more. Think of it as a one-stop command center for your most important mission.

Once signed in, Huntsy will keep track of scheduled interviews, multiple versions of your resume and help you discover new contacts and utilize current ones in your social networks. Simply put, the tool allows you to use all the resources available to you in the most efficient and effective way possible.

As you find job listings, one click on the Huntsy browser plug-in sends them to your personal dashboard. Once added, Huntsy allows you to draft cover letters, choose preferred versions of your resume and even send in applications directly. You can also transport your work to Gmail or your desktop. Now that you're on  your prospective employer’s radar, Hunsty helps you stay on-task by creating a timeline of tasks to complete for each job listing, from applying for the job to following up. And, if things go as planned, it even allows you to schedule an interview.

Beyond the tool itself, the Huntsy blog features helpful hints and tips on how job seekers can best position themselves for success. For example, in one recent post, a featured career strategist recommends crafting “resumes with flavor” to stand out in the crowd (another reason we at Loft Resumes love Huntsy). And if you've found yourself out-of-work, Huntsy even offers a "handbook for the recently unemployed.”

Huntsy is free to use and entirely compatible with your personalized Loft Resume. Click here to visit the website and get signed up today. 

  • Author Dodd Caldwell
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Your Cover Letter: Details Make the Difference

We’re not ones to turn up our noses at the glorious bounty of the internet. We love cat videos as much as (full disclosure: way more than) the average person. And the internet has certainly made job-hunting a billion times easier than paging through want ads with a highlighter. But the convenience of online communication has muddied the waters a bit when it comes to what’s appropriate and necessary when sending out job applications. Now, there's a lot to say on that topic, but we'll stick to just one for now: what's the status of the cover letter?

In an age where you can just fire off an email and attached resume to a prospective employer, cover letters can seem a bit stiff. Stodgy. Ye olde fashioned. But like the hand-written thank-you note and French cuffs, some old-fashioned things still make an impression. So yes. You still need one. Here are a few reasons why:

Cover letters give your potential employer a sense of your personality.

No matter how fabulous your credentials or how beautiful your resume looks, it can only do so much. The cover letter lets you show a bit of your personality through writing as you explain how you can be an asset to the company. The cover letter is your opportunity to sell yourself.

Cover letters prove you can communicate in writing.

The ability to string together a cogent sentence is a valuable one in business. Who knew? Strange but true. A well-written cover letter shows your potential boss that you're able to express yourself using the written word. It's an alarmingly rare skill, and one that can bump you to the top of the to-interview list.

Cover letters help you connect the dots for your potential employer.

How can your gap year in the jungles of Peru or your minor in pottery make you the strongest candidate for this position? It may not be immediately obvious to your potential employer if they've just glanced at your resume. Your cover letter is your opportunity to make it crystal clear.

Cover letters help you stand out.

In a rare bit of anonymous online wisdom, a commentor on Reddit says, “For me, not all good cover letters get an interview, but (nearly) everyone that gets interviewed has a good cover letter.” Your cover letter can help give you a boost over similarly qualified candidates. Wouldn't you hate knowing you lost an opportunity because some other guy wrote a cover letter and you didn't? Better safe than sorry.

Yes, writing a cover letter takes a lot more time and reflection than dashing off an e-mail, but it could be the thing that makes the difference between landing an interview and not. A good cover letter helps you stand out, which is why Loft Resumes includes an editable cover letter design with every resume purchase. It’s our job to help you get noticed.

(Photo Credit: Linda Cronin)

  • Author Dodd Caldwell
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5 Tips for Creating a Resume that Makes the Top of the “Interview” Pile

It’s a tough economy, and when you apply for a job, you’ll often be up against hundreds—if not thousands—of other qualified candidates. So what can you do to stand out? Make sure your resumé provides the best possible reflection of who you are. Here are a few ways to do that.

Keep it focused.

Employers are busy, and don’t have time to sift through pages to find the details they need. When crafting your CV, keep everything relevant to the position at hand: If you’re applying for a marketing position, include jobs and internships you’ve held in the field, but skip your college stint making sandwiches at Subway. It’s also helpful to include a “skills” section, in which you can point out talents that could prove useful. (Here’s where to brag about your 5,000 Twitter followers, if you know the job involves social media.)

Consider a photo.

While featuring a photo in your resumé, may not be right for your job choice, it can create a personal touch, which will make employers more likely to take a closer look at your application. Be wise about the type of position you’re looking for. If you’ve got the money for it, include a professional headshot.

 Hire a professional resume writer (or at least ask your friends and relatives for feedback.)

If you want to make your resume the best it can possibly be, consider hiring a professional resume writer to edit it to perfection. If you’re not able to do that, before sending your resumé off to a potential employer, ask people you know—especially those in the business world—to take a look at it and give you their honest feedback. Does a certain section seem a bit vague about your job responsibilities, or have you gone a little overboard on industry buzzwords? Take their opinions into account, and, if you hear the same criticisms frequently, revise your resumé accordingly—chances are, they’ll also be able to spot any typos or spelling errors that have made it in.

 Get a professional design.

Most resumés are simple black-and-white Word documents or PDFs. Stand out from the crowd with a professionally designed resume that’s been created by a graphic designer. You can select your favorite from dozens of creative template designs and classic template designs from our online store and receive a custom-typeset copy of your resumé.

 Send in a paper copy, even if it hasn’t been specifically requested.

If you submitted an online application, follow up with a mail package that includes your resumé, a business card, and a handwritten cover letter reiterating your interest in the job. This tactic is likely to help you get a second chance with corporate recruiters, even if your online application didn’t make an impression. 

  • Author Dodd Caldwell
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How to Run a Secret Job Search (Without Losing Your Current Job)

If you’re not happy in your current workplace, you might be itching to find a new career. But be careful when sending out resumés in response to job listings—if you’re not careful, your current boss might find out you’re seeking work. That could lead to a hostile work environment, or, worse, you might find yourself without a job at all.

Here are some strategies for running a job hunt while employed and avoiding an unpleasant scenario.

Don’t look at job sites or contact potential employers from workplace computers. The average workplace offers no privacy rights to its employees; your boss is free to monitor your work email account and web visit history even if she hasn’t specifically told you that she’s doing so. If you’re spending time on the job scouting out, you’re likely to get called out for your behavior.

Use your personal time for scheduled interviews. If you’re called in for an interview, don’t pretend that you have an appointment or that you’re taking a sick day—lying to your boss rarely ends well. If the potential workplace is close enough to get to during your lunch hour, try to schedule it during that time; if not, you may need to take a personal day if the interview can’t be done after-hours. If your boss asks what you’re doing, simply declare that you have “personal business” to attend to, recommends the Wall Street Journal.

Keep quiet about your job hunt. It may be tempting to tell your cubicle buddy that you’re seeking a new position, but try to keep your lips sealed: It can be difficult for colleagues to resist spreading the gossip, and you probably don’t want your supervisors to find out until you’re ready to announce your resignation. If you want to control the message, don’t tell anyone until you’re ready to leave.

Don’t let your productivity suffer. When you’ve already mentally checked out from your current job, you might find your work ethic begin to suffer. Pay extra attention to how well you’re meeting your workplace goals: Even if you’re not motivated to perform at top capacity, letting your performance slip may alert your employer that you’re on the hunt—or even put you in line for a pink slip.

Be honest with potential employers about your need for secrecy. When you send your resumé to a potential employer, include a cover letter that mentions that you have not told your current boss that you’re looking for work, so discretion is appreciated. If you aren’t clear about this, you may find potential employers calling your current boss for a reference without any warning, so it pays to take precautions.

If and when you do land a new job, try to be respectful of your current workplace by providing at least two weeks’ notice before you plan on making the move. Your boss may not be thrilled by the news regardless, but there’s no reason to make things uncomfortable until your job change is a sure thing.

  • Author Dodd Caldwell
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