Podcast: EP 003: The Secrets to a Killer Resume
The Secrets to a Killer Resume
Tiffany: [00:00:52] All right guys. So today on the show I have two amazing women that I cannot wait to ask a lot of questions in regards to helping you be the best candidate you can be when it comes to interviewing especially from an H.R. standpoint. I know that you know it can be difficult sometimes if you’re really not in the know and I’m hoping that today’s show will shed some light on how you can step your game up when it comes to interviewing.
Tiffany: [00:01:23] So first we have Ms. Davia Rose Lassiter. She is an award-winning communications professional and marketing strategist with experience and publication management journalism graphic design social media and public relations. She earned her B.A. from the University of Southern Mississippi and her master’s from the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. Davia honed her talents working for a variety of media outlets and non-profit organizations before joining Kennesaw State University’s College of continuing and professional education in 2012. She currently serves as director of marketing and develops award-winning marketing and communication campaigns.
When Davia is not working she enjoys traveling, cooking, baking, and exploring everything that Atlanta has to offer. Singing songs from Hamilton, perfecting her yoga poses and being a personal assistant to her fur baby, Cookie the Monster.
Davia, we are so excited to have you on the show today. We also have Ms. Monique Jenkins, a human resources professional with almost 10 years of experience in the public and private sectors. She is currently the talent manager for the state of Georgia helping senior leaders attract and retain a high performing and motivated workforce. In addition to her work she currently serves on the board of directors for the Council of State Personnel Administration and is a volunteer leader with the Society of Human Resources Management Atlanta where she was awarded the president’s award for volunteer excellence for her service as chair of the SHRM Atlanta young professionals affinity group. She received her Bachelor’s of Science in Business Administration from Mississippi University for Women and her MBA from Mercer University and currently resides in Marietta Georgia.
Monique, welcome to the show. I’m so glad to have both of you ladies on today. First, I want to start with Davia, can you just give us some of your favorite things to do.
Davia: [00:03:39] Well, first of all, thank you so much, Tiffany, for thinking of me and having me on this show to share my experience. I’m really excited about it.
Davia: [00:03:47] And as far as what I like to do when I’m not working I actually do like to work. But I’ve learned to take time for myself. So I do love my dog little Cookie so we like to go exercise. We like to like to hike. I also really enjoy cooking.
Davia: [00:04:06] I am addicted to the tasty app and Pinterest so people who follow me on Instagram know that they can always catch me cooking and baking something so that is something that I really enjoy. I also love the performing arts. Anything that’s on the stage. I recently saw Hamilton and I am obsessed with it. I listened to the soundtrack too much and I love traveling. I recently got my passport so I’m ready to fly.
[00:04:38] Me too and that is funny because I actually just sent my renewal in like two days ago. So I’m like you I’m ready to travel internationally. I’ve done enough in the States I’m ready to like go see other other cultures and just have some different experiences so that’s that’s really really cool. I’ll be your travel buddy. Hey, I’m down for that. I’m down for that. Leaving the kiddos behind and jet-setting. That is my goal. Israel. So Monique what are some things that you enjoy doing outside of work.
Monique: [00:05:11] Yes so like you ladies I am definitely interested in traveling. I love to travel. I did have to renew my passport here viri not too long to do and I was very sad because I had to get rid of my old one that had all my stamps.
Monique: [00:05:37] But outside of traveling so I’m a big SEC football fan so anybody who knows me knows that I’m always waiting for September to roll around because the fall equals football. Particularly SEC football and that is just one of my favorite things in the world. I’m a big Mississippi State Bulldog fan so I love to go to the games and watch them on TV so I love it. And outside of that, I’m big into volunteering so one of the things that I didn’t mention on my bio was the fact that I love to volunteer and I’m currently involved in quite a few volunteer organizations. One of them being the Junior League of Cobb-Marietta. I’m just really interested in giving back to my community and serving in my community. Those are the things that make me happy.
Tiffany: [00:06:23] Oh I love it. I love it. So you mentioned that there are several different organizations that you do volunteer with if you don’t mind sharing those we would love to know more about. Maybe just kind of give a brief rundown of that maybe the names of those organizations in case there is somebody else out there who are maybe looking to join some of those if you could share that that would be great.
Monique: [00:06:46] Yes so currently I am volunteering with The Junior Leauge of Cobb-Marrietta. I like I said earlier and we are an all female women’s organization dedicated to serving our community. We focus on women and children and we basically raise money for other non-profits in the Cobb-Marietta community and give that money back to them in the form of grants so they can continue to do their good work.
Monique: [00:07:16] We can be reached at www.jlcm.org And one of the other organizations and I spent a lot of time with at this point is the INROADS Atlanta Alumni Association. So I’m not sure if you guys are familiar with INROADS but it is a minority based internship program that basically takes interns from the high school level and at the college level and prepares them for the workforce by giving them job skills. And of course internships with major corporate players throughout the United States. I’ve been involved in that organization for more than four years. It’s a great organization.
Monique: [00:07:56] You can find them at www.inroads.org you know what that is so funny that you said inroads because I’m going to tell a quick story when I first started interviewing and I was trying to work for Pfizer as most people know now that it took me about two years to do so. So it was very challenging trying to get a job within that corporate role as a pharmaceutical sales rep. And I remember going to training and there was a group of inroads students or interns there. And I formed some really really great relationships with them and I was so intrigued at the fact that there I wasn’t the only one that looked like me at the corporate office when we were training and I made some really amazing friends and it just brought flashbacks.
Tiffany: [00:08:46] When you said INROADS I was like I remember those group of people with such a great time when we were in training.
Tiffany: [00:08:51] And you know what’s interesting to me although they all started out doing the INROADS program and they were within Pfizer. They all branched out and they are doing something like completely different from that and it’s just like wow I really do feel like that program really set them up for success and that is just so cool and that’s one reason why. You know I was compelled to do this show because I do feel like there are so many women especially minority women double minority women that could use some help and insight when it comes to landing something like that like being a part of INROADS or working for a company like Pfizer and just kind of knowing the ins and outs of tips and tricks and how they can do it as well. So it’s just wow.
Tiffany: [00:09:38] Just give me butterflies when you said that was like remember that so clearly like literally we were in the hotel room with the white butcher paper and markers what we were studying all of this stuff is just really working together and forming and like those relationships that like here it is 13 years in and I still remember it like it was yesterday.
Tiffany: [00:09:58] So that is that is so very cool. Very cool. So thank you so much for sharing that. Ok, ladies so we know that when it comes to hiring there are so many questions that go through an applicants mind. And I’ve heard. And I want you guys to chime in on this for me. I’ve heard that and I’ve read also that is that H.R. professionals or managers it normally takes them less than five minutes to review a resume before deciding whether or not a job applicant makes it to the next round. Now starting with Davia is going to want to get your insight, Monique, of course, you can chime in or we could just make this an open conversation and just kind of share. Either way, it’s fine with me. So just you ladies like I guess based on your experience and your background. Is that true? Statement true?
Davia: [00:10:51] I think 5 minutes is very generous.
Davia: [00:10:56] And I know that because my role as Director of Marketing, however, I am responsible for hiring. So with that said I don’t participate in HR activities full-time. I’m running marketing for a college. So when it’s not for me to hire whether it’s a student assistant which is essentially a temporary worker or a full-time employee to look over hundreds of resumes five minutes apiece. I honestly don’t have that type of time. So that’s why is super important for your documents to really and truly for lack of a better word be on point.
Davia: [00:11:35] Because the minute I see a typo recycle and that may sound harsh but if you’re trying to apply for a job in communications I’m looking for perfection because if you work for me then that’s my standard. And even on the cover letter, I’ll never forget they were applying for a job at the University where I work. And they had to the hiring managers of Home Depot recycle to so where there’s a cover letter or a resume. It really does need to be you know perfect simply because unlike Monique HR is not my full-time position. And even you know say I give it a minute looking over it for a minute. It really does have to stand out. And the minute I see typos. Bad punctuation. You know Microsoft work spellcheck that for you. It could tell you to fix this, fix that so to me you haven’t put in the effort to get your foot in the door. And to me, that’s going to be reflective of potentially how you’re going to work.
[00:12:40] Monique may be a little more lenient but I in marketing I can’t afford to because if you (Monique) I am absolutely not more lenient that and Davia if you are getting resumes from applicants that have typos you are not. You do not have very good recruiters on your team. Exactly.
Davia: [00:13:01] Again working in communications I mean a typo could be your career. So I feel better about my process but I will have a very good track record when it comes to hiring employees. I bring them in and I truly have a team. But you know you have to meet certain requirements to get your foot in the door.
Monique: [00:13:23] Yes. I’m just gonna second that.
Monique: [00:13:25] So recruiting is where I started out. And so I spent a lot of time as a recruiter and now I’m back in the recruiting role.
Monique: [00:13:33] So for me it’s been in five minutes on a resume that’s way too long. Literally, for me, it’s going to be a matter of seconds. It may be two minutes maybe. But that’s only if there’s something really good about their resume.
Monique: [00:13:53] But literally I need your resume to meet all of the requirements that were set out in the job posting. And I need for your resume to show very clearly how your skills relate to the position that you are applying to. And if you don’t do that well or if you have typos or if your resume is not organized or if just two lengthy the there are any number of things that will immediately disqualify you from consideration at that point.
Tiffany: [00:14:26] That’s because so basically attention to detail is imperative when it comes to putting your application in. Instead of just saying like hey you know I’m a go on you know whatever Monster.com and apply real quick and just really not pay attention to what you’re uploading could be detrimental. It’s funny because you said as far as you mention about resume being organized. So just from that standpoint alone to get on a resume organize. Do you suggest that applicants use bullet points? Do you suggest that they use more of a paragraph format?
Tiffany: [00:15:04] What is your professional experience stands out the most to you like when it goes through like sifting through those resumes like what stands out to you?
Monique: [00:15:15] Yeah. So I definitely don’t think that you need paragraphs because paragraphs take up a lot of space and nobody is reading very lengthy resumes right. So I would say it needs to be a combination of short sentences descriptions and bullet points. Definitely. OK. And the other thing that I would say you know that’s going to depend on the role that you applying to. Definitely the industry as well as some industries like work in state government. You know while we don’t require CV’s or very long resumes that may be a requirement for research positions or for federal government positions. So some of that is going depend but just in general bullet points and short descriptions that maybe describe the place that you worked would be appropriate for a resume.
Davia: [00:16:07] Wow. I definitely agree with bullet points. I’ve done quite a few resume revisions for different clients that I have.
Davia: [00:16:14] And I again second that notion about people are not going to take the time to read paragraphs and paragraphs. If we don’t have five minutes to look over your resume then bullet points are key. And of course, make sure that it’s formatted in a way that is attractive to the eye is going to catch the hiring managers attention but also think about the content. If you have three to four bullets per position that needs to be the top three or four things that you’ve accomplished on the job as well. So it was nice to have a bit of a snapshot on your resume in the form of those bullet points because that was going to get you in the door. So what I’m looking at your resume when Monique is looking at your resume we’re able to easily scan and say This person has created X Y and Z. They were able to get 5000 people at this event or whatever the case may be. So we’ll put you in the yes stack. So after we go through those resumes and we look at our yes stack that’s when we can take a little more time to really vet you as a candidate so bullet points are definitely.
Tiffany: [00:17:19] And you know it’s funny because on my resume when I first started out I did the bullet point you know format, of course, I had to tweak it as interviews went along but especially from a sales standpoint is very important to me to have those bullet points because they want to know. All right compared to your metrics like what did you do in 2016 versus 2017. How did you grow your business? What are those actual numbers? How many doctors did you call on? What was your call list like?
[00:17:49] So in that type of situation bullet points are very important because there’s a lot of information to try to I guess explain to like you said Davia, about to catch the Hiring Managers attention or either just getting through the systems that when you upload your resume just getting through those systems with those keywords and I know there are rumors out there I’m sure is very true in regards to system checks for keywords on resumes and cover letters. Is that you know do you guys have. Have you seen that? Are there systems in place that you guys use when sifting through those resumes and cover letters that basically track the keywords to where they say I was a viable person you know in comparison to the job description. Do you see a lot of that?
Tiffany: [00:18:40] Or is there a certain program that you guys are familiar with in order sifting out candidates for me.
Davia: [00:18:50] I actually get every single resume that that comes across in my department where I work. We have different departments within our college so our age our team simply provides the resumes for us so we’re able to vet them. So it’s a little longer process but I’m really interested to see Monique uses some software. Maybe there’s something we can incorporate where I work to make things more efficient.
Monique: [00:19:15] Yes so disclaimer first before I answer the question so applicant tracking systems get a bad rep because I think a lot of candidates who think that is just a computer who is deciding that it’s deciding who makes it to the next round. And that’s just simply not true. Because if that was the case people like me would not have jobs that would not exist. So to answer your question yes we do use systems are called applicant tracking systems.
Monique: [00:19:44] And they are designed in many different ways. So I can tell you after being in HR for almost 10 years and being a recruiter for the entirety of my career I have yet to use a system that specifically uses a keyword search to screen candidates out.
Monique: [00:20:03] But the keyword search is helpful for us to go very quickly through hundreds of candidates for one position.
Monique: [00:20:13] Ok. And so just to give you an example if there is a technical position that you are applying to one of our requirements is that you have a certain experience with a particular software or a particular programming language then using our Applicant Tracking System we can very easily hone in on those people who included that in their resume. Okay. So it does have its purpose in its use and it helps us see those applicants who have included what we need very quickly. But there is somebody behind the computer behind the applicant tracking system reviewing your resume. Okay.
Monique: [00:20:52] And so as one of those people, is going to be very important to not necessarily be focused on and trying to beat an Applicant Tracking System or put keywords in your resume what’s going to be more important is making sure that your skills align to the position that you are applying for. And if there are very specific requirements for software for Internet programs for sales programs that’s included.
Tiffany: [00:21:20] Wow that’s wow.
Tiffany: [00:21:23] And it’s funny because out after all that you know these keywords are applicant tracking system that the keywords are a big deal. So thank you so much for shedding light on that and just kind of opening our eyes to the fact that hey there’s still somebody behind the computer or I wouldn’t have a job, and we use it to make our jobs more efficient when it comes to finding the right candidate to make sure that those qualifications align up to what you know. The hiring manager or company is actually looking for. So wow. Since we’re on the topic of resumes what would you say have been the biggest red flags that you have seen. Like what is absolute from the moment you glance at it say it like no outside of typos or punctuation like what are the big red flags that you’ve seen?
Monique: [00:22:13] Ok so I’ll start with that one.
Monique: [00:22:16] So one of the immediate red flags for me is if a resume has zero organization to it. I am not going to take the time to organize a resume as a recruiter I’m just not going to do it. So what I mean by the organization is I need it to be some kind of order your work history and I don’t really care if it’s chronological or if you put the skill set. But there needs to be some order to your resume. And if I look at a resume and I don’t see that I’m not going to take the time to look at it. The other key piece is if it is not organized appropriately. OK.
If it if it has too much information if there’s not a good proper use of white space if it just looks like you just threw it together. I’m not going to take a look at it. And so let me give you guys a warning about templates right. So if you go and you download a resume template from Monster dot com or CareerBuilder dot com or any of these other Web sites that have sample resumes where you just plug and play. I need you to be very smart on the computer and remove any indication that you downloaded a template and if you are not that savvy then don’t do it because I will see and I will toss your resume.
Davia: [00:23:33] Yeah, I definitely agree with everything you said. As far as the format again I work in a creative industry and you know if it’s not balanced like Monique said and the whitespace is not balanced. Also, there are 3 different fonts. I’ve seen that on a resume.
Tiffany: [00:23:55] If your resume is what do you mean about three different fonts are you saying. Like maybe like doesn’t need to be one consistent font but even if you bold it or whatever like what do you mean by that.
Davia: [00:24:06] Well bolding is fine they’ll use the same font in bold maybe do all caps. You know where appropriate. That’s fine. But I’m talking about if you have comic fans times new roman and Helvetica.
Davia: [00:24:20] That that is really unattractive and again it shows that you’re not putting in the effort to get the job. So what type of employee will you be if for some miracle you’re hired?
Monique: [00:24:31] So I want to just add really quickly. I hate that I have to say this in 2018. It is very important that you have a professional email address if you have anything in your email address it’s not professional. I am not putting that to a hiring manager. I’m just not gonna do it. Don’t be sexy mama 2013 with your resume I have seen h cater to a team
Davia: [00:24:58] Exactly like we don’t need to know about your personal life. You better get a GMAIL first name, last name, and figure it out. Again that effort. Email is free. There’s no reason why you should have you know big chicken 32 on your resume.
Davia: [00:25:17] It goes into my recycling bin work.
Tiffany: [00:25:20] Basically the trash right. That’s basically what that is.
Davia: [00:25:23] Pretty much. And in another huge red flag to wear a flag still, the first one is if your job experience is kind of here and there hit or miss. So you’re at this job 6 months then you’re at his job two and a half weeks. Then you had another job for four months. That lets me know that if again if a miracle happens and you’re hired that, I have a two-week 6-month window where you actually be my employee and that is a waste of everyone’s time. So that type of job experience that is you going to have three degrees and all types of certifications. But to me that says that I don’t need to invest the time in welcoming you to the team getting you acclimated because you’re going to leave. So a person like that because of how experienced they are they will not get an interview with me.
Tiffany: [00:26:13] No actually before you go into the next one. Going to try and how you’re talking about the gaps in employment. So how is it handled? And I’m speaking from my own personal experience when I got laid off. I was only on a contract for maybe 6 months now. I went from working at Pfizer for almost three years and they had huge layoffs like back in 2009 and it took me a little bit to get another job. And when I did it was a contract position selling like medical devices and all of a sudden that job ended and I was only on that job for like six months so I know you say that it doesn’t matter in regards to like your degrees or your level of experience when and when you see these gaps on a resume it’s still kind of sends up a red flag. So what about people like me who maybe didn’t leave on their own and it was more of the company’s you know reasoning why. Like how has that looked at me because you can’t really state that I guess on a resume? I mean I guess you could. I don’t know. How does that look for somebody like me who maybe got laid off you know every six months there’s a layoff depending on the company or the contract that I’m on?
Davia: [00:27:26] Why should we revise a resume for a client of mine and she has a lot of contract experience as well as some full-time experience.
Davia: [00:27:35] So what I did is I grouped her full-time experience together and her contract experience together.
Davia: [00:27:40] So if she was at a place two months here four months here you know six months here at least the employer could see what she was a contractor. So I think that that expectation is that the contractors you know maybe you know may be at a job in varying lengths of time but I think its just how the resume is formatted. I gotcha makes sense.
Davia: [00:28:05] And I do have my second point is the salary. So, I was in a situation where I hired someone who made about 30,000 dollars more than what we were offering. And the group matched the hiring group that I was with. We did discuss the pros and cons but we gave them a chance because he was so experienced. He lasted about two months.
Davia: [00:28:30] So we did take a chance on him because he was so incredible. But
Davia: [00:28:35] That was the one chance that we took, and moving forward if a person makes significantly more than what we’re offering, not that we are offering pennies. But you know some Universities may have bigger budgets than others but they make significantly more. That’s not someone that I would even grant an interview only because I know that what they can probably land a job with us. But they’re still looking for another job that’s going to be comparable to what they used to make.
Tiffany: [00:29:03] It just wouldn’t be a good use of time. So it’s just best not to even go that route.
Davia: [00:29:07] You know. And I’m saying resumes with photos on them and to me, I don’t understand that because your resume is again on point.
[00:29:22] if it’s you know organized well, formatted well and it will have that relevant information. Then we’re going to see what you look like because you’re going to get an interview and then I think about spacing on the resume. Well, that’s just taking up the room. So I mean and I have a design mind. I just don’t understand is don’t put your picture on your resume. Everyone is listening.
[00:29:47] Don’t do it as quiet fussing at me because I was one of those people. Of course, this was like 10 years ago but I was one of those people that. Not only do I have it on my resume I think I have my cover letter but you know what.
Davia: [00:30:02] You said you hit it on the head so you said it was 10 years ago. You were younger. And to me, a photo on your resume screams young and in a way, it screams a little inexperienced but it’s kind of like fast forward now you know better protocol.
Tiffany: [00:30:18] Right. I went dare do it now. I wouldn’t dare do it now but it’s funny looking back. I remember this Shurmur the photo like that I use is crazy.
Tiffany: [00:30:26] It’s just crazy. She said like no photos on resumes but wow.Y’all are
Tiffany: [00:30:31] dredging up old memories.
Tiffany: [00:30:36] These are really, really, all great tips like seriously I’m even learning myself and it’s not that you know I’m currently seeking employment. But who knows the contract that I’m currently on I very well may maybe soon. So just kind of getting that refresh even for myself I trying to get through that process is that this is really great. This is all really great. So now this one is kind of like off the topic, of cover letters and resumes but just in your experience how important is it to do research for the companies that an applicant is applying to. Because I know from my experience the first thing that I do when I see a job posting first I look at the requirements. You know when I look to see what’s going to be the most important thing and I want to go next to go over to the company website and really look into their company culture what they focus on how they give back you know how customers may be dealing with them or whatever their reviews are. I kind of want to have an insight on that first before I put myself in a position to maybe get a callback for something I may not really want. So in your opinions how important is it for a candidate to do their research on the companies that they’re applying to.
Monique: [00:32:01] So it’s very important because it just shows that you are prepared as a candidate. And you know I’ve been in this game for a long time and I can tell you the horror stories of not even at the interview if you are job searching going to be one of my tips later. But if you are job searching is very important for you to know who you apply to and know what that company does.
Monique: [00:32:26] So in my case I work for state government. So we or agencies or entities we are not companies we are not organizations. And that’s important.
Monique: [00:32:36] If you research that you will see that on our Web sites on all of them and you need to have an idea of what it is we do because you have to know that I’m going to ask you I want to know that you want to work for my agency and you need to understand what it is we do so that you understand how you fit it so that you can ask meaningful questions during the interview. And if that is not something that you can do in this day and age when we’re so transparent and especially the state of Georgia you know is one of my pet peeves. I get asked all the time about benefits or about leave or about retirement and the reality of the situation is if you take five minutes to google any of that information you’re going to find very quickly the team.georgia.gov website that will lay out all that for you. So research is very very important and you have to now I’m going to do it on you.
Monique: [00:33:31] So that is my expectation that you’re doing it on me and for the agency.
Tiffany: [00:33:37] Well said. Agree with you 110 percent on that one
[00:33:42] Said, Davia, what are your thoughts on it? Definitely everything you know I get resumes for jobs for creative positions and the people are just applying for a job they have no qualifications so you know this is an indicator you didn’t even look and see what the requirements are for the job you just saw. job opening and applied for it. So that’s a quick way to get your resume thrown in the recycling bin/trash just by not doing your research because it’s not really worth your time to put in work for a job that you’re not going to get because 1 you don’t fit the requirements because 2 you didn’t do the proper research to see what you actually applying for. And some things come out in the interview. I remember interviewing for or excuse me I was interviewing someone for a social media position and the resume was stellar. The cover letter was amazing, references checked. So we brought this person in and I asked her to provide some feedback on our Facebook page. Her response was oh I didn’t look at you’re interviewing for a social media position and you haven’t looked at the Facebook page. So in my mind, I said to myself Self this interview was over but you know I have to be the professional.
Davia: [00:35:01] And we continued on. But at that moment it was a wrap for me because you know you show up to interview 10 12 15 minutes early. Couldn’t you take five minutes to look at the Facebook page at a minimum? Doing your research ahead of time to get your foot in the door as well as doing your research to not only answer questions at the interview but ask questions. I find it very impressive when a candidate has questions specific to the college our branding our marketing because it shows that they are going above and beyond and they’re getting the job. I actually hired a PR specialist about two years ago and résumé was outstanding, the interview was outstanding. Second the interview was outstanding but one of the many things that took her over the edge was as she told us about our competitors and had suggestions for us to become just more strategic in our marketing and public relations efforts. The girl did the research and even now she is an incredible researcher she is always though again just her work ethic and getting the interview and securing subsequent interviews and getting the job. All of that continues to show in the work that she does for our college.
Tiffany: [00:36:16] That’s like really really good information really good information. so outside of research, Are cover letters are still an important thing? I know Monique you mentioned in your position I don’t think that they may not be as required.
Tiffany: [00:36:32] Davia, they may be in yours but do you see because I can’t tell you the last time I uploaded a cover letter to no kind of job search system. I don’t mean I’ll bring one and if I have to, but normally I just bring in a resume.
Tiffany: [00:36:44] So do you feel like cover letters are still something that people should focus on or at least have on hand.
Davia: [00:36:50] I do. One I’m an overachiever so welcomes me but
Davia: [00:36:56] So to me you know again your resume is a snapshot. The cover letters help you to paint a picture and is also an excellent way to put it putting your key performance indicators. So resume has a snapshot. You can even highlight even more of your accomplishments on the cover letter. And you could tailor your accomplishments to what they’re looking for in the qualifications for the job. Not only the main qualifications but also the preferred qualifications. So I love reading cover letters because again I’m getting more of an idea of what type of team member you’re actually going to be.
Davia: [00:37:34] And it also shows your writing skills your written communication skills. I’m looking for different things and again if the job requires a resume but you also submit a cover letter again that work ethic you’re putting in extra to again get your foot in the door and secure the job. Yeah.
Monique: [00:37:54] So I’m going to agree with Davia on almost everything that she said.
Monique: [00:37:59] My caveat is so for me and what I do cover letters are sometimes required specifically for the reason that the readjustment. It shows your writing skills.
Monique: [00:38:11] And so in one of my last roles we were hiring financial reporting analysts that they were charged with writing the annual financial report and compiling all the notes that go into that report. Well, that report is what we published for the public. And it’s also used by our auditors. So it is very important that you are able to write. We will ask you for cover letter. Okay. So if I ask you for a cover letter you most definitely need to upload a cover letter.
Monique: [00:38:38] This is very important especially for interns because in every position where I hired to intern I’m asking for a cover letter and I’m doing that for a number of reasons but mainly I want to see if you can write.
Monique: [00:38:51] Number two I want to see if you can follow instructions. And number three I want to see if you will address it to me as the recruiter because I’m giving you that information and the job posting and I want to see if you’re tailoring it to my agency which a lot of interns miss not just interns but employees regular applicants. They also miss that right. They are not paying attention and they’re not feeling it.
Monique: [00:39:14] So I’m going to say definitely yes if the position asks for it if it doesn’t ask for it and you upload it then I need it to be very well written. Because if you write a bad cover letter then I may hold that against you.
Tiffany: [00:39:29] Yeah it almost like following instructions. although you can go above and beyond. But when you do make sure that it’s still in line and it’s going to be in your favor not against you.
Tiffany: [00:39:40] Yeah. Correct. Oh wow. makes sense.
Tiffany: [00:39:44] So what would you say will be the top five things that HR Managers want to see on a candidates resume or if you do want to give me five, I’ll take three, I’ll take three.
Monique: [00:39:56] Well really I don’t think it’s five. I mean I think really an HR Manager or a recruiter or a hiring manager you know they’re looking to make sure that number one you have the required education and skills for the position.
Monique: [00:40:11] That’s why we write minimum education requirements and qualifications and that’s why we write preferred. So we want to see how closely you aligned to what our expectations are that’s going to be number one and then the second part of that is we want to see a well written well laid out resume because we do not have time to try to piece it together. Hiring managers are busy, HR Managers are busy recruiters are busy. Help us help you by crafting a well laid out document.
Davia: [00:40:46] I agree with that as well the experience, the education and also how have you continued your education. Have you taken any additional classes do you have any certificates.
Davia: [00:40:58] Because I got my degree in 2004 my first degree in 2004, the second in 2006. Well, a lot in media communications have changed. So what I’ve done is taken some continuing education classes I’ve gotten some certificates to help keep me current so that something important as well because for someone that has been out of the workforce for a while and they’re trying to return, having that extra edge will help them as well.
Davia: [00:41:24] So I’m really interested in how people keep themselves relevant.
Tiffany: [00:41:28] Well that’s a good point. All right. So last but not least before we kind of wrap up here. I just want I guess each of you to just share any professional tips that you would like to share with you know the audience listening or maybe potentially you know people who are in that process of interviewing. Any tips that may kind of give them an edge when it comes to this process.
Davia: [00:41:58] I’ll say without fail and just reiterating everything that we’ve been talking about is just doing your research that will be to your benefit from the time you begin working on your resume to land a job and even just doing promotions because your goal should be to continue to grow in your job and not to be stagnant so the more you can do to educate yourself about your position trends in whatever interest industry that you are in just continue doing their research so you remain relevant you remain valuable and it could help with career advancement.
Davia: [00:42:37] As far as again landing that interview getting your foot in the door your documents are very important. So having other people look at your resume may be making an investment in someone like me who helps people get interviews because I redesigned resumes and write cover letters. Just try to find a resource that will help you get your foot in the door. what people have to remember is your documents will help you get an interview. But you’re the one that has to land the job. So that’s where the research again comes into play. Another very important thing is to make sure that you have questions to ask the interviewer. That is very very. I always enjoy getting a challenge from someone who is interviewed for a job meaning that they’re asking us questions that are making us think because we typically expect questions like what type of employee are you looking for. Describe your work environment. But if you ask us a question that really, in the beginning, has us a little speechless. In a way, it’s really really impressive as we’re thinking wow this person is really dynamic. They again did their research and they are really proving their worth and their value and they haven’t even gotten the job yet. It is really really important and I’m old school. So send thank you cards.
Tiffany: [00:44:00] That’s a big one for me too.
Davia: [00:44:01] e-mails are OK because they’re definitely a little more you know you can do it in real time. But again me being an overachiever, taking that extra step and going the extra mile to actually write it out, put a stamp on it, put it in the mail.
Davia: [00:44:21] And here a Pro Tip, already have the cards written out. OK. Find out who your interviewing with have the cards ready to go. You leave the interview, drop them at the post office done. In the past, I’ve gotten second interviews because I sent thank you cards.
Davia: [00:44:36] That’s not the only reason but there’s something they put me over the edge. They like me. They looked at my qualifications they were pleased with that but they were really impressed. That I took the time out to, again, take that extra step and to just show some gratitude for giving me a chance to interview for a job.
Tiffany: [00:44:52] Yeah that was a good one for me. And I actually you said a couple of things I just want to kind of quickly chime in on. when you mentioned the fact that asking questions in an interview is very important. One of the tips that I used to do was I would go to the company’s recent press releases and I would see recently what do they have going on.
Tiffany: [00:45:16] What events they attend in my case. What new drug is coming down the pipeline that they’re excited about? Who are they going to target with it? That kind of stuff, so I could have questions for them in regards to that but I believe that’s why I’ve kind of been very successful as well. When I do interviews because I have at least on minimum maybe five to eight questions most of them are very general. OK. What is your training timeline like. You know what is this process going to look like a field ride. Like just general ones. But if I would have to say for me especially in a sales role the most important question you can ask in an interview is the one that’s going to close them for the job.
Because I’ve I’ve walked away from a couple of them was either simply forgot or like you said, mailing those thank you notes. I forgot to ask for a business card to where I could actually handwrite and mail a thank you note or whatever. In my situation because it’s not more of an office that you go into because they’re coming from all over the world to interview you or whatever. But my number one success thing I would say has been just asking them for the job. I honestly believe that the more confident that you are when you just go in there and ask like why are you there. You’re there to get the job. So you need to ask a person who’s going to be responsible for giving you that chance you need to ask them for that chance.
Tiffany: [00:46:41] So it’s just funny as you said those questions that there’s so very important and I could not agree with you agree with you more. You know and definitely send out a hand thank you note if you can and if not an e-mail one I guess I know sometimes I’m in my world or industry is a little bit more difficult because I’ll give you the corporate office mailing address then I won’t give you a personal one. So it would be I guess more effective to do the e-mail versus a handwritten note. But those are really great tips.
Monique: [00:47:14] Well you ladies went deep. I’m going to keep it simple
Monique: [00:47:19] For the listeners and that kind of focus on a couple of key areas. So the first thing that I want to say is I know everyone hates to fill out an application. However, at this point, they are not going away. They still exist in some form even if your first application is just short and sweet. You better believe that the application is coming at some point. So that means that it is very very very important for you to follow the instructions and fill out the application completely. I cannot tell you how many times I have not reviewed resumes and tossed applications because somebody did not fill it out completely. Do not I repeat DO NOT WRITE see resume on an application or on prescreening questions. OK. And this is a Pro-Tip this is also an Insider Tip. When you see screening questions on the application process we are doing that to help narrow down the field. They are designed to screen you out. Help us screen you in by answering those questions. If you put “see resume”, I will not even look at the rest of your packet. So if you had a great resume you had a great cover letter but when it came to my application, and the prescreening questions that I attached to the job posting and you write see resume guess what?. You go into the recycle bin. So that is very very very important because we’re asking you those questions for a reason. Number one to see if you can follow instructions. Number two, to see how much you’re paying attention. OK. So that’s applications now resumes and we’ve talked about this. But really what you want to do with your resume is just so show that you are fit for the role that you’re applying to.
Monique: [00:49:12] And that can be very simple by just tweaking a few things on your resume but make it relevant to the position that you’re applying for.
Monique: [00:49:19] And then when it comes to interviews so there are a couple of things that I want you to do and more are talking about interviews I mean face-to-face interviews and even phone screens Ok phone interviews and phone screens in particular. If I call you and you are not in a position to talk to me tell me I will call you back.
Monique: [00:49:38] Ok. Do not try to talk to me while you’re driving your car in the rain on the road and I hear background noise or do not try to call me when you’re in the grocery store and you’re shopping for groceries or you’re in a bad area and your service keep going in and out because that is going to annoy me.
Monique: [00:49:54] Just go ahead and tell me hey this is not the best time.
Monique: [00:49:58] May I give you a callback? I’m going to say yes. Also, do not feel pressured to go right into a phone interview if you’re called by a recruiter. you can actually schedule that. So if you’re out somewhere and you’re not in front of your computer and you’re not able to get the information about the company that you’re talking to. Again it is OK to say this is not the best time. May I give you a callback. My answer is going to be yes. OK. When it comes to face to face interviews there are two things I want you to know. Number one I want you to have an answer to the salary question because you know we’re going to ask you do not allow me as a recruiter or a hiring manager or any other HR professional to determine your worth. You should know that. OK. And research is really easy. And if you don’t know that you can just ask me what the range is and then you can make a decision about what the answer is going to be but you need to have an answer. The answer should not be oh whatever you think or I’m flexible. Right because ultimately I’m going to come to you with an offer that may or may not be our best offer but I’m going to come to you with an offer that you are probably not going to like so I need you to have an answer to that salary question. And then lastly do not seem desperate. Okay. We can see desperation a mile away I know that it can be frustrating and I know that if you’ve been out of work for a long time at some point you’re going to get to where I just want a job but do not show that in the interview because that will sink you. OK, desperation is not attractive.
Davia: [00:51:34] Monique something you said target something in my head. So just going back to the applications if you have a LinkedIn page and you have your resume ready.
Davia: [00:51:45] Copy, paste, edit because I do understand you know that you are filling out this application but you’re also uploading your resume as some people do put that see resume. And again that is a little on the lazy side because applications there for a reason like you said.
Davia: [00:52:03] But you know you have the information there when they’re asking you for a description of your duties. Pull it from your LinkedIn, pull it from your resume and just edit it to the Website or the application site that you’re applying for that’s my two cents on that.
Monique: [00:52:21] Definitely we don’t need you to reinvent the wheel. But for the state of Georgia for a lot of our agencies, we are still looking for that paper application because there is an attestation. At the end of that that you have to sign off on. And so we need that. That’s a legal document. So it needs to be complete and it needs to be accurate and please resume is not an appropriate response.
Tiffany: [00:52:54] When people fill out applications and they leave the blanks is it appropriate to put N/A in the blank should something be in the blank or should you just leave it blank. Like what. What is your I guess the formal way of recommending that?
Tiffany: [00:53:11] Like what. What does that look like?
Monique: [00:53:13] Because our process is electronic. If it doesn’t apply then there’s usually going to be N/A option. Our system is not really designed for you to leave blanks. So if there’s an option for you to write N/A day I would definitely see it that way. If you’re filling out a paper application. Certainly right. It is not required. This is not a star. I think it’s OK for you to leave it there because our process is electronic. We don’t allow you to leave anything blank make sense.
Tiffany: [00:53:47] I know some systems do and that’s why I was just asking because that’s one thing I learned when I was like 15 years old and I was working my first job at the Department of Veteran Affairs in Jackson Mississippi and there was a lady named Ms. Von Norwood who took me under her wing and we were filling out applications for like a summer program or whatever. And that’s the first thing she said she said You do not. And she was strict like she was serious business. She like you don’t leave saying blank on this application.
Tiffany: [00:54:17] I’ll never forget that application was yellow. Never. And she was like What. No, you’re not finished with this.
Tiffany: [00:54:24] This is not complete. This is unacceptable. You need to go sit down. If it doesn’t apply to you need to write in an in the blank. That’s the reason why I asked that question. Even for young listeners out there, I think that it’s important to kind of know some of those small little tidbits they really may make a difference. Like you said your system really does not allow for it to just be left blank. But there are some systems out there where you know you can fill it in yourself so that’s the reason why I was kind of asking that question because I was like Hey I remember when I was 15 it wasn’t an option on a paper application. Even for those who don’t know you know for positions like with McDonald’s or just for people getting started. If there’s some sort of online thing I’m sure there is. But for those who actually go back go somewhere and get an actual paper application you know is very important. Like you were saying to fill them fill those blanks in. But we’re moving. All right. And before we close out the show I definitely want to give you guys the opportunity to leave your information on the show for people to contact you. I know Davia said you offer you know resume writing services cover letter services so definitely go ahead and plug all of your information so people out there listening. If there’s something that they’re looking for they can definitely reach out to you.
Davia: [00:55:39] Sure will. My business is burgeoning. So I’m in the process of getting my Web site and everything together but the name is The Lassiter Firm, I specialize in cover letters, resumes, copy-writing, and marketing consulting. So if you would like to reach out to me you can just shoot an email firstname.lastname@example.org and you can also find me on LinkedIn. I’m on LinkedIn quite a bit so that is another way to reach out for me and just look out for thelassiterfirm.com coming very soon.
Monique: [00:56:23] Yay. OK so if you had any questions. About the state of Georgia employment or just interested in the current openings we have. I would definitely recommend that you check out our careers web page and it is team.georgia.gov that website also provides information on State of Georgia benefits and the discounts that are offered to State of Georgia employees. And then if you’re looking for me in particular, my name is Monique Jenkins and you can feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn at Monique Jenkins, PHR or you can shoot me an email my email address is email@example.com And I look forward to hearing from you guys.
Tiffany: [00:57:28] Again ladies thank you so much for your time. I really appreciate it. As one of the goals here on The “P” Word podcast is all about professionalism and helping people find their purpose. And so I think that by just having you on it sheds a lot of light and not only to just empower but to be a resource to those who may be looking for it. So again I really, really appreciate it and thank you so much for being on today. Thank you for having us.