Professional Development Resumes & Cover Letters

Ways to Improve Your Resume and Job Search With Expert Cheryl Palmer

Ways-to-Improve-Your-Resume-and-Job-Search-With-Expert-Cheryl-Palmer
Written by Jessie Liu

During her time at the Department of Labor, Cheryl Palmer saw the need for resume writing and career coaching in the wider workforce. So, she founded Call to Career, a premier resume writing and career coaching service, to fill that need. She spoke with us about job hunting and resume writing.

What are some common misconceptions about hiring that you see?

One misconception is that if you are over 50, you won't get hired. Even though age discrimination still exists, it is far too pessimistic a view to think that people over 50 aren't being hired. People in all age groups, even highly experienced workers, are being hired every day. Much of a job hunter's success depends on attitude. If you think you will get hired, you will. If you think you won't get hired, you won't.

Another misconception is that sometimes job hunters think that a recruiter will get them a job. The truth of the matter is that recruiters work for the employer, not for the job seeker. Certainly recruiters can be helpful in the job search process, but that is only true if they have an opening for which the job seeker is highly qualified. Job seekers need to use a variety of job search methods, including using recruiters, to find that next position.

Where do job seekers get "stuck," so to speak, in their search? What stumbling blocks are out there?

Some job seekers get stuck because they do not clearly define their job target. It's easy to get stuck if you don't know what you are looking for. You can't expect a potential employer to be your career coach. You must decide for yourself what you are looking for, and all of your job search tools need to reflect that goal.

Another stumbling block is that it is easy to get sidetracked with other projects you didn't have time for when you were working. Men especially are prone to get stuck doing their "honey-do" lists instead of focusing on the job search.

What's the one thing we should never, ever do on our resumes?

Job seekers should never, ever lie on their resumes. For some job hunters, it may seem as though this is the best thing to do, but it is very dangerous. The consequences for a job seeker can be severe. Most organizations will terminate an employee immediately if they find out the person lied. This is true even if the organization finds out years after the fact.

Many job seekers feel compelled to lie because they think it is the only way to compete. They may state they have a degree when in fact they never completed college, because they see so many vacancy announcements require a college degree. Or they may take credit for something on the job that they didn't do because it sounds impressive.

But lying is not worth it. If you are found out, not only can you lose your job, but if you are in a field where everyone knows everyone else, you can also be blacklisted.

Why is interview coaching so important? What's changed about interviews in the past few years?

Interview coaching gives job hunters critical feedback on how they are coming across. Many people may think they interview well, but they may not know how they are being perceived. An interview coach can help job seekers fine tune their answers for commonly asked questions and analyze their nonverbal responses.

One major change in how interviews are conducted in the last few years is that job seekers can expect at some point in the job search to be interviewed via videoconferencing. Skype is one of the most popular videoconferencing services. Job seekers should prepare to be interviewed through this new medium. There is a different feel with video interviewing than with face-to-face or telephone interviews.

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