Do references really matter?
What are references?
When applying for a job, many employers will ask for a list of references. A reference is a person that the employer can contact who can attest to your work ethic, skills and personality. An employer can see from your resume what you have done before, but having a someone else provide proof and background knowledge often works in your favor. Unless you did not quite step up to the plate.
When do you give a list of references?
Only give references when asked. However, always be prepared to give them. Employers usually ask for them before the interview during the application process, however there are times when they may ask at the end of an interview. Therefore it is important to keep a few copies of your references as well as your resume with you when going to interviews.
Who should they be?
References should include people who know you well enough to provide insightful information about your professional duties, how you work and how you interact. Often times employers prefer these people to be close to you but not family. If you put your mom down, of course she is going to say that you are the most amazing thing since sliced cheese and you are the best for the job.
Some examples of who to include may be:
- Previous employers
Previous employers work well for references unless the employer specifically states "do not list previous employers."
Professors are often close enough to get to know you, but are usually not your best friend that you go shopping with. They know you on an academic level and can attest to your efforts in a setting where your reward is academic achievement.
Friends are sometimes tricky. They know you more personally which helps the employer get to know your actual personality. However, similar to family members, they may be biased toward you since well, you are their friend.
Coworkers are beneficial for references because they worked with you and were your equal as opposed to your boss who was not always around or did not work on the same level with you.
Do references really matter?
An employer wants to make sure that he or she is hiring the right person for the job. Though checking references is sometimes labor-intensive, if the employer asks for them, you bet he or she will check them. Do not lie or make up names or numbers. That is a sure way to blow your chances of getting the job.
Also, make sure your references are worthy of the employers time. If you have them call your mom, not only are you wasting their time, but you are also making them do extra work in finding a source that will give an honest answer and not a biased answer. Having the employer search for a different source could also decrease your chances of getting that job, because for one, not all employers will like you enough to do the job they asked you to do before you even started working there. Second of all, if they do look up a different reference, you are creating extra work for them that isn't necessary. Lastly, who know who they will call? You might as well provide a source that is honest yet will still be on your side.
How to Choose Your College
Choosing a college can seem very daunting for some, especially with the large amount of choices that exist. However, you can make it easier for yourself by following these tips.
Choosing a college can seem very daunting for some, especially with the large amount of choices that exist. It is not to be forgotten however, you can make choosing a college into a systematic process, allowing you to come to a final decision through a much more controlled process. Many high-school graduates also have problems when choosing their college as the amount of different opinions that exist on each college one vary widely from person to person. It is often much easier and much more strongly recommended to build your own opinions through research of various kinds.
Top Tips to Choose Your College
- Visit - Hearing about colleges through other people even when it´s close friends that have gone their is never a good idea. You should always try and build your own opinion. By visiting multiple colleges you will begin to get an idea of what you want and do not want. For example you may start noticing patterns weather you prefer a smaller or a bigger college. Visiting a college also allows you to gain a first hand impression of their facilities and the people that are attending there. This is worth more than many think and visiting more than one college even if you are not sure you want to go there will help massively with college selection in the long run.
- Don't base everything on rankings - Although it is a good idea to look at the rankings in order to get a feeling for how colleges have been compared to some others you know, it is not recommended to apply to one college over another because of it's ranking. Rankings, as done by the New York Times every year, often concentrate on the spending of a college on it's faculty, facilities, and classes or the amount of research undertaken. However, the colleges spending habits do not necessarily impact the quality of the education you will receive and the value of the people that you will meet while being there. This is why visiting colleges is so important, you may wish to go to a certain top ranked college, however after visiting it, you may decide it's not for you after all or that you definitely wish to attend that school. Keep in mind, it is often far more accurate to search for college rankings concerning themselves with your course or major specifically.
- Apply to 3 ranges of colleges - It is a good idea to apply to some "reach" colleges which you believe are just slightly out of your reach when it comes to results. It is possible that you will be pleasantly surprised if you are not completely unrealistic with your choices. Then apply to two or three colleges which you believe that you would really like to go to, choose these carefully as they are the ones you will most likely end up attending. Also choose a safety school, make sure you still like this school as much as your others however it should be a sure thing that you are getting in.
How to Optimize Your Resume for Applicant Screening Software
In order to diminish the numbers of applications some companies will automatically screen applications, make sure you do not get filtered out with these tips!
When bigger companies advertise the opening of a position, it is not uncommon for them to receive a large amount of applications for the respective job. While not all companies do this, some use applicant screening software in order to filter out the applications by a set of rules that are predetermined by the employer. However, this sometimes also causes problems for the applicants. If your resume or cover letter does not contain certain keywords related the to the job for example, it is possible that no one will ever see your resume. It is a good idea to format your resume and cover letter correctly, in order to avoid being eliminated before the hiring manager has considered you.
Use keywords - One of the main things that screening software does is scan the resume for certain keywords. Problems arise when, for example, the job description requires the ability to use a certain program, however, it is not mentioned in your resume even though you are able to. This is why it is important to include skills that are required or maybe even seem obvious as screening programs often filter resumes out that do not contain certain words, in an effort to only select candidates that are fully qualified.
Repetition - If the job seems to focus on a certain skill or function it is a good idea to include it multiple times throughout your resume. Screening programs will often filter out resumes that do not seem relevant enough to the job, this can be combated however, by using the words from the job description especially those which seem to play a large role in the job.
Job titles - Applicant screening software also often scans your employment history and checks its relatedness with the job you are applying for. This is usually the case when the job requires a certain amount of experience. Sometimes however, the software will not recognize a job title and class it as unrelated. It is therefore a good idea, if your recent or current job title does not match with the one you are applying for, to clarify or even put the new employers name for the same job in parentheses. It is not recommended to change the job title entirely as this would be seen as a discrepancy if questioned about it.
- Save in a standard format - It is often debated which format is the best to send out a resume as, when the company does not specify. Using nonstandard software or formats may cause your resume to be discarded by the screening process or the company may have trouble opening it. Due to the number of applicants the company will not alert you of this fact and your resume will also be discarded. Therefore when sending your resume it is suggested to use a PDF or Word (.docx or .doc) file as most companies will view these as standard.
Tips for Submitting an Online Job Application
Online applications can be daunting for some, however by following these tips will help you avoid the most common mistakes when applying for jobs online.
Online job applications are becoming much more common, however for many people the process is fairly new and unfamiliar. The adopting companies often prefer the paperless aspect of online applications as well as the fact that losing documents also becomes a non-issue. The overall application process may be similar to when applications are done in person but there are some crucial aspects that need extra attention when applying online. The idea of applying online for a job may be daunting but using the following tips as a guide may clear up some worries or questions.
Top tips for applying for a job online
- Know what you are applying for - One of the most common mistakes made when applying for a job online is not fully reading the job description or advertisement. Hiring managers that use online mediums to search for candidates often complain about receiving applications from job seekers that are under qualified, or do not have the necessary experience to obtain the job. Make sure you read the whole job description and know what is expected of you, just because an application is online does not change the fact that job requirements are often not flexible.
- Avoid errors in your application at all costs - Although this goes for all job applications it is even more important when you are applying online. Online applications are often stored even if the candidate was not selected, therefore if you provide content that includes errors this may reduce your chance of seeking another job with the same company in the future. Make sure to check all work before you press the submit button, also reading your text backwards often helps detect spelling errors.
- Create a job specific cover or motivation letter (if required) - Make sure to write a good cover letter if one is required. Instead of using a template or writing one that is not specific to the job you are applying to, use the guidelines in the link below to create a unique specific cover letter.
How to write a cover/motivation letter
- Check your social media sites - If you are applying to a modern company that you know either uses a lot of social networking sites or even conducts checks of these sites as a part of the hiring process, be sure to check your account for any information you do not wish to share with your employer or anything that could deter them considering you as a candidate.
- Be aware of applicant screening systems - Many employers will not send your details straight to the hiring manager. Often companies use an application screening system that allows for employers to cut down on the number of applications they receive. The system works by scanning for keywords relevant to the position or company, therefore remember to use include all skills and abilities even if they may seem obvious.
How to optimize your resume for applicant screening software
- Use the STARR method when asked competency questions - Many firms like to ask competency questions on their online job application form. These are questions which allow the employer to learn more about you on their own terms. The STARR method is a great way to answer these questions, it consists of describing a Situation, Telling the employer what your task or role was, describing the Actions you took, discuss the Result and how you Reflected about it. It is always a good idea to use specific, concrete examples of past situations when applying for a job, when applying online competency questions provide you with the chance to do so.
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