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Taking A Gap Year? Here’s How To Explain It To Employers

Taking A Gap Year? Here’s How To Explain It To Employers

It’s a very popular choice for new grads to take a year off after graduating. Whether you use that time to travel, help out family members, or just to figure out what your next step should be, it’s a perfectly fine choice to make. However, it is something you’ll need to explain to your future employers. Don’t be worried, though! With the right framing, a gap year can actually be a great asset to have in your arsenal. Just follow these three guidelines throughout the hiring process to explain (and even sell) your gap year to future employers.

Be Honest

The most important thing you can do when addressing your gap year is to be upfront and honest about it. From the start of your application – make sure to acknowledge it anywhere you can. Note it on your resume, explain further in your cover letter, and head to your interview prepared. Most hiring managers will ask about it during an interview, so be sure to craft a thoughtful answer that sells your gap year as an advantage instead of a disadvantage.

Use It To Your Advantage

So, how do you sell a gap year as an advantage? You’d be surprised at the value hiring managers may place on the experiences you had during your gap year. Some positions have hundreds of applicants, and a diverse skill set and background can be a great way to set you apart. Hopefully, you collected a few impressive accomplishments or life lessons throughout your time away. List those out and how they contributed to your maturity and world experience.

Relate It To The Position

Once you have a couple of great selling points in mind, think about how you can relate them directly to this position. Did you go on a solo backpacking trip throughout Europe that required you to plan ahead to book travel, hotels, and sightseeing? That kind of foresight could really come in handy for a project manager or account executive who needs to be incredibly organized. Did you spend a year working for your family business before you decided to jump in and follow your own dreams? What skills did you acquire during that time? No matter what, there are ways you can relate almost any experience to your dream position – sometimes, all it takes is a little bit of creativity!

In the end, taking a gap year after you graduate does not have to be determinantal to your career. In fact, it could be just the thing you need to set yourself apart from other young job seekers. It’s all in how you frame it. Interested in more job search tips specifically tailored to young professionals? Sign up for our Career Kickoff newsletter!

Resume Essentials

8 Essential Elements To A Great Resume

Now, we know that a successful resume relies heavily on which job you’re applying to, what industry you work in, and of course, the experiences you have to fill it with. However, there are a few crucial things you should include, no matter which industry you’re in. A thoughtful resume is absolutely essential to landing your dream job. It’s the first impression your future employer will have of you, so it’s crucial to nail the details. Here are eight non-negotiables that are necessary to create a great resume. 

Contact Info Front and Center

You would be surprised at the number of people who leave the most important thing off their resume—their name and contact information! How can your future employer give you the great news that you scored an interview if they don’t know how to get ahold of you? This should be front and center on your resume, making them remember your name!

Education & Experience

Your education, experience, and specific achievements are what demonstrate to a hiring manager that you are a good match for the job! What you focus on in these areas depends on the job. No matter what, your education should be short and sweet. It should include dates of attendance, where you received your degree, and other details if they are applicable to your job (i.e., Certifications, honors, GPA, relevant coursework)

Your work experience is the main area that potential employers focus on. They want to see if your past work history aligns with what you would be doing in the role you are applying for. This section should include the tangible impacts that you made throughout your work history. Don’t be afraid to brag a little! Be sure to cater your resume to each job to which you apply. Try to use similar words in your resume that you found in the job description.

Awards and Certifications

Displaying your awards and certifications is very dependent on if they apply to this specific open position. Your resume is a great place to show off your accomplishments. However, if you don’t have any that an employer would be impressed by, don’t feel pressured to include anything! While it’s great to include awards and certifications, not having any does not put you out of the running for a job.

List a Balance of Both Soft Skills and Technical Skills 

Soft skills are becoming more and more important to employers. Show what you can bring to a team through examples of your leadership, communication, and adaptability throughout your career. And of course, technical skills are always necessary to get the job done. Highlight your technical skills through your field accomplishments and define what sets you apart from others through numbers and tangible achievements.

Integrate a Healthy Amount of Active Words

Replace passive verbs with active verbs in your resume if you want to stand out. Using active verbs shows the things that you have accomplished in your career. Some examples of active verbs include directed, generated, influenced, etc. The list goes on and on, but these words are much more influential and persuasive than passive ones.

 

Great Formatting

Formatting is everything when it comes to your resume. If it is too loud, it can stray hiring managers away from the critical information about you! Having a resume that is clean, clear, and well organized will always be the most successful.

Exceptional Spelling

Some hiring managers consider just a single typo on a resume an automatic veto and they trash the resume on the spot. Many take any misspellings or grammatical errors as a sign of poor attention to detail and a lack of care. Make sure you proofread your resume multiple times and maybe even have someone else look over it with fresh eyes.

Avoid Clichés

Exaggerating your skills is a cliché that will come back to haunt you after you’re hired. If you feel the need to inflate your skills, this job just isn’t the right fit for you. Another cliché you need to avoid is including irrelevant skills to the job. It takes up unnecessary space, making your resume look less clean and distracting from what’s most important.

With these tips in mind, remember that it is very important to customize your resume for every job. Read the job description and find a way to tailor your skills and experiences to mirror the job description, without exaggerating your skillsets. Stick to these resume guidelines, and your resume will be looking better than ever! 

How To Get Hired For A Remote Position

How To Get Hired For A Remote Position

This year, 50% of employees will be working outside of the main office for at least 2.5 days per week. Remote positions are highly sought-after in today’s age of modern technology. And great news, companies are on the hunt for remote employees! However, because of the hands-off nature of working outside the office, they are selective about who they hire. Here are a few key steps you can take to sell yourself as a valuable asset and land the remote position of your dreams.

Set realistic expectations

Remote work is not for everyone. The most important thing to do before you embark on this type of job hunt is to assess whether it’s something you really want. Obviously, there are tons of perks to working remotely, but there are a few challenges as well. Consider that it can be quite lonely and isolated, there can be a struggle to divide home and work life, and you’re held accountable for day-to-day motivation and inspiration.

Look in the right places

The wrong way to find a remote job is to apply to any and every job you see in your field around the world. For the most part, if a company is open to hiring remotely, they will say so in the job title or description. There are some sites, such as remote.com, that list remote positions exclusively. Additionally, you can partner with a recruiter that will match you with a role that matches your specific skill sets and goals.

Understand what employers want

Companies won’t hire just anyone for a remote position. Oftentimes they are only open to hiring someone who has worked out of the office in some capacity. Even if you don’t have remote work on your resume, there are ways to show you would excel as a remote employee. Try asking your current employer for a trial period, working one day a week from home. Or, try adding a side-hustle that you can do in the evenings.

Additionally, here are a few of the traits that make an excellent remote worker:

  • Excellent communication
  • Outstanding organization and prioritization
  • Self-motivation
  • The ability to draw boundaries
  • Tech-savvy

Try incorporating these skills on your resume and describing them in detail during your interview.

There’s no doubt about it, remote jobs are out there. And in order to land one, it’s all in how you sell yourself. Can’t get enough job search and interview tips? Check out more JSG blogs for more job search tips!

How To Find A Job In 2020

How To Find A Job In 2020

As many of you know, the labor market is extremely tight. That’s great news for all you job seekers out there! There are millions of opportunities available across the nation. So, if you’re ready to find a new job in 2020, here are a few easy tips to jumpstart your New Year job search.

Update your resume 

Before you even start your job search, you must update your resume. Review your most recent copy of your resume and start filling in gaps and making changes. Have a new job? Add it. Completed a successful project or gained some additional responsibilities at work? Make sure you add those, as well. The last thing you want is feeling rushed to completely overhaul your resume right as you found what appears to be the job of your dreams! However, don’t forget to tailor your resume to each position you apply for to beat those pesky ATS. 

Take a look at your LinkedIn 

Did you know that LinkedIn has over 165 million members in the United States alone? And employers have over 20 million job postings on the platform across the globe. That’s a lot of jobs! But what’s even more notable for job seekers is that over 95 percent of recruiters utilize LinkedIn as a sourcing tool. In other words, if you aren’t on LinkedIn, you’re missing out on some great career opportunities! So, if you have a LinkedIn, make sure it’s up to date. Have your most current position on there, any relevant skills, list any achievements or certificates, and update your profile picture to stand out in the crowd! 

Partner with a recruiter 

If you are serious about accelerating your job search, we recommend partnering with a recruiter. Recruiting firms, like Johnson Service Group, have great relationships with hiring managers and HR professionals. If you work with us, we will help facilitate the interview and onboarding process to help you find that exciting new opportunity before the end of the year. So, if you really want to find a job before 2020, let’s work together! 

How To Network In Modern Society

How To Network In Modern Society

You have probably heard some version of the statistic regarding how many open positions are filled through networking. Ranging anywhere from seventy to eighty-five percent, the ratio is significant! However, networking in today’s modern society looks a bit different than it used to. There are certainly upsides and downsides to how technology has transformed the way we make contacts and grow relationships in our professional world. But not to worry, we’re here to help you navigate it all!

Join Online Networking Groups

The internet has cracked the world of professional introductions wide open. You are now able to connect with people from around the world with a quick click of a button. Not only that, but there are also dozens of different ways to do it! Check out industry Facebook groups where your peers are bouncing ideas off one another, sharing job opportunities, and working together. Those with an entrepreneurial spirit can also join a Mastermind group, to meet with like-minded individuals and “create the success you want.”

Check Out Local Societies & Associations

Many local communities have different groups that get together and share a common interest. Do a quick online search for local societies or associations that align with your professional goals. Whether it’s a Young Professionals group that combines people from all industries or an industry-related Association, it gives you the opportunity to build incredible relationships within your communities. Some of these groups may require a membership fee, but they often share exclusive job opportunities, the chance to network with local leaders, and at the very least – valuable education!

Connect With A Recruiter

Even if you’re not currently on the job market, connecting with a recruiter could be one of the best things you do for your professional career. Oftentimes, recruiters have exclusive relationships with Hiring Managers at the top companies in your industry. This means that they hear about jobs before they even hit the job boards. (And did you know that “professionals who are among the first 25 to apply to a role are 3x more likely to land the job?”) And in today’s competitive hiring market, you never know what opportunity might cross a recruiter’s desk!

When it comes down to it, networking is still an incredibly effective way to get your foot in the door, and the benefits are endless. So, what are you waiting for? Put yourself out there and start reaping the rewards!

3 Red Flags To Avoid In Your Job Hunt

3 Red Flags To Avoid In Your Job Hunt

Whether you are actively looking for a new position, or passively keeping your options open, now is a perfect time. The job market is booming, and hundreds of companies are on the hunt for their next great employee. But how do you sort through dozens of opportunities to find that ideal next step? Employers want to ensure that candidates will be a good fit for their teams and organizations, and candidates should absolutely do the same! Keep an eye out for these red flags throughout your job search journey, and you’ll find yourself a great position in no time!

Less Than Stellar Job Descriptions

A job description’s purpose is to describe what the job entails. That way, a candidate can decide whether they’re qualified or not. Lack of details in a job description can indicate a role with an unclear definition. The company could potentially be putting out feelers for what kind of talent is on the market and then base the job around the type of candidate they hire. Or, in a worst-case scenario, the department may be unorganized, signaling that the job may be chaotic.

Asking for bizarre requirements in a job description could indicate a potential scam. Online scams centered around jobs are becoming increasingly more common. If you come across a help wanted ad on Craigslist asking only for date of birth, and if you have a bank account, chances are it’s not real. Most employers will ask for education and experiences – not for your banking information to set up a direct deposit before you’ve even interviewed.

Off-Kilter Titles

Job titles can be a major red flag. If a description includes a mash-up title, they may be trying to cram too many responsibilities under one person’s umbrella.

Additionally, if a title is confusing, it can indicate confusion in the role itself. For example, an “entry-level” position that requires 5-8 years of experience. A mismatch of skill sets could indicate disorganization or simply that a company is trying to hire someone with expert-level skill at an entry-level price.

Last, but certainly not least, you may want to think twice about a job listing with a “fun and clever” title. While “Super Marketing Ninja” may catch your attention, it could be vague to distract from the actual level of seniority. Just be sure to take a more in-depth look into what the job entails and if it’s a good match. (And if you are hired, see if you can change your title to something more universal!)

Long Drawn-Out Interview Process

While a long, drawn-out interview process may be a red flag, it’s unfortunately very common. Companies may take weeks to schedule interviews, which may be an indication that hiring for this role is not a priority at the moment. At every step of the interview process, be sure to ask about what to expect next. That way, you know when it’s appropriate to follow up!

The best way to avoid these red flags throughout your job hunt? Partner with a JSG recruiter! We have personal relationships with the hiring managers, work with outstanding companies, and walk you through each step of the process. We also serve as a guide if you have any questions that may come up along the way. Contact us today to start the search for your next great position!

Qualified Applicants Only

Don’t Be Afraid to Apply to a “Qualified Applicants Only” Job

Qualified Applicants Only

It can be intimidating applying for jobs. That’s just the hard-honest truth. But when you see a job you’re excited about, you read through it, and then see at the bottom, “Qualified Applicants Only.” You start to second guess yourself. The what if’s start swirling through your mind and realize how some of the things that they say they “need,” you may not fully have. But does that really mean you’re unqualified? No, not necessarily!

Here’s how you can read through any job description and still apply to those that only want a “qualified” applicant.

The job market is tight, companies are having a hard time finding the perfect candidate

In today’s job market, clients are struggling daily to fill their job openings. According to February’s 2019 JOLTS report, there are 7.6 million job openings and only 6.2 million people are unemployed. As you can see, this almost leaves a gap of 1.4 million people to fill all the job openings. So, just because a job description is crazy detailed and you may not have everything on it, it’s okay to apply. Because companies do not have the luxury to find that perfect candidate.

Evaluate the importance of the skills and qualifications

Use your better judgment. If you’re reading through the job description and believe you can perform these, you’re probably a close to perfect fit. Companies are having to rely a lot more on soft skills due to today’s labor market. So even if you do not have all the hard skills listed on the job description, your soft skills could make up for it. Soft skills can be your saving grace in today’s job market. If you have the right soft skills for the job, you will probably easily be able to learn the hard skills as you go.

Use a recruiter to help you get past the “Qualified Applicants Only” wall

If you’re working with a recruiter, they are your advocate. They help you get on the hiring managers desks and get your resume seen by the right people. You get to pass the whole confusion on if you’re “qualified” or not. And thus, give you a greater chance to get an interview, and in turn, the job. Using a recruiter can help you in multiple ways but mainly they will help illustrate that you have what it takes to successfully work in that position.

So, say yes, and do yourself a favor! Apply to that job and reach out to one of our recruiters here at Johnson Service Group and see what they can do to help you find your next dream job!

spring cleaning

It’s Time To Spring Clean… Your Career!

spring cleaning

Spring is on its way (at least we hope) and that means it’s a great time to refresh your resume, brush up on your interview skills, and take a look at what’s out there. Even if you’re not actively looking for a new position, it never hurts to be prepared. Some of the best candidates that we’ve placed have been passive, and they are now in a new position that has completely re-enhanced their career.

With recruiting being JSG’s specialty, we essentially go through the job search process over and over again, and we’ve learned a thing or two on the way. Through the JSG blog, we’re able to share our exclusive expertise on what it takes to get through every stage of a search for a new position, from resumes and references to final interviews and accepting offers. To assist you with “spring cleaning your career,” we’ve gathered some of our best candidate resources:

To help you explain that “gap year” you took to travel…
How To Explain A Gap In Your Resume During An Interview

For when your head is in the clouds dreaming about your next position…
E Is For Expectations: Setting Realistic Expectations Will Boost Your Job Hunt

On the best interview advice straight from your peers…
The Best Interview Advice On LinkedIn

For when you don’t know if you’re a passive candidate…
Active vs. Passive Candidates: What’s the Difference?

To help take the agonizing out of rewriting your cover letter for every job you apply to…
C Is For Cover Letter: How To Write A Killer Cover Letter

On what is keeping you from landing that dream job…
3 Problems With The Traditional Job Search (And How They’re Keeping You From Getting Hired!)

For when you just aren’t feeling inspired…
30 Motivational Quotes To Kickstart Your Job Search

On why it’s okay that you’ve held multiple positions over the last few years…
J Is For Job Hopping: 3 Benefits Of Hopping Job To Job

To keep in mind when you are updating that resume…
3 Phrases To Live By When Writing Or Updating Your Resume

For when you’re wondering if your resume is even reaching the decision makers…
K Is For Keywords: Using Keywords To Get Past An ATS

How blogging will help you get noticed by recruiters

B is for Blogging: How Blogging Will Help You Get Noticed By Recruiters

How blogging will help you get noticed by recruiters

It’s a candidate-driven market. The national unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been in 17 years. Employers are filtering through hundreds of candidates. You need to find a way to stand out to hiring managers and recruiters if you even want to be given the opportunity to interview.

But how will you stand out in a sea of qualified candidates? Blogging is a fun and relatively easy way to rise to the top of your fellow job applicants. Here are four benefits of blogging that will help you catch the attention of recruiters.

Increase online visibility

Showing up on LinkedIn is simply not good enough anymore. You know why? It’s finally 2018, and everyone has a LinkedIn page! But do you know what not everyone on the job market is doing? Yup, you guessed it. Blogging.

Writing blog posts is a great way to be found by recruiters on LinkedIn. If you are sharing your blogs on LinkedIn or posting your blog posts natively to your LinkedIn profile, recruiters and hiring managers will notice you.

You can create your own blog using one of many free blogging sites (WordPress, Medium, or Blogger, just to name a few). Or, to make your life easier, you can just post blog posts directly to your LinkedIn page. All you need to do is log in to LinkedIn and press “Write an article.” Choose a header image, a title, and start plugging away. It’s that simple.

When searching for new candidates, recruiters will check out your LinkedIn page. If you have published blog posts on your profile. it will increase your chances of standing out in the crowd of candidates.

Demonstrate your passion and expertise

You don’t have to be an accomplished author to write a blog post. Just start writing about your industry or something you are passionate about. Show recruiters that you are an expert in your industry. Discuss new trends or issues within your industry and propose solutions on how to address them. Or you can even talk about a complex problem that you were faced with in the workplace and how you overcame it.

Blogging will help demonstrate your communication and writing skills to potential employers. Sharing your thoughts with your professional network will get you noticed by recruiters searching for applicants. Recruiters love to see you doing what you do best.

Showcase your unique personality

Writing and publishing blog posts will help you illustrate your personality and your personal brand with potential employers. As we all know, it can be difficult to show your personality on a resume or even a cover letter. However, writing blog posts provides a medium to showcase who you are and how you communicate with others in a professional manner.

When recruiters or HR read through your blog posts, they will be able to get an idea of who you are before they even bring you in for an interview. This is great because potential employers can assess whether you would be a good culture fit for their organization before you even step foot into their building.

Provide talking points in your interview

When you are fortunate enough to get offered an interview, your blog posts may provide valuable talking points during your interview. You can reference one of your blog posts when answering a question that the hiring manager is asking you. Or you can even discuss an applicable accomplishment that you are proud of.

The interviewers may even bring up your blog in the interview and ask you about it! Blogging will help you not only stand out during the recruiting process but will make you memorable in the eyes of your interviewers during the decision process.

3 Problems With The Traditional Job Search (And How They're Keeping You From Getting Hired!)

3 Problems With The Traditional Job Search (And How They’re Keeping You From Getting Hired!)

3 Problems With The Traditional Job Search (And How They're Keeping You From Getting Hired!)

It’s not an easy decision to commit to searching for a new job. It takes you out of your comfort zone, it’s a huge time commitment, and the possibility of change is on the horizon. But did you know that you are probably wasting your time with a traditional job search? There are 3 major problems with doing it the old-school way:

1. Your resume is getting stuck in an ATS (Application Tracking System)

Application tracking systems have become pretty standard in the job market. When you submit your resume to a company online, it most likely goes through an ATS and gets screened based on certain keywords. This means that if you don’t have the right keywords, or even if you use abbreviations vs. the whole word or phrase, your resume might not even be making it to HR.

2. If your resume does get through, you’re being judged by a piece of paper, not your whole story

Sure, your resume shows your work history, but does it really tell your story? HR and Hiring Managers receive hundreds of resumes for each position, and they only have a short amount of time to judge if you’re qualified or not. So if your resume contains things that need further explanation like gaps or ambiguous titles, you’re missing an opportunity to sell yourself by just submitting a resume.

3. You don’t have someone championing you through the process.

There’s nothing that will sell your qualifications more than someone who is invested in your career and landing you this new position. When you submit your resume straight to a company online (the traditional way), you don’t have that cheerleader on your side.

Before you get discouraged by these major job search obstacles, consider partnering with a recruiter for the next step in your career. Recruiters have a direct line to the hiring manager and will ensure your resume will be front and center on their desk. Every time we submit a candidate, we tell a story. We address any potential issues up front and highlight your exemplary qualifications. And because we’re invested in you getting hired with our clients, we champion you throughout the whole process – maintaining a steady stream of communication, answering questions as soon as they arise, and scheduling interviews that work for both parties.

To find out more about what it’s like to be a JSG Candidate, click here.