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Job Interview Advice: How to Answer a Question about Your Red Flag

July 24, 2013 by  
Filed under Blog, Job Interview Tips

perfectresumeredflagsFrom Kent Lee, CEO of Perfect Resume

Recently I did an interview coaching session with a high-level executive worried about a potential “red flag” on his resume.

Red flags are warning signs that indicate to hiring managers and recruiters that you might not be a great candidate for their jobs.

Many of you probably have red flags on your resume and might not know the best way to handle this situation during an interview.

Examples of red flags might include:

  • A significant gap of unemployment.
  • Working for several years in an industry unrelated to the industry in which you are pursuing a job.
  • Short employment stints, such as working for several different companies for 1 year or less.
  • An incomplete college education.

When dealing with red flag questions, I teach my clients to use the CCR Technique. The CCR Technique is one you won’t find anywhere else online. CCR is an acronym that stands for Concise, Confidence, Redirect.

C: Concise

When an interviewer asks you a question about something on your resume that could potentially be viewed as negative, it’s important to answer in a very concise manner. I teach my clients to answer these questions in 30 seconds or less.

Why? Because the longer you talk about something potentially negative, the more defensive you sound. And the more defensive you sound, the more you remind the interviewer you might not be a good fit for his or her job.

C: Confident

When someone asks you about something negative, the best response always involves you remaining confident. Why? Because it shows that you aren’t afraid to discuss this topic and, to you, it really isn’t that big of a deal at all.

The more confidence you have when answering these questions, the more interviewers will pick up on your confidence, and they’ll start to believe that the red flag isn’t that big of a deal either. Plus, trust me when I say this, employers love hiring confident people.

How does someone screw this up? By rambling and not being clear and concise.  That’s why step one is so important. Being clear and concise always makes you sound confident.

R: Redirect

The last step in this process is to redirect. The strategy here is to redirect the question away from the red flag subject and onto one of your strengths. By redirecting, you can actually have the interviewer think about your strengths and why you are a great fit for the job, rather than your red flag. How cool is that?

So, let me give you a real-world example so you can see how this works.

We’ll use Bob as an example. Bob is a high-level Technology Sales Executive with more than 20 years of experience.  His red flag issue is that from 2005 to 2008, he did not work in Technology Sales and instead spent 3 years selling real estate.

He’s been asked about this several times in interviews and never was offered a job.

I asked Bob how he had answered this question in interviews. He spent more than 4 minutes rambling about how real estate sales are similar to technology sales. His voice quivered, he never made a clear point, and the point he was trying to make was a very, very big stretch.

It was the absolute wrong approach. Instead of spending 4 minutes talking about real estate, Bob could have used that time to sell his strengths. Here’s how we taught Bob to answer this question:

Interviewer: “Bob, what happened in 2002? Why did you leave Microsoft and go into real estate sales?”

Bob:  “In 2002, I was on top of the world. I had just won back-to-back President’s Club Awards, I earned close to $500,000, and after 12 years … I was burned out a bit on Technology Sales.

So for a few years, I dabbled in real estate. What I realized is that I’m not passionate about real estate, and I am passionate about Technology Sales.

That’s why I’m so excited about this opportunity, because it leverages my 15 years of industry experience, specifically selling infrastructure services to top Fortune 1000 companies.”

It takes 30 seconds exactly to say this answer, and look at all of things it accomplishes.

Before Bob even addresses the red flag, he mentions that he won back-to-back awards and earned $500,000 in sales. That’s pretty impressive. Next, he simply says (confidently) that he dabbled in real estate for a few years but wasn’t passionate about it.

Bob uses redirection and shifts the focus to the fact that he has several years of experience, specifically selling infrastructure services to top Fortune 1000 companies, which is exactly what the hiring manager interviewing candidates for that job is looking for.

So, the next time someone asks you about one of your red flags, remember to use the CCR Technique. Be concise, confident, and redirect the question to focus on your strengths.

Do you have a red flag on your resume? Would you like some help figuring out how to handle your red flag question? E-mail me and let me know at kent.lee@perfectresumeaz.com.

Resume Writing Tips: Why Resume Templates Don’t Work

July 17, 2013 by  
Filed under Blog, Resume Tips

If you’ve ever used a resume template, you know it can feel like trying to fit a round peg in a square hole. But the number one reason why resume templates usually fail is different than you might think.

An online search for resume templates will yield dozens and dozens of companies selling these products, but buyer beware. Resume templates are easy to find but are difficult to use, and rarely, if ever, work.

If you’ve ever used a resume template you probably know what we’re talking about.  At times it can feel like you are trying to fit a round peg into a square hole.

The biggest problem most people have with resume templates is the formatting. It can be difficult to get the text and spacing lined up how you want it.

But the number one reason why resume templates fail is that they lack relevant content.

Writing a resume is sort of like cooking a meal. You can have all the necessary cookware — pots, pans, and casserole dishes — but if you don’t have the right ingredients, you won’t be able to make a great meal.

The content of a resume works in much the same way. The most important ingredients for a resume are keywords. Keywords are what hiring managers are recruiters are looking for.

Keywords signify to hiring managers that you have the skills they’re looking for. But the majority of people who create their own resumes using templates simply don’t understand what the most important keywords are. It’s like cooking a meal without knowing what ingredients to use.

That’s the value experienced, professional resume writers bring to the table.

You won’t find this from national online resume writing companies offering resumes for under $100. Those companies don’t bring any real value to the table.  All they do is format the information you provide to them.

But if you use a high-level professional resume writing service like Perfect Resume, resume experts can share with you what keywords must be built into your resume.

A true resume expert will also be able to explain to you how to “optimize” your resume for keywords, which is a process of including important keywords in several different places on your resume.

Keyword optimization is done so that your resume will come up first in searches by recruiters and hiring managers who are looking for people with your skills.

Creating relevant content with keywords and using keyword optimization is how job-winning resumes are created.

Unfortunately, the majority of people who use resume writing templates don’t understand how to do this.

That’s why it’s important to use a professional resume writing company like Perfect Resume.

Resume Writing Tips: Why Your Resume Needs an Elevator Pitch

July 10, 2013 by  
Filed under Blog, Resume Tips

Most people understand the importance of having an “elevator pitch” during a job search. It’s basically a 15 to 30-second spoken commercial that explains to people who you are, what you do, and what kind of position you’re seeking. Most people don’t understand, though, that an elevator pitch should also be part of your resume.

Prevent Resume Confusion

As a hiring manager and former recruiter, I am often confused by the resumes that land on my desk. In many cases, I have no idea why some candidates apply for certain jobs. I don’t understand how or why they would be a good fit for any of my open positions.

The problem is that 70 percent of resumes do not begin with an opening paragraph, which some refer to as an Executive Summary. Don’t let the name fool you — you don’t need to be an executive to include this crucial information.

Every resume should start with an opening paragraph. Why? Because it’s like starting the resume off with a 15-second elevator pitch that sells you.

Make it Easy for Hiring Managers and Recruiters

If you don’t begin your resume with an opening paragraph, you’re making the hiring managers, recruiters and potential employers reading it work too hard to figure out how and why you’re a good fit for their job.

An opening paragraph works just like an elevator pitch. It explains who you are, what you do, how many years of experience you have, what your strengths are, and, ultimately, why you are a great fit for the position. Best of all, the opening paragraph makes all of this information quick and easy for hiring managers and recruiters to find and understand.

You’ve Got 15 Seconds or Less – Make it Count!

You may have heard that you have 15 seconds or less to get a hiring manager’s attention with your resume. Leading the way with an opening paragraph prevents hiring managers and recruiters from having to scour your resume for the details they need to decide whether you’re a good match for the job. The most important information about you will stand front and center, conveniently located at the top of your resume.

4 to 5 Sentences is All it Takes

The opening paragraph, or elevator pitch, for your resume should be just four to five sentences. Ideally, it should be targeted and focused to clearly show how
you meet the requirements listed in the description for the job you are applying for.

Next time you’re applying for a job, put yourself ahead of the pack with a strong elevator pitch. Sell hiring managers on your best qualities from the get-go, and I can guarantee your resume will stand out from the rest.

Need help constructing a perfect elevator pitch for your resume? Let Perfect Resume help you! Perfect Resume is a leading resume-writing service located in the heart of Dallas. We have a proven track record of success writing resumes for all levels of employees, from administrative staff to C-Level executives.

How Tom Cruise Helped Me Write Thousands of Job-Winning Resumes

June 13, 2013 by  
Filed under Blog

The Tom Cruise metaphor is a story Perfect Resume CEO Kent Lee shares with clients almost every day to create job-winning resumes.

The Tom Cruise metaphor helps illustrate to clients that when it comes to choosing content for your resume, less can actually be more.

So here’s the Tom Cruise Metaphor.

Let’s say you walk into a bar, and you meet Tom Cruise. He says, “Hi, I’m Tom Cruise, the actor.” You say, “Really? What movies have you been in?”

Tom says, “I’ve been in ‘A Few Good Men,’ ‘Risky Business’ and ‘Jerry McGuire.’”

And if he stops talking right there, you’d probably be blown away, beacause all 3 of these movies are iconic, Academy Award-nominated films.

But if Tom kept talking and said, “I was also in ‘Rock of Ages,’ ‘The Last Samurai,’ ‘Far and Away,’ ‘Tropic Thunder,’ ‘Magnolia,’ ‘Knight and Day,’ ‘Valkyrie’ …” all of the sudden, he’s lost impact.

Because all of these movies aren’t that great and didn’t do nearly as well at the box office.

So how does this translate to your resume?  When selecting content to include on your resume, only choose your best stuff. Don’t waste time mentioning the small things that will only take up space and take the focus off of your best work.

At Perfect Resume, we use this technique when selecting accomplishments for resumes. We ask our clients to provide up to 6 accomplishments for each one of their jobs, but in most cases, only the top 2 or 3 end up on the resume. Why? Because we want the emphasis to be on the best.

If you have a resume that is filled with average content, your resume will get average results. You don’t have to list every single job detail you performed or every single accomplishment. If you do, you’ll sound less impressive, not more impressive.

Writing a resume can be tricky. Whether you are writing your resume on your own, or working with a professional resume writing company like Perfect Resume, remember to only focus on your best information,  just like “A Few Good Men,” “Jerry McGuire” and “Risky Business” are 3 of Tom Cruise’s best movies.

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