Candidate Resources

Here you will find a wealth of resources for candidates on the move.

We feature everything from submitting a resume to writing a post-interview thank you note. Let’s start the journey to the next step in your career.


better your career

Bored in Quarantine? Do These 3 Things to Better Your Career

How many days have we been in quarantine? What day of the week is it? This is unfamiliar territory for the majority of us. If you’re stuck at home due to the COVID-19 outbreak, you may be running out of things to do, especially if you’re sadly on furlough at this time. Lucky for you, we have three easy suggestions to better your career if you are bored in quarantine.

Learn something new

Now is a perfect opportunity to learn a new skill. Have you always wanted to become a master chef? Start cooking! Do you want to enhance your coding skills? Build a new website from scratch! Most of us have some extra time on our hands, so it wouldn’t hurt to pick up a new skill set that you can put on your resume. Lynda.com is an excellent resource with thousands of different courses. You can learn anything from digital photography to CAD to even accounting. So, grab your laptop and have some fun honing a new skill that will help make your resume shine!

Read more

How many times have you told yourself that you want to read more? I know that I am personally guilty of picking up a new book and stopping halfway through because, you know, life happens. Now is a perfect time to grab any career self-help or motivational books that will help put you in the right mindset. There are tons of books out there that can help lift your spirits and teach you something new during these trying times. And as a bonus, it will keep you away from all the negativity on social media right now.

Reengage with your connections on LinkedIn

Has it been a while since you spruced up your LinkedIn profile? Now is a great time to comb through it and update it. If you’re new to LinkedIn, here’s a helpful beginner’s guide from JSG.

Make sure your job history is up to date, and you have a professional-looking headshot. Block out an hour of your day and fill out your profile. Add any skills, accomplishments, certifications, and anything else that will make you stand out. Once your profile is looking sharp, you can start to engage with your network. Have some conversations with people in your industry and reach out to some new faces to bolster your network. This is a fantastic time to reengage with your network and see what other people in your industry are doing.

S0, there you have it. Three easy things you can do while stuck in quarantine to better your career. Have fun and good luck!

Virtual Networking Could Be The Key To Growing Your Career

How Virtual Networking Can Transform Your Career

With all of the changes in the world today from the growth of remote work to advancements in technology, virtual networking is becoming an essential part of any career. No matter which industry or position you’re in, it’s crucial that you establish and grow connections online. To your advantage, there are some great tools and avenues through which you can do this. Start with these three things and watch your connections take off.

Create A Presence On LinkedIn

LinkedIn is touted as a “professional networking site,” so it makes sense to start your virtual networking journey there. Take a few minutes to spruce up your profile, ensuring that everything is up to date. Be sure to add relevant skills and keywords so you’ll show up in searches more often. Then, just focus on engaging! Connect with industry leaders you admire. Share industry articles that you find insightful. Explore your dream companies and get a feeling for their company culture. The more you engage on LinkedIn, the more visible you’ll be.

Join Facebook Groups

If you watched the SuperBowl this year, you noticed a couple of different commercials promoting Facebook Groups. Groups have absolutely exploded onto the social networking scene, with Facebook boasting over 10 million groups, and 1.4 billion people using them. As a result, there is a group for just about anything. You can join local job groups where employers share their latest job listings. You can join nationwide groups that focus on your industry, allowing you the opportunity to connect and bond with others that share your passion and motivations. No matter what, it’s a great way to make connections and learn more about your community or industry.

Offer Your Help

Many professionals go about networking in the entirely wrong way. They go into it with the mindset of “what can you do for me?” asking industry-leaders if they can “pick their brain.” Try flipping this idea on its head. Think of ways that you can offer help to those in your industry. Especially in these uncertain times, everyone appreciates a helping hand. And what better way to get in someone’s good graces than to offer your assistance? Pitch an idea for a sales campaign, or suggest a safety event that was really popular at your last company. Remember: “At the end of the day, people won’t remember what you said or did; they will remember how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou

Interested in reading more job search insights? Subscribe to our monthly newsletter to receive jobs, tips, and industry expertise straight to your inbox!

staying positive while working from home

How to Stay Positive While Working from Home

If you’re one of the thousands of professionals suddenly working from home, it can be quite the adjustment. Some people flourish working for home while others struggle to remain productive and focused. And let’s be honest; working from home can be great under the right circumstances. But doing so because most of us are quarantined due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s a little depressing. So, if this virus has you feeling down, here is how to stay positive while working from home.

Social distancing doesn’t mean stop socializing

Many cities and states are encouraging “social distancing,” where they want you to keep about six feet from another person. I am not a fan of this phrase. It should be called “physical distancing.” Just because you can’t go out to lunch or grab a drink at happy hour doesn’t mean you have to stop socializing altogether. It can be lonely working from home, not seeing your work buddies, or being able to hangout out with your friends after work. You just have to be creative when socializing! Facetime each other, talk on the phone, or there is even a Google Chrome extension that allows you to chat with your friends while you watch a Netflix show in synch with them. Socializing is good for the mind and spirit, so don’t let stress from your quarantine kill your social hour.

Take a break from social media

Speaking of social, if you’re struggling to stay positive while working from home, get off social media. Social media is a great way to engage with your friends, watch cute dog videos, and engage with all sorts of content. However, there is also a lot of negativity on social media, especially during the Coronavirus pandemic. So, it may be an excellent time to take a break from social media. If you have a hard time controlling yourself or if it’s merely a habit, you can download a Chrome extension, like freedom, which allows you to pick and choose which social sites to block. This is an easy way to remove yourself from some of the negativity in the world.

Get some exercise and fresh air

Just because you are quarantined, doesn’t mean you can’t exercise. When working remotely, you don’t have to walk down to the bathroom, breakroom, or conference room to get some steps in. When your home is your office, it can be challenging to be active. Go for a brief walk around the block or do some simple exercises at home, like pushups, situps, or jumping jacks. Getting your heart rate up and blood flowing will reenergize you and lift your spirits. Even just working outside, if permitted, can increase your mood. I am quarantined at home and writing this blog from my back porch. So, if you have a backyard or balcony, try working outside for a few minutes each day for a change of scenery and some fresh air.

Take care of yourself

During the outbreak, it can be challenging to stay positive while working from home. But doing the three things mentioned above will help boost your mood and perspective on the current situation. Stay safe out there, and remember, the most important thing is to take care of yourself and those around you.

And if you’re looking to make the best of this quarantine, here are some helpful tips that can better your career while sitting in the comfort of your home!

How To Make A Quarantine Work For Your Career

How To Make A Quarantine Work For Your Career

With everything going on in the world today, you may have found yourself with a bit of extra time on your hands. And while it’s not ideal to be cooped up in your home due to COVID-19, there is a silver lining. It’s a great time to check a few personal development items off your to-do list! Dedicate some of your quarantine time to these three career-enhancing activities, and you’ll be well on your way to productivity.

See What’s Out There

It may have been a while since you’ve let yourself surf the job boards or explore the depths of your industry. Use this time to feel out the market. There are a ton of opportunities out there! Job titles, responsibilities, and technologies are always evolving, and there may be some exciting advancements you hadn’t even considered before. While you’re snuggled up on the couch, browse your competitors’ websites. Ponder what you’d like your career trajectory to look like, and see if any companies speak to your values and vision.

Freshen Up Your Resume

Whether you’re inspired to apply to a position or not, a period of “social distancing” is the perfect time to spring clean your resume. Be sure to add recent projects and accomplishments, and don’t forget to include numbers! Additionally, check out some online templates for resumes and give yours a fresh look. Just changing up the organization can make a significant impact when it comes to making a great first impression!

Take Online Courses

This is the most valuable thing you can do for your career during uncertain times. There is a wealth of resources for online courses, and some are even free! It’s important not to feel pigeon-holed into taking classes only in your field. Have you always wondered what the heck was up with coding? Or dreamed of being able to edit your own memories in Photoshop? Even if they’re not perfectly aligned with your career goals, online courses are an incredible resume booster.

spring clean your resume

It’s Time to Spring Clean Your Resume

Your resume is often the first interaction you have as a candidate with a hiring manager. As a result, you must set a good impression from the very beginning of your candidacy by crafting a show-stopping resume. And since the job market is holding firm as we approach the end of Q1, now is a perfect time to review your resume. It’s time to Spring clean that resume of yours! Here are a few tips on how to make it shine.

Proper formatting

One of the essential steps to crafting a killer resume is proper formatting. This may look different depending on your experience level or industry, but overall, your resume should follow the following order:

  • Name and contact details
  • Objective or summary (optional)
  • Work experience
  • Education
  • Skills
  • Awards and certificates

Unless you are fresh out of school, you want your work experience front and center. That means it’s time to move your education towards the bottom of your resume. If you’re well into your career, employers want to see your work history and how it makes you an excellent fit for the role. Your education is important, but hiring managers want to know right off the bat if your work background has prepared you for this position. Oh yeah, and unless you are a recent grad, you can safely take your GPA off your resume.

Our friends over at Indeed created a great visual of the basic formatting of a resume. Take a look:

Spring Clean Your Resume

Clean and professional presentation

Don’t underestimate the power of the presentation of your resume. If a hiring manager is going through a stack of resumes and sees a hot mess on paper, they probably will pass on your without even looking at your qualifications. Allow for plenty of whitespace with good margins. Use an easy-to-read font and nice headings so a recruiter or hiring manager can quickly scan your resume.

And most importantly, don’t try and cram everything on a single page. It’s perfectly fine if your skills and experiences spill over to a second or third page (if you have enough experience). The cleaner your resume looks, the better first impression you create!

Revise your work experience

If you’re an established professional, it may be time to clean up some of the jobs on your resume. If you’re well into your career, you can safely remove those summer jobs in school or those projects you completed in college. Many experts say to go back only 15 years, but if it’s relevant for the position, it’s probably safe to leave it on. Just be cognizant of your work experience as you progress in your career.

List those hard and soft skills

When writing out your work experience, it is sometimes tricky to illustrate all of your hard skills and soft skills. To ensure that you are showcasing all of those skills that are vital to this position, it’s a good idea to list your most essential skills that match the job description. Try to keep it under 15 skills. However, be sure not to include any skills that you don’t have. The last thing you want to do is get caught in a lie by listing skills you can’t live up to.

Need help Spring cleaning your resume?

These are just a few quick ways to Spring clean your resume. If you’re looking to take advantage of today’s robust job market, now is a perfect time to dust the cobwebs off that resume and make it shine! And if you need some more job-search advice, check out our blog! It’s loaded with resume and interview advice to help you secure a new job this Spring.

Haven't Heard Back About A Job

3 Reasons You Haven’t Heard Back About A Job

Waiting around to hear back about a job application isn’t fun for anyone. You’re left wondering what you did wrong and if there was anything else you could have done to grab the hiring manager’s attention. Well, there is a multitude of reasons why you haven’t heard back about a job. Here are three common ones we’re seeing in today’s job market.

You Applied Too Late

Yes, there is such a thing as applying to a job too late! In this candidate-driven market, companies are making hiring decisions quickly. Therefore, if a great candidate is the first to apply, they could be hired immediately. The days of months-long hiring processes are over. In-demand positions are receiving dozens of highly-qualified resumes within hours of going public. As a result, companies sometimes hire on the spot during an interview, or sometimes even over the phone!

To avoid this, make sure you closely follow the companies you’re interested in working for most. Set up a Google alert, subscribe to their newsletter, and follow them on LinkedIn. Speaking of LinkedIn, be sure to turn on job alerts in your area! You’ll receive an email with all of the latest jobs straight to your inbox.

You Didn’t Tailor Your Resume

Many companies today use an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) to sort through resumes. These programs rely on keywords to recommend candidates for certain positions. Thus, if your resume is missing a keyword, or you used an acronym instead of spelling out a certification, you could be passed up by a machine.

To avoid this, read the job description carefully. Tailor your resume to match the words used in the job description, as that’s most likely what the ATS will use to compare. So, include both acronyms and full spellings, and don’t be afraid to include a list of your hard and soft skills that fit well with the position!

You’re Not The Best Fit For The Job

Unfortunately, if you haven’t heard back about a job, sometimes it’s just as simple as that. In an ideal world, companies would reach out to each and every person that applied to every job. However, that’s just not realistic. Popular organizations are receiving hundreds of resumes every single day. As a result, they are not able to give everyone a yes or no. 

While there’s no avoiding this, you can be proactive about it. If it’s been a while since you’ve applied, (think two weeks or more), feel free to follow up with the HR department. Hopefully, they can provide a status update on the position, so at the very least, you won’t be waiting around for an answer. But it sadly may not be the best fit for you. However, don’t panic! We have hundreds of jobs that may be the right fit for you and your background! Have a look, and we look forward to helping you find your next opportunity.

Interview

3 Signs Your Interview Is Going Well

You hear all sorts of interview horror stories. Interview fail stories often go viral and can leave you feeling embarrassed and isolated. More often than not, however, your interview probably went great! But how can you tell? Check out these three signs your interview is going well, and try to keep an eye out for them during your next opportunity!

The interviewer seems to go off-script

Every interviewer goes into a meeting with a set list of questions, many of which you’ve heard before. If your interviewer asks you a lot of follow up questions or seems to go a little rogue from the typical questions, that’s a good thing! Don’t be afraid to go a bit more in-depth on your answers when this happens. The hiring manager just wants to understand your skills and experiences and how they relate to the position you’re interviewing for.

Your interview goes longer than the allotted time

This is not to say that if your meeting does not extend past the original schedule that it did not go well! Many interviewers can determine you’re a great fit in a short amount of time. However, if it goes long, trust that they are interested in what you have to say! They would not waste their time on someone who hadn’t made a good impression.

They coordinate next steps

This one may seem obvious, but there’s an important distinction to note. If your interviewer tells you what the next steps are, that’s great. However, you undoubtedly made a great impression if they coordinate the next step while you’re still there! Setting up another interview, organizing a meeting with other team members, or even discussing an offer, let’s you know you nailed it.

So, how do you prepare to nail an interview? Check out our blog for more resume and interview tips.

recruiting agency

What You Should Look for in a Recruiting Agency

There are thousands of recruiting agencies in the U.S., so selecting the right one to represent your company may seem like a daunting task. It’s essential to do some due diligence and start with identifying the qualities of the agency that will enhance your organization. These intricacies will be specific to your own culture, mission, values, and the overall goals of your organization. However, as a general rule of thumb, there are a few qualities to look for when selecting a recruiting agency.

Specializes in your industry or skillset

In today’s talent market, recruiters need to have a unique skillset to make an impact within an organization. In other words, they need to be knowledgeable of the industry and the types of roles that you’re hiring them to fill. Hiring a recruiting agency that understands the intricacies specific to your industry or the role that needs to be filled will generate more qualified candidates.

Solid Vetting Process

The more structured the vetting process, the more quality candidates you’ll receive. Recruiters should be vetting candidates on their skillsets and develop an understanding of what a hiring manager truly needs. For example, if your team needs someone with a collaborative approach to finishing projects, the recruiter needs to be asking open-ended questions to identify whether they’re collaborative or more of an independent decision-maker.

At Johnson Search Group, we put each and every one of our candidates through a three-step screening process before the hiring manager even sees the resume. There are several attributes recruiters should be looking for when vetting their candidates:

One, they must ensure each candidate is within the compensation range. If they want more money than what your budget allows, the deal will likely bee doomed from the start. Next, each candidate must be sold on the location of the position, especially when it comes to a relocation. Sure, a move across the country might sound fun, but is it realistic for the candidate’s family and lifestyle? And finally, they must be available to transition jobs within a reasonable amount of time. If a candidate can’t accept a job and start within a couple of weeks, there is a good chance the deal will fall apart. These are three things a good recruiter should be on the lookout for when vetting their candidates before submitting them to your team.

One-stop-shop

If you’re going to take the time to vet an agency for your staffing needs, you’ll ideally find one that’s a one-stop-shop. This can not only help save money but also a ton of time. 

According to the American Staffing Association, there are “more than three million temporary and contract employees work for America’s staffing companies during an average week.” When searching for a recruiting firm, you must hire an agency that can handle all of your staffing needs. You want to find a firm that can hire candidates on a direct-hire, contract-to-hire, or on a temporary basis. And if contract staffing isn’t on your team’s radar, here is how hiring contractors can benefit your organization.

Let’s partner together

It can be overwhelming when selecting a staffing agency to hire. However, if you look for an agency that has these three things, you’ll be in good shape. And if you’re still looking for the right recruiting team for your company, give us a try. At Johnson Search Group, we are industry experts. We take the time to understand your industry and the nuances of your most critical positions. Let’s have a conversation and see if we are the right fit for your team.

job interview fails

3 Job Interview Fails You Can’t Recover From

A job interview is your opportunity to impress your prospective employer. And often, this is your first interaction with your potential manager. Thus, you must bring your A-game! However, once the nerves kick in, sometimes mistakes are made, and the meeting doesn’t go according to plan. Here are three job interview fails you can’t recover from and how to avoid them altogether.

Canceling or rescheduling with a lame excuse

At Johnson Search Group, we have facilitated millions of interviews with our candidates. And like most companies in this candidate-driven market, we have heard some pretty lame excuses for canceling an interview, most of which being “medical emergencies.” We get it, life happens, and sometimes you have to cancel or reschedule plans.

However, just be honest with the interviewers. If you have to cancel or are no longer interested, tell them. No company will be mad if you are honest with them. You will be saving them the headache of shifting their plans around at the last minute. And if you cancel your interview and an employer thinks you’re lying, you probably will never get a second chance with that company.

You can’t explain why you’re on the job market

If you can’t explain why you’re on the hunt for a new job, you won’t make a good impression on the hiring manager. This question will likely surface in every interview, and it says a lot about you as a candidate. So, whether you’re unemployed, recently fired, or just looking for another job, you need to be able to explain why you’re looking for new opportunities (and why you’re a great fit!). And whatever you do, never badmouth a current or previous employer. It will leave a bad taste in the employer’s mouth.

Create distractions during your interview

A big-time job interview fail is creating distractions during your interview. Eliminate them at all costs by thinking about anything that could distract the interviewers. Turn your phone off to ensure a text message doesn’t interrupt your conversation. Have good posture, make direct eye contact, and try not to fidget in your chair or nervously tap your feet. Failing to sit still is distracting to everyone in the room, so even if you do so subconsciously, try to sit calmly.

Most importantly, dress appropriately for your interview. If you are in a professional setting, wear a suit and tie or a skirt. If you at an on-onsite walkthrough of a manufacturing floor or industrial environment, wear proper shoes and protective gear as necessary. Essentially, wear the proper outfit for the environment you are interviewing in to ensure your dress code doesn’t create any hiccups.

JSG has tons of job interview advice

Most job seekers have mucked up an interview at one point or another. After all, we are all human. But if you can avoid these three job interview fails, you will make a great first impression and set yourself up for a successful meeting. Good luck, and if you need more interview advice, check out our blog section discussing the best interview tips and tricks.

7 Key Elements Every Resume Needs

7 Key Elements Every Resume Needs

Having a well-crafted resume is essential to landing your dream job. Your resume tells your future employer exactly why they should hire you, so take this time to let your skills shine! What exactly should be included on your resume is very dependent on the job you’re applying for. However, there are a few crucial things to include regardless of the industry or seniority of the role. 

7 Key Elements Every Resume Needs

Contact Info at the Forefront

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 your name and how to contact you? This should be front and center of your resume, making them remember your name! 

Education & Experience

Your education and experience demonstrate to a hiring manager that you’re a good match for the job! Your focus in these areas obviously depends on the job. The education section should be short and sweet. Include the school where you received your degree, the dates of attendance, and other details if they apply to your job (i.e. certifications, honors, GPA, relevant coursework). Moving on to experience, this section is often the most important part of a resume. Make sure you place the most relevant and important experiences at the top. Highlight your strong suits with impactful numbers, measurable career achievements, and varying experience with different companies. 

A Hint of Soft Skills & Technical Skills 

Highlight your soft skills and technical skills in your experience section of your resume. Soft skills are becoming more and more important, so show off examples of your leadership, communication, and adaptability in your career experience. Depending on the job, technical skills are needed just as much as soft skills. Illustrate your technical skills through things that you have accomplished and what sets you apart from others. 

Active Verbs

Replace passive verbs with active verbs in your resume if you want to stand out. Using active verbs displays your career accomplishments more effectively. Some examples of active verbs to include are: directed, generated, influenced, managed, and implemented.

Exceptional Formatting

Formatting is everything when it comes to your resume. If the format is too creative, it can distract hiring managers from your qualifications and experience! Having a resume that is clean, clear, and organized will always be the most successful. 

Perfect Spelling

Some hiring managers consider just a single typo on a resume an automatic veto and trash the resume right then and there. And most perceive 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. 

Awards, Achievements, & Certifications

Displaying your awards or certifications is very dependent on if they relate to the job you’re applying to. If you don’t have anything relevant, don’t be afraid to skip it! This section is optional, but it can definitely be a space to impress with the right qualifications.

And Lastly, Avoid Resume Clichés!

Exaggerating your skills is a cliché that will come back to bite you in the butt. Although you want to show off what you’ve got, overselling yourself does not help in the long run. Another cliché would be including irrelevant skills to the job. Employers will just look past this and it just fills up crucial resume space.

Include all these resume essentials, but also remember to customize your resume for every job. Read the job description and find a way to tailor your skills and experiences to more closely match the job description.