The Ultimate Guide to Finding Your Next Job Opportunity
Due to the spread of COVID-19 and the downturn in the economy, many from the maintenance industry and other industries have either been furloughed, or lost their job entirely. If you’ve recently lost your means of employment, we’re going to help prepare you to find that next opportunity. Through this webinar, our Head of Recruitment, Tyler, and HR Director, Katie, will teach resume do’s and don’ts, where to look for that next job, the steps in applying for a job and how to nail that interview.
You can watch the full recording here:
Below, we have also recapped this session and provided further reading.
Resume Do’s and Don’ts
DO is to list all relevant roles
If you’re looking for a job as a window washer and you were a window washer in your previous role, but before that you were a waitress, no need to list the waitress job if there are no skills that relate to the new job you’re seeking. Make sure to tailor your resume to the job description, and only list the jobs that pertain to the job you want.
DO show impact
When writing your resume, neatly organized bullet points should accompany each role.
Instead of writing a list of tasks, be sure to talk about the impact you had.
Here’s an example.
“Directed and performed troubleshooting.”
That’s okay, but it doesn’t give a lot of detail around what this person actually accomplished at their job.
Try this instead.
“Regularly directed and performed troubleshooting and maintenance tasks, which lead to a 10% decrease in equipment downtime.”
Employers don’t want to see your job description; they want to learn about the skills and assets you utilized to achieve real, quantitative results. Take the time to quantify your achievements and show the reader, at a glance, what you have accomplished at each position you have held.
DO use keywords
Most companies (including 99% of Fortune 500) use software known as applicant tracking systems (ATS) that can scan the content of a resume to make it searchable. Some systems can even automatically filter and rank applicants based on the job description.
This means that a highly qualified applicant could slip through the cracks or get wrongly rejected (without even being viewed by a human) if their resume doesn’t include the right keywords that match the job description.
We’re not saying you need to rebuild your resume for each and every job you apply to, but you definitely want to scan the job description and make sure those keywords can be found within your resume.
To find those keywords, just do a web search for “Resume Keywords for <your job title>”. We did it for “maintenance manager” and here’s what we found:
The search brought us an array of maintenance manager resumes to review, chock full of keywords no doubt. Viewing other resumes and job posts is a great way to find appropriate keywords.
DO list contact information but make sure it’s professional
Like the old adage says, you never get a second chance to make a first impression.
The first impression a hiring manager or recruiter has of you is your resume.
At the very top of our resume is your contact information, and you’ll want to ensure that information is written professionally.
You’ll want to avoid using any reference to body parts, curse words, or references to sex in your email. Also avoid using any information unrelated to the job you’re applying for like: [email protected] or [email protected].
Creating an email specifically for your job search is a great idea and will allow you to keep your funny email for personal use.
Next up is your voicemail greeting. This is what recruiters hear when they call about your resume. You want to make sure your voicemail message is clear and polished.
State your name (clearly), encourage the caller to leave a message and thank them.
Also, make sure your voice mailbox is cleared so your phone can accept new messages. We can’t tell you how frustrating it is, from a recruiter’s perspective, to find a great job candidate, reach out to them, and then not be able to leave them a message.
One last piece of advice: be sure to check both your email and voicemail – employers reach out using both methods! I would personally recommend checking them every morning and every evening to ensure you don’t miss that call or email.
Here’s an example.
“Hi, you’ve reached Katie Cannel. Please leave your message and I’ll return your call. Thank you.”
Try to sound positive and confident. If you think it’ll help, practice a couple of times.
DO explain resume gaps
Ensure that if there is a gap in your resume, you’re prepared to explain why.
Whether you took a break to care for a sick relative, to get a degree, to get some training to better your job prospects, to travel, to raise a family, or maybe you had a medical procedure. Whatever your reason, make sure you have a story, because you will very likely be asked about it.
DO check spelling and grammar
Always check your resume for spelling and grammar errors before sending a final version.
Of the many reasons that cause recruiters and hiring managers to shoot down resumes, carelessness with spelling, grammar, and choice of words rank close to the top.
DO edit, edit, edit
The length of your resume is so important. You’ll want to trim your resume down to a single page, if possible, without removing any important experience.
According to TopResume.com,
“If you have been in the workforce for a number of years, you’re entitled to a maximum of two full pages of resume real estate. This rule applies to most senior professionals, whether you’ve been in the workforce for seven years or 27 years.”
Now there are exceptions of course, but 9 times out 10 you’ll want to keep it at two pages or less.
If you need help, hire a resume building service.
So what are some reasons you would hire someone to help you write your resume?
- Not everyone is a writer. We even know writers that have hired a firm to write their resume. Writing about yourself is difficult. It’s good to get another perspective.
- Chances are you don’t work in marketing, and your resume is your entry point and a marketing tool. It’s what stands between whether an employer will call you for an interview or put you in the ‘no’ pile.
- It saves time. For an investment of less than a week’s pay, you can cut months off your job search.
- It will pass the “quick glance” test. Meaning an employer taking a quick look at your resume should be able to immediately grasp what you want to do and have a sense of value you can contribute to the organization. If your resume cannot convey that information at a glance, consider hiring a professional to sharpen its focus.
DO edit, edit, edit
According to the balancecareer.com, here are some things you can leave off of your resume.
- AVOID statements in your objective or summary that point to what you want to gain from the job. Your focus should be on what you can provide to the employer. Your goal is to sell the hiring manager on picking you for an interview.
- AVOID Starting phrases with “I.” Start your statements with skill, action, or accomplishment words, such as “analyzed,” “created,” or “reduced,” to engage the reader instead of nouns or pronouns. Even though your resume is about you, it’s more specifically about showing the hiring manager you’re qualified for the job.
- AVOID including irrelevant experiences, especially from the distant past. Every statement on your resume should lead the employer to the conclusion that you have the right qualifications for the job. Your goal is for the recruiter to spend their time on your most significant relevant experiences. The same holds true for skills. Be sure the skills you include are current and relevant to the job, otherwise leave them off your resume.
- AVOID empty or flowery language such as “exquisite,” “outstanding,” or “interesting.” Every phrase on your resume should point to a specific skill or accomplishment. Otherwise, it is just a distraction. Stick to the facts, and keep your tone simple and focused.
- AVOID personal information such as height, weight, birth date, age, sex, religion, political affiliation, or place of birth. Employers shouldn’t make employment decisions based on these factors, and they may resent the fact that you are tempting them to do so. Keep your resume focused on the facts. The exception is if you are writing a curriculum vitae for a country where the practice is to include personal information.
- AVOID hobbies or interests that do not point to desirable workplace skills or bear any relevance to the job. Candidates, especially experienced individuals, should have more compelling information to share in the limited space of their resume. Instead, consider a resume skills section with your skills that are most closely related to the job.
- AVOID weak assertions about academic achievements such as GPAs below 3.0 or mentions of making the dean’s list for only a semester or two. Don’t bring academic achievement to the recruiter’s attention unless it is an area of strength. There’s no point in trying to impress a hiring manager with something that’s not impressive.
- AVOID photographs, unless you are applying for a modeling or acting job. Employers don’t want to be drawn into allegations of discrimination. Provide the URL of your LinkedIn profile if you think your professional photo adds to your application.
- AVOID reasons for leaving your previous employers. This can seem like you are making excuses. There is no need to justify your career moves, and you don’t have an obligation to disclose this information. This information isn’t relevant to why you should be hired for the job for which you’re applying.
- AVOID names and contact information of former supervisors. Furnish a separate list of your references when requested. Give those individuals a heads up when they might be contacted by an employer, so they are prepared.
- AVOID space fillers like “References Available Upon Request.” They take up precious space and may cause you to leave off more relevant information. You will furnish references if requested. You don’t need to advertise this fact.
DO edit, edit, edit
This is a big don’t! Recruiters have hundreds, if not thousands, of resumes to review, so don’t be in a situation where they are eliminating yours because it’s too hard to read.
Here’s some formatting advice from Indeed.com
- Apply appropriate margins: Setting proper margins for your document ensures the information fits within a highly readable space. If you have a fairly short resume with a lot of blank space, you can use wider margins to create a less distracting document that appears more full. If you decide to adjust your margins, you should still keep them below 1.5 inches.
- Select a professional, readable font: When deciding what font to use for your resume, keep in mind that it should be clear and easy to read. Making sure employers don’t have to work to understand words on your resume is the most important factor when choosing a font. Another factor in making your words highly readable is setting an appropriate font size. Generally, you should stay between 10 and 12 points.
- Feature section headers: Bolding, underlining or increasing the font size for section headers can help employers quickly find the information they are looking for. Be careful when formatting section headers—they should be differentiated from the section body in a clean, professional way.
- Use bullet points where appropriate: Using bullet points in your experience, skills or education sections allows employers to easily consume the most relevant pieces of information from your background. Bullet points should be used to list your achievements. Avoid using one or two bullet points—if you have less than three pieces of information, simply list them without bullets in sentence form or use other punctuation to separate different ideas.
- Ask for feedback: After you’ve finished writing and formatting your resume, ask trusted friends or colleagues to review. It can be helpful to have a third-party perspective. While they should look for grammar and spelling mistakes you might have missed, they should also pay attention to your formatting. Ask them to look for readability, consistency and a professional look and feel.
How to Find a Job
So you may not have a consistent paycheck right now, but you do have a job. And, that job is applying and interviewing until you have an offer letter!
Looking for a job is almost never a one-step process.It’s something you should spend all day working on.
Step 1: Job Boards
Now that you have a polished resume, you’ll want to post it on as many job boards as you can. But how do you know which ones? Believe it or not, the best tool for finding maintenance jobs is Google!
Search for a specific job title within the Google search bar. You can then refine your search by location. Make sure to look at more than just the first page. There are typically dozens of pages filled with jobs in every industry. These links will redirect you to other job boards and company job sites.
That being said, there are hundreds of websites out there to help you find job openings, so don’t limit yourself to just one. Here’s a list of the most popular job boards you’ll want to bookmark.
- Career builder
- Don’t forget to check out your local government job sites! Cities and states need many different types of maintenance professionals and they are always hiring!
- If there is a company in your area that you really want to work for, look at their job openings on a daily basis. A link to a company’s careers page is almost always found at the bottom of their website.
Step 2: Create an Account and a LinkedIn
You’ll want to create an account on each of the sites mentioned above, but start with LinkedIn.
LinkedIn is a great way to be found by recruiters, but it’s also become the standard for companies to refer to LinkedIn to learn more about applicants. Think of LinkedIn as an extension of your resume; most of the same rules apply. Remember to keep your activity on LinkedIn very professional because companies do have the ability to look into your previous comments as well the content you like and share. Finally, keep your experience updated and have someone take a professional photo of your for your profile picture. Avoid mirror selfies at all costs!
Now let’s talk about traditional job sites. When it comes to a job search website like Indeed.com, here are some basic steps you’ll want to take:
- Create an account and upload your newly updated resume.
- Search for specific job openings (by title) in your area and apply to as many as you can.
- Set up email notifications to alert you when similar jobs are posted.
- These alerts will ensure you’re one of the first people to apply to new job openings.
So now, all of that hard work has paid off and you’ve finally heard back from a company you applied to!
But now what should you do to prepare?
Whether it’s a brief phone screen, or formal face-to-face meeting, the more you know about the company and the interviewer, the better chances you have of moving onto the next round!
Step 1: Do your research!
You should be able to speak to every aspect of the job description.
It’s also a great idea to look at the company’s website. Memorize their mission statement and learn a little about the founder or history.
Look up the person you’re interviewing with, they are probably on LinkedIn!
If you know someone that works there or has worked there, ask if they have any advice or insight.
Try to find news articles or social media postings so you have something to talk about when the interviewer asks you, “Why do you want to work here?”
Your goal is to find out what they do, what motivates them, and most importantly, how you can help them become even more successful.
Step 2: Prepare an Elevator Pitch
Your elevator pitch should answer the following questions:
- Who you are?
- What have you done?
- What do you want from this meeting?
This will come in especially handy if your first point of contact is a busy recruiter who may only have 10-15 minutes to talk. This is also the best way to approach someone at a job fair.
Start by simply introducing yourself.
Whether it’s casually at an event, or formally within an interview, start off with a brief introduction. Give your full name, smile, extend your hand for a handshake and add a simple greeting like, “It’s nice to meet you!”
Next, provide a summary of what you’ve done.
This is where you’ll give a brief summary of your background. You should include the most relevant information like your education, work experience, and any key specialties or strengths. If you’re not sure what to include, try writing down everything that comes to mind. Then, review and remove everything that’s not absolutely relevant to your audience.
Consider this as an overview of the most important highlights of your resume. Once you’ve got it down to just a few main points, organize them in a way that makes sense to your story. It’s important to read your interviewer! In some cases they will prefer to ask questions right away as opposed to hearing your entire story.
Finally, finish with a call to action.
You should try to end your elevator pitch by asking if there’s anything in particular they want to learn more about. If they like your pitch, there is a good chance they will have some questions for you, so make sure to give them an opportunity to talk.
Just like your initial pitch, keep your answers relevant and stay on topic. Most questions only require 2-3 sentences to be answered thoroughly. If an interviewer wants more information, they will ask you for it. At the end of the meeting, make sure to let them know you are still very interested in moving forward and don’t be afraid to ask what the next step might be.
Here’s an example:
“Hi, my name is Tyler. It’s really good to meet you! Thanks so much for meeting with me. After graduating with my Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, I’ve spent the last three years building professional experience as an Executive Assistant. I’ve successfully managed end-to-end event coordination and have generated a strong professional network for my colleagues. I was excited to learn about this opportunity in the sports management space—I’ve always been passionate about the way sports can bring communities together, and I would love the opportunity to bring my project management and leadership abilities to this position.”
Now, let’s talk about the interview itself and how to prepare for it.
Even if you’re a well-oiled interviewing machine, it’s essential to spend time thinking carefully about what skills and accomplishments will resonate the most with your audience. Is this your management abilities? Your creative approach? The examples you share will vary depending on the company and role you are applying for.
Have an answer to “tell me about yourself” ready to go!
Interviewers always ask it, and you want to be sure to nail this first part of the interview.
Don’t be thrown off by the classic, “What’s your biggest weakness?”
One foolproof method: Think of something that you struggle with but that you’re working to improve.
For example, maybe you’ve never been strong at public speaking, but over the past few years, you’ve taken on leadership roles and volunteered to run meetings to help you be more comfortable when addressing a crowd.
Search common interview questions!
You can easily find lists of common interview questions—but don’t over prepare by writing out your entire answer; instead, jot down a few notes or bullet points and keep them on hand for the interview itself. You’ll ensure you cover the bases—without sounding like an actor reading from a script.
Don’t forget about the numbers!
Finding some numbers, percentages, increases, or quotas you can use when talking about your responsibilities and accomplishments really sweetens the deal and helps a hiring manager understand why you’re so awesome. For example, if you helped to decrease asset downtime by 15% in your first 6 months in your last role, this is something you must find an opportunity to talk about. Be humble, but don’t be afraid to highlight your accomplishments!
“Why are you interested in this role and company?”
It’s very likely you’ll get asked why you’re interested in this particular role and company. And to be brutally honest, if you can’t answer this question, you probably shouldn’t be interviewing there. So to make sure you can, consider why you’re interested in the function and identify a couple of key factors that make it a great fit for you and how it aligns with what motivates you. For example,
“I enjoy working in the medical equipment manufacturing space because I get fulfillment knowing the products we’re making are going to help improve and even save lives.”
Practice makes perfect.
Don’t just think about how you’ll answer certain questions; practice looking in the mirror and answering them out loud. This prep work will help you clarify your thoughts and make you much more comfortable during the interview.
Do as many mock interviews as you possibly can with a friend or family member. You’ll be much better at answering, “What skills will you bring to this department?” if you’ve practiced your answer a dozen times.
Prepare a few smart questions for the end.
Make sure they’re thoughtful ones that show you’ve been paying attention and have done your homework. For example:
“What do you see being the most challenging part of this job? Where do you see the company in 5-10 years? And most importantly, What is your favorite part about working here?”
Giving the interviewer a chance to elaborate on what they like about the company can end up being very valuable insight and a fun way to wrap up this part of the interview.
At the end of the meeting, don’t forget to thank your interviewer for the opportunity and let them know you’re still very interested in the job. This is also a great opportunity to ask for a business card so you can follow up later.
Lastly, ensure you have at least 3 professional references ready to provide if asked. These should be people you’ve worked with recently, at least 1 being a previous direct supervisor.
Now that you’ve finished your interview, let’s talk about follow up.
Many people overlook this step but it’s very important to send a thank you email to everyone you interviewed with. You can ask the recruiter if they’re able to share the hiring manager’s email address with you.
If the recruiter is unable to share their contact information, send the thank you to the recruiter and request that it’s forwarded on to those you met.
Add a personal touch to your message by referencing specific aspects of the interview that you enjoyed.
Go above beyond by referencing parts of the job description and company mission statement that you’re most excited about.
Send this thank you email the morning after the interview while the meeting is still fresh in everyone’s minds.
Here are some appropriate follow up tactics:
- It’s good to understand that recruiters often juggle up to 10 jobs at once and sometimes candidates can slip through the cracks.
- Try not to take it personally if there is a delay in communication; in most cases recruiters are waiting for feedback from hiring managers and they don’t have anything new to share.
- If you have not heard anything from the company after 5 business days, don’t hesitate to send a 1-2 sentence check-in email to the recruiter letting them know you’re still interested in the opportunity.
- Send another email after 10 days if you have still not heard anything.
- It’s natural to want to add pressure and urgency to these emails, but do your best to keep it professional. An impatient email at this stage can really hurt your chances of landing the job.
- It’s important to stay positive at this stage. Remember that things often happen for a reason and the right opportunity will come along!
What happens if I have two opportunities at once?
The best advice we can give is to keep your options open and don’t stop your job search until you have signed a formal job offer. This also goes for people who are still employed. Don’t quit your current job until you are absolutely certain this new job is yours and a start date has been determined.
How should I go about negotiating a higher salary?
Before you start the interview process, make sure that you know your value and do some research beforehand so you know what the going salary is for comparable roles in your area (sites like Indeed or Glassdoor are great resources for this!). Oftentimes in the first round of interviews, the recruiter will ask what salary range you’re looking for, so make sure you have a number ready, and make sure it’s the top of the range that you realistically expect to get, or even a little higher. In later rounds of the recruitment process, it will be difficult to change your answer to this question, and recruiters take good notes!
If you receive an offer but know that your value is higher, make sure to explain your reasoning and point to the research you did. Be confident in asking for more because you know your worth. If the higher salary you’re asking for is rejected but you still want to accept the job, make sure that you are comfortable with the offer and that it will work for you financially.
Should I write a cover letter?
It depends on the role, but generally, we’d recommend yes. A cover letter helps set you apart from other candidates, regardless of the role you’re applying to, and gives you an opportunity to express WHY you’re interested in working for the company you’re applying to. This can go a long way for companies hiring for employees who are culturally additive.
Make sure that your cover letter is tailored to the company and the role that you’re applying to; even if you have a template drafted that you’re submitting to a bunch of different companies, it’s important that you pay attention to detail and, just like with your resume, check for any grammar or spelling mistakes before submitting, and definitely do NOT submit a cover letter to Company A that is addressed to Company B!
We hope you found this helpful in finding your next job opportunity!