3 Critical Resume Tips for Veterans

Scotti MiznerPost written by Scotti Mizner, Senior Recruiter

So you’ve been all over the world, met all different types of people, accomplished things most people can’t even dream of. You’ve grown tired of the 5 a.m. and 9 a.m. formations.

You’re frustrated with the inability to make future plans. You’re tired of the new guy/gal joining from the schoolhouse and knowing less than when he/she went in.

Now you’re ready to hang up the boots, put on your Sunday’s best, and join all your friends from back home in the standard workforce. It’s time to sit down build a resume showcasing all you’ve learned from the military.

If you’re like most veterans, I’m sure you’re asking yourself, “Where do I begin?” That’s why I wrote this post. Below are just a few things you can do to set yourself up for success:

1. Translate Military Terms, Acronyms or Jargon

Let’s say you spent 10 years in the military as a 0659, Data Chief. Unless they or their parents spent time in the military, most people don’t know what that crazy number means or even what a Data Chief is.

Translate everything into terms/phrases/explanations that the normal, everyday civilian can understand.

For example, let’s say you spent 10 years as the Head of the Data Division. There are plenty of websites to use that can help you translate all that military “slang” into usable terms on your resume, such as onetonline.org.

Select your branch. Enter your position. Then a whole list comes up with job titles and other words for you to choose from.

resume2. Highlight Your Security Clearance on Your Resume

You’ve been trusted your whole military career with different encryptions and the need-to-know basis of different operations.

The government did the research, paid the dues, and trusted you to keep it active.

Now that you’re out, why not use the government spending those thousands of dollars to your advantage?

Companies are willing to pay for certain security clearances for qualified individuals.

Be sure to show them how much more valuable you are by pointing out that you already have a government issued security clearance.

If you’re applying for a position that requires a security clearance, make sure the HR department or recruiter know you have one!

Having that clearance saves the company thousands of dollars and a bunch of time.

3. Create Multiple Resumes for Multiple Positions

Strategy is something you’ve learned in the military. Similarly, don’t go into your next career objective with one plan. You carried items to be able to adjust in the field, so carry multiple resumes to adjust on your job search. One resume isn’t going to work for all of the jobs available to you unless you’re only interested in one line of work.

You should have a general resume and two to three other resumes that can be used for different types of jobs. Each resume should highlight different strengths.

For example, when applying for a management position, have a resume highlighting your strengths when you were a fire team leader, squad leader, platoon sergeant, etc. When applying for a job that requires a focus on IT, bring a resume that shows the different jobs and accomplishments that you obtained in technology.

The idea is to be prepared for all situations to put yourself in the best position to land the job. Monster.com has a great article on resume ideas based on different industries. Check it out here.

Hopefully, this tips will help you better prepare for your transition to the civilian world. Remember, use your military background to your advantage. You have a wealth of experience. It’s up to you to make sure potential employers know it. Show up prepared, confident, and armed with a resume that tells the story of who you are.

P.S. – Yes, the 15 minutes prior rule still applies. Don’t make a hiring manager wait on you!

6 Helpful Interview Tips for Every Candidate

Cheryl MayfieldPost written by Cheryl Mayfield, Senior Recruiter

There are a lot of different ways to prepare for an interview. Some people go as far as having mock interviews with friends, while others squeeze in a quick Hail Mary right before they walk through the interviewer’s doors.

Whatever your approach, the following tips just might help you land your next gig.

1. Create a Professional Email Address

Before you even apply for a position, make sure you create a professional email address to use for all job search related activity. Nothing is quite as embarrassing as having to say out loud that your email address is “big_mac_daddy@gmail.com”!

Incorporate your first and last name into the address (i.e. susan.baker@gmail.com).

2. Make Sure Your Voicemail is Set Up Correctly

Make sure you set up your voicemail with a professional greeting. Clear out any old messages so that your mailbox isn’t full when a prospective employer wants to leave a message about an interview, offer, etc.

six3. Research the Company/Person You’re Interviewing With

Now let’s jump into the nitty-gritty of interviewing. Once you have your interview set up, do some quality research on the company.

Visit their website to find out information about the company’s values and key principles.

Write down any information that you find valuable and use keywords from the site during your interview.

For example, if the company has a Mission Statement stating that they stand for honesty and integrity, be sure to tell the manager that you value those things as well.

Also, make sure you read through the entirety of the job description so you have a complete understanding of the role.

If you know the interviewer’s name, look them up on LinkedIn and learn about their professional background, education, volunteer organizations and connections in common. This will help you build rapport during the interview.

Doing your homework on both the company and the interviewer/manager ahead of time not only makes you look prepared to the interviewer but will help you feel more confident and comfortable as well.

4. Bring Questions to the Interview

Come prepared with questions to ask during the interview. Write them down and bring them with you. It shows initiative and proves to the interviewer that you’re generally interested in their company. Looking through the company’s website is also a great springboard to generate questions to ask.

Be sure to bring a notepad to write down any important information you receive during the interview.

5. Dress the Part

When dressing for an interview it’s important to look professional and to do your best to match the atmosphere of the company.

For example, if you’re interviewing for a welding position you wouldn’t want to wear a three-piece suit. Of course, you’ll still want to look presentable by wearing a button-up shirt and clean slacks or pressed jeans. Now if you were interviewing for an office job, a three-piece suit is entirely appropriate.

One general rule of thumb to follow when choosing your outfit is to avoid anything with words or graphics on the clothes. Also, stay away from bright/bold colors that draw a lot of attention as they tend to distract and can appear unprofessional. Stick to neutral and muted colors: grays, blacks, tans, and soft pastels.

6. Show Up to Interviews On Time…or Maybe Even a Little Early

Show up on time to all interviews. You can even show up 10-15 minutes early, but not much earlier than that. You don’t want to inconvenience the hiring manager by showing up 30 minutes early when they have other appointments and meetings to attend.

10-15 minutes early is the ideal timeframe. It gives you enough leeway to fill out any paperwork the company might have for you and allows you plenty of time to navigate the building to find the right office.

If you follow the recommendations above, you’ll always be set up for a successful interview! Good luck with the pursuit of your next great employment opportunity!

We Believe That Transparency Is Everything

Rich Lewis

Rich Lewis

Post written by Richard Lewis, Vice President, Staffing Services 

What is transparency and what does it mean to clients and candidates in the Staffing/Recruiting Industry?

Is transparency just another staffing industry buzzword for blogs, coffee mugs and other staffing swag?

I have 20+ years in the industry working for the big national companies, start-ups and mid-sized firms in my career and I’ve learned a great deal at each.

What Does Transparency Mean?

To me, transparency means people (clients/candidates) trust you to share information that may/will impact them either positively or negatively. Transparency instills trust, openness and sharing, and fosters an effective communication structure.

Transparency starts with the organization you work for. If everyone isn’t onboard with the culture, there will be challenges. Unfortunately, this is where the staffing and recruiting industry has been for too long and has been slow to change.

At Grafton, transparency, as it relates to our clients, is that our motives are clear, easily perceived and that we don’t have any hidden agendas.  We exhibit this through our actions and our service rather than our marketing materials.

A model of transparency and partnership benefits Grafton’s clients because they know what to expect day in and day out.

For the contractor/temporary candidates we place, transparency enhances job security, promotes a higher quality of work and limits typical staffing challenges/misconduct because they’re aware of the motivations behind decisions and policies. They understand the “why”.

TransparencyTransparency Tips for Clients

  1. Agreements: Contracts/Agreements are necessary for both the client and the agency as both parties need to cover their bases. Look for soft costs (mark up on drug/background checks) and recruiting practices of the agency relative to their signed clients.(Example: Grafton recently retained a client who had used a specific agency for most of their recruiting efforts. However, they lost a couple of solid employees they’d hired Contract-to-Hire. In one of the exit interviews, they learned that their staffing partner had recruited the person out of the company. The client yelled FOUL!  When the client asked the agency why they were recruiting directly from them (their client) they said it was in the contract that agency had the right to recruit the person one year after placement.  This transparency issue has become more evident as the unemployment rate has dropped below 3% locally.)
  2. Process/Screening: Most quality staffing agencies market that they have a detailed screening and interviewing process. They tell clients that they interview the candidates in their office prior to submitting them for consideration.How do you know this actually happens? We tell our clients to ask Grafton candidates and candidates from other agencies what their experience has been like working with the “Agency”.When/where did they interview, etc.?You want to avoid agencies that simply send the resume, wait to see which candidates the clients are interested in and then bring them in to interview. Are you getting a return on your investment?
  3. Pricing: As a client, you want to know what the agency is paying the contractor. You don’t want them overpaid as you might have difficulties converting to your payroll. You don’t want them paid less. We’ve even heard that some agencies sell a 40% markup but then take $1-$2 from the candidate’s pay to increase their margin.

Transparency Tips for Candidates

  1. If an agency offers you a position but tells you that you need to walk out of your current job without giving professional notice, you should be VERY skeptical. Why would any professional agency or client organization ask you to burn bridges with your current employer by walking out without providing notice?  Always ask yourself: Is this in my best interest or the agency’s best interest?
  2. Let’s say you’re considering a job change and are an established core employee or contractor making $17/hr. If an agency calls you about a Contract-to-Hire opportunity and tells you it’s $21/hr., what do you do? If you proceed to interview with the client, it’s within your right to ask the interviewer the specifics of the position. For example, is this a temporary or contract-to-hire position? What are the duties? If the agency offers you a contract-to-hire opportunity, ask for it in writing. If they refuse, you should decline the offer. Don’t give up a good job currently for a temporary job! Always get an email or written documentation.
  3. If, after your interview, the agency calls and offers you the job, ask for the offer in writing either in an email from the recruiter you’re working with or a written letter. You have every right to confirm the pay you’re being offered. In fact, we often hear from candidates who say they were promised a certain hourly rate but when it came to payday, they were making $2-3/hr. less than they were originally offered over the phone. When they called the agency to dispute the rate, the temporary employee was told that the pay-rate they were offered doesn’t kick in until they convert to the client’s payroll. OUCH! Always cover your bases and ask for documentation.

In closing, we believe that transparency is everything. It requires us to be accountable, ethical and foster strong partnerships with clients and candidates. At Grafton, transparency is built into everything we do. We’ll never have it any other way.

10 Ways to Ace Your Interview

job interviewYou look good on paper, and Grafton has checked you out. Now it’s time for the big interview. Here are some reminders that will help you ace it.

1. Do your research. Be prepared to tell the interviewer what you know about the company and why you want to work there. Phrase your answer in a way that shows how you can help the company achieve its goals. Search the web, talk with friends, and call Grafton if you need more information about the position.

2. Prepare your answers. Interviewers may ask you to demonstrate your skill by describing how you handled a situation in your last job. Think about examples in advance so you don’t ramble on. Being succinct in your responses exemplifies a professional approach and respect for your interviewer’s time.

3. Listen – and ask questions. Be sure to listen with attention and let the interviewer know you heard what was said. Observe your interviewer, and match that style and pace. This will make the conversation flow more smoothly and give you ideas for asking follow-up questions.

4. Prepare your own questions. Go in with a few questions that will help you learn more about the company and position (not about pay, benefits or other items that are more about you than the company). And consider some follow-up questions that respond to what the interviewer has shared.

5. Practice, practice, practice. Try out your questions and answers in the mirror or with a friend. Pay attention to what you say and how you present yourself. That includes standing straight, making eye contact and connecting with a firm handshake.

6. Dress the part and be well groomed. Whether you wear a suit or something less formal depends on the company culture and the position you’re seeking. Ask your Grafton recruiter for guidance on the company dress code and appropriate interview clothing.

7. Be on time and bring an extra copy of your resume. Both are indications of professionalism and preparation – key elements that every employer is seeking. “On time” means arriving 10 to 15 minutes before the interview. Get directions in advance and plan for traffic. Know the name of your interviewer, and offer a copy or your resume at the start.

8. Don’t be overly confident or too familiar. The interview is a business meeting to talk about your qualifications and fit with the company. It’s not about making a new friend.
• Use professional language. Don’t use inappropriate slang words or references to age, race, religion, politics or sexual orientation.
• Don’t appear overconfident or arrogant. There’s a fine balance between confidence, professionalism and modesty. Overconfidence is as bad, if not worse, than being too reserved.
• Observe common-sense courtesy. Turn off your phone. Don’t smoke or chew gum, and don’t take your own drink. (Accepting one from the interviewer is appropriate).

9. Be calm. But don’t get too comfortable. Show the interviewer you’re energetic and enthusiastic about the position.

10. Say thanks. Thank interviewers for their time and note that you look forward to hearing from them. Follow up with your Grafton recruiter. Send a thank-you note via email or post.

How to Write a Strong Resume

resumeYour resume has only 10 seconds to get noticed or get trashed. These basics will put you on a solid foundation.

The Basics
Contact Information
List your contact information at the top. Include your full name, mailing address, phone number and email address. If you have a personal website, include the URL only if the site shows off your skills or applies to your career goals. The same is true for your social media details.

Objective
The objective section gives recruiters an immediate sense of who you are and what you’re looking for. Stress what you’ll add to the company, not what you’re looking to take away.

Experience
List your experience chronologically, with your most recent job first. If your latest experience wasn’t the most impressive, arrange your list by importance instead. Include the company name, location, your title and dates of employment. Include a brief description of your accomplishments.

Skills/Interests
Mention your technical and computer skills. List programming languages, software programs and operating systems you’ve used as well as certifications you have. Don’t forget “soft skills” like foreign languages and public speaking.

Education
List your most recent education first and work backward. State your degree, major, minor, dates of attendance and the school’s name and location. You may also want to add your GPA (if 3.0 or higher).

Additional Tips
 Emphasize your most important and applicable responsibilities even if they weren’t your primary duties.
 Use active voice. Strong sentences are those in which a subject performs an action (active voice) as opposed to an action being performed on the subject (passive voice). “I planned an event,” creates a stronger impression than “An event was planned by me.”
 Impress employers with cause-effect relationships and tangible results. Quantify your achievements with percentages and numbers like “increased enrollment 20 percent” and “supervised three-person staff.”
 Use descriptions to highlight your sense of initiative. Show how you got results with strong verbs that convey direct action, teamwork and quantifiable results.
 Include memberships in professional organizations to show you’re serious about your career.
 Mentioning your interests is optional. Activities and hobbies can portray you as a well-rounded person, but they can raise eyebrows, too. Be careful what you list.
 Don’t waste valuable space on references. Employers assume you’ll provide them upon request.
 Be concise. Stick to one page. Make sure every word is meaningful.
 Choose fonts that are easy-to-read, clean and consistent. Don’t use non-traditional or overly creative fonts.
 Read, edit and re-read your resume to make sure it’s well written, clear and typo-free. Do it again. Then, ask your friends and family to do the same.

Finishing Touches
 Create several versions of your resume, each tailored to the type of position for which you’re applying. Writing multiple resumes can be time-consuming, but it’s a small price to pay for the job you want.
 If you’re applying for a specific job, research the position and company. Pay attention to the job requirements, and highlight your qualifications as they reflect the hiring company’s needs.
 If you use an online resume, consider saving a text (“.txt”) version that will look good on any computer. Send your resume as an attached file and also paste the text into the body of the e-mail just to be safe. Online resumes should also include plenty of keywords, since they may be searched.

Checklist: Job Performance Essentials

checklistYou’ve got the job, and now you want to do the best work possible. Use this checklist as a guide.

 Read the Grafton employee handbook for personal items and related policies before your assignment begins.
 Arrive at your assignments early.
 Be at work every day you’re scheduled.
 Dress appropriately.
 Introduce yourself to your supervisor.
 Learn and follow operating procedures and etiquette of your assignment, including mobile phone policies, lunch breaks and smoking areas and breaks.
 Know the work priorities and deadlines.
 Take special care of the equipment you use.
 Due to the confidential nature of our business and our clients’ information, taking information – physical or soft copy – from the worksite is grounds for dismissal. The copying or transferring of software or proprietary information is illegal, and Grafton will prosecute any associate involved in that activity.
 Ask for help when you need it.
 Complete each assignment that you accept.
 Your supervisor may ask that you do other tasks to ensure that the team and department run as smoothly as possible. Be flexible when approached with these types of requests.

If you have a performance concern or question, you can always call your Grafton recruiter.