Expert Advice

Full-length articles, listicles, videos, and other resources to guide you in making great decisions in terms of your resume, interviews, job search, and overall career trajectory.

Everybody’s doing it.

Even before COVID-19 struck the world, employers have been relying on virtual interviewing to screen out candidates. It’s inexpensive and way less time-consuming. There are several types of video interviews employers use. Make sure you’re savvy in all 4 of these formats.

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1:1 Webcam Interview

The most common webcam interview is the one-on-one interview where it’s you and one other person. This is the easiest of interviews in terms of building rapport because you need only concentrate on one person, note their responses, and shape your performance accordingly.

You should look at your camera aperture as much as possible. It’s way more important to appear to be making eye contact with your actual interviewer on the other side of the connection, vs trying to make eye contact with their screen image or (as we’re all guilty of), checking yourself out as you talk.

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Virtual Panel Interview

Business People Showing Score Cards

The virtual panel interview is also very common. It’s you and 2-5 people on the employer’s side. This can be a bit nerve-racking and a bit trickier because, while it’s important to note everyone’s reaction to your comments, you also don’t want to have your eyes looking like they’re darting around the whole time you talk.

Realize that these folks are probably not in the same room with each other. They are probably not even in the same zip code. Also, realize they may not work together regularly, they may not know each other, and they probably didn’t coordinate very much at all before the call. As such, things may be awkward.

The virtual format doesn’t make for easy ad-hoc discussions, so don’t expect a flowing conversation amongst colleagues. Instead, they’re likely to each have a few set questions they’re going to ask. For them, the reason to be on the call is not to create a forum, rather to all witness your interview at the same time, which eliminates the possibility of interview bias, ensures they’re all working from the same content, and ultimately saves the company time (and money).

The good news is you will likely only have to concentrate on addressing one person at a time: the person who asked the question. Also, you can pick up on the culture of the company by how this group of people handles things like talking over each other and waiting for their turn to talk.

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Group Video Interview

Zoom (Video chat)

The group video interview is the interview that most closely resembles a reality TV show. It’s you, the interviewer (usually an HR rep), and your competition. Sounds like fun, eh? In this type of interview, the other players in the game don’t have very much incentive to make you look or sound good. People will inevitably be vying for air time, much as they do on those reality shows: “You should pick me because….”

And you should try to stand out, but you want to balance this with showing off some interpersonal skills as well.

The reason companies hold group interviews is not merely to save time – though that’s a big part of it. Usually they want to see how you are in a group setting and how you handle stress. The job to which you’re applying most likely will have an element of needing to be in group video chats or working with cohorts of people in some way. So, show off your skills: complement others, use segues that acknowledge other speakers, be silent and attentive as others talk.

Smile, even laugh, but don’t nod your head in agreement, lest you underscore their answer and undermine your own.

And, if you have time, make sure you’re an expert with the video-conferencing technology. It’s probable something will go wrong or an interviewer will be unsure how to do something. Saving the day is an excellent way to stand out.

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Recorded Interview

Action adult aperture blur

The ultimate way to save time for the employer is using a recorded interview because then they don’t have to be there at all. A lot of companies are now recording themselves asking questions or just giving candidates a list of questions and inviting candidates to give a video interview. This is more like a monologue than an interview and, as you’ll find, it’s hard to talk to a camera for any length of time with zero reaction from an audience.

Just look at all the talk show hosts doing recordings in their homes while sheltering in place. Even these polished presenters can seem awkward at times because they have no sense of which jokes are working.

The key to acing a recorded interview is to smile while you speak, to look into the camera as if gazing at an old friend, and to show emotion…. to reveal yourself. In order to do this last part, you have to know yourself first, so ask that old friend or a new colleague how you come off in conversations, what they like about talking with you, and bring it to your recorded interview.

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Close Strong

As with any interview, end with questions. When you’re listening to the interviewer’s answer, consider looking at the camera an catching their image out of the corner of your eye so you can react appropriately. They are more likely to feel heard if they feel your eyes on them.

When closing out, know your software! If possible, push the End Call button without taking your eyes off the camera. Let the last thing they see be your warm, gracious smile, not the top of your head or a puzzled, serious, relieved look on your face while you search for a way to end the call.

Don’t send a thank-you note immediately. Let the interview sink in a bit so you can reflect on what you did well, what you didn’t do so well, and what you may have forgotten to say. Then follow-up, reiterate your interest, and fill in the gaps.

top 28 May 2020 | COVID-19, Interviewing, Job Hunting in a Recession, Job Market, Uncategorized

As a former recruiter and professional resume writer, I’ve looked at a lot of resumes. I can tell you this: people seem to struggle with knowing how, where, and to what extent to include Responsibilities and Accomplishment on their resumes.

Most people have one or the other, the coffee or the cookie. Some have both, a 2-course delivery. Neither of these strategies is optimal.

To show you why Continue reading this entry »

top 21 May 2020 | Executives, Job Hunting in a Recession, Resumes

Most interviews start with the same question (which, actually, isn’t even a question):

“Tell me about yourself.”

Why?

Because open-ended questions are the best way to get to know someone. And, they’re the easiest way to allow someone to reveal themselves.

The question is simple enough, yet most people answer it incorrectly. Continue reading this entry »

top 14 May 2020 | Career Transition, Executives, Interviewing, Job Hunting in a Recession, Recent Graduates

What is it about resumes that they’re still around? Aren’t we well past the era of using 1- to 2-page documents to represent ourselves?

I’m a professional resume writer and I’ve been ready for the traditional resume to die for a while now, like a king in his castle looking down onto the battlefield at his battered and bruised knight, so proud but bracing for the inevitable.

But the knight just won’t go down. Despite all the swords blazing and shots being fired, the trusty-rusty resume keeps swinging.

There have been numerous attempts to take down the resume, to relieve it of its decades-long tyranny over the job search, but nothing has been victorious.

Here are some of the more modern sharpshooters that have promised to dethrone the chivalrous resume: Continue reading this entry »

top 7 May 2020 | Recruiters & HR, Resumes, Uncategorized

There is a common misconception that the only purpose of the resume is to get you an interview. You’re short-changing yourself if you believe this.

I’ve watched resumes do many more things for job seekers, time and time again. Here are some of those things. Continue reading this entry »

top 30 April 2020 | Job Hunting in a Recession, Resumes

Is anyone hiring?

Not really. There are, indeed, industries and companies that are going strong, but they’re not necessarily adding to their headcount right now. Everyone’s in waiting. HR departments are in an Arctic freeze. People with jobs are clinging to them like driftwood in the cold open sea. Unemployment numbers are rising, which means the competition for life rafts is growing.

It’s hard to be cooped up in your house, knowing all of this is going, feeling like you should be “out there” looking for work.

Still, it’s always better to take action during a crisis. Action delivers a sense of progress. It fans the flame of hope in the night while we pray for the sun to come back over the horizon.

Here are some ways to stay productive and generate your own warmth in this time of uncertainty: Continue reading this entry »

top 16 April 2020 | Career Transition, Interviewing, Job Hunting in a Recession, Networking, Resumes

I had the privilege of engaging an HR panel who took the time to share what they wanted to see (and did not want to see) on a job candidate’s resume. Here’s what they had to say: Continue reading this entry »

top 9 April 2020 | Career Transition, Recruiters & HR, Resumes

Recessions tend to push hardworking people into two groups. On the one hand, is the layoff survivor handling the load of multiple former employees. On the other is the hyperqualified, abruptly laid-off job seeker who needs to explain the abrupt ending to their tenure. Different destinies but both types tend to struggle with how to present these career changes on their resumes.

Here are some tips: Continue reading this entry »

top 2 April 2020 | Career Transition, Job Hunting in a Recession, Job Market, Resumes

People always ask for a list like this so here is some age-old advice to help you prepare for your interview. These are extremely basic tenets that apply to almost everyone looking for work. Continue reading this entry »

top 26 March 2020 | Interviewing

Had to dig this one out of the archives…

KQED called me up to be the San Francisco Bay Area career hero on the California Report with Scott Shafer. Scott let me use his own career as an example for how to use seemingly irrelevant work experience as an asset, not a liability. We also discussed taking a different approach to networking, and some of the things that employers look for in job candidates.

Check out the podcast; they even included the original take which has plenty more advice for people looking to beat a tough job market. Continue reading this entry »

top 19 March 2020 | Career Transition, Job Market, Networking, Resumes

Here’s an interview I did for a blogger, asking me some popular resume questions on behalf of her fellow graduates-to-be.

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Let’s start with the most common Resume question: Continue reading this entry »

top 12 March 2020 | Recent Graduates, Resumes

I admit I’ve had a couple of challenging clients recently. It’s easy to write them off but it’s always best to look inward before casting blame.

So, what’s really going on? Continue reading this entry »

top 5 March 2020 | Career Transition, Job Hunting in a Recession, Job Market, Resumes

As a seasoned professional, you have much to offer but remember to make room for new experiences as well.

An effective resume will balance your strengths (i.e. what you can teach) with your areas for growth (i.e. what you can learn). In regards to the latter, I’m certainly not suggesting you claim ignorance. Rather, consider showing a recently developed interest in a new industry or field.

This is best done by illustrating how you’ve already Continue reading this entry »

top 27 February 2020 | Career Transition, Job Market, Mature Workers, Resumes

Recently, a resume client of mine forwarded a newsletter article from a job board discussing ways to overcome “job gaps” of 3-6 months.

Here’s a snippet from the article, and my subsequent retort as to why we should redefine the criteria for a job gap: Continue reading this entry »

top 20 February 2020 | Career Transition, Interviewing, Job Hunting in a Recession, Job Market, Resumes

One of the best kept secrets in job-hunting: The government has offered to pay part of your expenses!

You read correctly: Career expenses, including fees incurred for career counseling, professional resume writing, and job-search coaching, are tax-deductible for everyone with only a few exceptions: Continue reading this entry »

top 13 February 2020 | Career Transition, Interviewing, Job Hunting in a Recession, Job Market, Mature Workers, Resumes

What does one have to do to be deemed the World’s Best Resume Writer? lol

Here’s a press release explaining how Cliff won the title: Continue reading this entry »

top 6 February 2020 | Press, Resumes

Truth be told, some hiring managers will never read your cover letter.

I know screeners who delete the cover letter immediately, some who forward it on to others but never read it themselves, and others who print it out only to staple it behind the resume.

But you know what else they tell me? Continue reading this entry »

top 30 January 2020 | Career Transition, Cover Letters, Recruiters & HR

Networking doesn’t have to be a nightmare. Here are a few pieces of advice to keep the conversations interesting:

Don’t lead with your job title.
Good public speakers never lead with their name or credentials. Similarly, a savvy job-seeker should never lead with her job title. Continue reading this entry »

top 30 January 2020 | Networking

In the past two days, three job seekers have complained to me about their experience with resume writers:

“This resume doesn’t say anything about me.”
“They left out the most important part.”
“They just didn’t get me.”

The common thread? Each of these three people Continue reading this entry »

top 23 January 2020 | Networking, Resumes

I’m getting tons of clients coming to me with this question.

First off, it’s unfair.

Now that that’s out of the way, how can you overcome the stigma?

The key is recognizing and remembering that your work experience Continue reading this entry »

top 16 January 2020 | Interviewing, Mature Workers, Resumes