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How to Arrange Your Resume: Logically or Chronologically?

Arranging Your Resume

Much like a hiring manager reading your resume, I’ve only got about 6 seconds to catch your attention with this blog post, so I’ll tell you straight away:

In most cases, you’ll be better off arranging your resume in a logical order than sticking to the old fashion chronological arrangement.

Why?

Because the time we have to make an impression on the resume reviewer is so finite, your most relevant experience needs to be at the top of your resume. This means, if you are applying to a job as a Professional Tap Dancer, and you’re currently working as a Lion Tamer, but three years ago, you were touring around the world, tapping with the National Tap Dancing Society, the tab dancing job goes above the lion taming job, even though it’s not as recent.

Not only does the first job need to catch the reviewer’s attention to prevent you from being thrown in the electronic “no” pile, but the first job also sets the tone for how they view the rest of your resume.

Are you a Tap Dancer with some impressive alternative skills working with lions? Or are you a Lion Tamer who used to tap dance? The job at the top of your resume is your brand. Make sure it’s the right brand for the job you want!

 

How?

I know I explained the previous section beautifully, but I must add a caveat. We cannot simply throw chronology to the wind and list our experience in a dimension where time and space are fluid. We have to provide some structure for the resume reviewer so they don’t feel like they're lost in a bad dream while they’re reading our resume.

This is where we get creative with our headings.

Traditional job applicants generally use the tested “Work Experience” and “Volunteer Experience” headings to organize their jobs. When we’re trying to bring our most relevant experience to the forefront of our resumes, all we have to do is customize the heading to suit our needs. Once we have the headings, we can list our experience chronologically within them. For example:

TAP DANCING EXPERIENCE

Tap Dancer                                                                  July 2011 – June 2015
National Tap Dancing Society                                           Montreal, Quebec

  • Something about tap dancing impressively
  • Something else impressive

Assistant Tap Dancer                                                   May 2010 – July 2011
Tap Dancing Society                                                         Montreal, Quebec

  • Something about helping others who were tap dancing impressively
  • Something else impressive

ADDITIONAL PERFORMANCE EXPERIENCE

Lion Tamer                                                                       July 2015 – Present
Toronto Zoo                                                                          Toronto, Ontario

  • Tamed the most ferocious of Lions
  • Taught sign-language to 3 lion cubs

It’s that easy, people. By providing headings, you help the reviewer follow your story, even if it’s not in chronological order. And by using the title “TAP DANCING EXPERIENCE”, instead of just “WORK EXPERIENCE” we’re branding ourselves loud and clear, “I am a TAP DANCER!”

*As a side note, you may be thinking... is Assistant Tap Dancer a real position? Does the Toronto Zoo offer a Lion Taming show? Can Lion cubs learn sign-language? The answer to all three questions is in your heart.

 

FAQ’s of Logical vs. Chronological Arrangement

Can I make a specific heading just for one job, even if it’s the only job I have worked that makes sense with that heading?

Yes. If the experience is relevant to the position for which you are applying. If it’s not directly relevant, you can lump other experience under an “ADDITIONAL WORK EXPERIENCE” heading.

What do I do about LinkedIn, where the work experience is automatically listed in chronological order?

This is where you can use your headline and summary statement to brand yourself. By default, your headline will be the same as your current job; however, we are free to edit this as we please. Use these two areas to talk all about how much you love tap dancing (or whatever it is that you love).

I can’t think of an appropriate heading for my relevant job. What should I do?

If you can’t think of a good job, or you want to run one by me, shoot me an email at greg@greglangstaff.com, and I’ll help you come up with something, free of charge!

 

Why a Man Once Fell Asleep while Interviewing Me… and 3 Other Outlandish Interview Experiences

Interview gone wrong

I know this headline sounds bad. I promise, I did not bore anyone to sleep. However, in light of the upcoming April Fool’s Day (which is my Birthday, FYI), I thought it might be fun to revisit some of my most awkward and outlandish interview experiences.

My hope in writing this is that you will realize that interviews can be unpredictable and weird. And that no matter what happens, you will get through it.

To make sure this educational, as well as entertaining, I’m going to formulate the stories as I recommend you formulate your interview answers, using the CAR method; context, action, result.

1. A Fly on the Wall

Context: I was interviewing for a graduate assistant position in a university’s civic engagement office and I was being interviewed by two young men immediately after eating a big lunch.

Action: About 15 minutes into the interview, one of my interviewer’s attention was drawn away from me by a fly buzzing harmlessly around the corner of the room. He watched the fly intently for several minutes, seeming to entirely forget I was there.

After a couple minutes watching the fly, he stood up and started following it around the room. At this point I stopped talking and just watched. Then, in a flash, the man picked up a file folder and swatted the fly to death. He then apologized and we resumed the interview.

Result: I took a graduate assistantship in a different office at that same university, and the fly swatter later became my gym buddy. He never swatted me once.

2. Breakfast Anyone?

Context: I was interviewing for a full-time position as Student Activities Coordinator at a small university in Miami. I had a full day of interviews on their campus, starting with a group breakfast. Normally, these breakfasts are light-hearted conversations over a shared meal to warm everyone up before the interview; however…

Action: The “breakfast” they presented was a cafeteria tray of cold hash browns, bacon and some fruit, assumedly leftover from breakfast served to students, hours earlier. I filled my plate with as little as I could without being rude. Then, as I sat down with my interviewers, I realized that I was the only one with any food. They had “already ate”.

So as they sat watching me struggle to peel a grapefruit with my bare hands, the interviewers pulled out notepads and started asking me full-on interview questions! I understand that multitasking is important; however, but I had never felt so awkward in my life.

Result: They must have admired my grit for dealing with the situation, because they did offer me the job. However, due to the breakfast incident, along with item number four on this list, I had to decline the offer.

3. With Arms Wide Open

Context: I was at an interview conference in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, interviewing with 10 different universities, looking for potential graduate assistantships. My second interview was with two lovely people from the Residence Life office at the University of Kansas.

Action: One of the interviewers was sitting with her legs crossed throughout the interview. Little did she know, by the end of the interview, one of those legs had fallen asleep. The interview was in a small room with no desk between the interviewers and myself, so as this women stood to shake my hand, she immediately toppled forward into my outstretched arms. Luckily, I was able to catch her and no one was injured in the process.

Result: My act of heroism was not enough to overcome my lack of Residence Life experience, and I did not advance with the University of Kansas.

4. Wakey, Wakey!

Context: We’re back in Miami. Only an hour or so after the breakfast incident. I’m sitting down to interview with a panel of 10 of my "would-be" peers. I know what you’re thinking, “10 people is too many for an interview panel,” apparently one man on the panel agreed…

Action: I swear the other 9 people on the panel were deeply enthralled with my interview. But one guy just wasn’t feeling it.

He was wearing jeans and a hoodie… and he was wearing the hood… over his head. He was sitting less than 5 feet away from me. He wasn’t at the other side of the room, he was more-or-less right next to me. And about 20 minutes in, I just notice his head start nodding, and his eyes start drooping.

I kept it as professional as possible, answering questions, and smiling, but I couldn’t stop watching as this guy peacefully drifted into dreamland before my eyes. He would occasionally wake up and start smiling and nodding as if I couldn’t see his chin repeatedly fall down to his chest and his eyes fall shut.

Result: I got through the interview, thrilled to have this story to tell, and as I mentioned in story two, I did not accept when they offered me the job.

 

I have lots more of these ridiculous interview stories, including a time a guy was running during a phone interview, and a potential supervisor who bragged about his “bull-in-a-china-shop” management style. I will save those, for another time. 

Good luck with your interviews out there people!

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4 Reasons Servers Deserve a Job Interview Almost Anywhere

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Respect your servers, people. Not just while they are serving you. Respect them when you meet them at a party, when you see them at the gym, and especially when they apply to work for you.

If you are asking “why?”, first… human decency. Respect everyone, please. But secondly, servers do amazing work in a high-pressure environment for hours on end. And they do it with a big, toothy smile on their face. I’ve outlined the exact skills servers bring to the table (pun not originally intended but now that I see it, I love it). For context, I’ve also illustrated some non-serving examples of each of these skills that may or may not come from my own life experience.  

Side note: Personally, I’ve never been a server (though I worked in a hotel for five years so I’m no stranger to demanding, impatient customers), and to help me paint the picture, I solicited the assistance of the person who I’ve spent the most time with in my entire life, my dear sister, Michelle Langstaff. Michelle is a long-time server, turned Kinesiologist, and she has bailed me out of more near tragedies than I’m able to count. Thanks, brosif.

 

1. Multitasking

Multitasking in everyday life: Scrolling Instagram with Gilmore Girls on in the background.

Multitasking in the average workplace: Checking your email while pretending to pay attention in a meeting that absolutely could have been replaced by at 3 minute phone call.

Multitasking for a server: You’re speed walking through a minefield of moving food and beverage to greet each new table within 30 seconds of their arrival (a strict restaurant policy). As you’re taking your first table’s drink orders, you notice another table walk in. You quickly punch in the first table’s drink orders and then sprint (without looking like you’re sprinting) to the new table to meet your next 30 second deadline. Just as you’ve punched in the second table's drink orders and gone to deliver the drinks from the bar to your first table, you notice a third table sit down. Now you’ve got table one who wants to place their dinner orders but the clock is ticking on greeting table number three.

I’m exhausted and we haven’t even taken everyone’s drink orders yet! Michelle went on to tell me all about setting the tables, running food, correcting mistakes, offering dessert, getting bills, cleaning spills, condiment fills, and a dozen other tasks that I was too overwhelmed to even write down.

As someone with a lot of event planning experience, I liken this level of multitasking to running three complex events simultaneously, without ever being able to sit down. The thought is dizzying and it inspires great confidence in former servers to deliver when things get hectic.

 

Other jobs that require this level of multitasking: project manager, supervisor/manager, detective, pilot, film or theatre director, nurse, preventative-medicine physician, teacher, event planner

 

2. Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence in everyday life: Telling your friend you’re sick when you bail on their birthday party so they won’t hate you.

Emotional intelligence in the average workplace: Telling your boss that they’re being a doofus without forfeiting your ability to buy dog food… and human food.  

Emotional intelligence for a server: Your salary is determined by how much a random hungry person off the street likes you. There’s nothing to tell you what kind of a day that random person is having, how peppy or straight-to-the-point they’d like you to be, or any other factors that might influence their decision to tip you.

Servers have a split second to gauge the emotional state of the table sitting down in front of them. Once they’ve determined the unwritten social rules that the customer has established, they’ve got to adapt their serving style instantly to please the customer. It’s either that or get a lousy tip.

This kind of interpersonal awareness and adaptability are extremely valued in high-level corporate relationship building and change management projects. So let’s value them just as highly in our serving staff. Tip your damn servers, people!

 

Other jobs that require this level of emotional intelligence: psychologist, customer service rep, manager/supervisor, real estate agent, social media manager, social worker, parole officer, politician, wedding planner, marketing analyst, occupational therapist, crisis negotiator

 

3. Team Building

Team building in everyday life: Asking a stranger to watch your stuff while you go to the bathroom… the real-life equivalent of a trust fall.

Team building in the average workplace: A half-day team retreat in a boardroom with a couch in it.

Team building for a server: Some of the other server experiences I wrote about had crossed my mind before, but Michelle opened my eyes to just how precarious the relationships a server needs to build among their team can be.

As a server, you need the kitchen staff to have your back in case you need to change an order in a rush. You need strong communication with the hosts/hostesses to be aware when tables are being seated. And you need to have each other’s backs, constantly running food for each other, clearing each other’s tables, and mopping up each other’s spills. And it all happens so fast. There is no time to take a personality quiz and share your preferred confrontation approach. You are playing with live ammo and figuring out how to support each other as you go. This is the kind of attitude that is required to run a start-up or pilot project.

 

Other jobs that require this level of team building prowess: entrepreneur, corporate educator, surgeon, manager/supervisor, police officer, chef, athlete, construction manager, human resources manager

 

4. Resilience

Resilience in everyday life: Cooking up a nice healthy chicken breast when you reeeeaalllly want to order that gooey, cheesey, deep dish Dominos pizza with Brooklyn style pepperoni and garlic dipping sauce (sorry, I'm hungry).

Resilience in the average workplace: “It’s Friday. It’s 2:30pm. I know the weekend is just a couple hours away, but I’m going to stay off Facebook and finish this report."

Resilience for a Server: Your work uniform is a bit more revealing than you are comfortable with on this particular day. You have to spend 95% of your workday standing and walking. You don’t know if your shift is going to end at 10:00pm or 3:00am. As a server, you have learned to be comfortable with discomfort.

Beyond the physical discomfort, there are also very uncomfortable human interactions. Servers will regularly muscle through customer complaints, inappropriate suggestive comments (often sexual and unwanted), drunken misconduct, and all-around entitled, impolite, unpleasant people. Obviously most people who visit restaurants are generally kind and considerate; however, even one or two of these interactions in a day is more than most of us are equipped to handle.

Servers find a way to press on through all the challenges, all the uncertainty, and all the unpleasantness. When things get tough, a server will still get the job done. That is why I want former servers on my team.

 

Other jobs that require this level of resilience: entrepreneur, CEO, software developer, author, referee, performer, disaster and emergency preparedness manager, sales representative, firefighter, pretty much every challenging job out there

 

Offer Servers an Interview

Some servers are amazing at their job and want to keep doing it forever and that is awesome! If you do ever have the good fortune to interview a server who is trying to get out of the restaurant game, give them a shot, will you? They’ve got a lot to offer.

And if you are a server out there looking to make a change, don’t sell yourself short. You are amazing!   

Why Interviews are Like First Dates… and how to dress and act to get invited back

Interview Coaching Image 1

Much like a first date, an interview is a feeling out process for both the sides. There may be some nervousness. There will certainly be uncertainty. How are they expecting me to act? What should I wear? How’s my breath?

The first impression counts for a lot.

Now, whether or not I'm a dating expert is still up for debate; however, if you’re going for an interview, here are a few essential pieces of etiquette you need to know if you want to get to a second round of interviews.

If you try any of these on a date, I would honestly love to hear how it goes (hit me up with details at greg@greglangstaff.com).

What should I wear? Wear a suit... for the interview, not the date (unless you feel a suit is appropriate, I don't know what you have planned). For the interview, a suit means your jacket matches your skirt or pants. Underneath said jacket, wear something professional, whether that be a dress shirt and tie or another professional-looking top. Regardless of your gender-expression, suits are your best bet for success. Also please wear dress shoes.

Unless explicitly told not to dress this way by the interviewer, this will be the expected interview attire regardless of what type of clothing is worn in the work place.

When should I get there? For both a date, and an interview, arrive 10-15 minutes early. If you're antsy and want to get there earlier, that's fine, but don't present yourself until you're in this time window. You don't want to show up too early, it can be a bit awkward for everyone if they're not ready for you.

Also, please don't show up last minute. It's a major red flag.

Be friendly with the receptionist (or parents, or roommate): Whoever is receiving you at the office's front desk (or your date's house) will likely be consulted to see how you behaved before the interview (or date) began.

Physical Contact? Shake the interviewers hand before and after the interview: No need to wait for them to initiate the handshake. They might be tired from all the interviews and might not initiate. If they have a valid reason not to shake your hand, they will politely decline and it will not be a big deal, I promise.

If on a date, remember, consent is key. Ask before you do anything. 

How do I follow up after? After an interview, write a “Thank You” email. Later that day or the next, write an email to the hiring manager (and the full committee if possible). Don't try to continue pitching yourself here. Just tell them it was really nice to meet them and thank them for taking the time to interview you.

As for following up after the date, totally up to you. Follow your heart.

I hope you enjoyed this ultra-romantic interview advice. I certainly had a good time writing it. Good luck on your next interview!

Inside the Mind of an Interviewer: How I Predict Interview Questions

Interview Questions

Hi there! Welcome to the Greg Langstaff Resume & Interview blog. I'm here to give you a quick burst of useful information so you can build a great resume and nail your interviews.


An interview can be a nerve-wracking experience. The toughest part is often the uncertainty we feel during our preparation process. What are the interviewers looking for in their ideal candidate? What do they expect of me? What will they ask?

Thankfully, it’s not all that hard to get into the interviewer’s head as we prepare for our interview. Most of the questions they will ask are sneakily hidden somewhere inside the job posting to which we applied. That's why I save those bad boys, every time.

Here are a few quick steps I follow to help forecast the interview questions (I like the term forecast better than predict because, like the weather, you won’t get it exactly right, but it will give you a good idea what to expect). These steps are quick and easy so follow them and then get started on preparing your A+ answers!

  1. Carefully read the job description and make a list of every task, responsibility, experience, or skill they mention.

    • For example, if the job posting said “Will coordinate the annual office team-building retreat” we could list Event Planning as a skill.

  2. Add any standard workplace skills or traits you think might apply to this position to our list.

    • Examples include Teamwork, Conflict Resolution, Organizational Skills.

  3. Turn each item on our list into questions which ask us for an example of a time we demonstrated that skill or experience.

    • For example, if the skill was Budget Management, we could create a question something like this: “Tell us about a time when you managed a budget effectively.”

Most interviews will include between 10 and 20 questions depending on the duration of the interview and the seniority of the position. When I do this exercise, I generally find it’s not hard to come up with at least 25 questions. The more we have, the better prepared we will be. Don’t worry about going overboard, it can only help.

For more interview tips, check out my blog on staying calm, cool, and collected during interviews: 9 Interview Tips That’ll Make You Feel Confident, Professional, and Relaxed.

The Most Common Interview Questions and How to Answer Them

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Welcome to Greg Langstaff's Job Search Mini-Blogs, where I give you a quick burst of awesome advice so you can get what you need and go continue being your awesome self.

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There are three very common interview questions that no one seems to quite know how to answer. Keep these tips in mind as you prepare your answers and you'll rock these questions!

1- Tell us about yourself

Possibly the most ambiguous interview question of all time. What the interviewer wants to hear about at the major transition points in your life that led you to be interested in this field of work.

A condensed example: I studied Creative Writing in school and I became the Communications Director of Creative Arts Students Association, which I really enjoyed. So I took a post-grad certificate in corporate communications and I've loved this kind of work ever since.

2- Why are you interested in this position?

This is a two part question and most new professionals make the mistake of answering one or the other. The parts are; a) why do you want to work at this organization, and b) why do you want to do the work required of this position.

A condensed example: I've always admired McDonald’s commitment to philanthropy and I had a friend who stayed at the Ronald McDonald House when she was young so I've seen first hand the positive impact your organization has. I feel the sponsorship partnership coordinator position is a great fit with the skills I developed as the Community Outreach Chair on my school’s Relay for Life Committee.

3- Tell us about a weakness of yours

Don't tell them a weakness. Tell them something you used to be bad at but have gotten better at. Then tell them how you got better and the result of your improvement.

A condensed example: I used to have trouble with difficult conversations and the cashier team I supervise had a bunch of tension I didn't know how to deal with. So I signed up for a Difficult Conversations webinar online and I applied the skills I learned there to help the team resolve the personal conflicts we were having.

Need help finding your excellent answers to these and other common questions? Reach out and I'll make you a master interviewer.

Line-by-Line Guide to Writing an Effective Customized Cover Letter in Minutes (Updated for 2019)

Cover letters are like pants. You're not going to get hired just because you wore great pants to the interview, but you're definitely not going to get hired if you don't wear any. Here’s a practical breakdown of how to write a great cover letter, line-by-line.