I generally advise against following up simply out of impatience; however, if you absolutely must reach out to an employer about when you’ll hear back after an interview or application, here’s how to do it.
Applying to jobs has never been easier. Find job online, upload resume and cover letter, repeat. Find, upload, repeat… repeat… repeat.
With the lack of effort required to submit a job application, it's not surprising that every study about the job market seems to reveal that an average of 400 people (or another intimidatingly high number) apply to each online job posting and that getting an interview is about as hard as getting into Hogwarts. In my hiring and recruiting experience, I have certainly have seen huge numbers of applicants for particular jobs; however, the numbers do not tell the whole story…
What these statistics don’t capture is that the majority of these applications are, to put it delicately… "Weak Sauce". I know it sounds harsh, but most applications are straight-up incomplete. Those that are complete are typically generic. An “I’m scared-for-the-future-of-civilization-ily” large percentage of job seekers are simply trying to apply to as many jobs as possible, seemingly without the intention of ever getting one.
Because it is so easy to submit an application (a couple clicks and “voila”, right?) most applicants don't put in the requisite effort to get real consideration from a hiring manager. Their applications aren't being read and it's like they never applied in the first place. So rather than competing against 400 over-achieving Hermoine Grangers, the "real" applicant pool is more likely around 20-40. Seems a lot more doable now doesn't it?
So please don’t be intimidated when you hear those daunting numbers about how many people apply to every job online. The people publishing those statistics are just trying to scare you. But you are awesome! And when you’re really interested in an opportunity, you will put in the work and get yourself into the upper tier of candidates!
So, how do I rise above?
It might take a bit more time to apply to each job, but if you apply these steps, it won't take nearly as long to land something great!
Target your resume: Comb the job posting for key words pertaining to the duties you'll be fulfilling and be sure to include each of those 2-3 times in your resume. Also, make sure the most relevant work you've done is featured prominently!
Write a customized cover letter: Include why you'd like to do this job specifically and why you'd like to work at this company. Make them feel special (they better be special if you’re going to spend 40 hours per week there). Let them know you applied to this job for a reason!
Look for additional requirements: Some applications will ask for a sample of your work, an answer to a short essay question, or even a transcript verifying your education. Missing these requirements is a one-way ticket to the “No” pile.
If you're serious about the job to which you are applying, I know you're will put as much care and effort into your application as you would on the job itself! If you do, the hiring manager will notice and you'll rise to the top of the pile :)
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.
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!
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 email@example.com, and I’ll help you come up with something, free of charge!
Last time I blogged about my entrepreneurial journey, I was one month in and despite not being able to spell "entrepreneur" without spellcheck, I was flying high! Since then the journey had been… I wouldn't call it a roller coaster, but a very least, a kiddie coaster. Maybe more of a bumpy train ride through a rolling valley.
What I'm trying to tell you is, things were going great, then they weren't, so I had to make some major changes and alter my tactics, and now they're going great again!
February - Everything is Awesome
February was amazing. I was still benefiting from the initial boost of publicity I received of when all my friends and well-wishers shared my launch and I generated enough leads to last about two months.
After earning nearly $400 in January, I doubled that mark in February with over $800 in income, surpassing my incredibly modest opening-year goal of earning $1,000. It was great! I was receiving repeat business, referrals, and one client even paid for a friend to receive my services as a gift. I’ve never been gifted before ;)
What I didn't realize while I was thriving is that I was neglecting a very important part of my business.
March: Part 1 - Uh oh!
I'm not going to sugar coat it for you, my dear reader, I made $0 in the month of March. The big nuth. I had one solid lead, whom I think I scared off. Probably because I was so desperate to break my drought.
I must admit, for a brief period, in my over-dramatic state, I thought maybe the dream was dead. Two good months and then fizzled out like a sparkler on a birthday cake (not that sparklers last two months… just… they fizzle out. You know what I mean).
In retrospect, it was easy to see this coming. While I was working with all my initial clients, I disappeared off social media, my website traffic was virtually nil, and my word-of-mouth army had nothing to go on.
March: Part 2 - The Redemption
After feeling sorry for myself for a couple of lonely weeknights, I decided to kick my butt into gear. At least I knew enough to understand that marketing was my problem. So I signed up for a $0.99 trial at skillshare.com and completed at least four courses on social media marketing. In SkillShare, I stumbled across a fairly famous guy who seems to know what he’s doing, Gary Vaynerchuk, and I learned the concept of creating a relationship with your followers before you ask for something.
So I bought his amazing book Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World and started crafting my Facebook marketing campaign (do I get a commission if you click on this link and buy this book? Hell yes, I do! But I wouldn’t recommend it if it didn’t help me monumentally). *Sidenote: I just bought his newest book Crushing It: How Great Entrepreneurs Build Their Business and Influence—and How You Can, Too, and I’m expecting even more awesomeness to come.
April - I’m a Believer
Using my rudimentary design skills on canva.com, I built up 2 weeks worth of content to post on my Facebook page and my own profile that was either personal to me, relevant to my services, or just topical what’s going on in the world. Then, on my 30th birthday, boom! I hit the world with my first “Right Hook”, a 30% off deal to celebrate my 30th.
What a hit! Within the week I confirmed six new clients and have seven additional leads who I may work with in the near future. That $28 book made me somewhere between $700 and $1200 in about 3 weeks. But what’s even more valuable is that I now feel like I’m doing this thing for real. I’m still learning, but the power of being able to generate interest in my business and build my brand strategically feels amazing.
I’m very excited to be where I am today. I can’t thank everyone enough for all the support you have given me. The referrals, the social media engagement, the genuine interest in how it’s all going makes me feel like I can take this business to the next level and beyond.
Stay tuned for my next entrepreneurial journey update. I’ve got a couple of fun new projects in the works including a SkillShare course or two of my own, and another project completely outside the resume writing industry :)
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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.
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
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!
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!
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.
Add any standard workplace skills or traits you think might apply to this position to our list.
Examples include Teamwork, Conflict Resolution, Organizational Skills.
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.
After this round of resume reviews, I’m more worried than ever that people do not know the mistakes they are making on their resumes. Getting past the review process to an interview isn’t difficult if you follow these key steps.