1. What questions might I be asked at a job interview?

Answer: The interviewer will be looking to see how well you fit with the company and how you can bring success to the position, so each question you are asked has a purpose to clarify why and how you are the best candidate. Prepare yourself to answer questions about why you are looking for a new job, the available position, the company and its mission, how you can contribute to the company’s success, and your salary expectations.

Additionally, you will likely be asked to discuss a previous challenge or failure, how you handled it, the outcome, and what you learned; a time you received professional criticism or a negative response to something you did at work and how you resolved it; an example of your innovation and thinking outside the box and the results you achieved; your strengths and weaknesses; your personal interests; and how your hard and soft skills have led to professional success.

Familiarize yourself with the details of the job description and how it aligns with your aptitudes and previous successes. Also, research the company and talk to current and former employees (if possible) to prepare your responses. Be sure to arm yourself with some questions of your own about the company, position, short- and long-term deliverables, and work culture, as well as what it takes to attain success at this position.

2. What is an applicant tracking system and how can I improve my resume for a scan?

Answer: An applicant tracking system (ATS) is a resume database that organizes, sorts, screens, and even ranks online applicants’ resumes. Recruiters and hiring managers use ATS software to select the best applicants and resumes through targeted searches for certain criteria, phrases, and keywords. To improve your chances of making it past the ATS gate keepers and securing an interview, use simple formatting; avoid images, borders, colored or fancy fonts, decorative bullets, and text boxes; include a simple personal header at the top of the page; be consistent with the placement and presentation of section titles and use traditional section names, such as “career” and “skills”; align with key words that match the job description; spell out acronyms; and proofread for typos and spelling errors.

For an easy “eye read” after passing through an ATS scan, be sure to leave ample margins and plenty of white space throughout the resume, without cramming too much information onto a page. A simple, straightforward, and easy-to-read resume pleases the computer and hiring personnel alike.

3. What makes an effective resume or CV?

Answer: An effective resume presents a simple, concise, and organized format, with appropriate category headings, an easy-to-read font, and a header. A solid resume should showcase an applicant’s achievements and accomplishments, illustrated through clearly worded descriptions, specific details, active verbs, and quantifiable, measurable results. It must align with applicant tracking system (ATS) scanning requirements and align your expertise with your career goals. There are several resume formats to choose from, including reverse chronological order, functional, combined, and CV, depending on your background and career goals. Federal resumes contain more comprehensive employment details, including supervisors’ contact information, salaries, and hours.

4. Do I need a cover letter with my resume or CV?

Answer: Yes. Introducing your resume with a cover letter conveys a detail-oriented, professional applicant who is willing to go the extra step. It also serves as the perfect platform to include or explain any relevant information or extenuating circumstances that do not belong on the resume itself, such as a career change or lapses in employment. Here is where you connect your assets to the specific company and position at hand. You can also mention a few details that you find impressive about the company to show you have done your research about them and their work culture. A cover letter provides potential employers with a writing sample on your behalf.

5. Why do I need to complete a resume questionnaire?

Answer: Although we are the experts in crafting a winning resume for you, YOU are the expert in providing us with specific details about your job history, accomplishments, and other areas of relevant information. By jotting down dates, positions, and prior experiences before we meet in person, you are maximizing the benefits of our time together. It also you to review documents, check quantifiable results, and recall previous experiences at your own pace. Once you have laid out the preliminary information, we can use our consultation time to delve deeper into areas that should be highlighted and expand on your initial intake. The questionnaire is just the first round of information-gathering, kind of like a map charting where we will need to go together to generate accurate, detailed content that aligns you with your career goals. With the basic information laid out, we can then ask further, targeted questions that will help develop effective strategies to  improve your presentation. For clients who would like help completing the questionnaire, we can always tackle it together in person or speak over the phone.

6. How do clients benefit from an in-person consultation with a professional writing consultant?

Answer: At the in-person consultation (free with certain services), clients benefit from presenting their questions and concerns. We provide detailed responses and discuss the effective strategies we will implement to achieve your goals. We also share the knowledge and expertise we have cultivated through industry research and years of experience. Meeting in-person allows for candid communication; we can ask the appropriate questions that, in turn, will generate comprehensive information. Clients learn what we propose to do to get the job done as effectively as possible and why we make these choices. In addition, it is nice to know who you are hiring and working with! Of course, clients that are not local can also take advantage of regular phone call and email exchanges. With All About Writing, clients are never rushed or made to feel like anything less than our top priority. We can achieve the same thoroughness and clarity over the phone, at the client’s convenience.