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Items Not to Include on your Résumé

In  previous   blog posts we have helped you figure out how to put your best face forward and make your résumé truly shine, so this week we’ve asked our experts to think about the biggest résumé gaffes they’ve seen over the years and put together a list of items you should avoid if you want to be taken as a serious candidate.  Of course there’s no “one size fits all” résumé, so having one or two of these items isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker – especially if you’re applying for a non-traditional position.  However, if you’ve been struggling to land even an introductory phone interview, we hope this post will help you shape up your résumé and land that dream job! One: Social Media Links Including a link to your LinkedIn or Facebook account is becoming “trendy” among job seekers, but unless you’re applying for a creative position where your...
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How to tell if a Job is Not the Right Fit

Making sure they’re hiring the perfect candidate for the job is paramount for hiring managers, but job seekers also need to make sure that they're accepting the perfect position.  When you’ve been searching for months on end and are starting to feel a bit desperate it can be tempting to take the first job offer you receive, but you should always reflect on whether or not you actually  want that job before accepting the position.  Otherwise you’ll end up right back where you started, and everyone’s time will have been wasted.  Frictional unemployment – when individuals are unemployed because they are searching for a job that is the right fit – can actually be beneficial for everyone: job seekers, employers, and the economy as a whole.  With that in mind, we’ve put together some questions to consider before accepting a job offer. Question One: Do your career goals align with...
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Building an Effective Team Part Two: What to Do

Last week we took a look at some common missteps managers make when trying to encourage their teams to work together and perform well, and outlined why these issues can be detrimental to a team environment.  As promised, this week we’re flipping things around and offering a guide on things to do to build an effective team that is cohesive, high-performing, and communicative. One: Evaluate Yourself A strong team needs a strong leader, so step one in building an effective team is evaluating your own leadership skills.  It’s important to be honest with yourself at this stage: what are your strengths and weaknesses?  How does your team perceive these strengths and weaknesses?  What can you do to improve and be a more effective leader?  These are all important questions.  And remember, everyone (and every team) functions differently!  If you successfully managed a strong team at one organization and now are...
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Building an Effective Team Part One: What Not to Do

Much of a manager’s time is spent making sure their team or department is performing well and functioning as smoothly as possible, so we’ve decided to devote the next couple of weeks to our two-part series on how to build an effective team.  In Part One we’ll take a look at some common mistakes managers make – usually with the best intentions – in an effort to show you what not to do when trying to foster team development.  Then next week we’ll turn around and look at things to do, and provide some advice on techniques you can implement to help build trust and create a high-performing team. One: Don’t Provide Empty Praise As we’ve mentioned numerous times, recognizing achievement and publically praising employees who have gone above and beyond in their efforts or successfully completed a major project is an excellent way to boost morale and create a...
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Creative Ways to Build a Talent Pipeline

Building a talent pipeline is a crucial way to ensure your company doesn’t get caught in a lurch by a sudden departure or a new project that requires additional manpower, as an effective talent pipeline will contain highly qualified individuals who are ready to quickly assume a position.  Creating a solid pipeline requires a lot of effort, though, as candidates are not available indefinitely – they will find new jobs, move across the country (or globe), or do something to demonstrate that they would not be a good employee after all – and therefore you will need to constantly review and update your pipeline.  Doing so doesn’t have to be tedious, though!  We’ve put together a list of some unique, creative ways to make sure there is a steady stream of candidates expressing interest in jobs with your firm, and who you can add to your talent pipeline. Tip 1:...
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Common Mistakes Companies Make when Hiring

Hiring the right talent is not an exact science: it takes finesse, experience, and a little bit of luck, and at some point everyone is going to make a mistake and hire the wrong person.  Company culture and the type of position being filled also play a role in hiring practices, which adds to the difficulty of creating a one-size-fits-all approach to hiring the perfect candidate every time.  Our hiring experts have, however, noticed a couple of common mistakes companies make during the hiring process, so this week they’ve put together a list of some of the more prominent errors and some simple fixes. Mistake 1: Not knowing what you want It’s impossible to fill an open position with a talented individual who will succeed and help the organization if you don’t know what specific skills, experience, and attributes a qualified candidate will need.  Developing a list of job responsibilities,...
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Making the Most of a Reference Check

Checking references is a step that, unfortunately, many recruiters and hiring managers decide to skip when bringing in a new employee.  It often seems tedious and time-consuming – the candidate has already passed through the pre-screening process, they’ve gone through phone and in-person interviews (perhaps even multiple rounds of face-to-face interviews), and they’ve managed to shine through it all.  What’s the point of going through their list and calling everyone just to get standard, canned responses about what a great employee they were?  Reference checks should never be ignored, though.  People can be trained on how to interview well and come across as competent, personable, and eager, so checking their references to make sure that they are actually a good employee , not just a good interviewee, is crucial.  Additionally, you need to verify that everything they’ve said on their résumé is accurate – you’d be surprised how many people...
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How to Simplify your Hiring Process

Hiring new employees is never going to be an easy process: identifying, interviewing, vetting, and on-boarding the right candidate takes time and effort, which pays off in the end, when you are rewarded with a competent and loyal employee.  There’s no need to struggle with an arduous hiring process if it’s leading to difficulties in attracting qualified candidates, though.   Take a look at these tips for simplifying your talent acquisition process, and see how many you can apply to your business! Tip 1: Shorten your application As an employer, you naturally want to have as much information about each candidate as possible before deciding whether or not to spend the time and effort to bring them in for an interview.  If your job application is too long and requires too many steps, though, it can negatively impact your hiring process.  Highly qualified candidates are turned off by lengthy applications that...
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Leadership Myths Debunked

Few of us have been properly trained for leadership.  Most people who rise to leadership positions do so because they have been performing well enough to merit a promotion (or several promotions), not because they have studied leadership techniques in school or successfully completed a management training course.  As a result, we’ve seen that many people who find themselves promoted to a management-level position operate under several common myths about what makes a good leader.  With that in mind, we’ve put together a list of some of the most common myths, along with our thoughts on why they are misapprehensions and what you can do to become a better leader. Myth 1: Great leaders are born, not made The most common misconception we hear is that some people are born with innate qualities that make them suited for leadership positions, and if you don’t have those qualities you will never...
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Reducing Employee Turnover

It’s no industry secret that employee turnover and “job hopping” are on the rise, with fewer people choosing to stay with the same company for the entire length of their careers, as was once common.  This does have some benefits, as employees are gaining a wider variety of experiences and skills which they can apply to each new workplace, but can hinder company growth – especially for small companies.  With that in mind, we asked our HR experts to come up with some tips for reducing employee turnover and improving long-term retention rates.  Tip 1: Review compensation and benefit packages regularly Higher salaries and more attractive benefit packages are regularly cited by job hoppers as some of the top reasons they accepted a new position, so employers can cut down on this motivation by regularly reviewing compensation packages.  Review industry trends to make sure that your employees are being paid...
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How to Recover from a Bad Job Interview

There are a myriad of reasons why even the most well prepared job seeker can crash and burn during an interview: maybe your personality clashed with that of the interviewer, maybe you were running late and got flustered, maybe the job description changed, or maybe you just had an off day.  No matter the cause, though, there are a few things you can do to help recover from a poor interview.  Our experts have put together a list of five key steps you can take to improve the interviewer’s perception and make sure your hat stays in the ring! Step 1: Stay calm The first thing to do following a bad job interview is to stay calm.  Panicking is a natural response, but it won’t get you anywhere.  When your adrenaline is up and your mind is racing, you will be more likely to blow things out of proportion and...
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Tips for Effective Coaching

Coaching or mentoring employees is an important skill for a manager – or anyone responsible for supervising a team – and a large industry has popped up around the process of teaching people how to become good coaches.  Training seminars, workbooks, and online courses are all available for those seeking to hone their abilities, often at a substantial cost, but becoming an effective coach does not have to be difficult!  We’ve put together some simple tips that anyone looking to brush up on their coaching skills can follow. Tip 1: Delegate Tasks Meaningfully It’s hard to coach someone without first giving them something on which to be coached, so the best place to start is by delegating work.  It isn’t enough to just randomly assign tasks, though.  When delegating work with the goal of coaching an employee, pick a task that fits well with their interests, has concrete milestones, and...
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How to Improve a Negative Employer Brand

It can happen to any company.  A few negative reviews on Glassdoor, one discontented employee spreading rumors, or a piece of negative press, and all of a sudden your company is suffering from an unattractive brand image.  Happily, however, there are a number of ways employers can turn the situation around and improve a negative brand image problem.  We’ve put together some easy steps that can help you rebuild your company’s image, or even just help you turn your company’s brand from average to excellent. Tip 1: Do your Research Making assumptions about the root cause of your company’s negative brand issue will not help you improve the situation, as you may end up targeting the wrong item and wasting time and money trying to fix something that isn’t broken.  If you’re afraid a branding problem is affecting your company culture and your ability to hire, start by doing some...
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Tips for Avoiding Job Posting Scams

Many recruiting scams are easy to spot: offers to make thousands of dollars a month working from home and blatant Ponzi schemes typically get sent to spam folders anyway, making them very easy to ignore, and fake ads on recruiting boards generally offer high salary ranges with vague descriptions of the position and responsibilities.  Some are much more subtle, though, and falling for them can have consequences that range from the mild annoyance of wasted time to devastating identity theft.  With that in mind, we’ve put together a list of tips to help you avoid some of the more sophisticated recruiting scams, which tend to attract first-time job seekers, those who have been in the market for an extended period of time and have become increasingly frustrated, and mothers or recently retired seniors looking to make some additional income by working from home. Tip 1: Always Research the Company and...
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How to Write a Cover Letter

While a résumé is an incredibly useful tool (and one which we have devoted a number of articles to), it’s only half of the package when you are applying for a position: your cover letter is equally important.  Your cover letter allows you to tell your prospective employer a story about how your past experience has prepared you for this position, as well as what interested you in the position in the first place, and its value should not be underestimated.  We’ve seen too many great candidates who focus only on their résumé and recycle the same form cover letter for every job application, so we’ve put together a list of easy-to-follow tips for writing a compelling cover letter that truly makes you stand out among the pool of applicants. Tip 1: Personalize Your Cover Letter Starting your cover letter off with “Dear Sir/Madam” or “To Whom it may Concern”...
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How to Expand your Career Network

Networking is a vital aspect of doing business: whether you are the CEO of a company or a recent graduate trying to find a first job, connections are important for achieving almost all business goals! While many people realize the importance of networking, they do not understand the impact an extended network can have on their future careers. By the time an individual is 40 he or she will have met tens of thousands of people, but very few people take full advantage of this network.  So how does one leverage these numerous long lost friends? The first step is to make a list, and make it now before you forget! This seems simple, but it will go a long way toward helping you remember people that you would have otherwise forgotten two years earlier. Making a list is a pretty simple task, but the organizational structure of this list...
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Creating a High Performance Culture

As a manager, you are responsible for setting the tone in the office.  Naturally, not every manager will have the same style: some may prefer to hold weekly staff meetings and provide structured feedback, for example, while others would rather hold staff meetings as necessary and provide feedback on a more ad hoc basis.  Whatever your managerial style, though, almost everyone can agree that it’s best to have a high performance culture where all employees strive to provide the best possible work product.  With that in mind, we’ve put together some tips to help you build a just such a culture in the workplace. Tip 1: Increase Transparency It’s hard for anyone to perform well if they don’t understand how the work product they produce will be used and how it contributes to the overall goals of the company.  When assigning new tasks, make sure everyone involved knows exactly what...
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How to Simplify Your Job Search

We’ve been focusing quite a bit on résumé writing over the last few weeks, but there’s a lot more to job searching than just your résumé.  Networking and researching, for example, take up a significant chunk of every job seeker’s time, as does hunting for job openings.  So, we’ve put together some tips for those looking to simplify their job search and make the most of every day spent searching.  Tip 1: Get Organized The best way to simplify your job search is to spend some time organizing everything you will need.  This initial time investment will save you a lot of time down the road!  Set up dedicated folders for various versions of your résumé and cover letter, create a calendar system to help you manage your time, and identify the companies or roles you will target during your search.  Keep notes of your top criteria for a job,...
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Quick Fixes to Boost Your Résumé

If you read last week’s article about résumé myths and were motivated to update your information but were not quite sure where to start, we at Potomac Recruiting are here to help!  This week our experts decided to take a look at some quick and easy ways to boost your professional experience and make your résumé stand out.  Naturally, a stellar résumé format will vary from industry to industry, but going through some of these simple tips is an excellent place to start re-vamping your professional image, no matter your field or experience level. Tip 1: Ditch the “Objective” Many people include an “Objective” section at the top of their résumé, without realizing that this may be hindering their search.  An “Objective” statement shows what you are looking for in a job – not how your skills may benefit the company!  Shift the focus back on the position for which...
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Top Résumé Writing Myths Debunked

A few weeks ago we asked our recruiting experts to help job seekers out by debunking some common interview myths , and this week we’ve decided to revisit that topic by debunking some of common résumé writing myths we have come across over the years.  Résumé writing is not an exact science with hard and fast rules, so breaking one or two of these guidelines will not necessarily automatically disqualify you from an interview.  In general, however, avoiding these résumé myths will make your résumé more engaging and attract more attention from recruiters and hiring managers. Myth 1: My résumé can only be 1 to 2 pages Résumé length is one of the most common résumé myths floating around, and we’ve seen it all, from senior executives trying condense decades of qualifications into one page using tiny fonts and no margins, to entry-level professionals trying to pad their résumés with...
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About Us

Potomac Recruiting consultants are specialists in talent. Our experienced consultants are passionate about finding the right people for your business—that’s the Potomac Recruiting advantage. We specialize in finding the people who will help your business exceed its goals, and our success is measurable: in today’s fast-moving world Potomac Recruiting is proud that our retention rate is 93%.  

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