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7 Ways to Make Breaks More Meaningful

7 Ways to Make Breaks More Meaningful

Hint: It isn’t about being more productive!

In countries like the United States and Japan, productivity and “hard work” are core values in defining the success of individuals.  However, it is unrealistic to expect people to run constantly – we aren’t machines!

We all know taking breaks is important, but a break from work a few times a day may not be giving you the benefits you need (you know, a break). 

Those in office environments may fill a break getting coffee, standing around the water cooler, or even skip it altogether in favor of a conference call.  For those working from home, it wouldn’t be uncommon to find your break hijacked by household projects, or simply spent standing in front of an open refrigerator – wondering if you are hungry or not.

On the flip side, you may find yourself wanting to use your breaks “productively”.  Maybe you want to spend your lunch break running errands.  Or schedule appointments between two conference calls.  While this can feel productive, it doesn’t provide you with the break you need.

If you are starting to feel burnt out, or need to shake things up, here are a 7 ways to make your breaks more meaningful.

Take a Walk

The benefits of walking are immense.  Besides the physical health of this fat-burning exercise, walking increases good mental health. 

Walking also gives you an opportunity to walk away from your desk (and the work distractions). 

By walking outside you can get away from the fluorescent lights of an office or warehouse environment and enjoy the health benefits of sunshine.

Connect with a Co-Worker (Personally)

Building relationships with our colleagues can include getting to know someone personally.  While professionalism is encouraged, knowing your financial director has a child that just started college, or that your marketing admin is getting married this year, can help you form friendly bonds. 

Take a walking break with a co-worker and check-in with how they are doing.  As a result of getting to know your colleagues, you may find that you enjoy your work environment more and the team works better together.


Journaling is an awesome way to “talk out” things you are thinking or feeling and find a way to connect with yourself more.  Journaling can be used to organize your life (such as bullet journals), exploring yourself through “freewrites”, or jotting down reminders so you don’t lose track of thoughts.

Carry around a journal, or use a note-taking app like Evernote to log your thoughts.

Hang Out With Animal Companions

This is especially true for those who work at home.  Our four-legged friends need playtime and attention.  Take your 15-minutes to take your pup for a walk, tease the cat with a laser pointer, or brush the back of your turtle. 

You don’t need reasons to hang out with them – you already love them!

Complete a Simple Chore

Another item that is specifically relevant to those who work from home: chores!  To clarify, this about tackling home projects, or getting sucked into cleaning.  Any chores should be done in under 15 minutes.

If it isn’t about being productive, why spend your break doing a chore?
Gets you away from a computer screen and desk chair.  Sitting all day can take a toll on the body.  Completing a household chore forces you to move your body, even just a little bit.

Relieve stress at the end of the day. By having a chore done (or started) means less you are doing in the evening, freeing up your “free time” for more enjoyable activities such as spending time with family and friends.
Here are some examples of chores that would fit:

  • Empty the dishwasher
  • Start a load of laundry
  • Water your plants
  • Wipe down kitchen and bathroom counters
  • Vacuum one room

Text Your Mom

Or Aunt, Grandfather, or close friend.  Basically, take a few minutes to send a message in some form to someone you love and connect.  The best messages are the ones that are “just because” you are thinking of someone.  It doesn’t require a long phone conversation or an in depth email.  Just touch base.


This one can seem daunting because meditation can seem difficult.  That is why we recommend using an app on your phone to guide you through meditation.  Calm or Headspace both provide guidance for mindfulness that can help you get centered in just a few minutes. 

Whether you work from home or in an office, get away from your desk or workspace and find someplace quiet to relax. 

Any other ways you enjoy taking breaks?

Posted by Amanda Parsons in Career, Productivity, 0 comments
How To Track Job Applications In Evernote

How To Track Job Applications In Evernote

Searching for a new job is stressful.  You might send out 100 resumes before you find the perfect job.  Make it easier on yourself by keeping your applications in order and easy to find.   Did you know you can track job applications in Evernote?

If you haven’t heard of Evernote or thought it was only a note-taking app, it is time to brush up on what this tool can do.  In this article, we will cover how to keep track of all the job applications you have submitted during your job search.

Disclosure: Guess what? Otters eat over 10 pounds of sashimi a day! To help offset the cost of food (and running this website), we receive a commission if you click on a link and purchase something.

Benefits of Using Evernote

  • Online access means your job search can happen anywhere
  • Everything is in one place – no need to open many files
  • Search for job keywords to find past applications
  • Track the status of a job application
  • Check if you’ve applied to a company before and if so, which job.
Quick Note
You will need an Evernote account to use the following tutorial.

The following steps will help you get set up to start tracking.

Create a Job Notebook

Your first step will be to create a notebook for all your job applications. Title this notebook “Job Applications” and add any letter or numbering system, if you use one.

Don’t create a stack or separate notebooks for each company or job type. Keep it simple and use Evernote’s powerful search function.

You Might Also Enjoy: How to Organize Evernote Notebooks for Ultimate Productivity

Job Application Tracking Template

For every job you apply to, use the same template.  This will make it easier as you move forward to know exactly what you sent and what is a part of each job.

Title your template “Job Application Template” and save it in your “Job Applications” notebook.  Create a shortcut to this note so you can use it over and over.

Keep a clean (empty) template and don’t copy from a job application note that you have previously filled out. Why?

If you re-use (copy from) a job template that already has content from another job, you may accidentally forget to remove old information.

It would be tragic to follow up with a hiring manager that never posted the job in question because you forgot to remove their contact information in the new note.

That won’t be you, though.  Because you now have a template you can use.

Job Tracker Template

Quickly check the status of your job applications and never forget to follow up again!

Evernote Plus, Pro, or Business User? Create a template and avoid the problem altogether!

How to Use the Job Application Tracker Template

The template may seem super simple, but that is the point.  It is important not to over complicate and allow you to get right to the point.

Fill in the details

Find a job you want to apply for?  Copy the job description, title, date the job closes and other details into your tracker.   Don’t rely on the job link.  Job postings get removed and expire.  The link may not work by the time the hiring manager starts reaching out to people for interviews.  This is especially important when preparing for interviews.

Read This: 6 Mistakes to Avoid When Applying for a Job

Attach application files

This process is, after all, a job application tracker. Add your applications!

Evernote makes a simple note a multimedia opportunity.  If you created a custom resume for the job, and you should, you can attach it into the note.  

File Attachments to track job applications in evernote
Attach your resume and cover letter so you know what you presented to the company.

Attach your completed application.  If an online application allows you to “print” a version at the end, print it to a PDF or image file and attach it here.  This will help you if you get a callback.  Plus, it never hurts to have more information.

Set application status

This is an important part of the process, as it lets you know where each application left off.  You won’t wonder: “Did I follow up on this one already or was that the other project manager position?”

status update in job tracker template
Keep adding to the “Status” section.

The trick to success is to make the status quick to read and easy to understand.  Always include a date for the last time you did anything with the job application.  

For example:

04.15.2018 – Submitted Job Application and Resume

This tells you that on April 15th you applied for the job.  More importantly, it tells you that you haven’t done anything with that job since.

Let’s say the job application closed on April 30th and it is now May 7th.  If you haven’t heard anything, it might be time to reach out and follow up – let them know you are still interested in the job.  After you do this, you would add another line that says as much.

04.15.2018 – Submitted Job Application and Resume
05.07.2018 – Sent email to the hiring manager to saying I’m still interested (See attached)

If the hiring manager responds, you can include anything important then.

04.15.2018 – Submitted Job Application and Resume
05.07.2018 – Sent email to the hiring manager to saying I’m still interested (See attached)
05.10.2018 – Hiring Manager said they will start interviews by the end of the month and to follow up then.

Track job applications in Evernote until the final status reads one of the following:

06.02.2018 – Position Filled

Or, better yet:

06.02.2018 – Position Filled – BY ME! 🙂

Job Application Tracker Pinterest Image

Photo Credit: Jesus Kiteque on Unsplash

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Posted by Amanda Parsons in Career, Tutorials, 0 comments
The Functional Resume: Why You Need to Use It

The Functional Resume: Why You Need to Use It

If you’ve read any advice recently on building a resume you’ve probably heard of functional resumes. If not, we’ve got you covered. 

What is a functional resume?

A functional resume emphasizes skills and job functions as the primary organization method.

Most people use a standard chronological resume that sorts by jobs.  This starts with the most recent job first, listing all your duties for that job, then moving on to the next job.

A functional resume, by contrast, lists all experience by job duty. For example, let’s say you are a project manager who also managed a budget.  You would list all experience related to “Project Management”.  Then, below that, you would list all experience related to “Financial Management”. 

Why use a functional resume?

The most simple answer is that it is easy for hiring managers to read.  Make a hiring manager’s job easier and increase your chance of getting an interview.

When you choose a functional resume you organize the job duties to match the job you are applying for.  Are they looking for an office manager who also does bookkeeping? List your experience related to these two items. 

Your resume isn’t actually about you. It is a sales pitch to solve the problem of the business.

If they need an event planner, be sure your resume shows all the experience you have in event planning. 

It helps you get to the point

A functional resume skips the extraneous information about past jobs that aren’t related to the job you are applying for.

Some people think the more duties they show, the more hirable they are. But this actually creates a lot of clutter for the hiring manager to sift through. If it is too much work, your resume will end up in the trash!

Instead, focus on the job keywords and showcase your experience for only those responsibilities. 

Tips to Get to the Point

  • Choose 3-5 keywords to highlight. 
  • Make your first keyword phrase the primary job function. 
  • Your functional resume should never be more than 1 page long.

It helps you sell yourself

Once you know what you are going to talk about in your resume, you need to sell yourself as the best candidate. 

It isn’t enough that you had the job. You want to prove how great you were in past jobs, and ultimately, how you will be an asset to the organization you’re apply for. Everything in your resume needs to answer the question, “How will you make our company better?”

It doesn’t take a magic eight ball to determine how to answer that question. Include these elements into your resume for a well rounded answer to this question:

  • Use well placed jargon
  • Share how you saved time or money
  • Show your commitment to your work

Show off how smart you are

Just because you were in a job with the title “Project manager” doesn’t actually prove you know anything. For all the hiring manager knows, you may have the job by accident or through nepotism, without any real understanding of what it entails.

There is an easy way to show you know what you are taking about, and that is through well placed jargon. Jargon is a term that refers to the words specific to your job or industry.  Someone who is not involved in that job wouldn’t necessarily know. 

  1. Think about the words you use everyday that you might need to explain to your friends or family who are not involved with the work that you do. This might include words like “quality assurance” or “acquisition process”. 
  2. Be sure to use phrases that make sense to your work.  A hiring manager needs to be able to recognize they are related to your job.  Also, unless you are applying for a highly technical job (i.e., you have a PhD in aerospace technology) avoid specific technology or acronyms.

Show how you made or saved money and time.

Your job has a function within the organization. Not all jobs are direct producers for the bottom line, such as sales.  Still, you should be able to make a correlation between your efforts and advancing company goals.  This might be in the form of saving time or money, or advancing the mission.

If you didn’t save time or money you are probably a lawyer.

Demonstrate the time or money you saved/made using numbers. Be specific and quantify as much as possible. 

Show your commitment to your work

A hiring manager doesn’t want to invest in someone who might leave the job soon. How do you indicate you are committed to your job? 
The best way is to simply show how integrated you are in your career. You can do this by including any of the following:

  • Certifications you have earned
  • Public speaking presentations or workshops you’ve given
  • Awards you’ve received
  • Classes or workshops you’ve attended
  • Volunteer or pro bono work you’ve done that is related to your career but above and beyond your job
  • Providing a meaningful contribution to your field

A Functional Resume is Easy to Create

With a functional resume you want to always tailor it to the job – so make it even easier to create by using a Master Resume tool.

Master Resume

Download the Master Resume Template and quickly create functional resumes.

Photo Credit: Joanna Kosinska from Unsplash

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Why Create a New Resume for Each Job Application

Why Create a New Resume for Each Job Application

You’ve heard the advice: customize your resume for the job you are applying for.

Before you start making excuses, let’s take a look at the reasons WHY you want to customize.

Your resume is run through a bot

Some companies use an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) that compares your resume to the job description.  This software looks at similar keyword. If your resume doesn’t match the job post with enough keywords, it ends up in the trash.  All before a set of human eyes even has a chance to see it!

How to get past the ATS

In your resume, make sure you use plenty of the exact same keywords as the job description.  The software program can’t read between the lines, so make it as obvious as possible.

Hiring Managers Don’t Do Your Job

Your resume will likely also get screened by an HR manager who doesn’t know your job like you do.  They are also looking at keywords in your resume. Don’t use jargon, such as acronyms or proper nouns, unless they are in the job description.

Likewise, HR managers don’t have time to read three pages of job history. Avoid adding a lot of other job responsibilities that are not part of the job you are applying for. Too much information makes the keywords hard to find.

How to get past HR

Use the same keywords as the job description.  Also, keep it short, simple, and to the point so they can get to the content faster.  

It Shows You Read the Posting

When your resume lines up with the job posting, it shows you know what they are looking for.  Think of a job posting like a sales advertisement.  

A company has posted a flyer that reads “I need a 12 foot long red canoe”.  When people submit their resume, they are answering the ad with the type of canoe they have for sale.  

Most people will submit this:

“I have a 10 foot long canoe that is blue, has flames painted on the side, and comes with my cousin George to help you carry it”.  

The canoe part is okay, though not a perfect match. The cousin is unnecessary.

Some people will answer the ad with this:

“I have a green Jeep”.  

These people won’t get past the ATS.  

By staying targeted and focusing on keywords, your resume will read “I have a 12 foot long red canoe”.  And that, is how you will get an interview.

Want a little more help getting to the interview part?  Use a Master Resume Template to make customizing your resumes super easy!

Master Resume

Start with a master resume to make your job search as easy as copy+paste!

Photo Credit: Glenn Carstens-Peters from Unsplash.

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Write A Better Resume

Write A Better Resume

How to write a resume that make a hiring manager say, “this is the one!”

Writing is not everyone’s forte. In fact, writing can be one of the most cumbersome parts of a job and often the most put off. 

The biggest challenge to writing isn’t always the process itself, it is the outcome. Does your message translate well? Is it easy for other people to read and understand? 

When it comes to resume writing, you want to make doubly sure that what you write is easily understood by your audience (aka, hiring manager) because they use that to determine how qualified you are for a job.

So how do you make sure your resume is up to snuff? This article will help you write a better resume by breaking down the process into three parts:

  • Choosing which words to use
  • Creating a sentence
  • Building out the resume

Choosing Words

Before you start writing an essay on why you are the *perfect* candidate for the job, take a moment to think about the words you need to include.

Use Keywords

Simply put, keywords are the important words used in a job application that tell you what the job is about and what skills the company seeks in a good candidate. 

Use keywords in job descriptions to help you write resume sentences.

As you can see in the image, keywords can be adjectives (descriptive words), verbs (action words), and proper nouns. After you have read through a job post and determined it is a good fit, go back though and identify all the keywords. These are the same words you will want to use in your resume.  

Why use the exact same words? Because an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) is likely the first scan of your resume. An ATS, or Applicant Tracking System is a software program used by companies that scans your resume to see how well it matches the job description.  It looks for words used in the job description to determine if your resume contains the same skill sets.  

If you use the same keywords in your resume as you do in your job, your resume has a chance at passing the test and being moved forward to human eyes.

What an ATS won’t do is look for is synonyms.  This means, if a job is looking for a Project Manager and your resume lists you as a “coordinator of various systems during product lifecycle”, you may be the perfect candidate that no hiring manager ever sees.  This statement doesn’t include either word, project or manager, even though to another project manager it may appear that is exactly what you do.  

In addition to software programs, it is important to keep in mind that hiring managers are often HR personnel who don’t necessarily have a good understanding of what your job entails.  This means you want to make it abundantly clear to them, as well, that you are a good candidate.  Basically, don’t assume someone with your skill set is screening your resume.

Use Action Words

Verbs (words that describe an action, like run, talk, coordinated, or managed) are strong words that indicate to a hiring manager what you actually did, instead of just what you were assigned to do.  They can also be used to demonstrate achievement.

Here is an example of how the verb “established” can be used to show your accomplishments:

“Established product quality assurance program that saved the company $1.5 million in repairs”

This sentence tells someone that the benefit to the organization (saving money in repairs) directly involved you (you established the program).

Wake Forest University has a great resource this: Action Verbs for Resumes.

Now that you have a list of verbs and keywords you know you want to include, it is time to create those sentences.

Write in Third Person

Unlike when writing a cover letter, where you write in first person, a resume is presented differently.

When you write sentences in your resume you want to make sure you are using a “third person” voice.  Not sure what that means?  Here is a quick reference:

First Person Point of View

How we generally speak (I, we)

  • “I received a B.S. in Geology from the University of Washington.”
  • “We coordinated a large event of over 500 attendees each year”

Second Person Point of View

When referencing other people, often at someone else.

  • “You will see a resume with a number of valuable skills”

Third Person Point of View

Either referring to yourself by name, or not mentioning your name at all

  • “Taylor enjoyed building strong customer service skills”
  • “Established standard protocol for product development”

Rules of Thumb

  • Don’t use your own name in the body of your resume
  • Avoid “I, you, we” (pronouns)
  • Start sentences with action words (verbs)

Use Full Sentences

Using complete sentences makes a resume easier to read and allowed you to get your point across.  This doesn’t mean sentences can’t be somewhat fragmented, but avoid lines that don’t complete an idea.

Instead of this:

  • Python and C++
  • $50,000 in sales in one year
  • Was in team of 10

Try this:

  • Proficient in both Python and C++ with experience in over 20 client projects
  • Set company record for generating $50,000 in sales during one fiscal year
  • Worked closely in a team of 10 other designers to meet company-wide initiative

Imagine, as a hiring manager you are looking over a resume that lists “$50,00 in sales in one year”.  Your next question is going to be “why is this important?”  You will want to know if this is a lot in sales for the organization, if this was a personal best, or if the applicant completed this goal on their own.  Context can help a hiring manager fill in the gaps.

Quantify Your Work

Use numbers, facts, figures, and statistics.  This is a more advanced resume technique that has a big impact.  Quantifying your achievements helps a hiring manager understand how well you performed, how much their organization can expect to gain from your expertise, and how successful you are as an employee.

More than just adding numbers, you want to then show how these numbers made an impact.

Example #1

Instead of:

  • Proficient in Python and C++


  • Over 10 years combined experience in Python and C++ working with 20 client projects

Even better:

  • Used 10 years of experience in Python and C++ to complete 20 projects, saving clients over $35,000 in lost product sales.

Depending on what kind of work you do, you may not always have access to the financial figures at a macro level.  However, you can still quantify your work in other ways.

Example #2

Instead of:

  • Worked in a team of 10


  • Worked closely in a team of 10 other designers to meet company-wide initiatives

Even better:

  • Reduced processing errors 23% by working with team of 10 designers to establish project criteria based on company-wide initiatives

What Can Be Quantified?

  1. Size of your organization
  2. Amount of money you made or saved
  3. Number of employees you train or manage
  4. Number of board members you report to
  5. How many times a week you complete a task
  6. The size of your duties (3 baseball fields mowed; 75 deliveries each day)
  7. Customer satisfaction ratings
  8. Sales outcomes
  9. Marketing metrics 

Be Selective

Now that you have the sentences you want, be selective about what you include.  

Repeat after me: I won’t include everything.

It can be tempting to include everything you have ever accomplished on your resume.  Certainly you want a hiring manager to see how versatile you are?  Well, it could actually be used against you.

You don’t need to tell the whole story in your resume – that is what the interview is for!

An ATS may dock you points for having too many unrelated keywords in your resume, so make sure it is targeted.  A hiring manager is only looking for candidates that fit a specific job, so other skills may actually look like you haven’t used the pertinent skills for very long, or perhaps it isn’t your primary interest.

You don’t need to tell the whole story – that is what the interview is for!

Keep Sentences Concise

If your sentences run more than two lines at 10-12pt font, you need to trim it down.  Consider breaking up those sentences so they are two or three points, instead.

Another way to shorten sentences is to take out filler words.


Too long:

  • Worked with team of over 10 other designers to put together important documents to be used for clients over the course of 3-5 years after initial meeting to make sure all deliverables are addressed and client needs are met in keeping with company-wide initiatives.


  • Gathered documentation of deliverables for clients in conjunction with team of 10 designers as related to company-wide initiatives.

Highlight One Point Per Bullet

Just like above, you don’t need to cram in too much.  Instead, use another bullet point to make that item stand out.

Too much information:

  • Set company sales record for generating $50,000 in sales during the same month received employee of the month of helping out during training, all within one fiscal year

Break it down:

  • Set company sales record for generating $50,000 in sales during one fiscal year
  • Received Employee of the Month award for demonstrating leadership during team training exercises

Building the Resume

Now that you have your resume sentences, it is time to put it all together.  Think about it like creating the building blocks of a story.  You want a beginning, middle, and end – without anything unrelated.

Combine Sentences for Full Picture

Alright, you have a list of strong sentences that describe the work you’ve done.  You’ve trimmed away all the excess that doesn’t relate to the job you are applying for.  You now want to make sure your resume creates a complete picture of who you are.  Double check your resume and make sure you have at least one sentence of each of the following:

  • Time or money you saved
  • Career accomplishments (awards, honors, speaking opportunities)
  • Jargon used in your industry
  • Demonstrates leadership
  • Tackles a challenge

Some of your sentences may contain more than one of the above, and that is okay.

Finally, make sure your sentences are in an order that makes sense to a hiring manager.  

Start Broad

This will give a hiring manager the best idea of who you are.  Which of these sentences do you think should go first on a resume?

  • Reconciled $40,000 following over expenditure of discretionary spending, resulting in 75% reduction in net loss and the ability to reinstitute nonprofit programming budget.
  • Used over 10 years of nonprofit financial management to establish reliable fiscal team and board treasury.

One of those sentences helps you understand what their job was, the other addressed the details.  While the first sentence certainly showcases a success, the second sentence helps set the stage.  By reversing the order, a hiring manager can tell that this candidate “reconciled $40,000” as a financial manager, rather an as a bookkeeper.

End with Growth

While the middle and end are not as important (most HR just scan a resume anyway), one of the ways to end strong on your resume is with an example of how you want to grow.  This helps a hiring manager understand why you would want a new job, how you can continue to bring new things to the table, and knows you aren’t just phoning it in.

Which one of these sentences do you think packs the most punch as a conclusion?

  • Took initiative to enroll and complete ABC Sales Training Certification course in order to advance my career.
  • Worked closely with 4 other sales managers to meet department goals.

In this case, the first sentence indicates that the candidate is ready for more. The second sentence might imply they enjoy their coworkers, maybe they aren’t ready to let go, or maybe they prefer working in teams with less responsibility.

By following these steps you are ready to write better resume sentences. Once you have your sentences, don’t forget to format into a nice, clean, and easy to read format!

Use one of Office Otter’s resume templates to get you started.

Photo Credit: Patrick Fore on Unsplash.

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6 Mistakes To Avoid When Applying for a Job

6 Mistakes To Avoid When Applying for a Job

There isn’t a lot of room for error when it comes to a job application.  It is your first impression.  At best, job application mistakes could result in a laugh between you and the hiring manager.  At worst, it could cost you the job.

In this article we aren’t talking about accidents, like sending a photo of your cat instead of a resume.  These are simple mistakes that people make all the time, are avoidable, but can cost you the job.  Many of these mistakes are so common you have probably done it and not even realized!  But don’t worry, we’ll share how to avoid them, too. 

Your Name Isn’t Saved On Your Resume File

First, let’s clarify what we are talking about here: 

Do you have a resume that just reads “resume” or “Resume 2018”?

Many people have resumes named like the one on the left.  Resume file names might reflect job type, such as “Admin Job Resume” or “resume-office3.doc”.   

Here’s the problem: Hiring Managers save resumes or get a batch download and end up with something like this. 

job application mistake: not correctly naming your resume file
Where do you even start?  Oh look!  There is Jill Sanders!

They then have to figure out whose resume is whose and either rename and save or… wait… there is Jill Sanders’ resume!  Let’s start there.

We aren’t suggesting that all HR Managers only open resumes with names on them.  We are demonstrating how frustrating it is to get hundreds of resumes and not be able to tell them apart.  Thus, it would be reasonable to assume they will start with the resumes that are easier to sort and go from there.

Follow this Golden Rule: Make a hiring manager’s job EASY to find, read, and select your resume.  This gives you the best chance at getting an interview.

How to Fix It

Avoid this job application mistake by naming your resume file accurately.  It can be as simple as Jill’s resume above.  Make sure you include both your first and last name and the word resume (to help separate it from the cover letter).

Not Saving the Job Posting

This job application mistake is very common. It also puts you in a tough position if you get a call back.

The job description is your key to understanding what an employer needs.  It is like a sales advertisement where they specify exactly what they are looking for, no more, no less.  Your resume and your interview should reflect what the job description is asking for. It is important to have more than a cursory understanding of it.

You may feel you know the job well when you apply for it, but what about a month later? It may be some time before you get a call for an interview so don’t rely on your memory.

How it Fix It

Don’t just save the link!  The link won’t work after a job posting closes. By the time you get a call for an interview, you won’t have access to the job description online.

Step up your game with Office Otter’s Job Application Tracker.

update status of job application in evernote

Job Tracker

Quickly check the status of your job applications.

Applying for More Than One Job at the Same Company at the Same Time

There is mixed advice about applying for many jobs with the same company.  Some people recommend that if it is the company culture you admire, why not hedge your bets?  Others advice against it, suggesting it can make you look desperate or unqualified.

You need to use your best judgement, but here is some advice for avoiding a negative outcome.

How to Avoid Looking Bad

Review all the job postings for the company and choose the position that you feel is the best fit for you.  Feel free to apply for another job if you are not given an interview.

Assume you get an interview for the first job, but it doesn’t feel like the right fit. Follow up after the interview and inquire about a different position. This shows interest in the company and are doing your research.

Not Applying for Jobs Above Your Current Skill Level

Part of finding a new job is stepping into a role you aren’t 100% comfortable with.  This is how you learn new skills and you grow in your career.

While it may seem scary, keep this in mind: job descriptions are a wish list of the perfect candidate. Companies pack a job description full of “it would be nice to have” or “this would be an added bonus”.  Hiring managers don’t expect candidate to have every single skill listed.

How to Fix It

Figure out which skills are necessary for the job and which are an added bonus.

Start applying for jobs one level above your current position or comfort level.  You will get a feel for the language used for that job position (see: keywords).

If you realize you have overreached, that is fine. You will still have a better idea of the job you are striving for and what you need to bring to the table.

Not Asking for the Job

Making it through to the interview round is a big step.  Because the interview is over doesn’t mean it needs to be a waiting game.

Too many people forget to send a thank you to the interviewer and, this is key, ask for the job.  

An interview is a bit like a first date.  Sure, the interviewer (or panel) may be less nervous than you, but that doesn’t mean they know what is going on in your head.  You meet, you chat, and afterward both parties go their separate ways.  It was a good date, right?  Do you want to see them again?  That part wasn’t so clear.

An interviewer might feel you are a great candidate, but they won’t know if you are still interested.  Clarification could help you stand out among the crowd.

How to Fix It

The day after the interview, send a thank you letter to the interviewer or panel.  Make sure to thank them for their time, ask any follow up questions, and then specify that you want the job.  

Here is an example: “Anne – Thank you for your time yesterday.  I learned so much more about XYZ Company.  I am excited to keep learning more and I hope we can continue forward.  Based on yesterday’s interview I am still interested in the position.”

Personalize it. Feel free to throw in a reference from your interview (“I am excited to learn more about the annual gala”). Or mention the next step (“Please keep me in mind for the second round of interviews”).

Not Creating a New Resume for Each Application

Okay, to be fair, this one isn’t exactly easy but it can be a lot easier by using a Master Resume.  

Master Resume allows you to apply to jobs quickly

Master Resume

Creating a new resume for each application is as easy as copy+paste.

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How to Create a Master Resume

How to Create a Master Resume

This step-by-step tutorial will teach you how to create a master resume and use it to make applying for jobs 10x easier!

Job searching is tough.  It is time-consuming, emotionally draining, and frustratingly filled with rejection.

Couple that with advice like “go to networking events” or “find out who the hiring manager is” and finding a job turns into a second job (with no pay!)

Then, there is one piece of advice that everyone hates: customize your resume for every application.

We admit.  This one is a bit daunting.  Some people even scoff at the idea of a customized resume.  Why wouldn’t a hiring manager want to just see all of my skills and background?

However, customizing your resume makes it easier for a hiring manager to identify you as the perfect candidate. It increases your chances of getting an interview and then a job.

You might be thinking – “But creating a  new resume for every single job application sounds really time consuming!”  Normally we would agreed with you, but not today.

Office Otter is going to share a trick with you to make applying for jobs 10 times easier!  It is called: The Master Resume. *trumpets sound*

What is a Master Resume?

The Master Resume is your resume with everything in it.  And we mean everything.  Remember that summer internship where you learned the ins and outs of getting coffee between meetings about team work?  It is on there.  What about that temporary position you took as a data entry consultant?  It is on there, too.  This resume is an accumulation of everything you have ever done.

In addition to every job, it also includes every detail of every job.  Maybe you helped the short-staffed sales team put together those quarterly reports one year.  It wasn’t part of your usual job duties, but you learned how to do it, so it should be included.  Did your job involve working with people?  Data?  Financials?  Include it in a sentence.

Why use a master resume?

Because when you have everything in one spot it is easier to create a custom resume that meets the needs of the job you are applying for!

Once you have everything in a master resume, you can quickly copy and paste lines from your master into a resume template.  A resume template is a template you use to create new, customized resumes that you send out with job applications.  Having a blank template ready to go makes creating your resume much faster.

Simply follow these steps:

  1. Look for keywords in the job description
  2. Find those keywords in your Master Resume
  3. Copy from the Master Resume and Paste into your Resume Template
  4. Save your new resume & send with job application

The whole process should take 5-10 minutes.

how to create a master resume and copy and paste to custom resumes

When saving a resume, make sure your name is in the file name so hiring managers can find your file easily!

Read: Six Mistakes to Avoid When Applying for a Job

Be sure to check out Office Otter Resume Templates.  All of our templates are designed to be easy to read, simple to use, and come with tutorials.

How to Create a Master Resume

A Master Resume is a vital tool to have in your pocket.  It is not something you create every time you need a new job.  On the contrary, it is actually something that, if managed well, should stay with you for the rest of your career.

The steps below will help you get started on creating your master resume.

List all of your past jobs

While there are strong arguments to be made for a functional resume format, a master resume will be easier to work with if it is chronological (or by job).  Start by listing all the jobs you have ever worked.  Sometimes this can take awhile, but it is helpful to be thorough.

Make sure to include the following:

  • your official job title
  • dates you were at the job
  • name and contact information of your manager (or preferred reference).
  • any extended volunteer work

If you changed jobs within the same company, list both jobs separately with different titles.

Describe Your Work

This is what would typically be included in a resume or job post.  There isn’t such a thing as “too much information” in a Master Resume.  If you did the work, or learned something, make sure to include it.

Also include every award or certificate you’ve received.  These achievements are the things you want to stress during any job search.

You Might Enjoy: How To Write A Better Resume

Add Keywords

This is where a master resume comes in handy.  Keywords.  Every job application will include a keywords regarding what that job is really about.  It may not be obvious at first, but the more you look, the more you start to recognize short, often single words, that collectively tell you about a job.

Ideally, the resume that you submit will include keywords that match that of the job description.  You can’t expect someone to read between the lines and assume that just because you were an event planner you also handled a budget.  That is, if anyone is reading it at all

How do we make sure our resume includes keywords?  Find the matching keywords in our master resume.

The easiest way to do this is to take a sentence in your resume and identify a keyword within that sentence, or define what that job duty is about.

Example #1: Single Keyword

For example, you have a job duty that reads, “Managed $25,000 budget for 5 national events annually.”  This is clearly in relation to budgeting or financials, so you would add “[Budget]” to the beginning of that sentence.  You have just categorized that phrase to make it easier to parse out when you create a Resume Template.

create a master resume and add keywords

Example #2: Multiple Keywords

Sometimes it may be more complicated, however.  Let’s say your sentence is, “Created and maintained databases of program information to produce reports for program activity.”  If this task was performed as an administrator, you would put “[Admin]”.  

Alternatively, if you were working as a project manager (or looking to get promoted into a project manager position) you might find it more applicable to put “[Project mgmt/admin]”.

It is always acceptable to put multiple keywords with a sentence.  Much of the work we do has cross-over.  However, before you start piling on the keywords, consider if the sentence itself contains too much information. Would it be more impactful as two or three sentences?

Keep Adding

As you go through the application process you will probably find yourself editing the sentences you originally created to better fit a job application. This is great!  Record it.

If you create a new way to describe your last job, shouldn’t it go in your Master Resume to be used again in the future?  Copy the edit from your resume template and copy into a new line in the master resume, under the same job.

You will likely also find that jobs you want, or “reach jobs”, contain descriptions of job duties you had never considered. Try incorporating those keywords into your resume, if applicable.

Stay Committed

Creating a Master Resume means you have just created a tool for life.  This one document should last you for forever if you maintain it.  Don’t lose this document or delete it once you find a job.  As you know, it is a headache to create a resume from scratch.

Additionally, don’t let your master resume gather cobwebs.  If you keep the file someplace you can access regularly, be sure to check in.  

Here are the best times to update your master resume:

Getting a New Job

Add all the elements of the job description to your master resume so you know what you were hired for.  Keep the job description because it is full of sentences you don’t have to write!

4 Months in Job

After a little time on the job you will have a better handle on what it is that you do for the company.  Go back through the job description and add duties that were not originally included.  Flush out the details.

1 Year in Job

This is where you should (hopefully) have accolades to add.  Every achievement you made in the last year, every successful project you helped work on.  This is the kind of stuff that will probably come up in a performance review as well.

Promotion or Job Change

A shiny new office also includes more responsibilities.  Make sure to copy them down before you lose track!

Now you know the one trick to make applying for jobs way easier!  You can create a master resume and save time, and stress, for this job search and the rest of your career.

What could be any easier than that?

If Office Otter had a Master Resume Template…

Oh wait, we do.

Master Resume

Use this template to create a master resume of your own!

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4 Reasons Why Document Design Is Key to a Promotion

4 Reasons Why Document Design Is Key to a Promotion

If you work in marketing or graphic design, you may already be on top of making sure your documents to the public are brand consistent.  But what about those of us who aren’t skilled marketers?  Do the documents we write for internal use also need to incorporate company design?

The short answer is: Yes.  Even if the documents you produce are technical specifications, software support instructions, or a memo on new standard operating procedures (SOP).  If someone other than you will ever read the documents, there better be design elements.

Why Add Design?

Whats the big deal, anyway?  Isn’t it the content that matters?  Well, here are four reasons why design should be an important consideration in all your internal documents (and how it can help your career down the line!)

Your Team Is People Too

You just spent hours working on a new software manual that will make your team’s lives easier – if they read it.  Weighing in at 20-pages, you call it comprehensive, but they see it as a burden. 

Now you want to avoid the inevitable: all your coworkers asking you for help instead of using the resource.

There is a reason why sales strategies focus on imagery and bold colors.  You have a product that can help people, but first they need to see it.  Good design helps grab people’s attention and can make a product both valuable and accessible.

Your coworkers are people too, and the same strategy applies.  With busy work-lives of their own, humans tend to look for the quickest solution – and that may not include reading a dry manual.

Make your document inviting by incorporating design elements such as white-space, screenshots, and color-coded sections for quick scanning.  Your team will be more likely to use it, and appreciate the work you put into the resource.

Management Doesn’t Have Time

Does this sound familiar? Your boss asked you to write up a memo on new standard operating procedures to help streamline the department. 

Like the overachiever you are, you carefully crafted a beautiful document outlining all elements of work priorities in the office and emailed it over to your boss for review.

The only problem is, a few weeks have gone by and you haven’t heard anything.  You can admit that you may not receive a trophy for MVP (Most Valuable Protocol), despite practicing your acceptance speech in the shower.  But you at least expected the memo to be released to the team for implementation.  What happened?

The truth is, when you sent the SOP back to your boss, it put the ball in their court to sell it to the department.  They may only get one chance to ask the team to follow these procedures.  Management doesn’t have time to try to convince everyone to read the document and follow the rules.  They may not even have time to *gasp* read the document itself!

Make your boss’ job easier by making them feel confident the document you created will be an easy sell to the team. 

Include the company logo and company colors so it looks official.  Then, add the name of your boss to the authorship so they feel a sense of “buy-in” on the document.

Quick Tip: How to Add Your Company Brand to Word Themes

Get Your Board On Board (if you have one)

If your organization has a board of directors, chances are they don’t necessarily see the daily ins and outs of what you do.  In fact, most boards rely heavily on the information provided to them by staff and management in order to understand the direction of the organization at a micro-level. 

Sometimes you may need to “sell” your work to a board – and approval isn’t always forthcoming.

The board’s job will be easier if you use design to demonstrate how your documents are consistent with the message they already believe in (your organization brand).  When a new piece of work comes their way, they are more likely to approve it, knowing it showcases the best interest of the organization.

Branding Makes You a Company Leader

While those technical specifications you put together did a great job showcasing your efforts, do they present you as a company leader?

Leadership at your company means considering how you live up to the values of your organization and meet company-wide goals.  From the bottom up, everyone can relate to how they improve the company – otherwise you wouldn’t have a job!

Take your tech specs, for example.  You may think your document is just an internal guide to development, but that project demonstrates leadership if you visually link it back to the company.  This lets management know you are producing with the company’s best interest in mind.

Plus, don’t be shy about bringing that up during your performance review!

How to Design “Everyday” Documents

Maybe you are thinking – this is all well and good, but how am I suppose to vamp up a boring document outlining hiring procedures?  Often the documents we use “every day”, or internal documents, can go unnoticed.  Follow these quick steps to make a big difference.

Brand the Document

You may need to check with your marketing department (sometimes referred to as “the intern”) but they will probably be more than happy to supply you with company branding guidelines. This is a document that specifies colors, fonts and the proper way to display a logo for the organization.

Quick Brand Guide

Create a custom style theme in Microsoft Office by using this branding template.

Using these guides, simply change the font and colors theme of your document so that it matches your company brand. Make your job even easier by creating a custom theme in MS Word. This step can make a world of difference.

Include Pictures

If your document contains instructions then pictures of those steps are a must.

Creating a “how-to” guide for using the new software program? Include screenshots of the steps you want people to take.

Streamlining warehouse procedures for stocking? Add photos of the locations you want to highlight so people know what to look for.

This step can be tricky with something like a departmental update, but it doesn’t mean pictures aren’t valuable.  Instead, include Smart Art (Word, Publisher) or graphs to help illustrate your point.

If you have an entire page of text, try to find a stock photo that represents the theme and add it to a corner. This simple step can help readers remember the text on the page, and it serves to break up the monotony.

Divide Your Content

Ever read an “Idiot’s Guide To…” book? Notice the call outs on the side of the page, or a box along the bottom with a tip or idea? This is a way to divide your content so it isn’t all contained in paragraph after paragraph.

Think about any asides you have mentioned. These usually start with a sentence like:

  • “On the rare occasion…”
  • “Don’t forget to…”
  • “For more details, check out…”

In these circumstances, pull the paragraph from the rest of the document, simplify the text, and add it to a call out box on the side of the page. It will get the attention it needs and help shorten the rest of the text.

Now you can create documents that help showcase the brilliant content you already spent so much time writing.  Your team will appreciate it, and so will your boss.  Keep an eye out for a promotion soon!

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

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