Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Avoid These Top 5 Resume Formatting Blunders

An eye tracking study conducted by The Ladders in 2012 found that recruiters initially spend only 6 seconds reviewing an individual resume. The study’s “gaze tracking” technology showed that recruiters spent almost 80% of their resume review time on the following data points: Name, Current title/company, Previous title/company, Current position start and end dates, Previous position start and end dates, and Education.  Beyond these six data points, recruiters did little more than scan for keywords to match the open position, which amounted to a very cursory “pattern matching” activity. Because decisions were based mostly on the six pieces of data listed above, an individual resume’s detail and explanatory copy had little to no impact on the initial decision making.1

What can we glean from this study? Although strong resume content is important, it is critical that your resume be formatted in a way that is visually appealing so that the reviewer can quickly locate the information they are seeking. To make sure your resume is not quickly discarded, avoid these 5 resume formatting blunders!


  • Resume templates. You are unique and your resume should be too!  Resume templates are easy to spot and using a template can be interpreted as a lazy way to create your resume. Templates are often in a table format making it difficult to make your own adjustments. In addition, information in tables can be difficult to read by an Applicant Tracking Systems. (WGU Students and Alumni : use our resume builders to craft an attractive resume!)
  • Multiple fonts and text sizes. Choose ONE standard font, such as Calibri, Arial, Times New Roman, or Garamond to use throughout your resume. For the body of your resume, you want the font size to be between 10 – 12 points. Whatever size you choose, be consistent throughout your resume!
  • Font style overkill. Bold, Italic, underline, and CASE are all ways to highlight key resume information but you want to do so sparingly. Too much highlighting can minimize the effect and make it harder for the reviewer to identify key information. Focus on the areas mentioned above that the reviewer is seeking: name, position title, company name, start and end dates, and education. Make sure to highlight similar information the same way throughout your resume.
  • Poor use of white space. Blocks of dense text can be intimidating to a reviewer and make it difficult to identify key skills and qualifications. On the other hand, too much empty space on a page can make it appear that you are lacking in experience or spread critical information across multiple pages unnecessarily. Manage white space by customizing the amount of space added before and after paragraphs and be sure the spacing is consistent throughout your resume.
  • Misalignment. If alignment is not consistent, the reviewer will waste time tracking down information sought. It is suggested that you align your text to the left (rather than centering your text) since we read left to right. Typically, you want the left side of your resume to contain the most important information, such as your employers, job titles, and your achievements and/or responsibilities. On the right side of the page, to create visual balance, you’ll want to include information such as dates and/or job locations.

For more resume formatting tips and resume creation information, please visit the WGU Career & Professional Development Center. To submit your resume for review, please fill out the career appointment form and attach your resume (in Microsoft Word or rtf format) to the form.

1.     Evans, Will. (2012). Keeping an eye on recruiter behavior. TheLadders.com. Retrieved August 19, 2013, from http://cdn.theladders.net/static/images/basicSite/pdfs/TheLadders-EyeTracking-StudyC2.pdf.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Substitute Teaching: A Daily Job Interview

As summer winds down and the school year begins, it is important for teachers who don’t yet have their own classroom to think about substitute teaching.  While the uncertainty of daily substitute assignments certainly has its drawbacks, it is imperative for teachers to look beyond them and recognize all of the opportunities that become available through substitute teaching. 

If you believe substitute teaching is just being a “guest teacher” at a different school each day, you aren’t thinking proactively!  You should consider each day as your chance to interview at that school.  What you do, how you act, and how you network each time you are there are catalysts to get your own classroom sooner than later.  Setting a goal, creating an action plan, and executing that plan are the keys to getting the job done. 

The list below contains four reasons why you should consider substitute teaching as a valuable tool in your job search.  Hopefully it inspires you to get on your local school district’s substitute list today!
  • Networking – Substitute teaching allows you to get your foot in the door and start interacting with faculty, staff, and administration.  Once you get on a substitute list, you must use every day to your advantage.  Seize the opportunity to spend time with fellow teachers, administrators, and department chairs.  Do not waste the chance to let them know of your qualifications and your interest in obtaining a position at the school.  When a position opens, you want them to immediately remember your name and call you first for an interview.  Networking is key in getting your resume to the top of the pile.
  • Numbers – Every teacher should know that student enrollment controls the number of that school’s faculty.  Over the summer, a school forecasts what their anticipated enrollment will be and hires faculty accordingly.  What you might not realize however, is that those enrollment numbers fluctuate the first 6-8 weeks of the school year.  Once final counts are complete, a school might get additional funds from the state to fund one or more teachers a few weeks into the school year.  If you are already in the building as a substitute teacher and heavily networking through your daily sub assignments, you have increased your odds in obtaining one of those newly available positions.
  • Intel – While on a school’s campus you become privy to information that the general public doesn’t know.  You may learn of long term substitute teaching experiences such as FMLA opportunities, military transfers, or teacher retirements.  You also can learn about those same opportunities at neighboring schools by chatting with teachers in the faculty lunch room and keeping your ears open throughout the day.  Obtaining information like this gives you an edge in the application process and it allows you to appropriately strategize your networking. 
  • Personal Experience – Often times, student teachers are very lucky and immediately get hired by the school where they did their demonstration teaching.   For those who don’t have that opportunity, they often rush to find an open position in any school without fully considering their options.  Substitute teaching is unique in this aspect.  It allows you to experience various schools and each school’s culture.  Maybe you prefer the discipline policy at one school over another.  Perhaps the administration/faculty are more friendly and helpful in school A, compared to school B.  Substitute teaching at a variety of locations isn’t always convenient, but it certainly allows you to research a school before you decide to interview with them. 

Please feel free to share any of your thoughts or experiences as a substitute teacher in the comments below. We’d love to hear your story!  In addition, if you are a WGU student or alum, please request an appointment with a WGU Career and Professional Development Specialist to develop your plan for successful substitute teaching.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

6 Reasons to Follow @Owls2Work

The WGU Career & Professional Development Twitter account (@Owls2Work) premiered a few months ago and we are excited to increase our number of WGU student and alumni followers. Here are 6 reasons why you should follow us!
  1. We share cool, relevant information related to career development and job searching. From articles related to career motivation and networking, to links to virtual career fairs and resume writing tips, we tweet quality content from sources you can trust.
  2. We have lists. If you’re new to Twitter and not sure who to follow, you can subscribe to one of our pre-made lists, which will instantly provide you access to a handful of industry experts in your field. We offer a list for each college: Business, Health Professions, Information Technology, Teachers College. Simply go to our Twitter homepage (after you’ve logged in to your account), find our “Lists” section, and subscribe to those that interest you.
  3. Stay up to date on Career & Professional Development events. As WGU students and alumni, you have access to all of the services we provide. Twitter will help you stay informed of what we have to offer. We tweet our calendar of events and post reminders of upcoming webinars.
  4. We have even more lists. Are you currently job searching or interested in career advice? We have two additional lists of Twitter profiles that you can subscribe to and instantly have access to some of the most popular job searching and career advice Tweeters.
  5. We follow back! We always “follow back” WGU students and alumni.
  6. We want to hear from you. We would love it if you tweet us related content that we can share. Tell us about your career adventures and job search successes. Similarly, you could provide great advice and tips to your WGU peers on career development and job searching. 
      Even if you don’t have a Twitter account yet, you can still check us out on Twitter. Also remember that the WGU Career & Professional Development is able to help you make the most of your social network profiles in relation to your professional image and job searching. Check out the resources on our Social Media section of our website. We hope to see you soon in the Twittersphere! 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Career Lessons from "The Internship"

The Internship (2013) stars Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson as two recently unemployed salespeople who apply for, and receive, summer internships at Google. Antics and inappropriate jokes ensue as the comedy unfolds, but we can glean some nuggets of truth relating to internships as they apply to our career paths.

***Anti-Spoiler Alert: If you haven’t seen this movie, don’t worry, no plot details will be shared and your viewing experience shall not be ruined by this blog post!***

Lesson #1 – Internships provide valuable experience. In the movie, the interns complete a variety of tasks : creating an app, solving a programming code error, acquiring a new sales account. Most internships, if structured properly, have individuals performing job tasks that allow for growth and learning, as well as applicability to future employment in that occupation.  If you’re switching career fields or don’t have much experience in your desired future occupation, an internship can be a great way to add relevant bullets to your resume.

Lesson #2 – Networking is key.  The characters in the movie must work in teams, relying on each other’s skill sets and learning from one another to succeed in the given task. The interns also have the ability to engage with employees and leaders at the company. Having someone in your network to turn to when you need assistance with a particular task is invaluable and building relationships with interns and full time employees in the company is a great way to enhance your network.

Lesson #3 – Internships lead to opportunities. The Nooglers (i.e. what interns are called at Google) are told up front that the team that wins the most challenges throughout the summer will be offered full time jobs at Google upon graduation. This is often the case with most companies. They invest time and resources into their interns and often turn to their interns if and when full time positions arise. It’s a mutually beneficial scenario for both the company and the intern. It also is important to note that the first two lessons impact this lesson: making the most of your internship experience and establishing relationships with individuals at the company can enhance your chances of full time employment with that company.  

Find more information on internships and even search for opportunities on our website.