Resume Cogitation Among the Recruiters

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There’s a lot of resume advice out there — and some of it conflicting. Which makes it pretty hard for you, the job seeker, to know what to do. Should you stick to the one-page format, or is it OK to veer onto the second page? Will a creative resume catch the eye of a hiring manager, or do most people still prefer the tried-and-true traditional layout?

We know it’s confusing, so we’ve broken down the five most common resume debates. Here’s what the experts have to say—and how you can read between the lines and send the best resume for the job.

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Multi-page Resume,

Let’s start with one of the most hotly debated issues . While one camp believes that a candidate’s story can definitely be told in the confines of one page (and gets annoyed when it isn’t), other recruiters say that a second (or third) page is fair game, as long as you make every word and bullet point count. Some even truly despise the one-page rule. (“If I had the names and addresses of every so-called expert who keeps telling professionals that you must have a one-page resume at all costs, I’d egg or toilet paper their houses in the dark of night,” says our friend Jenny Foss, founder of recruiting firm JobJenny and author of The Ridiculously Awesome Resume Kit.)

What Should You Do?

Here’s the truth.What’s much more important than the length of your resume is that it tells a story to the hiring manager about why you’re the right fit for the position. This usually doesn’t mean listing everything you’ve ever done for every position; rather, you want to pick and choose the parts of your background that are most compelling, and make sure they don’t get lost in pages and pages of background information. (Fact: Recruiters spend an average of six seconds on most resumes.)

That said, if you’re applying for an upper-level management gig or a position that requires a wide breadth of skill sets, telling that story means you’ll want to opt for more detail rather than less. Translation: Probably more than one page.

In addition, it’s important to do your research and poll friends and colleagues about your industry norms. In the IT and tech worlds, for example, more than two pages is totally normal (and expected). On the other hand, I know a consulting firm that tells its hiring managers to throw away any resume that comes in over one page. Try to feel out what you’re getting into — so you can target your resume accordingly.

“Creative” Resume,

You’ve likely heard about applicants using videos, infographics or other creative resume formats (origami, anyone?) these days. And with good reason! Thinking outside the bullet-pointed PDF can be an awesome way to stand out from the stack, especially when you’re applying to a startup or creative company or to a position that values design or interactive skills. “Doing extra credit like a video (even if it’s an unedited webcam clip) can go a long way in distinguishing yourself from other candidates,” says Steffi Wu, PR Lead at ZenPayroll.

That said, some hiring managers really still appreciate the good ol’ 8.5×11” piece of paper. If not done really well, a creative resume could go terribly wrong — I’ve seen (and tossed) more than one resume that used bad clip art, a rainbow of colors, or unfortunate photography and did far more harm to the job applicant than good.

“If you act like a clown or do something ludicrous just to stand out, then it’s disingenuous and can put people off,” echoes Dr. Michael Woodward, an executive coach author of The YOU Plan: A 5-Step Guide to Taking Charge of Your Career in the New Economy.

What’s more, a recent study showed that “…visual elements reduced recruiters’ analytical capability and hampered decision-making” and kept them from “locating the most relevant information, like skills and experience.” Not exactly what you’re going for.

What Should You Do?

When you’re in a creative field, applying for a creative role, or gunning for a highly competitive company, it’s definitely worth considering. Margot Leong got her dream job after sending an incredible Sliderocket presentation to startup Ridejoy — and we’re pretty sure that Robby Leonardi, creator of the coolest video-game-inspired resume we’ve ever seen, landed a job offer or 50.

Remember, though, at the end of the day, your skills and experience are what matters, so make sure that whatever format you choose showcases — rather than overshadows — them. Also, don’t even think about going down this path unless you’re willing to put in the time, creativity and design work (or the money to pay someone else) to make it truly awe-inspiring. A great traditional resume will be better than a mediocre creative one, every single time.

“Pretty” Resume,

Common resume wisdom says to stick to a legible font that everyone uses, like Times New Roman or Arial, and basic formatting: Your name at the top of the page, followed by your work experience and bullet points — you know the drill.

But some of the most compelling resumes I’ve seen think outside the norm — and as a result, really do stand out in a huge stack of basic black-and-white resumes (take a look at some of these beauties). Stepping it up in the design department can also make you stand out as a candidate who really gets and appreciates aesthetics.

What Should You Do?

First, consider where you’re applying. A traditional law firm? You should probably stick to the basics. A creative (and competitive) place like Pinterest or Warby Parker, on the other hand, might really appreciate something a little more styled.

Then, think about your own skills as well. As Ryan Kahn, founder of the Hired Group and star of MTV’s HIRED, says, you should always seek to “maximize your strengths and outsource your weaknesses.” If you’re not a designer, spend your energy on crafting perfect bullet points, and skip the fancy formatting (or hire a designer or design-savvy friend to give your page a makeover).

And again, make sure you do it right. Use fonts that are clean and legible — doesn’t matter how pretty it is if a hiring manager’s going to have to squint to read it. Your resume should feel like a breath of fresh air, not a PITA to read. Oh, and PDF, PDF, PDF (that is, save it as one). It’s the only way to ensure that the font styling will show up the right way on any screen.

Interests Section,

You’ve probably heard — consistently — to stick to the basics on your resume: Work experience, education, job-related skills, and professional awards and accolades. “Unless the hobbies are relevant to the types of positions you’re pursuing (or amazing, non-controversial conversation starters), leave them off,” says Foss.

But “the non-traditional camp, of which I am a proud member, dissents in part,” says recruiting consultant Michael Wade. “Our view is that there is nothing wrong with an applicant disclosing some personal interests, so long as those inclusions are not bizarre or distasteful.” (True story: A friend of mine added “ice cream making” to his interests section, and it was brought up in every interview he went on.)

What Should You Do?

When it’s relevant for the position, go for it. Adding your guitar playing abilities to your resume when you’re applying to an entertainment company or your photography hobby to a social media role makes a lot of sense — and can nudge you above other candidates with similar work experience. Sharing your scrapbooking skills with a health care organization? Probably won’t have the same effect.

You might also want to get a little personal when you’re applying to a company that clearly cares about its employees’ lives outside of work. Some good cues: The company blog talks as much about picnics and happy hours as it does product updates, or it has a fun-loving team profiled onThe Muse. “I’ve heard employers say they are tired of seeing cookie-cutter candidates. They are pleased when an applicant comes along who appears to be human,” adds Wade.

“Updated” Job Title,

“Usually, job applicants list their ‘official’ job titles on their resumes,” says Sean Weinberg onSimplyHired. Sounds pretty basic, right? Well, “the problem with doing this is that most job titles are bland, and your work comes off as equally uninteresting.”

Weinberg — and many other career experts — advocate updating your job title to reflect what you actually did. Say, for instance, your official title is associate producer. That could mean a whole range of things depending on your company, your industry and your role. But adding some descriptors — “associate social media content producer,” for example, can tell a hiring manager a lot more about what you did — and catch his or her eye much more quickly.

What Should You Do?

If you have a vague or unique-to-your-company job title, this approach can be incredibly helpful. In a previous role, for example, my company didn’t use the word “manager,” so my title was “marketing lead” — a term that, as I learned, didn’t work very well in keyword-sensitive applicant tracking systems. When I edited my title and used “marketing manager” instead — I got many more calls back.

But here’s the rub: Remember that employers (very) often call previous employers to fact-check the information you’ve provided on your resume and in your application. So don’t ever update your title to something so obscure, inflated or, well, wrong, that your former employers wouldn’t be comfortable saying you did it.

Advice on your resume, like anything else, isn’t going to be spot-on for 100% of people, 100% of the time. The bottom line? Do your research, then think about what will work best for you — and the positions to which you’re applying.

Get Ready for your Tech Startup Jobs

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From Berlin to Tel Aviv to San Francisco, it’s no secret that tech startups represent one of the few bright spots in the global and American job markets. For those already on the inside, finding your next stop is more or less straightforward.

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But if you’ve been working at a bank or for a boutique hotel, it’s far more complicated to break in. Tech startups speak a different language (What’s a GitHub? Who’s Ruby?), the culture’s distinct, and it’s even hard to find the jobs. There’s also a perception that you have to know programming to work for a startup (of course, the reality is that startups hire marketers, accountants, and all sorts of others).

We run one of the largest tech startup hiring events in the U.S., called Uncubed (we’re entering Germany for the first time today), and it draws both insiders and those looking to get their first startup job. Here are 10 tips from our community for those on the move:

Start within arm’s reach,

Products and services that you already use and know are great places to begin your search.

Take the companies behind the apps in your phone. Some are one or two people; others have teams of hundreds with many open jobs. If you come from banking, start with the payments and finance startups. The ability to have a knowledgeable conversation about a company’s offerings is a surefire attention-grabber.

Skip the blind dates,

Really, really do your homework on each company before meeting or applying for a job with them. Scour their websites, blogs, social media presences, and articles written about them (or by their team members). This is much more important at startups than at large companies.

Don’t forget to tip,

Now that you’re well-versed on both the company and its offerings, come up with one great suggestion for how they can improve or one new feature you would add. Even if it’s not a world-changing idea, startups love this.

Link outside the box,

Building your digital presence through Twitter, blogging, Instagram, Quora, and skill-specific centers like GitHub (in addition to LinkedIn and Facebook) are mandatory at this point.

Blogging offers an outlet for your interests, thoughts, and writing; Quora exhibits your knowledge by allowing you to answer others’ questions (or ask your own); and GitHub connects developers around coding projects.

Start now. Even a little will make you far more desirable than someone who isn’t active at all.

Talk to strangers,

Involve yourself in local, professional communities through Meetups for entrepreneurs, startup enthusiasts, coders, designers, and others in your field of interest. Reach out to companies and professionals directly for coffee meetings and informational interviews. In no time, you’ll have a budding network in the startup space.

Take one a day,

Make it a goal and personal challenge to reach out to at least one new person or company each day. Through friends, professional connections, and referrals, your network will grow exponentially, opening doors to new professional opportunities.

Stack the deck,

You don’t need a job to have business cards. Here are some thoughts on how to stand out amid all the card swapping.

Do it yourself,

Bulk up your résumé, skills, network, and confidence in the off hours. Freelance work, passion projects, volunteering, competitions, and classes are all great ways.

Bookmark these pages!

The search continues for the holy grail of an updated and highly curated startup job board for all fields. In the meantime, you can bet that every city of scale has a great local resource and then most skillsets have their own board, such as Careers 2.0 for programmers and for designers.

Ditch the tie; perfect your Ping-Pong serve,

The clichés of startup life are clichés for a reason. Scrap the corporate culture and dress code, and understand that even though they can .seem frivolous, startup trappings like the ping pong table serve a purpose.

Hovding’s Invisible Helmet for Riders

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It looks like a trashbag coming out of a finely patterned neck pillow. But if you find yourself colliding with a car while on your bike, it could actually save your life.

Meet Hövding, the invisible bike helmet. It’s a real, actual thing. But it won’t be so easy for it to come to market in the United States.

Here’s a three-minute documentary about the Swedish helmet and its founders:

Bicycle injuries are obviously serious business. The 677 cycling deaths in 2011 (the last year for which there’s data) made up 2% of all motor-vehicle traffic deaths. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 48,000 bikers were injured in crashes. At the same time, bike ridership has been on the rise in the United States.

And yes, helmets make a big difference. Helmet use reduces the risk of head injury by 85%, says the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. But use isn’t at all universal. The most recent government study in 1999 pegged helmet use at about 50%. And state laws that mandate helmet use, according to this map from IIHS, aren’t really forcing anyone’s hand:

Part of the issue with helmets comes down to a simple matter of clunkiness. Sure, making a bicycle helmet a bit less bulky and ugly won’t necessarily save hundreds of lives. But the invisible helmet has the potential to help kick up the number of people who use helmets and feel comfortable on a bike in general.

If the documentary above didn’t convince you that a battery-powered helmet with sensors could save your head from a crash, check out this crash test video, which has been viewed nearly 2 million times on YouTube:

The helmet didn’t just pass European inspection. It also succeeded in a test by a Swedish insurance company that went at higher maximum speeds than the European standards, and it performed better than 12 other more-standard bike helmets.

But there are a couple problems. First and foremost: government regulation.

The helmets are on sale right now in Sweden, but they can’t legally be sold in the United States as a safety helmet until they pass the tests of the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

The tests, which are known to be stricter than those in Europe, have a few obviously difficult elements for the invisible helmet. Many of the regulations have to do with the positioning of the helmet in different situations, which can be a bit confusing when the helmet is, you know, an airbag that comes out at the last minute.

The government isn’t the only thing in the way. The helmets retail right now for around $537. Without getting that price down, it’s hard to imagine all that many people buying an invisible helmet, no matter the fashion appeal.

Way you can balance your personal and professional life

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Google has built an empire with a search engine that answers your questions, and now the company hopes humans can do the same.

Google on Tuesday announced Helpouts, a new tool that connects users via live video chat with experts who can help them with questions about home improvement, cooking or even medical advice. Helpouts serves as a Google-vetted marketplace where approved companies such as Sephora, One Medical and Rosetta Stone can offer their services to interested parties in real-time over live video.

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So far, Google has invited 1,000 companies to participate, and plans to keep the marketplace “invitation only” for now.

Vendors can set their own prices, charging users either by the minute or by the session, but Google anticipates a number of services will also be offered for free. (Google takes 20% of each transaction.) Users can choose to set up an appointment with a particular company, or if someone is available, speak to them instantly via video.

“With [Google Helpouts], we can open the whole world to everybody,” said Udi Manber, Google’s vice-president of engineering. “Most of the world’s most useful information [still] resides in people’s heads.”

The new service works in a way that highlights many of Google’s other products. The actual video conferencing is done using Google Hangouts; vendors and experts are found using Google search; payments are accepted only through Google Wallet; and users must have a Google+ profile in order to join a Helpout, creating a safe environment in which they can interact using their real identities, Manber said.

The issue of safety is magnified when users are not only connecting with strangers over video

The issue of safety is magnified when users are not only connecting with strangers over video, but also paying them for their services. Google has enforced a handful of safeguards in hopes of preventing any issues. For example, users can immediately exit a video call, and report a vendor or user if there is any form of harassment or inappropriate behavior. Manber also said he has no plans to allow “adult uses” of the service.

Google must invite each company that offers a service to the platform, and all professionals are vetted and checked, according to Osi Imeokparia, Helpouts’ director of product management.

Users are asked to leave feedback after a connection ends, meaning the marketplace will be regulated in many ways by customer reviews. Users who feel their experience left them shortchanged can request a full refund, with Google picking up the tab. If a vendor is more than five minutes late to an appointment, or claims they are available but do not connect to the video conference, the session will be free.

The biggest privacy concern may come from users who want to use Helpouts for health and wellness purposes, including sessions with a clinical psychologist. Google said that Helpouts is HIPAA-certified already, which means the platform has the necessary safeguards in place to ensure the online privacy of patient information and medical records.

Despite all the areas that Google has addressed, the new tool is in its infancy, and leaves the door open for other integrations later on. For starters, YouTube is already full of self-help videos that offer instruction on everything from tying a tie to learning to play clarinet. In the future, users who find a particular teacher they like may be able to request that instructor for a Helpout straight from the YouTube page.

Helpouts hasn’t partnered with any medical-insurance companies, which means users can’t get the free or reduced coverage through Helpouts that they might get by walking into a clinic. Helpouts only accepts Google Wallet, too, so users need to either create a wallet or stick to free services.

As with all new products, Helpouts should continue to evolve with user feedback.

“If there’s one reason that I think the Internet is so powerful and successful, it’s that it brings a completely new level of efficiency and convenience,” Manber said. “And efficiency and convenience always win in the end.”

Helpouts launched at 12:00 a.m. ET Tuesday, and is also available in the Google Play store for Android mobile users. An iOS app will come eventually, but no timetable has been set, according to a Google spokesperson.

Become Superior than Yourself Before

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I recently finished reading 99U’s new book Maximize Your Potential (which I can’t recommend enough), and it ended with a lovely little essay by Jack Cheng about the “Better You.”

The idea of the essay is that there is always a version of yourself slightly ahead of where you are now. This “you” isn’t perfect, but he or she is a little more organized, gets up a little earlier, is a little better at focusing on the task at hand. It’s the person you know you could be if you just tried a little harder. It’s not scary impossible, but you’ll have to push to get there.

I loved this idea of a better me sitting next to me at work and pushing me to achieve my potential. For the next week or so, I would think with every move I made—what would better me do?

But even with a nice metaphor like this, keeping up with your better self is not an easy task. It takes hard work and persistence, and it’s easy to just want to revert to your self that hits the snooze button a couple of times and hops over to Pinterest for “just five minutes” in the middle of the workday.

To help you (and myself) out in this quest for continual self-improvement, I’ve come up with a couple of strategies that make staying on track with my better self a little easier.

Break the Norm,

Sometimes you already know the changes you want to make in your life. But sometimes, it’s not as clear what behaviors are holding you back from your full potential.

The best way to figure it out? Start trying different things. Make a list of productivity tips you’ve read about or friends’ behaviors you’ve been wanting to try, and challenge yourself to do things differently. It doesn’t have to be big things: If you usually get up and check your phone, instead get up and relax for five minutes to start the day fresh. If you usually check your email first thing when you get to the office, instead try spending an hour working on your big task for the day first.

Not every change you make will be one you want to continue, but experimenting like this will start to give you a sense of what’s holding you back and what will help you move toward the better version of you.

Do it Regularly for a Month,

Oftentimes when people get excited about improving themselves, they’ll think about all the things they want to do differently and make it a goal to change them all at once. I fall prey to this far too often, too—this week, I’m going to stay organized at work, devote time to side projects, eat healthier, and actually exercise. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out what happens in this scenario: Monday I’m gung-ho for all of them, but by mid-week I’m back to my old ways.

Changing habits is hard, but it’s nearly impossible when we overwhelm ourselves with too many changes at once. Instead, it’s better to focus on one major change at a time, and give yourself ample time to establish this change as a habit. I find the most effective way to do this is to practice the new habit every day for a month. Even if you aren’t looking for this to be a daily habit in the long run, doing it every day at the start makes it easer to condition the behavior as a regular part of your life. Scott Young explains this well in his article on 99U.

For example, over the summer I was working out approximately never. I wanted to get to the point where I was active three or four days a week, so I made it a goal to work out every day in September. By spending a month focusing on how working out could fit into my life every single day, doing it a few times a week is now a piece of cake.

This could apply to things at work, too. Want to start devoting more time to special projects at work? Devoting even 15 to 30 minutes a day to these projects for a month can help get you there. It may feel like slow progress, but in just a year of doing one thing a month, you’ll be closer to your better self in 12 major ways.

Give Yourself a Performance Review,

Nothing makes a goal fail faster than not keeping yourself accountable. It’s all well and good to say you’ll wake up half an hour earlier every day, but if you’re not checking in on yourself, you’ll probably start hitting the snooze button again before you know it.

So, set up a regular time to check in with yourself on your goal. Every evening, once a week—whatever cadence you think you need to stay on track. Sit down and think about what you’ve been doing well and where your weaknesses have been, and then come up with action items for how you’re going to overcome them. Better yet, write them down so you can keep up with your progress.

And if you’re still having trouble staying on track, find someone else to help you stay accountable. It could be your roommate, your best friend, or even your boss. For example, I had a goal to start writing more. After sharing it with my boss, we set up regular times during my work week that were blocked out for writing, and she checks in with me at the beginning of each of those times to see what I’m working on that day. She’s even started joining me in this writing time—meaning we’re both making progress towards our better selves.

All of this is not to say that you should be constantly self-critiquing and never be happy with where you are in your development. But when you do find ways you can change your habits to make your life a little easier? These strategies will do wonders.

Researchers Know whether your Kickstarter Will Succeed within 4 Hours

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It’s been a big year for Kickstarter. At the end of 2012, the crowdfunding site announced it had seen a 50% increase in new campaign launches over a six-month period. And the record-setting success of projects like the Veronica Mars movie earlier this year helped push the site further into the mainstream.

But these glowing headlines conceal the fact that most Kickstarter campaigns — 56%, by the site’s own admission — never reach their goals. Kickstarter is no surefire path to success. And for those who try and fail, the whole process can end up seeming like a big waste of time.

That’s why researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne decided to look at the numbers and see if there was a better way for Kickstarter campaign creators to predict the likelihood of their success earlier on in the process.

What these researches came up with is a new algorithm they claim can predict the ultimate success or failure of a fundraising attempt with 76% accuracy within four hours of a campaign launching.

“As only 44 percent of campaigns reach their goal overall, it is of high interest for creators to know early on the probability of success of their campaign, to be able to react accordingly,” write the researchers Vincent Etter, Matthias Grossglauser and Patrick Thiran.

If verifiable in the long term, the prediction model developed by these researchers could prove much more useful than previous efforts. Previous prediction models based on “static attributes” at the start of a campaign only yield a 68% rate of successful predictions.

What makes Etter, Grossglauser and Thiran’s method different is that it takes into account detailed information about backers as well as Twitter mentions. By tracking these two variables along with more conventional data, such as campaign duration and monetary goal, the researchers are able to make better predictions.

“On average, four hours after the launch of a campaign, the combined predictor can assess the campaign’s probability of success with an accuracy higher than 76 percent,” the report reads.

The researchers based their findings on a nine-month study of some 16,000 Kickstarter campaigns. During that time, they compiled a complex database of information about those making donations to various fundraising efforts and tracked all social media mentions on Twitter. In part, they found that successful Kickstarter campaigns had 3.2 times as many social media mentions as unsuccessful ones.

In their research, which took place from September 2012 to May 2013, they also found a higher overall success rate than the previous 44% claimed by Kickstarter. They found that 48% of the new campaigns they tracked were successful in reaching their goal — a difference they credit to Kickstarter’s growing popularity as funding platform.

New San Francisco Headquarters for Inside Square’s

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Mobile payment company Square is growing — fast.

Over the past year Square has doubled in size from 300 to 600 employees. The company is aggressively hiring more people, with plans to grow even bigger in the coming months.

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Square’s massive new 150,000 square foot space is approximately three times the space of its previous location, and has room for 1,000 people — 400 more than are currently employed by the company, so it has a little room to grow. The company is only taking up four floors of its current building (6, 9, 18 and 19), and has the potential to ultimately expand even further into the building should its workforce grown even larger.

“Our new headquarters allows us to rapidly scale, while preserving our values of collaboration and transparency,” says Bryan Power, Director of Talent at Square. “The design of the space reinforces our commitment to small teams, as well as designers and engineers working alongside one another.”

We had the opportunity to stop by Square’s new headquarters on Market Street in San Francisco earlier this week. Located just a block away from Twitter, the office is so big it was designed to function like its own mini-city.

Clean and minimalistic, the office is divided up into “neighborhoods” with street-themed conference rooms and window seats for every employee with a fantastic bird’s-eye view of San Francisco below.

Check out the gallery above for a behind-the-scenes look at Square’s new pad, and let us know what you think of its new digs in the comments.