My name is Becky, and this is my site. I’m so thrilled you are on your job-seeking journey (and working with Dress for Success!). Congrats! Committing to the time and energy it takes to get a new job is half the battle, and by showing up, I know you’ll learn a lot from this page.
A little about me: Six months out of college, I got laid off from my first job ever. My rent was through the roof, I had absolutely no savings, and to say I was terrified would be an understatement. By following the steps I’ve outlined below, I got 4 job offers within two months of being laid off.
I realized that I had an innate knack for job applications, which makes me a bit of a nerd – but we all have our ‘things’. I started editing friend’s resumes, helping them prep for interviews and spending my weekends tutoring others on how to get a job. My tips and advice worked.
I started T20S two year’s ago to share my knowledge and tips for getting a job with a broader audience. I know this advice works and I can’t wait for the world to see it. Since then, this site has over 20K women readers looking to get a job.
On this page, we’ll focus on resumes and job interviews (if there’s anything else you need, I probably have it). If you need anything else, you can email me at [email protected]
Good luck and excited for you to use this resource.
How to Write & Create a Resume
- PICK AN EASY TOOL TO CREATE YOUR RESUME WITH
You’ll hear me say time and time again, one of those most important things you can do is make your resume ascetically pleasing.
Think about it this way: if someone is going to hire you for their company, they don’t want to hire someone knowing they can’t line up their one most important piece of paper!
What does ‘good’ look like:
A good resume is perfectly lined up, and is consistent in the grammar throughout. Look at your right and left margins, and make sure they are perfect aligned. Is where you have the dates, and your actual places of worked lined up? You should be able to use a ruler on your resume and have the major vertical lines down the resume aligned.
What does ‘bad’ look like:
A bad resume looks like having improper grammar, and a not lined up format. The margins on the right and. left side should be perfectly aligned. An example of something that would be ‘inconsistent’ here, is in your experience – are there periods at the end of some sentences? And some not? That is an inconsistency you want to avoid on your resume.
See the pink lines here as an example of the alignment and how it’s all perfectly straight.
If you are good with Microsoft Word (or Google docs) you can EASILY make your resume there. In fact, mine is created that way, just make sure you pull out your margins so you can fit more on the page. There are tons of resume samples out there.
That being said, if you need a little help making things neat (TOTALLY normal), try using Canva. They also have a resume template that you can fill in as a starter.
For the sake of this post, I’m actually going to use Canva for screenshots because I think it’s easier to create a resume. You can put my resume template into Canva and make everything all pretty like a neat little bow.
A ton of bloggers use this tool actually to create Pinterest pins and such, but you can also make resumes, flyers and other papers! It’s super easy to line things up with this tool.
In almost all my posts I put a massive emphasis on being aesthetically pleasing. There are just SO many things to line up. I put arrows on this picture in hot pink so you can really visualize how many things there are to think about.
Personally, I wouldn’t use a free resume builder – you can just make your own with one of these templates.
- MAKE EACH RESUME SECTION: EXPERIENCE, EDUCATION & SKILLS
So that your resume is easily digestible, you’ll want to make sure you have different sections throughout your resume. Creating a professional resume needs several steps. Make sure you have an experience section (for your work experience) and then you can choose between skills, education, and awards.
Now when you’re choosing your sections, make sure you are NOT MAKING YOUR RESUME MORE THAN ONE PAGE. I can’t stress this enough. Unless you’re a CEO (and even then!) keep it to one page When I’m creating a resume, I like to think about each section and put some of the experience and supporting points for each section.
If you are new to resumes or can’t decide what sections to put, use work experience, skills, and education.
See number 3, to get you started on your work experience section.
- WRITE THE SUPPORTING POINTS IN YOUR WORK EXPERIENCE SECTION
You want your work experience to be robust and really paint a picture on how amazing you will be as an employee. Start by brainstorming your last 3-4 jobs. Under each job, list out your role, responsibilities, and accomplishments for each role. Try to include as many NUMBERS as possible.
Here are a few questions to help you start brainstorming on what to put under each role:
- What were your primary roles in this job?
- Did you cross-collaborate with teams?
- What accomplishments did you have?
- Did you finish, create or come up with any still-standing ideas and projects?
A few tips to create a resume:
Tip #1: It’s more important to have WHAT you did in the job in each section, rather than simply a ton of experience that doesn’t show that you did anything. Show your experience and education. That’s why I don’t love online resume builders, instead, write it yourself so you can include all of this amazing information.
Tip #2: You also want your work experience to be recent! Don’t put something from high school.
Tip #3: If there are gaps in your resume (like year’s without work), be prepared to explain it in an interview. You can always phrase something as a positive, just be prepared to talk about it!
Here is a list of power verbs you can use in your resume descriptions, it will help your experience sound more powerful.
If you are feeling stuck on what to actually write in your resume, do this resume writing brainstorm exercise!
Preparing For a Job Interview:
There are several things that you can do when PREPARING for a job interview to eliminate the unknown, make a great impression and ultimately give yourself the best shot to be chosen for that role.
As a result of this preparation method, I landed internships at Conde Nast, gotten roles that required 10 years of experience when I only had one or two, and currently reside in Silicon Valley at a massive tech company.
You really get out of a job interview what you put into it – if you spend a long time preparing (and preparing SMART) you’ll likely do better in an interview than just winging it. Seriously, don’t wing it. Even the best speakers and smartest people don’t go into these conversations without any preparation.
Here are the 6 steps you need to ace any job interview:
KNOW THE ROLE INSIDE & OUT
This may seem intuitive but you’d be surprised at how many people just barely understand the role they are interviewing for. You should pour over the job description when interviewing for a role, understanding which qualifications you do/don’t have.
Think of it this way:
It’s someone’s job to sit down and write that job description. They are going to put the details of everything you want out of a candidate.
Here are some other ideas for you to research a role:
- Find people with similar titles at the company (via LinkedIn). What is their past experience? Does it say anything about their role in their descriptions? This should give you some good interview nuggets.
- Clearly come up with examples of what experience you DO have the job description.
- Look at LinkedIn to see other team members, how big the team is and who else you may be working within this role. You should be able to find this by looking up a company and searching by job title.
2. RESEARCH THE PEOPLE YOU’LL BE SPEAKING WITH
Piggybacking on number 1, do RESEARCH on the people you’ll be speaking to. This should be pretty easy. If you can find a commonality with someone you’re speaking with (like from the same home state, was in the same sorority, etc) even better.
3. UNDERSTAND THE COMPANY
One of the most important aspects of a job interview is to show that you’ve done your research. Not only may you be asked questions that test to see if you understand the company, but you can always drop this knowledge during the interview.
Beyond the actual role you are interviewing for, make sure you understand the following about the company:
- How does the company make money?
- Has the company been in the news recently?
- Who are its competitors?
See if you can mention that you’ve done your research at some point during the interview. You can do this in a few different ways. If it comes up naturally in a question and someone is asking you about the landscape, mention it there.
If you want to show you’ve done your research and it doesn’t up during the role, you can ask a question at the end of an interview, such as, “How does X company fit into the overall Y industry landscape?” or “I saw X, Y, and Z competitors were in the news recently. How will that affect you all moving forward?”
4. STUDY SMART – PREPARE YOUR ANSWERS TO THE TYPE OF INTERVIEW
This may come as a surprise, but most likely you can actually prepare for the type of questions being asked during an interview. If the company your interviewing with has an HR department and you’ve worked with a recruiter, you can always ask if you should prepare for any type of questions during the interview.
Just for your reference, there are a few types of job interview questions:
Straight – On: When someone asks you a question about you or your knowledge
- You should be able to prepare for these by just reviewing top interview questions and knowing your past experience. Be able to speak to your past successes and failures, times you’ve worked on a team, times that you’ve gone above and beyond, etc.
Hypothetical: When someone is asking HOW you would handle a situation if it happened to you (i.e., “Your direct report does not complete his/her task. How would you approach this conversation with them?”)
- The trick with these questions is to answer in a STAR format. A company is trying to see how you’d solve a problem you’ve never been in before.
- S: Situation, T: Task, A: Action, R: Result
Behavioral: These questions usually start with, “tell me about a time…” where you are asked a time you were in this scenario in the past.
You should also answer these questions in a STAR format.
The elephant in the room is and what most people ask me is…what if you were never in “THAT” scenario they happen to ask you about?!
Here’s the trick: think of 5 stories from your past experience that are versatile. Think of some that can double as failures, overcoming a challenge, having a conflict with a co-worker, etc. You can even Google the top behavioral interview questions to see the types of categories here. Understand these five examples REALLY well and you’ll be golden.
5. ASK QUESTIONS & FOLLOW UP
You know at the end of the interview when the interviewer asks, “Do you have any questions for me?!”. Let me tell you a secret.🙅🏻NEVER say, “No! I am good.” Always ask a question! If anything, it shows you are interested in the company.
Some easy question topics are:
- Why that person loves working at the company
- What the day-to-day of the role looks like
- What an ideal candidate looks like
After you’ve asked a question, make sure to follow up and show you’ve listened and reacted to that question. It will mean a lot to the interviewer!
Job Interview Success Tips:
HAVE POSITIVE, ENGAGING BODY LANGUAGE
Did you know that a massive part of how we feel about others is their body language towards us? When you go into an interview, watch your body language. Try keeping your back straight, chin up and shoulders down. Maintain eye contact and try and emulate confidence. This will show everyone that you are a great fit for the job! And show your great communication skills.
If you are feeling nervous or underconfident, try standing in a power pose for a minute or two in a mirror before going in an interview. This might feel silly, but it works! Standing straight and looking at yourself confidently is actually proven to help you truly come off more confident in an interview.
I actually get really nervous before public speaking and before interviews. To fix this, I try standing in power poses and taking 10 deep breathes before going into a tougher situation. This helps me calm my mind and trust that everything will be ok!
EAT A HEALTHY MEAL
Don’t stuff your face with sugary foods before your interview. Your brain works better when a little bit of adrenaline kicks in. So don’t put anything in your body that could potentially slow it down.
This goes the same with getting a good nights sleep before. You want to put your body in the best possible position to perform and succeed.
BRING PEN, PAPER AND AN EXTRA COPY OF YOUR RESUME
It’s hard to figure out what to bring to an interview. ALWAYS, bring a pen and paper to take notes. Even if you take it out at the beginning of your interview don’t write on it at all, it looks better to have someone look like they want to take notes during an interview.
I also always bring a printed copy of my resume, in case the interviewer is unprepared. This shows that you will be prepared in future meetings, and who doesn’t want to work with someone like that?
KNOW YOUR AVAILABILITY
Make sure to study your calendar before an interview. If someone asks you when you’ll be free to meet again, you want to know when you are free. Don’t leave it up to chance for them to respond to an email. Also if there are different interview locations, make sure you know which ones you can make.
You can even write notes in your pen and paper (that you will have brought because you read the above!), when you are free for another interview or a time to talk.
BE PREPARED TO TALK ABOUT AND NEGOTIATE YOUR SALARY
Negotiating salary during an interview is an incredibly hard thing to do. I’ve actually written whole posts on it (read it here), so make sure you familiarize yourself with certain tactics before going into an interview.
Most likely during the interview process, you’ll be asked about salary expectations. This is normal. The recruiter is probably just trying to make sure they can afford you. Before going into an interview, I would try and understand where you are trying to land with salary.
If someone asks me about salary before I’ve gotten the job offer, here is what I always say:
- 1. When the recruiter asks how much you want to make, ask if there is a range for this role.
- 2. If they give you a range, great, say that this range sounds reasonable and you are thrilled about the opportunity. You are confident you can find something within your range.
- 3. If they don’t give you a range, that’s fine. Say that you would be taking this job for the incredible opportunity, and you are confident you can find something that works within the range.
My point, try and not get into the weeds in the salary conversation prior to getting the job. If you have had a different experience, tell me below!
At the end of the interview, when someone asks what questions you have, ALWAYS ask some questions. In my notebook I bring to interviews, I like to write down 3-5 questions I have to ensure I am not drawing a black. If you are stuck on questions ask about the position (what the day to day is like), about the company (the culture) and the team (how big is the team, the dynamics, etc). You will be set!
It’s a common interview question to ask questions, so make sure you are prepared here.
STUDY THE JOB DESCRIPTION
When someone writes a job description, they are doing it with intention. They are trying to attract the right type of person for the job. So make sure you can speak to every aspect of a job description. If you don’t know a system or tool mentioned on the job description, learn what it is and how you can learn it before the job. When I haven’t known something but it’s on the job description, I’ll offer to take a class on it before coming into the role. People love that!
LEARN ABOUT THE COMPANY
Even if it doesn’t come up during the interview, start researching the company before going into an interview. You can check websites like Crunchbase, Owler, and Google News. If there’s anything new that’s happened with the company, find a way to bring it up. Let’s say the company just got a new CEO, when walking into an interview you could say, congrats on getting the new CEO! Just to show you’ve done your due diligence.
MAKE SURE YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA IS APPROPRIATE
More and more, companies are checking people’s social media before taking the job. I mean, you have to admit – on the employers part – this is BRILLIANT! Why wouldn’t you want to see what your employee is doing on the weekends and see if they are at all responsible?! You want to show the team you are a good fit.
Job Interview Questions:
How To Negotiate Salary During a Job Interview:
TALK ABOUT THE COMPANY’S GROWTH
If you are joining a company you truly believe in, you can let your recruiter know you believe in that company’s growth. However, it’s completely fine to state that you were expecting a different salary than the one you were given. Before you accept or decline the offer, always give a counter offer.
You can use the company’s growth as a way to prove why they should be willing to invest in you, just as you are investing in them!
USE INDUSTRY STANDARDS
I’ve been commonly told that when asking for money in the workplace, to not bring up your personal sh*t. So if you are like me, living in San Francisco, you wouldn’t want to tell a company you couldn’t afford to live in the city on a low salary.
However, you could say that you did research on the industry standard of this position and would be wondering if the company was willing to rise to that standard. You can use tools like Glassdoor to do this research, but also know that these sites are self-reported, so they may have inaccuracies.
Phrase It Like This: “I wanted to discuss my salary options to see if there was any room for movement. I did some research for [X position] in [X city] and saw that ranges were closer to [X]. Is there any opportunity for [Xcompany] to fit into that range? I believe my expertise and what I will bring to the team will be worth the conversation.”
MENTION YOUR SALARY HISTORY
If you are in a situation where a company is giving you LESS than what you get now, you should absolutely at least ask for a match of what you are currently getting. Most of the time a company will ask during an interview process what you currently make to be sure they aren’t cutting your salary – but this isn’t always the case!
Here’s how you can ask for more if you want to at least get your salary matched from what you are currently making.
Phrase It Like This: “Does [company] understand that I’m walking away from my [difference in salary]? Although I understand ranges are different at every company, I’m excited about what I could bring to the table on his team. Can there be some sort of acknowledgment for this on the comp plan?”
ASK ABOUT THE SALARY RANGE
I’m about to tell you a secret, all positions at all companies have a salary range. This means: no matter what you are offered, there’s almost always room for negotiations. There’s no harm in asking. Literally, no harm!
To start this conversation, simply ask what the salary range is for this position. You can mention your prior (and amazing!) experience and ask if there’s an opportunity to move within the range, as you feel you bring a lot to the table.
Phrase It Like This: “I am so excited about the role and the opportunity to work with this company. What is the salary range for this position? Where am I within the range?”
UPLEVEL YOUR NEW RESPONSIBILITY
If your new job has more responsibility than your old job, but you are not being paid to match that responsibility this is the perfect tactic to use to ask for more money!
Make sure to mention that your new role is a higher level of work than your old role (give examples, are you manager now? is there more to do? do you have a different job title?), so that should be taken into consideration in the payment structure.
Phrase It Like This: “I am so excited about the role and the opportunity to work at this company. This role is significantly more responsibility than my previous role, and I was hoping to be compensated for that. Is there an opportunity to acknowledge that new responsibility in the comp plan?”
LOOK AT THE WHOLE YOUR COMPENSATION PACKAGE
If worst comes to worst, some companies simply can’t pay more base salary for certain roles. That’s why these offer negotiations are so important! There is a myriad of reasons this could be happening: salary range, your years of experience, etc. If you want to try and get more benefits out of the job, you can ask for things like a signing bonus, working from home, vacation time, or a benefits package.
With this tactic, make sure to think about what’s important to YOU! People will likely fight for what you want if you are clear up front.
Phrase It Like This: “If base can’t go up much more than that, is there any other compensation options you all can offer, such as a signing bonus, equity, or more vacation time?”
Following Up After a Job Interview:
One of the best-kept secrets to crushing your job interviews is to FOLLOW UP via email. Do you follow up with your interviewers with a thank you note within 24 hours? If not, you must start. I actually have met several people who will not hire someone if they do not get a follow up from them within 24 hours. I don’t care if you don’t have your interviewers’ email – figure it out, find a way, and write an email. Below I’ve written out the exact template that you can use for following up after a job interview.
This template is short and sweet but still gets the point across that you want the role and would be a great fit.
Thank you for taking the time to speak with me today regarding the [role name]. It was a pleasure learning more about the position, and what you said about [something you talked about here] really resonated with me.
Our conversation confirmed that I think I’d be a great fit for the role and I’d be thrilled about the opportunity. I’m looking forward to the next steps.
[Your name here]