Provisional Blog

How to Enhance Your Resume for 2020 & Get a Job You Love

January 7th, 2020

If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to find a new job, then you need to start with your resume. Even in 2020, a polished and professional resume is still expected if you want to land a great new position. The bad news? There are many candidates out there right now with the same resolution as you. But there is good news. By taking a few key steps and tweaking your resume, you can ensure it’s at the top of the pile for interview calls. Here’s what to do:

Focus on the most relevant strengths and experience.

When you’re applying to a particular job, don’t list every task and duty you’ve ever handled. Instead, focus on those most relevant to the opportunity so that the hiring manager can quickly see that you’re a good fit. This means you’ll need to edit your resume each time you apply for a job. But the extra effort will be well worth it in the form of more interviews and potential job offers.

Show your worth through numbers.

It’s important to talk about your responsibilities and experience. However, more than that, you need to demonstrate your worth through hard numbers. For instance, how many projects did you manage? What was the size of the team you led? Where did you save a past employer time or money? These are the types of accomplishments that are going to make you stand out – and make you more memorable – to a hiring manager. So wherever you can, bring your background to life through numbers.

Include continuing education and outside experience.

Beyond your paid work experiences, don’t forget to include those where you gained a new skill, earned a certification or volunteered for a role. While these might not have been formal positions, this shows hiring managers that you’re committed to learning, growing and giving back. It’s just another way to set you apart from other candidates with similar experience as you.

Follow proper formatting rules.

While what your resume says is critically important, how it looks is vital, as well. If the margins are too narrow, paragraphs are too dense and the font size is too small, then the hiring manager isn’t going to be able to scan your resume quickly. Instead, make it as easy as possible for them to read and get the sense that you’re a match for what they’re looking for by using plenty of white space, incorporating bullet points, bolding job titles, and using a font size that’s large enough to read quickly.

Include keywords.

In today’s hiring process, many times an applicant tracking system will screen resumes before a hiring manager sees them. They use relevant keywords to search out those candidates that are the right fit, which is why it’s so important to include them on your resume. So before you submit yours, read through the job posting and make sure that some of the most relevant, job-specific ones are included on your resume.

Beyond the tips above, make sure you proofread your resume multiple times to ensure there aren’t any typos or mistakes. You want to put your best foot forward every time you submit your resume, so you increase your odds of getting called for the job.

Interested in more help with your job search?

As one of the Northwest’s leading employment agencies, Provisional Recruiting is here for you with a range of top opportunities we can give you access to. Simply contact our team to get started or search our jobs now.

5 Easy Prep Tips for Standing Out During Your Job Interview

October 8th, 2019

Unemployment is low. However, competition is still high for the top jobs in and around the Northwest. It’s why, when it comes to your interview, you need to make the best impression possible, so you get called back or offered the position. But how can you do that? It all comes down to how you prepare. Here are five easy tips to help you:

Tip #1: Research the company.

Do everything you can to get to know the ins and outs of the company you’re interviewing with. Start with their website, but also look to their social media profiles, as well as news articles about them. The more you know, the better questions you can ask and the more prepared you’ll come across. You’ll also feel more confident walking into the interview.

Tip #2: Know where you’re going.

You might think you know where the interview is located. But will there be construction along the way? What if there’s an accident? When do you need to leave to give yourself some extra time just in case? These are the kinds of questions you’ll want answers to with a clear route to the company mapped out ahead of the interview. This will help calm your jitters and ensure you get there with time to spare. 

Tip #3: Prep your attire well before the big day.

Make sure whatever you’re wearing – which should be a business suit in most cases – is cleaned and pressed. If you need to take it to the dry cleaners, then give yourself plenty of time to do that. Also make sure you choose something that’s more neutral and won’t distract the hiring manager as you’re answering questions. 

Tip #4: Pack the night before.

Bring with you a few different items and put them in your briefcase or bag the night before. This includes copies of your resume, as well as a notebook and pen. Also bring along a list of references in case the hiring manager asks for them. Finally, throw in some breathe mints to ensure you make the best impression possible.

Tip #5: Avoid common mistakes.

While you won’t know what questions you’ll get, there are some answers you should always avoid giving. These include “I don’t know.” If that’s the case and you’re not sure about something, then say simply instead “I’m not 100% sure about that. Let me get back to you.” Also, never talk in a negative way about your past employer or co-workers, or ask off the bat about time off or vacation days. These seemingly minor errors can knock you out of the running for the job.

Need more help finding out about job opportunities in the Northwest and preparing for interviews?

As one of the Northwest’s top employment agencies, Provisional knows what hiring managers are looking for in candidates and can help connect you with opportunities, as well as prepare for your interviews. Call us today to get started!

3 Tips for Taking Career Personality Tests

January 22nd, 2013

Not that long ago, the hiring process consisted of applying for a job, going to an interview, and getting a “yay” or “nay” as to whether you were hired.

Fast forward to more recent times – and the hiring process has gotten a little (ok, a lot) more complicated. From mandatory phone screens to multiple rounds of interviews with entire committees, the process is longer and more stressful.

On top of all that, employers are no longer simply evaluating skill set and work history. They also want to assess personality, as well.

Enter the personality test.

While you might not think your personality plays that big a role in your job, more and more employers are realizing how important it is to evaluate each candidate’s personality. They’ve been burned in the past by a candidate that looked great on paper, sounded brilliant in the interview, and then didn’t fit in with the culture or didn’t fit well with the job once hired.

And in fact, as one of the leading staffing firms in the Northwest, Provisional knows the majority of hiring mismatches come from a lack of cultural fit, not a lack of skills.

Sound like a big hassle?

Well, there’s a benefit for you too.

By administering personality tests, such as Myers-Briggs, employers can better assess whether you’re a good fit for the job and the company culture. That means if you don’t get offered the position, you might want to count your lucky stars. The position or the company culture may not have been well suited for you.

So despite what you think, personality tests aren’t meant to create stress and headaches for job candidates; they’re simply meant as a tool to enable employers to hire the right fit candidates.

With all that said, is there anything you can do to perform well on these kinds of tests? Here are some thoughts:

1. Don’t try to game the system. It might be tempting to be less-than-honest on a personality test in order to get hired, but you’re really short-changing yourself in the end. If you do get hired and the position or culture isn’t right for you, then you’re going to wind up miserable. Instead, answer each question candidly.

2. Take a sample test. The questions won’t be the same as on the real test an employer gives you; however, familiarizing yourself with the process will make you more comfortable with it.

3. Focus on what you can control. You can’t change your personality. What you can change are things like your resume, your interviewing skills, and whom you offer as a reference. So focus your energy on making those as strong as possible.

Are You a Talented Pro Looking for a New Opportunity?

If you are, give Provisional a call. As one of the leading staffing firms in the Northwest,, we can work with you to assess your background and personality, and then match you with Northwest jobs that are a great fit for you. Contact us today to get started or search our Northwest jobs now.

Do You Really Have to Give a Salary History on a Job Application?

April 17th, 2012

Job postings that ask for salary histories can seem a little invasive. It kind of feels like going on a first date with someone who asks to see your monthly bank statement before drinks are even served. As a result, you might be tempted to ignore the request altogether.

Unfortunately, though, doing so is a mistake. In fact, hiring managers have very specific reasons for asking about salary history – and when you submit an application without including yours (only if they request it), you’re basically telling them that you can’t follow directions.

So why do hiring managers want to know about past salaries?

Reason #1. You might be wary about offering your salary history because you don’t want to make the same amount as you did in your last Northwest job…you want to make more. This is normal. Hiring managers expect candidates to want a raise. They just need to make sure it’s reasonable and within the parameters of what they are prepared to offer a new hire.

Reason #2. In addition, hiring managers also want to see that your salary has been increasing gradually over the years. If it hasn’t been, or it’s dropped drastically without a good explanation (like you cut your hours back for a few years when you had small children at home), it’s a sign of a problem.

And what can you do to ensure you negotiate the best salary for your next job?

  • Do your homework. It’s possible that in your last Northwest job, you made below fair market value. If you suspect that’s the case, then do some research to determine how much you should have been making. Then offer these numbers up as a benchmark during the salary negotiation process.
  • Factor in benefits. When negotiating your salary, don’t forget to factor in benefits. For example, perhaps a prospective employer is offering you a bigger salary, but less total compensation than your last position. If that’s the case, then use that as leverage to negotiate an even bigger salary or more benefits.
  • Don’t exaggerate. You might be tempted to inflate the salary history of your past Northwest jobs…but don’t do it. Potential employers can request W-2s from a former employer before finalizing a compensation package for you – and if you get caught in a lie, then you could lose out big time.

If you’d like additional assistance with your search for Northwest jobs, let us know. As one of the top employment agencies in the area, we’ve placed over 6,000 direct hire professionals with local companies since 1994. And we’d like to help place you too! Learn more now.

6 Big Job Search Mistakes You Could Be Making

January 24th, 2012

As one of the top employment firms in the Northwest, we know that searching for a job is hard work. And it’s no surprise that candidates make a lot of mistakes during the process. Some are subtle, while others are glaring – and can have a negative impact on a candidate’s ability to get hired.

So what are they? And how can you avoid them? Here’s a look 6:

Mistake #1. You immediately discount imperfect positions.

This is where if they job description doesn’t sound completely ideal, then you immediately disregard it. However, look at the big picture. For instance, if the company posting the job has a terrific reputation as a generous employer, then it could be a huge boon to your career to get your foot in the door there – even if the position is less than perfect. Just look at Carly Fiorinia, former CEO of Hewlitt-Packard. She started her business career as a secretary, even though she had an undergraduate degree from Stanford.

Mistake #2. You ignore Northwest temporary jobs.

The same goes for temporary jobs in the Northwest. If it’s with a great employer, and you’re not doing anything at the moment other then sending out resumes and sitting by your phone, then it can’t hurt to take on some temp work.

Mistake #3. You don’t check your references.

Only give out references after you’ve spoken with them and let them know a company representative will be contacting them. Also, while it’s ok to offer one reference from a colleague, also offer two or more from managers as well. Colleagues don’t hold as much weight with employers as managers do.

Mistake #4. You use your work email on your resume.

If you’re looking for a job, and you’re still employed, don’t use your work email. This sends the message that you have no problem using an employer’s systems or equipment for personal use. In other words, it says you’re dishonest.

Mistake #5. You don’t research yourself online.

A potential employer is most likely going to Google or Bing you. So do it first, and deal with any negative information before applying for Northwest jobs. Clean up where you can, set your social media profiles to private, and if there’s something negative about you that you didn’t post, ask the person who posted it to take it down. If they refuse, contact the company directly.

Mistake #6. You think it’s all about you.

Your job search is about you to a certain degree. After all, you want to find a rewarding and well-paying job you enjoy. However, it’s also about the employer and what you can do for them if they hire you. So when applying for Northwest jobs, focus on how you can help an employer streamline processes, save money, or enjoy some other kind of valuable benefit.

And if you’d like some more help finding a new job, give us a call. As one of the top employment firms in the Northwest, we work with leading organizations throughout the region and can give you access to a variety of opportunities. Search for Northwest jobs now.

5 Tips for Spending Your Time Wisely After a Layoff

October 25th, 2011

When you’re busy working, it’s easy to daydream about time off and all the ways you’d spend it. But if you actually have some time off from the working world – whether it’s due to a layoff or resignation – the last thing you’re probably doing is enjoying it.

Unfortunately, as one of the leading employment agencies in the Northwest, we know that many times unemployed individuals tend to go to one extreme or the other. On the one side, they’ll spend every waking minute on job boards or scouring the classifieds, searching relentlessly for Northwest jobs. On the other hand, they’ll procrastinate, and put off the job search, not wanting to deal with it or face reality. Neither approach is healthy and can cause a lot of stress in the process.

So how can you make the most of your search time, without driving yourself crazy? Here are some tips for spending your time wisely:

1. Create a “work” schedule.

Set a schedule similar to a schedule you’d have at work. Commit 30-40 hours each week to searching for new jobs. But when you’re done for the day, you’re done. Don’t keep going back to the computer every night to search for “just one more” job lead.

2. Set goals.

Set goals for yourself each day, such as the number of new leads to contact or the number of resumes you’re going to send out. That said, your goals shouldn’t be 100% focused on your job search. Now that you have the time, set a personal goal for yourself, as well. Always wanted to take a creative writing course? This is the perfect time to do it. Getting outside of your job search – and your comfort zone – can have a positive impact on your life overall and possibly even your job search directly.

3. Get moving.

Exercise not only benefits you physically, but emotionally and mentally, as well. One of the easiest ways to get moving is to find an activity that you like, whether it’s walking, biking, or basketball. You don’t have to join an expensive gym to reap the benefits of physical activity.

4. Get out there.

Don’t forget to make time for your family, friends, and social life. Now that you’ve got a more flexible schedule, meet up with friends for breakfast or lunch. Make plans to get together on the weekends. Not only will you boost your overall happiness, but you might hear about a new job lead in the process.

5. Keep perspective.

Whatever you do, try and do it with a sense of purpose, not out of stress and fear. This bad economy will eventually be behind us and soon enough you will find a job. And when that happens, you’ll probably be yearning for the days when you had more time on your hands!

If you’d like some assistance in finding a new job, give us a call. As one of the leading employment agencies in the Northwest, we can give you access to a variety of opportunities that may not be advertised elsewhere. Contact us today to learn more.

Are You Too Nice to Get Ahead at Work?

July 19th, 2011

Parents typically teach their kids to be kind, cooperative, and forgiving. But are these traits that could actually hinder people in their jobs? For most, the answer is “yes.” In fact, according to the book “Nice Guys Can Get the Corner Office,” an overwhelming 61% of Americans think that niceness can impede success on the job.

So why is that? There are a variety of reasons, including:

Being too nice can impact your ability to stand up for yourself.

Whether in salary negotiations or a project meeting, being too nice can cause you to keep your mouth shut so that you don’t “rock the boat.” As a result, you may not get recognized for jobs you’ve completed successfully, other people may not take you seriously, and they may even take advantage of your niceness.

Being too nice can impact your ability to make effective decisions.

People who are too nice at work can face career derailment because they have a “can’t we all just get along?” attitude. They generally don’t like confrontation and difficult work situations, and therefore tend to avoid them at all costs. This highly cooperative attitude may be fine when you’re just starting out or early on in your career, but as you’re moving up, it can impact your ability to make tough choices and be viewed as an effective leader.

Being too nice can impact your ability to manage employees.

This tendency to avoid confrontation isn’t just a problem in decision-making. It also becomes a problem when trying to manage employees. For instance, if one of your employees isn’t performing well, it’s your job to confront that person, offer constructive feedback, and work with them to develop a plan for improvement. This can be a challenging position to be in for someone who simply wants to be well-liked.

With all that said, you don’t need to be mean and overly aggressive in order to get ahead at work. In fact, just like being overly nice, those traits too can also negatively impact your career.

Instead, it takes a balanced approach to move ahead in your job.

For instance, it’s a good thing to be cooperative, as long as that attitude is balanced with the ability to stand up for yourself and your opinions when necessary. It’s also good to be trusting of others, but when someone throws you under the bus, you need to confront them in order to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

And if you’re ready to advance your career with a new job in the Northwest, Provisional can help. As a one of the leading Northwest employment firms, we work with many of the region’s leading employers and can help you find a job that’s a great fit for you.

Get started on your new job search now.>

How to Keep Your Job Search Under Wraps

June 7th, 2011

Searching for a new job is stressful enough. But having your job hunt exposed to your boss can put your current position at risk – before you’re ready to jump ship. And with the economy still stagnating, there are no guarantees that you’ll find a new opportunity in a timely manner. To help you, here are some suggestions on how you can conduct an effective – and confidential – search for jobs in the Northwest:

1. Be discerning about where you send your resume.

Some job seekers take the approach of applying to every single opening under the sun. Not only is this not effective, it can also expose your job search much faster. So only apply to those Northwest jobs that you truly feel are the right fit for you, even if they are few and far between. Also, in your cover letter, let the employer know that your job search is confidential.

2. Keep your LinkedIn updates to a minimum.

If you’re regularly trying to polish your LinkedIn profile, and you’re connected to your boss or co-workers via the site, then they will be notified of those updates. Making a few edits is fine; everybody does it (or should be doing it) on an ongoing basis. But making numerous updates and getting recommendations week after week will most certainly shine a light on your job search.

3. Don’t use office equipment.

No matter how tempting it can be, don’t use any office equipment or systems, whether it’s the copier or the Internet, to conduct your job search. First, if those systems are monitored, then your job search will be exposed. Secondly, it’s just plain wrong to use resources belonging to your current employer for your job search. Instead, use your cell phone to check your email. And if you need to make a phone call, wait until your lunch break.

4. Dress carefully.

Warning bells will go off if your typical work outfit consists of jeans and a t-shirt and all of a sudden you start showing up wearing a suit and tie. So either build enough time into your schedule to go home and change, or bring a change of clothes with you.

5. Try not to disrupt your workday with job interviews.

If possible, try to schedule interviews after work or early in the morning. Hiring managers understand that you are currently employed and, as a result, some may be willing to schedule an interview at 7:30 a.m. or 5:30 p.m.

If that’s not possible, then try to use your lunch break for interviews. An interview may last longer than an hour, so you’ll need to let your current employer know that you will be using some personal time after lunch for an appointment.

Whatever you do, try to keep the disruption to your workday at a minimum. If you’re coming in late or leaving early regularly, without a good reason, your boss will begin to suspect you’re interviewing for jobs.

If you’re currently employed, and would like some help finding a new job, please contact Provisional. Not only can we uncover rewarding jobs in the Northwest that are a fit for your skills and personality, but all of our searches are conducted in a completely confidential manner. Contact us today if you’d like to get started.

Job Search Got You Down?

March 15th, 2011

If you’re searching for a new job in the Northwest and haven’t had much luck, it’s normal to feel stressed out. Job searches are tough and it’s easy to get overwhelmed. So in an economy where it takes anywhere from six to 12 months – or longer – to find a new job, what can you do to stay positive and motivated? Here are 5 tips to help you:

Tip #1. Create goals.

Just like if you were on a diet, set small daily goals and celebrate your accomplishments. So, for instance, rather than sending out dozens of resumes to every single job opening in your field in the Northwest, take a more thoughtful approach. Each day, target two employers that you’d like to work for. Learn all you can about them and try to find out the name of someone in HR or in the department you’d like to work in. Use tools like LinkedIn and Google to help in your search. Then send each a letter or an email explaining who you are and how you can help them.

Tip #2. Keep your job search organized.

With all the data you’re sending out and getting back, it can be hard to keep track of your progress – unless you’re organized. To get organized, create a spreadsheet where you write down who you sent your resume to, when you sent it, what response you got, when you followed up, who you followed up with, etc. On your spreadsheet, also keep track of any job leads or referrals you’ve gotten through networking and the status of each.

Tip #3. Get out of the house.

Staying in your bathrobe all day at home is a surefire recipe for depression. So get out of the house and conduct your job search in a different environment. Go to the library or a bookstore to do some research. Or call a friend or former colleague who can give you some good job search advice over lunch.

Tip #4. Keep busy.

When you don’t have a whole lot to do, it can be easy to spend your hours sitting in front of the TV or the computer. But it’s important that you keep yourself busy with activities or hobbies outside of your job search. For instance, if you always wanted to write a book or you’d like to volunteer at a local non-profit, now’s the time. In addition to being more productive, you’ll also be able to say that you did something worthwhile during your hiatus from work in future job interviews.

Tip #5. Connect with an employment agency.

If you feel like you’re doing everything right and still not getting any results, it could be time to connect with a Northwest employment agency. Not only can an employment agency ensure your resume and interviewing skills are up to par, but they can also give you access to job opportunities that many times aren’t advertised elsewhere.

If you’d like to get help with your job search from a leading Northwest employment agency, please contact Provisional. We can help you beat your job search blues and put you well on your way to finding a great new position!

The #1 Way to Sabotage Your Job Search

March 1st, 2011

Social media can be an invaluable tool in your Northwest job search. For instance, there are a variety of helpful features available via social media websites like LinkedIn, such as the ability to connect with colleagues, ask for recommendations, search jobs, and engage in group discussions. But social media can also have a seriously negative impact on your job search as well.

Consider the facts.

According to a study conducted by Harris Interactive, 45% of the employers surveyed said they’d used social media sites to learn more about a candidate. Moreover, 35% said that they had rejected a job applicant due to the information they found on these sites.

So with that said, what can you do to ensure social media isn’t sabotaging your job search efforts?

First, you should Google yourself. The purpose of this is to see what comes up – and to see what a prospective employer might find if they did the same. If there is any questionable content, remove it immediately. If you didn’t post the content, then ask the person who did post it, or the site’s webmaster, to remove it.

In the future, make sure you don’t post any content that is controversial or could be misconstrued. A good rule of thumb is don’t post anything that you wouldn’t want your parents, grandparents, children, and prospective employers to see. Here are some examples:

  • Photos of you drunk.
  • Photos of you doing anything illegal.
  • Photos of you dressed provocatively.
  • Comments that can be construed as racist, sexist, or bigoted.
  • Comments that denigrate a former employer.
  • Comments about excessive drinking or using drugs.

Also, sign up for a Google Alert on your name. That way, you’ll be alerted when your name is mentioned online and you can easily manage your reputation. In addition, keep in mind that just because your profile is set to private, your best friend’s profile might not be – and the whole world can view what you post on their profile page.

If you’d like some additional help with your job search, please contact Provisional. As a Northwest employment firm, we can help you locate job openings with some of the leading employers throughout the region.