Blaine and Associates

Blaine and Associates

Thursday, February 8, 2018

How to Write a Resume to Beat an Automated Tracking System

How to Write a Resume to Beat an Automated Tracking System

by Phil Stott | January 24, 2018
Glasses focusing on computer screen
The majority of applications for many jobs never get seen by a human. If you've ever submitted an application through a company's website, there's a strong chance that your resume was screened—and likely rejected—by an automated system. Here are some tips to help make sure that your resume makes it through in future, so that it can at least get its six seconds with a real live human.
Research Keywords
Imagine that you were trying to find the job you're applying for in a Google search. What keywords would you include to ensure that that exact role, in that exact industry, came up? If you're not sure, do some research around the industry and make a list of any words that recur.
You should also make a point of reading the job description and company hiring pages a few times: the chances are that the qualities, characteristics and skills listed will be exactly the same as the company is looking for—and therefore screening your resume for.
This is one of the reasons that career experts recommend tailoring your resume for each job you apply for—if you're not changing out your keywords to match what the employer is looking for, you're selling yourself short and reducing the chances of the ATS coming up with a match when it scans your resume.
Use the keywords frequently (but not too frequently)
Once you have your key terms, the next step is to make sure that they're used frequently enough that the algorithm will see them as relevant. Try to use your top keywords in your resume between 3 and 5 times—but do it naturally. Not only will the algorithm flag your resume if you overstuff it, but keep in mind that it needs to make sense to a human as well!
If you're wondering how to incorporate specific keywords, consider including a skills section on your resume: it's a great place to include things like programming languages and specific technologies that you might otherwise struggle to fit into your employment history.
Don't get fancy—and don't overthink it
Stay away from creative layouts and fonts when submitting a resume into an automated system—design elements such as frames, boxes and unusual fonts can confuse the algorithm, and lead to your resume being rejected.
That advice stands for how you should think about automated tracking systems in general: while they're a technological solution to aid employers, they're far from being the most sophisticated algorithms out there. For the most part, they simply scan for matches against a set of criteria identified by the employer, and then weight them for relevance. So, while it's important to keep them in mind when writing your resume, you don't need to resort to tricks or keyword stuffing to try to beat them. Just follow the steps above and remember that, above all, the goal is to get it into the hands of someone who will make a decision that will be much more subjective.

Friday, June 2, 2017

New Listing - Assistant to Client Relations Manager

Assistant Client Relations Manager - El Segundo $55,000-$65,000 + bonus, benefits, and lots of upward mobility

We are seeking an Assistant Client Relations Manager to join our expanding and exciting team! This is an excellent opportunity for a recent college grad with an interest in regenerative medicine, biology, and cutting edge science.

  • Interface with Sales Reps, Medical and Hospital Purchasing, and Executive Teams
  • Handle high level of client servicing, including follow-up calls, emails, memos, and in-person meetings
  • Track inventory and sales trends using various data management systems
  • Track monthly results and trends for business forecasting
  • Resolve customer complaints, product issues, and offer incentives


  • 2 + years previous experience in sales or a high-end customer service environment
  • 4 year college degree from an reputable college
  • Knowledge of MS Office (Word & Excel) and data base programs (Access preferred)
  • Excellent written and communication skills
  • Strong attention to detail and a true multitasker
  • Strong phone etiquette with poised and sophisticated grammar and vocabulary skills
  • Outgoing personality with problem solving skills, able to answer customer questions and come up with solutions
  • Anticipate inventory trends
  • Work well with executives and sales teams

Thursday, June 1, 2017

New Job Listing - Executive Assistant

Executive Assistant - $70,000-$75,000

We are seeking an Executive Assistant in our downtown location to work for the new CEO of a large non-profit legal organization.  You will serve as his "right-hand" front person dealing with every legal firm in the country. This is a high-energy, proactive, special project, client interfacing position.  You have to be the EA who loves to get involved and has the sophistication, education and experience to handle this fantastic opportunity

  • Handle extensive scheduling, both professional and personal
  • Arrange conference calls and meetings
  • Arrange complex travel with multiple stops and long detailed itineraries 
  • Be the first "go to" person for clients, lawyers, executives, and internal staff
  • Compose and type correspondence, emails, memos, and presentations
  • Handle special events, including securing locations, catering, invitations, etc.
  • Maintain and order supplies
  • 5+ years previous experience as an executive assistant in a similar role,  legal experience a plus
  • 4-year college degree from a reputable firm
  • Strong organizational skills
  • Ability to prioritize and multitask
  • Strong attention to detail
  • Excellent client servicing skills
  • MS Office advanced skills
  • Professional office attire required

Thursday, March 23, 2017

22 Behavioral Interview Questions Big 4 Firms Ask

Gone are the days of having to field 101 technical questions in accounting interviews with the Big 4 (Deloitte, EY, KPMG, and PwC). Today, it's all about behavioral questions. And in the past couple of years, these questions have become a lot more complex. It used to be that you just had to know how to talk about your strengths, weaknesses, a time you failed, and a time you showed your leadership abilities. But now, in interviews, you need to talk about your regrets, communication style, and how you deal with difficult managers and difficult clients, among other topics.

And so, in order to help you prepare for a Big 4 interview, we've compiled some of the new behavioral questions that the Big 4 are now asking in entry-level interviews. All of these interview questions come straight from Big 4 insiders who took our latest Accounting Survey (the results of which we'll be using to compile our new Accounting Rankings, which we'll be releasing on Tax Day, April 17).

Remember, the most important part of answering a behavioral question is not to memorize an answer you find by Googling it, but rather by taking the time to think hard and long about what your honest, unique answer is, and then working on how to best communicate that answer to an interviewer. In any case, we hope these help!

1. Criticism Q: Please provide an example of constructive criticism that you've received and what you changed going forward as a result.

2. Communicating Q: Communicating is an important part of our business, so tell us about a time that you had to communicate with a person who was difficult to communicate with.

3. Conflicting Personality Q: Working in teams is a critical part of our job—you have to learn to interact well with a variety of personalities—so give me an example of when you were in a group project and had to interact with group member that had a conflicting personality.

4. Time Management Q: In your personal life and during your work experience and education, what time management skills have you developed that have allowed you to find an even balance?

5. Research Q: The ability to research is critical to our job, so give me an example when you had to research something, including the process you went through and the ultimate outcome.

6. Bad Grade Q: Tell me about a time that you received a bad grade on a school assignment and how you dealt with the situation.

7. Hostile Environment Q: Please describe situations where you had a difficult conversation or hostile environment—how did you deal with the situation and what did you learn from it?

8. Regret Q: Describe a significant regret and what you learned from it.

9. What You Do for Fun Q: What do you enjoy doing? Not enjoy doing?

10. Last Job Dislikes Q: What about your last job didn't you like?

11. Commitment Q: What does overall commitment look like to you?

12. Convictions Q: What convictions do you live by?

13. You in Three Words Q: How would you describe yourself in three words?

14. Difficult News Q: Tell me about a time that you had to communicate difficult news.

15. Disappointed in You Q: Tell me about a time you've been disappointed in your performance? What did you do in response?

16. College Major Q: Tell me about your process of considering different majors/career paths.

17. Communication Style Q: Describe a time at work or school when you had to modify your communication style or approach based on your audience.

18. What You're All About Q: Tell me something about yourself that is not on your resume that you believe defines you and what you are all about.

19. Disagreement Q: Have you ever had a disagreement with a co-worker and how did you resolve it?

20. Stood Up to Boss Q: Tell us about a time in which you stood up to/corrected a superior.

21. Coaching Q: Discuss ways you have coached or mentored others, or helped others to accomplish their goals.

22. Natural Role Q: What is your natural role in a group setting? When have you had to step out of that natural role?

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Acing the Interview

Acing the Interview Process
by Abby Locke

How to effectively prepare for, manage and follow up an interview.

Congratulations; your hard work has paid off, and you have secured an interview. The interview is extremely critical given employers and recruiters use your presentation to make their final decision. Despite the growing discomfort in today’s job market, this remains true.

Preparing for the Interview
Enter an interview armed with a wealth of information on the company. When this is coupled with a solid understanding of how you can make a valuable contribution, you are automatically put at the front of the pack. Here are a few methods to ensure you stand out from the competition:

  • Fully exhaust the Internet when researching the company’s reputation, financial status and recent developments. Reach out to your professional network for anyone who may have the inside scoop, and review annual reports and industry trade magazines to get all the facts.
  • Review your resume again and familiarize yourself with the key points that you want to get across during the interview. It is very beneficial to create your mini career success stories ahead of time – make sure that you choose examples that demonstrate how your qualifications are the right fit with the company’s needs.
  • Practice and rehearse your responses to standard interview questions like, “Tell me about yourself,” “Describe your top accomplishments” and “Why should we hire you?”
  • Conduct a dress rehearsal to make sure that your suit or business attire fits right; check your portfolio to make sure you have additional copies of your resume, and consider doing a road trip to the interview location ahead of time to assess commuting time.

Managing the Interview Process
Throughout your face-to-face interview process, you want to make sure that you are consistently promoting yourself as the solution. Clearly define your personal brand, unique value proposition and concise success stories in the Challenge-Action-Results format. Not sure where to start? Follow the steps below.

  1. Limit your responses to about 2—3 minutes, and practice your presentation with a trusted colleague in order to minimize your level of nervous talk or rambling.
  2. Listen carefully to the interviewer’s questions, statements and comments to get a deeper understanding of the company and whether its corporate environment is the right fit for you. Remember it needs to be a two-way match.
  3. Don’t be afraid to ask the interviewer to repeat a question for clarity, and take your time giving the correct response.
  4. Make sure that you ask specific questions about the company and the position requirements before forming an opinion. Lean towards enhancing your career, not simply getting a job. Questions that you should consider include: “Is this a new position or am I replacing someone?” “How would you describe the work environment?” ”What are the growth or promotional opportunities?” and “Tell me about your experience with the company.”
  5. Always ask the interviewer about the next steps – you should always walk away from an interview with clear expectations.

After the Interview
It seems like a simple, common-sense gesture, but so many job seekers overlook a thank-you note or e-mail sent within 48 hours of the interview. (Only five percent of executive job candidates actually say thanks.) A highly effective thank-you note should mention highlights of the interview conversation and reiterate your interest in the position. Here are some pointers:

  • Do more than say “thank you;” use the follow-up letter to address any questions that you feel you didn’t answer well during the interview. If you may have neglected mentioning any critical additional information in the interview, use the card to relay your strengths..
  • Evaluate your own interview performance. Consider questions like ”What were your feelings going into the interview?” ”Were you uncomfortable during the process?” ”Was this interview easier or harder compared to your last one?” and ”What would you do differently in the next interview?”
  • Keep your job search going and accept other job interviews along the way. You should never cease your job search activities until you have been offered a position and you have accepted. No matter how well the interview went, never take that as a sign to slow down your overall job search efforts.

Abby Locke is an executive career marketing strategist who partners with senior-level professionals and C-level executives to achieve personal success through cutting-edge, brand-focused career communications and innovative personal marketing/job search services.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

7 Lessons About Finding the Work You Were Meant To Do

(by Kate Torgovnick May)

You don’t “find your calling,” you fight for it — and other lessons from people who found their passion (sometimes late in life).

Whether it was during a career aptitude test or in a heart-to-heart chat after getting laid off, chances are someone has talked to you about how to “find your calling.” It’s one of those phrases people toss about. But StoryCorps founder Dave Isay takes issue with it … specifically, the verb.

“Finding your calling — it’s not passive,” he says. “When people have found their calling, they’ve made tough decisions and sacrifices in order to do the work they were meant to do.”

In other words, you don’t just “find” your calling — you have to fight for it. And it’s worth the fight. “People who’ve found their calling have a fire about them,” says Isay, the winner of the 2015 TED Prize. “They’re the people who are dying to get up in the morning and go do their work.”

Over a decade of listening to StoryCorps interviews, Isay noticed that people often share the story of how they discovered their calling — and now, he’s collected dozens of great stories on the subject into a new book, Callings: The Purpose and Passion of Work. Below, he shares 7 takeaways from the hard-won fight to find the work you love.

1. Your calling is at the intersection of a Venn diagram of three things: doing something you’re good at, feeling appreciated, and believing your work is making people’s lives better. “When those three things line up, it’s like lightning,” Isay says. He doesn’t suggest that a person has to be a surgeon saving lives to feel like they have a calling; think of the diner waitress who talks to customers and makes them feel loved. How do you find this overlap? “You have to shut out all the chatter of what your friends are telling you to do, what your parents are telling you to do, what society is telling you to do,” Isay says, “and just go to that quiet place inside you that knows the truth.”

2. Your calling often comes out of difficult experiences. What lurks in that quiet place will be a defining experience — quite possibly a painful one. Isay points to an interview in Callings with 24-year-old teacher Ayodeji Ogunniyi. “He was studying to be a doctor when his father was murdered. He realized that what he was really meant to do was be a teacher,” says Isay. “He says that every time he walks into a classroom, his father is walking in with him.” This theme of people turning their hardest experiences into a new path runs throughout the book. “Having an experience that really shakes you and reminds you of your mortality can be a very clarifying event in people’s lives. Oftentimes, it leads to changes,” he says. “We spend a lot of time working, so it can really change your priorities in terms of work life.”

3. Calling often takes courage and ruffles feathers. Elsewhere in Callings, we hear about Wendell Scott, who became the first African-American NASCAR driver in 1952, and kept on driving despite threats against his life. From scientist Dorothy Warburton who dealt with extreme sexism as she conducted research to break the stigma around miscarriage. From Burnell Cotlon, who opened the first grocery store in the Lower 9th Ward after Hurricane Katrina because he wasn’t about to let his old neighborhood’s spirit fade. Calling, says Isay, very often starts with taking a stand against a status quo that simply isn’t acceptable, and then dedicating your work to changing it: “It’s work ignited by hope, love, or defiance — and stoked by purpose and persistence.”

4. Other people often nudge you toward calling. Sharon Long had worked odd jobs most of her life. As Isay tells it, “Her daughter was going to college, and as the bursar was helping them with financial aid forms, she said quietly to herself, ‘I wish I could’ve gone to college.’ The bursar responded, ‘It’s not too late.’” Sharon enrolled in an art program, and on her advisor’s suggestion, took forensic anthropology as her science. “The advisor suggested it for no other reason than he thought it was the easiest science course for the science requirement,” says Isay. “But the minute she sat in that class, it was boom — this is what she was meant to do.” Isay tells this story to illustrate how calling, while very personal, is also relational. “People bump you this way and that way,” he says, often without realizing it. “When people find their callings, they want to honor those people who helped them get there.”

5. What comes after identifying your calling is what really matters. The old ‘finding your calling’ phraseology makes it sound like a calling is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow — you find it, and the story’s over. But Isay stresses that your calling is an ongoing process. “Understanding what your calling is — that’s very different than the blood, sweat and tears of actually doing it,” he says. Pursuing a calling may require going back to school or apprenticing; it may require starting a business. Often, notes Isay, it leads a person into a line of work that’s in service of others. “This book is basically a love letter to nurses, teachers, social workers — the people who don’t often get celebrated for the work they do,” he says.

6. Age is irrelevant. Isay found his calling when he was 21 and interviewed a man who’d been part of the Stonewall riots. “The minute I hit record, I knew that being a journalist and interviewing people was what I was going to do for the rest of my life,” he says. “I feel very lucky that lightning struck when I was very young.” But collecting stories for the book reminded him that a calling can be discovered at any age. The book includes an interview with someone who knew they wanted to be an NBA referee at age 15, and another who worked as an accountant for 30 years before discovering his passion for slicing lox. “Doing the work you’re meant to do is one of the most satisfying, remarkable experiences that a person can have,” says Isay, “so never give up.”

7. Calling often doesn’t come with a big paycheck. Another trend Isay sees in stories of people who find their calling: they often involve leaving a high-paying job for one that’s lower-paying but more satisfying. “The message we send to young people is that you want to do as little work as you can to make as much money as you can — that’s the dream,” says Isay. “But the wisdom in the StoryCorps archive is that there’s another, much more rewarding dream of taking risks and working very hard to live with integrity.” In the end, that’s the lesson he took away from writing this book. “There are no millionaires, no billionaires, no celebrities, nobody with a big Twitter following,” he says. “Just stories can teach us a lot about lives fully lived.”

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Wise Habits of Supremely Happy People

Wise Habits of Supremely Happy People

We’re always chasing something—be it a promotion, a new car, or a significant other. This leads to the belief that, “When (blank) happens, I’ll finally be happy.”
While these major events do make us happy at first, research shows this happiness doesn’t last. A study from Northwestern University measured the happiness levels of regular people against those who had won large lottery prizes the year prior. The researchers were surprised to discover that the happiness ratings of both groups were practically identical.
The mistaken notion that major life events dictate your happiness and sadness is so prevalent that psychologists have a name for it: impact bias. The reality is, event-based happiness is fleeting.
Happiness is synthetic—you either create it, or you don’t. Happiness that lasts is earned through your habits. Supremely happy people have honed habits that maintain their happiness day in, day out. Try out their habits, and see what they do for you:

They slow down to appreciate life’s little pleasures.

By nature, we fall into routines. In some ways, this is a good thing. It saves precious brainpower and creates comfort. However, sometimes you get so caught up in your routine that you fail to appreciate the little things in life. Happy people know how important it is to savor the taste of their meal, revel in the amazing conversation they just had, or even just step outside to take a deep breath of fresh air.

They exercise.

Getting your body moving for as little as 10 minutes releases GABA, a neurotransmitter that makes your brain feel soothed and keeps you in control of your impulses. Happy people schedule regular exercise and follow through on it because they know it pays huge dividends for their mood.

They spend money on other people.

Research shows that spending money on other people makes you much happier than spending it on yourself. This is especially true of small things that demonstrate effort, such as going out of your way to buy your friend a book that you know they will like.

They surround themselves with the right people.

Happiness spreads through people. Surrounding yourself with happy people builds confidence, stimulates creativity, and it’s flat-out fun. Hanging around negative people has the opposite effect. They want people to join their pity party so that they can feel better about themselves. Think of it this way: If a person were smoking, would you sit there all afternoon inhaling the second-hand smoke? You’d distance yourself, and you should do the same with negative people.

They stay positive.

Bad things happen to everyone, including happy people. Instead of complaining about how things could have been or should have been, happy people reflect on everything they’re grateful for. Then they find the best solution available to the problem, tackle it, and move on. Nothing fuels unhappiness quite like pessimism. The problem with a pessimistic attitude, apart from the damage it does to your mood, is that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy: if you expect bad things, you’re more likely to experience negative events. Pessimistic thoughts are hard to shake off until you recognize how illogical they are. Force yourself to look at the facts, and you’ll see that things are not nearly as bad as they seem.

They get enough sleep.

I’ve beaten this one to death over the years and can’t say enough about the importance of sleep to improving your mood, focus, and self-control. When you sleep, your brain literally recharges, removing toxic proteins that accumulate during the day as byproducts of normal neuronal activity. This ensures that you wake up alert and clear-headed. Your energy, attention, and memory are all reduced when you don’t get enough quality sleep. Sleep deprivation also raises stress hormone levels on its own, even without a stressor present. Happy people make sleep a priority, because it makes them feel great and they know how lousy they feel when they’re sleep deprived.

They have deep conversations.

Happy people know that happiness and substance go hand-in-hand. They avoid gossip, small talk, and judging others. Instead they focus on meaningful interactions. They engage with other people on a deeper level, because they know that doing so feels good, builds an emotional connection, and is an interesting way to learn.

They help others.

Taking the time to help people not only makes them happy, but it also makes you happy. Helping other people gives you a surge of oxytocin, serotonin, and dopamine, all of which create good feelings. In a Harvard study, employees who helped others were 10 times more likely to be focused at work and 40% more likely to get a promotion. The same study showed that people who consistently provided social support were the most likely to be happy during times of high stress. As long as you make certain that you aren’t overcommitting yourself, helping others is sure to have a positive influence on your mood.

They make an effort to be happy.

No one wakes up feeling happy every day and supremely happy people are no exception. They just work at it harder than everyone else. They know how easy it is to get sucked into a routine where you don’t monitor your emotions or actively try to be happy and positive. Happy people constantly evaluate their moods and make decisions with their happiness in mind.

They do things in-person.

Happy people only let technology do their talking when absolutely necessary. The human brain is wired for in-person interaction, so happy people will jump at the chance to drive across town to see a friend or meet face-to-face because it makes them feel good.

They have a growth mindset.

People’s core attitudes fall into one of two categories: a fixed mindset or a growth mindset. With a fixed mindset, you believe you are who you are and you cannot change. This creates problems when you’re challenged, because anything that appears to be more than you can handle is bound to make you feel hopeless and overwhelmed. People with a growth mindset believe that they can improve with effort. This makes them happier because they are better at handling difficulties. They also outperform those with a fixed mindset because they embrace challenges, treating them as opportunities to learn something new.

Bringing It All Together

Happiness can be tough to maintain, but investing in the right habits pays off. Adopting even a few of the habits from this list will make a big difference in your mood.
What other habits make you happy? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below, as I learn just as much from you as you do from me.


Dr. Travis Bradberry is the award-winning co-author of the #1 bestselling book, Emotional Intelligence 2.0, and the cofounder of TalentSmart, the world's leading provider of emotional intelligence tests and training, serving more than 75% of Fortune 500 companies. His bestselling books have been translated into 25 languages and are available in more than 150 countries. Dr. Bradberry has written for, or been covered by, Newsweek, TIME, BusinessWeek, Fortune, Forbes, Fast Company, Inc., USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and The Harvard Business Review.