Friday, December 01, 2006


By Randi Lewis

Interviewing is a learned skill. And the more you interview, the more skilled you become. When we work with professionals and students on interviewing skills, we tailor each session to the individual and the job focus. But, there are some universal do’s and don’ts that every job seeker should learn. If you remember nothing more, remember these simple A B C’s of interviewing:

  • A = Appear professional. Dress in a conservative, dark suit.
  • B = Be prepared. Research the company and interviewers.
  • C = Communicate confidently your qualifications & interest.


  1. It is of the utmost of importance that you look clean, crisp, and professional. Make sure you have showered, brushed your teeth, and that you are well-groomed. When in doubt, dress up. Wear a suit. It shows respect.
  2. Men, wear dark suits with a white or light blue shirt and a conservative tie.
  3. Women, wear a dark knee-length suit (not pants) with a light blouse or a dark dress with closed toe shoes and pantyhose.
  4. No Distractions. The Focus is on YOU. Do not wear heavy cologne or perfume because your interviewer may be allergic to it or find it unappealing. Lose the nose ring, the purple hair, the black nail polish, and the short skirts. Lose the bow tie, the tattered shoes, and the polyester suit.
  5. First Impressions Are Hard To Break. For each interviewer you meet, extend your hand, shake hands firmly, introduce yourself, smile, and look the interviewer in the eye. That’s a great start. Maintain good eye contact throughout the interview.


You should prepare for each interview as if you were studying for an exam. Find the company on the internet and study the site. Learn what is important to the company and how it positions itself. Find commonalities between the company’s philosophy and yours.
  • Learn about your interviewers if possible. Have they spoken at conferences, have they written articles; have they won awards? You are going to store this information and use it, where appropriate, during the interview.
  • Know Your Resume. Know everything on your resume. Prepare two talking points about the highlights of each prior job position.
  • Know Your Strengths and Weaknesses. Think about your strengths and the positive feedback you have received. Be prepared to discuss your greatest strengths, how you could add value to the company, and what your supervisors and peers have said about you. Be prepared to talk about your weaknesses. This is tricky. You don’t want to say that you don’t have any weaknesses because the interviewer might conclude you are unable to self-reflect. But you want to talk about a weakness very briefly and then turn the conversation into how you have managed to overcome it or how, with experience, the problem has become less of an issue. Don’t offer your weaknesses and don’t dwell on them.
  • Prepare Three Questions. Prepare three questions (or more) to ask each interviewer.
  • The Interview.

    Take Your Cues From The Interviewer. Check you audience. Don’t talk too much, too fast, or too slow. Don’t answer in one or two word answers. Weaver your prepared strengths into the conversation. Talk about commonalities between the company’s needs and your experience.
  • Be Engaged During The Interview. Turn off your cell phone. Sit tall, maintain eye contact, respond appropriately. Show your knowledge about the company in your answers to questions and in the questions you ask. When it is your turn to ask questions, always ask a question from your prepared question list or one more appropriate to the conversation. The questions should be about the company, the position, or the interviewer’s career.
  • Behavioral Questions. You may be asked what are commonly known as behavioral questions. Some companies spend thousands of dollars on consultants who study the organization and determine questions that might elicit whether you have the right stuff to join the company. They may ask you how you have handled work-related situations in your current or prior jobs. The theory behind the questions is that the best way to determine an applicant’s suitability for a job is to learn how he/she has handled prior work experiences.
  • Sound Directed and Project Confidence. Be able to discuss your career goals, why you want this job with this company, and why you would be a fit for the position. Highlight your accomplishments and attributes in concrete examples. Keep the conversation focused on the company and your suitability for the position. Don’t talk about your personal life.
  • What You Do At the Conclusion of The Interview. Stand up, look each interviewer in the eye, shake his/her hand FIRMLY, smile, and thank him/her for taking the time to meet with you. Don't ask about next steps. You can call the HR person or recruiter later.
  • Send Thank You Notes. Take the time to send individualized thank you notes either by email, or in writing by hand or typewritten.
  • For more detailed information about interviewing, you can contact Randi Lewis at 410-602-2500 or by email at © Resume Boutique LLC™ 2006. All rights reserved.

    Wednesday, November 08, 2006


    By Randi Lewis, Founder, Resume Boutique LLC
    You’ve made the decision to move on. You’ve updated and perfected your resume. You’ve interviewed, received an offer or more, and you’ve chosen a new path. How do you tell your company? How much time do you give them? How do you keep the door open either to return or for referral or other business opportunities? These are questions our clients regularly ask. Every situation is different but here are a few basic points to keep in mind:
    1. Supervisor First. Tell your immediate supervisor in person first.
    2. Be Direct. Tell him or her up front that you have decided to leave the company and where you are going.
    3. Give the Reason. In general, the reason you are leaving should be about you and your career, not a criticism of your company.
    4. Praise Your Supervisor. You should be telling your supervisor and others with whom you work how much you appreciate the company and what your colleagues have done for you. Discuss specific examples of their leadership, mentoring, and support.
    5. Keep Door Open. Where appropriate, find a way to discuss keeping the door open for you to return or for a mutually beneficial way each can refer business or collaborate. Depending upon here you go, this may not be possible.
    6. Exit Interviews. Many companies ask for you to participate in a formal or informal exit interview. Be prepared to talk constructively about issues that may have caused you to look elsewhere.
    7. Notice. Most protocols require that you give a minimum of two weeks notice. But in some circumstances, in order not to leave your employer in a difficult position, the professional thing
    to do would be to offer to remain longer. When in doubt, do the professional thing even if your new employer wants you to start ASAP. Your new employer will respect your concern to do a good job. But remember to think about timing in relation to health insurance.
    8. Health Insurance Considerations. When deciding when to leave your company, you should factor in how long, if at all, you are covered by your current firm’s health insurance and when your new company’s health insurance becomes effective. Sometimes a day makes a big difference. You want to revert to costly COBRA benefits only as a last resort.
    9. What to Take and How. You may have created documents, Outlook contacts, and other tangible projects or items that you want to take with you. Make sure there are no company policies that would prohibit you from doing so. Similarly, if the company requires you to request permission, go through the proper channels. Follow the rules. Often, your current company will coordinate with your new company to exchange computer-based documents and data.
    © 2006 Resume Boutique LLC . All rights reserved.
    For more information, contact Randi Lewis,, or 410.602.2500.

    Saturday, October 21, 2006


    By Randi Lewis

    The Functional Resume. What is it and does it really help a professional get the job? I have worked with a number of professionals recently who have inquired about the functional resume. These men and women were told by career counselors that they should craft one. Why? Either because they had long careers and it would mask their “age,” or because they have gaps in their employment history and it would mask those gaps.

    • What do I think? As a recruitment professional who screens thousands of resumes per year, I think the purely functional resume doesn’t help at all. It raises questions about your work history and what you did where. If recruiters have to work too hard to understand what you did where, they may become suspicious that you are hiding something, which you are, or they may become frustrated because they can’t determine where you received your experience. Consequently, they are more likely than not to place your resume in the “no thank you” pile.
    • What's a Functional Resume? What do the resume professionals mean by a functional resume? The functional resume groups experience in skill-related categories rather than in reverse chronological order like the more typical resume. The purely functional resume doesn’t list your employers or your job duties. Recruiters looking to hire professionals such as accountants, senior sales professionals, marketing professionals, lawyers, doctors, CEO’s, CFO’s and so on, want to see your job history. It’s as simple as that. So, the resume that lists employment history in reverse chronological order will make it to the top of the pile.
    • Common Questions: How do you minimize the employment gaps? How do you conceal your age? How do you highlight prior work experience that may be more relevant to the job you seek? Each case is different but here are a few suggestions:
    • Employment Gaps. If you are a mom or dad who has stayed home for a number of years raising your children, consider mentioning that in the profile section. You might say, “Accomplished marketing professional with eight years of experience in global marketing and branding returning to workplace after working at home full time raising three children and managing family.”
    • Worried About Age? If you are concerned that your age will place your resume in the “no thank you pile” before you’ve had a chance to meet them so they’ll know you are perfect for the job, here are my thoughts. If you have a long history of employment, consider crafting the employment heading with a slight change such as RELEVANT EXPERIENCE or RECENT PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE. Then omit employment experiences that occurred 20 years ago or more. Also consider omitting the dates you graduated from college or graduate school. But, if you omit the dates, know that it will alert the employer that you don’t want your age known. That’s not a bad thing but prepared to let people know your graduation years if asked. Also, don’t be untruthful about anything in an interview. If asked, freely talk about the work experience you omitted without apology.
    • Prior Work More Relevant? If your prior work is more relevant, place it first under a section such as, RELEVANT EXPERIENCE. The next section would read something like, OTHER EXPERIENCE. A PROFILE paragraph and/or SUMMARY OF SKILLS section may help too.
    • But can you have a winning chronological resume that INCLUDES skill-related categories? Yes. And in some instances, I recommend it. For example, if you are an experienced professional having substantially similar experience with multiple employers, it would be wise to include a section of representative skills or key accomplishments before the chronological job history. But you still must write something substantial under each job.
    • What about the OBJECTIVE Section? I am not a fan of the OBJECTIVE section at the top. I have never seen a resume with an objective that has made a difference. Instead, in my experience, objectives sometimes distract from the substance of the resume because they are poorly written and tell us nothing of import. Instead, I recommend that the resumes of seasoned professionals include a PROFILE section at the top that summarizes and highlights the essence of their experience and strengths. How many years of experience do you need to have before it would be appropriate to add a profile? It depends. I have written profile for professionals with as few as 3 years experience.

    ~ ~ ~ © Resume Boutique LLC. All rights reserved.

    410.602.2500 ~ ~

    Thursday, July 06, 2006

    Wednesday, July 05, 2006

    How to Help Your High School Seniors Prepare for their College Interviews

    By Randi Lewis

    The college application process is around the corner. It is a stressful time for students and their parents, in part because of the increasing competitive nature of the process. When we work with high school students to help them prepare for interviews, their parents often take an active role in the process. We go through "The ABC's of Interviewing" with our students and our parents so that our parents can take home what they have learned in our preparation sessions and help empower their children to be themselves and to do their best. Here are a few tips for parents to help your teenager navigate the interview process. We call them, “THE THREE P’s.” PREPARE ~ PRACTICE ~ PRAISE

    PREPARE. Help your child prepare. Study the school’s website with your child. Help your child organize and write down:

    • Academic or career goals.
    • Interest in each school.
    • Accomplishments such as AP classes, honors, extra-curricular activities, unique interests.
    • Why each school would be a good fit, finding commonality between something about the school's values, culture, academic program, etc., and your child. (Examples: Yale's honor code is similar to the honor code in your child's school; UCLA's commitment to public service is important to your child because it offers opportunities to give back to the community like your child has done in high school; the small class learning environment of University of Maryland's Honors Program is of itnterest to your child because . . . .)

    PRACTICE. Help your child practice. Strategizing while role playing works well for some students. Others prefer just talking. Play it by ear.

    • Start with a firm handshake and eye contact. Both are important in making a good impression.
    • Help your child practice talking about him/herself and his or her academic and career goals.
    • Help your child practice talking about his or her interest in that school, weaving in the commonalities between the school and your child's accomplishments, interests and goals.
    • Help your child devise three questions for the interviewer.
    • Practice answering and asking questions and talk about what to say at the end of each interview.

    PRAISE. Praise your child’s efforts.

    • Understand your child is under tremendous pressure to continue high school studies and extracurricular activities while completing college applications.
    • Let your child know OFTEN how proud you are of how well he or she is juggling the demands of school, extracurricular activities, and the college application process.

    A WORD ABOUT ATTIRE. Discuss how your child will dress for each interview. The dress may vary by school but here are a few things your child must keep in mind:

    1. Don't dress like a kid. No shorts. No tennis shoes. No short skirts or low cut blouses.
    2. Boys should wear a suit or khaki pants a white or blue shirt and a dark blazer.
    3. Girls should wear a knee length skirt with a jacket and a white shirt.
    4. Dressing up, even if you feel overdressed, is a sign of respect.
    5. No weird piercings. Remove the nose ring.
    6. Keep your hair well-groomed.

    Trust the process. Randi

    © 2006 Resume Boutique LLC™. All rights reserved.

    Tuesday, July 04, 2006

    Thirty-Something, Forty-Something and Changing Careers

    We are working with a growing number of professionals who, for one good reason or another, have decided in your thirties and forties that you need a change. Each of you has a different reason for wanting a change. Your flexibility to make a change will depend largely on your family and financial situations. Some of you provide the sole financial support for yourselves or your families. Others share the financial burden. Others are going back to work after a hiatus managing your families. And some of you need flexibility so that you can continue to manage your families. Some of you can relocate and others can't. Notwithstanding these differences, there are some general things you can do to conduct a meaningful job search.
    1. Define and Package Your Story. Define what you want to do. Then package that desire in one paragraph that has an upbeat tone to use when you see people at the store, at social functions and elsewhere to let people know you are looking for a new challenge.
    2. Contact Your Base. Make a list of 100 to 250 people you know including relatives, friends, business colleagues, colleagues of family and friends. Call, email or write a personal note advising them that you are looking for new opportunities and asking them for their help (what/who they know).
    3. Assess Your Opportunities. Be realistic about your opportunities and the market.
    4. Hire Professionals. If you need career counseling, help putting your resume together, or a headhunter to help in your job search, invest in a good professional. It will be worth the investment. Also, make sure you determine how your resume should look for the new industry or position.
    5. Follow Up With Your Base. Follow up with your base. Contact the leads they provide.
    6. Keep Searching. Look in local papers; search key websites and post your resume where appropriate; go on informational interviews.
    7. Think Out Of The Box. Brainstorm with anyone who will take the time. What do you like to do? What are you good at doing? Think about what professions value those qualities and whether those positions might be a fit for you.
    8. Persevere. Be thick-skinned about rejections. Keep a positive attitude. Be flexible. Don't be deterred. Something better is around the next corner. You can do it! Randi

    Written by Randi S. Lewis, Founder, Resume Boutique LLC.

    © 2006 Resume Boutique LLC. All Rights Reserved.

    Ten Tips For A Better Legal Resume

    By Randi Lewis, Esq.
    Are you getting ready to update your resume to search for your first full time job as a lawyer? Here are 10 Tips to help your resume make it to the top of the stack:
    Tip No. 1 - The Five Second Rule. Legal recruitment professionals review hundreds, sometimes thousands, of resumes per year. List your education, grades (see below), honors and important activities at the top of your resume in bullet points, not in a string cite, so they are able to be read within 5 seconds, the time it takes to decide whether to read on or to place your resume in the “no pile.”
    Tip No. 2 - The Font & The Format. The text should be no smaller than 11 point in Times New Roman, Garamond or Georgia. Headings should be in larger font and bold. The format should be compatible with OCI+ and reader-friendly for receipt by email.
    Tip No. 3 - The Order. List education first and experience second (even if you are a second career law student). List experience first only after practicing for at least 5 years.

    Tip No. 4 - Honors, Law Review and Activities. Group all honors, law review/journal positions and law school activities with your law school. Similarly, keep all undergraduate honors and activities with college information.
    Tip No. 5 - Law School Grades. A general rule of thumb: list law school grades if they are a 3.0 or better.
    Tip No. 6 - Undergraduate & Graduate School Grades. Another general rule: list undergraduate and graduate school grades if they are a 3.0 or better EVEN IF law school grades are below a 3.0. (Reason: if you don’t, the reader may assume you received less than a 3.0 in law school, grad school and college.)

    Tip No. 7 - Employment Achievements. Where possible, describe your employment in terms of substantive work and/or successes, keeping descriptions short to use as talking points in your interview. Example: “Drafted successful motions to dismiss in contract dispute, securities fraud case and products liability matter.”
    Tip No. 8 - Use Action Words. Use action words to add power to your resume. Examples: prepared; analyzed; collaborated; managed; led; devised; researched; drafted.
    Tip No. 9 - Bulletize and Italicize. Use bullet points and italics to add visual interest and help guide your reader.
    Tip No. 10 - Proofread. Always proofread your resume several times to ensure there are no typographical or grammatical errors.

    Randi Lewis, Esq., is the founder of Resume Boutique LLC,, which provides resume and interview consultation to professionals and students, including lawyers and law students. A former practicing lawyer, Randi also runs the Recruitment Department of, and reviews resumes submitted to, an AmLaw 250 law firm. For more resume tips, contact Randi at or 410-602-2500.
    © 2006 Resume Boutique LLC. All Rights Reserved.