Jobseeker's Guide to Your First Résumé

You’ve never had a résumé before. Maybe you’ve never needed one. But now you do. And you don’t know where to start.

The primary purpose of the résumé is to get you the opportunity to interview for the job. Everything you do — and include — should focus on this goal.

Your résumé should be targeted to be effective. If you don’t know what you want, it’s going to be difficult for the reader to know. The first step is to determine what skills, experience, and education are needed for your target job.

The late résumé guru Yana Parker used to say, “A résumé without a job target is like a book without a title.”

Understand that your résumé is not a “career obituary.” It will not — and should not — include everything you’ve ever done in your career.

It still needs to be accurate, but you don’t need to list every job you’ve ever held. Nor do you have to list every aspect of the responsibilities that you held.

Your résumé is not a legal document, unlike a job application that asks you to list all your career experience and that you sign, acknowledging that the information is accurate and complete.

 Instead, your résumé is a marketing document.

 The most important thing to remember is: The résumé is not about what you want — it’s what you can offer to an employer.

 In her book, “Résumé Magic,” author Susan Britton Whitcomb explains there are 10 main reasons that motivate employers to hire. These include your ability to help the company:

  • Make money

  • Save money

  • Save time

  • Make work easier

  • Solve a specific problem

  • Be more competitive

  • Build relationships/an image

  • Expand business

  • Attract new customers

  • Retain existing customers

Everything you put in the résumé — or don’t put in the résumé — should relate to the job that you’re seeking, demonstrating to the person with the authority to hire you for that job what you can do for the company in that position. When trying to decide whether or not something is relevant, think about the hiring manager.

emma-matthews-O_CLjxjzN3M-unsplash (1).jpg

Technology has changed the hiring process in some ways, but the essence is still the same: How can you attract the attention of the person who has the power to hire you and get the opportunity to get in front of him or her and demonstrate you’re the right fit for the job?

If you are submitting your résumé online, it’s very likely that your résumé will go into an applicant tracking system, which is software that helps hiring managers track applications and select which candidates to interview.

Applicant tracking systems — and the integration of technology into the application process — underscore the importance of tailoring your résumé and cover letter for the role you’re seeking. If there are specific words and phrases used in the job announcement, make sure those are included in your résumé. You can’t simply create a résumé and use it to apply to 100 different jobs. Not only is that inefficient, but it’s ineffective.

Résumés are not “one size fits all. ” You can’t expect a résumé focused on one type of role to open doors for you in another career field. A résumé written for a job as a middle school principal is not likely to generate interviews for a role as a sales professional. Nor is a résumé written for a social media specialist going to work for someone applying as an executive assistant. There may be aspects of the résumé that you can use in both versions of the résumé, but you can’t use the same document.

Nor can you copy someone else’s résumé — even if it’s incredible — and expect it to work for you in landing your dream job. Even if the résumé lands you an interview, you need to be able to speak to the experience and accomplishments described. You not only have to walk the walk, you have to talk the talk.

Tell a story with your résumé. How did what you’ve done in the past lead you to the right combination of skills, experience, and education for the job you want? Who are you? What sets you apart? What can you do for the company that no one else does?

If you are a recent graduate with little to no work experience in the field you’ve studied and are targeting, your strongest qualifications are your just-completed education and any internships, projects, or relevant volunteer experience.

 A few tips for your first résumé:

  • Have a clear job target in mind. If you’re applying for similar positions within a career field, the body of your résumé won’t change too much. But you will want to customize it with keywords and specific phrases that tie into the position as well as the culture of the company you want to work for. Don’t have a specific company in mind? Find job postings for 3-5 positions you’d be interested in and use these to inform the content you include. 

  • Make sure the résumé is visually appealing. The résumé should be designed to appeal to a human reader, even if it initially will be electronically submitted (and likely will go through applicant tracking system software).

  • Focus on accomplishments. It’s often said that “past performance is the best predictor of future results.” Hiring managers can get a sense of what you can do for them by what you’ve accomplished in your previous jobs. Employers want to hire people who can generate results for them. Outlining the challenges you tackled, the actions you took to solve the problem, and the results you generated can be a powerful way to attract the attention of a hiring manager. Quantify the results in terms of numbers (money and percentages are particularly powerful).

  • Follow conventional style. Résumés use a unique style of writing that emphasizes brevity. Résumés use a version of first-person style, but omit the subject (“I,” “me,” and “my”) and most articles (“a,” “an,” “the,” “my,” etc.), except when doing so would negatively impact the readability of the sentence. Use present tense for activities currently being performed, and past tense for past activities and achievements. Résumés are written in a strong, active style that emphasizes action verbs (“direct,” “manage,” “develop,” etc.”) instead of passive descriptions of activity (“responsible for,” etc.).

  • Remember to emphasize what makes you valuable to your next employer, not what you want. Go back to the employer buying motivators list and look for opportunities to showcase how you can be an asset to your employer in one or more of these areas. The résumé should include everything the hiring manager needs to know about you in order to decide to interview you. It should ignite the interest of the hiring manager, making you appear desirable and potentially valuable to the organization.

  • Experience is experience, even if you didn’t get paid for it. If some of your best accomplishments and most impressive experience comes from volunteer work, include it! Where have you gained experience through projects, internships, leadership roles, and community service?

  • Proofread it, then proofread it again. Print it out, set it aside for at least a day, and then come back and read it with a fresh set of eyes. Look for misspellings, inaccuracies in job titles and dates of employment, and grammatical errors.

  • Don’t go it alone. If you are overwhelmed by the idea of how to put these principles into action, consult with a professional résumé writer. The time and money you invest in having your résumé professionally prepared may not only shorten your job search and help you land the interview, but it can give you confidence by arming you with a powerful job search tool that can help guide the interviewer to discover you’re exactly what the company needs!

 

Jobseekers: Don't Quit Your Job Yet

Facts

The U.S. unemployment rate fell to a 50-year low in September 2018, making candidates more desirable than ever. Maybe you’ve been thinking it’s time for a change. You wouldn’t be alone.

According to Ceridian’s 2018-19 Pulse of Talent report, 37 percent of respondents are looking for a new job — either actively pursuing new opportunities (20 percent) or casually seeking a new position (17 percent).

Maybe you were passed over for a promotion, or are having trouble getting along with a new boss. The easy answer would be to just quit, but it’s probably not the right answer.

When you see someone quit their job in dramatic fashion, that may look like fun (especially after a bad day at work), but there are many reasons why that’s not a good idea.

An Addison Group 2019 Workplace Satisfaction Survey of 1,000 jobseekers found 79 percent of respondents say they are likely — or very likely — to look for a new job after a single bad day at work.

One of the top reasons why that may not be the right choice is that “unemployment discrimination” is a real thing. Both research and anecdotal evidence have found it’s harder to find a job when you’re unemployed than if you’re job searching while you’ve got a job.

One recent survey measured the difference. According to “The Science of the Job Search (2018)” survey by TalentWorks, “People who showed they were currently employed (even if creatively) saw a 149% hireability boost compared to their previously-fired or laid-off competitors.”

matt-botsford-610989-unsplash.jpg

Impact

“Creatively” demonstrating current employment can be anything from continuing to show the work experience as “To Present” on a résumé or LinkedIn profile even after leaving a job to listing a “consulting business” as interim employment.

But when a hiring manager looks at your résumé — in particular, at your most recent positions — he or she likely won’t know if you’re not there because you were fired, laid off, or you quit.

Quitting can negatively impact your chances of getting hired. And it’s not just about quitting your job — it can be about quitting your job too soon (or looking for another job too soon).

The need to demonstrate current employment is particularly important if you haven’t been at your most recent job for very long.

Statistics

According to the TalentWorks research, “People whose shortest job was 9+ months were 85 percent more hireable than people whose shortest job was 8 months or less.”

 Furthermore, TalentWorks found that you are more hireable for your next job if you are at your current job for 18 months or longer.

If you did quit your job, you had better be ready to answer the question in an interview about why you left your most recent position.

That’s if you get the chance to interview at all. Recruiters and hiring managers are looking for reasons to narrow down the pool of candidates they will interview. It may be worth your while to address the reason for your departure in a cover letter accompanying the résumé, because leaving that question unanswered may result in your application being discarded in the initial screening process.

Why People Quit Their Jobs

There are many reasons to think about making a change. The Pulse of Talent survey found the top five reasons for quitting include:

  • Salary – 28 percent

  • Work was not interesting/didn’t like it – 14 percent

  • I was not respected – 13 percent

  • No opportunity to take on additional responsibility – 12 percent

  • Poor relationship with manager – 12 percent

Nearly a third of employees in the same survey said they would need to leave their current position to move forward in their career.

All of these are “valid” reasons to pursue a job change, but they are not a reason to necessarily quit a job before lining up another one.

Reasons to Look for a New Job While You’re Still Employed

When you’re employed and looking for a new position, not only will recruiters and hiring managers be more inclined to interview you, but you’ll also have more money to invest in your job search. Being unemployed can be expensive! 

The average job search is 13 weeks, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Could you afford to go without a paycheck for that long?

Networking takes time, as does applying for positions. You may have to wait a month for the application window to close, and candidates to interview to be selected. It can take 1-2 weeks after that to even get an interview scheduled, and the hiring decision may not be made for a couple days or weeks after that. Even if you’re available to start immediately, the company may require drug testing or have other pre-employment tasks that can lengthen the time before you actually start the job.

On the other hand, conducting a confidential job search while you’re still employed gives you time to prepare the tools required to support your job search. Having a résumé or professional LinkedIn profile professionally prepared can take 2-3 weeks.

Instead of simply quitting, you can also prepare yourself for a career move. Rather than quit right now, you might stick it out for six months, using that time to get yourself ready for the next opportunity. For example, taking classes or pursuing a certification that will better prepare you for your next job, or starting a side hustle (that might grow into a full-time opportunity in time).

Also, you want to make sure that you’re not running away from something as much as you are running towards something better. Spend some time thinking about what you do want to do next and why this particular job wasn’t a good fit.

If you’re looking to change careers, lining up your next job before quitting is even more important. Switching careers itself is more difficult than finding a job in the same industry, and adding unemployment to that equation can make the job search process take even longer.

The Costs of Unemployment

In addition to the time you’ll spend unemployed, there’s the potential costs of being unemployed. When you quit your job, you may lose benefits that will affect you financially. For example, if you need COBRA to continue to have health insurance coverage, that can be expensive. (COBRA is the temporary medical insurance named for the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, the federal law that gives people who have lost employer-sponsored health coverage the right to continue their coverage, at their own expense, for at least 18 months. However, the insured is responsible for 100 percent of the insurance premium — plus up to 2 percent for administrative costs — not just the amount you were paying as an employee.)

If you quit your job, you likely will not be able to collect unemployment benefits. So even if you think you are going to get fired, it may be better to let that happen. If you are laid off or fired, you may also get severance pay or access to outplacement services.

In general, you can only collect unemployment benefits after quitting if you have “good cause” — for example, due to an unsafe work environment, or if you weren’t being paid as promised, or if you were subject to harassment or discrimination. You can check with your state’s unemployment office before quitting to determine if you are eligible for unemployment benefits. It may also be wise to talk with an employment attorney to be sure.

Why You May Need to Quit

Now, there may be some valid reasons why you may need — or want to — quit your job immediately. 

These can include:

  • An unsafe work environment

  • Unethical or illegal actions — you’re being asked to do something that is against your morals (or that is even illegal)

  • Financial issues (for example, you haven’t been paid, or your wages are not what you were promised)

  • You are a victim of physical, verbal, or sexual abuse at work

    Personal or family emergency situation

  • Your spouse gets a job somewhere else and you need to relocate

  • You win the lottery 

Can I Just Quit?

The answer is probably yes, depending on where you work. In the United States, all states are formally recognized as “at-will” employment states, meaning the employee can be dismissed by an employer for any reason without “just cause” and without warning, as long as the reason is not illegal. Some states also place limitations on at-will employment, which is more for the employee’s protection in the event of being fired or laid off.

Employees not covered by an employment contract are employed “at will,” meaning neither you nor the employer need to provide notice prior to ending the employment.

If you have an employment agreement, read it carefully to find out how you need to turn in your resignation. Do you need to provide two weeks’ notice? Do you need to provide notice in writing? Make sure you are following the process outlined in the contract.

It’s always a good idea to offer two weeks’ notice to your employer — if you can — even if they turn you down and have you leave immediately. Keep in mind if you quit without giving notice, you are likely burning a bridge with that employer that will lead to negative reference checks in the future.

Prepare To Quit

If you are going to quit your job, do everything you can to prepare yourself ahead of time:

  • Take your belongings home ahead of time. If you quit, you may be asked to leave immediately, even if you offer two weeks’ notice. But do this slowly, so that it’s not apparent that you’re removing items.

  • Make sure you collect any electronic items you need — for example, dates and names of trainings, copies of performance evaluations, sales records, etc. And clean off your computer — remove any personal information you wouldn’t want someone else to have access to after you’re no longer with the company.

  • Update your résumé or work with a professional to create or update your career documents. This can take 2-3 weeks. You can generally list your current job as “to present” for 30 days before you need to put an end date on it. That means if you quit on March 2, by April 2, you should list your employment dates as [Month/Year] to [March/Year]. But résumés you send out prior to April 2 can use “To Present.”

  • On a related note, create or update your LinkedIn profile. But do it slowly. You don’t want to go from a new profile to having 200 new connections in a week. And check your privacy settings so your network doesn’t get notified anytime you update the information on your profile.

  • Review your company employee handbook and/or your employment agreement to determine what you’re entitled to if you leave the company. Can you cash out unused vacation time, or is it “use it or lose it”? If it’s “use it or lose it,” you may want to use some of your vacation time before you leave (and spend that time working on your job search)! Also look at stock options or retirement vesting schedules — you don’t want to quit a month before you’re entitled to these benefits.

  • Cut your costs. Now is the time to start stockpiling an emergency fund. Look at your budget and see if there are expenses you can cut out.

One advantage of quitting your job is that you will have more time to spend on the job search, especially time to interview and network. Looking for a new job has often been compared to taking on a part-time job because of the time and energy required.

A job change may be in your (immediate) future. But don’t act without thinking or planning your next move — especially if you want to make a change in reaction to a bad day, being overlooked for a promotion, or because of a disagreement with a co-worker or manager.

4 Things You Must Do On LinkedIn

To get the most out of your LinkedIn profile, make sure you do these four things.

linkedin-sales-navigator-406826-unsplash.jpg
  1. Complete Your Profile. Your profile is the “front door” to your LinkedIn account. First impressions matter — so make sure you’ve made your profile as complete as possible. As an added benefit, your LinkedIn profile generally ranks high in Google search results for your name, so make sure your profile is up-to-date, accurate, and complete.

    POWER TIP: Your LinkedIn profile should complement — not duplicate — your résumé. Be especially careful to ensure the two are in sync, as prospective employers are likely to Google you and will compare the two.

  2.  Grow Your Connections. There are two schools of thought when it comes to LinkedIn connections. You can choose to connect selectively — accepting invitations only from those you know and trust — or you can use LinkedIn to grow the network of people you know. You can connect with people you meet through Groups and get introduced to people you don’t yet know offline.

    POWER TIP: The power of networking lies in “friends of friends,” so the larger your network, the easier it will be to connect with someone you don’t know (yet). Remember the principal of “six degrees of separation.”

  3.  Give To Get. Authentic, genuine Recommendations can make or break a LinkedIn profile (just like references can for a job candidate). Select a handful of people in your network and write Recommendations for them, without asking for one in return. You will be surprised at how many people will reciprocate.

    POWER TIP: Make sure your Recommendations are specific and detailed. When reading the Recommendation, you should be able to tell exactly who it was written about. Quantify accomplishments (with percentages, numbers, and dollar amounts) as much as possible.

  4.  Get Involved. Join some LinkedIn Groups. Groups are the “water cooler” of the social site. You can find Groups for school and university alumni, your former and current employers, trade groups, industry associations, and more. Even better, you can send a connection request to fellow Group members, even if they would normally be a second or third degree connection. (Great if you don’t have a Premium account on LinkedIn!)

    POWER TIP: One way to establish yourself as an expert on LinkedIn is to start your own Group. For example, you might consider starting an online job club centered around your industry or geographic proximity. But be prepared to invest time to help it grow! 


“The Military J.I.G.” - Valuable Resume Tips For Transitioning Military Members

Military Professionals transitioning into civilian industry face a number of challenges.  The military is a culture and way of life, regardless of your branch of service.  It comes with its own customs, courtesies, and most often a unique language punctuated by jargon and acronyms.  This fact coupled with a diversity of specialized communities from infantry to aviation, makes the creation of a resume that a civilian employer easily understands one of the biggest challenges that the transitioning military professional faces.

Remember that a Military Resume can make a civilian employer JIG, where JIG reminds you that Jargon Increases Guesswork.  If an employer has to use a cereal box decoder ring to decipher the nature of your work, the employer will move on to the next resume, never considering yours.  As you create your resume, describe your duties and accomplishments in simple terms which present a whatnow whatso what approach.

Do not be concerned about removing military specific titles like platoon or element leader, Flight or Company Commander.  They do not generally carry the same impact within industry.  Instead say what you did to include leadership and problem solving that is native to military professionals, describe the now what by saying how many personnel were involved and the impact of their work, and complete each resume remark with a so what to drive home why the reader cares about your resume remark.

Above all, with respect to your civilian resume, be brief and be clear.  Recruiters often times have to sift through hundreds of resumes, and you want yours to be an effective use of the recruiters time.  The process of writing your resume takes practice and revision.

Will Bankruptcy Kill My Chances of Employment?

Many job seekers who have struggled with keeping up with a tough economy are terrified of their chances of potential employment simply due to being forced to file bankruptcy at some point in their life.  As a seasoned recruiter and hiring manager, a handful of my clients/job candidates requested that detailed background checks be performed, to include a lofty credit check.  So what is my advice for job candidates having to press through this rigorous process?  Get through your first round of interviews, whet the appetite of your interviewers with your behavioral responses and demonstration of your professional experience as it relates to the position, wait for a mention of a background check, and THEN own up to the bankruptcy.  Employers will appreciate your honesty and will most likely recognize your efforts in demonstrating respect for them and the organization in owning up to your actions.  You can say something along the lines of:

I appreciate you taking the time to invite me in for another interview, but before you move forward with the hiring process I feel it’s important that you hear this from me.  About a year ago, I was placed into an unavoidable situation (explain the situation BRIEFLY if appropriate) where I had to file for bankruptcy.  The situation has recently been handed off to a family member to re-mediate and it is my goal to obtain permanent, long-term employment to build my credit again…”

Of course there is no guarantee that this won’t set off some red flags for the employer to ponder, but always expect that the employer will eventually find out and dishonesty never does a job candidate any favors and may possibly position them to be ineligible for employment with that organization going forward as a result.

Don't Let Your Job Title Define You

No matter what position you hold in the office, the military, or at home, your given job title should not limit your ability to be successful in pursuing your career field of interest.  Think of yourself as an ongoing marketing campaign, targeting the career you’ve always wanted – the dream job.  Focusing solely on your job title to define your skills, experience, and education, can limit your career path and direction. For instance, just because you lack “Manager” or “Senior…” within your given position title doesn’t necessarily mean that you lack the corresponding experience.  This is particularly relevant to our military veterans.

Does the position of interest require management experience?  Are you hesitant to apply for the position because you have not had “Manager” in your job title?  Start with answering these questions:

  1. Have you ever been put in charge of something?

  2. Do you or have you volunteered for an organization where you were in a leadership role?

  3. Have you taken the initiative to create something new, to make something, make business operations more efficient, or save money?

  4. Have you mentored or trained a group or another colleague with outstanding results?

  5. Have you ever led a project, task, or program?

If your answer is “yes” to any of these questions, you have management experience.

Unfortunately, most career-minded employees bound their thinking, and focus on rigid adherence to roles spelled out in their job description.  The key to changing this behavior is to look holistically at your working experience and assess activities within this experience that point toward your desired profession, while investigating, pursuing, and achieving milestones which balance suitability for desired employment and attractiveness to potential employers.

How?

  • Volunteer for an organization to learn new skill sets and gain experience.

  • Show initiative in your current position by volunteering for a special project.

  • Seek out advancement and promotion opportunities within your organization.

  • Propose a new idea on the job that may improve processes or conditions.

  • Join a professional group and volunteer for a committee leadership position.

  • Are you a subject matter expert?  Propose to assist in training fellow employees.

Why?

You will set yourself apart from your peers simply because you’re investing in learning and applying new skill sets and experiences.  Once you master the basics of what you’ve learned, your professional experience becomes more attractive to hiring managers and you’re better equipped to market your professional background with more confidence, simply because you have gained knowledge about other things outside of your job title.

Conduct a Skills Inventory

We must reflect on and inventory what we have to offer:  Transferable skills, experience, knowledge, challenges, business ethic and values.  The purpose behind this necessary reflection process is to discover alternative ways of describing who you are.  You cannot restrict your definition of yourself to your current or previous job title.  The more you reflect and take note of who you really are what you really have to offer, the quicker you will identify the true value you can bring to the table.


Job Reference Etiquette - The DOs and the DON'Ts

Has an employer ever asked you for a list of references?  Were you prepared?  Did you notify your references in advance?  Did you provide favorable and verifiable professional references?  If you answered “no” to any of these questions, you may need a quick refresher on the proper etiquette of providing job references to potential employers.

As both a seasoned hiring manager and recruiter, I have been privy to various blunders that job candidates make when providing references.  Here are some of the most common:

The candidate fails to provide favorable and verifiable PROFESSIONAL references.  These include contacts that can verify information on traits and characteristics of the job candidate, are available for comment, can mention the employee’s specific contributions to the workplace, and have favorable comments to make concerning his/her work history.  Most recruiters don’t consider personal references favorable to their screening process.

  1. Candidates provide recruiters with the number to Human Resources.  What most candidates don’t realize is that a lot of HR departments have strong policies limiting the information they divulge to potential employers with the exception of verifying basic employment information.  It’s best to provide a contact such as a former supervisor or client who can speak to the performance of the job candidate.

  2. The applicant fails to make contact, obtain consent from, and notify their ideal references.  It looks bad when a provided reference wasn’t expecting the call.  It is always best for an applicant to notify a potential reference that they are seeking employment and mention their interest in using their name as a reference.  In addition, ask what number they’d prefer to be reached at and what time would be best for the recruiter to make contact.  This allows the referral to make some notes and prepare for the call as well as to avoid being surprised by the call when it’s received.

  3. The applicant does not provide a quality amount of references.  If the employer asks for three professional references, provide five.  A recruiter’s position is to fill the position quickly and if he/she has to wait for a reference to return his/her call, it only delays the hiring process.  Provide at least two more references to be proactive in the event that the initial references are not available when the recruiter tries to connect with them.

So what are the qualifications of a good reference?  An ideal reference should be able to provide the following:

  1. Share how long the candidate and referral have shared a professional relationship.

  2. Provide specific information relating to the candidate’s traits, overall performance and how it compared to other employees, and detailed information on their impact on and contributions to the workplace.

  3. Highlight any special qualifications that made the candidate stand out amongst peers and briefly summarize the candidate’s strengths.

The ideal reference should be someone who has evaluated the applicant either as a supervisor, manager, or client.  This person should demonstrate a strong ability to communicate and articulate vivid details regarding the candidate’s professional characteristics.  Peers generally do not make good references and neither do supervisors from fifteen years ago.

Should all references be previous supervisors or managers?  Not necessarily.  If the candidate is worried about getting a bad reference, it doesn’t hurt to call that supervisor and politely express his/her concern based on what may have happened on the job.  Chances are the supervisor will be honest – either he/she will provide a positive reference or encourage the candidate to avoid using them as a reference.  If the candidate does not trust the previous supervisor to provide a positive or neutral reference, then avoid that person all together.

In lieu of using a previous supervisor as a reference, the applicant can potentially use another department or division manager as a strong reference.  A lot of times department managers call on other departments to help resolve problems.  How often did this candidate come to the rescue?  What was their impact?  Or… was the candidate part of a project team?  What was his/her impact on the overall project, timeline, and team?

There are also plenty of cases where overachievers and strong performers in the workplace lack the support of their direct supervisors, creating an unpleasant work environment, not necessarily being the fault of the applicant.  In this case, avoid using this type of supervisor as a reference. If he/she didn’t demonstrate support on the job, chances are he/she won’t change their behavior as a reference.

So how should a candidate go about providing references to a potential employer?

  1. Contact and confirm potential references before applying for employment.  Follow the recommended criteria for selecting ideal referrals, get their preferred contact information, professional title as it was when working with them, a brief explanation of the relationship with the reference, how long the candidate knew each reference, and correct spelling of their names.

  2. Bring a printout of these references to the potential employer either when conducting an initial introduction, job fair, or to a scheduled interview.  Ensure candidate’s name and contact information is also on the document in case it gets misplaced by the recruiter.

  3. Avoid placing references on a resume.  This should be a separate document.  There are plenty of templates online for guidance on formatting and structure.


Just landed a new job? Time to prep for the next one!

My next job you say?  Yes, that’s exactly what I said.  The job after this one.  For most successful career job seekers, the job search trend is to seek out an employment change about every two to three years whether it be working for a new organization or competing for an internal promotion.

So how do you start to prepare now?


Save your job description and original job vacancy announcement

  • These documents will come in handy when updating your resume with recent employment information.

Retain your performance evaluations and written recognition

  • Resume writers love to brag on their clients and highlight unique and noteworthy achievements. Unfortunately this area is challenging for many of my clients who spend precious time trying to locate or recreate these key documents and accomplishments.

  • If you are fortunate to receive a written or emailed compliment from a customer or client, request that your supervisor provide a copy of it for your records. These make great references when adding achievement-related content to a resume especially if they are measurable. Numbers demonstrate immediate value.

Keep a running list of on-the-job training

  • Did you attend an advanced spreadsheet workshop that increased overall reporting efficiency and performance? Do tell!

  • If the training is relevant to future job interests, you will want to make note of dates, general course information, location of the training, and course duration to either incorporate into the application process or as part of a resume update, cover letter, or LinkedIn profile build.

This process can be as easy as putting it all in a binder with labeled tabs and keeping it in a desk drawer at work. Some folks call it their “brag book”, or for a more muted and discrete approach, call it your “achievement record” .

However you elect to do it, it will benefit you in the long run.  You’ll want to thank me for it when the time comes!

Enjoy the new job!

Do Your Homework: Critical Research When Considering a Career Move

You’ve finally decided to consider career options and commit to your quest for an employment change. You’ve updated all of your job application documents and social media platforms with your current employment information and accolades. Aside from the information posted in the job description, have you really considered what your potential employer is TRULY seeking in a job candidate AND how competitive/creative candidates are expected to present themselves?

After working with a talented client, our plans for a simple resume update evolved into an intriguing project exploring the “soft skill” essentials of his potential suitor company within the global fashion industry.

We discovered that employees were “chatting” online about their corporate experiences, how to land a job, and what personality traits and passions candidates possessed that the employer was intent on hiring.   Absolutely none of this “golden” material was posted by a recruiter – we had to dig for it.

OUR FINDINGS

  • The company sought out individuals who thought on their feet, applied creative problem solving, and used all of their networks at their disposal to get things done.

  • Recruiters were interested in candidates who were able to display a unique passion for the beauty and fashion industry.

  • Employees felt deeply connected to the organization. They relished the opportunity to discuss their work on a deep level with colleagues, fashioning camaraderie.

  • The company incorporated third-party development programs that decreased voluntary employee turnover and continued to give the organization a leading edge over the competition.

RECOMMENDATIONS

  • Read company press releases. Identify what companies they partner with.

  • “Like” all associated social media platforms and engage in conversation by asking questions or providing positive feedback on a service or product (your name may get recognized by someone on a hiring panel).

  • Actively browse through related social media platforms to stay on top of the corporate news, events, and product lines.

  • Create a video – yes with you in it – as a supplement to your resume or cover letter. The more artistic the company is, the more appropriate this will be!

  • Pick out a concept, program, or product belonging to the potential employer that you personally connect with and plan to incorporate this into your cover letter. Cover letters are boring. Period. You can change that with your content and truly pique the reader’s interest. This also serves as a great talking point when you’re called for an interview!

Goal: Don’t let your application package sound and look like everyone else’s. DIG for information. Show them you’ve done your homework not just to make a powerful impression but also to truly find engaging, value-driven employment.

Dispelling the One-Page Résumé Myth

There is no “rule” that a résumé should be only one page. In fact, there are many instances when a multi-page résumé is not only appropriate, it’s expected.

Length is not the only consideration for a résumé’s effectiveness. Yet, the one-page résumé myth persists. Jobseekers are being misled that recruiters, hiring managers, and HR professionals won’t read a résumé that is longer than one page. That’s simply not true.

myth.png

While recent research shows that a résumé will be read for only seconds when it is first screened, the first review is only to determine if it is a match for the position. If the jobseeker is considered a serious candidate, the résumé will be read again.

Jobseekers who believe a HR professional won’t read a two-page résumé should stop and consider the résumé screening process. The résumé screener’s boss is asking him or her to come up with four or five people to bring in for an interview. If a candidate with 5-10 years of experience tries to condense that to fit an artificial one-page limitation, you’re asking that HR person to make a decision about you, based on what amounts to a few paragraphs.

Given a choice between a well-written two-page résumé or a cluttered one-page résumé which omits notable accomplishments in the interest of saving space, the HR professional is likely to choose the longer résumé.

If you submit a two-page résumé and the person reading it decides you’re not a match for the job, he or she will stop reading. But if you do seem to fit the job requirements, that person will want to know even more about you. A well-organized two-page résumé can actually make it easier for the screener to do his or her job by allowing him or her to easily determine if you’re a good match for the position.

So why does the one-page myth persist? Some recruiters are vocal about their desire for a one-page résumé. However, not all recruiters share this preference. There are certain recruiters who say they will only read one-page résumés. However, recruiters are responsible for placing fewer than 25% of candidates in new jobs, and not all recruiters subscribe to the one-page limit. If a particular recruiter requests a shorter résumé, you can always provide a one-page version to him or her.

When hiring managers and HR professionals are surveyed about résumé length, the majority express a preference for résumés that are one page OR two pages — the general consensus is “as long as needed to convey the applicant’s qualifications.”

College professors also share some of the blame for perpetuating the one-page résumé myth. Some professors — who have no connection to the employment world — believe “their way” is the right way to do things. They provide a template to their students and require advisees to use that format, even if the person is a non-traditional student who has an extensive work history or career path that sets them apart from other job candidates with similar educational backgrounds.

It would be unusual for most 21-year-old students to need two pages to describe their education and work history, but it’s not unrealistic to expect that an accomplished graduate might have internships, projects, activities, and honors that would make it necessary to exceed the one-page length. 

If you doubt the “Do as I say, not as I do” approach, ask any professor to see his or her résumé. Chances are, it will be at least two pages long to include consulting work and works published, in addition to classroom teaching experience. But professors call their résumés “curriculum vitas,” so they don’t have to follow their own one-page résumé limit.

Résumés submitted online are also less likely to be affected by the one-page résumé myth. That’s because the one-page format is unique to the printed page. Résumés uploaded to company websites aren’t affected by page limits. Approximately 30 percent of résumés are only stored electronically. They’re never printed out, so the screener never knows it’s more than a one-page document.

Length does matter. Your résumé should only be as long as it needs to be to tell the reader exactly what he or she needs to know to call you in for an interview … and not one word more.

Here are some guidelines for deciding résumé length:

  • If your résumé spills over onto a second page for only a few lines, it’s worth editing the text or adjusting the font, margins, and/or line spacing to fit it onto one page.

  • Don’t bury key information on the second page. If the first page doesn’t hook the reader, he or she isn’t even going to make it to the second page.

  • Don’t be afraid to go beyond two pages if your experience warrants it. Senior executives often require three- or four-page résumés, as do computer programmers and many professionals (physicians, lawyers, professors).

  • Traditional college students and those with five years or less of experience should be able to fit their résumés onto one page. Most everyone else, however, can (and should) use one page OR two.

  • Make sure that everything you include — regardless of length — is relevant to your job target and what the hiring manager will want to know about you!

Credit: Resume Digest

You Are a Seller In a Buyer's Market

A Résumé Can Be a Viable Marketing Tool to Secure an Interview

No one likes writing their résumé. It catalogs and records what we’ve done, how we’ve done it, and what the results were from doing it. Sound easy? Not particularly, but it can viewed as the single most important vehicle to securing your next job interview, and as such, a great opportunity for you to sell or market yourself to potential employers. To do this successfully, attention to detail is imperative when drafting and assembling your résumé as well as focusing on writing for your audience and not for yourself.

The first quarter of the first page of your résumé is the most important space in the document. This is the area that attracts the reader’s initial eye contact and interest. An individual will spend 10-20 seconds reading this section and will eventually make a premature decision as to whether the candidate is worthy of being scheduled for an interview. Therefore, it’s essential to make yourself visible to and win the additional attention from the reader by presenting your most powerful and unique parts while also covering what a recruiter is looking for in a candidate. Make your readers’ eyes stop by giving them something that catches their attention!

Your name is important. Don’t allot the same font size to your name as you do with your contact information. Some writers suggest that this may give a frail or feeble impression to the reader when they are looking for a sharp and powerful presentation of you. Making your name the most visible part of your résumé links your name with all of the accomplishments and achievements that follow.

“LadysMan75 ” is not considered a professional email user name. Use a variation of your full name to display on your résumé such as ‘Jane.Doe@email.com’. Most email providers support the capability of having more than one email address. If you lack a professional email address, it would be wise to create one to present to a prospective employer. Consider wisely when using free email services from popular websites.

Don’t just list your skills; get the reader interested by getting specific.Details ring true. Justify your skills mentioned in your powerful profile by providing specific achievements and elaborating on your skill sets within your Professional Experience or Employment areas. You have already listed your strengths in your profile, now you have to detail what the benefits of those strengths are while aiming to avoid clichés and overused phrases within your descriptions. Recruiters almost always count on candidates putting an enormous spin on their credentials to make themselves look good, so justify all.

Your work experience has to fulfill the expectations of the profile. Review the posted job description that you are applying for, find key qualifications, and then decide which of them most clearly resembles your strongest competencies. Key word use is vital especially when the organization uses talent management software to digitally scan applicant résumés. Using key words can increase the chances of your résumé being assigned the right level of desirability or even come to the attention of the right person.

Market your performance and professional achievements. You don’t have to be in a position of authority to achieve something in the workplace worth being proud of and discussed. This could incorporate an Employee of the Month status, exceeding your performance goals, defusing an irate customer, saving the company money, or making a tough sale. Your achievements, in conjunction with your employment details, should also fulfill and incorporate the expectations of your profile.

Sell yourself with action words to show just how capable and qualified you are. Stay away from use of passive statements like “responsible for” or “duties included”. Action words can enhance an otherwise bland resume by vibrantly demonstrating your competencies and skill set. Steer clear of overusing these “action” words in your descriptions. Vary action words to showcase your writing skills.

Before submitting your resume, review and make any necessary changes to deal-breaker elements such as grammar, spelling, and punctuation consistency. Though this may seem obvious to those individuals seeking résumé assistance, it is also one of the most frequent deal breakers when it comes to the applicant’s demonstration of accuracy and attention to detail. Know the difference between “their”, “there”, and “they’re”; add periods to the end of each bullet point or don’t – just make sure it is consistent within the document; ensure tense agreement, and have someone else proofread it before you hit “send”. An extra pair of eyes doesn’t hurt.

Keep in mind that the recruiter is not looking to hire a professional résumé writer, so the résumé is not going to win you the position of your dreams… you are. Take time to actively and carefully find the position that you are looking for – Network, make some phone calls, research prospective employers, ask questions, volunteer. These activities, along with using your résumé as a marketing tool, will open up new opportunities for you to find a company who will want you for exactly who you are and what you have to offer. Your task is to get out there and find it!


As featured in The Army Wife Network and Associated Content

Targeting the Job for Which You're Overqualified

Scaling Back Your Credentials May Help Secure Work in a Tight Economy

You have found yourself struggling to gain employment in your career field and your efforts have resulted in constant rejection despite years of experience. The tough economy has led to downsizing, corporate bankruptcy, and significant changes in employer recruiting methods. The job market has never been more competitive and good paying positions are extremely hard to come by. You have come to terms with this economical reform and are now willing to apply for positions below your pay scale and welcome a significant salary decrease for the promise of a paycheck.

Due to the increase in the unemployment rate over the last year, the amount of job applications employers receive has escalated and continues to rise at an alarming rate. Current events have caused an increase in employment screening efforts and capitalization of Web search-optimization tools. Use of these recruiting software programs to facilitate the pre-screening process has helped employers keep up with the overwhelming reaction to posted job vacancies. These programs are designed to identify applicants who not only lack the basic qualifications necessary to do the job, but can also recognize professionals who appear to be overqualified for the position.

In light of these changes, career professionals are recommending that overqualified job seekers tone down their resume to increase their chances at getting an interview. Most resume writers would define this approach as “dumbing down a resume”. I choose to describe this process as “creatively targeting”the position. Most posted job vacancies will list the necessary skills and qualifications that employers are looking for in a prime candidate. Using these job descriptions as a guide to writing your resume, just as I would advise any applicant applying for a specific job, is an excellent opportunity to highlight your RELEVANT skills, education, and experience as they apply to the job you are interested in. Omitting a college degree, especially a masters or higher, can help if employers are only interested in a bachelors degree. If you are applying for a truck driver position and your achievements indicate that you are an expert at sales management and leadership, your sales and leadership success and accolades are not relevant to the job you are applying for, so it may be best to just leave out these types of impressive achievements.

Why all the effort to avoid marketing yourself as a shining star? Hiring managers are not comfortable with putting a high-level candidate into an entry level or lower level position simply because these professionals are more likely to jump ship to seek better paying jobs. This creates costly involuntary turnover for employers and more work finding a suitable candidate to replace the one that just left.

Your job is to construct a resume that will get you an interview, and if you are applying for a lower-level position, (1) start by creating a separate resume that targets each position that you are interested in applying for. (2) Review the job description and highlight applicable key words relating to skills and education requirements to incorporate into your resume. (3) Keep your bullet statements to no more than three items per job, (4) and leave off “lofty” or “prestigious” titles.

Keep in mind that your primary goal is to obtain immediate employment and these recommended creative edits help professionals to do just that. After you’ve achieved this important milestone, you can then focus on staying true to your experience and career aspirations by seeking your dream job.


As featured in Associated Content

Rehearsing For Your Interview

After spending countless hours creating and polishing up your resume, you have finally been contacted for an interview. After you take in the brief moment of excitement, anxiety quickly sets in. What next? To demonstrate how serious you are about obtaining the job, there is no excuse for showing up for an interview unprepared. So, how do you effectively prepare, or rehearse, for a job interview?

Update Voice Mail Message, Email Address, and Social Networking Profiles.This step should not be limited to just interview preparation, but applied to the overall job search process. If you are actively job searching, you will want to update your current voice mail messages with a clear, concise, and brief message that portrays a professional image. In addition, make sure that the email address that you have provided the employer portrays the same impression. Refrain from using casual or inappropriate email addresses. If necessary, create an email address that includes your first and last name only. This can be done through your current service provider or various sites that offer free email accounts. The same concepts apply to your social networking site if you should have one. Make sure your profile picture is tasteful and does not send the wrong message to a prospective employer. It is very common for recruiters to incorporate social networking profiles into their background checks and investigative processes. Conduct a public search online for your name and remove anything that may have a negative impact on your chances of being selected for the position.

Understand Your Own Skills. Do you know what your strengths are? The interview is a valuable opportunity to market your strengths and qualifications. Write down your strengths and specific situations that justify your skill set. For instance, if you ran Customer Service skills high on your list, make note of at least two specific situations when you demonstrated desirable Customer Service behaviors, what actions you took, and the result of your actions.

Rehearse Likely Asked Questions. When a job candidate is contacted for an interview, the prospective employer is not expecting to meet a professional interviewee. The employer’s objective is to gather as much information on the job candidate to make an informed selection decision. As such, it would be favorable to you to be prepared to answer behavior-based questions relating to the position. You can conduct a search online for sample Behavioral Interviewing questions in the field you are applying for and prepare vivid and specific answers to those questions. Remember, the employer’s job is to focus on real work incidents and identify those behaviors that are necessary to be successful at the job. The more prepared you are, the less anxiety you will experience during your interview, and the more clear and detailed your answers will be.

Research the Company and the Position You Are Applying For. It is guaranteed that the employer will ask you what you know about the organization, why the position is of interest to you, and why you are the most qualified person for the job. Surprisingly enough, these are questions that stump most job candidates and bring on the most anxiety and display of vagueness during the interview. The more specifics you can provide, the more confidence the employers will have in making their selection decision.

Dress to Impress. Don’t show up for the interview like it was at the bottom of your priority list. Demonstrate that you took the initiative to physically prepare for the interview. Comb your hair, get a hair cut if necessary, iron your clothes, wear a shirt and tie (men) and dress suit or business attire (women) if appropriate, and leave your sneakers and flip-flops at home. It may be appropriate to cover any visible tattoos or piercings if interviewing for a position within a professional or customer-facing environment. Revisit the posted job description or employer website for any available dress code information.

Ask Questions. After researching your potential employer, note some intelligent questions that you will want to ask at the end of your interview. This demonstrates sincere interest in the position and the organization. Keep questions professional and refrain from inquiring on anything that would cause the employer to raise a red flag (consequences of calling sick, policies on personal use of equipment, salary negotiation, etc.).