10 useless résumé words

"Generic hyperbole belongs on cereal boxes, not on résumés," says Duncan Mathison, a career consultant and co-author of "Unlock the Hidden Job Market: 6 Steps to a Successful Job Search When Times Are Tough." "If it does not pass the 'So what, anybody can make that claim' test, leave it off."

Instead of being another candidate professing to be a "hard worker," revitalize your application with a little seek-and-replace exercise. Scan your résumé for empty, overused words such as the following:

1. Outstanding
2. Effective
3. Strong
4. Exceptional
5. Good
6. Excellent
7. Driven
8. Motivated
9. Seasoned
10. Energetic

"Watch out for words that are unsupported claims of greatness," Mathison says. Adds David Couper, a career coach and author of "Outsiders on the Inside: How to Create a Winning Career ... Even When You Don't Fit In," "If you call yourself an 'excellent manager,' how do we know?"

The nouns following those subjective adjectives can be equally meaningless. Anyone who has ever had a co-worker can claim to be a "team player." "Do not say you're a 'good communicator' or have 'excellent communication skills.' Who doesn't have these?" says Susan Ach, a career counselor at Marymount Manhattan College in New York City.

A better route to take is describing accomplishments and letting the hirer make his own judgment. Give specific (preferably quantifiable) accounts of what you've done that makes you an "outstanding salesperson." Likewise, peruse performance reviews for quotable material from supervisors that demonstrates why they consider you a "strong leader." Listing awards or other forms of recognition also can be used as support.
Some words should be avoided because they convey traits that employers consider standard for anybody who wants to be hired. "You're motivated? Hope so. A good worker? So happy to hear that; I didn't want to hire a bad worker," Couper says. Don't take up precious résumé space with unnecessary items.

Also on the "don't" side: Words that seek to overcome what you might think are your shortcomings. "Using 'seasoned' for 'over 50' or 'energetic' for 'inexperienced' looks like spin and smells like spin," Mathison says.

Keep the focus on what makes you right for the job.
On the flipside, certain words can make hiring managers do a double-take. Light up their eyes with these 10 words:

1. Created
2. Increased
3. Reduced
4. Improved
5. Developed
6. Researched
7. Accomplished
8. Won
9. On-time
10. Under-budget

"We suggest that résumé writers include action words to describe their jobs," Ach says. Verbs project the image of someone who has the background and initiative to get things done. Employers can clearly comprehend what you've accomplished in the past and can use that as a basis for envisioning future success with their company. Think about it: If you were hiring, would you rather take on someone who calls himself a "productive manager" or somebody who states that at his last job he "increased company profit by 3 percent," "reduced employee turnover in his department to the best level in five years," and "improved brand awareness by implementing a new social media strategy"?

Lastly, it can be beneficial to use verbs and nouns that are common to your specific industry. This shows your familiarity with the language of your field and optimizes the chances of getting past an automatic scan for keywords. But remember, too, that all companies tend to speak a universal language: money. "Terms such as 'on-time' and 'under-budget' are often good. Hiring managers want to know you can get things done with minimum fuss," Mathison says. Tell them what makes you the most profitable choice for the job and employers will tell you the best word of all -- "hired."

Source: careerbuilder

"Overqualified": Should you leave things off your résumé to avoid the label?

Doug Hadley of Mansfield, Texas, estimates that he has applied for more than 600 jobs -- with no positive results. "I have been told I am overqualified many, many times. The few times I have been granted interviews, I hear, 'We are afraid this position will not challenge you enough.'"
Moving in on two years of unemployment, Hadley is willing to try different tactics to see what might work. He has begun to leave off some of his education as well as the fact that he is a published author. "I don't want to have to omit such things, but I feel as though I don't even get considered if they are on my résumé," he laments.
While only time will tell if this strategy works for him, plenty of other job seekers deliberate the same issue.

Here, a few perspectives on leaving info off a résumé.
Many experts will caution job seekers about even applying for positions for which they are overqualified because of decreased earning potential, boredom and a larger applicant pool (not to mention the bruised ego if one doesn't land that "crummy" job). For applicants who still decide to give it a shot, "crafting" is often the route of choice.
A good application for any position should be created to match the employer's needs as closely as possible. Thus, simple (yet truthful) changes can make you a better candidate.
Duncan Mathison, a career consultant and co-author of "Unlock the Hidden Job Market: 6 Steps to a Successful Job Search When Times are Tough," recalls a client who felt his master's degree in psychology might be hindering his chances for a business sales job. "We dropped the degree and replaced it with an 'Additional Professional Training' statement that said, 'More than 500 hours in professional training on topics such as buyer motivation, persuasion and organizational behavior.' This allowed him to position the value of his psychology training for a sales position without listing the degree. It was truthful, and it worked."
Similarly, terminology changes such as "manager" becoming "project team leader" may be a better match to a particular job ad. Some job seekers tone down executive-sounding titles, especially if inflated (such as opting for a managerial title rather than showcasing that you were vice president in a company with only five employees).
"I often tell my more experienced and older clients to omit their dates of graduation (if they graduated on schedule rather than mid-career)," says Roy Cohen, a career coach and author of "The Wall Street Professional's Survival Guide." "This frees them up to leave off as many years of experience as necessary, so the application doesn't feel burdened by the weight of their careers."
Another option is creating a functional résumé instead of a chronological one. By sorting experiences into skill clusters, there becomes less of an emphasis on the length or extensiveness of past positions.
Beyond the résumé
Candidates are free to present themselves in the way they see most fit (outside of lying, of course). But what happens, say, if an employer asks about items like missing dates?
"First, that's a good thing because the applicant was invited in for an interview with the company," Cohen says. "He can always respond, 'I left it off intentionally. I wanted the attention to be focused entirely on my relevant and very valuable experience. Let me tell you about what I've done ... '"
Some job seekers, however, find it hard to sell themselves.
"I took my MBA off my résumé and tried to dumb myself down, but in the interviews, it got tricky," says Tiffany Bradshaw of California. "They would ask about certain experience and if I had it, and I felt like I was telling stories/lies to try to cover up the items I had taken off."
Likewise, employers may feel duped if the applicant who shows up is older than his résumé suggests or if the conversation feels disjointed.
"It's dangerous to leave relevant experience off a résumé, especially in the legal field," says Cheryl Heisler, president and founder of Lawternatives, a career-consulting firm for lawyers. "In much of the law, the devil is in the details. If you are perceived as loose or careless about those 'unimportant little details,' you can send the exact wrong message to a future employer. Better to 'spin' the parts of your background that might make you seem overqualified than to extract them."
The decision
Like most career decisions, there isn't an easy answer about what to keep or delete on a résumé. Perhaps reflecting on how to make the document appealing to a prospective employer while still painting a portrait you are comfortable with is key. For when a candidate feels confident about her presentation, it is bound to get noticed.

Source: careerbuilder

Hybrid Resume

Helen E. Wolchek

3999 West Cherry Lane
Fresno, CA
(209) 406-3210

Management Professional with 20-year career distinguished by promotion to challenging mutibranch assignments.
  • Staff Development&Training
  • Customer Service&Client Retention
  • Sales&Business Development
  • Branch/District Operations Management
  • Process & Controls, Cost Containment
  • Information Systems

Promoted through positions with leading financial institution, National Bank:
Assistant Vice President, 2002 - Present
Customer Service Manager, 1994 - 2002
Assistant Operations Manager, 1987 - 1994
Customer Service Representative, 1983 - 1987

Currently accountable for central California district containing 26 sites with total staff of 635 FTEs. Provide operational support to division, district, branch, and customer service managers in the areas of production management, quality control, policy development, risk management, staffing and customer service. Highlights of responsibilities and career accomplishments include the following:

General Management - Business Development, Customer Service, Cost Controls, Productivity
  • Increased district ranking from #8 to #1 for service and production management.
  • Minimized total operating losses to 40% under plan, with 85% of sites under plan for risk management.
  • Initiated new policy for currency handling with resultant savings to company of $1.5 million.
  • Minimized total operating losses to 40% under plan, with 85% of sites under plan for risk management.
  • Initiated new policy for currency handling with resultant savings to company of $1.5 million.
  • Played an integral role in organizing a new central California division comprising of 250 branches.
  • Designed an improved system (subsequently implemented statewide in some 500 sites) for out-of-balance conditions and cash shortages.
  • Directed the integration of two newly acquired branches into corporate system with minimal downtime; success acknowledged by Senior Vice President with written commendation.
  • Earned excellent biannual corporate audit ratings for cash control, security and policy compliance.


  • Certified instructor for National Bank's Retail University: wrote and taught corporate courses for executive training program (topics included production management, ethics, understanding branch reports).
  • Assisted in writing job descriptions for operations staff utilized systemwide (520 locations).
  • Cross-trained operations staff well beyond scope of normal job profiles; efforts resulted in increased productivity, reduced loss liability, and improved customer service response time.

Human Resources Management
  • Administered corporate human resource policies.
  • Recruited and interviewed candidates for midmanagement policies.
  • Conducted monthly officer meetings, addressing policy changes, training and problem-solving needs.

Special Honors
  • District Service Specialist of the Year (statewide award; selected among 45 candidates).
  • Customer Service Manager of the Year (for effective management of high-volume $145 million branch).

10 Things to Leave Off Your Résumé

Everybody knows that in most situations, less is more -- your accessories, eating habits and especially your résumé.
Job seekers do themselves a disservice when they send out résumés with too much information. Employers don't have the time or the patience to sift through irrelevant information like your hobbies, interests or how many grandchildren you have. Just stick to the basics and you're good to go.

Here are 10 things to leave off your résumé and why:

1. Your picture
Why to leave it off
: Unless a job posting specifically asks for your picture (and very few jobs will), don't include it just for fun. Not only are your looks irrelevant to your potential as an employee, but you're putting employers in a bad spot. If they have a picture of you and choose not to hire you, it's possible that you could come back with a discrimination lawsuit. In most cases, they'll throw your résumé away without looking at it, to avoid the issue altogether.
2. Interest and hobbies
Why to leave them off
: Unless your interests and hobbies have something to do with the job you're applying for, there's no reason to include them. If you want to show how your passion for art would be an asset to a graphic design position, that's one thing. But telling employers that you love to skydive on an actuary application is another. In general, make any applicable connections between your hobbies and the job in your cover letter. Better yet, save them for the interview when you're asked what you like to do outside of work.
3. Spelling mistakes and grammatical errors
Why to leave them off
: Most employers assume that if you're OK with sending out a résumé littered with typos and mistakes, you'll have the same lack of concern for the work you do as an employee at their company. While spell check picks up most errors, it can miss something major -- did you work the late night shift? Or did you forget to include the "f" between "i" and "t"? -- so have several eyes look over your résumé before sending it out to employers.
4. Personal attributes
Why to leave them off
: Similar to sending a picture with your résumé, your height, weight, age, race or religion are all unimportant to an employer. Though it's illegal for employers to discriminate against applicants because of any of these factors, some will do so, regardless. Keep everything on your résumé pertinent to the job, and you'll be fine.
5. References
Why to leave them off
: Many job seekers still include references on their résumé or they include a line that says, "References available upon request." This tactic is not as effective as it used to be. Jack Harsh, adjunct professor at the University of Richmond Robins School of Business, says that when he receives a résumé with references attached, he gives them virtually no weight. "They seldom are specific to the role my company seeks and are not meaningful in considering qualifications or traits of successful candidates," he says. Wait to broach the topic of references until you're asked for them.
6. Minute details
Why to leave them off
: Hiring managers don't need to know the details of every task you've ever done in every job you've ever had. It's just too much information, and usually half of that information isn't relevant. Employers want to be able to see at first glance that you're a great candidate, so pick out those details that are most relevant to the job for which you're applying and omit the rest.
7. False information
Why to leave it off
: Plain and simple, no one wants to hire a liar. Don't say that you have a master's degree if you've only earned your bachelor's; don't say you're presently employed at a company if you've recently been fired; don't list your salary history as 20 percent higher than it was. Everything you tell an employer can be verified, so play it safe and be honest.
8. Flair
Why to leave it off
: No one wants to look at a résumé on fluorescent paper, covered in crazy fonts and symbols. Similarly, links to personal Web sites, your photo-sharing site, or strange e-mail addresses can also be left off. Employers are less likely to respond to likes2party@email.com than just DMiller@email.com.
9. Negativity
Why to leave it off
: Never put anything negative on your résumé. Don't include your reasons for leaving. If you left the position due to a layoff or you were fired, for example, bring it up only if asked. Never write anything bad about a previous employer. Don't explain gaps on your résumé by stating that you were in prison for 10 years for killing your husband. Keep your résumé all positive, all the time.
10. A selfish objective
Why to leave it off
: Employers are trying to determine whether you're a good fit for their organizations, so everything on your résumé should point to your experience. Employers would rather see a summary of qualifications that displays your accomplishments and background than a generic objective statement like "To gain experience in..."

Source: careerbuilder

10 Most Overused Résumé Phrases

Throughout your career, you’ve accomplished many feats, exceeded several goals and mastered countless skills. Now you’re on yet another job hunt and you can’t remember a lick of any of it.

Such is the importance of keeping your résumé up-to-date, whether you’re looking for a job or not. When you don’t, not only will you forget the important details that’ll help your résumé stand out to employers, but in your rush to submit your application on time you’ll end up using the same words and phrases as everyone else – ruining your chances altogether.

Career experts always advise job seekers to avoid common résumé mistakes, but one grave error often left out of the mix is the overuse of clichés and vague phrases – and perhaps it’s the worst gaffe to commit.

“If a job seeker places overused phrases on his or her résumé, the chances of standing out from other candidates are greatly diminished,” says Kathy Sweeney, a certified professional résumé writer. “A résumé is a marketing tool and should be utilized to distinguish the candidate from other people vying for the same position.”

Details, details
From first glance at a candidate’s résumé, employers want to see career progression: concrete accomplishments, any gaps in employment and potential growth within the employer’s company, says Sally Stetson, co-founder and principal with Salveson Stetson Group, an executive search firm. Because employers want to see significant accomplishments, rather than lists of job duties, job seekers must provide solid illustrations of their talent.

“Providing specific examples may allow a potential employer to relate the applicant’s work experience to potential business needs within their company,” Stetson says. “These examples will also demonstrate a business and results orientation.”

When employers search for candidates in their databases, it’s based on “exclusion” rather than “inclusion,” Sweeney says. In other words, employers look for keywords as a way to narrow the applicants down the 10 or 20 most-qualified candidates. These chosen few are left standing only after others are weeded out.

But what some candidates think constitute keywords and phrases are actually vague generalities that show up on the majority of résumés.

“Keywords are not ‘team player’ or ‘good communication skills,’” Sweeney says. “If an employer searched for those phrases, they would receive about 1,000 résumés that would be considered ‘relevant’ to their search parameters.” Instead, keywords are solid functions like, “sales,” “marketing” or “business development,” she says.

Here are 10 clichés Sweeney and Stetson see job seekers overuse on their résumés and how to rephrase each one into a strong example of your talent.

Cliché No. 1: “Strong communication, customer service and organizational skills.”

Let Kathy rephrase that: Possess strong communication, customer service and organizational skills, which increased customer satisfaction from 85% to 98% and realized 100% on-time delivery of assigned projects.*

Cliché No. 2: “Introduced new products.”

Let Kathy rephrase that: Developed, introduced and launched successful new products, which increased market share 3% and contributed $3 million to bottom-line profitability.*

Cliché No. 3: “Track record of success.”

Let Sally rephrase that: Consistently surpassed sales goal by 10% or more each year.*

Cliché No. 4: “Possess leadership, communication, motivational and inspirational skills.”

Let Kathy rephrase that: Highly-effective leadership, communication, motivational and inspirational skills, which led to 98% employee retention ratio and four out of six employees promoted into management positions.*

Cliché No. 5: “Exceeded all productivity goals for the department.”

Let Kathy rephrase that: Exceeded established department productivity goals 16% through development / implementation of best practices to increase employee output, communication of corporate objectives and introduction of compensation plans to reward high-performing individuals.

Cliché No. 6: “Go-to person.”

Let Sally rephrase that: Selected by CEO for special customer service assignment that improved customer retention by 14%.*

Cliché No. 7: “Team player.”

Let Kathy rephrase that: Possess strong commitment to team environment dynamics with the ability to contribute expertise and follow leadership directives at appropriate times.

Cliché No. 8: “Served as company spokesperson.”

Let Kathy rephrase that: Served as highly-successful company spokesperson, which generated positive media relations, resulted in identification as an industry expert, and garnered coverage in business / industry publications, including The Wall Street Journal, Investor’s Business Daily and PC World.**
Cliché No. 9: “Partner with others.”

Let Sally rephrase that: Collaborated with key members of the finance and information technology departments to develop and implement a new sales tracking tool.

Cliché No. 10: “Spoke with existing customers on a daily basis.”

Let Kathy rephrase that: Successfully interacted with clients to generate repeat and referral business, which resulted in $1.5 million in new product orders.*

Cliché No. 11: “Expert presenter, negotiator and businessperson.”

Let Kathy rephrase that: Expert presenter, negotiator and businessperson able to forge solid relationships with customers, which improved sales 33% and increased customer base from 10 to 50 new clients.*

Cliché No. 12: “Managed cross-functional teams.”

Let Kathy rephrase that: Led diverse, cross-functional teams in the fulfillment of corporate productivity, quality and bottom-line objectives.

Cliché No. 13: “Resolved customer difficulties quickly and tactfully.”

Let Kathy rephrase that: Honored with the “Customers Come First” award for consistently resolving customer difficulties in an expedient and tactful manner. **

Source: careerbuilder

Résumé 101

There are many rites of passage in every young person's life. Getting your driver's license, graduation day and turning 21 are just a few. But another rite of passage can be even more important to your future -- writing your first résumé.

While it's not as exciting as learning to drive, creating your first résumé is a vital step in launching your career. The process may seem daunting. You have to put all of your best qualities on paper, make yourself look more attractive than the next person and completely sell yourself, all on one sheet of paper.

"You have only a few seconds to snag the employer's attention," writes Seattle-based career coach Robin Ryan in Winning Résumés, (John Wiley & Sons, Inc.). "You must sell the employer within 15 seconds of looking at your résumé, or you'll lose the job." Here are seven tips to help you catch an employer's attention.

1. Start with the basics.
It sounds obvious, but your résumé must include your name, address, phone number and e-mail address. Be mindful of the address you include. College students, in particular, tend to move often, so include a permanent address, such as your parent's address. Take care with your e-mail address too. "Make your user ID related to your name, not any nickname attributions," Ryan says. If you want to appear professional to an employer, a user ID like "sexylegs2000" will not work. If your personal e-mail address is not appropriate, set up a new account just for job searches.

2. Include an objective and summary of skills.
These sections come right after your personal information and, for a first-time job seeker, should be concise. For example: Objective: Editing Position Summary of Skills: Excellent writer proficient in copy editing and familiar with AP style. Extremely organized, with ample experience meeting deadlines and working in high-pressure situations. Your "summary of skills" should highlight experiences and qualifications that the employer is seeking. Remember, Ryan says, "a résumé is not about what you want. It's about what you offer an employer."

3. Choose the right résumé style. There are three basic types of résumés: chronological, functional and combination. Chronological résumés focus on work experience, and list professional experience in order from most to least recent. Functional résumés concentrate more on skills. A combination style works well for first-time job seekers. You can point out professional experience, but also draw more attention to your skills, since your work experience is probably limited. Ryan suggests that first-time résumé writers divide their résumé into these categories: work experience, academic experience and community service/extracurricular experience.

4. Brainstorm your experience and skills. While you may be struggling to think of pertinent work experience, Ryan says that you have more than you realize. For example, if you have worked in a retail operation, your skills and qualifications include customer service skills, dependability, accountability, the ability to work as a part of a team and experience in managing money. Were you a full-time summer babysitter? This means you coordinated schedules, handled finances, and were extremely responsible. Many skills learned in part-time positions are quite relevant to the corporate world. Don't underestimate the skills you have gained.

5. Your academic and volunteer experience is relevant. Don't think that your schooling means nothing to an employer. Your computer skills will be particularly attractive and should be highlighted. You can also demonstrate your aptitude and strengths by project-specific examples of class work you have done. For example, if you were a journalism major in college, tell the employer about major articles you wrote and the legwork you did to complete those projects. Also consider your volunteer and extracurricular experience. If you held an officer position in a club or fraternity/sorority, were an athlete, volunteered or took a leadership role in any other extracurricular organization, you have valuable experience to list.

6. Know the cardinal rules of résumé writing.
First, use strong action verbs and leave out the word "I." Words like created, developed, organized, motivated, and produced all say much more than "did." Next, remember that your résumé should be one page only -- no exceptions. And, finally, never send a résumé without proper proofreading.

7. Never, ever lie.
So you were just two courses short of your college degree and think the company won't figure out that you didn't actually get it? Think again. If you lie on your résumé, you will be caught. Don't misrepresent your past -- it will come back to haunt you.

Source: careerbuilder

Eight Ways to Maximize Your Cover Letter's Power

Like peanut butter and jelly or bacon and eggs, résumés and cover letters go hand-in-hand. Although both pieces are valuable on their own, they pack the most punch when served together. But while all job seekers know the importance of a well-organized résumé, many don't understand the power of a strong cover letter.

In addition to reinforcing key skills and experience, a cover letter demonstrates your desire to work for the employer and the specific ways in which your expertise can benefit the firm. More importantly, it helps differentiate you from other job seekers and provides incentive to contact you for an interview.

Even if composition isn't your forte, you can still create a killer cover letter. Here's how:

1. Know your stuff.
Before you begin writing, learn as much as you can about the potential employer. Visit the firm's Web site and scan industry publications to familiarize yourself with recent news about the company, such as quarterly earnings, and to learn about future plans, like expansion into new markets. The more you know about an organization, the better you can tailor your cover letter to the firm's needs.

2. Personalize it.
Never begin a cover letter with "Dear Sir or Madam" or "To Whom it May Concern." Correspondence with generic salutations often signal to potential employers that you lack the initiative to locate the appropriate contact. If a job listing does not include the name of the hiring manager, call the company's receptionist and explain the position you are applying for to see if he or she can help you fill in the blank.

3. Start strong.
A good cover letter begins with a powerful opening paragraph. Your goal is to briefly describe how you heard about the position and why you're interested in it. Skip cute introductions: "Teamwork is my middle name" or "I am smart as a whip," for example. A "catchy" opening can appear stilted and insincere and offers little, if any, value to the piece.

4. Offer an enticement.
The body of the letter should expand upon -- not simply repeat -- the key points in your résumé. Highlight those skills and experiences most relevant to the job opening and provide concrete examples of how you can benefit the company. For example, if you are applying for a management position, share how turnover within your department decreased by 20 percent during your tenure. Or communicate how your attention to detail and ability to adapt quickly to new environments allow you to deliver first-rate client service.

5. Be bold.
In addition to expressing gratitude for the hiring manager's time and interest, close your letter by outlining your next steps. Be proactive by stating when you will contact him or her to follow up. Doing so is a great way to reinforce your enthusiasm for the job. However, don't forget to include a phone number or e-mail address where you can be reached in case the firm wants to get in touch with you first.

In addition to following best practices, you'll want to avoid common pitfalls when composing your cover letter:

6. Getting ahead of yourself.
Focusing on matters such as expected salary and title can come across as presumptuous and untimely. Wait until you have secured a meeting and become better acquainted with the hiring manager to mention these topics.

7. Goofing the proof.
Our company's research consistently shows that one or two typographical errors are enough to discourage a hiring manager from calling you back. Utilize your computer's spell-check function, but also ask friends and family to double-check your work. You don't want a small mistake to call your professionalism or attention to detail into question.

8. Forgetting the format.
If you submit your application via e-mail, make sure to prepare the file as a plain text document so it is universally compatible. Remove all formatting enhancements, such as underline or boldface, and replace bullets with asterisks or dashes. If you fail to do so, your recipient may receive a bowl of alphabet soup. Also, paste the cover letter into the body of an e-mail to save hiring managers the worry of corrupt or unreadable attachments.

Some job seekers spend hours assembling a résumé and only a short amount of time on the accompanying note. Submitting a thoughtful and well-written cover letter, however, can help you outshine your competition and get you one step closer to an interview.

Source: careerbuilder

Are You a "Red Flag" Candidate?

A red flag is a warning signal, something that provokes an irritated reaction or demands attention.

Hiring managers everywhere look for certain red flags on an application, in responses given during the initial telephone interview, and on site interviews to potentially screen out a candidate in the early stages of the hiring process.

To be certain that you will get past the initial screen, be aware of the following common candidate red flags:

1. No Home Address Telephone Number or E-mail Address
If they can't find you, they can't hire you. Without basic information and an easy way to contact you once interest is established, your chances virtually disappear.

2. Time Lapses Between Jobs
If the time between past positions is wide, you will have some explaining to do. Be certain you're honest and provide all necessary information on gaps in employment up front. It is certain the new company will want to know.

3. Negative or Vague Reasons for Leaving Past Employment
Immediately, the worst case scenario comes to the mind of the hiring manager when you are negative or vague with information about past departures. There is no room for sour grapes. Instead, keep a positive outlook and give details around leaving your previous positions.

4. Inconsistent Answers
You may be asked the same question in a hundred different ways, so your responses to similar questions must be consistent at every step of the hiring process. Inconsistent answers or waffling leave a negative impression in the mind of the interviewer and will most likely eliminate you.

5. Unrealistic Expectations
Whether you want a certain percentage of travel, desire a particular commuting distance, have compensation issues, or long for relocation, unrealistic expectations on your part can lead to disaster and a quick exit. Know what you are willing to do and what your bottom line compensation number is before you get involved with an interviewing process.

6. Lack of Preparedness
Do your homework. Research the company online and develop intelligent questions prior to any interview. Prepare and impress the hiring managers. Take it seriously, and they will take you seriously.

7. No Career or Personal Goals
Where do you see yourself in two years? How about five years? Have a clear direction around both business and personal goals before entering an interview. Include action plans and rewards along the way. Share this information where appropriate. This shows the hiring manager you are focused, prepared and have a specific direction for your career. Share your plan.

8. Negative or Reactionary Attitude
It's all about P.M.A., baby! Possess a "positive mental attitude." Smile, provide a firm handshake and use eye contact. When you react to information in a negative way, you won't get far. Don't dictate what must be done; simply gather information and insight to keep the process moving in a positive direction. If negative information is shared with you, don't react, simply write it down to discuss at a later date.

Source: careerbuilder

25 Words That Can Hurt Your Résumé

So, you're experienced? Before you advertise this in your résumé, be sure you can prove it.

Often, when job seekers try to sell themselves to potential employers, they load their résumés with vague claims that are transparent to hiring managers, according to Scott Bennett, author of "The Elements of Résumé Style" (AMACOM). By contrast, the most successful job seekers avoid these vague phrases on their résumés in favor of accomplishments.

Instead of making empty claims to demonstrate your work ethic, use brief, specific examples to demonstrate your skills. In other words, show, don't tell.

Bennett offers these examples:

Instead of... "Experience working in fast-paced environment"
Try... "Registered 120+ third-shift emergency patients per night"

Instead of... "Excellent written communication skills"
Try... "Wrote jargon-free User Guide for 11,000 users"

Instead of... "Team player with cross-functional awareness"
Try... "Collaborated with clients, A/R and Sales to increase speed of receivables and prevent interruption of service to clients."

Instead of... "Demonstrated success in analyzing client needs"
Try... "Created and implemented comprehensive needs assessment mechanism to help forecast demand for services and staffing."

The worst offenders
It's good to be hard-working and ambitious, right? The hiring manager won't be convinced if you can't provide solid examples to back up your claims. Bennett suggests being extra-careful before putting these nice-sounding but empty words in your résumé.

  • Aggressive

  • Ambitious

  • Competent

  • Creative

  • Detail-oriented

  • Determined

  • Efficient

  • Experienced

  • Flexible

  • Goal-oriented

  • Hard-working

  • Independent

  • Innovative

  • Knowledgeable

  • Logical

  • Motivated

  • Meticulous

  • People person

  • Professional

  • Reliable

  • Resourceful

  • Self-motivated

  • Successful

  • Team player

  • Well-organized

  • Source: careerbuilder

    Deciphering Resume Types

    Creating a resume is the very best way to document your career and accomplishments. If you build and maintain one as you move along your career path, you'll be able to capture key achievements and results while they are still fresh in your mind.

    Everyone who works or is thinking about working needs a resume. Industry consolidations, economic conditions, earnings shortfalls, and changes in management or ownership can alter a person's job satisfaction or status in an instant. Whether you are going to school, dissatisfied with your current job, or happy and gainfully employed, a well thought out and up-to-date resume is your best defense and offense.

    The majority of resumes follow a similar format by listing most recent jobs and work experience first. This is called a "reverse chronological" format. But there is also the "skills-based" or "functional" format that highlights what you can do rather than what you have done. Some find that blending these two formats is the best way to summarize their experience and capabilities. Those in teaching and scientific professions, especially people with advanced degrees, find the "curriculum vitae" or CV most effective. How do you decide which format is best? Following are some tips and guidelines for when to use which format.

    Reverse Chronological
    This is the format familiar to most employers and hiring managers. It normally includes a career objective or summary at the top, and is followed by a listing of each job the person has held, starting with the most recent, and a brief summary of responsibilities and accomplishments. Reverse chronological resumes should include job titles, dates of employment, and company names and locations. For each position you held, you should give an overview of your essential responsibilities and your related accomplishments and achievements. This should be followed by a summary of your education and training.

    Using this format is best for those who have had a steady work history and a record of increased responsibility and career growth. This is also a great format if the companies you worked for, especially your most recent employer, are well-recognized and well-respected within your industry.

    Skills-Based or Functional Format
    A functional formatted resume ignores chronological order and focuses on your career in terms of your skills and capabilities. This format helps readers focus on what you can do rather than what you have done. By using the functional approach, you can tailor your resume to highlight skills and competencies sought by potential employers. You can show how you ideally match the requirements of a particular job for which you are applying, by including relevant achievements and accomplishments related to specific skills.

    The functional resume includes a career objective that states what type of job you desire or a career summary that encapsulates your work history, education and strengths in a sentence or two. The main body of the resume provides a summary of three to five skills you possess and demonstrates your proficiency in the particular area through accomplishments and measurable results related to the skill. One added benefit of this format is that you can include learning from both paid and volunteer work. In its purest form it omits dates, employers and job titles, however, most employers expect to see this information somewhere within a resume.

    The functional format is ideal for those who have had gaps in employment or for those who have changed careers over the years or had unclear career paths. It is also great for new graduates who don't have much paid work experience.

    Combination or Blended Format
    If you can't decide which format to use, you may wish to develop a resume that utilizes the best of both formats. These resumes will include reverse chronological listings of the most recent jobs you've held in addition to showcasing your particular skills and accomplishments. It might begin with a summary of qualifications and bulleted skills, followed by a chronicled job listing that demonstrates, through measurable results, how you used or applied the skills you just highlighted.

    Curriculum Vitae
    An academic curriculum vitae is a comprehensive document or biographical statement of your experience and achievements. It is normally four to eight pages in length and is used primarily for those who work in a PhD-driven environment where higher degrees, research, published works and professional accreditation and recognition are valued. A summary of professional qualifications and accomplishments are listed first. This is followed by a detailed listing of education and academic degrees, recognized achievements such as major research works, published articles in peer-reviewed journals, and professional affiliations and credentials. Only those who are pursuing careers in science, such as biotech or research, academia, think tanks and the like should use this format.

    Source: careerbuilder

    Simple guidelines for writing a stellar résumé

    Your résumé should communicate vital information to a potential employer, but how do you know if yours is up to par and will compete with other résumés?
    In their new book, "Expert Résumés for Managers and Executives," authors Wendy Enelow and Louise Kursmark say that strict rules for writing résumés don't really exist, but that job seekers should consider some simple standards that most employers have come to expect.
    Here are some of their tips.
    Content standards
    -- Writing style: Always write in the active, not passive, voice.
    -- Phrases to avoid: Do not use "responsible for" or "duties included," which are passive.
    -- Résumé style: Organize your résumé chronologically, functionally or both.
    -- Résumé formats: Use paragraphs, bullets or both.
    -- Email address and URL: Include your email address and URL at the top of your résumé.
    Presentation standards
    -- Font: Use a clean, conservative, easy-to-read font. Some suggestions include Tahoma, Arial, Krone, Soutane, CG Omega, Century Gothic or Gill Sans.
    -- Type size: 10- to 12-point fonts are generally easy to read.
    -- Page length: One to two pages is usually enough.
    -- Paper color: Use white, ivory or gray paper.
    -- Graphics: Entry-level or midlevel job seekers may use graphics to enhance their résumés; senior or executive job seekers should avoid them.
    -- White space: Leave plenty of white space to ensure readability.
    Accuracy and perfection
    "Your résumé must be well-written, visually pleasing and free of any errors, typographical mistakes, misspellings and the like," Enelow and Kursmark say. "Carefully proofread your résumé a minimum of three times, and then have two or three other people also proofread it.
    "Consider your résumé an example of the quality of work you will produce on a company's behalf," they say. "Take the time to make sure that your résumé is perfect in all the details that make a difference to those who read it."

    Source: careerbuilder

    How to choose good job references

    When a hiring manager is trying to decide among candidates, the words of someone familiar with the applicant may tip the scale one way or the other. Are your references providing maximum advantage? Here are a few considerations:

    Think before you select
    Jayne Mattson, senior vice president of Keystone Associates, a career management consulting firm headquartered in Boston, says a good reference is someone who:
    • Wants to see you succeed as much as you do.
    • Can clearly articulate your strengths, areas of expertise and development.
    • Can think on her feet if asked a tough question.
    • Is someone for whom you feel good about being a reference.

    While several people you know may fit the bill, consider whose position or ability to give pertinent information would be most useful to the prospective employer.
    "In most instances, companies are looking for professional references -- people you have worked for or with who can comment on your skills and accomplishments," says Tracy A. Cashman, partner and general manager of the information technology division of Winter, Wyman, one of the largest staffing firms in the Northeast. "There are occasions when companies want more personal/character references, but you should have at least three or four professional references at your disposal, ideally to include a past manager, a colleague, a subordinate (if appropriate) and perhaps someone from another team/division who you worked with on a particular project."
    Since you are looking for references to be enthusiastic advocates, it also is worth considering who might best convince others of your abilities. "There's nothing worse than a potential employer checking a reference who only answers in monosyllables and provides no detail," Cashman says.
    Likewise, Mattson notes that it is wise to avoid anyone with whom you did not have a good working relationship and people whom you worked with years ago who are not up-to-date with your current career endeavors.
    If you're conducting a secret job search, you might want to think carefully about choosing someone from your current workplace. Make sure the person can be trusted to keep the search confidential.
    Ask before you list
    Contacting people you'd like to use as a reference before listing them serves several purposes:
    • It makes you look professional and courteous.
    • It gives them time to prepare and not be caught off-guard by a phone call they didn't expect.
    • Their willingness or hesitancy can help you judge whether or not they would make a good reference.

    Lavie Margolin, a career coach and author of "Lion Cub Job Search: Practical Job Search Assistance for Practical Job Seekers," warns that just because someone agrees to give a reference, it does not mean that it will be a good one. "Your former supervisor may have had a different impression than you of the quality of work that you provided ... Or what if your boss felt you left him in the lurch when you quit the company?" Instead of assuming, he suggests having a brief conversation with the potential reference in which you can ask what he thought about you as a professional and what he plans to share.
    Keep people in the loop
    Prepare your references to support your candidacy by briefing them on your background and career goals. Mattson suggests providing each with a current résumé, access to your LinkedIn profile and information on the best way to get in touch with you.
    While it is good to update people occasionally on the status of your search, contact is especially useful when you know a potential employer is about to begin checking references. Discussing the position and pointing out key elements that you are trying to emphasize can help your reference prepare informative answers.
    Be sure references can be contacted
    Once you've finalized your references, be ready to present them to a prospective employer when asked. Margolin suggests creating a one-page list that includes the following for each reference:
      1. Person's name 2. Job title 3. Relationship to you (such as co-worker or direct supervisor) 4. Company name 5. Address 6. Contact info (phone number, email address)

    Then, check back with your references from time to time to make sure that contact information has not changed. The best reference in the world becomes useless if he can't be reached.

    Source: careerbuilder

    Your Résumé: The Key to Getting an Interview

    We've all been through it.

    The waiting -- endless waiting -- for the phone to ring with the hope that, maybe, just maybe, one of the résumés you sent out this week will get through to the right person... and he'll like what he sees.

    There are things you can do to land that all important first interview, Brad Turkin, executive vice president of staffing company Comforce Corporation, says. "As the old saying goes, you only have one chance to make a good first impression. And the résumé is it," he notes. Here are his tips for creating a phone-ringing résumé:

    Know your Strengths.
    "The first thing you should do," Turkin says, "is some serious soul-searching. Know the kind of job -- and company -- that you want. Know your strengths... and acknowledge your weaknesses."

    Demonstrate your value.
    Fill your résumé with facts that jump out at the recruiter. "Avoid empty boasts that can't be quantified," Turkin notes. He prefers a chronological résumé with bullet points that highlight previous results and successes. "You can't just say that you were the best salesman the company had," he says. "That means nothing to a prospective employer. You've got to show how you've contributed to a company's bottom line and how you've added value."

    Be truthful.
    Falsehoods get discovered, he says, and you should always use your actual dates of employment.

    Be choosy.
    "Don't send your résumé blindly to every company out there," Turkin advises. Do your homework and decide who you want to target. Look into a company's history and its goals for the future, and how it plans to accomplish them.

    Be the solution.
    "Try to find out where the company's 'pain' is... and then you'll know how to position yourself as a solution," Turkin notes. "Show how you can add value to their company by showing some awareness of their business and their marketplace. If you can position yourself as a possible solution to their problems, you've got a very big step up on the competition."

    Upgrade and update.
    A résumé is like a living, breathing document, according to Turkin, because it should get to the heart of what you can do for a company. You should be constantly upgrading -- and updating -- it.

    Keep it brief.
    Don't make your résumé into a novel. One to two pages are best. Three pages max (and that's only if you've got pretty much a lifetime of experience).

    Check for typos again and again and again!
    Remember that some words can be typos even if they pass through your computer's spell check.

    With a solid résumé, you improve your chances of being selected for the next phase, the "preliminary screening" or phone contact. This is a real opportunity to sell yourself on a more personal level and lock in an actual interview.

    Since the call can come at anytime, Turkin advises candidates to be ready beforehand by practicing what you might say in a calm and confident voice.

    Turkin also emphasizes keeping everything positive. And don't let a past firing color your attitude. "Good people get terminated, too... and there are ways to address it so that you don't come off as negative."

    Source: careerbuilder

    The Resume-Interview Connection

    Back in the 1950's, a Time magazine reporter interviewed a world-famous pianist about his work. The reporter asked: "What's most challenging about playing the piano?" The pianist thought for a moment and replied: "I do OK with the notes, but the spaces between the notes give me lots of trouble."

    What he meant, of course, was that he was very competent at the mechanics of playing the piano, but found the subtlety and nuance of making music, getting the "spaces between the notes" right, a continual life-long challenge.

    Job seekers are getting great advice today from a variety of sources about pursuing career opportunities. The total job search process is well-documented in terms of how to perform discrete steps such as drafting a resume, preparing and using cover letters, using job boards on the internet, etc.. While mastering each of the steps is important, it doesn't necessarily enable a job seeker to address the "spaces between the notes" of the Job Search process. Good mechanics may not be enough to get to the job offer.

    Here's a summary of some key issues to address to be effective in working on those "spaces between the notes."

    Understanding the first steps taken by the employer is vital for the job seeker, so let's begin there.

    Job Specifications: what the company wants
    When a position becomes available in a company, the HR function and hiring manager review and reach agreement upon the criteria for selecting the right person. Job specifications define requirements such as education, work experiences, industry background, skill sets and technical proficiencies, which may result in eight to ten criteria for the hiring decision. The specifications, in turn, drive all phases of the selection process, such as resume screenings, evaluation of job fair candidates, interview assessments, etc., through to hiring of the final candidate.

    The job specifications are readily available to job seekers in ads, postings on company web sites and other sources. The order of presentation of the specifications also demonstrates what is most to least important and may suggest possible tradeoffs and areas of flexibility as well.

    The challenge of the job seeker is to get at the "spaces between the notes" by effectively addressing the job specifications at every stage of the selection process: the resume design, the phone screening interview and the job interview. Consider the following:

    Resume Design: send a clear message
    A resume screener searches for candidates who match the specifications. A strong, focused resume that captures three or four core competencies plus related accomplishments allows the screener to make multiple connections with the job specifications. The resume screener doesn't need to know all that the job seeker has ever done; instead, he/she is looking for the match between the specs and the background outlined in the resume.

    Some key points:    
    • Core competencies are the key skills of the job seeker, those skills that are performed well, with subject matter expertise, supported by solid accomplishments.
    • Core competencies should be evident throughout the two-page resume.
    • Every job seeker has one set of core competencies, so one resume should be used, mixing and matching the presentation of the core competencies to improve the correlation with job specs as needed.
    • If the core competencies match up well with the specs, then the process moves forward. Phone Screening Interview: get "on message" Recruiters contact those prospects that appear to match up well with the specs to determine if they are viable candidates. Like resume preparation, there are abundant resources available for how to handle this step as well, but some key points to improve performance are:
      • Recruiters ask questions because they don't know what the answers are. Respond to the questions asked, avoid using questions to segue into other areas.
      • Comments about career, job roles and responsibilities are most effective if the job specs are used to drive the details.
      • Core competencies should be presented using the priorities of the job specifications as script direction. Any shortcomings versus the specs should be addressed by citing other, comparable achievements.
      • Finally, close the call with a summary of core competencies and state a strong interest in a meeting to discuss the opportunity.
      • All other considerations being equal, the job seeker who stays "on message" by presenting his/her core competencies in terms of the job specifications will get the opportunity to interview for the position. Interview: talk about the specifications Interviewing job seekers enables a company to evaluate the candidates, test their own expectations and find the "best fit" to effectively meet their hiring goals. Consider some key points about job interviewing:    
      • The job specs provide a "road map" for content. Use the specs to share details about career, job roles and responsibilities that connect to the specs.
      • Listen to the Interviewer and answer the questions asked.
      • Be prepared to ask a few solid questions that demonstrate knowledge and comfort level with the job specifications, which will illustrate that you "walk the talk" when it comes to the company requirements.
      • A final point: ask for the job!
      • Summary Today's job seeker is on a steep learning curve to successfully launch and sustain a career search process. But focusing upon one's career, skills, abilities and goals is not enough. The key issue to address is the company goals and job specs. At each step of the resume/phone screen/interview process, the job seeker is challenged to integrate the job specifications with his/her core competencies, fully demonstrating the connectivity between their skills and company needs. Doing so effectively enables the job seeker to get the "spaces between the notes" right and greatly increase the potential for success in the interview/selection process.

    Your work history: How far back should you go on a résumé?

    Today's hiring managers have stacks of applications to get through quickly, so job seekers need to make each moment count when presenting themselves to prospective employers. While every candidate wants to give a thorough picture of accomplishments and skills, is it necessary to go back to the very beginning when presenting one's job history?

    "The reality is there is no right or wrong answer; it is all about preference," says Frank Dadah, general manager of financial contracting for the Winter, Wyman Companies -- one of the largest staffing firms in the Northeast. As a general rule of thumb, Dadah likes job seekers to include the past 10 years. "Anything further back than that is going to be obsolete.

    With the changes in technology and business practices, anything further back is really meaningless. I am not suggesting that if you worked for one company for 30 years that you only put 10 years on your résumé, but I am suggesting that if you have six jobs totaling 15 years that you only go back as far as approximately 10 years."

    Camille Fetter, managing partner for TalentFoot (an executive search firm based in Chicago), prefers including a complete job history. "You may have had exposure to a specific industry that could be relevant to your prospective employer's business. If you eliminate this experience altogether, you're filtering information from the prospective employer that might just be the experience you needed to rise above the competition."

    Fetter also worries that five to 10 years of missing experience on a résumé may be seen as a red flag to employers. "Recruiters and hiring managers may jump to the conclusion that you're trying to hide something." Dadah agrees that a potential pitfall of omission is that some interviewers may see it as dishonest, but he also points out, "We have all been told that résumés should never exceed one (when mailing) or two (when e-mailing) pages in length. Is it dishonest to shorten your résumé to keep it to a page or two?"

    Handling the early years
    However far back a job seeker chooses to go, effective presentation is crucial. Showcasing key skills and accomplishments at the top keeps the hirer reading, allowing more time to sell attributes. Unless there is something from your early career that is particularly noteworthy to highlight, older information tends to be placed towards the bottom of a résumé.

    "I advise job seekers to give paragraph or bullet point job descriptions as far back as 10 years. If the person has been in the same job for 10 years, then most of the résumé should be based around that one job," says Lizandra Vega, author of "The Image of Success: Make a Great Impression and Land the Job You Want." To keep the résumé fresh and length-appropriate, she recommends that earlier positions simply be listed by title, name of the company and dates of employment. "This shows the candidate has had prior work experience, and it lets the employer know the types of companies the candidate has worked for before getting to where she is currently."

    Giving employers what they want
    While there may be no absolute rules as to what should or shouldn't be included on a résumé, remember that the ultimate goal is to present oneself as the best possible candidate for the position at hand. Always look to the information given in the job description for guidance.

    "There are times when 10 years back just isn't far enough," says Dadah. "For example, a company may be looking for a controller with 25-30 years of experience. In this case, truncating your résumé may be inappropriate."

    Bottom line: There isn't one "perfect" way to lay out work history, nor is there one magical résumé guaranteed to land any job. Be prepared to tinker with your presentation to adjust to the needs of the individual position. When all is said and done, the best résumé is the one that gets you hired.

    Source: careerbuilder

    Hook 'Em With Your Application

    When you're ready for a new job, you buy the thickest job search book at Borders, find a cover letter and resume that look good to you, tailor them to your personal information, and, voila, you're ready to start your job search. Your cover letter sounds professional, there are no typos in your resume and you have all the skills required for the position. But you're not getting any interviews.

    Job seekers are shooting themselves in the feet all because they're not giving just a small amount of extra effort. Create a connection between you and the job, company, industry or leadership, and you increase your chances of an interview and an offer.

    As you begin your research on a prospective employer, keep an eye out for any clues that could lead to a personal connection with someone in the company.

    If the company's Internet site contains executive biographies, read them carefully for any possible connections. Weave this information into your cover letter and send it to the executive with whom you found a connection. Send a second letter to the human resources contact.

    Perhaps you've unknowingly volunteered side by side with someone from the company you're targeting. Check out information about any foundations the company may have or corporate sponsored charity. Call the head of community relations to see if you can make a connection. He or she may be willing to get your resume to the right person.

    Check out trade publications and press release archives. Who are the company's major suppliers and clients? Perhaps you've worked for one of them as an employee or intern, done freelance work for one of their divisions or know someone who works for one of their clients.

    You also can use this same process to identify connections between your previous employers and those you are targeting. One person who applied to Loyola University in Chicago cited her work experience in Catholic higher education as well as her knowledge of the Jesuit mission from attending Loyola New Orleans.

    Have you attended seminars or industry events that featured the CEO or another top-level executive of a company that you are targeting for employment? Include a sentence or two about something he or she said during the speech in your cover letter.

    Are you a member of the same professional organization as the hiring manager? Use this information to demonstrate that you know the business and already have a connection to the company. Include a statement about the benefits of the organization in your contact letter.

    Have you worked for a competitor of the prospective employer? More than likely you have great industry contacts and understand the challenges in the industry. This is a distinct advantage that can spell success for you.

    Your hook to the prospective employer can reap rewards ranging from winning an interview to receiving a job offer. The key is finding your hook and using it in your contact with the prospective employer.

    Source: careerbuilder

    Remember Me? Four Tips for Résumé Follow-Up

    You've sent your résumé to several companies and have yet to hear back. But just because they aren't calling doesn't mean they aren't interested. It's not uncommon for hiring managers to become so busy that they postpone notifying -- or even selecting -- candidates for as long as one or two months after posting an employment ad.

    Don't let this discourage you. Instead, take action to see where you stand. In today's competitive market, following up after submitting a résumé is not only warranted, it's recommended. An overwhelming 94 percent of executives polled by Robert Half International said candidates should contact hiring managers after submitting application materials.

    Why? Because it demonstrates initiative and sincere interest in a position and can help you stand out in a crowd of other highly skilled candidates. So, what's the best way to follow up with prospective employers? There's no one-size-fits-all formula, but it helps to know the basic rules. The following pointers will help you be more proactive without becoming a pest:

    When should I make my move? Following up too quickly may annoy hiring managers, but letting too much time pass can take you out of the running. Eighty-two percent of executives polled by Robert Half International recommend contacting the company within two weeks of sending a résumé. That's approximately the length of time hiring managers need to review application materials and get back in touch with candidates.

    What is the best way to follow up? An e-mail, phone call or handwritten note all are acceptable forms of communicating with hiring managers, according to executives surveyed by Robert Half International. E-mail can be a great tool for reminding recruiters that you've applied for a job and resubmitting your résumé without seeming too pushy. If you have a name and number, you may have more luck with a follow-up phone call. Just make sure to rehearse what you will say beforehand and call when you think the person is likely to be free -- early in the morning or late in the afternoon, for example. Keep your conversation brief and to the point. Only leave a message if you've gotten his or her voicemail at least twice. You also can write a letter to determine if the position for which you applied is still open. A personalized note is a great way to express genuine interest in the job and indicate that you're not submitting blanket résumés; just realize you may have to be a bit more patient in receiving a response.

    What should I do if I applied for a job online and there is no contact information? If you at least know the name of the company to which you applied and, perhaps, the department and job title, a little sleuthing may help you identify the hiring manager. Search for the company on the Internet and use the contact information provided on its Web site. When you reach the firm, ask to speak to the person in charge of the job opening for which you applied. If no contact information is available, you can at least send a follow-up e-mail to the same address to which you sent your résumé.

    What key points should I communicate?
    In addition to expressing continued interest in the position, job seekers should reiterate the value they can bring to the organization by citing specific professional accomplishments and in-demand skills they possess. These examples should relate in some way to the requirements of the open position. Ultimately, the method for contacting a prospective employer is less important than the action itself. A short, simple message often is enough to motivate a hiring manager to take a closer look at your application materials. If you don't receive a response after all your efforts, it's safe to assume you may not be in consideration for the job. Unfortunately, some companies only respond to candidates they will be contacting for an interview. Not every job will be a fit and not every hiring manager will get back to you. But you can at least take some consolation in knowing you did everything within your power to be a contender.

    Source: careerbuilder

    Chronological Resume Template

    This chronological resume is a simple one, but it works in this situation because Judith is looking for a job in her present career field, has a good job history, and has related education and training. Note that she wants to move up in responsibility and emphasizes the skills and education that will help her do so.

    One nice feature is that this job seeker put her recent business schooling in both the education and experience sections. Doing this filled a job gap and allows her to present recent training as equivalent to work experience. This resume also includes a "Strengths and Skills" section, where Judith presents some special qualifications and technical skills.

    Judith J. Jones
    115 South Hawthorne Avenue
    Chicago, Illinois 66204
    tel: (312) 653-9217
    email: jj@earthlink.com

    Job Objective
    A position in the office management, accounting or administrative assistant area, requiring initiative and the ability to multitask.

    Education and Training

  • Acme Business College, Lincoln, IL
    Graduate of a one-year business program.

  • John Adams High School, South Bend, IN
    Diploma, business education.

  • U.S. Army
    Financial procedures, accounting functions.

  • Other
    Continuing-education classes and workshops in business communication, spreadsheet and database applications, scheduling systems and customer relations.

  • Experience
  • 2003-present -- Claims Processor, Blue Spear Insurance Co., Wilmette, IL. Process customer medical claims, develop management reports based on created spreadsheets and develop management reports based on those forms, exceed productivity goals.

  • 2002-2003 -- Returned to school to upgrade business and computer skills. Completed courses in advanced accounting, spreadsheet and database programs, office management, human relations and new office techniques.

  • 1999-2002 -- E4, U.S. Army. Assigned to various stations as a specialist in finance operations. Promoted prior to honorable discharge.

  • 1998-1999 -- Sandy's Boutique, Wilmette, IL. Responsible for counter sales, display design, cash register and other tasks.

  • 1996-1998 -- Held part-time and summer jobs throughout high school.

  • Strengths and Skills
    Reliable, hardworking and good with people. General ledger, accounts payable and accounts receivable. Proficient in Microsoft Word, WordPerfect, Excel and Outlook.

    Excerpted from 'The Quick Resume and Cover Letter Book' by Michael Farr. Reprinted with permission from Jist Publishing. 
    Source: careerbuilder

    Do You Still Need a Cover Letter?

    You can feel a little directionless during a job hunt. At times, the questions seem to outnumber the answers 2-to-1.
    Do I need to wear a suit? Do I need to send a thank-you note? What is my biggest weakness? How do I give a good handshake? The stress can be overwhelming. One question that still pesters job seekers, especially as job hunting increasingly takes place online, is whether or not a cover letter is still necessary. On the one hand, a cover letter is a traditional component of the searching process and omitting one feels weird. But time is valuable during a job hunt and wasting time on something nobody will read is aggravating.
    So are cover letters a waste of time or an overlooked attention grabber?
    Overwhelmingly, hiring managers and human resources personnel view cover letters as a necessity in the job hunt.
    How a cover letter helps you
    When you submit an application or résumé to an employer, you probably haven't spoken at length with the hiring manager. Therefore your papers are one needle in a huge haystack of applicants. Your goal is to set yourself apart as quickly as possible and not to give the hiring manager any reason to dismiss you from consideration; a cover letter can help you achieve that goal.
    "Employers need to know you know how to communicate in writing," says Sue Thompson, a personal coach and corporate trainer. "Your résumé may have been done professionally or using a template, and you may have done a good job of proofreading. But a cover letter shows you have the ability to put sentences together and sound like a halfway intelligent person. It will reveal whether your education has any merit: Are words spelled properly? Is the grammar correct? Is the punctuation appropriate?"
    You can look at the cover letter as a way to persuade the hiring manager to consider you for the job. Or, if fear is a better motivator, think about the lack of a cover letter, or one written poorly, as a strike against you.
    "You can be the smartest person within 100 miles, and maybe the right person for the job, but you will knock yourself right out of the running with a poor cover letter. You make the recruiter's job easier when they see a poorly written, poorly proofread cover letter. They can discard your résumé and move on," Thompson adds.
    The need to craft a strong cover letter cannot be stressed enough, however. When you gave your parents homemade birthday cards as a child, they lovingly accepted them because it's the thought that counts. That's not the case with cover letters, so your typos and sloppy presentation are detrimental, not endearing.
    Connect the dots
    Job coach and former recruiter Judi Perkins wants job seekers to understand the role of a well-written cover letter. "When they're written correctly, they're extremely effective, because they're a sales tool." And the secret to this sales tool is taking a two-pronged approach to the cover letter.
    "The first part: The key is that [cover letters] need to be focused on what the buyer -- the hiring company -- wants," Perkins says. This means you need to look at the ad and see what it's asking for because that's what the employer is looking for, too. "The ad tells you, explicitly, what that company wants.
    "But here's the second part -- the kicker -- that no one else even teaches (and even professional sales people don't do): bridge the benefit back to the company; spell out the benefit of hiring you."
    Simply put, you know what the company wants and you know what you can offer -- your résumé is a list of your accomplishments, after all. So Perkins suggests you just connect the dots for your readers.
    "It forces them to visualize the effect of you in the business as an employee. They're not going to take this step themselves -- there are too many résumés to go through. Spell everything out for them and it gives you a distinct leg up over all the other vastly ineffective cover letters that they receive."
    The new cover letter
    Job hunting has changed quite a bit since the advent of the Internet, as many of today's job seekers have probably never applied for a job via the mail. This means that the practice of placing a cover letter and résumé in an envelope and mailing it is antiquated for many companies. But does that mean you have to write an e-mail to the employer and attach both the cover letter and résumé, or do you skip the cover letter when applying online?
    "The growing prevalence of applying via e-mail or through an organization's Web site is making cover letters obsolete in most industries," according to Wes Henricksen, president of Seize the A, an academic consulting organization. "That does not mean that the ability to write a cover letter has become obsolete.  Instead, it means the rules have changed.  The new 'cover letter' is often a shorter two-paragraph message in the body of an e-mail. Although this new 'cover e-mail' is shorter and less formal, its content is no less important than that of a traditional cover letter. Style, spelling, grammar and professionalism are all still vitally important."
    What employers think
    You know how a good cover letter can work to your advantage, but what if you don't submit one? Are you doomed? For some employers, such as Angela Ruggiero, yes. She's an adviser for Stanton Communications' internship program. As a new graduate, she didn't bother with a cover letter, and now she realizes her mistake.
    "I see red flags when there is no cover letter along with a résumé," Ruggiero says. "The absence of cover letters translates to me that the candidate is lazy and is sending résumés in masses, rather than customizing or personalizing to each individual company of interest."
    While the absence of a cover letter might land you in the rejected pile, the inclusion of one could keep you at the top of the short-list. "Sometimes a person's cover letter drives me to call a candidate for an interview over another who may have had qualifications that were just as impressive."
    You could save yourself some time and not write a cover letter, which has a decent shot of hurting your job prospects. Or you could devote the time to write a thorough but brief letter that at worst isn't read and at best lands you a job. Not a tough call.

    Source: careerbuilder

    Resume Distribution Secrets

    Just because you've completed your resume doesn?t guarantee anyone will see it! We've gathered some helpful tips for effective resume distribution to ensure you get your resume into the hands of the right recruiters and human resource departments.

    Post your resume online!
    Companies such as CareerBuilder.com and Sologig.com offer individualized opportunies for you to post your resume online! You can post anonymously as well as search through job openings and send your resume directly to employers.

    Look through the classifieds.
    Whether in your local paper or nationally over the Web, you can look over hundreds of open positions all in one place. These ads will give you exact contact information as well as specific details concerning the job(s) available. However, remember that if there is not much information given about the company, don't forget to do your homework so you can modify your cover letter appropriately. Find jobs in your area here!

    Just apply!
    Most companies do not advertise all of their open positions. By going to the Web sites of companies you are interested in working for, you will more than likely be able to find an "apply online" page where you can submit your resume at no charge. If not, simply send your resume in to the human resources department. Positions open up all the time and by having your resume available when they do gives you a leg up on the competition.

    Job fairs.
    Okay, we know you?re not in college anymore, however, most major cities hold job fairs targeting seasoned professionals. These events can introduce you to a variety of different companies all in one place, and all looking for qualified candidates such as yourself! You can even get a list of the employers that will be attending the job fair ahead of time in order to appropriately prepare yourself and ensure a good impression. Just be sure you bring plenty of resumes! Find a career fair in your area today!

    Network everyone you know!
    Networking is an extremely effective way of getting your resume into the hands of potential employers. Talk to your friends and family members and tell them what you are looking for in a career. Ask them if they know anyone who could help you with anything -- from further networking to direct job connections. These people who already know you and trust you should be more than happy to help you out with your career!

    Guerrilla resume strategies.
    There are many ways to obtain contact information of employers. Some companies offer you a list of thousands of e-mail addresses for either a monthly fee or a flat one-time rate. Other companies offer published books of contact listings and some may even include valuable information about the companies listed (however, these books are often pricey and dated). Instead you can save time and aggravation by signing up with a program such as Resume Launcher which does all the job hunting for you. Resume Launcher finds the jobs that match your skills and qualifications and sends your resume to thousands of credible recruiters so you don?t have to! This great tool will certainly help you save time and money, making it easier for you to get your resume out and into the right hands!!!

    Use e-mail.
    The best way to get your resume in front of a hiring manager's eyes it through e-mail. When e-mailing your resume, remember to put your name and the position and title (and, if you know it, the job number) in the subject line, unclear subjects will likely be trashed without being opened at all. Also, when sending a resume as an attachment, with your name, an attachment labeled "resume" will not tell the employer whose it is at a glance. And as obvious as it may seem, send your resume from a credible sounding email address; hottlips4u@hotmail.com may cause a stir, but will certainly not secure you the position.

    Finally, don't forget to follow up on those resumes you sent in. This will not only remind employers that they received a resume from you, but also lets them know that you are truly interested in the position!

    Source: careerbuilder

    Cover Letter Dos and Don'ts

    Most people are familiar with the importance of a well-constructed resume, and put a fair amount of time into creating one. But just as important is the cover letter that accompanies and introduces your resume.

    In an extremely competitive job market, neglecting your cover letter is a big mistake. Why? A cover letter is your first opportunity to tell a prospective employer about yourself, and to do so in your own words. Like a written interview, a cover letter gives you the opportunity to point out applicable experience and qualities that make you right for the job. And just like any other important job searching tool, there are definite dos and don'ts to follow to make sure your cover letter is an asset, not a hindrance.

    Do personalize your letter.
    Nobody likes to receive impersonal mail. Cover letters that begin with phrases like "To Whom it May Concern," sound like random junk or bulk mail, rather than an important correspondence. You expect the company to take the time to read through your material, so you too need to take some time to research the correct addressee. Call the company, look on its Web site or talk to others to find the correct contact.

    Don't send a generic cover letter to many different companies.
    Hiring managers can spot a mass mailing a mile away. What gets their attention are letters that address the company -- and its needs -- specifically. Research the company prior to writing the letter. Check out recent news and read through the company's Web site, and then incorporate what you learned into your letter. Doing so will demonstrate to employers that you are informed, motivated and willing to go the extra mile.

    Do address the specific position advertised.
    Companies that post openings are making your life easier by telling you the qualities they are seeking. Show the company that you paid attention. If a company advertises that it is looking for sales experience, make sure you address your sales experience. One way to do this is by making a table for yourself before writing your letter. List the company's stated needs in one column, and your corresponding experience and qualifications in another column. You can then use that information to write a letter that tells them exactly what they want to know.

    Don't make the reader work too hard to see that you are right for the position.
    Include specific examples about your past successes and experience. If you are looking for a marketing position, give the reader detailed information about a marketing campaign you successfully executed. Don't just tell the reader that you are motivated. Give an example that shows your motivation. You need to lay all of your pertinent information out in a way that lets the person making the hiring decision easily see how your experience and qualities fit the company's needs.

    Do get to the point.
    Hiring managers receive letters and resumes from dozens and even hundreds of applicants, and often just don't have the time to read lengthy, wordy letters. Be direct. In the first paragraph, include the title of the position you are interested in and then move on to your specific qualifications immediately.

    Don't end your letter passively.
    Nobody gets a job by sitting at home waiting for the phone to ring. Similarly, not many people get a call once a resume or cover letter is sent. Since you are the one looking for work, you need to take the initiative and follow up. Instead of ending the letter with "I look forward to hearing from you," close with "I will call you next week to discuss a time for us to meet." Once you've included this call to action, however, make sure you follow your own promise.

    Do write and edit your letter with great care.
    Nothing says "I don't really want this job" like a cover letter with typos, incorrect information, or spelling errors. Make sure the company's name is spelled correctly. Check to see if the contact is a male or female. And, while it sounds almost too obvious to mention, be sure to sign your letter. Careless -- and easily correctable -- mistakes tell the company that you did not take this simple task seriously.

    Source: careerbuilder

    Qualifications versus duties: Why knowing the difference matters

    Some job seekers have problems selling their skills. They list their basic duties, which most job seekers have in common. You can stand out in a job search by positioning those skills so they set you apart.

    Think of how a salesperson sells a car. He doesn't tout the fact that the car has four wheels, windows and functioning lights, because you'd expect that from every car. Instead, he sells the unique points of the car -- design, safety, mileage -- all of which make the car appealing to a potential buyer.

    Job seekers need to do the same when selling their qualifications. Instead of saying you've used Microsoft Excel, tell the employer how you've solved problems or increased efficiency by creating a basic accounting process through Microsoft Excel.

    Kyra Mancine, a professional copywriter with a career development background, says a list of job responsibilities is her biggest résumé pet peeve. "The key is to take a simple job duty and expand it to match the [job posting] with quantitative evidence of accomplishments," Mancine says. "It may take some thought and creativity, but it can be done for any job, no matter what the level. I don't care if you're a sanitation worker, CEO or seamstress; anyone can do this."

    By adding numbers, statistics and adjectives applicable to the posting, job seekers can set themselves apart from others who have submitted more generic resumes.

    How to quantify accomplishments
    To give an example, here's a real job posting from a bank looking for a call-center representative:
    • Serves as first-line response for incoming customer calls.​
    • Accurately and expediently answers inquiries from customers on all types of new and existing products and services, drawing on a detailed knowledge base of bank products, services, policies and procedures.​
    • Sells and cross-sells bank products and services to new and existing customers who have contacted the bank by telephone.​
    • Efficiently performs routine follow-up work and initiates requests for detailed follow-up work.​
    • Relies on excellent verbal and written communication skills to fulfill customer requests and to ensure customer satisfaction.​

    If you're applying for this job and all you've listed on your resume is that you answered phone calls in a call center, you probably won't get an interview, Mancine says. Instead, she suggests rewriting your resume to match the bullets listed in the job posting, quantifying your successes. Mancine shares this example of how an applicant could restructure her resume to address the posting above:
    Primary call-center contact for a high volume of customer service inquiries, ranging from orders to returns.

    • Successfully handled hundreds of incoming consumer calls daily from across the country.
    • Received recognition for product upsells, resulting in a 5 percent increase in weekly sales.
    • Tapped into strong base of product knowledge on thousands of product stock-keeping units, quickly and courteously relaying product information to existing and new customers.
    • Consistently acknowledged for speed, accuracy to details and follow-through on catalog requests, Web order processing, batches and data entry.
    • Committed to going above and beyond to ensure customer satisfaction, resulting in being named Employee of the Month for June 2011.

    Here's another test that can help determine if you've listed qualifications or just duties: Look at each bullet point on your resume and ask yourself, "So what?" If you're not impressed, why would a recruiter be?

    Don't neglect the cover letter
    "Cover letters are most often left out or even sent as generic notes with resumes," says Tiffani Murray, a resume writer and career coach. She says that the cover letter is a great place to sell your personality and breathe life into your application.
    "If a job posting specifically asks for a cover letter, this is a great opportunity to match up your skills and experiences with the requirements of the job," Murray says. "Make sure to detail how you can perform the tasks of the job you are applying for, but also add to the company, team or overall business with your knowledge and success in similar roles."

    Source: careerbuilder