Résumé Rules: Dos and Don'ts for Success

One of the biggest challenges for most administrative professionals searching for a job is creating a compelling résumé. It doesn't help that the rules for crafting this document change frequently. (e.g., Should you keep your résumé to one page?  Is it wise to include your hobbies?)
That's why it's important to know the current dos and don'ts of résumé writing. The following tips will help you persuade a potential employer that you're the best candidate for the job:

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Do target the content Take the time to tailor your résumé to the requirements of each position you're applying for by highlighting your relevant skills and experience. For instance, if you are applying for an entry-level data entry opportunity, you might devote more space to the data entry work you performed during a summer internship than your accomplishments as a receptionist while with the company.

Don't forget to start with a bang To capture your readers' attention right away, begin your résumé with a brief summary of your qualifications. Here's an example: "Dedicated administrative professional with thorough knowledge of Office programs and excellent written and oral skills. Possess Certified Administrative Professional rating and four years of professional experience." By clearly describing your professional background, as well as any designations you possess, at the top of your résumé, you'll stand out as a hiring manager plows through dozens of documents.

Do emphasize ROI (return on investment) It's a common résumé trap to highlight a "laundry list" of skills you possess instead of showing how you used those abilities to impact the company's bottom line. For example, rather than saying, "trained employees on new timesheet process," you might write, "developed a PowerPoint presentation and gave hands-on instruction to 25 staff members, cutting timesheet-related tasks in half."

Don't think you must keep your résumé to one page While the traditional advice has been to limit résumés to one page, most managers today are willing to read past the first page. Nearly half (44 percent) of executives polled by our company said they prefer résumés that are two pages long. Employers are willing to spend more time reviewing application materials in an effort to determine who is most qualified for a certain role. Just don't go overboard: Hiring managers want to see that applicants can prioritize information and concisely convey the depth of their experience.

Do choose your words wisely Many organizations electronically scan résumés and search keywords, so, if your experience matches what the company is looking for, try to include the exact phrases and specific applications listed in the job description. If the description asks for an individual who possesses three or more years of administrative experience and a Certified Administrative Professional designation, and you have this background, be sure you include these points in your résumé. This will increase the number of hits your résumé generates during the initial screening process and improve your chances of being invited for an interview.

Do sweat the small stuff Eighty-four percent of executives polled by our company said it takes just one or two typographical errors in a résumé to remove a candidate from consideration for a job opening; 47 percent said a single typo could be the deciding factor. So in addition to proofreading your document several times, ask a few close friends to review your résumé before sending it out. They may spot problems your spell-check function didn't catch.

And some final don'ts:
·         Don't list a quirky e-mail address on your résumé. Employers generally don't want to ask "luvtohunt@xyx.com" or "partygrl000@abc.com" in for an interview. Instead, create a separate account for professional purposes.
·         Don't include irrelevant personal information, such as your favorite food or hobbies. If you volunteer at an organization or speak a second language that relates to the job, it's OK to mention that information.
·         Don't use complete sentences; hiring managers prefer short, bulleted statements.
While there is no magic formula for creating the perfect résumé, there are certain things to do and not do that will increase your chances of success. By following these, you'll create a standout document.

Source: careerbuilder

5 Easy Ways to Improve Your Résumé

Ah, the wisdom of teen movies.  Remember in "Clueless" when Cher and Dionne gave Miss Geist a makeover in the faculty lounge? All it took was a few minor adjustments to turn the disheveled teacher into "not a total Betty, but a vast improvement." The same principle can be applied to your résumé. 

Look at your résumé: Would you still be compelled to read it if it wasn't your own, or would the vast array of typos, unusual fonts, long sentences and obscure language turn you away?  While your résumé may not be a full-on Monet (meaning, up close, it's a big old mess), it may simply need some minor tweaking in order to get noticed.  Take these five small steps to see big results.       

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1. Spell check... the old-fashioned way.
Spelling and grammar errors can be the kiss of death for résumés: They show employers that you don't pay attention to detail.  Computer spell-check programs don't always pick up these errors, so make sure you proofread it yourself before handing it in. For insurance and a fresh perspective, have a friend look it over, too.

2. Put it in reverse chronological order. 
Organize your résumé to reflect your most recent job at the top and include dates of employment.  Employers tend to prefer these over functional résumés, which can be great if you're switching career paths, but otherwise make it difficult to determine when you worked where and can hide employment gaps.

3. Simplify your language.  Keep your sentences short and don't worry about fragments. 

  • Leave out personal pronouns like "I," "my" and "me."  Saying, "I performed" this or "I demonstrated" that is redundant.  Who else would you be talking about if not yourself?

  • Omit the articles "a," "an" and "the."  Instead of "Coordinated the special events for the alumni association," simplify it to say, "Coordinated alumni association special events."

  • Take out terms like "assisted in," "participated in," and "helped with."  If you assisted in managing client accounts, simply say, "Managed client accounts." You can explain later what this role entailed.

  • Change passive statements to active verbs. Saying "Coordinated client meetings" instead of "Ensured client meetings were coordinated" adds punch and clarity to a job description.

  • Exclude words like "responsibilities" and "duties" under job listings. Your résumé should focus on accomplishments, not tasks.

4. Eliminate clutter.
Format your résumé for consistency and easy reading.

  • Bold, italicize or underline important headlines (just don't do all three at once -- that's overkill).

  • Create a bulleted list -- not a paragraph formation -- for job descriptions

  • Use a standard font like 11 point Times New Roman or Arial. Fancier fonts are not only harder to read, but they may become garbled in an e-mail format.

  • Combine series' of short, odd jobs into one listing.  (For example: "1999-2002  Barista -- Village Café, Starbucks, Seattle's Best...")

5. Read it aloud.
Reading your résumé aloud will help you identify areas that need improvement or clarification. If something doesn't sound right to you, it won't sound right to a hiring manager.

Source: careerbuilder

Keeping Your Résumé Out of the "No" Pile

The last time you applied for a job and didn't get an interview, was your résumé tossed on the "no" pile after someone skimmed it for only a few seconds, or did the employer read it carefully and you just missed making the cut?

Seventy recruiters met recently at the University of Calgary's Haskayne School of Business to discuss what can make or break a résumé. The recruiters represented a variety of industries including oil and gas, tourism, technology and financial services, and some of what they revealed may surprise you.

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An employer may review 100 or more resumes in an hour, spending only 20-30 seconds on each one. "Recognize that most employers are using the résumé to screen you out rather than to select you in," says Derek Chapman, Ph.D., professor of industrial organization and psychology at the Haskayne School of Business.

Getting Attention

"If you don't catch my eye, you're out," one recruiter said. That doesn't mean you should use bright pink paper or multi-colored lettering, but several recruiters said they don't mind applicants including a photo. Creative photos (such as the shot an applicant included of herself in a snow suit with snowmen on either side and a caption saying "I'm the one in the middle") might help land the interview.

However, Chapman cautions against including a photo. "A photo can be used to screen you out on the basis of your sex, age, national or ethnic origin, etc. If someone hires you for your good looks, are you sure you want to work for that supervisor?"

Name Dropping

A better way to catch an employer's eye is to include names of well-known companies you have worked for. As one recruiter explained, if you previously worked for a reputable company, it enhances your application "because they have some standards." Employers are likely to assume you will be a good employee because you successfully passed that company's hiring process and were well-trained. If you haven't been employed by any large companies, consider doing an internship or volunteer work for a well-known organization.

Surprisingly, "name dropping" only works when mentioning companies. The recruiters said they are turned off when an applicant writes in a cover letter that they were referred by someone such as a company executive. The employers said if someone really thinks you are a good applicant that person should deliver the résumé to the recruiter or phone on your behalf.

Résumé Mistakes

While employers want résumés that are error-free, making a mistake such as addressing your cover letter to the wrong company won't necessarily disqualify you from the job. Of course, it depends on the employer. For some recruiters, that kind of mistake is inexcusable. However, many others will allow one or two mistakes -- even stapling the second page upside down -- as long as you have the right qualifications.

To minimize mistakes, proofread your résumé. Your spell-checker doesn't know you meant to say "manager" instead of "manger".

Another surprise is that about one-third of the recruiters at the session said they do not read cover letters. To make sure your important information doesn't get overlooked, it should be in your résumé.

Making the "Yes" Pile

Here are some additional tips to help you make the "yes" pile:

  • Have a conventional e-mail address. Your name is fine; kookybear@hotmail.com or partyanimal@msn.com are not.

  • Tailor your résumé to each job you apply for. Make sure it shows you have the skills the employer is seeking for that particular position.

  • Use lots of white space and bullet points to help information stand out.

  • Include interests that are relevant to the job. If you are applying for a job in agriculture, for example, show that you have rural roots.

  • If you are submitting an electronic résumé use a standard format such as Word to ensure it can be opened.

  • Don't disclose irrelevant personal information. ("I don't want to know you are 5'6," and weigh 195 pounds" one employer said.)

  • State your accomplishments rather than just your responsibilities. "For example, simply stating: 'Managed a budget of $200,000 annually for training and development' is not nearly as powerful as 'Reduced training and development costs by 20 percent while maintaining the quality and quantity of training provided to employees'," Chapman says.

    "Placing positive information at the very beginning and again at the very end of the résumé helps keep the employer's attention and capitalizes on the psychological principles of memory to work in your favor," Chapman says. "Remember, most employers are only skimming your résumé at first to make a preliminary decision. Make sure they can find your information easily."
    Source: careerbuilder

    Does Your Résumé Answer These Key Questions

    Most people, no matter what job they seek or how long they've been part of the working world, make the same mistake when it comes to the résumé-writing process. They forget -- or simply don't know how -- to develop their résumé from the employer's point of view.

    "Employers want to know several things about you within seconds of glancing at your résumé. Your job, then, is to be hit-them-over-the-head obvious about who you are, what job you're seeking and what you have to offer them," says Louise Kursmark, a certified professional résumé writer and author of "30-Minute Résumé Makeover."

    When sifting through résumés, most employers and recruiters know exactly what they're looking for. According to Kursmark, résumés that meet their expectations are ones that respond to all nine of the following questions: 

    Who are you?
    To determine how well your résumé addresses this, Kursmark suggests having friends or colleagues read it. Within five seconds of them looking at the résumé, snatch it back from them and quiz them on what they know about you as a job seeker based on what they read. If they can't offer a quick answer that truly describes you, your résumé's summary needs some work.

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    What can you do for me? The most effective way to show employers the value you offer is to show them how you've contributed to an employer's success elsewhere. Kursmark says that to be truly compelling, these examples must be specific, measurable accomplishments that cite numbers and other details.
    Do you have the skills I'm looking for? Scan job ads and job descriptions to discover which skills are most relevant to the employers and recruiters receiving your résumé. Then strategically place them throughout your résumé to ensure it makes it past computer scans and into the hands of employers and recruiters.
    Where have you worked before? This one should be simple. Employers want to know where you worked, for how long and which job titles you've held that may indicate how prepared you are for a role at their organization.
    Is your experience relevant to my needs? Sometimes it's necessary to expand upon a job title or job description to truly demonstrate that you have experience that applies to the job you're seeking. Consider using bullets to present brief and interesting information that is relevant to the employer.
    Do you have the right education and credentials? If you have the education, credentials and training needed to qualify for the job, be sure to say so! Use commonly accepted terminology and keywords in this section to ensure your information isn't misinterpreted or overlooked by employers or résumé scanners, Kursmark says.
    What kind of person are you? "Adding insightful information about what makes you special can be a definite plus on your résumé and help decision-makers discriminate between you and another candidate, even before you've met in person," Kursmark says. She suggests including "extras," such as a branding statement and relevant information about foreign languages you speak, computer proficiencies or activities you enjoy.
    Do I see any "red flags" in your background? Gaps in employment (an indication of job hopping), spending too much time in the same job or résumé errors may alert employers and recruiters that you are not the type of candidate they're looking for in their organization. To avoid drawing attention to "red flags" on your résumé, make sure you make your accomplishments and skills stand out as strongly as possible.
    Can I easily get in touch with you? After all your hard work in putting together a powerful résumé, don't forget the essentials! It doesn't matter how great your résumé is, if you don't include a phone number, address and e-mail address somewhere on the résumé, you'll never hear from the employer or recruiter. Just be careful not to include too much contact information. This can be overwhelming for people wanting to know that the number they call first is the one that puts them directly in touch with you.
    Source: careerbuilder

    How to write a cover letter for a marketing position

    If you're a marketer promoting a product, you'd try to sell the customer on why the product is unique, why it meets a specific need and why it will make a short- and long-term difference in the customer's life.
    If you're seeking a marketing position, you should market yourself just like you would a product. While your résumé should include all the details about your experience and successes, you can use your cover letter to sell yourself and hook the hiring manager into reading your résumé.

    In my opinion, cover letters are the 'first impression' for a potential recruit," says Tracey Gould, director of marketing at Baskervill, an architectural, engineering and interior design firm in Richmond, Va. "This is the opportunity where a candidate should wow the potential employer with a summary of who they are and what they are passionate about in terms of marketing, display their successes in terms of qualitative and quantitative results, and demonstrate the value they ... would bring to the particular role and organization for which they are applying.

    Here are tips on writing a cover letter for a marketing position.

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    Treat the employer like your target audience
    Just as when creating marketing materials, when you create your résumé or cover letter, it should be based on a clear focus on the end user's needs, concerns and interests -- in this case, your potential employer," says Linda Pophal, marketing communication consultant at Strategic Communications LLC. "Think of them as your target audience, and consider what they might be looking for in a new employee for this position. What skills are critical both in terms of professional [or] educational experience and interpersonal experience?"
    According to Pophal, hiring managers want to know that you'll make them and their department successful and that your performance will help drive the company's success. "Be clear about what it is you will be able to contribute that is valued by the organization.

    Include your own marketing materials
    If you're in marketing, hiring managers want to see that you're familiar with marketing and social-media tools, and that you use them not only at work but in your personal life, too. In the cover letter's contact information, include links to your online social-media profiles, such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook. Just make sure that you're comfortable with a prospective employer viewing the contents of those pages. If you're not, clean them up before they're included.
    If you don't have a personal website, consider creating one and using it to market your achievements. "If you're a marketing person, build a website to market you," says Mike Schultz, president of sales training and consulting company Rain Group and author of "Rainmaking Conversations." "Position the cover letter as a marketing letter or email that directs them to your website. Then, really blow them away with your marketing video, your content, your design skills, your search-engine skills, your results and so on."

    Give examples of marketing successes
    No matter the position, a cover letter should include key successes that are worth highlighting beyond your résumé. Kyra Mancine, job-search strategist and résumé writer, recommends showcasing one or two examples of how you've proven yourself, as related to the specific job opening. "If the job entails [public relations], add a line about how you 'garnered your company 25 media placements in print, online and television over the past three months' or a similar success story," Mancine says. She also recommends sharing quantifiable successes whenever possible. "You need to show results -- not just vague, flowery language that does not show how you have impacted the bottom line."

    Show off your writing skills
    A well-written cover letter can make a difference between being passed over and being picked. This is especially true for a marketing position, because you're expected to be good at expressing yourself and articulating a message.
    "Writing is a central focus and core skill set of every marketing-related position, and the cover letter is an ideal place where a marketing candidate can shine," Gould says. "Does the cover letter take a different approach than most canned or dry cover letters? Does it use impactful language? Does it want me, as the reader and hiring manager, to want to read more and learn more about this candidate?"

    Don't forget about the basics
    While it's important to customize the letter for the role and to highlight key examples of success, don't slack on the basics. "It should go without saying to check your spelling and grammar, above and beyond what spell-check will do for you," says Nicole Krug, owner of Social Light, a business-strategy company specializing in brand marketing and social media. Krug also suggests that your cover letter be no longer than one page, so you don't lose the employer's attention. "This goes back to giving an indication of how you will perform in your job, and you need to have the ability to make your message succinct and relevant.
    "The bottom line is, you need to realize that your cover letter is a marketing campaign, and you are selling your services," Krug continues. "If you can approach [it] with the understanding that you need to target your audience, create credibility, but also make it creative and unique, you should find success."

    Source: careerbuilder

    Résumés: Does One Size Fit All

    If you have more than one goal, knowing which direction to take your career can be quite the dilemma. Many job seekers are looking in more than one area of expertise, and their résumés often reflect that. The problem with this is that it can be confusing for hiring managers.

    Of course, most employers hope to hire multi-taskers, but many times having a varied assortment of skills listed on your résumé can work against you. What you need to do is focus your résumé to suit a particular career, even if this means creating a different résumé for each different job pursuit.

    So, I really need more than one résumé?If your career pursuits are similar, one résumé might be all you need. But if you're looking in various, unrelated industries or roles during your job search, you'll have to have a different résumé for each job goal.

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    When you write a generic résumé for all of your career goals, it may be too extensive. Employers are looking for someone who is focused. You want the person in charge of hiring to look at your résumé and know immediately you're the right candidate to call in for the interview. Any uncertainty on the part of the hiring manager means the résumé is destined for the trash bin. Recruiters and hiring managers simply don't have time to waste reading wordy or confusing résumés.

    Another way to tell if you need to write more than one résumé is by giving it a thorough review. Better yet, have a trusted friend or relative go over your résumé. Are your goals confusing? Are your skills across the board? Would a hiring manager have any trouble figuring out what it is you actually do? If so, you're in need of more than one résumé.

    I sent out my résumés ... now what?You need to know if your résumé is effective, but how can you tell? One way is through tracking. It's not enough to create a résumé and send it off to employers. To be fully successful in your job hunt, you'll want to keep track of where it went and the type of response it received.

    When you're ready to apply to jobs, make a spreadsheet or grab a notebook to record some information. List the date, the type of résumé sent and where it went. In addition to helping you remember where you applied, it will also help you to see how effective each résumé actually is.

    For instance, are you garnering more interviews resulting from one résumé than another? Are you getting any call backs at all, or are your résumés being ignored? Keeping track of where résumés were sent, when, and the response (or lack of response) to each one will help in your job search.

    If you find you're not receiving as many responses to your résumé as you had hoped, don't be dismayed. It just means a little more fine tuning is in order. Your primary goal is to catch the eye of the hiring manager. You simply can't do this with a generic résumé.

    The 7 Deadly Sins of Cover Letter Writing

    The next letter you receive should be a formal job offer, not a rejection form

    A cover letter is designed to inform and interest an employer to read on to your resume. All too often, though, the cover letter bores, offends, or sometimes amuses—but not in a good way—the people who read them. Successfully achieving the former is the first step to gaining an interview with the company, but commit the latter and your job materials will be sent to a hiring manager's "no" pile quicker than you could write "References Available Upon Request."

    What are some of the gravest sins you could make when composing a cover letter? Read on:

    1. If you're starting with "To Whom it May Concern," you're not as concerned as you should be. File this greeting with smoke signals and pigeon post under obsolete communication strategies. "The employer should say who they want the letter to be addressed to," says Louise Kursmark, the author of 15-Minute Cover Letter and 20 other books on resumes and job search. In other words, using "To Whom it May Concern" as a default greeting, particularly when the name of the appropriate addressee has been given in the job description, would be the one of the worst missteps.

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    If the job post doesn't specify whom you should address, it's not wise to resort to guessing games. Say you're applying for a position within a specific department. Addressing the letter to "Dear Well-Known Department Head" might not be a good move, because perhaps the "Also Well-Known Department Head Assistant" is the hiring manager. Or the human resources department might be handling all first-level correspondence. Either way, you run the risk of addressing the letter to the wrong person. "My recommendation is not to use a salutation at all but to use a subject line," Kursmark says. "Salutations are work-arounds that don't work very well."

    When in doubt: If your cover letter feels naked sans salutation, Kursmark suggests addressing a greeting to "Dear Hiring Professional." You can also call the company directly to ask to whom you should address your letter.

    2. If you're including typos and misspelled words, "your" going to miss a good opportunity. Often, it's not on obvious spelling errors that job seekers get snagged, but on the little niggling slip-ups that spell check might not catch. Quadruple-check all their vs. there sentences and watch out for its vs. it's mentions. You should also be diligent to avoid common grammar mistakes, and know when to use "that" vs. "which" or "its" instead of "their." These tiny boo-boos won't seem tiny to the grammarian hiring manager.
    "Your letter is an indication of your communication skills," says Kursmark. "If you can't write a letter for a job, what are you going to do when you're writing emails, or speaking to people on the telephone?"
    Also falling under typos and misspellings: botching the name of the hiring manager. Leslie Smyth won't appreciate receiving Lesley Smith's mail. "People are sensitive about their names," Kursmark says. "They want their name spelled correctly, and they get offended if it's spelled wrong. All might not be lost—it depends on how sensitive the [hiring manager] is. But you should still avoid making this mistake entirely."
    When in doubt: It's always harder to spot your own mistakes. Ask an impartial friend or a mentor if they'd be willing to proofread your job materials.

    3. If you're using a form letter, it will come across as _______________________ [insert an adjective for "impersonal"]. It's a good idea to have a boilerplate that you can use for most cover letters. It's a bad idea not to customize that boilerplate every time you apply to a new position, addressing what specific qualifications you have that will fulfill the job description. "You don't want to give the impression to the people reading it that you're applying for any job. A custom letter explains how you can be of value to the position and how you can help the company," Kursmark says.

    Before finalizing your letter, make sure you've touched on how you, as a job candidate, will help the company achieve its mission. And refer to the job description to explain what qualifications you have to best do the job as the duties have been explained. Also be sure to follow the directions as specified in the posting. Don't send a Microsoft Word copy of your letter if you were asked to send a PDF attachment.
    When in doubt: This is a cover letter, not a Mad Libs puzzle. Read two of your letters back to back to compare your writing style. If you've just cut and pasted in various action words, you're not doing enough.

    4. If you're bringing up something new and different from your resume, you'll appear forgetful and ... something or other. Don't use your cover letter as an explanation of issues you didn't address on your resume, such as not having a college degree, or your two-year employment gap. "I think you have to respect the short attention spans and busy lives of people," Kursmark says. "First of all, a lot of people aren't going to read a cover letter. You have a challenge if it's something important [that you need to explain], but I wouldn't put it in the cover letter."
    When in doubt: You'll need to play offense in your activities and when writing your resume, not defense when sending your cover letter. For example, fill an employment gap with career-related volunteer work that you can add to your resume.

    5. If you're too wordy, you're probably going to bore the reader, leading them to put your letter in the trash bin, and then... You get the point. Keep it short and simple. A two-page resume is acceptable based on qualifications and level of experience. But the two-page cover letter? Verboten. In fact, you're entering the danger zone if your letter reaches a full page. "Now everything is sent by email, and employers are looking at cover letters on their smartphones and tablets. You don't want to give them too much information too early in the process," Kursmark notes.
    When in doubt: Kursmark suggests sticking to a couple of paragraphs, and maybe including a few eye-friendly bullet points, but that's it.

    6. If you're using big, outdated SAT words, you'll appear supercilious. Do you actually know anyone who uses the words "bathetic," "perspicacious," and "supernumerary?" Neither does your hiring manager. Save those antics for Scrabble—your manner of speech will convey your intelligence more than the number of syllables per word. "Be crisp and clear and use short words and sentences," Kursmark says. "You don't actually impress people by using $5 words. Especially if you misuse them."
    When in doubt: If you're using Microsoft Word to compose cover letters, you can adjust your spell-check preferences to also "Show readability statistics." This tool will estimate the grade level of the writing in your document. Kursmark recommends sticking to a sixth- or seventh-grade writing level.

    Read more:  The 7 Deadly Sins of Cover Letter Writing


     Source: usnews

    Quiz: Do you know when to rephrase your résumé?

    Sometimes a résumé was once good, but now it's stale. Sometimes it was never that good to begin with. Either way, how do you know if it's time to rephrase your résumé?

    Below you'll find five sentences commonly found on a résumé. Each sentence could be rewritten to better reflect the job seeker's skills. Choose the option you think best describes why and how the sentence should be reworded. Once you've finished, review the results to see if you know how to write a winning résumé or if it's time for some rephrasing.

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    1. "Objective: To obtain a challenging position in leadership that will allow me to apply creative problem solving to achieve optimum results."

    A. The objective is pretty vague; it should also include the company or position title, as well as a desired salary.

    B. The space for objective statements could be better used if replaced with a summary of your job-seeker brand, or a one-sentence statement that summarizes your expertise and skills.

    C. Simplify the objective statement and use language from the job description.

    2. "Summary of qualifications: Maintained strong business relationships with new and old clients, and cultivated strong connections with team members to create strong communication at our company."

    A. This could be separated into three bullet points to make a stronger statement.

    B. The repetitive language should be removed, and there should be individual bullet points with clear descriptions of each qualification.

    C. Leave this as is.

    3. "Professional experience: Independent business consultant at ABC Co., 2006-present; account executive at JRR Sales Co., September 2000-April 2006; cashier at Jerry's Ice Cream Shop, June 2003-April 2006."

    A. Bullet points should follow each title, as well as daily tasks performed.

    B. The only work experience listed should be relevant to the job you're interested in and should include three to four bullet points of major accomplishments that relate to the position for which you're applying.

    C. This is fine, as long as the location of each business is also included.

    4. "Education: College University, Class of 1998."

    A. Include the school's location.

    B. Include the school's location, your degree information and any training or certificates received. Revise the
    title to say, "Education and training."

    C. Leave this as is.

    5. "References: John Baker, supervisor at ABC Co., phone and email included; Linda Cook, manager at JRR Sales Co., phone and email included."

    A. Leave this as is.

    B. Leave references off of the résumé, and use the space for something else.

    C. Use the line, "References available upon request."

    Mostly A's: You're on the right path, but most of your answers would make the résumé too wordy or unorganized. You may want to edit your résumé so it's more concise. In each section, ask yourself if the hiring manager would find that information helpful, relevant and easy to understand. Résumé space is too valuable to be wasted on unnecessary information.
    Mostly B's: Your résumé rephrasing skills are top-notch. You clearly took the time to research the position you're applying for, and you're able to communicate your personality and experience in your résumé. You've likely included only relevant information on your résumé and everything included supports why you're the best candidate for the job.
    Mostly C's: Although minimalism can be an attractive quality in business, your answers indicate that you're holding back on your résumé. Hiring managers can go through thousands of job applications when searching for the right candidate, and it's important that you stand out from your competition by showcasing your individuality, experience and personality. If you don't have much work experience, include information that's relevant to the position of interest, and communicate why you're right for the role.

    Source: careerbuilder

    The Résumé Black Hole

    Does it really exist? How can I avoid it?

    Many job seekers today will tell you that the most frustrating part of the job search is after they hit "send" and their résumés are sent out into application oblivion -- never to be seen again.

    It's the common perception of the résumé black hole -- a place where, instead of stars and planets, résumés and cover letters are just floating around, waiting to get sucked back to Earth and into a hiring manager's hands.

    Matthew McMahon, partner at McMahon Partners LLC, an executive search firm, says the ease of online job boards is a double-edged sword for candidates. While they can see what's available and apply to what interests them, the little time and monetary cost also causes them to apply to anything and everything.

    "The resulting volume ensures that some candidates might be lost in the shuffle. If a recruiter posts an attractive job, she might get a few hundred responses. There's a chance that the recruiter won't get through every response," McMahon says.

    So what happens to your application materials when you apply for a job online? Who sees your résumé? More importantly, who doesn't? Why can't someone acknowledge your application? And, most importantly, what can you do to ensure that your résumé doesn't fall into cyberspace?

    McMahon and Caitrin O'Sullivan, public relations coordinator at iCIMS, a leading software-as-a-service provider, answer all of your burning résumé black-hole questions.

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    Does a black hole really exist? McMahon: It depends entirely on the company. The main culprits, in my opinion, are volume and the abilities of the people who read your résumé. Usually the résumé goes to a gatekeeper of some sort, typically someone within HR. If the gatekeeper is experienced with the field for which she is recruiting, she'll have an idea what she is looking for. The danger in this process, however, exists when one person has to screen résumés for too many departments. There just isn't a way for that person to speak every language they need to. That person will usually rely solely on keywords and will miss things.

    For example, we had a client that had a fully automated applicant-tracking system (ATS). Candidates would submit a résumé to a posting and the ATS would import it automatically to the database. Internal recruiters would then mine the database against current openings using keyword searches. What that meant, ultimately, was that there was no guarantee that submitted résumés would be viewed by a human at any point.

    Where do résumés go after I hit send?O'Sullivan: Large, enterprise-sized organizations may be receiving hundreds of applications per day, which virtually no one could manually acknowledge one by one with individualized e-mails. There is a plethora of applicant-tracking systems available today. The majority of these ATS come equipped with comprehensive candidate relationship management tools.

    These CRM tools enable automated messages to be sent to all candidates alerting them of their status within the review process and also acknowledging receipt of the application or résumé. This eliminates the "black-hole effect" of the job-seeking process. Assuming an organization is leveraging an ATS, a candidate's résumé and job application should automatically be stored in a central database with an individual candidate profile.

    Please describe an ATS systemO'Sullivan: An applicant-tracking system is a software application designed to help organizations recruit employees more efficiently. Its primary function is to automate and streamline the recruitment process. It can also be leveraged for such tasks as posting job openings to corporate Web sites and job boards, screening and ranking résumés, or generating mass communication, such as rejection notices or interview requests to candidates. ATS also provides the ability to track applicant statuses per job and enables users to streamline and automate application tracking with online employment applications, electronic candidate and recruiting forms, and configurable applicant flow reports and metrics.

    Résumés that are "accepted" through an ATS go into the same place as résumés that are rejected; it's just that different actions are taken on them. Résumés that do not meet requirements are denoted as part of the group that will receive rejection letters; applicants that are deemed an appropriate fit will be designated to a group that will receive an automated message alerting them of their status and scheduling an appointment, whether it is phone or first- or second- round interviews. Many organizations even go directly to these résumés that were at one point rejected to fill other positions that might be a better match.

    Why don't hiring managers and recruiters let applicants know their application was received?O'Sullivan: If an organization, especially a medium or large one, were not leveraging an applicant-tracking system, it's difficult for job seekers to understand the magnitude of applications flooding recruiters/HR managers' desks, especially during a period of high unemployment. Just visually scanning through all of these résumés can take hours upon hours of manpower. To have to communicate with every one of those applicants on top of that would be a truly formidable task.

    What are five ways a job seeker can avoid the "black hole"?1. Don't apply to jobs for which you are not qualified and don't send résumés to the same recruiter over and over again. "Recruiters are doing this for their livelihood. If they have your résumé and think that there is a chance that you'll get hired for one of their jobs, they'll respond -- usually right away," McMahon says.

    2. Customize your résumé. "Read the description and take your best guess at what the employer is seeking. Move relevant experience to the top of each section of your résumé. Use clear language that mirrors the language in the 'qualifications' section of the posting," McMahon says.

    3. Use your cover e-mail to address obvious disqualifiers.  "Make it hard for the screener to disregard you. If you're in Florida and the job is in Alaska, mention that you went to school in Alaska and yearn to return," McMahon says. "Better yet, put the address of your aunt in Juneau on the résumé and mention that you are moving there in three weeks."

    4. Keywords, keywords, keywords. "We can't say this enough. You have to tailor your résumé to each job description. Using the same keywords and phrases used in a job description, and repeating them as frequently as possible in your résumé -- while remaining logical -- will make the ATS rank you as a higher and better match for this job," O'Sullivan says. "Many ATS weigh more heavily when those keywords appear at the top of your résumé, because it indicates you're currently or very recently enacting those key terms."

    5. Keep it simple. "Don't include graphics, logos or pictures. Also, don't try to get fancy with text boxes, headers or footers. While résumé-parsing tools are a great resource and save hours upon hours of manual data entry, they can't always parse text boxes, headers or footers with 100 percent accuracy," O'Sullivan says. "It's best to avoid the risk and leave out these features altogether. Furthermore, almost all ATS will strip down résumés into their most basic format, text only. So don't stress over font or color -- it ultimately doesn't matter."


    Source: careerbuilder

    Should You Always Send a Cover Letter

    You found an exciting new job posting and are getting ready to submit your resume, but what about a cover letter? Is it always necessary to spend time writing a cover letter, or are there times you can get away without one? We checked in with a panel of career experts to find out.  

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    Pro: A Cover Letter Can Set You Apart

    “Skip the cover letter, and you miss out on an opportunity to sell yourself,” says Evelyn Salvador, author of Step-by-Step Cover Letters: Build a Cover Letter in 10 Easy Steps Using Personal Branding and principal of Creative Image Builders, a resume-development and career-coaching firm in Coram, New York.

    Sending a cover letter along with a resume helps job seekers build their brand, the same way an advertising company promotes a product’s brand. “A well-defined brand wins interviews, maximizes salary potential and puts job seekers in the top 2 percent of candidates considered for positions,” Salvador says.

    Think of your cover letter as another tool in your job search arsenal, says Betty Corrado, owner of career-coaching and resume-writing firm Career Authenticity in Cos Cob, Connecticut. “The cover letter is a key part of your marketing package,” she says. “Use it as an opportunity to convey your brand and value proposition.”

    Pro: Cover Letters Let You Reveal Your Personality and Build Rapport

    A resume tends to be fact-based and somewhat formal, but a cover letter can be infused with personality. “Don’t be afraid to inject personal notes about interests or philosophies that may help employers determine if you will fit into their culture,” says Roleta Fowler Vasquez, professional resume writer and owner of Wordbusters in Fillmore, California. To increase the “wow” factor of their cover letters, she encourages applicants to add a few standout accomplishments that don’t appear on the resume.

    Laila Atallah, a Seattle career counselor and owner of Career Counseling with a Twist, agrees that a cover letter can be more revealing than a resume. “The best cover letters are infused with energy, personality and details about the applicant’s skills and achievements,” she says. “I get a sense of the person and what they’ve accomplished, and it’s easier for me to picture them in their next job.”

    Job seekers often make the mistake of sending a resume without a cover letter, says Ann Baehr, president of Best Resumes of New York in East Islip, New York. “This is a missed opportunity to establish rapport with employers and provide a sense of who they are beyond their work experience,” she says.

    Thinking about skipping the cover letter when applying for an internal position? Don't. Use the cover letter to show how well you understand your employer’s mission and remind management of how much you have already accomplished. Include a cover letter even if a colleague is submitting your resume for you. The letter is a chance to introduce yourself and mention your contact as a reminder that you are a referral.

    Pro: A Cover Letter Lets You Tell a Story

    The cover letter can include information that would be out of place on the resume. “Job seekers can include the name of a mutual contact or referral, state how they would benefit the employer if hired and explain tricky situations such as changing careers, relocating, returning to the workforce and so on,” Baehr says.

    Atallah encourages job seekers to learn about the requirements of the job opening and use the cover letter to express how and why they are uniquely qualified. “Use your cover letter to tell a story,” she says. “Studies show that stories are memorable and engaging, and cover letters are a perfect vehicle for expressing your successes in a more storylike format.”

    When Not to Send a Cover Letter

    Given all the reasons to send a cover letter, is it ever a good idea not to? “If the application instructions expressly say not to include a cover letter, or if an online application offers no opportunity, then you can forego the cover letter in these cases,” Atallah says.

    Vasquez agrees that you should not send a cover letter when the employer specifically says not to. “This may be a test of your ability to follow directions,” she says.

    What if you think the cover letter won’t be read? Corrado says that while some hiring managers say they don’t read cover letters, those who do may dismiss your application if you don’t send one. “Why take this chance when you need every possible advantage in this job market?” she asks.

    While writing cover letters is time-consuming, the consensus is that the effort could give you an edge and help you land more interviews.

    Source: Monster

    Weird and Wacky Things Actually Written on Résumés

    When Sara Sutton Fell, CEO of FlexJobs.com, was hiring for her entry-level job site, one particular résumé stood out from all the others. The reason? The applicant claimed to be a "Pig Wrestling Champion" and included details like weight of the pig, number of competitors and months of training.

    "[The candidate] definitely set himself apart from other candidates; not so sure it was in the way he was hoping though," Fell said. "If the gentleman had been applying for a job with a company that's involved with county or state fairs, or with a health organization currently helping to prevent the spread of Swine Flu, then his pig wrestling championship would be acceptable (and in the latter application, pretty darn funny).  Otherwise, he should chalk it off as not acceptable."

    From religious beliefs to sexual preference, you name it and it's probably been on someone's résumé. Job seekers just want to make a statement and stand out from their competition; unfortunately they are often memorable for all the wrong reasons.

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    "When candidates put things on their résumés that are completely irrelevant to the job position, you have to question their judgment," says Ty Mays, owner of Perfect Pitch Public Relations. "If you can't make smart choices or determine what's appropriate during the job search process, an employer is going to wonder what choices you would make if hired. And as a small business owner, I can't take the risk on a candidate who doesn't understand that."

    ResumeGuru.com's Robert Dagnall agrees. "The problem with these résumé entries is that they fail the test of relevance. Your résumé should be built around the intersection of your greatest strengths and an employer's greatest needs. Too often, job seekers fail to take into account the needs of their audience -- and that's when the bizarre and narcissistic creep in."

    It's great to wow a hiring manager; there are certain ways to do it, however, without crossing the line. Patrick Scullin, founding partner and executive creative director for Ames Scullin O'Haire Inc. advertising agency, says there are certain things that are right for résumés and others that are just plain wrong. Scullin says the following are acceptable on résumés:

    ·         Interests that show you're an interesting person -- hobbies, passions, musical instruments you play, etc. -- show a dynamic that brings you to life.
    ·         Scholastic achievements and high GPAs. Everyone wants smart people; if you've got proof you're one of them, serve it up.
    ·         Interesting jobs you did as a young person. These show you're not afraid of hard work and you're adaptable.
    While these are areas that may cause harm:
    ·         Big gaps in employment history with no explanation. You're begging questions that will only keep suspicions high. Full disclosure, always.
    ·         Missing information. Remember Watergate -- it's not the crime, it's the cover-up that gets you in trouble.
    ·         Pessimism. Don't be negative in your job descriptions-- no matter how bad the job or your boss was. It raises flags to potential employers that you're a griper.
    ·         Spelling and grammatical errors. Whatever you do, proofread, proofread, proofread and then proofread again your résumé. A typo or bad grammar is completely unacceptable. And please, don't have exclamation points!!! Résumés are no place for forced drama.
    ·         Narcissism. Have a little humility. While a résumé is a good place to present yourself in the best possible light, it does not excuse you from coming off so strong people will think you're an egomaniacal blowhard.
    The weirdest and wackiest
    If you're still wondering what works and what doesn't, here's a list of real things that employers read on résumés that they deemed to be "weird and wacky:"
    "I always tell people to include their relocation details up top of their résumé and I received one that read, 'Researching condoms in the local Washington, DC area.'"
    Heather R. Huhman, founder and president of Come Recommended
    "One of the weirdest résumés I ever received was from someone who had a statement at the top about how dependable he was and then a doodle of him on a skateboard."
    "I once received a résumé with three pages worth of résumé packed onto one page by putting it in 7 point font. You needed a microscope to read it."
    "People have sent me résumés with the words 'fast paced' spelled incorrectly. I have seen 'face paced,' 'fast paised' and my favorite one of all times, 'fast paste'."
    Abby Kohut, president and staffing consultant at Staffing Symphony, LLC
    "Some people do not know how to abbreviate 'assistant.' You really should not be abbreviating titles (or much else) on your résumé. To me, it indicates laziness in that you don't want to spend the time typing the extra letters. But if you're going to abbreviate 'assistant,' please use 'Asst' not 'Ass'."
    "I once reviewed a résumé that was handwritten on lined yellow paper. One of the jobs was listed as 'Central Intelligence Agency, Langley, VA,' and the description of the job was, 'I'm not authorized to divulge the nature of my job duties while in the employ of the CIA'."
    Sue Thompson, The Potentialist at Set Free Life Seminars LLC
    "I once had a candidate for a marketing assistant position who had worked in a supermarket very early in his career and, for that job; he listed as one of his responsibilities, 'cut the cheese'."
    Anonymous hiring manager at a large staffing firm
    "A coffee stain. Yes, I once received a résumé with a partial coffee cup ring stain on it. I believe I used the résumé as a coaster."
    Patrick Scullin, founding partner and executive creative director for Ames Scullin O'Haire Inc.
    "Dirt. The résumé was intentionally smeared with mud. I don't recall what the intent was. I immediately threw it away."
    "A résumé from a part-time model.  Included with her résumé was a 4x6 card showing her in various poses and at the bottom it read 'good hands.'  She was applying for a corporate position."
    Cathleen Faerber, The Wellesley Group, Inc.
    "The gentleman that included his picture (not a flattering one) and the declaration that he was single and lived with his mother -- this was disclosed right under his picture and was the initial comment on his résumé prior to any career objective or work information."
    "Under 'reason for leaving' [the applicant] stated 'threat of death'."
    "It seems that my credentials would be a good fit for what you are looking to accomplish, however, I don't wish to make a career of it."
    Michael Becce, CEO of MRB Public Relations Inc.
    "I think the goofiest thing I saw on a résumé was a person who listed one of their special skills as Playstation 3 and Xbox 360. They were applying for an accounting position, so it makes absolutely no sense why they would have that on there."
    Sky Opila, online résumé service BriteTab.com
    "The other one was a gentleman who put his marital status as 'single, but looking' on the résumé! I don't understand what these folks were thinking..."
     "I think I was fired because my previous employer was racist."
    Laura Koelling, HR department for a catering company in St. Louis

    "I left when I filed workman's comp against my employer. It just got too complicated."

    "I didn't like working at the strip club because I felt exposed."
    "The résumé said 'ecxellent attention to detail.' Yes, 'excellent' was misspelled!"
    Molly Wendell, a job-networking expert and author of "The New Job Search"

    "Some applicants gave me too much information in the name of their résumé. For example, 'LizSmithCorrectedRésumé' [What if I preferred the incorrect version?] or 'Moms Résumé.'  [Hey Mom ... are your kids returning the favor for all of the homework you did for them in school?  Are you going to have them do your job for you once you're hired as well?]"
    "Excellent composer of song lyrics."
    Isabel Huntsman, Seneschal Advisors, LLC
    "Hobbies: Sleeping, etc., etc."
    Carrie Rocha, www.pocketyourdollars.com
    "An e-mail address: pinkpoodle@...com (How seriously can you take this person? How professional does this e-mail look if used on our behalf?)"
    Kitty Werner, Chair, Central Vermont Crime Stoppers
    "A résumé that included drawings of Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, then when we called the applicant in for an interview, his twin brother came as well. They had duplicate résumés and showed the same portfolio of work."
    David Langton - Principal, Langton Cherubino Group, Ltd.
    "[The applicant] had blank spots on his cover letter and résumé that he filled in by hand. He had whited out info - like the 'To' and 'Objective' and hand wrote info for the current job."
    "'I have never trapped a man.' A woman offered this as evidence of good character."
    Robert Dagnall, ResumeGuru.com
    "Personal accomplishments: Getting back together with my boyfriend upon his release from prison."
    "And here's a new favorite that arrived in my mailbox this morning as part of someone's e-mail signature: 'I am the Master, and Technology my Slave.'"
    "Number of grandchildren."
    Ty Mays, Owner of Perfect Pitch Public Relations
    "Homecoming king."

    Source: careerbuilder

    Resumes That Get Interviews

    In a job search, your resume plays an important role. It highlights your strengths and qualifications for prospective employers and can entice them to call you for an interview. 

    But when you apply for an opening, your resume could be just one of dozens, or even hundreds. Lacking the time to examine every document in depth, the hiring manager or human resources recruiter may give each resume only a quick once-over. How can you ensure your resume stands out? Using green or pink paper and multicolored ink is one option, but not the best one, since you're likely to come across as unprofessional.
    Instead, follow these guidelines.

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    Keep it short. Unless you have decades of experience or are applying for a high-level position, keep your resume to one or two pages. To save space -- and impress the hiring manager -- prune anything not germane to the specific job you seek. Leave off personal, biographic details such as you hobbies and the names of your family members.

    Use a clean, uncluttered format. Your resume should be easy to follow, with clearly marked sections. Use headings for main ideas and bullet points for specifics. Don't try to cram in more information by using small type or narrow margins, and incorporate plenty of white space so the page doesn't look like a sea of type. Use just one font -- mixing typefaces is tricky and best left to design professionals. In addition, use boldface and italics sparingly, and bear in mind that underlined text and copy set in all capitals is hard to read.
    Many employers want applicants to copy and paste a resume into the body of an e-mail rather than including it as an attached file. In these instances, strip out formatting such as bullets, boldface and italic type to ensure the resume can be read on any computer system.

    Lead with an objective. At the top of your resume, include a short statement outlining your career goals and the type of position you are looking for, along with two or three credentials that qualify you for the role. Concentrate on the value you can bring to the company and what it will gain from hiring you, not the expectations you have of the position. In other words, mention that you are a "detail-oriented accounting professional and team player" rather than "seeking position in a relaxed, congenial environment."

    Customize the resume for each job opening. Submitting a one-size-fits-all resume for every posting is not a smart move. Instead, alter the content to highlight your skills and accomplishments that fit the opening you are targeting. You can create one generic resume and then adapt it to each opportunity you're applying for. The extra time you take to do this will pay off by generating more interest from employers.

    Use keywords. Your resume may be scanned into a database and searched for keywords relevant to the job you seek. More and more companies are using this technology to quickly evaluate applicants. Examples of keywords include specific tasks or responsibilities, job titles, computer programs, or certifications.

    Integrate keywords into the text of your work history or objective statement, but make sure what you write is accurate and not over the top. If you pepper the resume with too many keywords, the resume will look contrived, which could be just as off-putting as not including enough. 

    When choosing keywords, be aware of spam filters. Watch out for words that could be taken as suggestive or sound like a sweepstakes or marketing promotion. These could trigger a spam filter that consigns your resume to the junk e-mail folder. Instead of saying you "won awards" or "prizes," say you were "formally recognized" for your accomplishments.

    Show successes. Demonstrate how you have contributed to former employers and how your next employer will benefit from hiring you. Use action words, verbs such as "increased" and "implemented," for example.

    Quantify your accomplishments.  Give your professional achievements weight by stating exactly how you affected a former company's bottom line. Include the cost savings, budget size, percent improvement in productivity, number of projects completed per year and similar figures. By quantifying your accomplishments, you demonstrate a business perspective and give hiring managers concrete evidence of your abilities.

    Although employers want to see a solid record of success, it is always a mistake to inflate your accomplishments or invent degrees, certifications and software expertise you don't possess. The truth can quickly emerge through even the most basic reference or background check, and the consequences can be serious.

    Proofread, proofread, proofread. Make sure your resume contains no misspelled words or errors in grammar and punctuation. Typos show a lack of attention to detail.  Nearly half the executives polled in a survey by Robert Half said just one typo would disqualify a candidate from consideration. The lesson: Proofread, and ask an eagle-eyed friend to go over your resume. In addition, use your computer's spell-check feature, but remember it won't catch all errors, such as substituting "manger" for "manager," for example.

    Accompany your resume with a two- or three-paragraph cover letter that goes into greater detail about specific accomplishments outlined in your resume. Then, don't just send your application off and hope for the best. If you don't hear from the company in a couple of weeks, follow up with an e-mail or phone call. Follow-up contact will reinforce your interest in the position and demonstrate initiative, as well as potentially prompt the hiring manager to give your resume a second look.

    Source: careerbuilder