Keeping It Real On Your Résumé

A word to the wise on stretching the truth on résumés: Don't.

Many professionals -- especially those who are just starting their careers -- are tempted to pad their résumés in an attempt to look more impressive to potential employers. The frustration of a long job search has also caused more than a few applicants to embellish their résumés.

But being dishonest about previous positions, qualifications or degrees can quickly land you in hot water. It calls into question your integrity and will quickly eliminate you from consideration.

Many companies perform background and reference checks on prospective employees, and just a small white lie is enough to disqualify someone. It takes only one quick call to a previous boss or a university  office of the registrar to uncover a falsehood -- putting an end to your chances of securing the job. If an overstatement is initially overlooked, it could still come back to haunt you, even once you're employed.

So keep your résumé real. Tailor it and your cover letter to the position you seek, clearly explaining how your skill set and previous experience align with the job requirements. Following are some additional tips to help you create an impressive résumé that speaks the truth:

Stick to the facts
Including keywords that match phrases from the job description in your résumé and cover letter is one way to help you catch a hiring manager's eye. For example, if you are applying for an entry-level Web design job that requires "advanced Photoshop skills," include "Photoshop" in your résumé and highlight projects you've worked on that entailed extensive use of this application. Just be sure the keywords you include accurately reflect your background.

Make the connection
Many job candidates assume that if their résumé generates only tepid interest from employers, it must be because their qualifications fall short of the company's requirements. But in many cases, the bigger problem is how their experience is presented. A résumé isn't just a list of facts -- it should paint a portrait of who you are and what you can do for an employer.

Perhaps the most common résumé mistake is not being specific enough about your previous duties and accomplishments. For example, if you are a database administrator, noting that you "manage the company's databases" doesn't tell an employer exactly what you did. Did you troubleshoot problems? Make key business decisions related to the database? Supervise employees?

Put yourself in the employer's shoes. He or she is trying to develop the clearest possible sense of how you can contribute to the business. For every position you've held, list several specific achievements and explain how each benefited the company.

Don't sell yourself short
Every job candidate has weaknesses. But there are ways to turn perceived weaknesses into strengths. If you have only a few years of experience, for example, use your cover letter to highlight how your enthusiasm and ability to learn quickly can be assets.

Your attitude also can have an effect on your job search. If you've become convinced that no one will hire you, you may inadvertently be conveying this pessimism in your cover letter, making it a self-fulfilling prophecy. Demonstrating confidence gives you an immediate edge on the competition.

A truly successful job search isn't about doing whatever it takes to land a job. It's about showing employers who you are and what you can contribute. In doing so, you give yourself the best chance of getting a foot in the door.
 
 
 
 

Your Résumé: How to Resurrect Outdated Experience

Many job seekers fail to score interviews, even though their skills and experience qualify them for the positions they want. This can occur when a job seeker's work history sounds archaic to the person screening his or her résumé, according to Susan Britton Whitcomb, one of the nation's most renowned career coaches and professional résumé writers.

Fortunately, there are some simple solutions to such a dilemma, which Whitcomb unveils in her recently released book "Résumé Magic, Fourth Edition."

"The present progressive and past progressive tenses, such as 'I am managing' or 'I was managing,' equip you with a tool for blurring the dates of your experience," Whitcomb says. "Because résumé speak calls for dropping pronouns, like 'I,' and helping verbs, like 'am' or 'was,' before the verb, you start the sentence with the main action verb, which makes it possible to give older experience a feeling of real time," Whitcomb says.
People sometimes question this strategy based on the notion that experience should always be written in past tense. Whitcomb debunks this assumption and says job seekers have more leeway than they may expect.

"There are very few hard-and-fast rules in résumé development other than to include your contact information, provide some measure of your candidacy and to be honest. That's why it's 'legal' to use progressive tenses if you need to make outdated experience sound fresh and contemporary. The only caveat is that you must be consistent in your usages throughout the résumé."

Below is an example of how she was able to make a client's outdated experience sound fresher and more contemporary on his résumé.

Before:Responsibilities· Directed display, merchandising, promotions, advertising and in-store sales strategies.
· Managed receiving, pricing, markdowns, inventory and stock transfers.
· Used consultative and suggestive sales techniques to maximize add-on sales.
Results· Created promotional vehicles to generate sales increase of 20% annually.
· Maintained lowest inventory costs among company's four stores.
· Earned Top Salesman honors among sales team of 30+.
After:Responsibilities· Directing display, merchandising, promotions, advertising and in-store sales strategies.
· Managing receiving, pricing, markdowns, inventory and stock transfers.
· Using consultative and suggestive sales techniques to maximize add-on sales.
Results· Creating promotional vehicles to generate sales increase of 20% annually.
· Maintaining lowest inventory costs among company's four stores.
· Earning Top Salesman honors among sales team of 30+.
Job seekers needing to reference professional experience that is several decades old, however, will have to work beyond this quick fix.
Generally, most career coaches advise individuals to list only the last 10 to 15 years of work history on their résumés. Career changers and people wanting to return to an occupation or industry they once worked in may need to mention older experience to prove they possess knowledge and skills that would be desirable to the employer.
To troubleshoot this dilemma, Whitcomb suggests using a brief summary description, such as:
            Eight years prior background in production environments, gaining hands-on-experience as          expediter, Cardex clerk, production scheduler and manufacturing analyst.
 or:
            Prior background in production environments, gaining hands-on-experience as    expediter, Cardex clerk, production scheduler and manufacturing analyst.
"Enumerate dates only when the dates don't go back too far, with too far being defined as approximately 25 years of total experience. Dates that take you back more than three decades might as well be emergency flares -- they'll attract as much attention," Whitcomb says.





Source: careerbuilder

Showcase Marketable Skills in Your Resume Skills Section


Have you thought about the skills you're listing in your resume's Skills section? If you treat this section as an afterthought, you could be missing an opportunity to show employers you've got the right skills for the job.
When completing the Skills section, consider the skills that would be important to the job you're seeking.

The best way to get started is to search job titles on Monster and review several postings for your target job. Look at the ideal requirements in the ads and write a list of frequently repeated skills. Next, create a list of your matching skills that you can incorporate in your resume.

Keep in mind you develop skills in everything from work experience to education and training, hobbies, extracurricular activities, volunteer work and even self-study:

Three Types of Skills
  • Job-Related: These are relevant to a specific job. For example, an accountant's job-related skills might include financial planning, budgeting and financial reporting.
     
  • Transferable: Skills learned in one field or job that are applicable to different ones are transferable. These skills can reflect how you deal with things (assembly, machine operation), data (research, synthesize information) and people (instruct, manage and negotiate).
     
  • Adaptive: These skills are the hardest to substantiate as they include personality traits and characteristics that determine your work style. Adaptive skills include reliability, ability to get along with colleagues, honesty and productivity.  
Adding Your Skills to Your Resume
Job-related and transferable skills are the most desirable to list on your resume. For each skill, indicate your skill level and years of experience. It's important to be honest when describing your skill level. While it's tempting to deem yourself an expert, once you get the interview or job, you may need to prove your claim. But this is not the place for modesty either; call yourself an expert if you are truly at that level.
Here's a guideline for rating your skill level:
  • Beginner: A novice understanding of the skill. You have exposure to the skill and understand its basic concepts but lack experience.
     
  • Intermediate: Between a beginner and an expert. You have experience with and can carry out the skill but don't understand its advanced concepts.
     
  • Expert: A highly developed skill level. You have solid experience and training with the skill and understand advanced concepts. You demonstrate proficiency and superior skill level.
How Many Skills to List?
Employers quickly scan resumes, so long lists are not likely to get read. Instead, select 10 to 15 of your strongest, most desirable skills. A short, targeted skills list will be more effective than one that's long and overwhelming.





Source: Monster

The One-Page Resume vs. the Two-Page Resume

Best Practices for Resume Length

Resume length is one of those issues that vexes job seekers. So we asked a panel of experts to weigh in on the matter: “Should you have a one-page resume or a two-page resume?” Here’s what they said.    

Pro: One-Page Resume:

“Ideally, your resume should be one page, because recruiters and managers have short attention spans,” says Jennifer Brooks, senior associate director of the MBA Career Management Center at UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. “It’s your ad; it doesn’t have to be comprehensive. If you feel the need to write down everything you’ve done in your entire career, you’re not thinking about the buyer, who just needs to know what’s relevant.”

Her tip for keeping your resume short and easy for the “buyer”: Use a summary statement. “It’s better than a career objective,” she says. “It’s what you want me to know about you in a nutshell. That makes it easy for recruiters to know your focus and your skills.”

Dani Johnson, author of Grooming the Next Generation for Success, agrees. “If you have a long work history, know that most people don’t read what you did 10 years ago,” she explains. “Put the focus on your most recent accomplishments, and if you have skills that repeat from one company or job to the next, state ‘same as above as well as these’ to save room.”

Pro: Two-Page Resume:

While everyone agrees shorter is better, it’s a fact that some of us will need longer resumes. If you’ve got a lot of varied experience or a long career, you may well need more space to tell your story.

“Two pages may be OK,” says Paul C. Green, a former hiring manager and the author of Get Hired. But three or more pages is too much. The best way to present your career information is through a chronological resume format with bulleted skills listed below each position.” One exception: Any skills that are relevant to a particular employer or are in demand in today’s workplace, like critical-care nursing, nanotechnology or eliminating environmental hazards, for example. For maximum impact, list these skills in your resume's career summary.

Kim Isaacs, Monster's Resume Expert and director of ResumePower.com in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, says even if you’re going long, stay focused on what’s most relevant to prospective employers. “Let go of information that doesn’t help win job interviews,” she says. That includes positions held long ago, outdated accomplishments, old training and hobbies. She also suggests putting effort in your presentation. “Design is equally as important as resume length and content. A one-page resume that’s crammed with information is less desirable than a well-organized two-page resume that is easy to read and digest.”

Compromise on Resume Length:

Like any good argument, there is a middle ground solution, according to Chris Laggini, vice president of HR for DLT Solutions, an IT reseller and service provider in Herndon, Virginia. “Recruiters read for speed," he says. "They are on a minute-long word hunt for certain titles, skills and years of experience. Hiring managers read for detail. So, we recommend that you have both a one-page resume for the recruiter and an in-depth resume format to be shared with the hiring manager. In your short version, make certain to highlight keywords and titles referenced in the ad for the position. In the long version, provide the hiring manager with enough detail for them to get an accurate picture of you, what you are capable of accomplishing and what you want from the career path.”

The Final Word on Resume Format:

All our experts agree that the key to writing an effective resume of any length is to choose elements carefully. “A good way to filter your experiences is to survey your network on the needs of employers, and sample business articles for common themes of discontent in the workplace” Green explains. “List 10 ways employers are hurting today [and] describe 10 of your skills that you can deliver to deal with them. Use your resume to convert what you have done in the past to what you can do in the future -- then your phone will ring.”




Source: Monster

10 Classic Resume Bloopers

If you’ve ever watched those TV blooper shows, you know how funny slip-ups, gaffes and blunders can be. But while laughter may be good for the soul, it’s certainly not the response you want your resume to produce.  

Baby Boomers (or Gen-X and Gen-Y fans of Nick at Nite) will recall the often hilarious pronouncements of Archie Bunker, the patriarch of the popular 1970s sitcom “All in the Family.” With just a slight slip of the tongue, Archie’s intended meanings frequently became completely convoluted (e.g., “consecration” instead of “concentration” and “mental pause” instead of “menopause”).

If your resume contains any such Archie-like malapropisms, it’s sure to be memorable, but it won’t leave the lasting impression you’re shooting for. Proofread your resume meticulously, and share it with trusted friends and colleagues to make sure you haven’t inadvertently substituted one word for another. Keep in mind that your computer’s spell-check function often will not catch these errors, since the problem is one of incorrect word choice rather than misspelling.

To help ensure that your resume finds its way to the interview pile and not the circular file, avoid these 10 classic resume bloopers, culled from real-life resumes of job seekers from all levels, industries and career fields:

1. “Revolved customer problems and inquiries.”
Just what every employer is looking for -- an expert in passing the buck.

2. “Consistently tanked as top sales producer for new accounts.”

Sales managers aren’t likely to be impressed with this self-proclaimed underachiever.

3. “Dramatically increased exiting account base, achieving new company record.”
If customer accounts were leaving in droves as this statement implies, it’s probably fair to assume that this candidate also tanked as a top sales producer.

4. “Planned new corporate facility at $3 million over budget.”
Every hiring manager is searching for employees who exceed budgets by millions of dollars.

5. “Directed $25 million anal shipping and receiving operations.”
This person is either showcasing compulsively stubborn management qualities, or he has a challenging product packaging/storage problem.

6. “Participated in the foamation of a new telecommunications company.”
This job seeker was also in charge of bubble control.

7. “Promoted to district manger to oversee 37 retail storefronts.”
This is a common resume typo. There must be literally thousands of mangers looking for jobs in today’s modern world. Here’s a tip: Use your word-processing program’s find/replace feature to correct this common mistake. You can also modify your application’s spelling dictionary so it won’t recognize the word “manger.”

8. “Experienced supervisor, defective with both rookies and seasoned professionals.”
Many of us have had a boss like this at some point in our careers, but you usually don’t find them being so frank about their leadership inadequacies.

9. “I am seeking a salary commiserate with my training and experience.”
There are a couple problems with this statement. To begin with, salary requirements don’t belong on a resume. Secondly, a salary should be “commensurate” with experience (meaning proportionate to), not “commiserate” with (meaning to express sympathy for).

10. “Seeking a party-time position with potential for advancement.”
Sounds like a fun job.






Source: Monster


Unemployed? Put Your Cover Letter to Work

For many of us, writing a cover letter is about as fun as having a root canal or being audited by the IRS. Add a period of unemployment to the mix, and the task can seem downright daunting. Don’t let time away from the workforce prevent you from writing a good cover letter. Try these expert tips.

Keep It Positive

The purpose of a cover letter is to pique employers’ interest so they want to interview you. “Talking about unemployment is a downer, and job candidates should only provide information that enhances their value to an employer and makes a compelling case for an interview,” says Linsey Levine, a licensed counselor and president of CareerCounsel, based in Ossining, New York.
Sue Campbell, president of resume-writing firm 1st-Writer.com, agrees that the cover letter should emphasize the job seeker’s strongest qualifications. “Focus on what you can contribute and how this contribution will benefit the employer,” Campbell says. Address relevant skills, abilities, education and experience that will enable you to provide exemplary work, she adds, not extraneous information about your unemployment. (See our sample cover letter for an unemployed job seeker.)

Fill the Gap

If you’ve been sitting idle at home when you could have been engaged in career-related activities, it’s time to spring into action. “Job hunters with big gaps of unemployment should demonstrate what they did to be productive while they were not working,” says Nancy Friedberg, a career coach with Career Leverage in New York City.

Friedberg coaches her clients to remain active and keep their skills fresh during periods of unemployment. “If you have done nothing career-related during your unemployment, start today,” she says. Friedberg suggests volunteering, going back to school, securing freelance or part-time work, assuming leadership roles in charitable organizations or becoming active in your professional organization. “Every activity you undertake requires a skill whether you are paid or not,” she adds.

Be Honest, But Don’t Overshare

Millions of people have lost their jobs recently, and employment gaps no longer carry the stigma they once did. It’s not necessary to explain a few months of unemployment due to circumstances beyond your control, such as a layoff.

However, it is a good idea to account for longer-term unemployment. Trisha Scudder, president of New York City-based Executive Coaching Group, coaches her clients to deal with the gap and avoid making excuses. “The bottom line is that there’s a gap,” she says. “You can’t hide it. Tell it straight, and don’t make apologies. Show the interviewer how this makes you a more attractive candidate.” For example, she suggests adding a line to your cover letter saying something like, “Returning to full-time employment after caring for an ill family member, I am eager to contribute my 15 years’ experience in (career field) to benefit your company.”

Campbell also offers verbiage to help explain unemployment: “Since leaving my last employer, I have been completing intensive training in ____” or “I have been contributing my time and talents to the successful advancement of Charitable Organization, while actively seeking a full-time position with a leading company such as yours.”

Scudder advises job seekers not to provide too much information about the unemployment. “Don’t let this gap distract you from the primary purpose of the cover letter -- demonstrating what you could do for the organization if hired,” she says.

Use Your Judgment

However, sometimes special circumstances can work to your advantage. Scudder suggests thinking about how the unemployment could make you a better employee. “For example, did it inspire you to move to a new industry or career? If you took on freelance work, did it teach you the value of retaining clients?” she says.

Friedberg had a client who was diagnosed with cancer and missed an entire year of employment following graduation. “In his cover letters, he confidently and honestly wrote about his cancer,” she says. “He explained that he doubled up on classes in between chemotherapy treatments in order to graduate and sat for the first part of the CPA exam. An accounting firm was so impressed that they called him in for a series of interviews and hired him based on his character, his can-do attitude and his perseverance.”

Focus on Your Strengths

Whether your time off has been because of a layoff, job termination, illness, care of sick relatives, child care, a sabbatical or any other reason, the purpose of a cover letter -- to generate a call for an interview -- remains the same. “If job seekers can draw a correlation between what they offer and how they will benefit the employer, then the cover letter should achieve some real success,” Campbell says.




Source: Monster

How to Write an Effective Resume Title

When you create or edit your Monster resume, you are asked to name your resume. The name you pick will be featured across the top of your resume in bold and colored text as the resume headline, so select a name that is memorable and professional.      
Experts suggest learning about appropriate job titles before writing the resume title field. “First conduct a search for representative jobs that interest you,” says Ginger Korljan, principal of Take Charge Coaching in Phoenix. “Whatever title you choose, the remainder of your resume should demonstrate why you are qualified for that position,” she says.
You are allotted up to 35 characters for the “resume name” field in the Monster Resume Builder, so select your words carefully. Don’t be afraid to use abbreviations to save space, and keep in mind that the goal of your title is to compel employers to keep reading your resume. An effective title includes your resume objective and your strongest qualification, says Pamela Hann, CPC, a workforce services specialist for the Kansas Department of Commerce. "That could be years of experience, an industry credential or a job-related skill,” she says.
“I would advise most clients to include at minimum their desired job target and the number of years of experience,” says Joe Perez, CPRW and owner of Seattle-based resume-writing firm Writing Wolf.
Perez says that this is not the place to try to be clever or witty. “Employers want serious professionals who don’t need to rely on gimmicks,” he says. So avoid stunts like “Hire Me!” or “I’m Your Best Candidate!” and desperate pleas like “Out of Work and Need a Job.” Also, steer clear of using your name for your resume title. “Jane Smith Resume” doesn’t tell a hiring manager anything about your qualifications or job target.

Before and After Examples by Career Field:

To get ideas about how you can craft your own resume title, check out these samples for a variety of industries:

Admin:

  • Before: Secretarial Position Wanted
  • After: Admin Assistant -- MS Office Expert
Sales:
  • Before: John Doe for Hire
  • After: Top-Ranked Pharma Sales Rep, 5 Yrs.
Technology:
  • Before: Computer Programmer
  • After: Sr. Programmer –- Java / J2EE
Engineering:
  • Before: Engineer
  • After: Manufacturing Engineer -- Six Sigma
Nursing:
  • Before: Nurse
  • After: RN -- 10+ Years of ER Experience
Accounting:
  • Before: Accountant
  • After: CPA -- Accountant/Financial Analyst
Finance:
  • Before: Finance Executive
  • After: Bank Ops VP with F500 Experience
Arts/Design:
  • Before: Graphics Designer
  • After: Graphics Designer -- Adobe Suite/3D
Human Resources:
  • Before: HR Professional
  • After: HR Manager / SPHR / 10 Yrs. Exp.
Retail:
  • Before: Manager
  • After: Big-Box Retail Manager--11 Yrs Exp.
Marketing:
  • Before: Marketing & Communications
  • After: Marcom Manager--Nonprofit Specialty
Public Relations:
  • Before: Public Relations
  • After: PR Specialist -- PRSA Certified
Education:
  • Before: Teacher
  • After: Elementary School Teacher/NYS Cert
Skilled Trades:
  • Before: Brick Worker
  • After: Brick & Stone Mason -- 6 Yrs. Exp.
Automotive:
  • Before: Mechanic
  • After: Diesel Mechanic -- WTTA L. II Cert.
Logistics:
  • Before: Logistics Worker
  • After: Logistics Manager--12 Yrs. JIT Exp.
Transportation:
  • Before: Transport Industry
  • After: Transportation Mgr -- DMAIC Trained
Resume Titles for Special Circumstances:

Career Change:
  • Before: Technical Troubleshooter
  • After: MCP Targeting Help-Desk Position
Military to Civilian:
  • Before: Ex-Military Worker
  • After: Army MP Seeking Police Officer Role
New Graduate:
  • Before: College Graduate
  • After: BSME Grad -- Available All Shifts
Workforce Reentry:
  • Before: Stay-at-Home Mom Seeking Job
  • After: Recruiter -- 10 Years of Experience




Source: Monster

Nine Phrases You Should Never Put on Your Resume

Since most recruiters and hiring managers receive far more resumes than they have time to review carefully, they’re forced to find shortcuts that will allow them to quickly sort resumes into "yes," "maybe" and "no" piles.

There are lots of ways to get into the "yes" pile -- customizing your resume, using strong verbs, giving concrete examples of past accomplishments and showing your value, for example.

But there are also many ways to get your resume immediately consigned to the "no" pile. One way is to use the wrong words or phrases -- often, empty clichés, annoying jargon or recycled buzzwords. In a recent article, “10 Words and Terms That Ruin a Resume,” we highlighted some of the worst offenders. That article really got people talking, so we asked some recruiting experts to share more of these detestable resume terms:

1. “Job Duties”
Heather Huhman, career expert and founder of content marketing and digital PR consultancy Come Recommended, says the term “job duties” is not convincing on a resume.

“List job duties under each position at your own risk,” she says. “Instead, focus on your accomplishments. Ideally, you should be able to use the S-A-R method: Situation, Action, Results. Include up to three bullets per position, and as [few] as one.”

Keep in mind that your job duties are something that happened to you, not something you achieved -- and your resume should tell a story of achievement.

2. "Related Coursework"
"Unless you're applying for your very first internship, remove your related coursework," Huhman says. All your relevant education definitely belongs on your resume, but a separate section for "related coursework" isn't necessary. Your resume needs a laser-sharp focus. If you're struggling to show how a class is relevant to the job you're applying for, consider removing it.

3. “Proven Ability”
HR manager Jen Strobel views this phrase as just resume filler. “The ability was proven by whom? How is the ability proven? How does this ability compare to those which are not proven?” she asks.

So use your resume to prove your ability by giving specific examples of your career achievements.

4. "Married with Children"
Delmar Johnson, an HR professional with 20 years of experience and founder of HR services firm HR Brain for Hire, says personal information doesn’t belong on a resume. "That's great you have a family and you're proud [of it]," she says. "[But] your goal is to reflect a level of professionalism that demonstrates your knowledge, your skills and abilities that are applicable to the job to which you are applying."

5. "Transferable Skills"
When executive recruiter and career counselor Bruce Hurwitz sees these words, he takes them to mean “I'm not qualified, but do me a favor.” He says the terms “skills” or “skill set” are fine to use, but the word "transferable" has negative connotations.

And this is a great example of why it’s important to show, not tell. Don’t tell a recruiter that you have transferable skills. Show how the skills you have are relevant to the job.

6. “Results-oriented”
Cousin to the term “hard worker,” this is something anyone can say about himself. And as Stacey Hawley, career specialist and founder of career consultancy Credo, points out, that you’ll work toward results “is assumed.” There’s no need to use your resume to tell people things they already know.

7. “Utilized My Skills”
“Who else's skills would we be using?” Hawley asks.

Stuffy, overly formal language on resumes is out. It’s wiser nowadays to use direct language. Beware of boilerplate phrases that have lost their meaning and that can be replaced with expressive words that say something specific about you.

8. “Had _____”
Career and etiquette expert Sandra Lamb is a proponent of using strong language on resumes. “’Had’ is an anemic and colorless verb that gives the reader the impression you’re submitting a job description,” says Lamb, author of How to Write It. “Don't use this to start a bulleted item on your resume; you’ll be better-served by a strong, active verb.”

For example, you might say “Managed three people” instead of “Had three direct reports.”

9. Wacky Email Addresses (and Twitter Handles!)
Recruiting and career expert Abby Kohut of AbsolutelyAbby.com says that inappropriate email addresses like “clubhopper@example.com” or “hotchick@example.com” can send a resume to the bottom of the pile, if not the trash. “It’s not so much the email address as it is [the job seeker’s] judgment that I’m concerned about,” she says.

And the same goes for Twitter: More and more recruiters are researching candidates on social sites, so make sure you have a professional-sounding Twitter handle as well. 





Source: Monster

A top career coach reveals her favorite résumé strategies

For more than 20 years, "Résumé Magic" author Susan Britton Whitcomb has helped thousands of people better manage their job hunts and careers. The job market has changed substantially during this time, but what hasn't changed are many of the obstacles job seekers struggle to overcome in their quest for employment. For example, one of the most common weaknesses people have in the job search is a lack of understanding about how to write a résumé that succinctly tells employers what they can do that other candidates can't. 

Not only does Whitcomb help job seekers overcome this problem, she also lends guidance to other career professionals like herself who have their own job-seeking clients. Below are a few of the résumé strategies she shares that have been especially effective in helping job seekers capture employers' attention and secure interviews. 

1.     Write like an advertising copywriter, not an autobiographer.

2.     Connect with the employer by targeting positions that capture elements of your Master F.I.T. (Function and Fulfillment; Industry/Interests and Identity; and Things That Matter and Type). These positions should be consistent with your career brand. Who you are should align closely with what you want to do.

3.     Zero in on what the employer needs by reviewing position postings, networking (in person or online) or conducting research or informational interviews. These needs can be categorized as TOP issues: Trends, Opportunities and Problems/Projects.

4.     Substantiate your ability to do the job and meet the needs by including numbers-driven results. Make an economic case for hiring you.

5.     Omit extraneous information -- employers looking for a sales professional will rarely care that your degree is in Home Economics (list the bachelor's degree but not the subject area).
  1. Create multiple résumés for multiple targets -- one résumé will suffice for the targets of sales and business development; two résumés are appropriate for unrelated targets, such as sales and procurement.
  1. Position critical information (such as keywords and accomplishments) in the first third of the page. Briefly summarize or omit dated information.
  1. Prioritize the sentences that comprise your job description -- place the most relevant information first and less relevant information last.
  1. Spin information to be as transferable as possible. If an employer needs someone who can make electronic widgets and your background involves only mechanical widgets, refer to your experience with "widgets" rather than "mechanical widgets."
  1. Use your résumé wisely -- it plays a supporting role and is not the star of your job search show. Too often, job seekers hide behind résumés, thinking that if they just mail or e-mail enough résumés, a job will materialize. Yes, it's appropriate to e-mail résumés or post them on your target companies' websites. But you must combine these activities with extreme networking. Humans make hiring decisions -- get face-to-face with employers and show them you can meet their needs. This will give you an edge over your competition.



How to write a cover letter for a sales position


A cover letter is your first opportunity to impress a potential employer, and when you work in sales, you know how important a first impression can be.

While the goal of a cover letter is to introduce yourself, explain why you're a good fit for the position and express your interest in the company, a cover letter for a sales position will be more targeted. Are you unsure if your cover letter can close the deal? Read on for tips on what to include.

Strut your sales statistics
If you've already held a sales position, this is your opportunity to show off your winning numbers. Sandra Lamb, a career, lifestyle and etiquette expert, says to include your most important achievements:
  • Sales success rate, expressed in numbers.
  • Customers or clients retained and converted to new product areas.
  • New customers or clients gained.
  • Increase in profits and sales levels.
Being specific has more impact than simply saying you were one of the best sales team members at your company.
"Stats have to be included," says Marcia LaReau, president of Forward Motion LLC, a career strategy firm. "If they are going from small-number tickets to much higher tickets, they should use percentages rather than the numbers, or at least give context, such as, 'In year two, brought in $800K in contracts, which represented 30 percent of market share in the region, up from 18 percent in year one.'" The company's size doesn't have to determine how well-qualified you are for your next position. By assigning numbers to your past successes, you're giving the hiring manager an idea of how you would perform if on his team.

Share stories of your success
Sometimes, stories can better express success than numbers can. While you should include your sales stats, incorporating a story of how you overcame a challenge or closed an important deal can be just as informative.
"Be specific and provide examples," says Keith Wolf, vice president of marketing at Murray Resources, a Houston recruiting firm. "Include clear and measurable proof, like the number of new accounts opened. Also, consider including a brief story about a particularly difficult sale you made. Perhaps it was a cold call that you turned into a large account. Hiring managers love to hear stories of perseverance turning into results."

Prove you have a plan
While it's important to include your sales records and stats, it's also crucial to show that you understood what you were doing in your role. "A key element in the cover letter for a sales position would not only be the metrics -- increase in sales percentage, overall sales, etc. -- but the how; how did you achieve this success?" says Beth Carter, executive recruiter and certified executive, business and career coach at Carter Consultants Ltd. "Write about your sales tactics; for example, 'I increased sales in two years by 20 percent by identifying an untapped market in this industry.' Companies want to understand how you can replicate your past success for their company." By showing that you understand the market, can spot an opportunity for a sale and can reproduce your sales accomplishments at a different company, you're marketing yourself as a flexible and experienced sales representative.

Reiterate your interest in the company
After you've proved your sales skills, discuss why you want to join the team. A cover letter should strike a balance between introducing yourself and expressing your interest in the company. Prove that you've done your research, and give examples of why you admire the company, what made you interested in working for it and how you could contribute to its goals.




Source: careerbuilder

Veteran Resume Makeover: How To Convey A Professional Image



Veterans resumes professional

It's not always easy determining which information to include on a resume -- and in which order. Air National Guardsman Clay Doe, a pseudonym, thought that listing his planned bachelor of science degree was a priority, which is why he included it as the first item on his resume.

But Doe would do better to start with a professional summary, especially since he has yet to complete his degree, says employment expert Justin Nichols of Hire Heroes USA, a nonprofit employment-services organization, who worked with Doe to improve his resume. An employer is more interested in what you've accomplished in your career, Nichols says.

Further, Doe's resume would be better if he ditched his list of hobbies. Doe believed that including them would show recruiters and hiring managers that he has energy, drive and is hardworking -- even off the job.
But listing hobbies is risky, Nichols says. A resume represents your professional self, he says, and it's hard to know how an employer will react to your personal interests. Weightlifting, for example, may bring up images in a hiring manager's mind of someone who is overly aggressive.

Clay Doe's "before" resume is pictured below.











Source: AOL

Veteran Resume Makeover: Create A Resume That Gets Recruiters' Attention

When it comes to the challenges involved in job hunting, simply getting your resume before a hiring manager itself can be an obstacle. Too few job seekers, however, are adept at making their experience and talents stand out on the page.

One example is the resume of Alex Doe (a pseudonym), below. He leads with a "summary of qualifications," but it lacks detail and doesn't grab the reader's eye. That's also true of his work experience, says Justin Nichols, associate of veteran programs at Hire Heroes USA, a nonprofit employment-services organization.
In improving Doe's resume, Nichols begins the new document with a Professional Summary that highlights keywords, such as a job title -- Intelligence Analyst, which Doe wants recruiters to notice, since it directly relates to the kind of job he wants. Leading with a professional summary, says Nichols, tells a hiring manager precisely what you've accomplished.

That may include your educational achievements, but only if they are related to the position you're seeking, he says. Additional details about education, trainings, certifications and awards should be moved to the bottom of the document.

Another way to catch the resume viewer's eye is to "bullet" responsibilities and list them in order of importance as they relate to your job. That instantly gives the reader a quick snapshot of what it is you are adept at.

Alex Doe's "before" resume is pictured below. 

















Source: AOL

Lie on your résumé

One job-seeker's moment of truth


Getting asked by a recruiter about where I went to school made me remember the day I had to choose whether to lie on my résumé.

When I got my first job in Silicon Valley, it was through serendipity on my part and desperation on the part of my first employer. I really didn't have much of a résumé: four years in the Air Force building a scram system for a nuclear reactor and a startup in Ann Arbor, Mich., but not much else.
It was at my second startup in Silicon Valley that my life and career took an interesting turn. A recruiter found me while I was working in product marketing and wanted to introduce me to a hot startup making something called a workstation. "This is a technology-driven company, and your background sounds great. Why don't you send me a résumé and I'll pass it on." A few days later, I got a call back from the recruiter. "Steve, you left off your education. Where did you go to school?"
"I never finished college," I said.
There was a long silence on the other end of the phone. "Steve, the VP of sales and marketing previously ran their engineering department. He was a professor of computer science at Harvard, and his last job was running the Advanced Systems Division at Xerox PARC. Most of the sales force were previously design engineers. I can't present a candidate without a college degree. Why don't you make something up?"
I still remember that exact instant of the conversation. In that moment, I realized I had a choice. But I had no idea how profound, important and lasting it would be. It would have been really easy to lie, and the recruiter was telling me to do so. "No one checks education anyway," he said. This was long before the days of the Internet.

Making the choice about my résumé
I told him I'd think about it. And I did for a long time. After a few days, I sent him my updated résumé, and he passed it on to Convergent Technologies. Soon after, I was asked to interview with the company. I can barely recall the other people I met, but I'll never forget the interview with Ben Wegbreit, the vice president of sales and marketing.
Wegbreit held up my résumé and said, "You know you're here interviewing because I've never seen a résumé like this. You don't have any college listed and there's no education section. You put 'Mensa' here," he said, pointing to the section where education normally goes. "Why?" I looked back at him and said, "I thought Mensa might get your attention."
Wegbreit just stared at me for an uncomfortable amount of time. Then he abruptly said, "Tell me what you did in your previous companies." I thought this was going to be a storytelling interview like the others. But instead, the minute I said, "My first startup used CATV coax to implement a local-area network for process control systems." (35 years ago, pre-Ethernet and TCP/IP, that was pretty cutting-edge.) Wegbreit said, "Why don't you go to the whiteboard and draw the system diagram for me?"
Do what? Draw it? I dug deep and spent 30 minutes diagramming, trying to remember everything. With Wegbreit peppering me with questions, I could barely keep up. And there were a bunch of empty spaces where I couldn't remember some of the detail.
When I was done explaining it I headed for the chair, but Wegbreit stopped me. "As long as you're at the whiteboard, why don't we go through the other two companies you were at." I couldn't believe it. I was already mentally exhausted, but we spent another half-hour with me drawing diagrams and Wegbreit asking questions.
Finally I sat down. Wegbreit looked at me for a long while, not saying a word. Then he stood up and opened the door, signaling me to leave. He shook my hand and said, "Thanks for coming in." What? That's it? Did I get the job or not?
That evening, I got a call from the recruiter. "Ben loved you. ... Congratulations."

Epilogue
Three and a half years later, Convergent became a public company and I was a VP of marketing working for Wegbreit. Wegbreit ended up as my mentor at Convergent -- and for the rest of my career -- my peer at Ardent and my partner and co-founder at Epiphany. I would never use Mensa on my résumé again, and my education section would always be empty.
But every time I read about an executive who got caught in a résumé scandal, I remember the moment I had to choose.

Lessons learned
  • You will be faced with ethical dilemmas your entire career.
  • Taking the wrong path is most often the easiest choice.
  • These choices will seem like trivial and inconsequential shortcuts -- at the time.
  • Some of them will have lasting consequences.
  • It's not the lie that will catch up with you, it's the cover-up.
  • Choose wisely.



Source: careerbuilder

How to get that computer to send your résumé to a real person

Interview with a résumé expert


When you submit a résumé online, do you ever wonder where it goes, who reads it and -- if you're lucky -- how it gets picked? In today's electronic world, many companies use keyword-search software or applicant-tracking systems in their hiring process. These systems scan résumés for keywords related to the open position to find the most relevant ones for the next round. This helps companies, especially large ones, sort through a high volume of résumés quickly and efficiently.

Knowing that your résumé may meet a computer system before it meets a human, how do you get it noticed? The following Q&A with Ramsey Penegar, executive-résumé consultant, career strategist and certified résumé writer for cbResume.com, provides helpful tips on how to make your résumé stand out to a computer -- and a company.

Q: Now that most résumés are submitted/reviewed online, what implications does that have for how a résumé is written?
Penegar: Now that the majority of résumés are submitted and reviewed online rather than in print, there are new things to consider in writing a résumé. Will your résumé be viewable online? Will it look the same as it did on your computer when prospective hiring managers read it? Job seekers need to keep in mind that format, keywords, search optimization and file type are all just as important as content, good grammar and correct spelling.
I ensure that clients have two versions of their résumé. [One is] the utilitarian text version for easily posting to Internet job boards or online applications. Since the majority of businesses use Microsoft Word over other word-processing programs, send your résumé in a file format their system will open. The Microsoft Word version is formatted using universal fonts to ensure that the recipient can read the résumé.

Q: Why is it important to include keywords from the job description in a résumé?
RP: An effective résumé has a tight focus and is targeted to the job or job types the client wishes to seek. This targeting includes keywords from the job description to improve search rates. Keywords are usually the hard skills, industry-specific qualifications and job-specific terms or phrases that employers look for in a job candidate. If your résumé doesn't have the keywords that match their job requirements, your résumé may hit the "no" pile early in the process.
Some companies search Internet job boards and résumé databases using keywords to find job candidates, while other companies use this technology to streamline their hiring process. If your résumé doesn't contain the right keywords, your résumé may be rejected even if you have all the experience and other qualifications. As a job seeker, using the right keywords in your résumé is crucial if you want to land the interview.

Q: How can you integrate keywords so they sound natural and not forced?
RP: The best way to incorporate keywords into your résumé is by writing concise action statements regarding your achievements, skills and experience and implementing the keywords naturally within those bulleted statements. An effective résumé is achievement-focused, not task-based. Start each statement about your career achievements with an action verb, followed by a keyword and ending with specific facts and figures resulting from your actions.
Simply creating a list or block of keywords may work to snag hits on the software seeking those words. However, if your résumé lacks a professional, aesthetically appealing look, doesn't explain why you are the ideal candidate or how you benefited your previous employers, you still won't get the interview.

Q: What types of keywords should job seekers include in their résumé?
RP: The best keywords can be found right in the job descriptions and ads of the jobs you want to land. Evaluate 10 job postings with similar titles and make a list of the five to 10 most frequently used words throughout all of them. These are the words you should use in your cover letter and résumé.
Here is a list of general skills and qualifications to consider as keywords:
  • Degrees or certifications
  • University or college names
  • Job titles
  • Product names
  • Technical terms
  • Industry jargon
  • Job-specific buzzwords
  • Company names
  • Professional organizations
  • Technology
Q: What are some pitfalls of relying too much on keywords?
RP: Integrating keywords is only one important aspect of developing an effective résumé. Too many buzzwords can be overkill, and a long list of keywords on a Word document will not land you any interviews. Remember that keywords are primarily for the computer software scanning your résumé; the written content is for your human readers. Quality is of utmost importance in your résumé.

Q: What other ways can a job seeker get his résumé noticed by an employer?
RP: Make certain [that] your résumé is visually appealing by using appropriate formatting and white spacing as well as correct spelling and grammar. Your résumé is more likely to be read if it's appealing to read. Don't clutter your résumé with irrelevant or outdated information and, ideally, keep it to two pages or less. College students or those with fewer than five years of experience may use a one-page résumé.
A job search should be directed in the same manner as a sales or marketing campaign. Use all [of] your resources, connections and networks. Get your résumé into the hands of people who can help you in this quest, including friends, family, colleagues, alumni or professional association members, acquaintances at Chamber of Commerce and other business community events and job fairs. Promote your résumé online using LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and even your own professional blog. Rather than sending your résumé to a company or job posting cold, conduct research to find out the name of the person who would be most interested in your résumé, and get the résumé into her hands. Taking the time to develop and work your job-search plan will help you to achieve better results faster.





Source: careerbuilder

Resume Gaps: How To Minimize The Negative Impact

When the recession began, the question that popped up repeatedly was, "Can I find a job in this economy?" Then, for those with a work history who were fortunate enough to be offered a position, the question often became, "Should I take a job even if it's a step down from my last?"

Both of these questions weighed heavily on workers. Not just because they were worried about making enough money to cover their bills -- though they surely were -- but also because these quandaries could potentially damage their long-term career goals. Job seekers want to make a strong first impression with employers, and a resume with an employment gap or a work history that shows a step back isn't going to do that. Or at least that's what most job seekers fear.

A new CareerBuilder survey found that 85 percent of employers consider themselves more understanding of gaps in your work history since the recession began. Also promising is that 94 percent of employers wouldn't think less of candidates who, during the recession, took lower positions than their previous ones.

Making The Best Of The Situation
No matter how positive your attitude, you know that being unemployed is frustrating. When you can't find the job you want, or any job at all, you feel discouraged. Employers know that. When you're writing a cover letter or going in for an interview, they don't expect you to pretend unemployment has been a walk in the park. But they don't want you to complain, either. As cliché as it sounds, this is when they want to see that you've made the most of a bad situation.

What Do Employers Want To See?
Surveyed employers cited the following activities as the best ways to expand and strengthen skill sets:
  • Take a temporary or contract position -- 79 percent
  • Take a class -- 61 percent
  • Volunteer -- 60 percent
  • Start your own business -- 28 percent
  • Start a professional blog -- 11 percent

The common thread among each of these suggestions is initiative from the job seeker. The economy might prevent you from having your ideal job, but you can still find a way to stay current with industry trends and keep your skills current.

Job seekers are often prepared for tricky interview questions, but one not-so-tricky one they sometimes forget to prepare for is, "What have you been doing since your last job?" Employers don't want to hear you say, "Nothing." Look at their list of recommendations and figure out what steps you can take so that your resume answers that question for them.






7 Steps To Writing A Cover Letter That Will Actually Get You An Interview


When it comes to the application process, you should know by now that everything you do matters. There's so much attention given to resumes that we often forget how important a cover letter can be for our job prospects.

"The cover letter is an opportunity for you to tell the recruiters why you're the perfect person for the job," Peggy Padalino, vice president at JobFox, told us. "It's also the place for you to show them you have good communication skills."

You want to be able to craft a creative, easy-to-read cover letter, but trying to make yourself stand apart can sometimes go seriously wrong. We spoke to Padalino for tips on how to write a cover letter that will get you noticed and into the interview.

1. Address the cover letter directly to the hiring manager or recruiter. If this person's name isn't in the job listing, take the extra effort to call or email the company and find out.

2. Don't reiterate your resume. The purpose of having a cover letter is to zero in on why you should be the one considered for the position. Otherwise, there's no point in having one.

3. It's a professional document, so don't go too over-the-top. Yes, trying to figure out ways to be creative may be difficult, but don't go overboard out of desperation. And especially don't say anything like this summer analyst did in his cover letter, which made him a laughing stock on Wall Street:

"I am unequivocally the most unflaggingly hard worker I know, and I love self-improvement. I have always felt that my time should be spent wisely, so I continuously challenge myself ... I decided to redouble my effort by placing out of two classes, taking two honors classes, and holding two part-time jobs. That semester I achieved a 3.93, and in the same time I managed to bench double my bodyweight and do 35 pull-ups."

4. Make sure the reader knows you've done your research. Convey that you understand the company and its goals, and explain how you'd help it reach those goals.

5. Always close your cover letter with an action statement. Tell the reader what you're planning on doing next — for example, calling in a week or two to follow up.

6. Keep your letter no longer than one page. Your cover letter is an introduction to yourself. It's supposed to show that you have strong communication skills. Be brief and concise.

7. Show the recruiter that you'd be a good match based on your skills. This is a trick Padalino highly recommends: Make two columns in the cover letter. On one side, list the top five requirements that the company wants, and on the other, list how you'd meet each requirement:

Needs
Qualifications
  • 3-5 years of business to business sales management experience in a service
  • Trave up to 50%
  • Strong communication, presentation and written skills.
  • Proven track record of meeting and exceeding set goals.
  • Strong organizational and time management.
  • Proven track record as an enthusiastic, appropriately aggressive sales professional.
  • Accustomed to regular out of town travel.
  • Demonstrated written and verbal communication skills.
  • Track record as a successful sales professional with a high work ethic.
  • Team player who is successful in working within a group, while at the same time working very well independently away from the office.








        Source: businessinsider

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