HD Résumé: Making Things Crystal Clear

By now you've heard several times that the job market is competitive and it's more important than ever that you stand out to employers through your cover letter and résumé.
Well, you're about to hear it again.

"While it is always important to have a remarkable résumé, a bad economy makes it even more important," says Kathy Sweeney, a certified professional résumé writer for The Write Résumé. "With this situation in mind, it is more important than ever to communicate the value you bring to a potential employer."

Here are a few pearls of wisdom: Communicating your value to an employer is not done by crowding your résumé with phrases like "results driven" or "motivated." It won't be done by listing what you think is an impressive list of job duties, and it sure as heck won't be done by sending out one standard résumé for every application. None of these mistakes will help pave your way for an interview, but you can bet they will aid in digging your career grave.

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So what is the easiest way to grab an employer's attention? Simple: Spell things out for them.
"The primary function of a résumé is to get a candidate noticed in an effort to gain interviews," Sweeney says. "It is a marketing document, in which a candidate sells his or her value to the employer. If the meat of the résumé is simply job duties, it will not do the job seeker any favors."

If you need help creating your high-definition résumé, here are five common résumé errors you might be making, and how you can make things crystal clear for employers:

1. You aren't quantifying resultsApplicants often don't know the difference between quantifying results and just stating a job responsibility. A job responsibility is something that you do on a daily basis and a quantified achievement is the result of that responsibility, Sweeney says.
"In this tight economy, employers want to know whether you can make or save them money," Sweeney says. "By quantifying results, you show the next employer the results you have been able to obtain, either in dollar figures, percentages or comparative numbers."
To truly impress an employer, you need to highlight situations where you went 'above and beyond' your normal job duties. If you developed a process or procedure that reduced time in completing a certain task, finished a project 10 days ahead of schedule or recommended a way to cut costs, included those in your résumé, Sweeney says. All of these can be calculated out to show dollars saved for an employer.

2. You didn't include keywordsWe hear a lot about using keywords in our résumés and letters, but many job seekers just don't get it. They don't know what they are, where to find them or how to include them in their résumé.
Keywords are usually found in the job description for an available position. Keywords are not "team player" or "good communication skills," Sweeney says. Keywords are specific to the position. For an accountant, for example, keywords might include "accounts payable," "accounts receivable" or  "month-end reporting."
"The whole goal from an employer's perspective is to drill down to the least amount of candidates possible for interviewing purposes," Sweeney says. "Keywords are utilized to trim down applicants to the most qualified candidates."

3. You buried your achievementsPerhaps you did list some accomplishments on your résumé, but they are mixed in with your job duties. What good is that going to do you? This method will not allow an employer to quickly assess your ability to produce results, which is ultimately why they want to hire you.
"If a candidate buries his achievement in a job description, nothing is going to stand out. A job seeker needs to outline what his duties are, as those are what most often match the job posting," Sweeney says. "On a job posting, you will see duties listed. For instance, 'Candidate will be charged with creating relationships with customers and selling XYZ product line.' However, job postings will never say, 'Must produce at least $5 million per year in revenue.' While it is important to list that you 'develop relationships and sell products' as a job duty, you need to separate your daily functions from your results, as employers do not want to 'wade through' your job descriptions to identify your achievements."
In order to make your achievements stand out, Sweeney suggests listing the job duties first in paragraph format, and then incorporate a bulleted area below the paragraph entitled "key accomplishments" to list your achievements.

4. You didn't include a summaryIncluding a summary on your résumé is one of those steps that many job seekers forget to take -- and if they do remember, they usually include the wrong information. Your career summary should portray your experience and emphasize how it will help the prospective employer, Sweeney says. It should be very specific and include explicit industry-related functions, quantifiable achievements or your areas of expertise.
"You will lose an employer's attention if this section is too broad," Sweeney says. "Know the type of position you are targeting and use the keywords that relate to it based upon your background."

5. Your résumé isn't targetedThe best way to make things clear for an employer is to target your résumé to that company and its open positions. If your résumé is generic, it makes the employer have to guess at the type of position you want.
"Human resources managers do not have time to figure out what position will best suit a candidate," Sweeney says. "Let an employer know where you fit into their company."
You should target all areas of your résumé to match what the employer is asking for -- if nothing else, change the summary, because it will be the first area read by hiring managers, Sweeney says. "Look at what is important in the position posting. Then, tweak your profile and perhaps some of your position descriptions to match your qualifications to the position," she adds.

Now what?Now that you've got your HD résumé, you need to put it in front of the right pair of eyes. Don't just post it to a job board and wait for something to happen. Utilize your networks, post on social and professional networking sites and answer questions on industry forums or blogs in a well-thought-out manner, Sweeney suggests.
"You might have a great résumé, but if no one can find it, it defeats the purpose," Sweeney says.

Source: careerbuilder

Stop Making These Resume Mistakes

grammar mistakes on resume

Your tie is straight and your hair is neat. You've practiced that perfect handshake. You're more than ready to dazzle a potential employer ... but none of that matters if you haven't yet gotten the call for an interview.

Remember: It's not only your experience or skills that will make or break your application; in many cases, it's the grammar on your resume.

Your resume is the first thing about you a potential employer sees -- and even though your skills and past experience will be carefully evaluated, so will your professionalism. One of the fastest ways for a potential employer to get a sense of your professional character is the spelling, grammar and punctuation on your resume. A resume without typos can mean the difference between being called in for an interview or being passed over for another candidate.

More than two-thirds of all office jobs require a significant amount of writing, making written communication a key consideration in hiring. The bottom line is that employers need to be totally sure you're able to fire off emails, reports and other documents quickly and flawlessly --and your resume is an effective measuring stick.

Although that seems obvious to many job seekers, a recent Grammarly study found the average candidate makes up to six spelling, punctuation and grammar mistakes in his or her resume. Six! With that many errors in a document meant to showcase your talents, imagine how many mistakes might end up in an email or report.

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Here are a few steps to ensure your writing will not scare off potential employers:

1. Use spell check.

Seriously. When you stare at your resume for too long, simple mistakes (such as spelling "and" as "adn") can go unnoticed. Only contextual spell checkers like Grammarly (full disclosure: that's where I work) account for words that are spelled correctly but not in context. Examples include confusion between "your" and "you're" and "then" and "than."

2. Review your grammar.

Linguists and writers consistently argue about the specific rules related to proper use of grammar. And, although "grammar" is a pretty broad term, for the purposes of your resume and job search, there is only one true metric that potential employers consider as they look to decipher the grammar in your resume: Does this make sense?

When talking about past work experience, consistently use verbs in the past tense. Job seekers who talk about a current position should use the present tense ("lead" versus "led," etc.). Makes sense, right?

Use a thesaurus to find words with the same meaning so that you don't sound like a broken record. A wider vocabulary shows your potential employer that you are creative and resourceful, while "I am a dedicated person who is dedicated to my job" does not. It just makes sense!

Read your writing aloud when proofreading. You will catch errors you might miss otherwise. You will also notice if your sentences make sense or sound odd, which is something spelling and grammar checkers cannot tell you.

3. Use consistent formatting.

Choose a format, and stick with it! Having bullet points in one section of a resume and numbers in the next is distracting. Make sure all your fonts are the same type, size and color (which should always be black). Review your resume or document for general uniformity, and if one section stands out, tweak it to match the rest.

Checking for all these seemingly minor errors might make you cringe, but many resources online can help. Websites such as Words and Answers are just a few of the online resources you can use to catch mistakes and improve your writing.

Good resume writing can help you land that dream job interview -- and, once that's in order, you can take advantage of that perfect handshake.

Make sense?

Source: AOL

The elements of résumé style

Writing wisdom from Strunk and White

The The classic "The Elements of Style" by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White is not just for term papers. If your copy has been buried in a box since graduation, dust it off and polish your résumé with its timeless advice.
Elementary rules of usage and composition
· "Use the active voice."
· "Put statements in positive form."
· "Use definite, specific, concrete language."
As the book's introduction states, the authors are all for "cleanliness, accuracy and brevity." They want writers to select words that convey exact meaning -- an excellent idea on résumés when you want to make a big impression in a small space.
"I often see dry, passive language that makes the job seeker appear as a follower or simple doer rather than a leader or someone who drives results," says Abby M. Locke, master résumé writer and personal brand strategist for Premier Writing Solutions in Washington, D.C. "For example, 'Responsible for the development of new programs and services' works better when rewritten with active, engaging language like 'Conceptualized and created revenue-generating programs and services that increased the company's bottom line by 20 percent.'"
Locke also reports that candidates get stuck in a rut of using the same verb over and over again, such as "developed new brochures," "developed marketing materials" and "developed a system." "When bullets like these are read very quickly, the only words that the reader remembers are 'developed, developed, developed.'"
Another elementary rule to remember: Watch tenses. Strunk and White note that "shifting from one tense to another gives the appearance of uncertainty and irresolution." Tiffani Murray, a résumé writer and career consultant for PersonalityOnaPage.com, says that she's seen gaffes where the applicant has used two different tenses in the same sentence.
"For past roles, you should use past tense," Murray says. "For the current job that you are working in, present tense works unless you are referring to a project that is completed. You want to be consistent and accurate with your tense in portraying what you have done in the past for an employer and what you are doing now."

Words and expressions commonly misused
Many a candidate writes that he "lead a team" when he meant "led." Another common dilemma: "effect" versus "affect." (The former can be a noun meaning "result" or a verb meaning "to accomplish" or "to bring about." The latter is a verb meaning "to influence.")
Carolyn Yencharis Corcoran, assistant director of the Insalaco Center for Career Development at Misericordia University in Dallas, Pa., reports that job seekers often confuse:
· "to" and "too"
· "your" and "you're"
· "there" and "their"
· "then" and "than"
· "wonder" and "wander"
· "its" and "it's"
· "a" and "an" before a word that begins with a vowel (as in "a excellent opportunity" when it should be "an excellent opportunity")

An approach to style
· "Avoid fancy words."
"Using language that is too formal or too academic can make an applicant's résumé and/or cover letter sound derogatory or speechlike, which may appear like you are trying to fool the employer about your qualifications," Corcoran says. "The best way to set yourself apart is with examples that use industry-relevant words from your experience, not formal words that may make the reviewer feel stupid or -- if used incorrectly -- laugh at your application."
· "Do not take shortcuts at the cost of clarity."
"Most people write about their titles and functions in terms they understand, instead of taking into account if it will be understood by a hiring authority," says Tony Beshara, author of "Unbeatable Résumés: America's Top Recruiter Reveals What Really Gets You Hired." "Likewise, most people write the names of the companies they have worked for with no explanation about what the companies do. There are 7.5 million companies in the United States ... most of us don't know what any of them do. It needs to be explained in detail."
· "Do not overstate."
Finally, heed Strunk and White's warning, "When you overstate, the reader will be instantly on guard, and everything that has preceded your overstatement as well as everything that follows it will be suspect in his mind."
"I advise students not to say they are 'excellent speakers who have extensively ... ' or other similar phrases," says Cynthia Favre, director of career services at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minn. "Comparative words like 'excellent' raise the question: Compared to whom? And most hiring managers will have a hard time believing a 21-year-old new graduate has done anything 'extensively' anyway. Instead, give evidence, and let the reader decide if it is excellent or extensive."

Why Your Resume Stinks (And What To Do About It Now)

There's nothing like a 90-minute session with a resume maven to point out how little you know about your own accomplishments-or how lame you look on paper. I knew I needed help, but when Miriam Salpeter, a job and social media coach, began her critique, my head started spinning.

Everything about my resume screamed: Discard before reading.

My laundry list of prior jobs included descriptions of my duties, but said nothing about what I actually did or achieved. As Salpeter explained, I was leaving that for employers to try and figure out -- and who was going to bother?

The Challenge: Proving Your Accomplishments On A Resume With some professions, showing accomplishments on a resume is easy: "Increased revenue by X percent." As a journalist looking to transition to another field, I would have to find other ways to demonstrate my value. On the resume I showed Salpeter, I stated that I helped to re-launch a national magazine. Her response was: "So what?"

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Blunt, but spot on. What did I actually contribute? What was the result? What skills did I use that would translate to other professions? I had to start from scratch.

Here Are The Steps Salpeter Laid Out For Me
Make sure the job fits before applying: The first thing I needed to do was to copy the job descriptions for positions that I was interested in and highlight the parts I had experience with. If I couldn't highlight at least 80 percent, I shouldn't apply.

Use the ad's exact words: Whatever words employers used in their job description, I had to use in my own descriptions of prior jobs. Applicant tracking software scans for keywords, so including them increases the odds that an actual human being will see my resume. Employers won't think I'm a parrot, according to Miriam -- they'll think I'm a good match.

Focus on accomplishments, not what you did: Every job experience on my resume should show not just what I've done, but also what my effort produced. And every item should be bulleted ... no running text.

Be selective about what you showcase: The point of a resume isn't to list everything you've done; it's to show prospective employees what they want to see. I needed to create movable parts that I can swap in and out depending on the position. Or, since I'm interested in a few different fields, have a basic resume for each one.

It took me five hours to rewrite my resume.

At first I couldn't figure out how to connect my previous positions to the one I was applying for, but once I began using the employer's keywords as my guide, it became easier. If an item wasn't relevant, I deleted it. In the end, I looked remarkably like the person in the job description.

I sent off a job application. We'll see what happens. But I feel much better about my chances now that my resume actually says something.

What does your resume say about you? Does it list accomplishments, or just actions?

Source: AOL