Résumé 101: New Résumé, New Year

Now that we’re in a new year, we want to make sure that you’re armed with best information  so that you can land a job ASAP.
2010ResumeMany factors played into your not being able to find a job  in 2009. While the economy and the job market had plenty to do with it, there comes a point when you have to look at yourself and what you are (or aren’t) doing and how it’s affecting your job search. Let’s start with the most basic thing you need in your job search: a résumé.
Here’s a little résumé 101 to refresh your job search this year, excerpted from “Career Building: Your Total Handbook for Finding a Job and Making It Work.”
Writing your résumé: Hiring managers spend an average of one minute scanning a résumé. You have just a short window to convince them that you’re either fabulous or the most boring person alive. Which is it gonna be?
Here are the elements that your résumé should include:
Contact information: Your name (if your formal name is Abigail but you go by Abby, use Abby), address, phone number, e-mail address and Web site. And make sure to use a professional e-mail address for your job applications. Employers aren’t likely to call HotPants1234@hotmail.com.
Career summary or objective: This gives the hiring manager an idea of who you are immediately — before spending the 60 seconds skimming your résumé and deciding if he wants to bring you in for an interview. Many job seekers equate a summary with an objective. While both are two to three sentences appearing at the top of your résumé, they are different.
An objective states a job seeker’s desired job description, and is often ideal for people who are just starting out in the work force or changing industries. Some words of warning: It could pigeonhole you and limit how employers see you. If you are looking to take the next step in your chosen field, consider writing a career summary instead.
A career summary gives an overview of your work experience and/or relevant education.
Summary of qualifications: This calls out the most relevant information for the job. If you include this, the hiring manager doesn’t have to hunt for your abilities. This is an easy way to tailor your résumé for each job application. Look at the required skills listed in a job posting and use this as an opportunity to highlight the skills needed for the job. If you are changing careers or industries, this section helps you highlight certain transferable skills.
Technical skills: This is where you can show your computer and software proficiency. Are you missing a technical skill listed in the job description? Don’t throw in the towel. Seventy-eight percent of hiring managers report they are willing to recruit workers who don’t have experience in their particular industry or field and provide training/certifications needed.
Work history: This is where you list chronologically any work experience – titles, employer and dates of tenure. List only the most recent and relevant information; no one cares about your ninth-grade babysitting club … unless you are looking for something in child care (even then, save it for your cover letter).
Education: Include your dates of graduation, college major and minor, degrees earned or expected graduation date.
So there you have it; the very basics you should include on your résumé. Other things to remember to include? Keywords, accomplishments and no errors.
If you need some help writing your résumé, check out CBResume, or if you’d like a free critique of your current résumé, click here.
Questions? Just ask us here. In the meantime, here is some more light résumé reading to check out:
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Work history: This is where you list chronologically any work experience – titles, employer and dates of tenure. List only the most recent and relevant information; no one cares about your ninth-grade babysitting club … unless you are looking for something in childcare (even then, save it for your cover letter).

Don't Use These 10 Words On Your Resume

Show, don't tell. LinkedIn's annual survey of overused words

 

Young woman at desk pouring mug of coffee over keyboard
Getty Images

By Alison Griswold

Are you responsible? A strategic planner and creative thinker?

So is the rest of the career-seeking world, according to LinkedIn's annual list of the year's most overused resume words. "Responsible" was the worst offender in 2013, followed by "strategic" and "creative."


To compile its fourth annual list, LinkedIn examined the online profiles and resumes of its more than 259 million members. In the two previous years, "creative" led the rankings.
Here is LinkedIn's full list of overused resume words:

  1. Responsible
  2. Strategic
  3. Creative
  4. Effective
  5. Patient
  6. Expert
  7. Organizational
  8. Driven
  9. Innovative
  10. Analytical
Nicole Williams, the official career expert of LinkedIn, says the list is a reminder of how it's always better to show rather than tell when selling yourself on a resume. "Providing concrete examples to demonstrate how you are responsible or strategic is always better than just simply using the words," she explains.

While there's nothing wrong with being responsible, strategic, or creative, the danger in marketing yourself with those terms is that you'll blend in with the job pool.

"If you sound like everyone else, you won't stand out from other professionals vying for opportunities," Williams says. "Differentiate yourself by uniquely describing what you have accomplished in your career and back it up with concrete examples of your work."

Check out an infographic on the data below:

Résumés: What's in and what's out in 2014

By Susan Ricker, 
On "Project Runway," Heidi Klum often declares, "One day you're in, the next day you're out." While she's referring to fashion, the cyclical nature of trends extends to résumés and job-search tactics as well. And if your résumé style is out in 2014, you may well be out, too.
To make sure you're keeping up with the trends and away from major résumé disasters, check out what's in and what's out in 2014.

IN: Keywords that match job descriptions
Many employers use applicant tracking systems to screen résumés and generate a short list of candidates. To ensure that your résumé makes it through the ATS, try "greater research into the position and employer to identify a higher percentage of the employer's keywords associated with specific positions, then creatively embed them in the application and résumé," says Hank Boyer, president and CEO of Boyer Management Group and author of the "Job Search Readiness Assessment."

OUT: Listing your daily tasks as experience
Instead of using valuable space to tell employers about your basic responsibilities at previous jobs, use the section they're most likely to pay attention to for impressive feats and stand-out accomplishments. Boyer advises including "quantified, employer-focused accomplishments listed in bullet point under each work experience. For example, 'With team of 12 telemarketers, achieved 131 percent of productivity objectives, with a customer positive rating of 98.2 percent.'"

IN: Creating and using multiple drafts and formats
Just as no two jobs are the same, no two résumés should be the same. Boyer suggests creating multiple drafts and formats for different roles, to make it through different application mediums and screening tools. "[Create] multiple résumés, customized for each position, in both .txt and .doc formats to allow for use in online applications and ATS's (.txt), and for traditional printed copies and PDF emailing (.doc)."

OUT: Including an objective statement
"Replace the outdated 'objective statement' and include a summary of your qualifications at the top of your résumé," says Carri Nebens, executive hiring manager and owner of Equis Staffing. "This swap offers a more personal look at you and what you could bring to the job. This should be three to five sentences long and should be tailored specifically for the job you are applying for. Be straight to the point, and market yourself as the ideal person for the job. Be compelling and concise, using this section to paint a picture of your characteristics, experience and achievements."

IN: Pointing employers to your online presence
While you only get so much room on an application or résumé, there's likely much more you'd like to share with prospective employers. The best way to do this? "Include your LinkedIn URL," Nebens says. "First, if you haven't already, you should create a LinkedIn profile, as LinkedIn profile URLs are becoming standard to put on your résumé. A LinkedIn profile will allow prospective employers the opportunity to learn more about your skills and better assess your qualifications. Make sure to fully develop your profile prior to listing your URL and align your résumé's goal with your profile, so both are telling the same story."

OUT: "References available upon request"
Similar to the objective statement, including references or "references available upon request" is a waste of valuable résumé real estate and just repeats the obvious. Ellis Chase, president of EJ Chase Consulting Inc. and author of "In Search of the Fun-Forever Job: Career Strategies that Work," recommends omitting the standard references line. "'References available upon request' was great in 1955. Not so much now. What are you going to say -- 'References not available upon request'? Lose it." Instead, expand other sections that need the space. Chase suggests creating an "Additional relevant information" section, where you can list your skills, languages and technologies that are immediately relevant to the desired targets.

Do You Make These 4 Cover Letter Mistakes?


woman reacts to mistake as she sits on couch with laptop 














By Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter

Some people meticulously write their resume but then treat their cover letter as an afterthought, resulting in a mistake-riddled, dull and underperforming document. It's important to ensure that your job search tool kit is fully equipped with high-quality, well-honed marketing messages that are blunder-free. The following four cover letter mistakes -- and accompanying remedies -- will help sharpen your cover letter saw.

1. Using a generic salutation: While it is not always possible to obtain the name of the cover letter recipient, often, with a little digging, you can!

The fix: One example is to use LinkedIn. Let's say you discover an opening for an electrical engineer position at an engineering organization's website. The position description indicates the employee will report to the lead electrical engineer. You decide (initially) to bypass the company's automated application system so you can customize your communications.

You sail over to LinkedIn and begin researching. Use the advanced search feature and type in "name of company" for the company name, "lead electrical engineer" for keywords and "64152″ for a ZIP Code for greater Kansas City (where the company headquarters and this position are located) and click enter. Your results will appear.

Search within your first- or second-tier contacts. You want to be sure to land on the contact with lead electrical engineer in the title. You will have access to that person's first and last name. This information, along with the company's mailing address which you can generally pick up at a corporate website, will equip you to create a custom-addressed letter.

This is just one of many examples to research contact names that will help you tailor your cover letter versus writing a generic "Dear Hiring Manager" salutation. Another method is to use Glassdoor's Inside Connections feature that finds any connections to companies you search for through your friends on Facebook.

2. Peppering the letter with 'I': While the cover letter touts your value, you should be familiar with the reader's areas of pain and heartily address their needs with your solutions.

The fix: While it is nearly impossible not to use the words "I" or "my" in the cover letter, you can slant the tone and construct your sentences to better reverberate with the reader's needs. For example, instead of launching into a diatribe of "I did this" or "I did that," you might lead into a letter with something like:

"Simplifying complicated information in measurable, digestible ways to align stakeholders is my talent." Notice how "my" is used, but the sentence does not lead with the first person possessive.

Also, consider directly connecting the dots of your traits with the current industry or market need. For example: "With more than 15 years' technology process management experience, I've learned to cut through the fog and chart a clear course. Clarifying routine processes versus necessary processes has sharpened investigative abilities ... (etc.). These traits are particularly imperative in the current tumultuous economic client."


3. Droning on and on: Putting every thought, including the kitchen sink, into your letter will lose the reader's interest.

The fix: Put your content through the so-what filter as you write; however, you don't want to stifle your creativity by trying to build a perfect letter out of the gate. Assuming that you are fairly focused on your target goal by the time you get to the letter-writing stage, the initial draft should be somewhat on point. That said, self-editing is crucial. Read through your letter several times. Use a red pen, ruthlessly. Trim, edit, augment, focus. Corral the cover letter into a four-to-five-paragraph format, and use bullets to showcase certain information. Keep it to one pithy page, if possible.

4. Running out of steam: It is tough to close a story well. And, like your resume, a cover letter is a mini-story that needs a clean, compelling close. Don't make the mistake of running out of steam at the end of your letter and relying on easy, but typically boring endings. This is not only uninteresting, but it makes you look lazy.

The fix: Research other people's letters to get the creative juices flowing. Some professional resume writers publish cover letter samples on their site. Do not steal other people's language; instead, use the language as a launch pad to stimulate your own! While your closing should be sincere, it shouldn't be bland. Pretend you are talking with the person face to face. What would you say to display your enthusiasm (not desperation) for the opportunity at the end of the conversation? You would be politely persistent, right? Show the same vigor in the written word!

Important tips for résumés and interviews after military service

Female soldier with folder looking away
By Brett Harris, special to CareerBuilder

As a veteran, you typically bring a wealth of skills to the table that a civilian job applicant can’t. Military service teaches you leadership, teamwork, decision-making and even engineering and technology. And yet, CNN reports that veteran unemployment rates are almost always 2 percent higher than the national average, and 34 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are unemployed for more than a year after returning home.
It’s not that employers aren’t interested in military veterans. They just often misunderstand what a veteran applicant is capable of, because the applicant either downplays their military experience or doesn’t know how to explain it. In order to enter the job market successfully, you must represent yourself well on paper and in person.
1. Set clear career goals
For both veterans and civilians, one of the biggest challenges in writing a résumé is making it specific to the industry you want to pursue. Veterans can have even more trouble with this because they come from such a wide variety of backgrounds and have a wide variety of specialties. Veteran career resources such as counselors and coaches can help you figure out exactly what kind of work you want to do and what you’re most qualified for. They can also help you figure out if you need further education or training to get the job you want.
2. Make a résumé that speaks to employers’ needs
The secret reality of job hunting is that most people don’t have one résumé. They have several variations of their résumé that are tailored to the different positions and employers they apply for. When you’re interested in applying to a company, research everything you can. Find out what skills they’re looking for and what skills are needed for the position in question and then tailor your résumé to highlight your qualifications. Applying to work in marketing is much different than applying to work in accounting, and applying to work at a large corporation is different from applying to work for a small and growing business.
3. Show your personality
Employers have the same support and admiration for the military as most civilians, but the unfortunate truth is sometimes veterans can be a little intimidating. In job interviews, make sure you speak about your military career as only one aspect of your life and experiences. A face-to-face interview gives you the opportunity to show that military officers are people just like everyone else — they just usually have more life experience, discipline and skills than the average applicant. Be proud of your veteran status and flaunt your abilities. Don’t go into too many confusing details or discuss some of the more harrowing things you might have seen, but do make sure you’re highlighting the positive aspects of your service.
4. Be willing to learn
Preparing for a job interview usually involves rehearsing your answers to the most common questions. You should know how to break your skills down to the most basic description and give examples of when you used them effectively. But you should also prepare plenty of questions to ask the interviewer. Show her how well you’ve researched the company and how enthusiastic you are about the prospect of working there. Serving in the military is a great way to show you’re a team player, so your questions and answers should revolve around what you can bring to the business as a whole. No matter what your skills are, you can always improve and expand on them in the workplace.
Finding a job after you come home can be nerve-wracking. Luckily, there are plenty of VA services that can help you with your questions and start you on the path to finding the civilian life you always wanted. After serving your country, you deserve to find success.

How to prepare for applying on a form application

By Debra Auerbach, 
 
Form applications may bring back memories of jobs you had in high school or college. But the truth is that many jobs you'll apply for today will require applications. It's a company's way of getting standard information from every applicant and ensuring uniformity and fairness for all who apply.
While filling out a job application often seems like the easiest step in the hiring process, if you aren't prepared or don't fill out the form accurately you could end the process before it even begins.

Here are some tips to make sure you ace the form application step.
Prepare common answers ...

Submitting an application may be the first thing you do for some job opportunities, but other times you might not get the application until you go in for an interview. If that's the case, make sure you're prepared so you can fill out the form quickly and completely.
In a Microsoft Word document, create a list of information that's often requested in an application, and make sure the list is easily accessible whenever and wherever you may fill one out. Consider emailing the list to yourself so you have it when you're on the go.
Some common fields on an application may include:
  • Name
  • Address
  • Email address
  • Phone number
  • Social security number
  • Driver's license/state ID
  • Employment history (e.g., names and dates of positions held, reasons for leaving)
  • Education and experience (e.g., schools attended, degrees, graduation date, skills acquired)
  • Salary
  • References
  • Ability to upload or copy/paste a résumé
... But don't assume all applications are the same.

If you're filling out an application for what seems like the millionth time, you may go on autopilot and answer questions the same way on each form. Make sure to read each new application thoroughly, because there may be a few questions either worded a different way or asking for different types of information than the previous application you just submitted.
Tackle tricky questions.

While most questions on an application are pretty standard and straightforward, some may be a little trickier to answer than others. One such culprit is the salary question. Whether the form asks for current salary, salary range or salary minimum, make sure you're being accurate and that you're comfortable with the number you include.
"It's best to include your minimum expectation for compensation," says Emily Hofer, chief human resources officer at Arise Virtual Solutions Inc., a work-at-home business process outsourcing company. "This needs to be something you can be comfortable with and will accept ... do not sabotage yourself by including a low number, thinking you can negotiate up when the offer comes in ... this only leads to distrust later in the process."
So how do you determine that number? "When the always fearful 'desired salary' question comes up, the applicant should use salary index sites ... to get an idea [of] what 'Job X' is worth," says Joshua Siva, author of "BOLD: Get Noticed, Get Hired." Siva also suggests calculating your expenses and financial goals and determining a number that, if offered, is one with which you'd be happy, you'd have enough to get by financially and you'd be able to live comfortably.
Stand out.

It may seem nearly impossible to stand out on a form application, but you can find small ways to impress. Show that you've done your research on the company by including some thoughts in a "comments" or "additional information" section, if available. For instance, you could say something like, "I noticed the company just won business with X beauty company. I have seven years of experience working with beauty and lifestyle clients."

Financial Analyst Cover Letter

Many people write cover letters that state that they are good communicators, hard working, loyal, dedicated, team players, etc. While these are important traits for a job seeker, when these words are used in cover letters they come across as suspect. So many candidates use the same words to describe their personal attributes that it is hard to tell who really possesses these characteristics and who is just including these words because they think they are supposed to or because it sounds good.

The best way to demonstrate that you possess a personal attribute that will be important to a hiring manager is to have someone else advocate on your behalf. By including an excerpt from a letter of recommendation, performance review, or LinkedIn endorsement you can more authentically get your point across and prove to a prospective employer that you are someone who is well-liked and can be trusted.

For Lucy's letter, we used a quote from her boss that showed her tenacity, integrity, and attention to detail... all important characteristics for finance professionals.
Lucy Smith
8 Ingram Street • Forest Hills, NY 11375 • 718-222-3333 • lucysmith@aol.com
Date
"Lucy is relentless in her cost control efforts and always follows up. She is brave enough to stand firm and make unpopular decisions when they are the right course of action." – Controller, Bank XYZ
Name / Title
Company
Address
Dear Mr./Ms.:
As a Senior Analyst/Assistant Controller for Bank XYZ, reporting directly to the company's Controller and CFO, I have played a pivotal role in providing the financial support and guidance that has allowed the bank to grow from $2B to $10B with a 25-fold increase in net income. In this role, I have been charged with managing the general ledger, monthly closing, and SEC reporting and conducting extensive research and analysis to drive business decisions and tighten financial controls. My key accomplishments include:
  • Financial consolidation of 5 banks into one.
  • Comprehensive G/L conversion for 3 acquisitions.
  • Project management of G/L financial integration for SAP conversion.
  • Consolidation of multiple disparate accounting systems into one centralized system.
  • Conversion of several manual processes into automated query worksheets and new reporting processes.

In addition, I hold a Bachelor of Science degree in International Banking and I just completed my Master of Science degree in Banking in May. At this juncture, I am confidentially exploring opportunities as an Assistant Controller or Controller in the New York area. My resume is attached for your review. I look forward to a personal interview and thank you for your consideration.
Sincerely,
Lucy Smith
Attachment

4 Things To Keep Off Your Resume


resume, words to use
Looking for a job after military service? AOL Jobs is republishing some career stories to help veterans in their job hunt. This story is one of our best career advice stories.

Most employers will tell you that job seekers routinely make obvious, painful errors on their resumes that cost them the job. And while there are online tools that will help you avoid making some of these mistakes, such as punctuation errors, most tools won't catch these four major blunders.

Subjective Text:
When you fill your resume with lavish self-praise, like "dedicated self-starter," "exceptional communication skills," and "hard-working professional," you're just stating your own opinion. This kind of language is like nails on a chalkboard to recruiters. Why? You're not stating facts. Don't tell them how you see yourself. Prove it by listing quantifiable accomplishments. Let the recruiter decide if you're actually a self-starter.

Too Much Info:
Many people assume they should list everything they have ever done at every job. It makes them feel like they're proving they've got valuable experience. Well, in reality, it detracts from your core message and strengths. Information overload to a recruiter is not a way to stand out. It's actually the fastest way to get in the 'no' pile. That's because, when they see you've listed everything, they look for every single skill they need. And, if even one skill is missing, they assume you don't have it.
The better approach is to simplify the resume to list only the key skills you want to leverage. Then you will be implying that you have a lot more to offer -- but the recruiters need to contact you to find out. Less is more. If the hiring managers like what they see, they'll contact you for a phone screen to get more details. And that's exactly what you want the resume to do: Make the phone ring!

Weak Top-Fold:
The first third of our resume is known as the "top-fold" -- it's where the eye goes when someone sees your resume for the first time. Most studies say a hiring manager's mind is made up about the candidate within six to 13 seconds of reading the resume. Which means the top-fold is determining whether you even get considered for the job. Text-intensive top-folds that aren't well-formatted and don't present key skill sets lose the reader's attention. It's that simple.

Fancy Fonts:
Curly-tailed fonts (aka fancy fonts) are harder to read. That translates into the reader absorbing less of what's been written. When you use script fonts as a way to make your resume look "classier," you are only making it harder for the hiring manager to retain what you are all about. Skip the script font and go with something clean-lined, like Arial or Calibri. While that may look more basic, the hiring manager will at least take in more -- and that can lead to the phone call you want.

Keep in mind: Your resume is your marketing document. Paying attention to these minor details can help you get a better response to your marketing message. Which is: "I'm worth talking to about this job!"

How To Keep Your Resume From The Applicant Black Hole

Keep the fancy formatting out of the picture

By Arnie Fertig

Have you wondered what happens to your résumé when you submit it online? The "black hole" it enters is actually an applicant tracking system database. Virtually every major and midsize company, governmental organization and recruiting firm employs this kind of software to contain, manipulate and access the large volume of resumes they receive.

Robin Schlinger, owner of Robin's Resumes, recently outlined how job hunters can best avoid the landmines associated with submitting a resume online at the Career Empowerment Summit, a conference for elite professional résumé writers and career coaches organized by Career Directors International. To get your résumé read, scored highly and acted upon, she offers the following tips:

1. Divide your résumé into clear sections, and use common headers for each one. ATS software often takes cues about what to do with information within a résumé from the heading it is found under. It parses the information and puts it into the database bucket that it "thinks" is the most relevant.

Even if you have the skills, accomplishments or certifications an employer is looking for, if this information isn't located in the right section of your résumé, it likely won't be found. The result is you dramatically decrease your chances of gaining "human" consideration.

Standard headings include: Contact Information, Summary, Professional Experience, Education, Training, Certifications and Skills.

Schlinger suggests using "Professional Experience" as opposed to "Work History" or just "Experience," especially if you have been out of work a while. When handled this way, it becomes fair to include experience you have acquired volunteering when the skills and accomplishments relate to the position you are seeking. Make certain, also, that your listed skills match up exactly on your résumé and LinkedIn profile.

Throughout the résumé, use keywords and phrases you find in the job announcement wherever possible to describe your experience and successes to achieve a higher matching score.

2. Not all ATS systems are alike. There are many systems available today, from large-scale enterprise solutions utilized by corporations to desktop versions suitable for a single recruiting desk. Each imports and stores data its own way, and offers different features to end-users.

When crafting a résumé, Schlinger warns: Some ATS can only read text or Word 2003 files. Many cannot read tables or graphics, some cannot scan italic or underlined words and many will substitute funny characters for non-standard or special characters. Since some can read paper with narrow margins and crammed text while others are incapable of doing so, you should be certain to have adequate margins and use a very standard or "vanilla" font like Helvetica.

Save "pretty" formatting with lines, boxes, graphics, pictures or color for a bio or a different version of your résumé that you distribute in person.

Schlinger goes so far as to suggest that when meeting someone at a company where you want to work, provide them with the dressed-up résumé and another one that is more ATS friendly. You might even say: "Here is a copy of my résumé for you, and in case you want to include it in your company's database, here's another one that will be better suited for that purpose."

3. Myth: You can avoid the ATS black hole by networking.

Reality: While networking is an indispensable part of working your way into a company, many companies require that all résumés, no matter how they are obtained, be put into an ATS system for both compliance reasons and to prevent charges of discrimination.

4. Myth: You can avoid networking by going through the ATS.

Reality: No matter what ATS system is utilized, hiring managers like hiring people they know, or people who are directly referred to them by others they know and trust. If your timing is right, a hiring manager might identify what you offer as priorities for which they request an ATS to screen. And you can still receive preferential treatment once your application is approved through an ATS compliance function.

It is easy to feel slighted when your résumé doesn't rise to the top. And it is easy to blame the grading criteria applicant tracking systems use when you aren't hired for a job. But the reality is that ATS software treats all candidates equally. It is your job to make certain you present your qualifications in a clear format, with content that can be understood both by human beings and ATS software.

When you study the suggestions Schlinger sets forth, you can better understand the "rules of the ATS road" and employ them to your advantage.

Happy hunting!

7 Outrageous Things People Actually Put On Their Resumes


Creative or just plain bizarre?
A vial of blood - real or fake - is an example of something you shouldn't send with your resume. By Alison Griswald

Being creative on your resume can be a good thing. But beware of crossing the line between creative and crazy. "People are always thinking, 'Hey, I want to stand out in the job search,' and that's ok," says Katharine Brooks, executive director of personal and career development at Wake Forest University. "But you don't want to stand out by being weird. You want to stand out for excellence."

While the most common resume mishaps are typos and misspellings, some people venture to the weird and wacky. Career and recruitment experts weighed in on the most ridiculous things they've seen on resumes.

1. A plastic foot
"A candidate sent me a plastic foot, with the opening line of her cover letter stating that she wanted to get her 'foot in the door,'" says Brooks. "Throughout the letter she added other foot references such as 'her shoe was the right fit.' It wasn't."

2. A vial of fake blood
On another occasion, Brooks received a resume that had a small plastic vial of red-colored liquid attached to it and a note saying the candidate would "sweat blood" for the job.

Creative? Yes. But probably not the best way to win over your prospective employer (unless it's Dracula).

3. Body measurements
Gene Gordon, a sourcing expert for recruiting company Decision Toolbox, says he once received the following information on a resume:
  • Height: 5'4"
  • Waist: 28"
  • Hips: 33"
  • Bust: 34"
  • Shirt Size: M
  • Pant Size: 5/6
  • Shoe Size: 8 1/2
  • Hair: Reddish black
  • Eyes: Earth Green
The physical statistics were in no way relevant to the job application, Gordon added.

4. A table of contents
A good rule of thumb is to keep your resume to only one page. Two pages is pushing it, and anything beyond that is far too long.

Well, Mary Massad, division president of recruiting services at Insperity, says she once received a resume so lengthy that the candidate included a table of contents with it. "A resume should never be so detailed and long that it requires a table of contents," Massad says.

5. A chocolate croissant addiction
Just as weird statistics don't belong on your resume, neither do irrelevant interests. Marc Goldman, executive director of the career center at Yeshiva University, says he's seen people list interests such as "eating chocolate croissants" or "Settlers of Catan," the popular board game.

Goldman says people who include random interests on their resumes often do so with the hope of sparking a conversation over a mutual passion with an interviewer. Sometimes that works, but often it doesn't. "It's certainly a risky thing because it can be looked at as very frivolous," he adds.

6. Knowing how to use a paper shredder
There are skills worth mentioning on a resume, and then there are those that will earn an eye roll from your recruiter.

Dana Manciagli, a global career expert and author of "Cut the Crap, Get a Job," has seen her share of arbitrary, outdated skills. Some highlights? Understanding how to use Microsoft Word, the fax machine, and a paper shredder, she says.

7. Proficiency in the English language
When you've got limited space to sell yourself, you don't want to waste it stating the obvious. Goldman says he once received a resume that listed "English" as one of the candidate's languages. Seeing as the resume was written in English, the clarification was not necessary.

How To Explain Your Resume Gaps To Employers

5 strategies that will give yourself a fighting chance at getting the job.

older workers
You have a gap in employment that's wider than the Grand Canyon. Whether it's because you've taken time off voluntarily to care for your child or you're one of the long-term unemployed, there are strategies that can help you get hired.

You've been a stay-at-home parent. Consider applying for jobs where your homemaking skills would be useful: budgeting, coping with the full range of children's issues, having to be a self-starter. Of course, those skills are useful in child-related jobs: in schools, child care, pediatrician's offices, and children's stores. But they're also applicable, for example, to careers as a manager, coordinator, administrative assistant, and event planner. Cite those transferable skills in your applications, interviews, and networking. Also tout the transferable skills you used in any volunteer work.

You've been playing around. For the last year or four, you've decided to, say, travel around the world or just goof off. How do you explain that to an employer you're trying to convince to pay you to work? You might try something like, "I figured that while I was young and unencumbered, I'd do those things that many older people regret not having done: travel, build a boat, do volunteer work. But now, I'm truly ready to get serious about my career. Here is what I bring to the table (insert.) Might I be possibly be of help to you?" The wrong employers will blow you off; a right one will at least interview you.

You've been self-employed. Employers worry that self-employed people will be unhappy having a boss. Preempt the objection. For example: "Five years of self-employment made me realize the advantages of being employed in a organization. I'm looking forward to it. Having been in charge could be a plus in working for you. I am, as they say, a self-starter and can be intrapreneurial, identifying new profit centers for your organization."

You've been ill. Let's say you've battled cancer or severe depression for the last two years and can't claim you're cured. In addition to tapping your network for leads, you might ask your doctor or nurses. They likely have particular empathy for people in your situation, have bonded with you, and know lots of people. If I had a disability that would affect my ability to do the job, along with my strengths, I'd disclose the disability to prospective employers. The wrong employers will reject me, a right one will accept me, the kind of employer I'd want to work for.

You've been unemployed a long time. If employers knew you've had a helluva time trying to find a job, they might view you as too-often-rejected merchandise. Sure, it helps to do a fill-in activity that would impress employers: training that gave you up-to-date skills in your desired field, relevant volunteer work, etc. But that may not be enough. Try radical honesty, for example:
I wasn't looking forward to having to pound the pavement so, for the first few months, I rationalized that making just a few inquiries would do the trick, but after a while, I had to face the realities of today's tough job market. Since then though, I've had a hard time because employers reject you because you've been out of work for a while--They figure you must be no good. I am good at what I do (insert evidence.) I just need someone to give me a chance to show it. Might you be willing to talk with me?

You've been in prison. Tell your story. For example:
"Five years ago, my wife divorced me right after my company sent all the jobs in my workgroup to India. I was at rock bottom. So when a friend asked if I'd help him rob a bank, I can't believe it but I went along. I got caught, went to Sing Sing, and was released early for good behavior. I can understand that you're tempted to reject me. I just want to say that my terrible mistake has made me completely committed to being honest. I just need someone to give me a chance. Perhaps someone gave you one. Might you be willing to talk with me? You'll find me hard-working, willing to start at the bottom, scrupulously honest, and most grateful."
If you were an employer, might not you interview such a candidate?
Broadly applicable advice
Rely on your network.People who know you are more likely to give you a chance.

Explain how your time-off will benefit the employer: You're rejuvenated, gained, perspective, had time to upgrade your skills, etc.

Don't hide or obfuscate. Ethics aside, it will likely come out that you weren't a consultant but rather were in India seeking enlightenment. All it takes is a Google search to find your social media posts on that. Most employment applications state that even if discovered after hiring you, dishonesty in the application is grounds for termination.

Of course, there are no guarantees but even in these challenging situations and tough times, there are ways, honest ways, to give yourself a fighting chance.

How to Write a Better Business Letter

business letter format
Jane Curry and Diana Young -- two Ph.D.s from Chicago who, for the last 20 years, have taught businesspeople how to write -- understand that most folks don't love to write. That's why they've penned their book 'Be a Brilliant Business Writer: Write Well, Write Fast and Whip the Competition.'
"In fact, many of you are so pressed for time you often have to slam away at your keyboards into the night, working against impossible and competing deadlines. No wonder most of you appear to need a good cry, a dry martini and a long nap," they say in the introduction to their book that went on sale on Oct. 5.
In a recent interview with AOL Jobs, Young provided advice for job seekers and anyone else who wants to dazzle employers with their brilliant business writing.

Four tips for writing a better business letter or e-mail.

1. Lead with the most important point.
"If it's an e-mail, say something like, 'Would you have time to meet with me before next Tuesday for the X project?' so the reader knows right away why you're writing," Young advised. "The reader should understand right away when they get that e-mail why they're reading it and what response they have to make."
"As for job seekers," she said, "remember not to concentrate on yourself too much."
"Often, what you see in resumes and cover letters is what the job seeker wants," according to Young. "They'll say, for example, 'professional accountant looking for a fulfilling position' rather than 'professional accountant with 15 years of experience to help X company' and then explain how their experience might help the company."

2. Use visual formatting.
"The people you're writing for aren't in school anymore," Young noted. "People are not being paid to crawl through enormous paragraphs. You need to make a map on the page so people can scan at a glance. What they should see in that scan is what's most important. If you haven't given the reader the key points of your message in 4.5 seconds, you've pretty much lost them."

3. Let your speech guide you when you write.
"So many people want to sound professional, but they end up sounding institutional and hostile," Young said with a chuckle. "Jane and I say you can sound professional and still sound like a human being -- and you should. That's one of the biggest tools in your toolkit."
"I'm not saying to write exactly the way you talk," she added. "What I'm saying is that if you wouldn't say it out loud, don't write it down. For example, I would never say to you, 'Cost efficiencies have been realized.' I would say, 'We have cut costs.' Which one does business better? It's the second way."

4. Take the time to edit yourself.
"You always have to proofread for errors," Young said. "You always have to spell-check. Always. If something is really important to you, like getting a job, read it backwards or fold your paper in half. You know what you wrote, so your brain just supplies the missing word. Break things up so your brain won't automatically fill in the missing word. A simple mistake can undermine your credibility."

Performance reviews: A natural opportunity for a résumé update


In today's often-frenetic business world, it's hard to remember everything that needs to be done and even more difficult to make time for it all. Take the task of updating your résumé. If you recently received a performance evaluation, consider setting aside some time to do just that.

The timing is ideal, coming just after you've reflected on your most recent projects and accomplishments. During your evaluation, your manager likely also gave you some insights about your strengths. And what about recently acquired skills, such as proficiency with a particular software package or experience implementing a new accounting rule? Why not feed this fresh information into your résumé while it's still top of mind?

It's always a good practice to have an up-to-date résumé on hand. You never know when you'll hear about an opportunity that interests you or be approached by a recruiter about a position when you least expect it. As the scouting motto goes: Be prepared.

Here are some questions to consider as you undertake a résumé update:

Are my accomplishments showcased? Make sure your revamped résumé focuses on what you've actually achieved in your current role. Professionals often give an exhaustive list of their responsibilities but fail to say how they made an on-the-job difference. For example, rather than listing one of your responsibilities as "managed receivables," explain your success in doing so -- e.g., "Managed more than $350 million in receivables over six years with less than $100,000 of bad debt."
Also, take renewed stock of your intangible assets, particularly those highlighted by your manager during your appraisal. You may be able to plug some of these attributes into your résumé as well.

Is the style up to date? Like your wardrobe, your résumé also needs periodic makeovers. Do some research and check with colleagues to get up to speed on current résumé trends and employer preferences. Granted, the latter can be difficult to nail down; résumé advice can vary from one hiring manager or human resources professional to the next. But you should be able to identify the most widely favored practices.
Many employers, for instance, prefer a professional profile or summary at the top of the résumé, rather than an objective. Another example is provided by executives polled in a Robert Half survey, who said they prefer a chronological résumé, which is organized by your work history, to a functional one, which is organized according to your skills and attributes.

Is the length right? Just as thinking on résumé style has evolved over time, so have résumé length preferences. Senior executives interviewed in periodic surveys by Robert Half have generally been more receptive toward two-page résumés for staff positions, but most still prefer a one-page résumé.
Although there is no hard-and-fast rule for how long your résumé should be, keep in mind that everything about your résumé, including its length, is a reflection of your judgment, so you want it to suit you. If you have only about three years of job experience, you probably don't need a two-page résumé -- and having one won't make you seem more qualified. Hiring managers can spot filler.
Further, an initial résumé scan may command a minute or less of a reviewer's time, so a bloated résumé can work against you. A hiring manager is more likely to glean the most important information quickly if your résumé is short and concise.

Have I avoided empty words? Too often, candidates fill their résumés with buzzwords they think sound impressive but don't convey anything of substance. In fact, they've become clichés (such as "innovative," "dynamic" or "effective"). Moreover, they make you sound like everyone else at a time when you want a hiring manager to see you as a special candidate. So rather than saying you're "creative" or "results-oriented," try to explain how your creativity is reflected in your work and what kind of results you've achieved.
We all know the importance of triggers, which is why we develop routines and make to-do lists. Consider starting a positive professional habit by updating your résumé after every performance appraisal. It can help ensure that you capture career highlights as they occur -- and that you're always prepared for whatever lies ahead.

Writing your résumé in Klingon will not get you the job

resume mistakes 2013In the movie “Legally Blonde,” the main character Elle Woods does some pretty memorable things to secure an internship at a law firm. One such stand-out tactic she uses is to write her résumé on pink scented paper. While her maneuvers worked to land her the job in the movie, in the real world, unusual résumés can quickly go from being memorable to a misstep.
CareerBuilder recently surveyed hiring managers, asking them to share the most memorable and unusual applications they’ve received. They gave the following real-life examples:
  • Résumé was written in Klingon language from Star Trek
  • Résumé was submitted from a person the company just fired
  • Résumé’s “Skills” section was spelled “Skelze”
  • Résumé listed the candidate’s objective as “To work for someone who is not an alcoholic with three DUI’s like my current employer”
  • Résumé included language typically seen in text messages (e.g., no capitalization and use of shortcuts like “u”)
  • Résumé consisted of one sentence: “Hire me, I’m awesome”
  • Résumé listed the candidate’s online video gaming experience leading warrior “clans,” suggesting this passed for leadership experience
  • Résumé included pictures of the candidate from baby photos to adulthood
  • Résumé was a music video
  • Résumé didn’t include the candidate’s name
  • On the job application, where it asks for your job title with a previous employer, the applicant wrote “Mr.”
  • Résumé included time spent in jail for assaulting a former boss
The length debate
Sometimes it’s not what you write on your résumé, but it’s how much you write that can turn an employer off. If you’re a new college graduate, 66 percent of employers think your résumé should be one page long. For seasoned workers, the majority of employers (77 percent) say your résumé should be at least two pages.
Interestingly, employers and job seekers may have different ideas of appropriate résumé length and content. Thirty-nine percent of workers ages 45 and older reported that their résumé is only one page long.
The survey also showed that, although more than half of employers say they only want to see work experience that is relevant to the job at hand (53 percent) and primarily within the last 10 years (57 percent), 41 percent of workers ages 45 and older include their first job on their résumé.
Costly résumé mistakes
When asked to identify the most common résumé mistakes that may lead them to automatically dismiss a candidate, employers pointed to the following:
  • Résumés that have typos – 58 percent
  • Résumés that are generic and don’t seem personalized for the position – 36 percent
  • Résumés that don’t include a list of skills – 35 percent
  • Résumés that copied a large amount of wording from the job posting – 32 percent
  • Résumés that have an inappropriate email address – 31 percent
  • Résumés that don’t include exact dates of employment – 27 percent
  • Résumés printed on decorative paper – 22 percent
  • Résumés that include a photo – 13 percent
“Your résumé is the primary deciding factor for whether you will land a job interview,” says Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder. “It’s important to project a professional image. Keep it succinct, personalize it to feature only skills and experience relevant to the position you’re applying for, and always include specific, quantifiable results that showcase the value you can bring to an organization.”
Paper becoming passé
While Elle Woods may have found success with her pink résumé paper, some employers won’t accept your paper résumé, no matter what color it is. More than one quarter (26 percent) of employers only accept digital résumés, leaving hard copies sent via the mail unopened.

Hiring Managers Reveal 12 Worst Resume Mistakes

Learn from these real-life blunders.

 
By Debra Auerbach

In the movie "Legally Blonde," the main character Elle Woods does some pretty memorable things to secure an internship at a law firm. One such stand-out tactic she uses is writing her résumé on pink scented paper. While her maneuvers worked to land her the job in the movie, in the real world, unusual résumés can quickly go from being memorable to a misstep.

CareerBuilder recently surveyed hiring managers, asking them to share the most memorable and unusual applications they've received. They gave the following real-life examples:
  1. Résumé was written in Klingon language from Star Trek
  2. Résumé was submitted from a person the company just fired
  3. Résumé's "Skills" section was spelled "Skelze"
  4. Résumé listed the candidate's objective as "To work for someone who is not an alcoholic with three DUI's like my current employer"
  5. Résumé included language typically seen in text messages (e.g., no capitalization and use of shortcuts like "u")
  6. Résumé consisted of one sentence: "Hire me, I'm awesome"
  7. Résumé listed the candidate's online video gaming experience leading warrior "clans," suggesting this passed for leadership experience
  8. Résumé included pictures of the candidate from baby photos to adulthood
  9. Résumé was a music video
  10. Résumé didn't include the candidate's name
  11. On the job application, where it asks for your job title with a previous employer, the applicant wrote "Mr."
  12. Résumé included time spent in jail for assaulting a former boss
The length debate
Sometimes it's not what you write on your résumé, but it's how much you write that can turn an employer off. If you're a new college graduate, 66 percent of employers think your résumé should be one page long. For seasoned workers, the majority of employers (77 percent) say your résumé should be at least two pages.

Interestingly, employers and job seekers may have different ideas of appropriate résumé length and content. Thirty-nine percent of workers ages 45 and older reported that their résumé is only one page long.
The survey also showed that, although more than half of employers say they only want to see work experience that is relevant to the job at hand (53 percent) and primarily within the last 10 years (57 percent), 41 percent of workers ages 45 and older include their first job on their résumé.

Costly resume mistakes
When asked to identify the most common résumé mistakes that may lead them to automatically dismiss a candidate, employers pointed to the following:
  • Résumés that have typos - 58 percent
  • Résumés that are generic and don't seem personalized for the position - 36 percent
  • Résumés that don't include a list of skills - 35 percent
  • Résumés that copied a large amount of wording from the job posting - 32 percent
  • Résumés that have an inappropriate email address - 31 percent
  • Résumés that don't include exact dates of employment - 27 percent
  • Résumés printed on decorative paper - 22 percent
  • Résumés that include a photo - 13 percent
"Your résumé is the primary deciding factor for whether you will land a job interview," says Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder. "It's important to project a professional image. Keep it succinct, personalize it to feature only skills and experience relevant to the position you're applying for, and always include specific, quantifiable results that showcase the value you can bring to an organization."

Paper becoming passé
While Elle Woods may have found success with her pink résumé paper, some employers won't accept your paper résumé, no matter what color it is. More than one quarter (26 percent) of employers only accept digital résumés, leaving hard copies sent via the mail unopened.

How to Write a Resume Career Summary

Generate Interest with a High-Impact Summary Statement

Hiring managers are busy people. A single job posting might attract thousands of resumes. To get noticed, create a career summary (AKA career objective) statement. The goal of this section is to develop a hard-hitting introductory declaration packed with your most sought-after skills, abilities, accomplishments and attributes. In the Monster Resume Builder, use the Objective section to present your summary. 

Take these six steps to create a winning career summary:
1. Conduct Research on Your Ideal Job
The more closely you can target your profile to the employer's needs, the better your results will be. Start by searching jobs for your ideal position. Compare the ads and write a list of common job requirements and preferred qualifications.
2. Assess Your Credentials
Based on your research, how do you measure up? How would you help potential employers meet their goals? Besides the qualifications described, do you offer any added bonus? If you are lacking in one area, do you make up for it with other credentials?
If you are having a hard time assessing your skills, get help. Ask your colleagues, instructors and supervisors what they see as your key qualifications. Review your performance evaluations. What do others say about the quality of your work? Then write a list of your top five marketable credentials.
3. Relay the Value You Bring to the Table
The next step is to weave your top credentials into your summary. Keep in mind that the summary helps the hiring manager determine if you should be called for an interview. Include a synopsis of your career achievements to show that your dedication to results is transferable to your next employer. Explain how you would help solve their problems. Ask yourself, "How will the employer benefit from hiring me?"
4. Add a Headline
A headline, or resume title, hooks your readers and compels them to continue reading. A headline should include your job target as well as the main benefit of hiring you.
5. Focus on Your Goal
The most effective summaries target one career goal. If you have more than one possible objective, consider drafting different versions. Your profile can also include a bulleted "Key Skills" section, which provides an easy-to-read listing of your core capabilities.
6. Proofread, Refine and Perfect
First impressions are lasting impressions. Is your summary persuasive and free of errors? Is your tone appropriate for your career field? Avoid empty, generalized statements such as "excellent communication skills."
The Finished Product
Here is an example of an effective career summary:
Corporate Real Estate Executive

Increasing Bottom-Line Profitability Through Real Estate Strategies
Professional Profile
Accomplished executive with a proven ability to develop and implement real estate strategies that support business and financial objectives. Have led key initiatives that reduced operating budget by $32 million and contributed to 550 percent stock increase. Recognized as an expert in applying financial concepts to asset management decisions.
Respected leader, able to build highly motivated management teams focused on achieving revenue goals. Keep up-to-date with changes in the industry through continuing professional development (earned an MBA in finance/real estate and master of corporate real estate designation).
Areas of Expertise
  • High-Volume, High-Dollar Negotiations  
  • Strategic/Tactical Planning  
  • Multimillion-Dollar Operating and Capital Budget Administration  
  • Analytical and Financial Skills  
  • Statistical Modeling and ROI Analyses

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