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Archive for the ‘Expert Resume Tips’ Category

10 Tips to Build the Perfect Resume

Thursday, August 9th, 2012

By Louise Kursmark

What’s a perfect resume? It’s a resume that opens doors, gets you noticed during your job search, attracts interviews, and ultimately gets you hired! While every resume is unique, follow these resume builder tips to make sure that yours is as close to perfect as it can be.

1. Review sample resumes. Don’t copy another person’s resume or try to make your background fit into an arbitrary resume template. But looking at great resume examples will give you ideas, solutions, and inspiration for your own masterpiece.

2. Start with a goal. It’s impossible to write a resume that’s clear, powerful, and sharply focused if you don’t know what kind of job you’re looking for. Decide what you ideally want to do and write a resume for that position. Chances are, it will be perfectly useful for other, similar positions as well.

3. Showcase your success stories. The unique accomplishments that you feature in your resume are what make it unique, interesting, and memorable. Choose achievements that relate to your goal and demonstrate your professional skills.

4. Get organized. We’ve all seen examples of resumes that lack consistency in design, coherence in structure, and clarity in format. Don’t let your resume be one of these bad examples! Organize your material before you write. Arrange similar information in the same way to help your readers understand your background and qualifications.

5. Highlight your job titles. In most cases, the position you held is more meaningful than the company where you worked, so don’t let those good titles get lost on your resume. Bold type, all caps, small caps, or slightly larger types are good options to consider when presenting your job titles.

6. Emphasize what’s important. On the other hand, if all of your experience has been in low-level jobs unrelated to your current career goals, then it doesn’t make sense to highlight those job titles. Instead, call attention to projects you’ve completed, leadership roles you’ve held, volunteer work you’ve done, or other meaningful activities that will let an employer understand the value you offer.

7. Dig deep to find results. Job search today is intensely competitive, and your resume may be all you have to capture attention. You can make your resume stand out by including specific, measurable results of your jobs, projects, and activities. Precise numbers and concrete outcomes will distinguish you from the pack of job seekers who write bland, generic resumes.

8. Be creative. Looking at resume examples and using a resume template builder like ResumeHUB are great ways to get started writing your resume, but don’t be afraid to bend the rules just a bit to make your resume as unique as you are.

9. Take the time to get it right. Employers consider your resume to be an example of your very best work. It’s not something you can dash off at the last minute. Invest the time necessary to produce a top-notch document—write thoroughly, edit extensively, and proofread obsessively.

10. Get help with your resume. No need to go it alone! There are great online tools like ResumeHUB that make creating a professional resume easy. These resume builder programs walk you through each step and provide help for each section of the resume.  Once you have your resume written, ask people you respect for their opinion. Find a mentor in your field who can coach you on resumes, interviewing, job search, and how to get ahead in your career. Most of all, understand that you’re likely to change jobs 10 or more times in your career, so learning now to write the perfect resume will prepare you for every change that’s sure to come in the years ahead.

Today’s Resume: What You Need to Know

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

By Louise Kursmark

If you’re looking for a job in 2012, you still need a resume. Despite online applications, online profiles, and online social networks connecting you to your next opportunity, the resume remains essential.

But that doesn’t mean the resume hasn’t changed with the times. Here’s what you need to know about today’s resume:

  • It’s shorter. Keep it to one or two pages maximum, no matter how much experience you have. Students and new grads most often will have a one-page resume, although two pages is not out of the question if you have that much relevant material.
  • It’s crisper. Think more white space, shorter paragraphs, less density. It needs to be written and designed so that it can be quickly skimmed for pertinent information.
  • It’s well organized, with clearly labeled sections pointing out relevant information. Add to the “skimmability” factor of your resume by segmenting the information into logical sections and labeling each with a heading—Experience and Education sections, of course, but other sections as well—perhaps Technical Skills, International Experiences, Travel and Languages, Core Skills, and others that are pertinent to you and your qualifications.
  • It’s less fluff, more facts. Don’t take up space telling readers how “excellent” your communication skills are or about your “business acumen.” Focus on the things that will help them decide if you are a viable candidate: Who are you? What do you know and what can you do? Where have you been and what have you accomplished? Your personal attributes become important later in the interview process.
  • It might point to richer, more detailed information. If you have a LinkedIn profile (and you should), insert the link at the top of your resume with your other contact information. Similarly, if you have a personal website, an online portfolio, a blog, or other information that expands on who you are for potential employers, by all means, add the links to your resume. Make it easy for employers to find out more—if they want to.
  • It includes one email address and one phone number. Gone are the days when it was standard form to include home, work, and cell numbers on your resume and perhaps two different email addresses. Make it easy for employers to contact you by listing just one number (for most people, a cell number) and one email address. Then be certain to read and listen to all messages and respond promptly when contacted.
  • It is customized to every job application. In many cases, you’ll be submitting your resume in response to online postings. To rise to the top of a crowded field, your resume must include all the right keywords for a particular position, so carefully review and edit your resume as necessary to match as many keywords as you legitimately can. Without the right keywords and keyword phrases, your resume will never be selected.

Yes, your resume is essential! In combination with a targeted job search with networking as a core strategy, your resume is a centerpiece for making your next career move. Make sure yours is current with the times and positions you to beat out the competition.

Publishing Your Resume

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

By Wendy S. Enelow

Publishing your resume so it’s visible to hundreds, even thousands, of prospective employers and recruiters is just as important to the success of your job search as the actual process of writing the resume. Once it’s written, formatted, and proofread, you’re ready to upload, post, store, track, send, and otherwise distribute it in as many ways as possible to reach your target market.

To help with that challenge, here are some insider secrets about resumes, resume publishing, and job search. This is important information if you want to capture the attention of hiring managers in today’s remarkably competitive online employment market.

Starting with the basics, appreciate that there are two sides of resume publishing—online and offline—each with unique requirements. Believe it or not, there are people who still print and distribute hard copies of their resumes. Why? Because face-to-face networking and job search is still the most effective tactic and should continue to be part of your overall search strategy.

When publishing your offline resume, be certain that it is sharp, conservatively distinctive, and designed to stand out from the crowd. With paper resumes, you can use a distinctive font and add lines, charts, graphics, and other visual characteristics that give your resume depth and character. Publish a resume that doesn’t look like everyone else’s and you’ll give yourself an instantly competitive advantage.

Now let’s discuss the online resume that can take several forms. First, you’ll have the document version that is basically the same as your offline resume. The only difference might be how it looks on someone else’s computer or in a database. You have no control over that, other than to make sure you use a universal font (e.g., Arial, Arial Narrow, Bookman, Garamond, Georgia, Tahoma, Verdana) that translates well from one system to another and hope that your graphic elements come through as intended.

This is one of the reasons why .pdf files are great for resume publishing. Once you’ve saved your document as a .pdf, you’ve ensured that the integrity of the design, style, and format will remain intact. The only downside is that most recruiters and hiring managers will want your resume in either a Microsoft Word or text file so it can be easily uploaded into their candidate database for keyword searches using their applicant tracking system (ATS).

Unfortunately, the vast majority of your online resumes will be in text files that you upload into employment databases and post on job boards. I say unfortunately because those unadorned text files do nothing to give one candidate a visually competitive edge over another. At that point, you must rely 100% on the content—and keywords—in your resume because those are the primary criteria used for candidate selection. If you are called in for an interview, bring in a hard copy of your styled resume that the employer will remember.

With each passing day, the technology underlying resume databases is becoming more sophisticated and flexible. It won’t be long before the majority of companies will allow you to upload published Word resumes, giving you the best of both worlds—the vast online resume publishing and resume distribution options, and the sharp, distinctive visual presentation of a well-designed and well-formatted resume.

Resume Dos and Don’ts

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

Resume writers like to say there are no rules in resume writing. That may be true, but it certainly doesn’t help the average job seeker just looking for some good advice!

Rather than worry about a specific formula for writing a great resume, use the following general guidelines to prepare a resume that reflects your unique background and qualifications.

DO get to the point. You can’t tell your entire career history in one or two pages, so concentrate on the things that employers really want to know: who you are, where you have been, and what you have done. Stripping away unnecessary information is the best way to call attention to what is important.

DO focus on your accomplishments. Most individuals reading your resume are familiar with the typical tasks for people with your job titles, so you don’t need to detail everything you do every day. Instead, tell them what you did that made a difference to your company, colleagues, or customers. This will make your resume more interesting, memorable, and unique.

DO include keywords. Resumes today are routinely scanned by electronic systems that are looking for the right “keywords”—the words and phrases that match the job description and the employer’s requirements. Make sure they’ll be found in your resume! Use job postings as your source for the right keywords for your profession and industry.

DON’T make it hard to read. Even if your resume is initially scanned by a computer, at some point it will be reviewed by humans. You can make their job easier by the way you format and present your information. Don’t write in dense, wordy paragraphs. Don’t use long lists of bullet points with nothing to distinguish one from another. Don’t use a tiny font size. Do include white space to let your resume “breathe.”

DON’T forget to proofread. Recruiters and employers routinely cite “errors in the resume” as the reason for not considering a candidate. Errors send the message that you are sloppy and careless when doing important work. Either that, or you don’t know better. So don’t send that message. Proofread your resume several times and ask a friend or colleague proofread it as well.

DON’T expect your resume to get you a job. The resume is just one piece of the job-search puzzle. Don’t neglect other important pieces: networking, directly approaching companies, researching companies and industries, preparing for interviews, and so much more. The resume, when well written and used properly, can help open doors for you—but it can’t do it all.

Job Fairs: How To Make Them Worthwhile

Thursday, August 4th, 2011

By Louise Kursmark, Master Resume Writer

Job seekers flock to career fairs like bees to a hive—and why not? They are a central source of potential employment and networking opportunities with multiple employers in your community. So while you’re job hunting, make it a point to look for and attend job fairs—and follow these tips to make the event a worthwhile investment of your time.

1. Do your homework. Contact the organization running the job fair and ask for a list of companies that will be attending. Research those companies and choose 5 – 8 as your “prime targets” for the job fair. Be prepared, though, that the advance list is not the final—some of your target companies might not be present and others that you haven’t researched will be. So be prepared to change your plan of attack once you are on site. Here’s some great advice and resources for company research!

2. Get your resume ready. Job fair recruiters will look at literally hundreds of resumes in a day. Try to make yours visually distinctive while remaining professional, and write interesting and unique content! Proofread your resume very carefully and have someone else read it as well. Bring several dozen copies with you to the job fair, encased in a portfolio so they stay fresh all day.

3. Dress for success. Wear the same clothing you would for an important interview. Your goal is to present a great image and impress the recruiters with your professionalism. Check out guidelines for job fair and interview attire

4. Start with your target companies. When you arrive at the job fair, review the attendee list (remember, it probably won’t exactly match the original!). Highlight the locations of your target companies and approach them right away. Then you can pursue other companies—secondary targets, new targets, or any other company that sounds interesting.

If your target companies are very popular, be prepared to wait or circle back when the booth is less busy.

5. Be ready with your introduction. Do you have a 2- or 3-sentence introduction of who you are, what you’re looking for, and why you’re valuable? If not, you’ll feel tongue-tied and awkward at the job fair, you’ll look unprepared, and you’ll waste an opportunity to make a great first impression. Explore ideas and scripts to jump-start your preparation

6. Use your company research. As the final sentence of your introduction, add something that relates to what you learned about the company from your research—or something you know or have surmised. For example, “I was reading that XYZ plans to expand into Russia. That sounds interesting and a fit with my background—I was a Russian minor in college and have studied Russian history extensively.” Companies like to know that you are targeting them specifically and that you know something about them, so acquire some knowledge and use it to your advantage.

7. Prepare for the next step. It’s unlikely that you’ll have an in-depth interview at the job fair. Your goal is to make a good impression, establish potential interest, leave your resume, and capture contact information. Get the business card of each recruiter or write down their name, job title, phone number, and email address.

8. Follow up. Of course it would be great if you started getting phone calls right after the job fair! But don’t sit around waiting. Reach out to every person you spoke with. Send a professional email with details about positions you’re interested in. Personalize your note by saying something positive about the company. Attach another copy of your resume. Keep track of all of your contacts and conversations, and follow each one through to the final stage—whether it’s a “not interested” message or, ultimately, a job offer!

Phone Etiquette for Job Seekers

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011

By Miriam Salpeter

As job seekers, once you have a resume circulating, it’s important to focus on the details to be sure your job hunt is successful. One important and often overlooked job seeker tip: Pay attention to your telephone etiquette! In a competitive climate, every impression you make on a potential hiring manager affects how you fare in the job hunt.

Typically, a recruiter or hiring manager interested in interviewing you will pick up the phone and call the number on your resume. What number do you list? Hopefully, you haven’t included a work number or home phone your roommates, parents or children may answer. Be sure to offer a number only you answer, typically a cell phone with good sound quality and reliable reception. You don’t want to give the impression you conduct personal business at work, have to worry that someone will be rude to a potential interviewer, risk missing a message, or have your five-year old answer the phone when your dream job calls!

The next thing to keep in mind is your outgoing voice-mail message. Keep it basic and professional, making sure it includes your name, so the caller knows he or she reached the right number. Eliminate musical interludes, political or religious comments, and anything the listener could interpret as silly or frivolous. Stick to a polite, brief, “This is (your name), I’m sorry I missed your call. Please leave a message and I will get back to you as soon as possible.”

Providing a mobile number for prospective employers doesn’t mean you should answer the phone whenever it rings, no matter where you are. Eager job seekers often make the mistake of picking up calls when they are in no position to be able to actually carry on a reasonable conversation. When shouldn’t you answer the phone? During a sporting event, while driving in heavy traffic, at a birthday party, sitting in a busy coffee shop…The list goes on and on! (Your future boss doesn’t want to hear you curse at a driver who cuts you off or listen to background noise that makes it impossible to accomplish anything on the phone.)

Unless you are in a quiet place where you are able to hear the caller, write down notes, and reasonably carry on a conversation, do not answer your phone if you think it may be someone calling about your candidacy for a job. (That’s any call you don’t recognize once you have a resume circulating.) The flip side is that if you can’t pick up the phone right at that moment, be sure to get somewhere you can return a hiring manager’s call as soon as possible.

No employer wants to try to have a discussion with someone who’s repeating, “Can you say that again, I really can’t hear you very well in this gym.” Or, “I’m driving and can’t write down that address right now. Can you call back and leave it on my voice mail?” It’s important not to inconvenience someone who may want to hire you or to give the impression you don’t have good judgment regarding telephone etiquette. Consider any interaction with a hiring manager as part of the interview process; never let your guard down. Make good choices along the way to demonstrate your excellent communication skills

The Truth About Resumes and Job Applications

Monday, April 4th, 2011

By Louise Kursmark

Do you have to include every job you’ve ever held on your resume? The short answer is no.

The more thoughtful response is that you want to include information that positions you appropriately for the jobs you’re seeking, showcases your valuable skills and experiences, and doesn’t raise red flags in the employer’s mind. If you need tips and templates for creating the ideal resume to represent you, check out Job and Career Accelerator’s Resume Builder for a pain-free introduction to the basics or to polish up your latest draft.

So it’s perfectly OK to omit a 3-month summer job if it doesn’t add value to your resume. It’s fine to leave off unrelated positions even if they were full-time and of lengthy duration. But whatever you do, make sure you’re prepared to discuss any gaps or omissions during a job interview without sounding defensive or evasive and without dwelling on irrelevant experiences.

A job application, however, is not the same as a resume. Job applications are legal documents and usually state that the application is a complete record of your employment. So you do need to include all of your jobs and other experiences that you might have chosen to omit from your resume.

In a nutshell, your job application = the whole truth. Your resume = the truth. Just remember these simple guidelines and be prepared to discuss any part of your past with a potential employer.

How to Use Social Networks to Find Job Opportunities

Monday, March 28th, 2011

Using social networks for your job search can expand your network and introduce you to new people, but you can also leverage those networks to find job announcements and find places to upload your resume.

LinkedIn
Did you know LinkedIn has a job board? Follow the “Jobs” tab on LinkedIn.com’s top toolbar. It will bring you to positions suggested by LinkedIn based on your profile. The best part is that the site shows who posted the position (and links to that person’s profile), and displays people in your network who are connected to the organization of interest. Be sure to fill out your profile completely and take advantage of LinkedIn’s capabilities.

Twitter
Many agree that job seekers should focus on using Twitter to expand their networks and meet new people. In addition, there are a variety of services that stream job opportunities and have tools to help connect job seekers with new opportunities. Here are just a few of these services:

@jobshouts / jobshouts.com
A free resource for job seekers, this service tweets jobs from their Twitter account. As Alison Doyle of About.com explains, “…Jobs can be found either by following JobShouts on Twitter, or by searching “jobs” or keywords found in posted job titles. Each job creator is carefully screened by a jobshouts.com team member. Jobshouts provides quality jobs in a variety of verticals to a targeted group of twitter followers and professionals.”

@TweetMyJOBS / tweetmyjobs.com
This service created close to 10,000 location and job-type specific Job Channels for job seekers to follow. After job seekers register, the founder explained, “Jobs that match the profile are tweeted directly to the job seeker via their preferred communication channel, and can even show up as text messages on their mobile phone the instant that the job gets posted.”

@tweetajob / tweetajob.com
Job seekers specify a location and career interest and receive targeted tweets. Jobseekers may choose to receive job postings via Twitter feed, through the Tweetajob search engine or via mobile devices.

Facebook
Some applications that take advantage of Facebook’s social graph are beginning to take a professional focus. Two to watch:

  • Branchout. This app offers jobseekers many options. You may search for open jobs by company name, position, or skill and filter those jobs by location. For example, you could search for IBM, V.P. of Sales, or sales, and sort your results by city. The most powerful feature on BranchOut is the ability to identify friends and friends-of-friends at the companies where you want to work. Just type in the name of a company, see your 1st and 2nd degree connections at that company, and request an introduction – if necessary – in just one click.
  • Jibe. This application only posts jobs directly from Fortune 1000, name-brand, and up-and-coming companies. They note, “You won’t find any spam, multi-level marketing, or commission-only jobs on JIBE… You never have to leave JIBE to apply for a job, and you never have to fill out the same profile information more than once.”

Startwire
A new service, now in open beta, StartWire lets you sign in via LinkedIn or Facebook and will sort through 7,000 + job boards, employers, and search firms to identify the ones that are actively searching for people like you. StartWire may help accelerate your job search through social collaboration with a trusted network of friends, colleagues, and experts. It allows you to download your resume, create updates on where you’ve applied, the status of your applications, and the companies and jobs you like. You may share your updates with your selected network and get advice, targeted jobs, and networking recommendations from StartWire experts for free.

Consider incorporating some of these social networking tools into your job search plans to enhance the power of the social web.

Paying Your Dues

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

By Job & Career Accelerator Admin

In most industries, employees who are new to the workforce are expected to spend a few years paying their dues. What that means varies from one company to the next, but it usually boils down to taking on jobs that more experienced workers wouldn’t do for salaries they wouldn’t accept. Yes, it’s unfair. But if you’re able to prove your value to your employers during this period of drudgery, then promotions, higher salaries, and increased job satisfaction should follow.

Although you’ll probably have to go through a minor hazing period wherever you land, being on the low rung of the ladder doesn’t have to mean eating ramen noodles for dinner every night. A report by Forbes.com found that there are industries that pay their entry-level workers a decent living wage. According to the report, the top 10 highest-paid entry-level positions are:

10. Warehouse and Logistics Management – $39,600

9. Business and Finance – $40,200

8. Government, Military, and Civil Service – $40,300

7. Insurance – $40,800

6. Manufacturing – $42,700

5. Biotechnology and Pharmaceuticals – $43,900

4. Information Technology and Telecommunications – $46,000

3. Energy, Oil, and Gas – $50,900

2. Construction, Trades, and Labor – $51,100

1. Engineering – $53,400

Unsurprisingly, most of these jobs are math- and science-based; that liberal arts degree may take a bit longer to pay off. Also, note that the listed starting salaries are median figures, and that some of these jobs can actually pay much higher. Some investment banking firms, for example, can pay as much as $150,000 for entry-level positions. If you’re lucky enough to score one of these coveted positions, you won’t pay your dues so much as the dues will pay you.

The Great Keyword Search: Finding the Right Terms to Write Great Resumes

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

By Louise Kursmark, MRW

 One of the greatest frustrations for jobseekers is their resume disappearing into the “black hole” of online job search. Of course, many factors contribute to this phenomenon, but one thing is certain: Without the right keywords, a resume – no matter how well written – will never be found through resume-scanning software and applicant-tracking systems. The challenge for the resume writer is to incorporate all of the right words into the resume to boost the chance of rising to the top of a large pool of candidates.

 So how does a jobseeker know what the keywords are? Where does he or she find them? Here are five great resources.

 1.   Job Postings. Before a jobseeker can begin writing a resume, he or she should review a handful of “ideal jobs” and highlight all the appropriate keywords. These will help establish a good baseline goal for essential terms to include in the resume. Be sure to insert soft skills (teamwork, communication, problem-solving, and so on) as well as specific knowledge and experience, technology expertise, educational credentials and certifications, and other hard skills. Job & Career Accelerator, where they can search through 5 million up-to-date job listings from all major online job boards and even local websites, is the perfect place for this step.

 2.   O*Net—the U.S. Department of Labor’s comprehensive career site. Jobseekers can browse specific occupations and occupational groups to find terminology related to the experience they are featuring in a resume. Steer your jobseeker to Job & Career Accelerator‘s Occupation Matcher, which presents the  O*Net information in an easy to read format that suggests career paths based upon a jobseeker’s Occupation Matcher Interest Inventory. Have them spend some time searching through employment trends, such as “Green Occupations,” to become familiar with up-and-coming career fields and terms.

 3.   Professional Associations. Instruct jobseekers to take a few moments to explore the sites of relevant professional associations. These offer a treasure-trove of keywords! For example, the site for the Institute for Supply Management, a professional association for supply chain professionals, includes an extensive listing of professional meetings and conferences. When you look at the meeting agendas, you’ll find relevant terms such as “value-focused supply,” “global procurement,” “sourcing complex spend categories,” and many more.

 4.   Company Websites. Particularly for jobseekers pursuing specific companies, a quick visit to company websites will pay off. Critical keywords will be found in the job descriptions, of course, but don’t stop there. Read the company’s mission statement and its values. Examine the career site to see what image it’s trying to portray with potential employees. What are the character traits, skills, and knowledge that the company seems to value? These terms should be incorporated into the resume to strike a responsive chord.

 5.   Industry- or profession-specific publications. Trade journals, industry blogs, business newspapers, and similar resources provide a rich source of keywords while keeping you up to date on important news and trends. Here’s a quick example: A recent post on the “Lean Blog,” dedicated to Lean Manufacturing practices in the healthcare industry, addressed technology trends such as bedside video cameras and other automation in hospitals, pharmacies, and labs. Great information for the right resume!

 After a jobseeker has assembled a rich array of keywords, they should work them as frequently and as naturally as possible into all sections of the resume. Of course, a jobseeker doesn’t want to misrepresent anything, so instruct them be careful to use only the terms that actually reflect knowledge and experience – and not those that they “wish” they could include!

 Finally, be aware that keywords are not static. There is no single set of terms that an employer will use when looking for an accountant, for example. The keywords will change to reflect the position, the company, the industry, and evolving trends. The resume must be a living document that changes to best fit the opportunity, the industry, and the evolving employment picture.

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Resume and careers expert Louise Kursmark is the author of Best Resumes for College Students and New Grads and 20 additional books on resumes, cover letters, and other career topics. The first person worldwide to earn the prestigious Master Resume Writer credential, she is also Director of the Resume Writing Academy, the first comprehensive training organization for resume professionals, and the innovative Career Thought Leaders Conference to be held March 14–16 in Baltimore.