Archives for resume help

Everything You Need Above the Fold of Your Resume to Get an Interview in 6 Seconds

Phone Talkin' by Martin Cathrae of Flickr

Phone Talkin’ by Martin Cathrae of Flickr

WARNING: This article is chock-full of expert space-saving tips. Shhh. Don’t tell the other professional résumé writers I shared this.

You used to have a whopping seven to ten seconds to grab the attention of the reader and elicit an interview. Tracking studies of recent years suggest that you may only have six seconds, perhaps even less. Whether these studies are scientifically credible or not, my practical experience has taught me that the more time you can save the reader in making a decision about whether you make the short list of candidates or not,  the less friction there is between you and sliding into your next job.

The prime real estate of your résumé lives above the fold, in other words, what the reader can see on their computer screen before they have to scroll down. They most likely will take a few extra seconds to scroll down, check through the dates of your work history, and examine your education and training, but it is what they see first that determines if they scroll down with a perception of optimism or skepticism. Your mission throughout the qualification and interview process is to inspire the employer to be more focused on your value and contributions and less focused on any potential risks you pose.

Here is what you can do in the top fold of your resume to compel recruiters to put their hand on the phone to call you for an interview before they even realize they’re making the call.

 

Contact information

This may seem very obvious. Of course, you want your future employer to be able to know how to contact you after they excitedly see your resume and understand your value. You also need to know that your contact information should not be stored in a header. Very often, applicant tracking systems do not extract and store data from headers, footers, or tables.

Expert space-saving tips:

  • Fit all your contact information on one line.
  • You do not need to include your street address (unless you are filling out a government application that requires it). City, state, and zip are enough.
  • You do not need to identify a phone number as a phone number or email as an email.
  • If you have a very long LinkedIn URL (even after customizing it), use a link shortening tool like bit.ly.

 

What you want do

Let people know what you WANT to do. Employers will not assume that you are automatically going to be pursuing a title that was identical to your last position. In fact, if you were in your last role for three years or more, a company offering strong career development would more likely want to assume that you are ready for the next step. Do not make the reader invest time trying to figure out where you fit in their organization. It is true that titles can vary from company to company, so it is best to find a two to three word phrase that best describes the function, role, or contributions that you AIM to make. Only list your current title if you are hoping for a completely lateral move.

While this may seem obvious, the positions for which you are applying (or, preferably, for which you are getting recommended), have to correlate with the role you identify in your headline. If they do not correlate, you can either not expect a call back, or expect that when they do call back you will spend more time talking about what makes you think you can do this role, and less time on how successfully you can fill this role.

Expert space-saving tips:

Place your role at the very top of the résumé, perhaps even on the very top line across from your name, like below, rather than using an extra line in between your contact information and your summary. Once you identify this role, you can use the first few words of the summary to offer an alternate title, or an even more clever “Noun Action Verb” phrase* that visually depicts the impact you make. See the example under the next section.

* We offer mad-lib-like DIY content building tools for your summary, résumé, and LinkedIn profile.

resumeexample-05162016


Make sure you’re qualified

When you read job descriptions you can see very clearly, usually, how many years of experience an employer wants and what the required skills are needed to succeed in that job. Make sure they know right away that they are getting what they want. Quantify the years of experience that you have or the level of expertise that you possess in the top three to four skills that are required to be successful in the job you are pursuing.

Expert space-saving tips:

  • Start out with your overall years of experience, and if it is niched to particular industry you are pursuing, say that right away.

E.g. “Profit Optimizer offering 20+ years of pharmaceutical experience.”

  • When you mention your other skills in the summary, put them into the context of the value they have enabled you to offer throughout your career, and take it EVEN further by depicting the impact of that.

E.g. Utilize vast knowledge of hundreds of financial products to customize packages that meet very specific client needs and cultivate rapport and loyalty among the client base.

  • You may also want to include a list of three to twelve key skills associated with the job. Instead of tables, (which as I stated may not be stored in an applicant tracking systems) use columns.
  • Some people use functional breakdowns.

 

How you do it better/different

You can see from the example above that is very possible to use fewer words and yet paint a compelling picture of what it would look like to have you adding value versus any other equally qualified candidates. Additionally, you can assume that while candidates usually come to the table with a unique blend of experiences, they will not be interviewed if they do not meet the minimum qualifications. In order to move past them, you will need to sell a unique brand. You will receive interviews based on meeting qualifications, but you will receive offers based on how you mesh with the people and culture of the organization. Do not just say you do it better; let the reader know HOW you do it better. What is your unique approach, experience or perspective that enables you to deliver in a way others do not?

Expert space-saving tips:

  • Use words that will pack the most visual punch, and you will not have to use as many words. In a little less than two lines in the example above, we qualified this candidate as deeply knowledgeable about financial products, a required skill for the position.
  • We also DEMONSTRATED rather than STATED this candidate is customer-focused and that she maybe able to bring clients with her. Clichés have little meaning to the reader, but clients have great value!

 

Your most recent experience

Regardless of what components and sections you include above the fold, do not exceed the fold. Leave room to start your actual professional experience. Some recruiters will even tell you that they do not read your summary at all and to exclude it. That is because summaries are hardly ever compellingly written – TRUST ME. If you are adding value by branding yourself with this section, AND you are providing content that the recruiter can use to write the candidate marketing summary for their client, it is worth including. The point is, though, getting to the point. All of the space-saving tips above are meant to help you utilize as little prime real estate as possible while adding the most value.

The faster you can help the reader complete their agenda, the faster they can pick up the phone. Here are some bonus expert reader-friendliness tips:

  • Use a font of at least 10.5.
  • Do not overuse formatting enhancements (bold, italics, underline).
  • Some studies suggest that color in résumés attract the most attention and many other recruiters will tell you that the content is all they care about (unless you are a graphic designer).
  • For that reason, do not use pictures– they can visit your LinkedIn profile to see the person behind the résumé.
  • Put the company and city on one line, the title underneath, and put all dates along the right margin using columns (you may need to go to formatting settings to make sure that the columns are not of equal length and can be adjusted to accommodate longer company names/cities).
  • Start bullets all the way over at the left margin.
  • Do not use abbreviations, even for months.
  • Use numerals whenever possible, but strike a balance and put numbers into context of challenges and skills applied, as well as the impacts. People remember stories, not numbers.

 

E.g.

 

resumeexample-0516201602

[This is where a role/company summary would go, where you can explain your functions and save the bullets for achievements.]

 

Remember, if implementing these tips (while designed for the avid do-it-yourselfer) becomes a large investment of your time, consider allowing us to take over. These are not the only tricks up our sleeve. The sooner you get into your next job, the sooner you can bring in income, and our résumés have been known to maximize salary offers, so they are worth the investment.

 

Is Your Résumé Outdated?

Resume - Glasses by Flazingo Photos of Flickr

Resume – Glasses by Flazingo Photos of Flickr

Has it been more than five years since you searched for a job? Do you remember the last time you looked at your résumé? Do you still believe in the use of an objective? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, it is time to update your résumé. Most people believe that adding a few bullet points about what they have done in the past five years is adequate. They make these small changes and start submitting their résumé. One major reason people hate going near their résumés is because it forces them to remember what they’ve done professionally over the past few years. It is a fact that the more time that passes, the harder it is to recall everything, unless you have kept track of your accomplishments somewhere.

The longer a résumé has not been reviewed, the more painful or frustrating it can be to update. Here is a more timely focus to consider- as the New Year approaches, assess your employment goals and take some time to be intentional about your career direction. Update your résumé based on where you want to be in the future as a reference for what to include about the past. Be conscientious about your BRAND. This is critical- we are not just taking about a few résumé updates, but reinventing your brand to fit your future goals.

If you have not been actively searching for a job in the last few years, the process of revising your résumé can be intimidating. Even if you are not actively searching for work, NOW is still the time to update your résumé. You may not need a job today, but your employment circumstances could change in an instant. Keeping an updated résumé is useful because an opportunity could present itself at any moment. You could meet your next boss ANYWHERE. A quality résumé branding and writing process takes five days for a first draft, and a comprehensive review process can take another three days. If a position is open, and you are given the opportunity to be the first in, be ready to strike! If 70% of the workforce is disengaged from their job, and you are one of them, this advice can help YOU.

 

What you need to know about the evolution of résumés

Résumés have evolved over the years. For decades the evolution has been slow, but in the last five-to-ten years there have been dramatic shifts in what résumés are and what employers expect from them. Mashable has tracked résumé standards throughout five hundred years of history. Here is what you need to know from the last three decades:

  • In the 1980s it was acceptable to include a fax number with a résumé because of the popularity of fax machines. It was during this time that formats with 1”+ margins, sub-headers in the left margin, and content indented to the right became popularized.
  • In the 1990s email became a popular way to send résumés. Still, résumés kept the formatting that became popularized in the 80s.
  • In the 2000s interactive résumés were popularized. By the end of the decade large margins were out, and the use of white space gave résumés a less cluttered appearance. Objectives were replaced by professional headlines and summaries, branding allowed job seekers to demonstrate their value to employers, and keywords made it easier for résumés to be found in applicant tracking systems and online databases used by employers.
  • 2010 to now- Résumés can be shorter, but it depends on the field. For years the myth that résumés had to be one page was prevalent. Actually, two-to-three pages are the standard for senior professionals and executives, and some fields require even more extensive documentation. Résumés now contain social media links and a LinkedIn profile can serve as a good companion.

 

What modern résumés require

Résumés must now be tailored to a particular job and company. The days where a general résumé would suffice are gone.  Thanks to the LinkedIn and the prominence of personal branding, you can no longer be everything to everyone. You can be dynamic, and wear many hats, but you also have to know which employers want that and to state what resonates with them. Then you have to make sure they can visualize how you will fit into their company and avoid applying to targets that do not fit. This next part takes people into a conversation I have most frequently with people who have searched for a long time. They have been advised and decided that they MUST make themselves as “employable” as possible. This often means applying to multiple positions in the hope of being seen as flexible. However, as I state in my article, “More résumés ≠ better results” taking this approach means that the job they really want will escape them. Instead of coming off as employable, you strike a potential employer as desperate. Tailor your résumé instead.

Crafting a tailored résumé requires you to put on a marketing hat and to research your targets. This means finding out what a company wants and needs for a position. If you do not believe us (per above), ask an employer if they want someone who is willing to take anything, or if they would rather hire the person who can clearly articulate where they want to add value and demonstrate how they add that value.

 

Why your old résumé needs updating

Chances are if you have not taken a look at your résumé in several years the format is dated. Most hiring managers only spend an average of seven seconds looking at a résumé. If your résumé is difficult to skim, it increases the chances of an employer passing over your résumé in favor of a candidate with an easier to read résumé. Just imagine if this article had huge indentations, and was poorly aligned. You probably would not make it halfway through before you stopped reading. The same can be said about your résumé.

Poor spacing between lines, extra indentations, and typefaces that are not compatible with both Mac and PC make for difficult-to-read résumés. The most impactful changes you can make are to remove all of your indentations so the document aligns perfectly, and to decrease your margin size. LifeClever has an excellent visual tutorial.

The content matters just as much as the format. Résumés filled with clichés such as “hard working,” “team player,” “proven track record,” or “motivated” are so overused that they have become meaningless buzz words to most potential employers. Employers want to SEE these qualities in their candidates. Instead of telling a hiring manager that you have these qualities, demonstrate them. State HOW these particular qualities have manifested value throughout your career. Think of your achievements and how your particular attributes have helped you accomplish those achievements. Expand on those specific attributes in the experience section of your résumé.

Specific attributes also form the foundation of your personal brand. In fact, your personal brand is the foundation upon which the powerful content of your résumé is built. Branding allows you to better market yourself and to stand out from the competition. A brand communicates who you are and the value you bring to an employer. A brand also allows you to demonstrate to an employer what you offer above and beyond the qualifications listed on a position, how you are a good fit for the company, and the numerous ways you have made significant contributions to previous employers. To create and infuse your brand throughout your résumé consider your talents, your skills, your most valuable personal attributes, your passion, and what makes you stand out from other potential candidates.

Many résumés are read online. Keeping that in mind, it is important to use keywords in order to ensure your résumé is found by potential employers, but they must be used in context. Keywords are a series of words related to your skills, your experience, and the position you are seeking that employers use to find your résumé among other applicants. Some résumés without keywords are never even seen. While these words are literally the key to being seen by potential employers, using too many keywords can raise red flags and cause an employer to reject your résumé. Use these words with care.

 

Updating your résumé

If you have decided your résumé is in need of an update, we can help. Check out our video series “Scrap your résumé if it has these 10 things,” to guide you in the revision of your résumé. We also offer branded résumé writing services, including semi-branded low-budget options. If you want to update your résumé yourself, we have a DIY Résumé Summary Builder (it requires Microsoft Word 2010 or newer). To be ready for an opportunity at any time, tailor your résumé for your next ideal position, and update it at least every year, if not twice a year. Keep that file of achievements handy.

 

The purpose of your résumé is to entice employers to invite you for an interview. An old résumé may garner some responses from employers, but the response will be much higher with a résumé that is current with the times. The task of updating a résumé can be daunting, especially now that you know what is required of an effective résumé, but the more often you go through the process, the faster it goes. After all, having a powerful résumé will pay dividends when you are able to shoot it right over to your next boss that same day, and you are quickly invited to interview. Have the peace of mind knowing that your résumé is ready to go at any time, even if you are not actively searching for work. Consider it a critical component for your self-generated job security.

 

The Correct Response to a Job Lead

 

"Using Three Laptops at the Same Time" by Michael Kwan from Flickr

“Using Three Laptops at the Same Time” by Michael Kwan from Flickr

“Your network is your net worth.” This succinct phrase is the title of Porter Gale’s book. Gale, a marketing expert and public speaker, argues in her book that a network of personal and professional relationships is the most important asset in a portfolio. Think about it. Over 80% of jobs are unadvertised and obtained through networking. Your network connections can help you obtain job leads and even land a job. When someone in your network produces a job lead for you, your response matters. How you respond to a job lead can mean the difference between discouraging your lead sources, and successfully capitalizing on a lead. In order to capitalize on a lead, it is important to make a smart inquiry about the quality of the lead. Not every lead is a good match for your qualifications, so it is critical to learn more about the source of the lead and the potential job.

There is an important distinction between a job lead and an introduction offer. If someone in your network offers to introduce you to someone, do not decline the opportunity. There could be synergy between you and the other party, and a conversation might lead to a job opportunity. People are the ultimate connectors. You won’t know if there’s an opportunity until you have a meeting. Graciously accept the introduction offer, attend the meeting and follow up with your source. Feel free to ask your source questions about the party you’re meeting with to attend the meeting fully prepared. An introduction is a direct invitation to establishing a relationship with someone at a potential employer. A job lead is the knowledge of an open position, and when you can establish a relationship with hiring managers you increase your odds of being chosen as the candidate who gets the offer.

Gauge how much the person knows about the source and quality of the information they’ve given you. If it is a job lead, and not an introduction, you’ll have to dig deep and research the lead. Not every job lead is created equally. Your source may or may not be intimately familiar with the lead or the position. He or she may have been approached by a recruiter, declined the offer and decided to forward the position information to you. This doesn’t mean the employer is incompatible with your personal criteria. Your lead source may not have been not been actively looking for a job, or the position may not have fit their personal criteria. Knowing that you’re looking to make a transition, your source decided to be helpful and pass the information on to you.

If your source forwarded a lead and doesn’t know much about the company, avoid bombarding them with questions about the position. In other words, don’t make them answer the same questions you would ask of someone more familiar with the position. Go directly to the source. If the source leads you to a company website or job board, go to LinkedIn to learn more about the company and to discover if you have any possible inside connections. Next week I will go further into depth about the top ten websites you can use to research your employer.

Before you consider making a connection with someone at the company, thoroughly research the organization. Your research will help you get further in your ability to market yourself and demonstrate your value. The job position could be a perfect match for your qualifications and skills, but the company culture or its location may be a poor fit. Here are few questions to consider:

 

  • Where is the company located? You may or may not be open to the idea of relocating to another town or city.

 

  • What is the size of the company? If you’ve previously worked at a small employer, switching to a large employer could be a major culture shock, and vice versa.
  • What do employees think of their employer? If a good number of employees are miserable at the job, it may be a place you want to stay far away from.
  • Why do think you’ll be a good fit for the position? This question can also generate great content for a cover letter. Take notes as you discover your answers.

 

Look up a company’s profile on LinkedIn to discover answers to your questions.  Job review sites such as Vault and Glassdoor are more ways to obtain insight about a potential employer. Visit Salary.com and PayScale to learn more about an average salary for the open position at your employer. These are good resources for gathering salary range information based on your job title, skills and education level. Once you’ve researched a potential employer it’s time make a decision.

If you find that the company meets about 80% of your criteria, create a connection within the company. Go to LinkedIn to see who you may know. If possible, try to identify the most logical hiring managers. Once you find the hiring managers, send out customized invitations. Avoid sending out boilerplate invitations, and use the information you gathered about the hiring managers to introduce yourself. Before you send out those invitations, make your LinkedIn profile as appealing as possible. I’ve written extensively on the subject.  Avoid using default headlines and make sure your profile is more than just an online résumé. When you send an invitation to hiring managers, the point is not to directly ask for a job, but to be the answer to the open position. Think of it like this, the company needs to fill an open position to solve a problem within the company. You want to be the first solution that comes to mind.

If the position does not meet 80% of your criteria and you were referred, follow through with the interview and be upfront with a hiring manager. Let him or her know that the job opportunity presented after an introduction isn’t a fit for you. This honesty can lead to better opportunities down the road. When that potential employer has an open position that matches your qualifications and needs to be filled, either internally or referred, your name may be on the top of the candidate list. Focus on your preferred contribution and the types of positions that are in alignment with your skills and qualifications.  If the real issue with a job is a lifestyle conflict, let the hiring manager know. Express to them how you appreciate the time and effort they took to consider you for a position, but it isn’t a good fit with your lifestyle. For example, longer hours at a potential job may leave you unable to pick up your children from school or daycare in a timely manner. Or, the commute may be too long.

 

Always follow through with your source. They took the time to send information for a possible lead, thank them, and update them on what happened. They have a vested interest in the outcome and will want to know if it worked out. This is the best way to reinforce with your network that the efforts that they make on your behalf are not in vain. If, however, too many job leads they send seem to be wrong, they will get discouraged. Give them a little guidance, if necessary, but always with sincere gratitude.

Making a smart inquiry about the lead, and being responsive to your source can be the difference between discouraging them from ever sending you a lead again and receiving more job leads. Again, thank them for their time and research the lead. Your research will enable you to decide if pursuing an open position is worth your time. You can also use your research to put yourself ahead of the competition by crafting a customized cover letter. Learn how to use your research to get immediate responses from employers with our cover letter secret sauce. Above all, gratitude and research is the best response to a job lead.

 

Beware the Job Search Trap of the Holiday Season

Photo courtesy of s0crates82 on flickr open source. (http://bit.ly/1vQeqQ4)

Photo courtesy of s0crates82 on flickr open source. (http://bit.ly/1vQeqQ4)

The holiday season is almost here and it is one of the most captivating times of year. There are great sales everywhere, you have a long shopping list, and you can’t wait to decorate the house while the sweet smell of pastries fill the air. You’re looking forward to seeing some of your favorite holiday specials on TV or maybe you’re delighted as you make those travel arrangements to see family and friends. Wait a minute! What about the job hunting plans you had?

With holidays inching closer, now is not the time to take a vacation from your job search. Look for your next job before the holidays hit. Thanksgiving is less than a month away. It is the time of year when job seekers think less about being hired, and more about family gatherings and the perfect gifts. You may be more interested in a winter getaway than making a career transition. The temptation to shelve your résumé and start fresh in January is simply too powerful.

What his hiring really like during the holidays?

It is a common perception that no one hires during the holiday season. This simply isn’t true. Employers want to fill open positions before and after the New Year. Specifically, in January companies want to have potential hires already in place. The end of the year is also a time when many companies increase their payrolls. Also, in a recovering economy, hiring does not slow down much at all. The year 2004 was an example of that. I was unexpectedly busy with just as many, if not more job requirements to fill than during September. And I had been looking forward to some holiday downtime. On top of stress, there is increased competition during the holiday season. Taking the initiative before the holidays arrive could help you avoid a stressful job hunt.

The biggest potential threat to your job search during the holidays is a lack of focus and drive. As I stated earlier, it is extremely tempting to take a break from a job transition to relax from November to January. We want to spend quality time with our family and friends. There are also a lot of great sales for those who love to shop. Unfortunately, the next three months are one of the busiest hiring periods of the year. As companies seek to fill positions by or in January, the call for job applicants picks up in November and December. When the holidays are in full swing, competition for open positions can be fierce. You want to get ahead of the competition by making the most of your job search NOW, not later.

Ever try getting people together over the holidays?

Consider it from a tactical standpoint. If you wait until the end of November, you’ll have several things working against you. First, there are the savvier job seekers who know companies are hiring. Second, hiring managers are inundated with applications on a normal basis, and it will take them longer than usual to setup an interview. Likewise, you may find yourself landing interviews at odd times because of how busy hiring managers are. Coordinating schedules with managers is notoriously hard during this time. Odd interview times could easily put a damper on your holiday plans. Third, a lot of the positions during this time of year are contractual. The last thing you want is to cast your net out, only to find less than satisfying offers. If you want to give your career the epic boost it needs, get out in front of the competition. Don’t let your résumé be swept away by a wave of job seekers; ride that wave to your new career.

Kick-starting your job search immediately will ensure you are interviewed by hiring managers before they are swamped with applicants. This means renovating your résumé, especially if you have been neglecting it. Next: network, network, network! Touch base with friends, acquaintances, or alumni in your professional network, they could be the key to a potential job offer. Attend networking events and make an effort to talk to at least one person per meeting. Holiday parties and company events can be used to further network. The end of the year is already a time when we connect to others, so don’t miss the opportunity to advance your job search. Sara Canuso describes how to make the most of a networking event in her program training module, “Networking for Impact.” Make sure you don’t ignore LinkedIn and other social media networks. Building up your personal brand is essential to standing out from the rest of the competition.

Think QUALITY, not quantity

It is always best to identify prospective positions before the holidays hit. You’ll benefit from having your résumé in front of hiring managers early. You will also stand out from the crowd because you put the maximum effort into your job search. You’ll also avoid the huge rush of job seekers trying to land the same position in the New Year, if it remains open. An open position means hiring managers and other stakeholders will scramble to coordinate their schedules to fill the position. You definitely want to avoid being a part of this scenario. Moreover, you’ll have a leg up on those who chose to suspend their job search until the New Year. Not only will you avoid the many pitfalls the holiday season brings, but you’ll also be able to actually enjoy this time of year. Peace of mind is a brilliant way to celebrate the holidays.

If you need help with your résumé or brand management, we are always here to help! Think of it as an early Christmas present to yourself. (Check with your CPA – our services are often tax deductible!)

 

Tales From The Flipside, Episode 3 now available!

“How do you deal with people who blame everything else for their unemployment?” I was asked today by someone referring to the government as the main culprit people point to. I told her I don’t waste my time and energy getting goaded into arguments about politics. Many people look to the government to make conditions more conducive to finding gainful employment. These folks, most likely, will not be my clients – at least not now. Maybe when they are sick and tired of being sick and tired they’ll reach out for my help.

 

My clients tend to want to be in control of their careers. Being in control requires taking accountability. When someone is ready to learn a new, more effective system and do what they hadn’t been doing before, they get better results. She knew, however, that my mission is to help as many people as possible, and the group of people that she sees needing guidance, tools, and strategy such as I provide, are great in number and will not recognize the help that I’m offering as a solution to their problems.

 

While I do have big plans to revolutionize the way people approach their career, and how companies approach hiring, right now it is in my power to change career trajectories one person at a time (or more like 5 to 10 at a time.)

 

The podcast I started producing, Tales From The Flipside, chronicles real life transitions success stories in hopes that people will recognize a part of their story and the challenges and hardships that some of these clients have faced, but more so, that they will see a future self in the happy ending.

 

This podcast is one of my most favorite things I’ve ever done, and I hope to do thousand more. It’s really not just about their story; it’s about their empowerment.

 

Now that they have filled a gap in their knowledge and skills around careering, they have every reason to believe that, no matter what happens, they will be able to land happily on their feet in a better position.

 

Try that feeling on for yourself. Is that something that you want?

 

I welcome you to subscribe for free and gain access to all of our episodes of Tales From The Flipside.

If while listening you start to imagine what your transition success story will sound like, allow us to provide to you with a free resume and campaign evaluation. Let us provide you with value and advice that will accelerate and optimize your career transition. Enable us to get to know you a little, and establish our expertise. We are confident that we can help you if you let us.

E-mail your résumé to info@epiccareering.com and we’ll send you our needs assessment form.