Archives for resume keywords

Is Your Résumé Outdated?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.

 

Use Keywords With Care or Beware

Accessibility Cloud by Itjil on Flickr

Accessibility Cloud by Itjil on Flickr

Annemarie Walter, President of My Career Transitions, a local job search support group and valued LinkedIn connection, sent to me a LinkedIn post regarding 42 IT keywords to share with TPNG, the Technical Professional Networking Group, which I co-chair.

 

Before I passed it along, however, there were three important disclaimers about the author’s advice that I wanted to make sure were passed along with it based on my experience as an IT recruiter and my specialized experience in IT résumés and career management. I want to cover them all in detail, but want each to be equally important, so this is part 1 of 3 regarding this post. I thank the author, Greg Lachs, for his list, as I find it to be a very good resource for IT professionals who have been struggling trying to find suitable job opportunities by searching for a title online.

 

Part 1 – I want to make sure that no job seeker takes these keywords and “dumps” them into a résumé or LinkedIn profile in hopes of being found and qualified.

 

Part 2 – How to refer to yourself in your LinkedIn headline and your résumé headline when your title has many variations.

 

Part 3 – Keyword searching for opportunities should occupy less than 10% of the time allocated to your job search. So, what are you doing with 90% of your time?

 

(Follow me now so you know when Parts 2 and 3 come out – share this with an IT job seeker you know.)

 

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It is true that the keywords in this list are probably the same keywords that recruiters are using to identify and search for talent. However, since job boards became popular resources around the turn of the millennium, many tactics have been employed by job seekers to rise to the top of search results, including dumping keywords. Eventually, these tactics backfire.

 

For clarity, dumping means including long list of arbitrary skill sets with out putting them in the context of your actual experience and achievements. When I was an IT recruiter, there were even some sly job seekers who would include lists of keywords in white text so that they were not visible on the copy, but would be stored in a database. Upon searching the actual document for the keywords, however, if the only place I found a keyword was in a list, I considered that candidate under-qualified and moved on, and if it was hidden in this manner, I also deemed them sneaky and blacklisted them – YES, recruiters blacklist candidates. More on that in another post.

 

I could easily distinguish a professionally prepared résumé from an amateur resume. However, what frustrated me about many of the professionally written résumés was the focus on functional details or vague achievements that did not explain the scope of a project or job and lacked context around technical skills.

 

In order to present a candidate competitively against other candidates, I had to be able to substantiate the depth of the candidate’s experience with the technical requirements of the job. There were several ways to do this, including a table or skill summary, but the best way to do this was to include within the professional experience demonstrative details of how that candidate applied technologies to complete a project or perform their job. I often had to procure these details through a phone screen and then coax the client into including them within their résumé. This was challenging for most of them, so if they were presentable enough, I would take it on myself. I happened to enjoy it and was very good at it, hence was born my career as an IT résumé writer.

 

Here is my “secret recipe” for gathering all of the anecdotal evidence necessary to fully substantiate the value of technical skills, as well as soft skills.

 

> Situation – the conditions that existed that necessitated a change or some kind of action

> Challenge(s) – what made this an impressive feat

> People impacted and the impact – who was experiencing the conditions AND who was engaged to address it

> Decision made – and who made it

> Actions taken – and by whom (“we” is not specific enough.)

> Skills, talents applied – “hard” and “soft” skills

> Tools used – technical tools, as well as approaches and methodologies

> Results – what outcomes did the actions produce in as many measurable terms as possible. Think about the PROOF that the action was taken or that it was successful

> Impact – how that trickled down to other people

 

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How to put these details into succinct two-line bullets, well, that’s the REAL challenge. I find that techniques I’ve learned through nearly a decade of experience are much harder to teach, even to those with innate writing talents and highly developed writing skills. If you have an interest in learning, I’d be happy to evaluate adding you to my team, though most people writing this post would probably prefer letting someone else do it, because in the time it would take you to master it, you could have been earning a great salary doing what you are really good at.

 

Here is a hint, though: Start with an action verb conjugated in 1st person and refer first to the the result or impact in measurable terms

 

Stay tuned for Part 2: How to refer to yourself in your LinkedIn headline and your resume headline when your title has many variations.