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How Does a Professionally Branded Résumé Give You More Bang for Your Buck?

When hiring a professional résumé writer, it can be tempting to price shop. However, it’s important, even critical for the unemployed, to know what kind of return you can expect on that investment because you don’t know how long you’ll need that money to last.

That’s why I’ve created a specific process to build professionally branded résumés that ensure top-quality results.

What does the process look like?

Stages of my Epic Branding Life Cycle:

  1. Consultation/Interview
  2. Delivery of Branding Points
  3. Mini360°
  4. Finalization/Prioritization of Branding Points
  5. Mega Document Audit
  6. Request for Additional Information – Gap Fill Using Story Formula
  7. First Draft Delivery (5-10 business days from receipt of additional information from client)
  8. 60-minute draft review
  9. Semi-final draft delivery
  10. Client 10/10 rating and 100% satisfaction
  11. Continue with next document or campaign strategy and coaching

Let’s not get too far ahead, though. If you want to try this on for size, start with a free consultation.

Free Branding Breakthrough Consultation

Admittedly, I won’t be successful working with all candidates in all situations. It is a top priority that when you invest in my services, you get return on investment. While there aren’t many instances where I can’t provide ROI, I will be forthright and give you whatever guidance or referrals I can to point you to a solution for your situation.

That being said, if you have experienced long-term unemployment, are changing industries or roles, have reputation issues, or have been underemployed or underpaid, I’m highly adept at helping you get over the hump of these challenges to reach your goals and have many testimonials to prove it.

If you are not yet at least 80% certain of your target role, you are not ready to move forward with the branding process and I will help you determine if my career discovery services can help you achieve that clarity.

Sometimes personalities clash and visions don’t align. Sometimes your target role can be outside of what I consider myself an expert in, and I may recommend another provider. Sometimes my approach doesn’t work with your timeline and expectations.

The consultation is a great way to try before you buy. If we partner in this process, we’ll be working very closely together. I may need to be able to confront you if you are not working in your best interests. It’s not tough love, but it is compassionate coaching without judgment. It’s best to know ahead of time if you can handle this and if my way of working with you works for you.

Regardless of whether we fit or not, I will deliver value and immediate practical advice that you can apply right away to see a difference in your momentum. If you have not been satisfied with the results you have been getting with your tools and efforts so far, I will help you understand probable reasons why and viable solutions that will help you make the necessary shift to see better results.

The Proposal

Often you will receive a proposal prior to the free branding breakthrough consultation if it’s clear from information you provide what journey(s) will enable you to reach your goals. Otherwise, I’ll at least explain that branding services that include résumé and LinkedIn profile writing range from $1,000 – $2,500, and campaign support services are between $2,000 and $15,000. I’ll do my best to estimate on the call where in that range you’re expected to fall, and then follow up with an exact proposal that outlines your specific investment for the journey(s) being recommended.

You will see that while I require payment upfront for most journeys, I also offer guarantees (very few résumé writing services and career coaches offer these) and use PayPal, which allows you to pay over a 6-month time period at 0% financing (pending you are approved). I have taken as much risk out of this decision as possible!

You Choose

Once you confirm your desire to partner and specify which journey(s) you will take with me, you will be invoiced using PayPal, be sent a link to schedule your branding consultation, and receive a request for supporting documentation that may include, but is not limited to:

  • Job descriptions/postings for target roles (copied and pasted vs. URLs, which expire)
  • Internal job descriptions
  • Personality and/or strength assessments (I may recommend some prior, depending)
  • Performance evaluations
  • Informal kudos or testimonials you’ve received (I’ll import your LinkedIn recommendations)
  • Letters of recommendation

The more documentation you send, the more time prior to the consultation I’ll need to review it. I ask for at least 24 hours.

If you don’t have any of the above supporting documents, my process will ensure that we will still get where we need to go.

NOTE: Should you need to reschedule, please text 610-888-6939.

Your Branding Consultation

At the scheduled time, I will call you promptly at the number you include on the scheduling form.

I will have already developed questions cued from your materials so that I have a rough “bread crumb” trail to follow. All of the content you send to me prior to our consultation is copied and pasted into one master document, which I call a mega document.

We will talk more about your target role, criteria, and the conditions you will need to thrive in your new role. I will share with you my insight based on 20 years of experience working closely with employers and my expertise on employment trends what your audience will need to know about you in order to qualify you.

From there, the process is somewhat organic. One answer may lead to additional questions. I will stop you if I feel that we are straying from relevant stories and information. It is critical to me that we use our time efficiently and effectively.

Otherwise you can assume, even if you are going on a tangent, that you are providing excellent, relevant information.

At some point, you may be compelled to say, “Good question!” That is because my keen intuition enables me to understand where we need to delve deeper.

We will both come to an agreement about what qualities, experience, talents and skills distinguish you for your target role and employer.

At the end of your branding consultation, you will feel understood, proud, confident, and hopeful. You may have a new appreciation for yourself and all you have done, especially if it went unnoticed or unrecognized by your previous employer(s). You will feel more certain that all that you have to offer is needed, not by everyone, but by a particular segment of the market that your new content will now be able to recognize easily, allowing you to attract the RIGHT opportunities that represent your maximum opportunity to succeed, grow, and earn.

The First Deliverable – Branding Points

In the hours following your branding consultation, I will analyze and synthesize the totality of the notes compiled to date in the mega document, which will be well over 10 pages at this point, sometimes as many as 25 pages. I will identify 4-6 primary themes and compose branding points that encapsulate these themes, which are a combination of your qualities, experiences, talents, and outcomes that you produce as a result of having these.

I have found that fewer than 4 branding points does not provide a strong enough foundation to substantiate that you are a uniquely qualified candidate. More than 6 branding points adds unnecessary complexity to substantiating your unique value. Also, emphasizing too much value can inspire skepticism.

Because my goal is to be comprehensive and connect soft and hard skills and outcomes, some of them can be complex, even wordy. This is not representative of your final, outward-facing content.

I’ll deliver your branding points to you within one business day along with a template. It is at this early stage that I have learned it is best to procure feedback from people who know you best.

  • People find it much easier to spare 15 minutes to read and weigh in on 4-6 bullets vs. a several-page résumé or LinkedIn profile content.
  • We want to ensure (before content is created) that all of the unique dynamics that make you a valuable employee are captured from the start, so that the content created can substantiate them.
  • We also want to have a comprehensive, accurate foundation from which all of your branded content can be built so that we can tell a consistent story across various media, even while accommodating language that is germane to each media.*
    • The résumé is written to be concise. Pronouns and excess small words are eliminated for brevity, but it doesn’t sound like you would speak.
    • The LinkedIn profile, though it has character limits and still has a business audience that appreciates brevity, is best written to humanize you. That means it will be written in a more natural voice, in the 1st person.
    • A biography is written as though someone else is introducing you, in the 3rd person. It hits the highlights of your journey. At it’s best, it still expresses a theme to your journey so that it tells a compelling story, rather than chronicling your work history.
    • Other platforms and social media have “voices” as well, e.g. Twitter appreciates sarcasm, and infographics are stories in images, icons, and symbols.

* You may not opt to engage Epic Careering for multiple media, but it is still recommended that all of your content tells a consistent, compelling story by basing it on the branding points provided. 

Mini360°

Along with the branding points, I’ll send you a template that you can use to invite 4 people who know you really well, preferably in various contexts, to provide feedback within 2 business days.

As feedback comes in via e-mail, you’ll forward the feedback right to me. It’s best if I read it raw, exactly as it was written, rather than interpreted or summarized.

I will take none of the feedback personally! My primary focus is making sure that the branding points fully encompass and unveil your brilliance in all its glory.

People will tend to want to wordsmith, and you will probably have someone comment on how long or wordy they may be.

This is OK.

Some of this feedback may not be applied at this stage, which is more about my internal processes, but it can be valuable later in the content creation stage.

Upon receipt of all feedback from you and your contacts, I will hone the branding points. I’ll highlight the changes and make notes to address all of the feedback so that you understand exactly what was applied, what was not, and why. Additional questions that I will need you to answer in order to make sure that the branding points align with your vision of how you want to be promoted will also be included.

Along with the semi-final branding points, I will request that you prioritize them in order of what you want most to be recognized and appreciated for.

The process continues until you communicate that the branding points are 10/10, at which point they are considered final and the next stage begins.

Mega Document Audit/Request for Additional Information

During the branding consultation, you probably will have found it helpful to refer to specific points in time when you overcame a particular challenge, or used your unique qualities to finesse a solution. However, all of the impressive context of that story may not have been captured at the time due to a need to be efficient and effective at uncovering all of your unique value.

It’s also probable that there are additional stories about previous experience that would further support and validate your branding points, perhaps even in a way that your more recent experience would not.

I cross reference your branding points with the mega document, color coding where stories support your branding points. This enables me to see clearly which branding points are substantiated the most by recent and/or previous experiences.

The strategy is to make sure that the higher priority branding points are proven with a majority of the space, or “real estate” on your résumé, and where human eyes can see it more evidently. It also helps me understand where there are gaps in substantiating your branding points and what details of stories are missing, but needed, in order to paint a compelling picture of the value you offer and how you delivered such value in the past in relation to your branding points. This enables us to use a sound strategy for what to include or omit when needing to accommodate constraints on space.

You will be sent one or several requests for additional information that include a formula that enables you to provide only the information that is missing. In all fairness, this can seem like a daunting task for busy executive clients. Because chunks of time are easier to find/make than long periods of time, I recommend that you use your phone’s dictation features to open a reply e-mail, go to the formula, and dictate your answers as you are able. Then save the reply e-mail as a draft. Return to it, continuing to dictate your answers as you are able until it is complete, and then deliver it to me.

If you should get stuck during this process, I encourage you to schedule a call using a link that is shared with all clients so that I can help you work through whatever challenges you face in providing me with this information.

The Draft Design and Content Creation

Upon receipt of the completed information request, the drafting process begins. I have a proven, professional template (available for purchase, along with summary and bullet-building tools) and go to work strategizing and composing content that demonstrates your branding points using hard business terms as concisely as possible without losing the impact of details that build the business case for interviewing you immediately.

Most drafts take 5-7 business days, but sometimes based on the initial consultation and scope assessment it may take 7-10 business days, in which case you will have been informed with the proposal.

Along with your draft, you’ll receive a link to schedule a 60-minute phone review and some guidelines to help me arrive at a final draft that 100% satisfies you sooner than if you were to make comments and send them via e-mail.

60-minute Phone Review

We don’t always need 60 minutes to go over the changes, but some clients want to understand why some things were worded or placed in a particular way, need to provide additional clarity on certain aspects of their achievements, company or role, and just have preferences that I want to understand fully. Not only do I want to accommodate client concerns and answer your questions, but I also have best practices to maintain reader-friendliness and flow.

We won’t take time on this call to wordsmith; that’s best done on MY time after the call. I aim instead to understand the source of any concerns or the nature of your preferences. At times, I may advise you if something stands in contradiction to best practices and trends. As my customer, I will go with your decision, but will also make sure it is a well-educated decision and that the potential impact or consequences of your decision are clear.

Semi-final Draft Delivery

Within 1 business day from the phone review (with few exceptions), a semi-final draft will be delivered. If this draft falls short of the 10/10 rating needed to finalize it, I’ll trust you to use your best judgment in determining if another call is required. You’ll decide if clarity is needed from either party, or if you can communicate desired changes (and reasons) in an e-mail.

Though I aim to finalize the project as quickly as possible so that you can be in action in your job search efforts, I also do not rush you or limit the number of drafts that are created, as long as the target of the résumé remains consistent with what you identified from the beginning of the branding process.

The Final Product

Not only will every story told in your résumé prove your branding points in some way, but they will compound to create a sense of resonance and urgency that you are a HOT candidate that better be scheduled for an interview IMMEDIATELY before the competition swoops you up.

This also positions you as a premier candidate throughout the interview process. A résumé written in this way transforms how an interview is conducted. Rather than answering standard qualification and risk mitigation questions, your interviewer will be compelled to sell you the opportunity, telling you more about the daily, weekly, quarterly and annual goals and promoting the company’s benefits, perks, and growth opportunities. You will have more opportunity to paint a picture of how you will be successful in this role and to ask questions that help you determine if this opportunity is truly a fit for your criteria.

Often clients share that if a position winds up not being a fit, the company is so interested in hiring them that they custom design an opportunity that fits them! There is zero competition for these jobs, and it happens a lot more often than you think!

How This Differs From Other Résumé Writing Services

The investment is on the high end of what you’ll find across the market. This is a reflection of the experience that goes into the process and the quality of the output.

  • Many of the good services you will see out there can turn bland, functional bullets into achievement statements. That doesn’t make them branded. When the bullets align to build a business case for what makes you in-demand talent that your target needs, it’s branded.
    • If you see services offered under $100, the contents of your current résumé will be rearranged and formatted into a reader-friendly, error-free (hopefully), ATS-friendly (hopefully) document. Résumé building services fall into this range. Some of them have content databases where you select your target role/industry and you are offered choices to drag and drop into your résumé that you are then expected to customize to fit your situation.
    • If you are on a budget, have more time than money, and you still want branded content, just use my builder; it’s the only builder available that helps you create branded content and it’s fun to use.
  • My process is front end-heavy to ensure consistent quality backend output. I equate this to sharpening your ax when you want to quickly and precisely chop down a tree.
  • I do require your commitment to a partnership in the process (you have mine)!
  • I apply psychology, hypnotic copywriting, personal hiring experience, data, such as eye-tracing tests, and cutting edge industry best practices to strategically craft and locate content in a reader-friendly way where your audience will expect it. This produces more compelling, distinguishing content that resonates instantly and deeply.
  • Not only have I been a certified professional résumé writer for nearly 10 years, but I also served on the certification committee. I have seen what’s out there, and I have seen the best. I know I am providing a premium quality service! My advice was recognized by Feedspot as some of the best in the world. You are not hiring an admin to word process your résumé when you engage me. You are hiring a top-notch professional with executive-level experience in the employment industry and unprecedented credibility as an adjunct professor.

Not everything that’s fast is better, though I understand if you have an urgent need to supply a potential employer with a résumé so that you can strike while an opportunity is hot. I do not bypass my best practices, however. I have learned that the result is content that fails to produce a return on your investment and falls short of my own high standards. If you are not able to invest time being partners in this project, we just are not a fit to work together, and I wish you success and happiness in your career journey. I hope there will be a better time in the future to work together so that I can support you in optimized career growth, impact, recognition, and income.

As you can see, a lot of experience has gone into designing the branding process so that I’m able to deliver consistent quality that creates results.

Even a professionally branded résumé, however, won’t generate opportunity unless it is seen by someone in a position of power to hire you. The whole reason I do this is to help you get to the finish line. If you aren’t sure how to invest less time in your job search while getting more results, you want to acquire a life skill that will ensure true job security, and you want to form habits that make career growth a pull rather than a push. I invite you to partner with me on your campaign strategy, tools, and execution along with magnetic performance coaching.

Carly Simon – Nobody Does It Better (Live On The Queen Mary 2)

Music video by Carly Simon performing Nobody Does It Better (Live On The Queen Mary 2). (C) 2005 Columbia Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment http://vevo.ly/f5G1o0

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a 13-year-old leadership and career development firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She is an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and previously was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business  She is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where some of her students won the 2018 national competition, were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs, and won the 2019 People’s Choice Award. 

Does Your Résumé Pass the Professional Test? [Checklists Within]

The minimal requirement of a résumé is to qualify the professional. I would estimate that 75% of résumés that I have read from students to executives over my 20 years in the employment industry don’t pass this simple requirement.

The standards of résumés have evolved as technology has exponentially increased the number of applicants, and best practices constantly evolve to keep up with changing job markets and human resources technology trends.

So, what does it take to qualify a professional today?

Here’s an easy-to-follow checklist. Does your résumé:

  • Identify the role you are targeting?
  • Include at least 6 key skills commonly found on job postings for your target role, also known as keywords?
  • Communicate your proficiency in these skills or quantify your experience with them?
  • Make clear the recency and relevancy of these skills to your target role?
  • Outline your experience applying these skills to create desired outcomes for previous employers in bullets underneath each work experience?
  • Prove that you have applied these skills to create value?
  • Present your experience in a reader-friendly format that effectively uses white space?
  • Link to relevant work samples and your LinkedIn profile?
  • Get you interviews for jobs that you are qualified to do?
  • Have your accurate contact information within the body of the document (not the header)?

Once you qualify yourself as a candidate, you might expect that, if seen by a human being and not screened out by an applicant tracking system, you will be filtered into a group of candidates who will be pre-screened or invited to interview. The résumé has done its minimal job of moving you to the next stage.

If you invest in a professional résumé writer, you can expect your résumé to check all of the above boxes.

Most job seekers, however, are able to read and apply professional résumé tips to get their résumé to this very basic level, and it’s worthwhile to learn this life skill so that you can respond to opportunity when it presents itself, as it sometimes does.

Are they willing? It appears most are not.

Here is what most résumés do:

  • Provide the name and contact information.
  • List employment and education dates.
  • Identify previous companies and titles.
  • List the primary functions and responsibilities of the role.
  • List skills.

None of the above actually qualify you. They hint that you might have the qualifications, but stating what your job responsibilities were does not communicate that you performed those responsibilities well. Also, having years of experience is not the same as gaining proficiency in skills, let alone expertise. In 1999 when I graduated college, it was not difficult to earn an interview with a résumé like this.

Now, even in a “job seekers’ market,” in which there are more opportunities than talent available, you are vying for the same positions as other qualified candidates. Employers usually move forward the candidates who have provided clear proof of performance.

Unless you are pursuing a position that requires no previous experience or you have a very unique, in-demand experience made clear based on where you worked and your title, employers will not take the time to find out if you are qualified, even if you are. No matter how many jobs you apply for, you can expect very little, if any, response to a résumé written based on the standards of the last millennium.

I estimate that about 2% of the résumés seen by employers are branded. This résumé goes further than qualifying a job seeker. It positions a professional as a top candidate and creates a sense of urgency that you need to be brought into the interview process immediately before another company snatches you up. It speaks directly to their needs, challenges, and initiatives and distinguishes you from other equally, or even more, qualified candidates as uniquely talented.

If you have any particular challenges in landing a new job, such as changing roles or industries, time out of the job market, associations with disreputable companies, multiple short (under 2 years) job stints, or having been fired, then your job search may continue indefinitely without a branded résumé and a branded, proactive campaign.

If you have none of the above challenges, but want to create demand, generate multiple competing offers, and have the luxury of choosing which opportunity best aligns with your short and long-term career and lifestyle goals, branding is essential.

Branded résumés:

  • Start with defining your ideal audience’s challenges, initiatives, and goals and identifying what 4-6 themes you want to convey that will position you as the solution.
  • Qualify you.
  • Make obvious the role you are pursuing, as well as the industry, if relevant.
  • Have short (under 5-lines) summaries that demonstrate (vs. state) your qualities, perspective, unique experience, and expertise in the context of how they have created value consistently throughout your career for previous employers.
  • Define the scope of your previous roles in short position summaries under your experience.
  • Tell stories that further validate the unique, relevant value you offer in concisely written bullets that explain not only what you achieved, but how and with what results and impact.
  • Define subjective terms, like “large” and “quickly” in quantified terms.
  • Omit terms like “responsible for,” “participated in,” “collaborated with” in favor of more specific, action-oriented verbs.
  • Are generous in explaining the outcomes produced, often accompanied by explaining the challenges needed to be overcome in achieving those outcomes.
  • Present all of the evidence of your skills proficiency, not just in a skills section, but also in context of what you have achieved using those skills within the bullets.
  • Answer the question, “so what?” with each bullet and summary.
  • Omit irrelevant experience, but may include experience further in the past if it supports that the professional gained unique insight, learned and applied industry-recognized best practices, worked for a name-worthy employer, or worked in an industry with transferrable, but not frequently applied, best practices.
  • Position information where employers expect to find it and in a way that is easy to read.
  • Maximize the “real estate” above the fold of the résumé, stating relevant work experience before the reader has to scroll to the next page.
  • Are intentional about where acronyms and numbers, aka “stop signs”, appear based on eye tests.
  • Use formatting features, such as bold, italics, and underline, sparingly to emphasize relevant data.

Though careful thought and intention is put into every single word choice in a branded résumé, it still has to be written so that the reader can make a decision in 6-8 seconds. Every résumé will make an impression in that amount of time.

Possible impressions you can make from undesirable to ideal include:

  • Unqualified/under-qualified – Pass
  • Lacking attention to detail/uncommitted to excellence – Pass
  • Possibly qualified/potential to be trained – Maybe
  • Probably qualified/potential to fit culture – Maybe
  • Qualified, but probably does not fit culture – Maybe
  • Qualified with potential to fit culture – Follow Up
  • Qualified, probably fits culture – Priority Follow Up
  • Qualified, fits culture, and probably attractive and visible to our competition – Follow Up Immediately!

When you start the interview process with a branded résumé, you are positioned as a front-runner from the get-go and the interview process looks very different. Rather than answering questions that help an employer mitigate their risk, they are selling you the opportunity from the get-go. They still will have to mitigate their risk, but they’ll make sure you are engaged and interested first. At this point, it’s your opportunity to lose.

With a branded résumé and a proactive strategic campaign, a job seeker often rises so far above other candidates that companies consider custom-designing a role that allows you to make the maximum impact. Negotiating then doesn’t happen in the context of tiered, approved salary levels; you name your market price based on the value that you know you will create when you are given all of the conditions that are conducive to your success, and you negotiate those as well. You are positioned so competitively that there is little to no competition.

The branding process isn’t something you invest time, energy or money in if you need a job and any job will do. Learn how to master a qualifying résumé and save your money for a professionally branded résumé when you decide to be more intentional, proactive, and progressive in your career goals.

Should you learn how to write a branded résumé? Well, many branding professionals have engaged Epic Careering to write their résumés and profiles because A) it’s challenging to be subjective about a product/service when that product/service is you, and B) they appreciate the personal branding process that we have honed over the last 13 years and the quality output that it consistently produces.

The general rule of thumb, according to authors like Robert Kiyosaki and Tim Ferriss who teach people how to make their money work for them instead of working for money, is to outsource to a professional anything that someone else could do better and in less time. Especially if you are unemployed, time is money.

If your résumé doesn’t pass the professionally branded test and you have a desire to be in control of your career, schedule a free branding consultation today.

If you have had the experience of being the only candidate considered for a position, please share your story in the comments. It’s hard to believe that it happens until it happens to you! Inspire others to have hope that it can happen for them, too!

The Platters – Only You (And You Alone) (Original Footage HD)

(P)(C) Mercury Records (USA) 1955 Only You (And You Alone), más conocida como Only You es una canción estadounidense compuesta en 1955 por Buck Ram y Ande Rand.

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a 13-year-old leadership and career development firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She is an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and previously was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business  She is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where some of her students won the 2018 national competition, were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs, and won the 2019 People’s Choice Award. 

If You Are Braving Résumé Writing On Your Own, Some Expert Tips

As an expert in a professional field, you face very different challenges than most other job seekers. Advice that you have been given by anyone outside of your industry could be misguided. If you are going to invest time and/or money in your résumé, you might as well know if what you are doing is going to get you results. We will examine the various ways your résumé can be received and the best ways to maximize the appeal of your résumé since there are many different kinds of individuals that will be reviewing it.

Here are some guidelines specific to IT résumés:

“Big” is relative

When it comes to your experience, start with what you accomplished. What were the challenges you and/or your department were facing?  If this was an official initiative, what is the size and scope of the project? How many users were affected? Detail what you used and how you used it to conquer the challenge. Include the result in quantifiable means whenever possible.

Do not enforce the usual page limits on an expert-level résumé. Hiring managers and recruiters need to know exactly what a candidate has done. Vague résumés will often get passed over for “lower hanging fruit.” Adding these details can make a résumé longer, but a non-technical recruiter, sourcing specialist or administrator would find it difficult to locate you among applicants and qualify you otherwise. Mid-level professionals, especially consultants can very acceptably have a 2-3 page résumé and executive or senior professionals can acceptably have a 3-5-page résumé, so long as the experience is relevant and written concisely. There is no need to add or subtract content strictly based on outdated length “rules.” As a caveat, you have to know your audience, too. If your audience wants the facts and only the facts, get to the point!

It’s all in the details

Any application/suite/module, database, language, tool, server, operating system, protocol, switch/router, etc. that you wish to continue working with should be included in the résumé. When a potential employer reviews your résumé, they want to know more than that you have worked with X technology. They want to know how much and how in-depth your experience is. The technology should occur proportionally as frequently in your résumé as you had worked with it. Frequency of keywords increases your relevance in the results of a keyword search making you further up on the list of candidates to call for further qualification. Include versions.

Some companies require a résumé to include 80% of the requirements listed in their posted job description. The initial gatekeeper has a checklist that includes the number of months/years of experience for each requirement. They systematically divide how many boxes are checked by the total number of requirements to see if you make it to the next round. In order for a skill to be considered a valid qualification, it must be substantiated. This doesn’t mean that your potential employment is always measured by these methods. It is evident that you should always include all details of your experience that are specifically requested in a job description. 

Alternate spellings

As you write your job descriptions, think about the step-by-step processes. Include tools, methodologies, applications that you involved and any corresponding acronyms.  Scan job descriptions posted by employers to see what variation of terms they use. For example, M is a common way to refer to MUMPS. Caché is a version of Mumps (which is a language and a database, so make sure that is clear). When applicable, add the alternate term in parenthesis a couple of times throughout the résumé. This will ensure that keyword searches will extract your résumé regardless of which variation the individual is using to search.

Training/Certification/Education

Placing this section at the top of your résumé versus the bottom is dependent on how much these qualifications are going to generate interest in an interview. Some certifications are very sought-after. Certain schools produce alumni that are highly recruited. If you know that this applies to you, make your credential obvious as an acronym next to your name or somewhere in a concise executive summary. Include a section at the bottom with the name of the establishments from which you received any training/certification/degree, even if it is a foreign university. Omitting it automatically generates doubt in the reputation of the establishment.

A lot of candidates put the logo for the certification they have received on their résumé, which looks great. However, applicant tracking systems usually do not store graphics or formatting because it takes up too much space/memory. The certifications should also be listed in text form (Acronym + full spelling).

Wasn’t me

It is not as important to a recruiter what your team or manager accomplished as what YOU had to do with it. Give yourself credit for your contributions. Avoid phrases like “involved in,” “contributed to,” and “attended.” These phrases communicate that things happen around you. If your résumé does not show off HOW you contributed, what your involvement was, it may have the opposite effect you want it to. It may make you look like an observer rather than an achiever. Conversely, do not take credit for other’s accomplishments. I often had candidates explain things in “we” terms. For example, “We reviewed the code, identified errors, and worked with the developers to remediate the problem.” What was really meant was that the individual reviewed the code, identified the errors, and the project manager worked with the developers.

Tell them what YOU did, not what the team or manager did, or you may wind up in a role that you are not qualified to do. Gaining employment by misrepresenting your abilities and experience can be the most detrimental career move. It ruins your credibility in a small world where recruiters move around and warn each other about the people that ruined THEIR reputation. Remember, résumé rules forbid the use of pronouns. In most cases, you can remove the pronoun or replace it by specifying who is meant by the pronoun without losing meaning or comprehension.

 Mingle it!

Most transition resources will tell you that networking is the best way to gain new employment. It is true what they say, “It’s all about who you know.”  This can be discouraging for people who are not lucky enough to have family connections, but you can always go out and meet people.  The good news is that there are new ways to introduce yourself completely virtually.

Online methods of networking include e-lists, user groups, LinkedIn, Facebook, Quora, and many more.  Whomever you do not know now, you can meet in cyberspace. The point of networking is to generate leads and referrals for employment. Referrals are recruiters’ favorite way to find new candidates, so an e-mail subject stating “John Smith referred me” is GOING to be opened and given priority! Remember that you can also introduce other people and the more you do it, the more it will be done for you. If you want to know the best way to present yourself to strangers, read How to Guerilla Market Yourself, Get What You Deserve! by Jay Levinson and Seth Godin.

Remember, too, that once you make an online connection, the most effective and efficient way to further it is through voice-to-voice communication, whenever face-to-face communication isn’t possible. Pick up the phone and convert online relationships to offline relationships.

Call!

Unfortunately, the résumé you send may never reach a person. Sometimes applicants number in the hundreds to thousands and it is not humanly possible to review that many résumés, let alone send a response.  What can you do to make sure that your résumé doesn’t sit in a dummy inbox? Call!  Follow up.

Your résumé displays experience, skills, accomplishments, education, and certifications. What is not evident is your motivation. Your dedication to finding a job is an indication of how motivated you will be to bring value to your next position.

Your value and your ability to mesh with a company’s culture is what gets you a job offer.  If you reach voice mail, leave a polite invitation to learn more about what you can bring to this position. Say your number S-L-O-W-L-Y and spell your name so the recruiter or hiring manager can locate your résumé prior to returning your call.

Now, if the return call does not come, leave another message the following week reinforcing your enthusiasm for the job. Try a different venue, like LinkedIn or Twitter.

It is okay to keep trying. Sometimes, it can take four or five calls. You would probably be surprised how often the person called THANKED me or my client for diligence in following up. Most people don’t want to or mean to be unresponsive. So many of us experience time poverty. Empathize.

DO NOT leave any trace of a guilt trip. Understand that “Drop everything! This is HOT!” is the nature of a recruiter’s day. Priorities flip-flop and zig-zag. Plus, few people would be motivated by undue guilt, and do you want that to be their reason for calling you? Out of guilt?  Be patiently persistent. It may not get you a job, but it will most likely get you a response and a chance to introduce yourself.

 

I can do bad all by myself – Mary L Blige

Many people can relate to this song

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a corporate consulting and career management firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She is an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and previously was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business  She is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where her students won the 2018 national competition and were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs.