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Give a Second Thought to Publishing Your Resume Online

For millions of job seekers, posting their resume online with sites like CareerBuilder.com and Monster.com is common place these days. Even though the success rate of this job search method is less than 10% by some reports, job seekers still flock to these sites in droves. This is acceptable if you are unemployed, but what if you are still working but looking to secure a better opportunity? Have you ever considered the complications created if your employer found your resume posted online?

The two most popular job boards provide a level of security
Careerbuilder.com and Monster.com charge a fee to search their resume database, so chances are, your immediate supervisor is not going to fork over money to see if you are looking to move to greener pastures. Your company’s internal recruiters, however, could find your resume online if they use the online job boards to source new talent, meaning they are paying a fee to access the resume database.

So what’s the big deal?
You are safer posting your resume online with Careerbuilder and Monster, but there is one online site that offers employers, or anyone for that matter, the ability to search its resume database free of charge: Indeed.com. A simple search on the employer name and resumes of people currently employed or that have worked for the company pop up. So what free information is available? Your name and an abbreviated version of your resume that includes job titles and company names. It also indicates the last time your resume was updated so if you recently posted your resume, you could be caught red-handed! Thankfully, your contact information is not provided, but enough data is provided to identify you and your intentions to leave your current employer.

Another wrinkle to consider…
If you have just landed a new position, or even been on your job for a while, it would be prudent to delete or “hide” any resumes that you have floating around in cyberspace. Again, no need to raise concerns about your loyalty to your present employer should your resume be discovered online.

Create a job search plan and stick to it this time!

The first of the year brings along with it a lot of expectations and dreams for millions of people each year. We all set official (and unofficial) resolutions and the disappointing fact is that most of us do not follow through. Don’t let this happen to your job search plan. Set realistic goals and work towards them everyday. Reward yourself when you accomplish a goal, complete a task, or otherwise do what you set out to do. although looking for a job is a full time job, do not work a 60 hour week trying to find work. This will burn you out in a hurry. Like I tell many of my clients that I coach, enjoy this time off (as much as you can, given the anxiety) because you never know when you will get this time off again. Now get out there and make something happen!

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Ready to kick off the new year right? Remember to follow up.

Happy New Year! For those of you that were busy during the holidays, attending networking events and making new contacts, the first of the year brings a great opportunity to follow up with the new contacts you made. The worst thing you can do is to allow your newly found contacts to go cold. This week and next week, everyone will be back in the swing of things and the time is right to reconnect with your contacts. Schedule a coffee, set up a lunch, date, or just arrange a time to talk over the phone. Do this before everyone really gets busy and has less time to spend with you.

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REPOST: The ABC’s of resume writing | E is for endorsements

E: Endorsements: The best kept secret in resume writing today!

What better way to find a service you need than to solicit recommendations from people you trust? How many times have you acted on the recommendation of a friend, colleague, or family member and been thoroughly pleased with the result? Think of that restaurant you would never have eaten at had it not been for your co-worker who had a terrific meal there and recommended the place to you. Or what about the recommendation to the automotive repair shop that came through for you with great service and a fair price that your friend has been using for years? How did patronizing these establishments feel?

For most of you, I am sure your experience was great and when it comes to your job search, what better way to highlight your value than to let someone else do it for you?

Enter endorsements, the best kept secret in resume writing today. Why? Because not many job seekers think to utilize them on their resume. For instance, consider the endorsements below:

“Tom’s performance has been nothing short of extraordinary . . . he gets the job done.” (CFO)

“Mark brought high energy and professionalism to a team suffering low morale. What a turnaround!” (V.P. of Sales)

“Jenny is a born leader . . . she has chaired four committees and created three new programs in less than two years.” (Executive Director)

These statements, although very brief, speak volumes about each employee. Endorsements can be considered a new spin on an old strategy: using recommendation letters in the hiring process. Endorsements are a shorter form of letters of recommendation and they can be considered sound bites, short phrases that build your credibility and solidify your brand.

But where and how do you use endorsements? There are several places where the use of endorsements can be highly effective. The first place is right under your tagline or headline. Taglines and headlines are typically positioned right after your contact information and before your career summary or professional profile. The second place where endorsements can really provide impact is in your list of bulleted accomplishments in the professional experience section. Simply including a final “endorsement” bullet after your list of accomplishments under a specific job can really seal the deal for you as a top performer.

Now that you know where to place endorsements you might be asking “How do I go about getting endorsements?” There are numerous avenues for generating endorsements as I have summarized below:

  1. Performance appraisals
  2. Letters of appreciation from satisfied customers
  3. Verbal comments from clients, co-workers, or supervisors
  4. Recommendations from your LinkedIn profile

An endorsement is that warm referral that everyone looks for. When an employer reads your resume, they read it from the standpoint that you wrote it (whether you hired a professional like me to write it or not) and that means there is an air of skepticism in the fact that everything they are reading may or may not be entirely true.

However, when you include an endorsement on your resume from a person of leadership or influence, (which is key, by the way) the reader will tend to have more faith in it. Therefore, use endorsements strategically and to your advantage and stay one step ahead of your competition!

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REPOST: The ABC’s of resume writing | D is for dates

D: Playing the Dating game!

In this post, I talk about strategies for displaying dates in your resume.

Dates show up in a few places on resumes, namely in the professional experience section when listing employers as well as when listing education, professional affiliations, community service, and additional training. So what is the best strategy for listing dates? Stay with me as I take you through each section.

Education: List the year of graduation only. There is no need to include both the month and year of your graduation. If you have more than one degree, list education in reverse-chronological order, with the most recent degree listed first. If it has been more than 10 years since you graduated, I recommend that you leave off graduation dates entirely and list your education information after your professional experience. Your professional experience trumps your education as far as importance is concerned and should be listed first. Remember, your resume will only receive a cursory scan the first time it is looked at and you want to have the most important information displayed first.

Professional Affiliations, Community Service, and Additional Training: Again, list dates in years in these sections and list items in reverse-chronological order. I recommend only including information for only the last 10 years. Information older than 10 years is typically no longer relevant to your current career objective, which brings up another point: for professional affiliations and additional training, only list information that supports your career objective. In other words, do not include professional affiliations or additional training that has nothing to do with your current career path. If you are still involved with an organization, you should state this by using the following format: (Year – Present), where Year represents the year that your involvement began.

If you have been involved with a professional organization for more than 10 years AND the organization is relevant to your current career objective, you should omit the dates entirely. I have a real sensitivity to making sure I do not reveal the age of my “seasoned” clients. Listing dates that are more than 20 years old will certainly do that. The key here is to be consistent, so if you omit dates for one organization, omit dates for any others that you list.

Professional Experience: Dates should of course be listed in reverse-chronological order and like in other sections, I suggest that you list dates in years only. Listing dates in years only in your professional experience section will hide any minor gaps in your employment history. For example, let’s say you worked with company “B” from February of 2000 until June of 2002 but didn’t get your next job with company “A” until January of 2003.  Using months, your job history would be displayed like this:

Position Title – Company A – Jan. 2003 – Present

Position Title – Company B – February 2000 – June 2002

Immediately an employment gap is created and it is evident that you were out of work for 6 months. Using the same example, but displaying your job history in years only would look like this:

Position Title – Company A – 2003 – Present

Position Title – Company B – 2000 – 2002

Miraculously the employment gap disappears! Is this dishonest? Not at all. You are simply removing the months of employment and choosing to display dates in year only, which is an acceptable practice and resume writing strategy.

So, keep it simple and display all of your dates in years only. Not only will this save valuable space, it will smooth over any employment gaps in your job history.

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Job search and the art of plumbing

This past weekend, I took an opportunity to flex my handyman skills. I attempted to replace my PRV (pressure reducing valve) on my main water line. This valve reduces the pressure of the incoming water from the street to an acceptable pressure that will not damage the plumbing inside my house. I realized that the valve failed after the water pressure inside my house suddenly increased.

After consulting with some professionals at a local plumbing supply store, I was convinced that I could replace the valve myself so I purchased a new PRV and was on my way. All I had to do was take out the failed PRV and install the new PRV. Sounds simple, right?  Not exactly.

I took the opportunity to do this work on Labor Day. After all, I was officially off from my work as a professional resume writer and career coach. I started the project by shutting off the main water valve and draining the line from inside the house. I removed the fitting from the inlet side of the valve and was halfway there. Then I tried to loosen the connection from the discharge side of the valve but it would not budge. I tried numerous ways to loosen the connection but I just could not get it to move.

So I made my “first” trip to the Lowes Home Improvement Store. The associate in plumbing suggested that I purchase a torch to heat up the connection in an attempt to loosen it. I followed this advice but to no avail. After realizing that I could not loosen the connection, I made my second trip to Lowes. Where I spoke to the same associate and he suggested that I cut the copper water pipe above the valve and purchase new fittings that I could use without having to do any solder work. Hopefully you can see where I am going here. After two more trips to Lowes and seven hours of frustration, I decided that this job was more than I could handle and I called in a professional plumber. Two hours and $320 later, I had a new PRV installed and the water was back on inside the house.

In hindsight, I should have called a professional from the very start. I actually have a mechanical engineering degree and although I have done some light plumbing work in my house, i.e., replacing faucets, repairing toilets, and unclogging drains, I am not a licensed plumber and I have never changed out a PRV. I assumed the job was a simple one, but the adage is correct: nothing is ever as simple as it seems.

So how does all of this apply to the job search? How many of you have taken the DIY (do-it-yourself) approach to looking for a job? After all, it can’t be that difficult right? How many of you  have written your own resume or even had a friend or colleague write it for you without any success? How many of you have jumped into the waters of the job search without any plan, any tools, or any support, thinking that you could just do it on your own? How many of you have wasted your valuable time in trying to manage the process of looking for a job on your own?

If I had it to do all over again, I definitely would have called a professional from the very beginning. I would have gotten the job completed much faster, I would have gotten my Labor Day back, and avoided frustration. Instead, I spent the better part of that day in my garage and in my car driving back and forth to Lowes trying to do the job myself.

If you are frustrated with your job search, maybe you should contact a resume writer and or a career coach. A resume writer is trained to write strong professional resumes that will attract attention and generate interviews. A career coach is trained to shorten the time it takes you to find and secure gainful employment. A career coach can also help you work through issues resulting from a job loss or career change.

So, don’t make the same mistake with your job search that I made with my repair project. Call a professional before you get in too deep. It will require an investment, but it will save you time and frustration.

REPOST: The ABC’s of resume writing | C is for contact information

C: Include the right CONTACT information on your resume.

Most of us know to include our name, our mailing address, email, and phone number (cell and or home). But what if you have a nickname that you go by, or you have concerns about including your street address? What if you are thinking about including your work email and phone number? Also, what about your LinkedIn URL or your Twitter ID? In this age of social networking, adding these to your resume is encouraged, if not mandatory. Just be sure to include the following items in your contact information and you’ll be okay:

Name: Your name should be in bold and be the largest font size on your resume. Nothing should be larger than your name, because after all, it is your name that you want to reader to remember. If you go by a shorten version of your name, be sure to include this name.  For instance, if your name is Thomas Roberts, but you prefer to go by Tom, then write your name as Tom Roberts. If you go by a totally different name than your given name, include this name on your resume as long as it is professional. For example, if your given name is Charles Jones, but you go by Craig, list your name as Craig Jones.  You can also choose to write your name as Charles “Craig” Jones.  Either is appropriate.

Address: With the growing popularity of identity theft and privacy issues, I am beginning to consider leaving off my client’s street address. This information is not needed upfront and simply including the city, state, and zip can inform the hiring manager whether or not you are a local candidate.

Email Address: Of course it is a must that you include your email address, but did you know that the address should be professional and not one that is clever or cutesy? Including partier4life@gmail.com will probably not impress most hiring managers, although it may win you some new friends. For your resume, stick to a conservative address format like “last name”, “first initial” @ gmail.com, for instance, adamsn@gmail.com. And a word about email providers…are you still using that AOL email address? Then stop. Why you ask? Who gets a new AOL email address these days? No one. Everyone is using Gmail, Yahoo, or their Internet service provider like Time Warner Cable. Using AOL says that you are probably in your mid to late 30’s or older and thus this could be a method of screening you out as a potential client based on perceived age. Don’t agree? Believe me, it can and has happened.

Phone Numbers: Now that most people have cell phones, it is not necessary to include both your home phone and cell phone numbers on your resume. Just include the number that is easiest to reach you and make sure that you leave a message that is professional. Lose the music in the background and keep your message short and sweet. Be sure to include your area code if you are expecting long distance calls. I do not recommend that you include your work phone number, because you never know who might be listening in on your calls!

LinkedIn URL: Are you on LinkedIn? If not, you definitely should be. With more than 100 million users and counting, LinkedIn is a powerful social networking tool to grow your professional contacts and search for opportunities. When you do get on LinkedIn, make sure to personalize your URL that you are given when you registered. See www.linkedin.com for more information.

Twitter id: Only include your Twitter id if you are using Twitter professionally. Perhaps you are tweeting information related to your profession and you happen to have several hundred followers. This could be impressive to a hiring manager, because if you can command that large of a following, you must have something important to say.

Now that you know what contact information to include and how to include it, what about contact information that you should not include? How about a fax number? No way. Fax numbers are irrelevant to include on a resume these days. No one is going to be faxing you anything; you’ll likely be contacted by email. What about a second email address? Are you that important that you need a second email address? I don’t think so! And definitely do not include your employer’s email address? How unprofessional is that? Just stick to your professional email, preferably a Gmail account, where you can receive all of your job-search correspondence. And the jury is still out on these relatively new QR codes. In case you have not heard, QR codes are two-dimensional bar codes that users can scan with their smart phones. Scanning the QR codes usually takes you to a website or some other link where you can get more information. These codes are becoming popular with retailers and other businesses trying to attract customers. Job seekers can get QR codes and link to a personal website, their LinkedIn profile, Twitter feed or similar pages. I am just not sure that I see the need to do this just yet.  More to come on this new trend.

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REPOST: The ABC’s of resume writing | B is for Buying motivators

B: Focus on BUYING motivators when detailing accomplishments.

In this post, I talk about employer buying motivators.When writing your resume, keep in mind that your goal is to create desire. You must create desire for the employer to want to select you for an interview and ultimately for employment. This desire must be greater than the desire created by your competition. You may be asking “But what can I do to create desire and influence an employer to select me for an interview?”According to professional resume writer Susan Britton Whitcomb, in her book, “Resume Magic”, second edition, desire is created when you “show why the employer needs you”, “show how you can satisfy the need”, and “prove your superiority in fulfilling the need.” Susan goes on to say that there are ten main reasons that motivate employers to buy. They are your ability to help the company:

  1. Make money
  2. Save money
  3. Save time
  4. Make work easier
  5. Solve a specific problem
  6. Be more competitive
  7. Build relationships/an image
  8. Expand business
  9. Attract new customers
  10. Retain existing customers

 

When writing out your accomplishment statements, be sure to address ways that you have achieved the buying motivators for current and past employers and your chances for landing an interview will be increased. Once in the interview, reiterate to the employer the ways in which you have helped your current and past employers accomplish these buying motivators and be sure to address how you will do the same for them.

Remember, accomplishment statements go well above just listing typical duties and responsibilities. While duties and responsibilities are certainly necessary to frame up your position, they really don’t help to position you above your competition and distinguish you as the ideal candidate. Instead, lead with strong action verbs and employ the C.A.R. process for detailing your accomplishments. C.A.R. stands for Challenge, Action, and Results. These are the points you focus on when writing your accomplishment statements. Be sure to include dollars, numbers, and or percentages where applicable and your resume will rise to the top of the stack!

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REPOST: The ABC’s of resume writing | A is for Art

A: Resume writing is an Art, not a science.Surprise! There is not just one way to write a resume. Resume writing has long been considered an art not a science. If resume writing was in fact a science, then there would not be thousands of books on the subject of resume writing and the resume writing profession would not be as prolific. If resume writing was a science, then you could just follow the prescribed steps and be guaranteed positive results.

Resume writing is an art and there are numerous ways to write a resume that highlights your unique career history and defines your personal and professional brand. In fact, if you chose to have your resume professionally written by three different professional resume writers, you would certainly get three different resumes. They would be different in content and maybe even in the choice of format.

Speaking of formats, there are three standard formats that are accepted and used in resume writing today; the chronological resume, the functional resume, and the hybrid resume. Each format handles the display of work experience and skills differently.

The chronological resume, the most widely accepted resume by recruiters and hiring managers, displays experience in reverse chronological order, with accomplishments listed under each position. This format is recommended for persons with a steady, progressive career history and a desire to continue working in their current occupation.

The functional resume, the least accepted resume format by recruiters and hiring managers, does not list accomplishments with each position. Accomplishments are pulled out from each position and are listed under functional headings. This strategy is recommended for career changers, recent college graduates, and people returning back to work after an extensive hiatus.

The hybrid resume incorporates the best elements of both the chronological and functional resumes by listing accomplishments under each position and pulling out key accomplishments and listing them under functional headings prior to work experience.

With each format, comes numerous strategies of just how and why to use each one. If you are writing your resume yourself, it is best to become familiar with each format and choose the one that best fits your career objective. If you plan to enlist the help of a professional resume writer, be prepared to answer detailed questions about your career that will help them choose the best format. Just remember, there is more than one way to right a resume that places your career experience and skills in the best light possible.