(Or maybe I should say “Index“)
I started this page with a listing of articles I was going to write, thus I called it a “backlog” page. But I’ve written all of those articles and now I’m using this page as an Index to my blog (or more accurately, my writings).
I write on the job-hunt topics that are of interest to me but also of interest to the people I mentor that are on the job search “locally” (in the Atlanta, Georgia area). My postings on job hunting are mostly around resume writing, online searching, networking, and some miscellaneous career topics.
But I’m finding more people from the Internet are asking me job-hunt questions. So I’m also writing several articles that address the broader career search market in the U.S. or anywhere else with similar job search challenges.
My resume & job hunt postings are best read chronologically, so reading the articles linked on this page “top down” accomplishes that. Feel free to browse and to comment.
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Bottom Line: Get organized, get all your employment information together in one place, and get your mind wrapped around the idea that you don’t have a single resume, but you have a collection of resumes (outfits) to address the needs of the firms/recruiters and to be a “perfect fit” to the job you are seeking.
Bottom Line: Don’t throw out those early career details–they might serve a special need sometime in the future. Keep them well documented, but keep them off the “current” resume unless there is a unique goal they can serve.
Bottom Line: When formatting your “printed” resume, if you are an early or single career person, use 1 page; for multi-job and mid-career people, go for 2 pages; online resumes can be longer, as can resumes for professionals with multiple publications or other notable accomplishments.
Bottom Line: It’s not about your age–it’s how your age is perceived by others. If you talk on current topics, stress your up-to-date skills, focus on the future, don’t reminisce, and don’t look ancient, then they just might want your talents enough to forget (or forgive) that you’re old.
Bottom Line: Above the fold you have contact info, objective line, summary, and probably your current job info. The contact details needs to be clear & minimal with at least 2 ways you can be reached. We’ll get to the other above-the-fold items in a later post.
Bottom Line: The objective line is your 1-sentence sales pitch for a particular job—make it a strong “can do” statement. No generic statements allowed here! That’s why so many others tell you to get rid of it since it adds no value unless it truly connects your resume to the job that you’re applying for.
Bottom Line: Get your priorities in line…write your new resume as if you were trying to detail how your activities and successes in your prior jobs relates directly to issues I need you to address in my firm. Write your resume to essentially answer or demonstrate that your resume answers all the needs that I’ve put into my job posting. Write it for me…not for you!
Bottom Line: Develop a great “template” resume that can be used generically on resume sites or to carry with you to networking meetings. But when responding to a specific job posting, tailor the resume to sound like the job posting was written to match you and your resume! Keep track of which resume was sent to which recruiter or posted against which job listing. Don’t be generic when you can be special!
Bottom Line: This is the key section that appears “above the fold”. This is where you tell your story about how you are the ideal candidate for this position. Be bold, be positive, and be focused. This is not a job history section or collection of assorted interesting facts – this is the best (and often last) chance to impress the reader so they continue to read your resume or make that call for an interview!
Bottom Line: Searching for jobs online is easy…getting it to be an effective use of your time will take some work! We’ll need to focus on searching tricks but also online resume strategies, without which other people will be interviewed and hired for those online jobs you found.
Bottom Line: The Summary needs to be a short, strong section that pulls key successes from your career and states them in a way that leaves the reader with a vision of how your talents can be directly applied to the job you are targeting. Don’t end up with a jumble of disconnected phrases or sentences that, while entertaining, leaves the recruiter asking “so what does this person do and how well is it done”?
Bottom Line: It’s the little things in the resume that gets the goat of a recruiter. Your resume’s “look” and basic info shouldn’t set them off. Start with these basic resume tips and you should have something that at least passes their “first glance” test.
Bottom Line: The resume is your marketing tool…it speaks for you when you can’t be there to speak for yourself. Bullets are the preferred formatting to point out your key strengths, but a brief paragraph that sets-up the bullets by expanding on your role or a little about your firm makes a resume more fulfilling for all readers.
Bottom Line: Get a good resume pulled together, post it on the “big” sites, and then select an appropriate cross-section of online job sites to explore. Yes, look at Monster and CareerBuilder, but don’t stop there…and don’t just use the aggregator sites like SimplyHired. If the sites you are using don’t seem to be working for you, pick new sites and consider rewriting or honing your resume.
Bottom Line: The job hunt today is different than when your parents or grand-parents went through their last job hunt. Resumes are no longer the “I’ve done these things” historical documents, but more of an “I can do this” sales brochures. Make sure you’re mentally ready for the job hunt, know your skills, have studied the market…and only THEN do you start working on the resume. So don’t rush into distributing a hastily written “historic” resume…it’s not as likely to land an interview as a well written, job targeted resume.
Bottom Line: It’s not just your past tasks, accomplishments, and successes that prospective employers want to read about, but also how you have become a more talented, well-rounded person — someone they want to interview and possibly add to their staff. Make sure your resume lists your continuing degree pursuit (or at least coursework), organizations that you have taken a leadership role with, and how you are sharing and honing your professional skills through publications or discussions (online or even in print) in your area of expertise.
Bottom Line: A resume is a personal marketing tool used to solicit interest in contacting you…don’t make it too difficult. If the recruiters can’t get to you easily, they’ll go elsewhere. Have two resumes–one with limited info you post on the Internet and one with more complete info that you send to specific contacts. No sense in hiding things that are common (like what I can determine from a photograph of you or what a co-worker can tell about you), but take care to hide or start restricting the distribution of information that only creditors should know.
Bottom Line: Spelling, grammar, punctuation, colors, and other “visuals challenges” are important things to consider. Make sure that you check not only the spelling, but also the grammar of your work. Reduce the use of less common punctuation; make your resume read clear and sound uncluttered. And don’t try to go to extremes to make it look “fancy” with graphics, extensive tables or colored fonts…these usually cause more frustration than the benefit they might provide. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but it needs to be “good enough”. So keep it simple, crisp and clean!
Bottom Line: Start with a well written, industry or role targeted resume. Intersperse some relevant keywords in context (not lumped at the end) so the recruiter can see the same benefit that the computer search found. Make sure your keywords are current, reflect keywords common in job postings, used multiple times in your resume, and are applicable to you and your skills. Watch what the popular keywords are and keep refreshing your resume with new, up-to-date keywords.
Bottom Line: Avoid the “job description” type of resume. Think S.T.A.R. When writing each and every line, consider a STAR statement. Tell us a story in each sentence. Don’t exaggerate, but be proud and even a little boastful of your past work. This is a marketing document – sell me!
Bottom Line: A recent graduate with little work experience or a career changer with a new degree will have the Education section Above the Fold. Everyone else will have the Education section after the Work Experience section. List your degrees top-down with the highest level degree first. Don’t mislead or lie…the news is full of people that exaggerated their degrees to get hired and then later got fired (and sometimes sued).
Bottom Line: The Chronological format is the classic form for a resume. But it’s not the layout that’s the challenge, it’s the quality of the writing and use of engaging text that can still make this format work. In future articles I’ll cover the other (less popular) formats. But for now, even if you eventually use another format, create a chronological format version of your resume…it will be the one most often requested by the online job sites.
Bottom Line: The functional resume is for those that have work situations that a chronological formatted resume can’t adequately address. Be aware that most recruiters are a bit suspicious about a functional resume, since it is usually used to hide various employment issues. I suggest you spend some time reviewing as many samples of functional resumes as you can, but remember, the key to making this type of resume work is to keep it focused on a very narrow objective and have all elements of the resume supporting the objective.
Bottom Line: The age of long-term employment is over. You have to manage your own career and can’t assume your firm will do it for you. Keeping your resume visible on the online job boards is a simple and effective way to make sure new opportunities have a way of finding you on the Web. Maintaining your online presence is an essential step in keeping your ears open for new career opportunities.
Bottom Line: You need a high word-for-word match between your resume and the job description — keywords for the computer and comparable phrases for the human. Identify every keyword from the job posting that you can possibly include in your resume and weave them into the Objective line, the Summary section and also the relevant job history sections.
Bottom Line: LinkedIn is a key element in your job search strategy. Start by entering your most recent employment history and providing brief details on recent jobs taken directly from your resume. Mock up a good multi-line Summary and a concise single-line Headline statement. No, don’t put your entire resume here, just use the “best” parts of your resume. Then make sure your profile is visible to anyone by changing the settings on the Public Profile. Remember – be visible, be brief, be engaging, and be active.
Bottom Line: Rely heavily on the STAR method of describing the successes of your career. The story that the STAR statement spins is often memorable, puts your work in context and highlights the benefits of your efforts. Mix in a few TAR, SAR, STA, and AR statements to keep the writing from getting too dense, but err on the side of lots of STARs. People prefer to read success stories…not a list of duties.
Bottom Line: Get your most recent work history to be present “above the fold” on page 1 of your resume. With today’s recruiters and managers merely glancing at resumes, they must contain what these reviewers want to see on the top half of the first page (what’s normally seen on a PC screen at full width). I’ll detail how to do this with hybrid and functional resumes later.
Bottom Line: It’s NOT good to let a poor resume get your career search off-track. NOT everything you ever did in your career deserves a place on your resume. When you think a role or job you performed does NOT improve your chance for getting a job, then leave it off. If you NOTice that you have misleading statements in your resume, reword them. And remember that a resume needs to be relevant to your job search — it’s NOT a reflective document, but rather a forward looking advertisement of your skills and talents.
Bottom Line: The 30-second pitch is about developing a relationship that you can use at a later date. While there are many variations, a simple 5-step intro works as a great way to develop a solid starter pitch. These steps are: 1 – First Name, 2 – Simple Title, 3 – Role Description, 4 – Passion Statement, and 5- a Conversation Growth statement or question. Keep it simple enough for a 3rd grade student to understand what you do and rehearse it until it is smooth, natural, and informative.
Bottom Line: LinkedIn is quickly becoming the place that you must have a professional presence if you are in the job search, but it needs to be done right. Get your profile to reflect the key strengths from your resume, grow and maintain a contact list, get/provide recommendations, and actively participate in appropriate groups. The more professional your profile and the more skillfully you share your knowledge in LinkedIn, the more likely recruiters will take a notice.
Bottom Line: Start with the basic 30-second network pitch and tailor it to your needs. Career changers and fresh college graduates are examples of people that shouldn’t talk about their past (work experience or courses studied) in their 30-second pitch. Your decision to move to a specific industry/role should have already been made–your networking time spent with others is not the time to explore career choices. Try to avoid talking about any roles (work or courses) other than the role/industry you are targeting, as this can confuse the other people to the point that they forget what you are actively pursuing. And remember to show enthusiasm in your elevator pitch about your new career of choice!
Bottom Line: The Internet job search is a valuable tool, not to be dismissed by the “network nay-sayers”, but also not to consume more than about 20% of your overall job searching efforts. Start with the big boards (Monster, CareerBuilder, etc.) and then expand to other high-end sites, like LinkedIn or CraigsList. Focus on getting your keywords tweaked so you are getting “hits” on your resume and then, if you aren’t getting the calls, focus on the content. Remember that networking is a key element of the job search, and it needs to be integrated with online networking tools and online job search methods.
Bottom Line – Stick with the Word 2003 “.doc” format for now, as it is still the de facto standard document format. If you want to maintain your resume in “.rtf”, “.odt”, or “.docx” format you can, but always convert it to a “.doc” before distributing it. No need to maintain a “.txt” format any more (just save your Word file as a Text File when necessary) and avoid distributing a resume in a format (such as PDF) where the recruiter can’t easily access and extract your information.
Bottom Line: Blogging is a very underutilized feature of the job hunt and professional networking. You can reach a much wider audience and you can enhance your career opportunities by adding a blog to your digital identity. Write career relevant articles and publish them on a blog, make sure they are well written and reviewed, connect your blog to your other self-marketing methods, and keep your blog active and professional.
Bottom Line: Develop the best resume you can. Then using this check list and the prior basic checklist, refine your resume. Remember that any checklist is only a way to “tweak” an already well-written resume. If you’re having problems developing a real solid resume, look at the book list on this site or consider finding a moderate-priced resume writer to revise or even author your resume.
Bottom Line: Gaps happen. You need to be proactive as soon as possible. Try consulting, take college courses, start a business, volunteer, or pursue professional certifications. For shorter gaps you might be able to hide the gap by dropping the month on the job dates, but be aware that it only works for some cases. When asked, be prepared to explain how you used the gaps effectively by focusing on how you bettered yourself or served others, not just wasting time spinning your wheels in the job search.
Bottom Line: Resume builder tools can be a benefit to those of you that are struggling to get a resume properly formatted and structured. There are many online tools on the market, but watch for the monthly fees. Try out several of them to see which you like before you subscribe. PC-based tools have been around for years and are generally more refined and full-featured, plus they only have an up-front cost rather than monthly fees. These tools can fix the weak formatting, but not the poorly written content.
Bottom Line: Recruiters and interviewers rely on the dates on your resume to get a sense of how long you held certain roles or jobs. Make the dates easy to read and aligned along the right margin. Pick a format you like and stick with it throughout your entire resume (jobs, education, certifications, etc.) so it looks professional. Don’t fall for the “no dates” trap, as that will get your resume eliminated – if you want to minimize the date issues, try moving the date to the middle of the job detail line. Unless you are a recent graduate or have a very current degree, drop the date on your degree.
Bottom Line: When building a functional resume, you need to decide whether to use a classic functional or a hybrid resume. Build up the skills and talent section and play-down the history section. When crafting your own functional resume, look around for solid examples. While there are many talented professional resume writers that have mastered the chronological resume, not all are masters of the functional resume, so shop carefully. And remember to build your chronological resume first.
Bottom Line: The job search has changed over the last 10 years. It is now technology and communications centric, so you must embrace technologies that can help during the search. The job market is tough, so prepare yourself for a long job search. Find ways to better yourself so when the recruiter asks what you have been doing since your last job to keep your skills current, you’ll have a good answer!
Bottom Line: Building an career-oriented online reputation is key in today’s job search. Be aware of what the Internet knows about you. Make sure that you can be found easily via a web search and that it displays a modest amount of your professional talents, not just your social interactions. Take some time to clean up any items than might be a detractor for a potential employer and then spend time to propagate your “professional self” to key professional websites.
Bottom Line: Questions about salary, travel, and relocation are common on job or career sites. Assess the level of travel you can handle, but avoid the 0% and 100% answers. For relocation, I always like to say I’m open to considering it, but if you absolutely can’t move, then state it. And before you answer any questions about salary, understand your budget, your worth, and your geographic impact on wages. But when in doubt, leave these questions blank.
Bottom Line: Recruiters focus on the part of your resume that is ‘above the fold’ to do the initial evaluation of a resume–so that part must be strong. If a hiring manager or recruiter manages to get past the fold, you need strong Education, Training, and Certification sections. In addition, it’s common to have technology skills, volunteer roles, and sometimes hobbies listed. But make sure all of these entries are current, targeted towards your career pursuit, and of interest to a potential reader. Don’t list too much…the resume is a marketing tool, not a diary.
Bottom Line: With a cover letter you need to frame yourself quickly…name, title, one role, one expertise. Tie your talents to how you’ve solved other people’s problems, tell me about my firm (show you really researched, not just snagged info from the Web), talk about how your skills and my job needs are a match, and then ask to follow-up. Don’t get hung up on formats, but stick with one page and let it resemble (font, margins, etc.) your resume.
Bottom Line: Don’t be a job search hamster by being professionally invisible, insignificant, or irrelevant. Get some help with your resume so you can use it as an effective marketing tool to present yourself effectively in your job search process. Build an industry-relevant identity that can be “found” on the Web by those that could use your skills or those that might be looking to validate your statements. Education didn’t stop with your last diploma or when your boss said there wasn’t a training budget…you are your own career guidance counselor, so ensure your training and education is up-to-date and relevant for industry needs. Get off the hamster wheel and improve your job search in a meaningful way.
Bottom Line: When a college student or graduate develops a resume, make sure you are listening to current advice…so much has changed over the years. The focus of the resume is usually your education, so lead with it if you have little work experience. If you have worked while in school, yes, list the jobs, but emphasize the aspects of the job that are relevant to your career search. Be cautious listing your extra-curricular activities by listing just the ones that are relevant to your career or where you showed leadership skills. And really focus on getting your keywords right…that’s what allows recruiters to connect your resume with their job opportunities.
Bottom Line: Yes, references are still needed in many cases, but you don’t need to say “References Available Upon Request” on your resume. In today’s job search world, professional (and sometimes personal) references are always expected to be provided if requested. Make sure you let your references know they are being listed and may be contacted. And don’t forget to remind your references of your strengths by pointing out places on your resume that they might want to be prepared to discuss.
Bottom Line: The three “B’s” of the Resume are Brief, Boxed and Branded. Readers are looking for you to get to the point and to be succinct in your writing, so keep your paragraphs, sentences, and resumes short and targeted. Focus your resume on one career, one job, or one role. This allows you to be clearly seen as fitting into the job “box” that the recruiter or manager is looking for. Moreover, ensure your resume has key items (such as certifications) or it points to other resources (blogs, publications, etc.) that extend your resume and help you develop a professional brand.
Bottom Line: The moral of this story is to get a strong LinkedIn profile that “aligns” with your resume but isn’t a duplicate. Then use the features of LinkedIn to show how you are engaged in your profession but also have a balanced and diverse life. Choose carefully which groups, interests, or projects you associate with on LinkedIn–some choices can limit your hiring potential!
Bottom Line: Everyone should have a Chronological resume. It has just 4 basic sections: Contact Information, Objective/Summary, Work Experience, and Education (other sections can be added as appropriate). Keep the Contact information clear and simple, develop an interesting Summary or Objective, outline your Work Experience (bullets, paragraphs or a mixture) back about a dozen years, and provide succinct Education information. I’ve linked the discussions to further in-depth details if needed, but this brief outline should get you started on a modest Chronological resume.
Bottom Line: Yes, education helps in the job search. But without some research and clarity around the specific careers sought and education held, saying that a specific course or degree or certification is the best approach is difficult to determine. Through research we can help refine this challenge for many job seekers. So check the link and either participate in the survey or look at the results (published sometime in 2015).
Bottom Line: You need to talk the (tech) talk and walk the (tech) walk. Employers are looking for people that “fit” in their environments. And the environment has changed for many of us that reached our “technology maturity” before Pandora or Hulu or Snapchat or iPads became part of the common technology landscape. Taking time to master Office, be up-to-speed on current events/technologies, embrace blogging, establish a solid LinkedIn profile, and Skype with friends — these are a few good stepping-stones to help you establish a footing in the 21st century technology realm. Don’t be a technical dinosaur. Take some time to ensure that when the recruiter says, “Let’s use Skype for the interview!” that you are ready to demonstrate your technical proficiency!
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