Category: executive resume writing

Responsible for…

Doesn’t putting a task on your resume imply that you were responsible for it? I am always amazed at how many times *resume real estate* is wasted with this phrase.

Resume real estate, for those of you who don’t know, is the valuable, prized portion of the page between your name and the end of your document. Those of us in the careers industry thrive on and honor this as sacred ground. Before you laugh, check out my samples.

Instead of boring your reader, think power, as in power verb. Spice up your resume text with a selection from this list.

What Professional Resume Writers Do… or Why We Are Different From Kinko’s

Most people in career transition that visit my website fully understand why they could use help with “career marketing” services. However, I still receive calls from people who somehow think of a resume as a piece of paper.

A $1,000 bill is a “piece of paper,” too! The power of words, when unleased, is what can make the difference between the value expressed on your resume.

Don’t confuse printing capabilities with career currency; the latter can add more of those $1,000 bills to your salary.

Resumes for the Colorado Job Market: Demonstrating Proof of Your Performance

If you are a professional seeking employment in our colorful state, you have no doubt polished up your resume to achieve maximum effect on Colorado employers, taking care to prepare a document that will surely pass the classic 10-15 second glance by a hiring manager and win an interview. Or have you?

Here in the land of boom and bust, oil and gas, and both the great and not-so-great times in telecommunications history, employers have weathered the rush of thousands of resumes from job seekers determined to make their next move. However, the number of candidates that make the first pass is considerably smaller than most might realize.

Consider adding these core components to your resume in order to make a stellar first impression on employers in the Colorado jobs marketplace—and to get your phone ringing:

Skip the Fluff.
Or, as is said in the resume industry, “Show, don’t tell.” If you really are self-motivated, dedicated, and innovative, detail this information rather than resorting to these words often used by the masses to market themselves to Colorado employers.

Which makes a stronger impression? “Provided strong customer service and led national projects” or “Slashed marketing expenses 45% by delivering three national relationship management projects on time and under budget.”

By the same token, resorting to a cute graphic will likely irritate rather than wow a hiring manager who is weary of searching for core skill sets.

Strategize.
Skip the objective statement in favor of a summary that shows precisely what you offer an employer. Why use “Seeking a challenging position utilizing my abilities and skills…” when you can give impressive data on your real-world strengths?

Consider that “Visionary, decisive, and strategic operations leader credited with intense profitability by turning around inefficient organizations, driving groundbreaking service initiatives, and achieving quick results that elude others” hardly makes the same statement.

Make use of short, clear, sentence fragments—think marketing copy—throughout the resume to add spice to your message.

Beware the Functional Resume.
Nothing makes an employer who has rode the ups and downs of the Colorado economy look the other way faster. This format, which delineates skill categories in lieu of giving detail on achievements at each job, is past its prime and implies that the job seeker has something to hide.

Grouping your relevant expertise by using keywords appropriate for your profession is a great idea; however, take care to include the classic reverse chronology of your job history for the reader to explore.

Summarize…and summarize some more.
Clarity rules the day! In other words, five-page resumes are history. Don’t expect a prospective employer to read anything resembling a novel, especially when sprinkling the pronoun “I” throughout your document.

While there is no “magic” length, more than eight years of professional experience typically dictates a second page—but not necessarily a third—in the eyes of Colorado employers.

Roadblock to Job Search Success #4: Courting Age Bias

You might be aware that age discrimination in the job search has increasingly become evident, but what can you do to combat it when writing a resume?

In my practice, I usually find that professionals encountering age bias are also encouraging it by providing blistering detail on every job since college. A few simple rules for marketing yourself can help to avoid this pitfall and position yourself more strongly:

Remember that employers are interested in what you have done lately. It is perfectly acceptable to delineate the past 10-15 years of your experience, and sum up the rest without dates. Of course, this is another way to keep your resume to a readable length.

Be cautious when using your years of experience as a qualification. Stating that you have “over 25 years of experience…” can date your expertise and imply that you have not learned anything new! In addition, it limits the ability of the resume to speak to your skill level.

Ensure that dates are used to your advantage. For example, a good rule of thumb is to omit the graduation date on any degree older than 10 years.

I am a huge fan of prominently displayed achievements, core strengths, and contributions, in lieu of dates, for an effective resume. After, all this gives you the best opportunity to focus on your key skills, rather than on your age!

The Myth of the General Resume

My article on the ineffectivness of a general resume, published on Jobing.com, restates the case for focusing your job search and making it easier for hiring managers to see your value.

Read the full article here: http://denver.jobing.com/news_feature.asp?story=2862.

Roadblock #1 to Job Search Success – Using a General Resume

I’m launching a new feature this month entitled “Roadblocks to Job Search Success” to contain much of my often-discussed advice for common issues faced by job seekers. These are the subjects of many phone calls from professionals seeking a job change or new employment, most of which echo a common refrain.

Today’s Roadblock: Using a General Resume.

Many, many people in today’s job market possess a multitude of skills gleaned from past positions, current college curriculums, and professional training. In fact, a common problem is fitting all this great information onto a single resume. (which is a topic for another Roadblock!)

Perhaps this abundance of skill is what usually leads job seekers to tell me they want to use a “general resume” because they don’t want to “limit” themselves to only one job title. While I completely understand this position, this has become Roadblock #1 to Job Search Success for a great reason: General resumes do not work!

Imagine that you were hiring, for example, a widget packaging expert. In the stacks of resumes received, would you want to see that the candidate knows how to speak French, has done financial analysis, graduated from college with a degree in English literature, or has lots of industry expertise in food service?

Hiring managers want to see that a professional has taken the time to describe precisely what it is that qualifies them, and stated a clear desire for the job at hand. Sorry, this is not as simple as slapping a different Objective on the resume. (more on Objectives later as another Roadblock!)

There is nothing wrong with having well-rounded skills. The problem lies in throwing all of these skills at a recruiter and hoping something sticks.

Your best maneuver: putting every qualification on a highly focused resume that tells the employer how well you will do THIS job.

Yes, you may need more than one resume. Then again, you may be able to use just one–successfully!

Resume Real Estate

I was recently asked why I did not include a date of availability as a “title” line on a resume. In response, I needed to explain that this data did not define the applicant’s candidacy.

Rather, his credentials, areas of strongest expertise, desired job objective, and skill did…therefore, these items took up the most valuable “resume real estate” on his documents.

Success tip: data that strengthens your case belongs in the most prominent position. It’s all about career marketing strategy!

Cover Letters – The Salutation Line

Cover letters must always be either addressed specifically or neutrally.

By specifically, I mean using the actual hiring manager’s name if possible, e.g., “Dear Sandra Jones.”

By neutrally, I mean that one should use a general salutation, such as “Dear Hiring Manager” when the name of a hiring manager is not available.

“Dear Sir” or “To whom it may concern” invite speculation and possible rejection. What if the reader is a woman? And actually who is concerned? (Let us not go there.)

When in doubt, proceed with the conservative approach.

Why use a professional resume writer?

Many resumes that I rewrite seem to use the same Microsoft Word template. While this format is certainly easy to read and contains appropriate headings, it seems to say, “I wrote this myself, so please overlook any irrelevant material.” I dare say this is not the type of initiative one wants to demonstrate to a prospective employer.

To make a better impression, do a little more research. Templates for all kinds of documents abound online. Better yet, persuse resume books at your local library for more examples.
Of course, using a professional resume writing service nearly guarantees that you will free up your time for other pursuits–such as finding venues in which to send the resume.

Why use a professional resume writer? Even people with an outstanding command of written language rarely pass muster when writing their own resumes. This is largely due to the fact that the majority of us belong to professional associations that consistently, constantly educate us on industry-leading standards and practices in the resume industry.

This select group reads resume books–cover to cover–as soon as they are published, uses a complex thesaurus, dictionary, and other grammar tools, consults the AP Stylebook, and undergoes rigorous resume industry testing. It should also be noted that most resume professionals also tune results based on your job search progress–and results!

Just a reminder for any time you are tempted to bypass what should be a comprehensive process by using a Microsoft template…there is no substitute for a professional help from a writer who has honed the craft for effectiveness.