The Recipe for an Interview-getting Resume

Resume writing has certainly changed over the years growing increasingly more complex and difficult to maneuver. Though a resume remains an essential tool for securing a job, it has evolved. Effective resume writing today uses ATS-friendly keywords, career accomplishments, performance metrics and clean, streamlined formatting to name a few. With so many elements to consider when crafting a job-winning resume, how can you tell if your resume is on the right track?

4 Elements of an Attention-getting Resume

Strong Resume Opening – Several years ago, it wasn’t uncommon for resume writing to open with a boring objective statement to the effect of “Seeking a position as an Operations Manager to use my talents, skills and education to grow with the company.” No one really paid much attention to these dull one-liners; people generally skipped straight to the “Work Experience” section to see what you’ve done. Though your “Work Experience” remains an essential component of your resume writing, today’s interview-getting resumes replace the objective statement with a profile or summary section.

This summary section should reach out and grab the readers’ focus and say “this is what I do and this is why you need to hire me.” It needs to be concise, informational, and impressive without being too obnoxious or over the top. To do this effectively requires a delicate balance of pizzazz and persuasion. In fact this is one of the top reasons why many job seekers hire professional resume writers. If you do not start out strong, the hiring manager or human resources professional screening resumes may overlook you.

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courtesy of Miles, freedigitalphotos.net

An Achievement-rich Experience Section – As stated previously the Work Experience section of your resume writing will also receive a lot of attention by the reader. Here you need to focus on what you do / have done (in both big-picture and day to day terms if relevant) and what you have accomplished. The addition of job accomplishments or achievements is a new element in today’s job winning resumes.

So for instance, it isn’t enough to say, “Responsible for multimillion dollar sales and territory.” It is better to say, “Manage and grow sales territory from $2.5M to $2.8M over most recent quarter, exceeding quota by 15 percent.”

Achievements are essential for today’s attention-getting resumes even if you aren’t in sales – but particularly if you are. An achievement shows what you can accomplish, how you bring added value to your team or department, and that you have hutzpah. It shows how you stand out from other applicants and that you are more than your job title.

An Accurate Education Section – The importance of the education section on your job-winning resume depends largely on your industry and the specific employer. Some job openings might say “MBA preferred” so you might be considered even if you don’t have this preference. For other positions, having a certain degree may be non-negotiable.

If you have the required degree, then you would simply list it. If you don’t, list what you do have. However, don’t ever lie about having a degree. Even if you completed 95% of the degree but didn’t finish it for whatever reason, simply state, “Completed 100 hours towards Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication”. Being untruthful about something of this magnitude will catch up with you.

Resume Skills Section – The importance of your resume skills’ section varies depending on your industry and profession. For those professionals in engineering or information technology, it is important to list all of your software proficiencies, coding languages, developers’ tools and more. Nurses or medical technicians would want to list their areas of specialty as well as procedures and treatments they are familiar with.

This listing of specifics is true for all professional positions because the hiring manager or ATS software may conduct a search based on one of these keywords. So if you are in forensic accounting, list the specifics of that niche area rather than just basic accounting terms, though you may want to list some of those as well.  This is the case for every position that has a specific line of training or education.

As a certified professional resume writer, I see a lot of clients with a resume skills section that reads like this: dependable, reliable, detail-oriented, and hard working. It is best to avoid including terms like this under a resume skills section. While these are desirable traits in a potential employee, they are exactly that: traits or characteristics rather than learned or measurable skills. Employers and hiring managers view traits like “dependability” as a given; they don’t belong in a resume skills section.

86 Keys Communications creates results-getting resumes, cover letters, LinkedIn profiles and related resume writing services for job seekers of every industry and experience level. Contact them today at info@86keys.com to learn more about how they can help with your job search.

A New Resume for the New Year

January is one of the best times of year to find a new job. Hiring managers are looking to fill open positions and now have the budgets they need to do so. With the spirit of the New Year, these individuals are also seeking to facilitate change in the office.

Many job seekers too are looking for change in the form of a new job. Whatever the reason – more money, greater flexibility, a new boss or an increase in responsibility – getting a new job ranks as a common New Year’s resolution. With so many positions opening up and candidates applying for them, a job-winning resume is crucial to getting the hiring manager’s attention.resume_newyears_sirichai_freedigitalphotos-net

Top Three Tips for Getting Your Resume Writing Noticed in the New Year

Clean Formatting – Human resources professionals and hiring managers are scanning through hundreds, yes hundreds, of resumes and cover letters sorting the wheat from the chaff. They are looking for a quick way to discard applicants, and poor resume formatting is often the easiest option.

Is your resume formatting sloppy with misaligned text and tables, letter fonts and sizes that are all over the place, spacing that is way too much or way too little? Does your resume writing use 8-point font and extend to the margins?  Resumes such as these that are hard to read are often the first to be discarded.

Does Your Resume Opening Grab the Reader? The first few lines of your resume should capture the reader’s attention. Here, you need to both clearly state the purpose of the resume and what you bring to the table. Much like an advertisement, this space is first and foremost where you must sell yourself. The remainder of your resume writing supports the claim you make here.

You are not alone if you find this hard to do. It is difficult to sum up your career history and all you’ve accomplished in one or two lines. Yet this is what job-winning resumes do, and this is what will best get the attention of time-strapped hiring managers.

Proper Use of Resume Keywords – In today’s digital age, the first person to read your resume may not be a person at all but an Applicant Tracking System (ATS). These computer systems scan resume keywords, and those without the right ones are likely to be discarded into a digital wasteland.

Now we could draft an entire article on using the right resume keywords and getting past these scanners. For simplicity’s sake you should include a keyword or “area of expertise” section in the resume writing that lists these words or phrases. Top keywords should also be placed contextually throughout the resume.

Whether you are an active or passive job seeker, January is an ideal time to update your resume and put yourself in the market. Finding a new job is rarely easy but statistically, the start of the year bodes well for most job seekers.

Need a New Resume That Grabs the Hiring Manager’s Attention?

86 Keys Communications creates results-getting resumes, cover letters, LinkedIn profiles and related resume writing services for job seekers of every industry and experience level. Contact them today at info@86keys.com.

Brush off Your Resume for the Holiday Job Search

The holidays are a busy time of year for many people. From buying presents for the kids to picking up the Christmas tree and attending festivities, the holidays can be both joyous and stressful. Some people take off work to spend more time with family while others take on seasonal jobs for extra cash. Many holiday job seekers overwhelmed by seasonal activities intentionally or unintentionally put off their job hunt until the New Year despite the risks of doing so.

Do Hiring and Resume Reviews Slow in December? Yes and No

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Courtesy of Ambro, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Despite the hustle and bustle of the season, hiring activity does still continue though it might move at a slower pace. This is mostly due to human resources professionals and management taking some R&R. Some companies’ annual hiring budgets may also be depleted by year’s end. After all, money for the holiday party must come from somewhere.

Don’t Put the Brakes on Your Holiday Job Search Quite Yet

For other larger corporations, hiring is a year-round process even during the holidays. From in-demand positions to more ordinary roles, jobs are filled on a cyclical basis no matter what. At these sizable firms, job openings are prevalent every day of the year. Though some companies might have a smaller hiring budget during December due to holiday activities, others have a larger one that must be used by year’s end. For these big corporations, they must source and secure candidates right up to and including the holidays.

Want Your Resume Reviewed? Submit It During the Holidays

Though hiring may slow down during the end of December, your holiday job search need not stop completely. Some people take vacation but others continue to perform their job responsibilities in less full offices with less work to do. For these people, they may have more time available to prepare for the new calendar year, which might mean studying job openings and conducting resume reviews.

In fact, the holidays might be the best way to capture the attention of human resources and hiring managers. With less routine work to do and more time to do it, resumes and cover letters might get more attention. In addition, with less applicants submitting resumes during the holidays, as is often the case, the chances of your job-winning resume getting noticed increase considerably.

Share Some Eggnog and Network at Holiday Parties

Holiday festivities and parties have been mentioned at least a few times in this post, and that’s no accident. Don’t overlook old-fashion face-to-face conversation and small talk as an opportunity to network. Whether it is a holiday office party, cookie exchange, school activity or family gathering, the opportunities for networking abound. Though holiday job seekers might not want to walk around with their job-winning resume in hand, there are many ways less obvious ways to chat about how they are keeping their eyes open for a new job.

So use this holiday season to relax and recuperate, but don’t make the common mistake of skipping your holiday job search. After all, this might be the best time of year to network and get your job-winning resume noticed by the right people.

86 Keys Communications creates results-getting resumes, cover letters, LinkedIn profiles and related resume writing services for job seekers of every industry and experience level. Contact them today at info@86keys.com.

Tips for the Recent College Grad Resume

If you have recently walked down the aisle to the tune of “Pomp and Circumstance” with family and friends cheering you on, then congratulations! Now that you have completed college and earned your degree (the easy part!), it’s time to take what you learned from your university education and apply it to the world we all live in.

Of course, the world of work looks very different from the world of college, and judging from most of the student resumes I review, it doesn’t seem like much is taught in today’s college classrooms about resume writing.

Does Your Entry level Resume Reflect What You’re Capable of?

As a Certified Professional Resume Writers (CPRW), we receive a lot of resume service requests from recent college graduates. Many of these otherwise smart and savvy grads, it appears, have little knowledge about how to properly construct, organize and write resumes.

This is unfortunate because no recent college grad wants to be overlooked as an applicant because of an inferior resume that doesn’t really represent their capabilities.

Resume Writing Advice for the Recent College Grad:

  • College grad resumes should list their education, relevant coursework, school projects and such before their experience, assuming they have little to no relevant experience.
  • If you have significant work or intern experience, considering listing it first instead of your education. Relevant work experience trumps school projects every time.
  • If you have work experience that is not directly related to your degree (you waited tables, worked in retail, etc.) list that separately in a section titled “work experience.” Internships or work performed related to your degree should be listed first in a section titled “professional experience.”
  • Your college student resume should also include your computer skills, language skills, your quantifiable and qualitative skills, your character traits, etc.
  • Feel free to briefly list your extracurricular activities as the last line on your entry level resume.
  • With few exceptions, entry level and recent college graduate resumes should be one page in length.
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“Image courtesy of t0zz / FreeDigitalPhotos.net”.

What to Omit from a College Grad Resume

When working with college students to write resumes, we frequently get asked the same types of questions about what to put on – and leave off — a resume. When putting together your job-winning resume, omit the following:

  • Your GPA, unless it is 3.5 or higher. College students are generally surprised to learn that most employers put very little emphasis on grade point average.
  • Your SAT score. See above.
  • Every course you ever took in college or every club you ever participated in. Please only include relevant courses, skills, and traits.
  • Your personal identifiers, such as your race, age, ethnicity, religion, gender, country of origin, etc. These types of characterizations were once common on resumes but today they are not permitted due to discriminatory statutes.

Other Concerns of College Student Resumes

It is worth mentioning here that your entry level resume is not the place to air or explain any disputes or issues you may have had earning your degree. If you have not yet been awarded your degree and are currently in dispute over this matter with the university, do not explain this on your resume.

Simply put the name of the degree you are earning and “Expected Graduation Date: Spring 2015” or something to that effect. Lying on your resume about having earned your degree, regardless of the rationale, will come back to haunt you.

 

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Put Some Zest into Your Summer Job Search with Resume Services

Summer is upon us, and as June turns to July, and July to August, many people push the pause button on their job search because they believe, somewhat mistakenly, that hiring and recruiting slow down during the summer months.

Yet this isn’t quite true. Is summer the biggest month for hiring for most industries? Probably not. Do hiring managers, human resources professionals take vacations in the summer? Yes, some probably do. But that is quite a big difference from the old adage that says no one is hiring during the summer.

Use the Summer Slow-Down to Prepare Your Job-Winning Resume

Recruiters and Resume Writers may concede that hiring may slow a bit during the summer. But that by no means is the same as saying it stops.

In fact, sometimes recruiters looking to fill open positions have a harder time doing so during the summer months because there are fewer applicants during that time.  So if you are actively looking for a new job, whether employed or unemployed, don’t stop your job search – or your resume writing – just because it’s summer time.

If you are passively seeking a new gig, keeping your options open just in case a more suitable job opportunity presents itself, summer may be the best time to partner with resume writing services to create that job-winning resume.

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Image courtesy of iosphere / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Resume Writers Know Your Career Doesn’t Rest, Even in the Summer  

Professional resume writing services are busy in the summer updating resumes, cover letters, LinkedIn profiles and more for clients who are in this passive job seeking stage. Whatever the season, resume writers and recruiters will tell you it is better to have a resume ready when you need one than to wait until the last minute to find a resume service.

In addition to considering resume writing services, summertime can be a great time to freshen up your skills, signup for an online professional development class, or just get updated on your industry. Fun summer networking opportunities abound.

So just because business may slow down a bit doesn’t mean your career can take a respite. Whether you are in need of professional resume writing services, job coaching, or need to learn new computer skills, summer time may in fact be your best time.

 

Do It Yourself or Hire a Resume Writer? A Closer Look at Your Choices

It is a question we get frequently as resume writers: Do I really need to hire a certified professional resume writer or is it okay if I just write my own resume? It’s a worthwhile question, and we understand why potential clients ask us this. After all, several years ago most people, aside from busy executives, probably wrote their own resumes themselves. Updating one’s own resume was sort of a rite of passage task similar to packing up your desk for a new job.

How Resume Writing Has Changed Over the Years

Fifteen years ago, searching for a job meant scanning the local newspaper’s help wanted section with a pen in hand. You’d probably submit your resume and cover letter via mail or fax and the receiver, an administrative assistant, would probably scan it and ready it word for word. Maybe a dozen or two people would apply for the same job, and, provided you met the qualifications, you had a good chance of landing an interview.

Things have changed a lot since those days, which is why resume writing services now are more of a necessity than a nicety. Today your resume is more likely to be scanned by a keyword software system rather than an actual a person. Lack the right formatting or keywords, your resume might be skipped despite your qualifications. Resume writers know how to incorporate the right keywords into your resume so it will tag as a match for what the employer is seeking.

When It Comes to Creating a Job-winning Resume, Why Take Chances

Moreover, many job openings today receive close to a hundred applicants meaning hiring managers have to take the time to sift through lots and lots of resumes. As such, they are looking for quick and easy ways to eliminate candidates, and an inferior resume serves this purpose well. Typos, spelling errors, hard-to-read sentences, and poor organization can get your resume tossed in no time.

Resume Writers Can Make Your Resume Pop

Even if your resume doesn’t have these obvious snafus, your resume writing must sing and sizzle rather than just state your work experience. Resume services for hire can help put together a resume that works as a marketing or sales piece capturing the reader’s attention, drawing them in and ultimately selling them on why you are the best candidate for the job.

So do you need professional resume writing services when applying for jobs? You might not need resume writing services in the same way you need water, food and shelter but hiring professionals who write resumes for a living will certainly give you a measurable advantage.

How to Choose a Resume Service?

Search for “resume writers” on any major search engine and you will receive more than 40 million returns. With so many options to choose from, how does a serious job seeker go about finding and hiring the right resume writer?

Before you put down your hard-earned money for resume services, consider what you are really looking for? Some resume writing mills out there seek to pump out as many resumes and cover letters as possible in the shortest period of time. With these outlets, you don’t really know who you are working with, what their qualifications are, or how long they have been writing resumes.  Though some sizable resume writing firms are legit, others hire college students or workers located overseas to churn out resumes as fast as they can.

Certification and Resume Writing Experience Matter Most
Since you want your resume to be written by a professional, it is a good idea to see if a Certified Professional Resume Writer will be working on your important job search document. Be sure to check the official site of the Professional Association of Resume Writers for legitimacy as some sites promise “certified” writers but lack the credentials.

Though certification is not absolutely necessary, consider hiring a pro who makes a career writing resumes. The certification, in part, shows the writer takes what they do seriously and likely earns their living creating job-winning resumes for clients. A college student who works on resumes on the side for some extra spending money may or may not be up to snuff for the job.

Decide How Much to Spend on Resume Writing Services

As with every purchase, cost matters so you should shop around to get an idea of what companies charge for resume services. We’ve seen prices as low as $20 for a resume to as high as $500 (really!). Yet spending more doesn’t always equate to a higher quality product. Both too-low and too-high price points should be viewed with skepticism as one points to a lack of experience and the other, well…too much ego perhaps.

Either way, experience level, certification, cost and results should each factor in to your selection of a resume writing service.