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.

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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.

It’s Not Too Late for Your Annual Resume Update

September was national update your resume month, as deemed by Career Directors International and others in the career and resume services sector. Though we are a bit late to the game seeing it’s already October, it is still a great time to pause and take a few moments and update your resume and even your LinkedIn profile.

While this is especially true if you landed a new job, earned a degree or changed careers, it is true with ordinary employees as well. Once a year is the optimal time to add new accomplishments or achievements to your resume as well as awards you’ve received or new projects you’ve taken on. Did you recently start volunteering your time on the weekends for a cause you care about? Add it to the resume too.

Update Your Resume Annually or Suffer the Consequences

By getting in the habit of updating your resume on an annual basis, you are not going to forget about these little extras that when put together build a better and more complete summary of who you are as a person and an employee. Best of all, when the time comes, your resume will be ready for that next career move.

A professional resume writer’s mantra states that it’s always better to have your resume ready before you need it. Why?

Three Distressing Resume Update Situations to Avoid

Those of us who make a living as certified professional resume writers get those frantic phone calls at least once a month or more during peak periods of business. During these occasions, the caller is upset because they don’t have a resume and they need one. Right now.

Time to Update Your Resume

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

  1. The first dire situation is the result of an unexpected layoff or restructuring. This individual has to look for a new job right away but they haven’t updated their resume in years, sometimes decades. They don’t know where to begin or how to proceed. They are upset about the situation and their emotions are clouding their ability to make sound decisions regarding their next career moves. They are feeling overwhelmed and don’t know what to include on their resume, what to leave out, where to even begin.
  1. The second anxiety-producing circumstance involves an unexpected buy out or sale. This person calling about a resume works in sales and is no longer has access to important achievement and quotas information that is necessary for an effective and job-winning sales resume. They know they’ve met their expectations but they no longer have access to the details, percentages and statistics for their sales performance. For sales, account management, and business development professionals, these figures are essential in creating a stand-out resume.
  1. The last type of panic calls we certified professional resume writers get are from the so-called passive job seekers who haven’t update their resume in years but they just stumbled upon their dream job. They want to apply but they know their resume is in scrambles. They are especially worried because the application deadline for the position is tomorrow … can I please help them.

If You Put off Updating Your Resume, You Might Miss out

These are the typical resume emergencies career and resume services professionals face on a semi-regular basis, which is probably where the idea of National Update Your Resume Month came from. September is also a good time because it’s before the holidays and big hiring season (January) and after summer when many people take vacation. The when of it matters less than the what of it; that is, when you update your resume matters less than taking the time to carry out this important career strategy once a year.

Life is unpredictable, and layoffs, corporate buyouts, or dream jobs can come without warning. Each of these scenarios, good or bad, requires having a clean and updated resume on hand. So if that urgent, life-changing career situation happens, you’ll have the resume, cover letter, and tools you need to handle it with grace and poise.

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.

The Results-focused Resume: Sounds Good but What Does That Mean?

Getting hiring managers to pay attention to your resume is no easy feat. Depending on the job opening, they may sift through dozens of resumes to find those few that are worthy of interviewing.

Making your resume stand out – for the right reasons — is essential. One effective way of making your resume get noticed is to use results- or objective-focused language. Huh? Sounds buzzwordy but really it is pretty significant. Results oriented resume is a fairly simple and straightforward technique you can incorporate in your resume writing that will greatly improve your chances of getting callbacks from hiring managers.

Okay So What Is a Results-Oriented Resume?

A results oriented resume basically involves doing two things: paying close attention to what you accomplish at work outside of your normal job function and then documenting it. Huh? Let’s give an example:

Everyone is familiar with the standard accountant job description. No offense to accountants but they are not known for having the most exciting jobs. Moreover, you can pull a staff account job description from just about any company and they are more or less the same. So if you are a mid-level accountant, how do you make your resume stand out from all the other mid-level accountant resumes that are also applying for the same job?

By using cutesy fonts and photo of you smiling with your brand new Dachshund puppy? Not a good idea.

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Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Resume Advice for Results Focused Resumes

How you make your resume stand out is with results oriented resume writing. So instead of just this …

Process invoices, generate monthly reports, update the general ledger and reconcile accounts.

you need to add more to it. This gives you a place to start and indeed shows that you were responsible for accounting functions. But aside from that, this is the same as just about every other accounting resume out there. Here’s how to make this accountant resume results oriented:

Process invoices, generate monthly reports, update the general ledger and reconcile accounts.

  • Saved the company $X per quarter by implementing new Y process that increased efficiency by Z percent.
  • Found costly accounting / billing error that saved the company $Z while also ensured compliance with new Y standards.
  • Helped the company avoid a costly and time consuming audit by ___ .

Get Callbacks with Results-Focused Resumes

With resume writing that is results-oriented, you give hiring managers reasons on a silver platter as to why they should hire you; this is exactly what they want. Moreover, you are not making them guess whether you are an effective accountant or merely a mediocre one? More often than not, whenever you have to make a hiring manager guess about your qualifications or capabilities, the results will NOT be in your favor.

And don’t worry about bragging. The resume is not the place to be humble, save that for your next family dinner with the in-laws. Don’t assume “Oh, the hiring manager knows I’m a good accountant because I’ve been doing it for 20 years or because I work at such and such big name firm.” Assume nothing; spell out (almost) everything with accomplishment-focused writing. That’s good resume advice.

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 a results-oriented resume can help your job search.

 

Seeking a Solution for Employment Gaps? Consider the Hybrid Resume

We recently did a post comparing the chronological resume and the functional resume. Several people asked if there were any other formats available, particularly with regard to covering employment gaps and other employment pitfalls.

As some observant readers mentioned, job seekers who have experienced long-term unemployment will sometimes opt for the functional resume style as a way to mask gaps in employment. Yet this strategy may backfire as many hiring managers and those in HR strongly prefer the chronological format. In fact many big-name staffing agencies will only accept resumes in the chronological format. So if you have major gaps in your employment, what are you to do?

Hybrid Resume, Combo Resume

Sample of a Hybrid Resume Style

The Hybrid Resume Highlights Experience and Skills While Hiding Gaps

Enter the hybrid resume style, sometimes also called the combo resume. As the name suggests the hybrid resume highlights job seekers’ skills and accomplishments while also chronologically listing their work experience. As such, the hybrid format can showcase skills without calling attention to employment gaps. Moreover, it satisfies recruiters’ desires for chronological listing and dates.

The hybrid resume format can help the following types of job seekers:

  • Career changers — Present new experience, skills, education or training while putting less focus on work in another industry or profession altogether
  • Those who switch job frequently – Again, the hybrid format can highlight career achievements while not calling attention to job hopping
  • Those who are underemployed or are in a lower-level position – Were you Director of Engineering at IBM more than 15 years ago but today work as mid-level manager for a lesser known company? The hybrid format allows you to highlight this experience front and center so it won’t be overlooked.

(You will get more attention on LinkedIn if you are / were employed by a major Fortune 500 company. You can get creative and apply the hybrid formatting method to your LinkedIn profile to increase your chances of being found by recruiters. )

  • The long-term unemployed – By putting forth your best capabilities up front, you can capture the hiring manager’s interest right away. With the hybrid resume, the gaps won’t be the first thing they see as they often are with the chronological format.

Use the Hybrid Resume to Spice up Stale, Boring Resume Writing

So if you fit any one of these criteria and have a less-than-perfect employment history, consider making use of the hybrid or combo style resume. Even if you have a steady employment record, the hybrid resume format can be used to change things up a bit and breathe some new life into an ordinary resume.

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 the hybrid resume can help your job search.

The Chronological Resume vs. the Functional Resume

Ask career service folks, Certified Professional Resume Writers, recruiters and human resources managers about resume styles and formats, and you are bound to hear a range of opinions. One debate that is likely to occur is over the use of what’s called chronological resumes versus functional resumes.

While both styles have their uses, most recruiters and HR managers would agree that functional resumes have fallen out of favor in recent years. But wait. Maybe we need to back up a bit and explain these two terms for those who aren’t familiar with resume particulars?

resume writing, human resources

Image courtesy of basketman / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

An Overview:  The Functional Resume

Sometimes called the “skills” resume, a functional resume groups together a job seeker’s most dominant skills at the front of the resume usually in bullet point fashion. So they might list “project management” and then lay out supporting skills as well as related accomplishments. Toward the bottom, the functional resume would list positions held, company name and dates.

The Preferred Choice: The Chronological Resume

Most readers are probably familiar with chronological resumes. They start out with a summary paragraph and then go into the job seeker’s most current job, company name, dates, job duties and then accomplishments. This is then repeated with the second most recent job, then the third most, etc.

Flaws of the Functional Resume

On the surface, both resume services can be useful. Yet functional resumes today are problematic for a number of reasons:

  1. Functional resumes are viewed by HR and recruiters as a way to hide gaps in employment. Because this style of resume does not link job position with skills, it enables the candidate to showcase their relevant skills while hiding periods of unemployment. Many people who have been unemployed for several years will use the functional format for this reason. Unfortunately, the functional style itself has become a red flag of sorts for recruiters. Many will outright reject a functional resume.
  1. Functional resumes are not well received by scanning technology commonly used by today’s large companies. Rather than relying on fickle HR assistants, many companies today rely on software programs that scan resumes looking for particular keywords. These programs also scan for information in certain orders, such as company name, city, date, job duties, etc. The functional resume throws the scanners off, which may cause the resume to get filed away in the discard pile.
  1. Functional resumes are viewed as old-fashioned. Many years ago, this resume style was used by those in support positions. Such secretarial jobs tended to be the same regardless of employer. So rather than relisting the same set of job duties, the job seeker would simply list them once and then list the employers toward the end in chronological order.

For better or worse, the notion of doing the same job over and over again for different employers has fallen out of favor. As such the resume writing style that best showcased that notion has also fallen out of favor. We are all supposed to be improving with each new job! As such the functional resume reflects an old-fashioned way of thinking about work and career.

So now you know why it is best to avoid the functional style resume if you can. Next week, we are going to publish a post on what you can do for your resume writing if you have been unemployed for an extended period of time.

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.