Tag Archives: resume

7 Easy Tips for writing a good resume – Tip 7 – Job Board resumes

Make sure you renew or refresh your resume every week so it gets to the top of the search results. Usually in Monster, there is a renew function. If you make changes that usually does it too.

If you are actively searching, this is a must. If you are passive, just make sure every month or so it is updated if things change.

Often, people ask me if it is dangerous to have your resume posted on Monster and the like because you will reveal to your current employer that you are looking, even though you may not really be – and that is the reason why you should have it on there.

One of the disadvantages of the employer/employee relationship is that as an employee, you are expected to give a minimum of 2 weeks notice when you are leaving your job. Conversely, the employer can terminate you without any notice. And this is the basis for your response if confronted by your employer about your resume being posted.

Most reasonable employers will understand if you say, especially in this economy: “While I am happy here, and not actively looking, I need to be prepared to engage my job search quickly should conditions change here.”

If you still feel that that won’t satisfy your employer, there is another way. When employers scan job boards to find their employees to identify potential flight risks, they almost always search by their company’s name. What you can do to somewhat protect yourself (caveat: this isn’t a 100% guarantee, since sometimes they will search by name if they feel you are disgruntled) if you make your current employer confidential. Making your name confidential will probably not work since they search by company and can usually triangulate to who you are by your title, duties, past jobs, etc.

Remember, it is perfectly fine to have your resume out there whether you are happy or not. You just need to be prepared for the reactions.

OK, so those are my tips. PLEASE comment on if you thought they were useful or NOT. Any other suggestions, and if you would like a 1 page synopsis of these, please let me know and I will send it to you in PDF form.

For the next few posts, I am going to answer specific questions from readers. I have a bunch in queue, but please send more. I will promise to answer on this forum or directly if not.

Now that your resume is the better for my tips, happy job hunting!

7 Easy Tips for writing a good resume – Tip 6 – Brevity

Today, the discussion is on brevity and so I will try to lead by example.

The Basic rules:

  1. In writing your resume, be as brief as possible (if you can keep to 2 pages without going to less than 10 point text that is ultimate) Don’t write one more word than you have to.
  2. Don’t go back more than 15 years of your career unless it is necessary to demonstrate your qualifications or if you worked somewhere 20 years (of course)
  3. If you start going down memory lane in your resume about jobs you held that have nothing to do with what you do now – get off at the nearest exit! You are making your resume too long for no good reason.

Some exceptions:

If you are a career consultant and have had many “projects”, it can get quite long- and that’s OK. My suggestion is to not do a chronological resume, but more of a summary by whatever seems most logical: Industry, role, function, etc., so it is more organized and readers can skip to the relevant parts.

If you have a career that is highly specialized, you probably need to get more in the weeds about duties and accomplishments (remember, these are just as important.)

The way to see if your resume is too long is to do what I call the “glaze” test. Give it to someone (who will be objective) and observe them as they read your resume. When you see their eyes start to look glazed over or all of a sudden start reading incredibly quickly and basically skim the last page or pages, stop them there. Ask where you started to lose their interest or the resume went off topic. It will be a good barometer for gauging the length.

OK, so in summary err on the side of Cliff Notes as opposed to War and Peace and you will be good.

Next Tip: resumes and job boards

7 Easy Tips for writing a good resume – Tip 5 -Spelling, Grammar and Style

It should be a no-brainer, but I can’t stress it enough. I know many recruiters and hiring managers who will throw out a resume at the first typo, regardless of people’s qualifications.

Is this unfair? I have to say unequivocally maybe :-). I practice the “Typo Mulligan” approach. If an otherwise well qualified, well written and clean resume with not a lot of verbosity is what I am seeing, I will give a Mulligan for a minor typo. If you however spelled your name, contact info, company name or occupation wrong, those are show stoppers. NEVER EVER SCREW THOSE UP. Obviously, certain jobs there is no room for errors (prufreeederz, etc.), but there is no excuse really for any resume to be typo-laden. It smacks of lack of attention to detail and a less than serious effort in your quest for a new career.

Write it, run a spell/grammar check, read it again because sometimes you accidently put in the wrong replacement word in spell-check. Print it and read again. Have a friend or family member read it as if they didn’t know you and were interviewing you. Sounds like overkill, but trust me it will benefit you to do this.

As far as style… Reflect the type of job you want in your styling and font usage. Job seeking is serious business – make it known you take it as such. Avoid “cutesy, playful” fonts and lots of over styling (lots of shadows, bolds, outlining of text when not necessary) If you aren’t a graphic designer don’t try to be one in your resume – conservative is the best approach. Surprisingly, you will find that graphic designers have the most elegant and cleanest designed resumes.  Making the layout easy to read gets it noticed and moved up the hiring chain.

Lastly, I will speak a little more about brevity/length in the next post, but if you are a college grad or don’t have much experience, don’t use unusually large fonts and triple spaces and whatnot to fill your page. It’s OK to have a short resume, sometimes that is what the company is looking for. The bulking thing does not work and is the equivalent of using steroids in sports…big risk for small rewards (I know that’s a stretch but I thought the comparison was funny.)

Next Tip: Brevity (I will try to be brief on this post)

7 Easy Tips for writing a good resume – Tip 4 -There is an “I” in Team!

Are we seeing a pattern here? The last 3 tips are all about you. And let’s face it folks, in this dog eat dog world of job hunting, you have to be the alpha dog.

It’s good to point out that you were a team player, but don’t be afraid to use a lot of “I’s”, in describing accomplishments rather than “we’s”. If you were part of team that did great things, that’s great for everyone no matter how much they contributed to the success. Rising tides lift all boats, correct? It is more important to be the one that succeeded in low tide.

Often when you are speaking to a recruiter, they will ask you to describe a situation where you were personally responsible for winning a big account, saving the company money by visioning and implementing a new system, delivered a project early and under budget – or whatever. They are not looking for what your team did. They want to see what kind of stuff you are made of.

Take the credit where due. And as I always say, be able to back your words with evidence.

For Example (sales resume):

  • “Was part of a business unit of 4 territory sales managers that increased revenue 215% year over year” (Team)
  • “I was personally responsible for 36% of that revenue and did 122% of quota” (I)

You definitely want to have bullet 1 in your resume, the overall revenue increase is quite remarkable. However the second one is more impressive. Two reasons why: 1.) although you are technically part of a team, in this situation you were really 4 individual contributors. 2.) You accounted for 36% of that revenue. Numbers don’t lie. There were 4 sales people and you did much more than your equal share. Somebody else on the team rode your coattails and had you not pointed this out, readers of your resume would have assumed you did about 25%.  Nice, but you are better than nice – you are a selling animal!

OK, alpha dogs – get out there and be all about you! Woof. 

Next tip: Spelling, Grammar and Style

7 Easy Tips for writing a good resume – Tip 2 – Be Active, Not Passive

And now for a bit of irony…
So tip #1 was relevance, tip #2 is be active, not passive. I plead guilty to the “do as I say, not as I do” rule in not being active by saying in a post on December 1st that tomorrow you will have the next tip. Most people would interpret that to be December 2nd. It’s an easy calculation, kind of the first thing I learned in Excel…if cell A1’s value is 12/1/2008, in cell A2 if you create a formula A1+1, guess what? 12/2/2008! (OK, now I am just prattling on about my deep technical skills.) So to all of you who contacted me saying “if you are going to have a blog that attract visitors, you can’t go so long in between posts,” I say: message received you whiners (kidding, kidding.) Sure, I could blame it on computer issues and trying to make money to put food on the table, but that is still not an excuse. I appreciate that people actually want to hear what I have to say and will do my level best not to disappoint again.

OK class, let’s get to the business at hand. What does be active, not passive mean for this discussion? Aside from easily being able to put it to the melody of “Don’t worry, be happy” by Bobby McFerrin, it’s huge. One of the most important things good recruiters look for.

When describing your career experiences, write in terms of what your accomplishments and successes were as opposed to just what the job duties were.

You could put some epically challenging job duties on a resume for a company you were at for 7 months and think you are impressing someone…”Oh no sorry” (in the tone of Alex Trebek telling someone they are stupid and he’s smart even though he was told the answer.) Good recruiters will see right through it. They will think: “wow this person had some real important duties that they sucked at and got exposed and summarily disposed of.” Bottom line, good to put in your duties, equally important to talk about how you succeeded and excelled in those duties too.

Example:

  • “Managed a technical support call center of 75 people” (duty)
  • “By developing automated pre-screening methodologies, I increased efficiency of staff by 30% and reduced customer wait times by 15%” (accomplishment)

So make sure you match all your important things you were tasked to do with how you got them done.

Sorry to be so wordy but it has been awhile and I had a lot stored up, but I always reinforce this one with this example:

Say you were a hiring manager looking for a President, and George W. Bush or Jimmy Carter (insert your least favorite president here, I am just being apolitical) came into your office and you saw their resume. You would be impressed for sure at what their responsibilities were. But would you have any thought that you would ever hire them? ‘Nuff Said. (Oops too late)

Next tip: ‘Be proud, but honest.”

The name game…

In conducting some searches recently, I came across another issue/mistake that people sending resumes do. It wasn’t in my core 7 tips because it really hasn’t anything to do with writing it, more to do with titling. I’m sure other recruiters run up against this and you can, again, help them (boy, I am making us sound like a lazy bunch, huh?)

What I generally do when sourcing resumes is save them to particular folder by client/job/etc. I will contact the ones I feel are good fits and then submit to my client if after we talk it makes sense to do so. So, here’s the problem: I kid myself that I am super organized and go back in my folders to attach to a write-up and can’t find you. I get frustrated and annoyed because I think I am not as organized as I think I am. After I get over it, I realize your resume was titled “resume.doc” or “resume.pdf” or something of that nature.

So what has happened here? You made yourself hard to find amongst a sea of resumes (don’t do that) and you diminished my self worth (definitely don’t do that!). Make sure your resume is titled with your last name at least. First and last is OK too. Not too long a title either. And folks, PLEASE don’t think that self promotion in your resume title gets you any closer to the job – “Nigel.J.GlockenspielAwesomeDogGroomer.doc”. Really?

OK, back on topic tomorrow.