Tag Archives: resume and cover letter

Employment, Experience, Education

In our continuing effort to assist those during their career lifecycle, the following comes in response to a recent question posed by Michael:

I am a recent graduate of the LPN course at Rasmussen College. Do you have any suggestions on how to gain employment without having experience other than schooling? Do you think volunteering is a good way to find a job? Any advice on where and how to get a job would be appreciated.”

Thanks for the question(s), no doubt what you are experiencing is felt by thousands eager to transition into their chosen career. In order to keep confusion to a minimal, I’ll break your question into three sections.

1. Do you have any suggestions on how to gain employment without having experience other than schooling?
Though few recognize this fact, experience comes in many forms, not all being formal.

Informal methods to gain experience come by way of volunteering (we’ll get to that during the next question), capstone projects, internships, externships, job shadowing, and community events. If you’ve worked at spots such as Taco Bell or Burger King, don’t sell yourself short as the time there is valuable, though mostly in the form of transferrable skills.

No matter where you find yourself, fast-food establishments or working on a school project, customer service, ability to perform multiple tasks, prioritizing responsibilities, resolving conflict (my fries are cold, what are you going to do about it?), and being productive in a team setting are all things employers find valuable.

For those who truly have no experience, your educational accomplishments must be the ticket to your first job—though most likely an entry-level one. Under this situation, I would highlight relevant courses, awards received (perfect attendance is always good to showcase), and instructor references. You can always insert insight from those professionals around, including the dean of academic affairs or your Career Director. Sharing his or her insight on your character can be effective if used wisely. There’s nothing like placing a well-written quote or reference on your resume or cover letter from a professional overseeing your educational development.

For those involved in a capstone project, take the reader along and let him or her visualize the value you brought to the team: What was your role, what issues did you encounter, how did you overcome problems, and what was the final result.

Here’s a little known secret: Employees want to hire trustworthy individuals with a passion to grow, to learn, and to contribute to the bottom line.

Ultimately, little experience does not mean little chance of securing an opportune position as long as you are grounded to reality and are willing to work your way up the ladder. Truth be known, gaining the attention of the hiring manager is as much about attitude and packaging as anything else, including experience.

2. Do you think volunteering is a good way to find a job?
Without much debate, volunteering IS a GREAT way to find a job. If you’re wondering why and how… think about the employer’s perspective.

Companies and communities are symbiotic in nature… without one, the other would not survive. As a result, employers look favorably on those who are committed to helping those less fortunate. Volunteering offers avenues to networking, which is where many jobs are found out about.

I noticed your program at Rasmussen College (on a side note, I have a great deal of respect for Rasmussen College and believe in their program and Career Services Department/Personnel—you are in good hands so take advantage of the resources they offer—special shout out to Sheila and Tamyrn) was for a LPN. With this, community involvement is extremely important and could lead to many rewards.

Career tip: While volunteering, always behave in a professional manner as you never know if the person across the room is connected to a company you always wanted to work for.

3. Any advice on where and how to get a job would be appreciated.
That’s a tough one as the right job may be right around the corner. Though it may seem old-fashioned, the concept of physically visiting companies you are interested in working for can be effective. If you decide to go this route (in conjunction with other routes), be sure and research the company before showing up. Show respect to the receptionist and always be courteous. Remember you are showing up without an invitation so not all doors are going to be open… remain calm, patient, and diligent.

One more thing, have a professional resume/cover letter prepared and always look the part.

Another way to get an inside foot is to conduct “informational interviews.” If you are unfamiliar with this method, I will be glad to cover the concept in an upcoming article… just let me know, or you can obtain additional material detailed below.

Always remember that during informational interviews, you should NOT ask for a job or a formal job interview. The purpose is to gain insight and develop a network into the company.

Career blast warning: Sending hundreds of digital resumes out without customizing each (the gunshot method) is not effective and can be detrimental to your career… don’t even think about it.

Ultimately, experience is only one piece of the job equation. Obtaining a college degree is also only one piece of the job equation. Though many lacking formal experience often sell themselves short or become discouraged, that tactic makes the slope even slipperier.

What hiring executives look for in a new hire:
* Attitude and professionalism
* Commitment to learn and progress
* Confidence and belief

If you can satisfy the above four bullets AND are willing to keep your job search real, you will find career success as companies can’t find enough employees with the total package.

Allow diligence and professionalism to be your guide. Volunteer, network, and hit the pavement with confidence.

Are you interested in developing your own career success techniques or in securing cutting-edge career focused books, including how to write effective resume/cover letters? I can show you the best strategies for a successful interview, how to take advantage of social/professional networking, and ways to overcome barriers to employment (arrests and/or convictions). Visit “Danny at ECS” on Amazon or go to www.edu-cs.com for a complete listing of available support. You may also contact me directly: dhuffman@educationcareerservices.com to see how I can help you.

Danny Hufman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
Follow Me on Twitter #dannyatecs
Blogsite: https://careerbreakout.wordpress.com
Education Career Services: www.edu-cs.com
West Orlando News Online, Event and Career Columnist: http://westorlandonews.com

Delivering Career Diligence

As a business owner, professional writer, and career management specialist, I am often asked “what separates a good employee from a great employee.”

Quite bluntly, in a word: diligence. To put this term into perspective, let’s examine the formal definition and then transmit the concept into an actual application, ultimately relating how the practice of delivering career diligence morphs good into great.

According to numerous resources, diligence is:
* To give a constant effort to accomplish something
* To be attentive and persistent in doing anything
* Done or pursued with persevering attention
* Constant and earnest effort to accomplish what is undertaken

With the concept defined above, in order to take full advantage of your career opportunities, you need to recognize the underlying meaning. That is, simply doing the job is not enough AND, in the eyes of the employer, going above and beyond job responsibilities will be rewarded by way of recognition, (hopefully) increased income, and (hopefully) job security.

For the following example, you decide which employee is the keeper during rough times and which two employees would be on the wrong side of right-sizing (by the way, this situation reflects an actual event where I had to make a choice—though the details below are thin, I believe you can still decide their fate).

Workplace reality:

While operating a career management firm, I oversaw an operational crew exceeding 65 employees. I was tasked to reduce our customer service staff by two (leaving eight employed). After narrowing the list of possible employees to terminate to three, a second evaluation stage was undertaken. All of the remaining three performed their job as required by defined roles so the determination was made on bottom-line value and overall contributions.

Overall contributions include such things as attitude, willingness to learn roles beyond defined duties, professional courtesy (actions and attire), getting to work on time, and a proven eagerness to represent the company well.

DSC_0024The candidates were as follows (naturally the names have been modified):

Carmen. She always showed up at work on time and rarely called in sick. She enjoyed her position and had been employed with the company for 18 months. Though she did not ask to learn other aspects of operations, she did lend a hand when she felt comfortable with the task and team. During formal evaluations, she never expressed a desire for professional development… she was content with the way things were.

Vicky. She was a recent graduate and had been employed for nine months with the company. Though originally hired for a management training position, Vicky did not work well with others and displayed an attitude of progress complacency. Her performance was above average and customer service skills were also above average. Over the past year, she also showed up on time and rarely called in sick.

Robert. He was still within a 90-day probationary period and was introduced to the company via an externship opportunity. Though “green” in several areas, he seemed eager to learn more than what his job defined. He extended a professional and supportive attitude as well as a positive commitment to progress within the company. Robert completed two professional development on-line courses (on his own) to heighten his customer service skills. Just before his formal evaluation, he presented a proposal to streamline in-bound calls which had the potential to save several hundred dollars monthly.

Of the three selections above, which one would you have kept on the team and why?

I chose the one who I felt would progress the company beyond the moment and deliver benefits well into the future. Needless to say, the one I chose stayed with the company after I moved on and became a director of operations in less than one year.

Diligence means more than simply showing up on time or getting the job done. To me, diligence is a commitment to bring the complete package to the table.

What does the concept mean to you? In the comment box, go ahead and share your ideas with the world.

Delivering career diligence tip: Believing is not enough… To survive, you must do… more than enough.

Interested in developing your own career success techniques or in securing cutting-edge career focused books, including how to write effective resume/cover letters, the best strategies for a successful interview, how to take advantage of social/professional networking, and ways to overcome barriers to employment (arrests and/or convictions), visit “Danny at Amazon” or go directly to http://www.edu-cs.com for a complete listing of available support.

Danny Hufman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
West Orlando News Online, Event and Career Columnist
Got Twitter? Shadow me @dannyatecs

Career history, how long is too long?

Throughout the many years as a professional resume writer and career coach, one of the most often asked questions has to be: “how far back do I go on my resume?” Recently Ty Newman submitted the following:

I’m not ashamed to say that I’m an older gentleman who fell victim to downsizing earlier this year. My resume definitely needs to be updated but how far back should I highlight my career history? I’ve worked for five organizations over the past 30 years, nine years during my most recent. What guidelines should I follow?”

According to the top career management associations, it is generally recommended work histories going back beyond 10 to 15 years should not be included in your career documents. The reason for the five year spread is because of the concept “relevancy.”

Here’s the relevancy low-down:
* If the previous job position held ten years+ ago is not relevant to the job position being sought, do not include it on your resume or cover letter.
* If the previous job position held ten years+ ago is relevant to the job position being sought, include it on your resume or cover letter.

Relevant, according to Merriam-Webster.com is defined as:
Having significant and demonstrable bearing on the matter at hand
* Affording evidence tending to prove or disprove the matter at issue or under discussion

With this as our guide, if an individual worked at Tropical-Air of Central Florida (these folks handle all my a/c and heating needs so here’s a quick shout out) as an ace air conditioning installer ten years ago but now has decided to work as a writer with Education Career Services. The experience gained over ten years ago as an installer is not relevant to the writing position and should not be included in his or her career documents. The reasons are pretty obvious so I won’t detail them for you now.

On the same token, if the person in the example above applied for a general construction position or project manager, his or her experience as an air conditioning installer may be considered relevant and should be included.

No doubt the next question might be: “What’s the harm in putting all of the jobs I’ve ever held on the resume?”

At first sight, the logic in letting a potential employer know your professional diversity may sound pretty solid. Problem is, there’s always a second sight… Here are a few potential negatives by saying too much:

* Age discrimination; highlighting too many years on the resume may cause alarm by some employers as age discrimination has not gone away and the perception that you will cost too much to hire is always kicking around behind closed doors.
* Job hopping; training is expensive and if you “appear” to become bored or unhappy after a year or two on the job, a red flag may pop up (and not in your favor).
* Oh so yesterday; technology and operational methods change dramatically every three to five years. Thus, what was considered cutting edge ten years ago is now considered prehistoric and will be received with a shrug of the shoulders and a “how does that benefit me now?” gaze.

Enough of the marginalizing factors, let’s take a quick look at a HUGE advantage of offering a career history highlighting longevity and loyalty. Using Mr. Newman’s example above, possessing a sense of company loyalty is a factor employers look for. As mentioned above, training is expensive and when a company can reduce attrition by hiring and keeping quality employees in it for the long haul, everyone wins.

As a result and on face value, I would suggest to Ty that he go ahead and highlight his long-term career commitment and list his employment history, perhaps even to the 20 year mark provided it is relevant and progressive.

Would listing a career history going back to the 1990’s be in your favor? To be quite honest, I can’t answer that without knowing more and knowing where it is you want to go.

My point is, every situation is different and general rules are made to bend. If you would like a professional review based upon your specific circumstance, send your questions with a brief summary to us and we’ll give you the latest best practice advice.

For those interested in cutting-edge career books to guide you along your journey, visit www.edu-cs.com or go to Amazon and search Danny at ECS for a listing of available material.

Danny Hufman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
West Orlando News Online, Event and Career Columnist
Got Twitter? Shadow me @dannyatecs

Does your resume stand up or sit down?

We recently received an often expressed comment and an often-asked question from Nina Burkley, a recent graduate at one of our local vocational schools. Ready to graduate, Nina wants to stand up above her fellow competition (a smart thing to do) and make sure the hiring manager takes a second look at her qualifications.

Nina is worried about losing credibility and career opportunities due to fluff, graphics, and use of colors in her documents… what do you practice?

Crossing the line between standing up and sitting down is a matter of common sense, industry standards, and the ability to think like an employer. Here’s what Nina had to say…

Everyone says I need to make my resume stand out, and I’ve seen some pretty cool examples online where people use photos, graphics, and colors to give their document some pizzaz. What are your thoughts on doing this?”

Thanks for the question, Nina. Using photos and colors will definitely make your resume stand out, but not always in the way you might like. Although there is no global best-practice “official” list of requirements for a resume, the top career management associations do make some rather strong suggestions which I, too, recommend as you consider document development.

Listening to experts in the field makes a great deal of sense when it comes to your career. Put in another way, taking the lazy research way and trusting online recommendations may not be in your best interest as anyone can (and do) jot misguided gibberish. Fortunately, you know better than the follow blindly!

Let’s round up a few best-practice suggestions from the top career management associations:

1) Limit the use of color. Here’s an idea: Use any color you want as long as it is black and white. Naturally there is room for brief moments of shade but, as a general rule, colors are not the way to go.

2) With limited color choices, pictures lose impact so you may want to reconsider using images. Think of it this way: Slipping in cheap clip-art does not say many positives about your creative abilities.

3) If you are a graphic artist (or in another creative industry—accounting not included in this bunch), use common sense when it comes to image branding. Think like an employer when it comes to pictures as what you intend to show may not be what is perceived or recognized, leading the way to confusion and possible insults.

4) With Internet transparency, many folks are going with the flow by placing personal photos on their resume… Here’s the scoop: Throughout the United States, personal photos on resumes is not recommended… unless you happen to be applying to be a swimsuit model. True enough, in some European countries, placing personal photos is fairly common… but we are not in England.

5) Pizzaz does not get you hired… your knowledge, skills, and abilities (along with your soft skills) get you inside the door; getting your foot in the door should be your number one priority.

6) Think like an employer: Hiring managers often receive hundreds of resumes/applications for one job position. Hiring executives are not in the mood to waste time on clip art, fluff, unrecognizable images, or irrelevant clatter. In other words, state as professionally the value you bring and how you will positively affect the bottom line… nothing else really matters.

With the above in mind, if you must, use moderation and common sense when it comes to artistic flare.

Note: If the job you’re applying for doesn’t require any work to be submitted with it, then you should leave colors and graphics out of your resume. There is no need for it.

If the job position requires supplemental material such as a portfolio displaying work accomplishments, you have a creative license to introduce color, graphics, and blue prints. It is recommended that all applicants create a professional portfolio as “showing” your talents is always more effective than simply “telling” what think you can do. Distinct portfolios have the power to lift you above the competition quickly and impressively as long as it is relevant to the job/industry.

To detail a bit further: A portfolio is a hard copy or digital folder containing past work as it relates to the current position you’re applying for. In the graphic design example, the job seeker would use his or her resume to highlight work experience and skills while using the portfolio to actually demonstrate it.

Time to wrap Nina’s comment/question into a branding statement for all to take advantage of:

It is always better to make your resume stand up due to layout of information; overuse or misaligned graphics, color, or pictures often prove to be detrimental to career success.

If you would like our career experts to address specific questions or issues related to your career development and success, reach out by using the comment box.

For those interested in cutting-edge career books to guide you along your journey, visit www.edu-cs.com or go to Amazon and search Danny at ECS for a listing of available material.

Danny Hufman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
Got Twitter? Shadow me @dannyatecs

Career Breakout: Resume length and font

Ron Davis reached out earlier this week with questions about resume length and proper use of fonts. As the topic of length is a common concern, let’s take a look at Ron’s question and our professional advice.

“I’ve read up on a lot of tips and tricks for creating resumes. It’s led to some good information, but I’ve received a bag full of mixed advice that is causing only confusion. I don’t want to screw up so can you tell me how many pages my resume should be and what size font I should use?”

Though at first glance, the answer to the page question is straight forward and simple. Overall, for a good 90% of job seekers out there, a one-page resume is not only all you need but going more than one page could do more harm than good.

Have you ever heard the cliché: Less is more? When it comes to resume length, this may be the chosen path you should take.

Feeling like a one-pager is selling you short? Feel again, but this time consider the person reading your resume and cover letter. Does he or she have time to go in-depth and read hundreds of resumes that are one page? Add another page to the mix and most readers will find boredom taking over quickly… not a good thing for you.

Catch a clue: To your advantage, many people add a ton of non-relevant fluff, thinking more pages mean a better match… another bad move.

Creating a resume several pages long in an attempt to ‘wow’ employers more often than not backfires. While these people may have good intentions, their overachieving is actually not doing them any good at all. Employers, human resources, hiring managers–whatever you want to call them–are very busy people; hand them a several page long resume and you’ve already got a strike against you. Granted, it’s hard to limit your resume to one page, but that’s exactly the point.

It is generally accepted that entry-level candidates as well as recent graduates should always use a one-pager. For senior executives, those in the medical and/or educational field, two pagers (oftentimes even more than two pages, depending upon many factors) are required. The key to career success and resume length is to make sure you include only relevant information… all backed by support.

For most, limiting your resume to one page accomplishes two impressive feats:

1) You’ve selected only the most important AND relevant aspects of yourself to show the employer, which will help them see and remember the best of what you have to offer.
2) You’ve demonstrated the ability to be concise and to-the-point; a trait that is always desirable no matter what the situation is.

Remember, to place yourself in the employer’s shoes and deliver YOUR strengths based upon the job position, industry expectations, and company research.

Catch a clue: Taking advantage of keywords and phrases (speaking the right language) from the posting and research places YOU at an advantage.

Final fact of the day, hiring managers spend between 6 seconds and 15 seconds to filter OUT resumes that don’t hit the target. As a result, you must hit the target quickly and make your shots count, especially in the top half of the resume.

As far as fonts are concerned, it is recommended that you stick to the basics. Arial, Times New Roman, and Calibri are three major accepted fonts. Font size should be anywhere between 10-12, whereas your header may be 2 font sizes larger (not smaller) than the remaining text.

If you would like our career experts to address specific questions or issues related to your career development and success, reach out by using the comment box.

For those interested in cutting-edge career books to guide you along your journey, visit www.edu-cs.com or go to Amazon and search Danny at ECS for a listing of available material.

Written by Brandon Hayhurst
Education Career Services, Your Career Document Headquarters

Career Breakout: Mobile Madness

Several weeks ago I received the following from Julia Nicole:

I have to be honest with you, I’m on my phone more often than I am on my own computer. I’m just more comfortable with it. The other day I tried to submit a resume with my cellphone and just as I was ready to hit send, a friend of mine said it was a bad idea. I don’t understand why that would be a bad idea. Can you shed some light on the subject?”

Julia, you might be surprised to hear the answer to this question. If this were a couple of years ago, your friend might be absolutely right; however, everything in the modern world revolves around technology–especially mobile technology.

Career Tip: Methods of data transfer have evolved to include cell phone technology.

I remember just several years ago that technological limitations did not even allow cell phones to do anything but move voices… nowadays, cell phones are a lot more like computers. In many ways, come cell phones are more robust and applicable than computers so your question may even be a non-issue to most people.

Take, for instance, smartphones like iPhones and Androids. Most of them contain built-in email programs that allow you to send documents just like you would on your home computer. In fact, employers wouldn’t even be able to tell the difference between documents sent from a home computer versus documents sent via an IPhone.

Warning: I don’t recommend creating a resume on your cellphone.

Even though smart phones have apps that work as word processors, the official Microsoft Word is not available at the moment. Therefore, you cannot guarantee your resume will be created in a .doc format that is viewable by all employers.

For best results, create your resume on a computer and then send it by phone if you must.

Sending documents on a cellphone not equipped to do so is NOT in your best interest. In this regard, Julia’s friend was absolutely correct. To simplify things, here’s the fact: Smartphones are the only cell phones qualified to send proper email and documents over the Internet.

Even if you created a text-only electronic resume, text messaging should never be used to send a resume… ever. Text messaging is still considered cheap and tacky, which is a surefire way to seem unprofessional to a potential employer.

At the end of the day and more often than not, it’s simpler to just use a computer. But if you insist, smartphone email is acceptable.

I hope this answers your question and if you did send your resume (and cover letter—always), let me know if you gained the hiring managers eye and was invited back for an interview.

If you would like our career experts to address specific questions or issues related to your career development and success, reach out by using the comment box.

For those interested in cutting-edge career books to guide you along your journey, visit www.edu-cs.com or go to Amazon and search Danny at ECS for a listing of available material.

Written by Brandon Hayhurst
Got Twitter? Shadow us @dannyatecs

Social Networking and your Resume

“This might sound like a silly question, but should I post my resume on social networking sites such as Facebook or Twitter? I know they’re not really professional, but can it help me at all?”
– Tim Drake

Don’t worry, Tim. It’s actually a very good question to discuss about online networking.

Unfortunately, there is no short answer to this question. Yes, posting your resume on Facebook or Twitter can be helpful for your job search, especially considering employers are sourcing candidates on social networking sites nowadays.

Warning: Not all good things happen in the digital world.

Placing yourself completely out there in the digital world can also eliminate you from the running just as fast as a misplaced tattoo. Recent legislation makes it all so clear: what is online does NOT stay online. As a matter of fact, many companies hire individuals to scour the Internet to better acquaint themselves to their prospective (and current) employees.

Think of it this way, if you were a hiring executive and happened to see inappropriate images or statements from your next interviewee, would that affect the outcome? In terms of your resume, you definitely have the power to present yourself in the most professional manner… always professional.

Control is the keyword here. If you’re going to use your social networking site during your job search, make sure it’s completely professional. Honestly, this is hard for many people. Go ahead and test yourself and check your social networking sites… are there images, texts, or shout-outs which “could” put you in a not-so great light?

According to a recent survey, a whopping 91 percent of Facebook accounts–alone–contain inappropriate information that can be considered a red flag to employers. This includes photos, posts, and even friends.

Do you think you can manage all of your photos, posts, and friends AND keep them strictly professional? If not, then posting your resume on Facebook might not be the best idea.

Twitter, on the other hand, is a little easier to manage than Facebook. People “follow’ others because they’re interested in hearing what they have to say; therefore, if you keep your tweets professional, you will only attract professional followers who won’t be a red flag to your job search.

Keep this in mind: It only takes one bad apple to spoil the bunch.

If this sound overly cautious, it’s because you should be. Social networking sites are a double-edged sword that can hurt you just as easily as they can help you, consider this your final warning!

If you would like our career experts to address specific questions or issues related to your career development and success, reach out by using the comment box.

For those interested in cutting-edge career books to guide you along your journey, visit www.edu-cs.com or go to Amazon and search Danny at ECS for a listing of available material.

Written by Brandon Hayhurst
Got Twitter? Shadow us @dannyatecs

Career Breakout: E-Resume Basics

“I’m new to the whole online job search thing. I’ve been told I need to make an ‘e resume’, separate from my own, to be used on the Internet. I have no idea what an e resume is, I only have my normal paper copy… help!”
-Krista Lovette

This week we’re answering a question that people ask very often. What is an e resume?

An e resume, short for electronic resume, is an online representation of your already existing paper resume. Unlike your paper resume, however, e resumes contain none of the eye-catching ‘fluff’.

E-Resume tip: Since many electronic platforms do not transfer many of the graphics properly, it is wise to play it safe and stick to the basics.

When going electronic, keep your document reader-friendly. In other words, keep away from fancy layouts, wingdings, and graphics.

I know you’re thinking: “Why go through all the trouble of eliminating everything that makes your eye-catching resume stand out? After all, the point of a resume is to display your unique value… right?”

Yes, all of that is true, but when you send a resume to an employer online, you want to make sure they receive it properly, that it looks and reads professional, and you highlight the many skills and contributions you offer in a way that will entice the reader to give you a call.

Different computers–heck, different programs–read information differently. Have you ever tried to copy and paste a document on your computer only to find your information becomes scrambled and out of place? If so, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

By utilizing just a few simple rules and keeping it simple, electronic resumes are your solution to avoiding any reader-friendly problems when an employer receives your resume. Keeping it simple also makes your documents compatible with practically every word processor in existence.

Electronic tip: Make sure and include key words and key phrases in your documents as your material will most likely go through an electronic tracking system… companies often eliminate resumes before looking at them if the electronic tracking system does not pick up industry-specific words.

Okay, so your documents may look plain and boring, but remember the point of an electronic resume isn’t to make yourself stand out, it’s to ensure an employer is able to read your resume when it’s absolutely necessary. That’s why we recommend you have at least two resumes: your standard paper resume and a stripped down electronic resume to go along with it.

As Krista mentioned, e resumes are great for online job search sites such as Monster, Careerbuilder, and Indeed, allowing you to upload and share your resume online with employers.

If you would like our career experts to address specific questions or issues related to your career development and success, reach out by using the comment box.

For those interested in cutting-edge career books to guide you along your journey, visit www.edu-cs.com or go to Amazon and search Danny at ECS for a listing of available material.

Written by Brandon Hayhurst
Got Twitter? Shadow us @dannyatecs

Resume Format: Your FIRST Step

We received this question from Mary Brooks, who, like many others, don’t know where or how to begin the challenge of developing an effective resume. Here’s what concerns Mary (bet she’s not the only one):

“When I Google resume formats, I see thousands to choose from. Do I simply follow a template or should I make a resume from scratch? Where do I begin and what do I look for?”

Here’s what I envision happened to Mary and thousands out there: You open Microsoft Word and stare blankly at the screen trying to figure out how to start. You start to type a few words and realize you have no idea what you’re doing. In a panic, you open your Internet browser and make the same mistake Mary and others make: you look at a template.

Think you should know: To professional resume writers, the term “template” is as obscene as any four-letter word!

We’ll begin tackling this question by getting to the root of the problem. Resume templates are bad because they tell you what a resume should look like, not how to make an eye-opening, attention-getting resume that will encourage the reader to want to learn more about the author.

Cold hard fact: Hiring manager and employers often have to sift through hundreds of resumes in a single day. What makes you think they’ll notice your resume if it looks like everybody else’s… unless, of course, you are just like everyone else and you do not offer anything unique that a company would find beneficial.

Many people justify lazy behavior by stating they only use templates as a guideline, and that they don’t intend to copy it word-for-word. Unfortunately for most, reality kicks in and we both know it’s much easier to keep the template and pretend to tweak a few lines… this approach is NOT effective and NOT in your best interest.

Take note, even if your intentions are good, following a template (or copying it) will get your resume ignored. In fact, hiring managers have seen all the popular templates out there. Yours simply may be ignored for that reason alone as it shows you don’t really care enough about the job to make it your own.

Throw in the fact: In less than 15 seconds, hiring managers review cover letters and resumes and determine if there is a fit… mostly based upon how quickly you present value.

What should people in Mary’s situation do? Here’s more than a clue: Create a resume from scratch.

The advantages of a hand-crafted resume far outweigh the amount of time it takes to make one. Don’t believe me? Let’s look at a few reasons why creating your resume from scratch will give you an advantage over the vast majority of job seekers:

  • Hand-crafted resumes are  one-of-a-kind.  If you take the time to make your own resume, the chances your document will look like anyone else’s is slim-to-none. This helps it stand out in a large stack of papers. In fact, it may even make a hiring manager read it longer than they usually do.
  • Hand-crafted resumes show creativity. Instead of staring blankly at the computer screen, you took initiative and figured out how make one on your own. Employers love to see this in any potential candidate because it shows that person has a drive to succeed and can think on their own without the need of a dot-by-dot map.
  • Hand-crafted resumes show effort. Even for the most seasoned career document writers, a unique, eye-catching resume takes a lot of time and effort. From the employer’s perspective, this shows a candidate is really interested in the job and not just applying to anything that sounds good.

There are, of course, more advantages than this, but it’s time to answer the other part of Mary’s question… where should you start? What should you look for?

There are many places to start, but keep in mind this is a learning process. You won’t pick up this skill in just one afternoon. Don’t get discouraged or consider giving up the fight as many of our professional writers take up to six months before they are allowed to tackle complicated clients. Additionally, for those with specific questions, you have a tool at your disposal… our partnership.

Warning: There’s a great deal of misguided information out there. As a result, I suggest consulting with a certified professional writer. Two career management associations sponsoring able writers are the Professional Resume Writers Association (PRWA) and the National Resume Writers Association (NRWA). Both associations have a listing of certified writers willing to help.

I also recommend researching and reading quality material which may guide you along the career success path. Again, be cautious at what and who you work with and make sure they are a recognized professional in the field.

If neither are an option, you can always order a professional career management book or focused career guide. Education Career Services does offer several resume and cover letter guide books as well as material covering varying aspects of career management. You can find them at http://www.edu-cs.com or at Google (search Danny at ECS).

For more career management tips and articles such as these, visit Education Career Services at http://www.edu-cs.com or follow us on twitter @Dannyatecs.

Written by Brandon Hayhurst, professional career management writer/editor

Company Connection

Over the past few weeks I’ve had the opportunity to meet career professionals from across the United States as well as beyond our boundaries during the APSCU and NACE conferences held in Las Vegas. One common theme among participating career professionals had to do with the methods one can one to “speak the right language” when responding to a job posting. In other words, what can one do to enhance a company connection and get called in for an interview?

Like I tell all of my clients, the resume and cover letter MUST detail, in a valuable and error-free fashion, what the employer is seeking, not what you want from the company. I know it sounds easy but the truth of the matter is YOU must take an active role if you want to succeed. Enough said as this is common sense; after all, who in their right mind would send a resume highlighting electrical skills for a bartender job posting? Certainly not you! With this said, time for company connection…

Rule #1: Make sure your cover letter and resume is targeting the right job posting. Yes, you guessed it, this means redoing your cover letter and resume for each job posting.

For those wanting to take the easy way out and decide to send a one-size-fitting all resume, think about the employer for a moment. Nothing like impressing a human resources professional like reading a template… NOT.

On a first-hand basis, when I receive a resume that I know was not tailored to the position, the candidate is automatically disqualified. In case you’re wondering, it’s easy to tell which are tailored and which are not… so don’t fool yourself.

Rule #2: Research the company (if possible) and incorporate relevant information (check out the mission statement) in your cover letter. For example, if you are interested in a position with a company who engages in community involvement, don’t forget to mention the volunteer work performed over the summer at the local animal shelter.

Rule #3: Take advantage of keywords and phrases from the job posting. One method of making sure you don’t forget to highlight what the company needs is to take advantage of a free online tool from tagcrowd.com. For those unfamiliar with this resource, this is your lucky day.

* Copy and paste the job posting into tagcrowd.com, change word redundancy to 3 (or more), and submit. The result will amaze you by displaying the most common words used within the posting. Once you have these high priority words at your disposal, incorporate those applicable to your skills and interest.

By following the above three rules, you will increase the odds of a company connection by speaking the right language. Not only will these rules assist you in being recognized as the right candidate, your interviewing skills will also improve (as you will now respond to questions based upon what the company wants… NOT what you want).

For those interested in guidelines, samples, and applications on how to improve your resume and cover letter, consider investing in the Career Intelligence Series job search library of cutting edge workbooks. Visit www.edu-cs.com or Google (search Danny at ECS) for more information and a complete listing.

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC

Education Career Services
Follow me on Twitter: DannyatECS