Tag Archives: resume writing

Be Reachable! Best Practices for Resume Contact Information…by Ellen Hall, Rapid Results Resumes

helpA while back, a client came to me after spending a full year in an unsuccessful job search. She had received absolutely no responses to her job applications. None. She was a great candidate! Her resume needed help, but it wasn’t THAT bad.  Why wasn’t she getting anywhere?

Yes, this really happened:
She had her mailing address on her resume, but did not include a phone number or an email address. In this day and age of instant connectivity, snail mail doesn’t cut it.

One client had a digit missing in his phone number. Another had an email address that was, well, a bit “suggestive.” Yet another client listed her home phone number, with a cute but unprofessional voicemail greeting announced by her 9-year old.

That’s all pretty basic, and I’m sure you already know that you need to include accurate and appropriate contact information on your resume if you want them to call you in for an interview. Do you have room for improvement? Check out these best practices for your resume contact information:

Your Email Address
First impressions count. If your email address is IHateMyJob@email.com or SuperHotMama@email.com or SpaceAlienWierdo@email.com, you may want to consider using a different address for your job search. You’d be very surprised at what some people put on their resumes.

Best practices indicate using your full name, followed by a few random numbers if necessary to create a unique address. Don’t use numbers that resemble a date – Hiring teams may perceive that JohnSmith1942@email.com is well into his retirement years. Using “CamelCase,” capitalizing the first letters of names or words as in the examples above, makes your address easier to read, reducing the chance that it will be mistyped; email and web addresses are never case sensitive. A guy like Bill Ugman may not want to use bugman@email.com, unless he’s in the pest control business, but BillUgman@email.com works just fine.

Be sure to monitor your email account daily for important communications, including your SPAM folder, just in case.

Formatting
A readable presentation of your contact information goes without saying. Be aware that when you upload your resume online, the system that “reads” your resume may not be able to read ANYTHING contained in a header, footer, text box, stylized “word art”, or a graphic image. Don’t get fancy with these kinds of elements for your contact information, or for any information on your resume that you don’t want them to miss.

Your Name
Your name goes at the top, always. When your resume is scanned into an applicant tracking system, that system is going to assume that the first thing it sees is your name. Do you want your name to go on record as Sales Representative?

Use a version of your name that you’re known by professionally. For example, if your name is Jonathan Randall Jones, but you have a broad base of professional contacts who know you as “Randy Jones” and your LinkedIn profile says “Randy Jones”, then be “Randy Jones” on your resume as well.  If you’re in a very conservative profession, it’s often best to stick with your formal name across all media.

If you have a credential that is essential to your profession, include that designation with your name; i.e. Robert Smith, R.N., or Danielle Carnahan, CPA.

If you have a name that might be challenging to pronounce, include a nickname or a phonetically-spelled version to help your callers feel comfortable with that first phone call. Mike Scioscia, manager of the LA Angels, might want portray his name as Mike Scioscia (“SO-sha”).

Your Phone Number
Best practices indicate one phone number only, including the area code. Many choices make things unnecessarily complicated. Mobile numbers are often best, since people are generally more reachable when they keep their phone handy, but if your phone frequently drops calls, it may not be the best choice. Don’t use your work number unless you know it won’t cause a problem at work.

Be sure the phone number you provide is always answered in a professional manner, and has an appropriate voicemail greeting. Don’t let your 4-year-old take that call you’ve been waiting for from your top-choice employer!

Your Mailing Address
Sources are divided on whether or not to include your full mailing address on your resume. If you’re relocating to New York City and seeking work there, including your mailing address in Nowhere, Oklahoma may put you at a disadvantage. If you live in the Chicago suburbs and plan to commute to the city, you may want to list your address simply as Chicago Metro Area.

Privacy is sometimes an issue. I’ve heard many valid reasons for leaving the address off, and it’s typically acceptable. Many jobseekers eliminate the address, or simply include the city and state. On the other hand, if you’re seeking local work in your home town, the fact that you live close by can be a plus.

College students or deployed military personnel may want to consider including both temporary and permanent addresses, along with valid dates for each.

Your LinkedIn Profile Address
Social media is here to stay. If you’re not on LinkedIn, and you’re planning on moving up in your career, or you’re already in an upper-level position, you should strongly consider establishing a well-developed presence on LinkedIn.

Over 90% of recruiters use LinkedIn to source candidates for open positions, many of which don’t appear on the job boards – the “hidden job market.” Hiring teams routinely look up top candidates on LinkedIn for many professions.

Since they’re going to be looking anyway, why not make it easy for them by including the URL for your (well-developed) LinkedIn profile on your resume as a live hyperlink. This is especially important if you have a common name. Don’t make it impossible for them to figure out which “Michael Smith” you are among the hundreds in your area.

The “alphabet soup” of a LinkedIn public profile address is a bit unsightly on your resume. LinkedIn makes it easy to customize your address to a simple URL containing your name, with a few random digits if needed to create a unique address.

Personal Websites
If you have a well-developed career-oriented website, you may want to include this URL if it adds value to the information on your resume. If it’s a family site with cute photos of the kids, vacation chronologies, and raves about your favorite sports teams, leave it off.

Parting Shot
You’ve got a strong resume, and excellent credentials for the job you want. You’re the perfect candidate! Don’t destroy your chances by making a critical mistake that compromises the hiring team’s ability to reach you with their invitation to interview!

Ellen HallEllen Hall is a nationally certified resume writer, blogger, and owner of Rapid Results Resumes based in Tucson, Arizona. She partners with clients nationwide to develop highly effective custom resumes, LinkedIn profiles, cover letters and other career marketing documentation according to current best practices and strategic career marketing principles. Ellen has helped many clients to shorten their employment searches, gain interviews for the jobs they want, and command higher salaries.

3 Steps To Mastering the Mechanics of Resume Writing

Dog StudyingWriting a fabulous resume is akin to holding the keys to the kingdom. But what, you ask, does that mean? How does one write, let alone possess, a fabulous resume? Impossible! Au contraire, my fine fellows.  Perfection is possible.

Content is king when writing a resume, but if the nuts and bolts holding that content together are faulty, your professional credibility will be doubted. In fact, if your resume is fraught with mechanical errors, I simply will not believe that you are detail oriented, no matter how much you protest.

1.  Quit Capitalizing

Resist the urge to bequeath unnecessary honor to job titles or positions. 

  • Don’t capitalize job roles and career titles if they are not part of a person’s title. This even holds when mentioning a president, manager, or supervisor. See? I didn’t capitalize those titles.  Unless you are listing your job title before your name (President, Patty Predictable), do not capitalize the title. 
  • If you’re not sure, give the person’s name, and then follow with the title in lowercase: Patty Predictable, president, was my first supervisor.  
  • If the job title appears in the text, it should be lowercase: I was an administrative assistant in my last position.  
  • Of course, to every rule there are exceptions. If you’re listing a job title that stands alone (as a heading or subheading), capitalize.  

If in doubt, find it out! Grammar Girl is known for her quick and dirty grammar tips. Her website is bookmarked on my browser as a quick resource and should be on yours, too.

2.  Remove the Superfluous

In other words, edit like an angry, well—editor.  Slash and burn, I say! 

  • It is okay to assume the reader will know that you performed your work, “efficiently,” and, “in a timely manner.”  Take that stuff out.
  • Ditch unnecessary adjectives and phrases. Let each entry be to the point.
  • Watch for common and tricky misspellings such as writing manger instead of manager, or using the singular form of possess when you should use the plural form possesses.

3.  Proofread, Proofread, Proofread

This is the “make-it or break-it” part of resume writing. You’ll be tempted to believe in your powers of producing perfect work, but don’t do it!  Follow each step:  

  • Read your resume. This sounds simple enough, but an initial reading will reveal unnecessary capitalizations, extra commas (I LOVE using commas), misspellings, and extra words.
  • Read your resume again, but this time read it out loud. Saying each word will make your brain clue in to errors.  
  • Have two people read your resume. This might seem like overkill, but trust me. Don’t miss this step! I skipped this step once and was embarrassed to find I had included double words in the title. Only one other person read my work and we both missed that glaring error. A third set of eyes would have caught that junior mistake. Oye!

Just as Rome wasn’t built in a day, your resume will not be perfected with the first draft. Be calm and follow smart practices. Write for content, yes, but mastering the mechanics will produce perfect results–a job!

Write Your Resume Right

photo5-150x150I write a lot about resume writing—it’s simply that important. Just as it is inconvenient to be stopped by the police without having your driver’s license, it is super inconvenient to find yourself suddenly in the job market without a clean and current copy of your resume. Let the panic begin!

Recently, I read a wonderful article from resident New Yorker, Dana Leavy, who is a celebrated resume writer, career consultant, and owner of Brooklyn Resume Studio—“Those Who Get Hired Know How To Be Entrepreneurial In Their Approach.” Dana’s article breaks resume writing down into five easy-to-understand steps:

1. Who Are You?
2. What Do You Do?
3. What Do You Have To Offer?
4. What Is It Worth?
5. How You Say It

I shouted, “Bravo!” after reading this article, and you will, too.  You absolutely MUST check it out.

Remember, not all are surgeons and that’s why we have, well, surgeons. If you are not a writer, let a writer step in and help you out. Dana’s got lots of street cred. Her work has been featured in, MSN Money & Careers, Fox Business, Forbes, Newsday, The Grindstone, About.com., and now at The Temp Connection.

To quote Dana Leavy, quoting Fred Astaire, Do it big, do it right, and do it in style. At the very least, do it right.”

Bravo!

Is Your Resume Magically Fit For the New Year?

I generally give as much attention to the tradition of New Year’s resolution making as I do to those one-day calendar holidays for which I still must attend work. I feel all warm and fuzzy when I see the event on my daily calendar, “Oh, look! It’s Flag Day,” and then my life proceeds on its normal path, special event forgotten until the next 365th-day mark on my super-professional Hello Kitty desk calendar.

Ho hum.

Perhaps it was the fear of doom in the face of the impending Mayan Apocalypse, or more than likely, it was the collective out-of-control feeling of teetering on the edge of The Fiscal Cliff that got me seriously thinking about New Year’s resolutions. I mean, I couldn’t control the calendar, and I sure couldn’t control Congress, but perhaps I could assert control over my professional future. Could I actually grab that tiger by the tail and steer it in a positive direction?

I was willing to give it a try.

My New Year’s resolution for professional success began with resume fitness. After locating my resume in a miscellaneous file marked, “Miscellaneous,” I realized that my resume was horribly out of date and a bit obscure. For instance, what did I mean when I wrote, “Ensured continuous delivery of outstanding customer service?”

As a Staffing Specialist, I’ve learned that The Resume is much like Harry Potter’s magic wand. Without the wand, one is powerless. Without understanding how to use the power of the wand nothing good ever happens. However, having a wand and knowing how to use it makes the user targeted and successful. The same goes for a resume. Hey, I want to be successful, don’t you?

The most important thing to know about your resume is that it is your face in written form—your calling card. The words on your resume tell strangers who you are. What is your resume saying about you? Is your resume boring a potential employer to tears?

Recently, I had an über-qualified candidate submit a resume for a tax preparation position. The reaction from my client was that this candidate did not have tax experience on the resume, hence, “No thank you.” Here’s the irony, the candidate did have a tremendous amount of tax experience, however, the experience was so buried within the wordiness of the resume the client was not willing to read all those words!

Next, make sure your resume is easy to read and to the point.

Great resumes are focused, written to target specific opportunities. Most of my professional history has been in education, but not too long ago, I transitioned into business. My resume, however, was full of education-speak. My prospective employers didn’t get it. They interpreted my resume as, “Coloring. Children. Day care.” Next!

I didn’t get the jobs.

I did a quick Google search for transitional skills from education to business. Did you know that teachers have awesome project management skills, deal well with diverse groups of people, and are masters of managing budgets? I do now. Do some Internet research to learn how to slant the words in your resume towards the jobs you are targeting. Focus, focus, focus!

The third thing to know is that easy-to-read formatting, good grammar, and proper spelling all fuel effective resumes. If the words are not spelled correctly, the magic of your resume will be short-circuited. Now, I realize that not everyone possesses the wizardly skill of resume writing, and that is okay—as long as you’re willing to get help.

Check your local agencies for assistance in crafting your resume, and then get a second opinion. Watch this short video from Linda Spencer, assistant director of the Office of Career Services at Harvard University for excellent tips on how to perfect your resume, http://www.extension.harvard.edu/hub/blog/extension-blog/how-write-great-resume-cover-letter.

Last, keep your resume handy and current. Update your resume every time you learn and perform a new skill and hold a new position.

I cannot control a calendar or Congress, but I can control my professional path by making sure that my resume is the best, most honest representation of me. By making sure that my resume is written with great grammar skills and keeping it current, I can wield my resume as successfully as Harry Potter learned to wield his magic wand.

Happy New Year!