Tag Archives: resume

Your Resume on Steroids: The Power of Accomplishment – Part 1

Bicep ClipartYou’ve been submitting your resume for months, and nothing is happening. You’re a hard worker, and you go the extra mile to make sure things get done right, but nobody wants to hire you. What gives?

It happens far too often. People who are great employees and would be an asset to any company get passed over in favor of less qualified candidates, and employers miss out on a chance to hire some very talented people who have the potential to make solid contributions and improve their bottom line.

I can tell you with a pretty high degree of confidence that it’s not you, it’s your resume. Chances are, if you’ve been actively applying for jobs that you’re obviously qualified for and your resume isn’t generating any interview appointments, it’s because your resume doesn’t contain the “right” information. It’s not giving the hiring team the information they need to make a decision to interview you.

It’s really a no-brainer.
Many of the resumes I see from incoming clients have job entries that look something like this:

EXAMPLE A: Task-Driven Resume

  • Widget Maker; Widgets, Inc.: 2009 – 2015
  • Made widgets, gadgets, and thingamajigs.
  • Fixed broken widget-making machines.
  • Created daily widget production reports.
  • Provided on-the-job training for new widget makers.
  • Received “Widget Maker of the Year” award for quality control project.

It’s a great summary of what a widget maker does. The problem is, the person who got the interview had a resume that looked like this:

EXAMPLE B: Accomplishment-Driven Resume

  • Widget Maker; Widgets, Inc.: 2009 – 2015
  • Produced 500 widgets, gadgets, and thingamajigs daily, maintaining a reject rate of less than 0.5%.
  • Reduced down time by 75% by monitoring equipment and making timely adjustments and repairs.
  • Enhanced daily reporting and reduced errors with development of Excel spreadsheet report format.
  • Supported over 100 new employees with quality training focused on accuracy, efficiency and productivity.

Earned “Widget Maker of the Year” Award after spearheading team quality control initiative which reduced reject rate by 50% with increased production output.

Now really, if you were on the hiring team, which one would you be calling in for an interview? It really is a no-brainer.

Tell me something I don’t already know!
The hiring team knows what a widget-maker does; they wrote the job description. A task-driven resume filled with a list of job duties doesn’t offer much in the way of new information. Choosing candidates from a pile of task-driven resumes is tedious at best, and at worst can cause the company to hire a person who is not a good fit. Since nobody stands out, it’s impossible to determine who to call in for interviews with any degree of accuracy. The accomplishment-driven resume stops them in their tracks. Now they’re paying attention!

What many job seekers don’t realize is that hiring teams aren’t just looking for people who can do the job; they’re looking for the best return on their investment of payroll dollars. They’re looking for employees who will go above-and-beyond, and contribute to the company’s success with teamwork, creative problem-solving, dedication to high-quality work, and support of company goals. Think about it. If you owned a business, isn’t that what you’d be looking for in your employees?

It’s a numbers game, and you’re in control.
About 80% of the resumes submitted for any given job lack the kind of detailed information about performance illustrated by the accomplishment-driven example. What does that mean for you? It means that if you submit a thoughtfully-developed accomplishment-driven resume, you’ll automatically place yourself in the top 20% of all candidates, as long as you meet the basic requirements for the job. You’re far more likely to get called in for interviews. You will eliminate 80% of the competition up front, simply by giving the hiring team the kind of information they’re looking for.

Example B is your competition; they’re the most likely reason why you’re not getting interviews. There will always be a few accomplishment-driven resumes in the pile of applicants, and in order to win an interview appointment, you’ve got to compete with them.

Stay tuned, there’s more to come!
In next month’s post, we’ll get down to the nitty-gritty and take a closer look at the kind of performance-based content that you can use to create a compelling resume that wins interview appointments for well-matched positions.

Ellen HallAbout Ellen Hall  Ellen 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.

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.

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.

4 Essential Items for a Successful Job Hunt

Job HunterHow do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time! Ba dum bump (cue the laugh track). But, seriously folks, job hunting can seem as impossible as trying to consume the smallest elephant. Where does one begin? Here are a four essential starting points.

Become a member of LinkedIn. It is easy and such an effective tool for job hunting and being found. Be sure to upload a photo that includes your smiling face. Nature backgrounds are always effective. If you have any questions when filling out your profile, just do a little Google search and you’ll find scads of articles in answer.

Once you have a snazzy new profile, start connecting like crazy. The most important thing to do when connecting with anybody is to tell them why they should connect with you. Forget using the canned message provided by LinkedIn. Be personal and engaging. Why should I connect with you? Now, try it out. Let’s connect!

Your Resume. If you’ve been out of the job-hunting game for awhile, you’re going to need a resume that is reflective of current resume styles and formats. Your best bet is to find a cracker-jack resume writer to get you started.  

Two of the best resume writers I have met in Tucson are Ellen Hall who specializes in writing professional and academic resumes, including CV’s and biographies, and Carolyn Monjoi who specializes in writing upper and lower-level resumes and professional consulting. Carolyn has helped several of my candidates target their professional directions. If you’re seeking assistance from a distance, check out Dana Leavy-Detrick at Brooklyn Resume Studio .

Hint: You can find all of these ladies on LinkedIn, and I encourage you to practice your new LinkedIn skills by connecting with them.

Always carry business cards. It is very important that you have personal business cards to hand out at networking events. You can find nice and inexpensive cards at Vistaprint.com, and they arrive quickly to your doorstep. Your card needs to include your name, email address, phone number, LinkedIn address (Google how to get one), and areas of expertise. A word of caution: Never put your physical location on your resume because you don’t want crazy people following you home.

Which brings us to networking. You know what I’m going to tell you to do, right? Yep. Do a Google and a LinkedIn search to find networking groups in your area. You can also find networking groups specific to your business, gender, interest, etc. Recently, I attended a wonderful networking group here in Tucson called, Tucson Independent Small Business Owners. They meet every Wednesday at a neat little café, and I encourage you to attend.

There are tons of articles and books published on what to do at networking events. My favorite article, 20 Conversation Starters to Help Break the Ice at Networking Events, gives a practical and funny list of things to say and shows you that everybody feels slightly awkward at first.

When you go to any networking event, you’re going to take stacks of business cards with you to hand out. Remember, give a card—get a card. The cards collected are your future LinkedIn connections and partners in finding your next happy job.

I dare you to try out these four essential items for your job hunt and let me know how your job safari progresses. What do you keep in your job hunting arsenal?

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.”