Resumes That Get Results

Denise Rutledge - Resume WriterWhat value does a resume have if it doesn’t get results? Absolutely none! No matter how little you paid, you wasted your investment.

You deserve a resume that sets you apart from your competition. It should make your best qualities shine, whether you’re looking for a new job, seeking advancement with your current employer or re-entering the job market.

There’s only one kind of resume to write.

A results producing document. A powerful marketing tool. A job-finding magnet.

Your Resume Written Out of Experience.

I know what your job search challenges are from personal experience! I began writing resumes and cover letters for individuals who are seeking to reenter the job market or change their field because I was that person in 2006. I was applying for jobs every day, but I wasn’t getting any calls. That changed when I learned how to write catchy cover letters and tailor my resumes to the jobs I was applying for.

I’ve expanded my skills to embrace all kinds of careers. Sales and marketing resumes, medical resumes, entry-level resumes and mid-executive resumes are just some of them.

As a professional, I work until I help you gain a new perspective on what you have to offer employers. So many of my clients come to me failing to recognize the skills they already possess—skills that fit their career goals.

You are somebody!

Let’s build a ‘brand’ that impresses employers.

Continue reading »

Is There a #1 Worst Question to Ask in an Interview?

It’s the typical wind-down for most interviews. “Do you have any questions for us?” It’s often a wasted opportunity for most job candidates. It may turn into that moment you lose the job. While you’re scratching your head wondering what went wrong, it could be you’ve asked one of the worst questions to ask in an interview.1

Here’s a list of questions career coaches say are the worst to ask.

How many other candidates are interviewing for this position?

If the potential employer doesn’t offer the information, don’t ask. You don’t want anyone to question your confidence. Instead, ask:

You listed the qualifications of an ideal candidate in the job description. What does X qualification look like for your company (or this position)?

Choose a soft rather than hard skill. This gives you an opportunity to assess whether you really fit into their company culture, while giving you the opportunity to respond to any points the interviewer shares with you.

How much will I earn?

If it wasn’t listed in the job posting, the employer plans to negotiate this. You don’t want to risk looking greedy. If you’re asked how much you want to earn, be prepared with a carefully researched answer. If the interviewer doesn’t bring up the subject, wait.Continue reading »

Listing Coursework on Your Resume – Should You?

Should you be listing coursework on your resume? Cachet Prescott, a career coach and HR consultant, asked members of the Resume Writers and Career Coaches LinkedIn group to express their “stance on listing RELEVANT courses taught on a clients resume for a non-academic job to further highlight his/her experience. Good idea or unnecessary fluff?”

The responses have poured in over the day. Here are the highlights. I’ve included those answers which didn’t catch the part about the job applicant ‘teaching’ the courses, because they also apply to this issue. (Emphasis and <comments> supplied.)

Relevant Courses = A Winner

When I see relevant courses taken on a resume that tells me that the person is a winner. If someone takes on a learning cycle, they will do the same for their company!
Jim Stedt

Research!

I always tell job seekers to ask themselves based on their research of the company, informational interviews etc. will this help or hurt my chances?
Trenton Willson

A Bonus Skill?

I always add these. In most cases, it is a bonus skill that most cannot offer. But it is up to the hiring manager to discern between trainer and effective trainer.
Kerry McPherson, PMP

Relevant?

If it’s relevant to the profession/job/company then listing them on that resume can add value. Keep the list short and direct, and don’t let it be the main focus, and if you can list it under under a past employment, then that’s a good fit.

If someone is teaching a course, then most likely their expert on the topic. Showing the ability to teach, train, motivate and ignite learning are great skills to have and share.

Keep in mind, there are no blanket rules to fit everybody, each job seeker can have different situations and may apply different techniques to their resume to increase their results.
Thomas Powner, CPRW, CEIP, CCMC

Transferable Skill?

Listing relevant classes <taken> most certainly applies and builds the client’s experience and shows that they are stay up-to-date in their profession….if the material <being taught> is relevant to the position being applied for then why not list it? Teaching is similar to delivering presentations/training sessions to others. Effective teaching/presenting is an art and requires many skills such as creativity and engaging delivery techniques to draw in the audience and to convey the information in such a way that the key points stick. These are relevant and transferable skills every employer would be seeking. Laina Krisik

Does This Add Value?

My answer to all questions while customizing a resume is “Does this add value to the resume in the eyes of the employer?” If the answer is, “Yes,” I would include all information that adds value. Kim Marino

Summary

Notice how often relevant appears in these comments. Training abilities are a sought-after skill for many employers. A recent job I considered expressed an interest in seeing some of the training videos I’ve prepared for my book clients.

In addition, this strategy might be the deal maker if you are using your resume to promote your fit as a consultant. The ability to develop a course and present it in a business environment may be just the asset a business is looking for.

Base the decision to include a list of courses you’ve taken or taught based on the value of the courses to the specific employment situation.

Denise Rutledge

What You Should Include in Your Resume’s Objective Section

I listened to a call with a career coach recently who believes firmly in having an objective box in your resume. She’s backed by some statistics which suggest that more than 50% of employers still want to see something equivalent to an objective statement on the resumes they receive.

How do you meet this need? You focus on what the company is looking for.

Align Your Goals with Company Goals

If you state what your career goals are in your objective box, you’ll turn-off potential employers. Employers are wary of ‘needy’ employees. They only care about whether you meet their needs. So read the job description carefully. Research the company. Find out as much as you can about the position. Then use your experience to provide proof that you have those key skills.

Write Your Objective From the Company’s Perspective.

You won’t sound like a needy employee if you write objectives that target employer needs. For example:

Seeking opportunity to reduce business loses from retail crime. Notice, that this tells the employer you want to do something that impacts the bottom line positively.

Looking for opportunity to improve efficiency of accounting process. This would be appropriate for someone seeking a mid-level position in an accounting department.

Note that the key element in both these examples is the desire to tackle something that was mentioned in the job listing.Continue reading »

Power Phrases to Include in Your Resume

Are you looking for power phrases to include in your resume that will make your resume stand out against the competition? The most powerful phrases can’t be described in words. Powerful words on a resume depend on one primary concept–proof!

Saying You are X, Y, Z Is Meaningless.

You must provide proof! Show HR that you are X, Y and Z. I’ve had many clients who struggle with this. That’s why their resumes are essentially a list of the duties they had on the job. There’s no insight into who they are and how they contribute–how they make a difference.

Start by asking yourself these questions.

Did I receive high scores in any specific areas in performance reviews? Did I receive any awards or recognition for my performance?

Gather this information if it exists. Quotes gathered from performance reviews can become powerful phrases on a resume. It is also very powerful to say, “Earned ‘X’ Person of the Year, 2010 – 2013.

Did I meet any problems on the job?

Describe the problem(s). Describe your strategy for overcoming the problem. Share the results experienced (or if your plans were ignored, what you expected the results to be).

How did I make a difference for my previous employer?

  • Identify anything you did that no one else thought of doing.
  • List assignments or promotions you were given as a reward for doing your job well.
  • Identify skills you pursued in order to do your job more effectively.
  • Share anything you introduced that hadn’t been done before.
  • Record improvements you recommended.
  • Gather financial data that proves the value of what you did if at all possible. Numbers do speak.

[ememeber_protected]This is the type of information you need to build power phrases. One of my favorite power writing strategies is to leverage the challenge, action, result formula. This formula focuses on describing a challenge you faced, your action plan in response and whenever possible the result achieved. It’s great when you can plug numbers in. And numbers don’t have to be linked with dollar signs. That’s not always possible. Employers often don’t tell you this information unless your job is in a number’s based career–sales for example. Don’t let this discourage you. Time is money, so if you reduced the time needed to accomplish something, plug that information into your results.

Writing with Power

When describing the challenge, use verbs that convey action on your part.

  • Discovered
  • Identified
  • Located
  • Uncovered

These verbs demonstrate initiative. Follow your verb with ‘what’ information. For example:

Discovered data entry process duplicated several steps.

When describing your action, use verbs that convey initiative:

  • Proposed
  • Recommended
  • Advised
  • Advocated
  • Urged
  • Warned

Choose the stronger expressions only if the situation fits. It doesn’t with the example below. The company wasn’t in imminent danger.

Proposed software modification which eliminated duplication and allowed consolidation of 3 part-time positions into 1 full-time.

I find that connecting the action with the result using ‘which’ often works very well. I also might write it in this way:

Proposed software modification to eliminate duplication of labor, eliminating need for 1 part-time staff.[/emember_protected]

Summary

Make it your primary goal to gather powerful examples of what you have to offer, rather than seeking some magical power phrases to include in your resume. It’s what you prove through examples and action verbs that makes a resume powerful.

Interview Strategies – Close the Sale

When you walk away from an interview, you’ve just left your best opportunity to sell yourself as the right candidate for the job. Closing the interview like a sales call is one of your most important interview strategies. If you don’t close that sale, you’ve cut your chances that you’re the person they will hire.

How to Close an Interview

Just as a sales person tries to close the sale before he or she walks out the door, you need to close your interview before you leave the room. Let’s look first at the elements of a close.

  1. Find out whether your ‘prospect’ is interested.
  2. Gather more information.
  3. Overcome obstacles blocking your ‘prospect’s’ interest.
  4. Generate increased interest.

Questions to Uncover Interest

Most interviews draw to a close with the following question: “Do you have any questions for me?” This is your perfect opening for asking questions that help you find out whether they are interested in hiring you. You don’t want to ask, “Am I in the running? Are you interested in hiring me?” It’s okay to be direct, yet being this blunt could repel your potential employer.Continue reading »

New Approach to Resume Objective Statements

Resume writer Rajat Vashishta started a discussion about resume objective statements1 on Resume Writers, a LinkedIn group, that shares some ideas worth considering. Until reading his blog, I had thrown out the idea of using an objective statement completely. Now, I believe there may be times when including your objective could strengthen your candidacy.

Traditional Resume Objective Statements

The traditional objective statement states what your career goals are. This is a complete turn-off to potential employers. They really don’t care what your career goals are. They only care about whether you meet their needs.

New Approaches to Objective Statements

Vashishta states that more than 50% of employers want to see something equivalent to the traditional objective statement on the resumes they receive. How do you meet this need?

First, replace ‘Objective’ with a headline or title. Don’t use the word ‘Summary’ because provides little value. The way you handle content beneath your headline/title will make it obvious that it’s a summary.

Next, choose the focus of your message based upon whether you used a headline or title.Continue reading »

Laid Off? Update Your LinkedIn Profile!

Laid Off? Update Your LinkedIn Profile!

We’ve all heard the statistics—that it’s easier to find a job if you’re employed than if you aren’t. That might make it tempting to delay updating your LinkedIn profile if you are laid off. No one expects you to go straight to LinkedIn the day you lose your job. Yet, too long a delay could make you look dishonest.

Two Reasons to Update Your LinkedIn Profile Quickly

1. Avoiding the Perception You Are Dishonest Is Worth It!

There is no question that the perception of dishonesty is career destructive. I would recommend that you update your LinkedIn profile with a few weeks of your job ending. Anyone who’s been laid off knows how much you have to deal with at first, a few week’s delay won’t be seen as dishonest. Any longer than that and potential employers, head hunters and recruiters are going to start asking, “If you aren’t being honest on LinkedIn, what else are you hiding?” A dishonest LinkedIn profile is no friend in finding a job.Continue reading »

The Dishonest Resume

Resume bloat—padded information—is something every resume writer fears. We don’t want to write dishonest resumes. Yet, many of us are trapped by our clients into doing just that.

An article on TheUndercoverRecruiter.com states that up to 53% of resumes contain outright lies, while nearly 78% include misleading information.1 It’s hard to believe that such statistics are really true.

The article gives hiring decision makers some tips for how to pick up on whether a job candidate has embellished his or her resume. I’ve added some additional points for which HR staff could be screening.

  • Confirm that every piece of information ‘adds up.’ It should be verifiable. In other words, if your previous employer were to look in your employee file, they’d be able to say, “Yes, John was ….” or “Yes, Mary did …”
  • Make sure you back up education with a transcript. You don’t have to give the date of your graduation, but be prepared for that request for your transcript. High-performing employees have lost their jobs because they couldn’t produce a transcript that backed up their claims on their resumes.
  • Check your employment dates. If you’ve padded those dates, it can come back to haunt you. This is one of the reasons I often avoid exact month and year date ranges and just use whole years.
  • Look for exaggerated job titles. It’s one thing if your official title within the company was effectively something else functionally. It’s another thing to use an exaggerated title which would never be applied to the position you held. I recommend comparing job duties with the job descriptions found at the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics website.
  • Watch for ‘consulting’ as a gap filler. If you genuinely offered consulting services, then include this as a gap filler. You’ll need to highlight at least one consulting project with its results, or it will look bogus.

Are you tempted to embellish information to ‘give yourself a better chance’ to get that job? It just isn’t worth it.

Instead, let’s focus on the things you’ve accomplished—no matter how minor they might seem to you. We’ll use strategies which won’t leave you vulnerable to the charge of dishonesty.

1http://theundercoverrecruiter.com/see-through-misleading-resumes/

Post-Interview Thank You Letters – Yes, They Matter!

In a world that has grown more and more ungrateful, thank you letters are increasingly important. They are important for you as a candidate, not because the thank you will land you the job, but because it gives you an opportunity to give the company “a tangible reason for wanting to talk with you some more,” says Tom Hannemann* on LinkedIn’s Resume Writer & Career Coaches group.

I’ve always appreciated Hannemann’s insights. He points out that a thank you letter should not be a “content-free, smarmy and ingratiating” communication. It is your opportunity to add something to the conversation while “re-affirming continued interest in the role, and why you want to progress further in the process.”

If you asked the right questions, you should have gained some new insight into the company’s needs during the interview. That additional information becomes an opportunity.

  • To emphasize something from your skill set that makes you a good fit
  • To mention that you’ve been thinking about a solution to a need that was discussed in the interview and would like to share your ideas in a follow-up interview

Hanneman says, “Don’t make the focus of your follow-up letter/note about gratitude.” Focus on adding to the conversation. By doing this, you are showing a higher level of courtesy than an ingratiating message will every convey.

Never forget that business owners and HR staff are busy people. Make your thank you note something worth reading. Make sure you are conveying “a tangible reason for continuing the discussion.”

At the same time, there are interviews you walk out of feeling like there’s nothing more to say. Still send that thank you.

You enter the interview as someone who has something to offer the employer. You will become a partner with the employer in promoting the success of the business if you are hired. Use your cover letter as an opportunity to emphasize how a partnership between you would lead to benefits for the company.

Find at least one thing worth re-emphasizing, whether you feel it will make a difference or not. At the very least, it will strengthen your communication skills. At the best, it might surprise you by landing you the job.

* Note: All quotes are taking from comments left by Tom Hannemann on the discussion “OK resume experts, so what do you think about post-interview thank you notes?”

Writing Your Resume Summary Statement

Gone are the days of the “Objective.” That’s been replaced by a resume summary statement. Yet, as Gayellen Davis points out in a discussion she started in the Resume Writers and Career Coaches group, the biggest challenge is writing a great summary statement that doesn’t sound like everyone else’s.

How do you write a catchy summary statement?

Here are some tips to consider before you put fingers to keyboard.Continue reading »