Resume Woes? Here Are 7 Tips to Get You Started

Image by Stuart Miles

Image by Stuart Miles

I’ve never gone into great detail regarding resumes but, given those recruiters come across at career fairs and in applications, I thought it would be appropriate to address the basics. Everyone has heard the basics, yet many people still struggle with creating a resume that will catch a Hiring Manager’s eye.

The first time I put together a resume I was already in college. I’d had jobs in high school but they only required an application. Believe it or not a resume was a new concept for me and to say I wasn’t very skilled in this area would be a massive understatement.

I’d mentioned to a friend that I needed a job and he wanted to help me out. He asked me to give him a resume and he’d pass it on. Not having a clue about how to develop a resume I fashioned what I thought was appropriate, including descriptions from the only two jobs I’d ever had. In spite of the fact that there was enough space left over to write a novel, I handed it over the next day. (Hey, I made sandwiches and I ran the cash register. I couldn’t create experience I didn’t have, right?) From the look on his face, I could tell my efforts had fallen short. Way short. Although he tried to hide it, he couldn’t have looked more baffled if I’d handed him a list of my two jobs written on the back of an old receipt. In crayon.

The feeling that came over me gave the emotion ‘mortified’ new meaning. I slunk away muttering something about being late to class knowing my sorry excuse for a resume was headed for the nearest garbage can.

Now, as a recruiter, in spite of much more help available than I had, I still see far too many applicants who also get an ‘F’ for their efforts. So, here are the basics for putting together a resume you can be proud of.

 

One size does not fit all. If you are interested in more than one field you need to have multiple resumes. Sorry, there is no way around it, but you can accomplish this with a few tweaks to your objective and adding or removing the jobs that aren’t relevant.

With the internet at your fingertips there is no reason for a poorly formatted resume. A simple Google search will yield endless pages of websites, many containing templates, that make this task easy. The simplest order for headers is as follows:

  • Top: Name, address, proper contact information, including email and phone (cell, not home for immediate replies)
  • Education: Name of University and degree (year is not necessary) or anticipated graduation date
  • Work Experience: Some like to list Relevant Work Experience, then Other Work Experience
    • This should include the company, location and start and end dates for each job listed. Underneath, list your job title and bullet point the most relevant and/or transferable job duties. (See example below.)
  • Organizations
  • Awards and Accomplishments

No need to list out your coursework. As a fellow recruiter pointed out, if you earned your accounting degree we know you took the 300 level accounting course. This wasted space should be used to showcase other accomplishments. (The relevant ones, of course.)

Appropriate formatting

This means using the best font (never Comic Sans or anything too casual), bolded and larger for headings or titles.

Don’t expect recruiters to draw conclusions

If you list a job, even if responsibilities should be obvious, include a short description and any notable accomplishments.

Mack’s Diner                           Detroit                              2014-present

Server

  • Ensures customers have an enjoyable dining experience
  • Trains new servers
  • Consistently averages ticket sales of $30 per guest
  • Conceptualized and implemented promotional materials to increase average number of guests

Don’t omit relevant experience

Many candidates skip experience that I’d love to see, like a salesperson at a local retail store who reached sales goals, in favor of something they think sounds better, like Administrative Assistant at a Fortune 500 company. Every recruiter is different, but most of my recruiter friends would agree job duties trump the fancy company.

Light experience doesn’t have to look like light experience

This does not mean you should bullet point every single task. I’ve seen resumes describing a 3 month internship that were more than a page long. Share the important highlights and save something to talk about in the interview.

Utilize a creative format and appropriate font size to utilize space the right way, but don’t resort to random quotes, irrelevant graphics or other fillers. They only make sense to you.

Your resume should reflect your level of experience

Oftentimes, people with a decade worth of experience opt for the same format as someone fresh out of college.

If you are experienced, recruiters should be able to tell with just a glance. Think Summary vs. Objective and functional vs. traditional.

On the other hand, a new college grad using this format could get overlooked because a recruiter might assume you are seeking mid to upper level opportunities. The same goes for an applicant with an Executive Summary applying for an internship.

Your resume should be appropriate for the job you are seeking

I once received a resume that looked more like an advertisement. It was 3 pages long, the first two dedicated to videos created, classes taken and, for some reason, loads of exclamation points. (Yikes!) There was no mention of actual jobs held until the final page. All of this for an internship.

While I applaud the candidate’s creativity, and it might have been a huge hit at a marketing firm, it wasn’t the right approach for my sales internship. This candidate’s language was also too casual and too familiar.

While all of this might seem obvious, resumes that come across recruiters’ desks daily don’t lie. Many people struggle in this area. Don’t be of them. Use these tips to make sure yours is the best reflection of you.

 

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First Job: Salary Negotiation

Image from smartcanucks.ca

Image from smartcanucks.ca

Like many of you, when I graduated from college I cast a wide net, searching for career opportunities in several cities. The first offer I received was from a radio station in a little town–which meant little pay. Not to mention, it was in the middle of nowhere. So the search continued, this time closer to home, with hopes of a better offer.

I don’t remember at what point salary came up when I accepted my first job, but it was about $5000 more than the offer I’d declined, so I seized it like a hungry dog on a pork chop.  I got lucky–well, blessed. I’d been praying about this job in particular, and knew it was the opportunity for me.

During the interview process, I had no idea when to ask about pay or what would be fair. Back then, we didn’t have the internet at our fingertips and sites like Glassdoor as a resource. The rule was, never bring money up in the first interview. Now, having spoken to several recruiters, I’ve discovered we all have different opinions. I go over pay during my first phone call, but I still feel it is in poor taste to ask about salary at a career fair.

Interviewing in itself is nerve-racking, but salary negotiation can also unleash a swarm of butterflies in the guts of even seasoned employees. The idea, according to What Color is Your Parachute (a must-read),  is to let the employer bring up salary first.

A Starting Point

Many companies that hire for entry-level positions have a set salary, regardless of experience. This  gives you the opportunity to make an impact, prove your worth, and benefit from promotions, perks and salary increases.

This is what I discovered. During my tenure my responsibilities have grown to include managing the hiring process for 50 branches and 2 airports. Some of my perks include a company car and an expense account, and I have earned more than 6 weeks of vacation. With each promotion my starting pay became a distant memory.

The Total Package

That being said, don’t feel like you’ve lost out if initially there is no room for negotiation. Remember to consider not just the dollar amount, but the total compensation package.

  • Advancement opportunities
  • Travel
  • Paid time off
  • A work-from-home option
  • Health benefits (medical, dental, optical) and the cost per pay period
  • Company car (now or upon promotion)
  • Retirement (401k, 503c, 403b, profit-sharing, stock options, pension)

There are other things to take into account but, most important, can that company take you where you want to go in the time you want to get there, assuming that timeframe is reasonable?  Unless you are the owner or the child of the owner, you probably won’t become CEO in two years.

Negotiating Tips

Here are a few tips from The Doyle Report on about.com that can guide you through the salary conversation. If the company has a firm starting point, it never hurts to ask. In fact, it can demonstrate your initiative and confidence to the recruiter. As my grandmother says, “Nothing beats a failure but a try.”.

Good luck, and make it a great day!

5 Tips For Nailing Your Next Phone Screening

Great insight on acing a phone screen!

The Job Shop Blog

phone

Author:Don GoodmanSource:Careerealism.com

When you have the employer calling and saying they want to schedule a phone interview with you, that means you look good on paper and they now want to see if you are all that you say you are.

The phone screening is a critical stage in the job search process because how well you communicate and perform will pave the way to the big opportunity of a meeting at their office with the decision makers.

In most instances, the phone screening is conducted by someone from HR. They’ll primarily review your professionalism and communication skills to see if you are articulate, knowledgeable and have the right experience and skills for the job. The ultimate mission is to screen out candidates so that the ones who are invited for an in-person meeting are the best in the bunch.

So here’s how you can ace the…

View original post 531 more words

Thoughts: Dream Jobs

Food for thought…

Sincerely, Loewe

Lately, there is one question that I like to ask people: if money is not a factor but you have to work, what would you do?

Having been in school for several years already, there is a lot of talk surrounding future careers and work within my circle of friends. The talk is very one directional- if you’ve been studying accounting for the past four years, you’ll probably be an auditor after graduation. All of our answers and our final destinations follow a logical timeline.

But I wonder what we would actually be doing if we don’t have to worry about making “a living”. Putting aside what is “realistic”, isn’t the answer to this question your true dream job?

View original post 430 more words

Networking: Use It or Lose It

 

How many times have you found a business card in your purse or on your dresser only to wonder who the person is, where you met him and what you discussed? That’s not a connection, that’s scrap paper. Or a book mark.

Don’t be a collector! Make good use of those contacts by building relationships right away. First, think quality, not quantity. There is no rule that says you have to ask for a business card from everyone you

Image by Imagerymajestic

Image by Imagerymajestic

encounter. You could meet quite a few people in a week—or even in a day (think conferences)—and you can’t be expected to remember all the details of the conversations you have. Instead, make notes on the back of business cards to jog your memory later. For instance, if you met a web designer, you might note:

Met at lunch on 1st day of conference, builds websites. Introduce to Tim.

(Tim is your friend who needs a web page for his new business.)

A couple of times a week, or daily if you have a fistful of business cards, take time to contact your new acquaintances in one of the following ways.

 

Social Media

Send an email asking if it’s okay to connect via social media. You can also ask this question when you first meet. Since most people are seeking to expand their network it is doubtful anyone would decline. Depending on the circumstance, determine if the best site is Linkedin, Twitter or, if it was a really personal connection, Facebook. Just a couple of weeks ago I invited several recruiters I’d met at career fairs out for dinner. We’d already connected on Linkedin but after our evening out some of us also became friends on Facebook.

Look them up on Linkedin as soon as you can. Don’t wait too long or you might forget significant details. Once you are accepted, transfer the note from the back of the business card to the note under the Relationship tab along with any other important details. Hopefully it won’t be long before you speak again but, just in case, this step will be a big help.

Do not use the generic invitation: I’d like to add you to my network. Not only is that a yawn of a message, you miss an opportunity to restate who you are. Not to mention, many people refuse to accept anyone who won’t take 30 seconds to write a professional note. This means you will need to use your computer rather than your mobile device to reach out. Identify where you met and, possibly, what you discussed, along with the reason you want to add them to your network. A student might send me a message that says:

“Thanks for speaking to our Professional Development class this week. I was the guy in ROTC who spoke to you after class. I’d really like to go into the sales field and I’m interested in the Management Trainee program you mentioned. Is it okay to keep in touch?”

 

Support Your New Connection

Set up a time for a cup of coffee or lunch in the coming weeks. I would suggest coffee (or smoothies for non-coffee drinkers) because a half hour meeting is much easier to agree to than an hour. If that meeting lasts longer, great. Something’s clicking. Use this time to discover other ways you might be able to be useful.

Check out their blog or Youtube channel, then follow and make comments on posts. Help them reach a larger audience by sharing their blog with your network: Pinterest, Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook, etc. For bloggers and vloggers an increase in hits is reason to celebrate!

Introduce them to others in your network that might be an asset using email, social media or a good old-fashioned phone call.

Terry, I want to introduce you to Gail. You mentioned the need for an event planner and she has been in that business for 10 years. I hope she can help you out.”

If you were invited to another event, try to attend. Afterward, reciprocate if you can. Extend an invitation to your organization where you discovered there was a common interest. This is what I did with the people I mentioned in the first post in this series who I invited to my writing group.

Perhaps you met the facilitator or presenter at a workshop. Write a recommendation. No matter how skilled someone is in their profession, encouragement is always welcome. Make sure you have someone proofread it then send it via Linkedin.

 

Offer to Help With a Problem

Send an article you think might be of interest based on your conversation, not random topics you find appealing.

“Sarah, I remembered we talked about investments at the luncheon last week and I came across this article that I think might answer the question you had about making a budget. Hope you find it helpful!”

Did you meet a business owner or salesperson? Send a referral. Remember the web designer from earlier? Put her in touch with your buddy Tim. On a personal note, recruiters always love it when we receive potential candidates. This could even be the message you send.

“I enjoyed our conversation after your presentation at the Sales Center. I applied for the Account Representative position as you recommended and I also referred a friend of mine. I look forward to hearing from you.”

Image by Stuart Miles

Image by Stuart Miles

 

Thank You

Finally, remember everyone appreciates a Thank You note. I write one after every speaking engagement which tends to lead to more opportunities.

“Thank you for the opportunity to speak to your class. I always welcome the chance to share tips with students to make the transition from college to the workplace easier. I hope they found the information I shared beneficial.”

Decide which of these suggestions you’d like to implement first then allow your new connection to reciprocate or respond. You don’t want to be a stalker. If you reach out too much, too soon you might come across as desperate or annoying rather than engaging. After a reasonable amount of time, perhaps at 60 days and again at 6 months, choose another way to reach out to keep the connection strong.

Developing a lasting connection takes time, but can be well worth the effort for everyone involved.

Thanks for reading. Have a great week!

 

Images courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net