7 Strategies to Showcase Your Unique Value to Employers

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Although the job market is opening up a bit, it remains very competitive. In a tight job market, only the most unique individuals stand out. The first strategy to help separate yourself from the pack is a resume update, even if your resume is only a few years old. Attract positive interest by revamping your resume with the following tips to showcase your value to employers.

1. Replace the tired objective statement with a value outline.

A value statement is the optimal opening for your resume. It is a professional summary that outlines how you can bring value to the company. Gather all your best points in this “introduction.” It is your first impression to hiring managers. Be certain to use current terminology as well as traditional skills of value to employers, such as increasing profits, building productive teams, or streamlining operations to reduce costs. Although the value outline will not include a specific objective, the areas highlighted communicate your career goals and personal brand to the reader.

2. Re-evaluate work experience in your resume.

Remove work experiences more than 10 to 15 years old. In addition, experience that focuses only on basic technical skills, such as MS Office Suite, adds little value to any resume. Regardless of the final length of your resume, space is limited. Replace any older work experiences with more recent and relevant entries targeted at your specific career goal. These unique offerings will set you apart from the competition.

3. Use current keywords.

Keywords trigger interest in your resume for hiring managers and prospective employers, spurring them to pluck your resume out of the pile. The initial screening process has also been automated by many employers and jobsites with search tools, so if you don’t have the best keywords, your resume may not ever be seen by human eyes!  Of course every industry has its own set of keywords, but typical examples may include such phrases as business intelligence, global branding, or compliance audits.

4. Emphasize your personal brand.

Borrowing the marketing industry’s branding approach is another important tool in communicating your unique value to potential employers. Brainstorm the top 5 ways in which you have excelled during your career. Compare those skills to current needs and trends in your field. If your skills do not parallel current professional needs, you may need to pursue training to strengthen your personal brand and subsequent appeal to employers. The ideal personal brand can float your resume to the top of the “to-call” list by highlighting your unique value.

5. Research prospective employers thoroughly.

To increase the effectiveness of your resume and showcase your value, your resume must show how your skills and experiences not only add value to the potential employer, but also how you can help them accomplish their next “Big Initiative.” Use the Internet and explore business pages to discover important projects and align your experience accordingly.

6. Be ready to give specifics about past accomplishments.

Include statistics in your descriptions of past achievements. How did you help your employer reach quantifiable goals? As you prepare your resume, create effective summaries of your successes. Think of the process as telling a brief story, including the problem, your part in the solution, and the outstanding outcome. Using a storytelling approach helps you minimize jargon and display your ability to communicate complex subjects to any audience.

7. Streamline your resume.

Use bullet points to showcase accomplishments and special achievements. Organizing your resume by pulling out points of emphasis makes it easier to scan quickly for important skills and experiences that provide the details to support your value and personal brand. You may use a separate bullet point for each special project that highlights a different skill, cost-saving outcome, or profit-generating strategy.

Overall, avoid being too wordy or too focused on details that don’t emphasize your value to the employer. Make the most of your resume by carefully selecting those keywords and accomplishments that consistently highlight the value outlined in your initial summary. Your resume will be more effective and will help the reader remember the unique personal brand that sets you apart from the competition in a tight job market. Showcase your value to move toward that new job!

By Alesia Benedict

8 Social Media Blunders that Sink a Job Search

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Let’s say you are looking for a new job or a promotion at your current job.  If your prospective new boss pulls up your Facebook page, will he/she see photos of you drinking scotch from the bottle and a caption that says “Drink till you die”?  Or will your current employer see a post that reads: “I hate my job, the boss is a jerk!” on your Facebook page?

These days, social media can be a help or a hindrance to your job search. Social media sites are not hidden.

Anything you post is likely to be seen.  Most hiring managers search candidates’ online presence and that includes social networking. You will want to do the same.

A basic search of your name is a good place to start. What does the search reveal?  How deep are the results?

Do you find one or two pages, or one or two lines?  What does the search reveal about you? Remember, just because your Facebook posts don’t show up in the initial search doesn’t mean information posted there is inaccessible.  In fact, for some companies, that may be where the search begins. Be smart about your online presence and you will outsmart the competition.

1.  Wide Open Profiles.

This is the kind of mistake that makes the others mistakes relevant. Keeping a closed or mostly closed profile on your non-career social media sites while job searching is a good idea.

2.  Friend Requesting Your Interviewer.

Don’t send a friend request to your interviewer. Maybe your the type of person who friend requests everyone you meet. Maybe you think it will help your chances of getting the job. Unfortunately, friend requesting your interviewer is more likely to work against you, since very few of us will look more professional on facebook than in the interview.

3.  Inappropriate Language.

Remember your old English teacher’s admonition that you must pay attention to the written word?  That remains true for writing on the web.  Writing how you talk is not the best advice in the midst of your job search.  Think of any written communication as a tiny billboard communicating your assets to hiring managers investigating your online presence.  Inappropriate language definitely includes profanity, so clean it up to strengthen your job search.

4.  Non-PC Statements.

Your social media pages may feel protected or hidden from the general public, but as with anything on the Internet, once it is there, you lose all control of the information.  “Think twice and type once” might be a good reminder the next time you are posting.  Any Internet-based communication is open to the world and may be misconstrued.  Think about the last time you tried to tell a joke or explain a sensitive situation via email.  The recipient of cyber-messages may not interpret what was meant as a short-hand explanation in the same way you intended.

5.  Negative Comments about your Current Employer.

The supposed sanctity of social media sites can lead many people to develop a false sense of security. As mentioned, social media sites are not completely private.  If you are ranting about your current place of employment, the consequences of doing so “in print” are likely to be much more negative for you than the employer.  Hiring managers typically avoid anyone whose posts suggest a difficult disposition, rather than the appearance of a team player.

6.  Unflattering Photos.

Everyone knows drunken holiday party photos will sabotage your job search, but you should be cautious about the content of all photos you post.  Public displays of affection, nudity, or any documentation of “unusual” behavior are likely to halt successful job leads.  Check with your “friends” on Facebook as well to make sure there aren’t photos on their pages that may cast you in an unflattering light.

7.  Off-color humor.

The Internet is not the local bar or pub.  You’re not just making jokes with people who already know you well and will forgive slips of the tongue.  If negative comments are all that the hiring manager knows of you, you are likely to be seen negatively.

8.  Conflicts between your profile and resume.

Make sure there is no major differences between your career oriented social networking profiles, and your resume. This can be as simple as updating a former employer’s company name to its new name if it was changed. Check the details thoroughly on both, making sure the dates match, the company names match, and the responsibilities and accomplishments match

 

Don’t jeopardize your job search by ignoring potential negative impressions from your online presence.  Social media sites are routinely accessed as part of the screening process so get rid of any questionable photos or posts. Beware of social media blunders by taking a smart look at your online presence as if through the eyes of the hiring manager, and you can remove barriers to your next position.

 

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6 Blunders that Push Your Resume to the “Don’t Call” List

 

Many candidates unintentionally push their resume into the “don’t call” pile with several common errors. Many of these blunders are based on outdated thinking while others develop out of a desire to take advantage of that one moment when the hiring manager is screening your resume. Take a few moments and review your resume to make sure these blunders aren’t pushing your resume to the wrong pile!

1. Including Everything

Less is more with effective resumes. Don’t try to cram in all your work history or every keyword that comes to mind. Trying to include everything will only sabotage your resume by essentially hiding your good points under the weight of too much information. Most hiring managers only skim resumes, and if you have created an information overload the screening process is very likely to stop right there.

Change your thinking about your resume to create an effective hiring tool. Good resumes capture the reader’s attention while enticing them to learn more about you. Regurgitating your entire work history onto the page is not going to achieve that aim for you. Limit your work history to the last 10 to 15 years to be most effective.

2. Poor Organization

Including everything is indeed a form of poor organization. However, limiting the work history to the last 15 years may not be sufficient to reduce the amount of verbiage. Aim for a concise and succinct description of your jobs. Include no more than 5 lines in each description. Make the most of the prime real estate on your resume by including brief company descriptions as well. Doing so provides a context for your experience and accomplishments while saving space. Separate out accomplishments by highlighting a few well-chosen achievements in bullets.

3. Grouping All Jobs Together

You may have a great progression of positions with increasing responsibility at a particular company. In order to get the most out of these experiences, separate out each position with its own job description and achievements listed. You limit the effectiveness of your resume by putting all positions with the same company together. Not only is your clear progression blurred, but the reader may also be confused as to exactly what your contributions were. Unclear descriptions of past contributions do nothing in helping potential employers envision you as a successful member of their team.

4. Functional Format

Many job seekers choose a functional format that can also be confusing to the reader. A functional format does not present a clear progression of your career and requires the reader to invest more time in trying to determine what experiences match with each company. Although you want the reader to spend more time reading your resume, the functional format is not a productive way to achieve that goal. Using a reverse chronological format provides a quick snapshot of your history, and with careful presentation will entice the reader to keep reading and call you to learn more.

5. Cluttered Presentation

Many of these points address the issue of clutter in your resume. Additional factors to consider in presenting a clean appearance in your resume include how to manage the dates of employment. As long as you have a steady progression in your work history, including only the years of employment is the cleanest presentation. However, if you have had a number of short-term positions, including the month and year may help illustrate the actual length of employment.

Another common example of clutter on the resume is attempting to include every keyword you can associate with your profession. Be selective in your choice of keywords, using only those that clearly demonstrate your strengths.

Finally, including too much information about professional development experiences can work against you. Identify those training experiences that set you apart from the competition and include only those. Dates are typically not necessary for professional development activities, particularly for annual trainings.

6. Unprofessionalism

You must remember that you are being evaluated in every single contact you make with a potential employer. Personal email addresses such as sexygirl@ or lazyguy@ should never be used in your job search. Email accounts can be set up for free at many sites on the web. Setting up a new email account dedicated to your job search is a great idea to help you stay organized as well. An appropriate email address can be as simple as YourName@ and conveys a much more professional image.

Other unprofessional tactics include talking on the phone with prospective employers while at your current job or with dogs and kids in the background. Avoid these traps that could easily land your resume in the “don’t call” pile.

Making the most of your resume is the best tool for getting a call from the hiring manager. The resume is a carefully crafted calling card and with the right balance of information and presentation can spur the hiring manager to the action you desire. Make smart choices about what to include and how to present information in an effective way to gain the response you want. A strategic review and re-vamping of your resume may be just what you need to prompt that call. You have the power to make sure your resume is in the “Must Call” pile!

7 Ways to Turn Up the Heat on Your Job Search

 

Don’t take a vacation from your job search simply because it’s summer. By acting against the myth of a summer slowdown, you can heat up your job search and scorch the competition! You may be surprised to find that there is often less competition because the rest of the pack is acting on the outdated assumption that companies don’t hire in the summer. Follow these tips to put some sizzle in your summer job search.

1. Don’t Let Vacation Mentality Sabotage Your Search

A job search is daunting and summer is a traditional time for vacations or time away with families. However, if you succumb to temptation and set your job search aside, you will lose valuable momentum and are likely to miss opportunities. Job seekers tend to follow a traditional academic schedule and put their efforts in full force in the fall. Getting a jump on the competition by maintaining a steady effort over the summer puts your name at the top of the list for interviews now.

2. Don’t Miss Important Calls

With mobile devices, you can still make yourself available even if you do take a few days away from home base. Just remember to be professional when answering your phone and get in the habit of excusing yourself from the fun to take those important calls. You can continue your phone and email follow-ups from the road and get right back into your job search schedule upon your return.

3. Business as Usual

Recruiters and hiring managers continue to operate on typical business schedules during the summer months. Though scheduling interviews may be more complicated because of staff and search committee vacations, the timing may actually work to your advantage. Hiring decisions may be made more quickly than at other times of the year as staffers scramble to complete deadlines before their summer break. Hiring in the summer often contributes to an efficient business cycle by allowing training time before a busy fall season.

4. Attend Seasonal Community Activities

Summer is a prime time for festivals, fairs, and other types of community events. Attend as many of these as you can to network and spread the word about your job search. The casual nature of these events often gives you the opportunity to approach important hiring contacts that may be less accessible at other times of the year. Be prepared with a business card in your pocket and your updated resume ready to be sent out. You may even use these casual contacts to build a network of like-minded job seekers for support and sharing information about available job leads.

5. Update Your Resume and Online Profile

If your job search has slowed, summer is a great time to revamp your resume by removing older entries and adding industry keywords that highlight your strengths and make your resume pop during electronic scanning. Be certain to post the updated version of your resume to websites. If you notice any skill gaps during your resume review, summer is a great time to build skills with a workshop, training, or independent study. Classes and workshops also offer great networking opportunities.

6. No Shirt, No Shoes, No Interview

Summertime is not an open invitation for flip flops, khakis, or bermuda shorts. Regardless of the heat outside, be professional! Don’t blow an interview by being too casual. Pull out your best professional wardrobe for an interview or when dropping off your resume. Make the same choices for professional attire when interviewing via Skype as well.

7. Stay Current

Maintain subscriptions to online sites to remain abreast of the latest job openings as well as company expansions in your region or industry. Although the competition may seem fierce online, many of those likely candidates may be unable to attend an interview. Your diligent monitoring of varied sites will put you at the top of the interview list because of your qualifications and availability.

Update your resume, expand your network, and maintain your momentum by staying consistent with the job search. Heat up your chances of landing an interview during the final days of summer while the competition takes a vacation!

Up Close and Too Personal – What to Leave OFF Your Resume

A resume serves as a reflection of who you are:  it contains your education, your illustrious work experience, various ways to contact you…  But then, a resume should never really reflect who you are.  We’re talking about the personal details – the little things that make you the fabulous person you are today, but that should really have no bearing on landing a job.

So whether you’re just starting to apply to jobs for the first time, or are a seasoned job search veteran, here’s a refresher course on things that you should never include on your resume:

Religion

If you’re not applying to a job at a religious institution, keep your views off the page.  It’s irrelevant to the job, and hiring managers are not allowed to take it under consideration anyway, so there’s really no place for it.  If you volunteer at a religious organization and you consider this experience especially relevant to the job you’re applying to, you can mention it briefly.  However, if you must include it, keep the organization anonymous and focus on your role instead.  For example:

Volunteer Instructor – once a week, taught a classroom of thirty children, ages 10-12.

Also, keep in mind that anything you mention in the resume is likely to come up during the interview, so include this information at your own risk.

Politics

Again, if you’re not going into politics, leave it off.  These sorts of matters are controversial in the first place, are irrelevant, and if anything, just take up valuable space.  Like with religion, if you consider your political experience extra valuable and relevant to a particular job – and just can’t bear to take it off the resume – avoid mentioning the organization name, and be prepared to discuss further during an interview.

Sexual Orientation

Sexual preference may be a key component to who you are, but it has nothing to do with how well you can perform on the job.  More than this, even though discrimination in the workplace is illegal, it still exists in some places, so don’t take your chances.

Age

Though you may be the perfect fit for the position, ageism in the workplace certainly exists, and you may be eliminated from the pool prematurely if you are perceived as being too old or too young.  If age is an issue, be cautious with including specific dates on your resume as well (most hiring managers can do the math).  So if your 30-year college reunion is around the corner, you might want to keep that graduation date to yourself and also leave off some of your early, less relevant experience.

Health and Disabilities

The law protects persons with health issues or disabilities, but again, you should leave this information off of your resume.  It’s irrelevant and opportunity for discrimination exists.

Criminal Record

The general rule with a criminal record is to be upfront and honest with a hiring manager, but the resume is not the place for this.  Wait until the interview to bring this up.

While you want to give the hiring manager a good idea of who you are, there’s definitely a point where you can become too personal in what you decide to disclose.  Always aim to flaunt how great you are on your resume – just be a bit discerning while you do it.

 

Milestones for a Successful Job Search

Manage your job search just as you would a well-organized project and you will be able to place yourself in a new position! By meeting milestones you will feel more in control of your job search.

1.  Identify Target Companies

Use traditional and Internet strategies to identify companies of interest. Network with professional and community organizations to gather information about potential openings, new projects, and names of key personnel. The hiring manager may be the gatekeeper, but isn’t the only contact who may be helpful in the organization. Use Internet sites to expand beyond your geographic area and get a sense of the current market for positions of interest to you.

2.  Tailor Your Resume and Cover Letter

Apply the research gathered about companies, key personnel, and positions to revise your resume and cover letter for each position if possible.  Although this may sound daunting, a complete overhaul is not required for each position. Emphasize skills and accomplishments in your resume that align with corporate needs. A slight adjustment may be all that is necessary to present yourself as the perfect candidate. Don’t rely on references to float your resume to the top of the pile. The cover letter and resume must stand on the merits of your experience, skills, and potential for contributions to the company’s bottom-line.

3.  Follow-up

When you follow up, remember to use a number of different strategies. Traditional thank-you letters and e-mails can both be appropriate. When managing group interview situations, you may prefer to use email and a brief phone message to keep your name and credentials fresh in the mind of each interviewer. You will also want to follow up with the initial contact person for your cover letter. That individual may become an important point-person in keeping you apprised of the interview process and keeping your name at the top of the list!

4.  Keep Going

Even after the interview, keep in contact with your network and maintain your job search efforts. Part of the challenge in current job searches is how protracted the process has become in a tight job market. Think of the process as a marathon and pace yourself. Rejuvenate yourself to keep up a positive energy.

5.  Maintain Good Records

Set up an organizational system to record your progress and include all the details! Keeping a comprehensive record of all names, dates of contacts, and outcome will prevent following up with the same person twice when you did not plan to do so. The record can also give you a sense of accomplishment and control as you monitor milestones in your job search project. Good organization leads to good results and helps you present a positive image in all your contacts.

Monitor job search milestones just as you would for a complex project. Exercising those skills keeps you on your game and moves you toward a new position. Use the milestones to maintain your focus and a positive energy to stay on track to a timely delivery in your job search project!

Tech-Savvy Resume Strategies

By Alesia Benedict, CPRW, JCTC – GetInterviews.com

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Increase the effectiveness of your resume through the productive use of technology. While being tech-savvy with your resume definitely includes posting to job websites, successful job candidates go far beyond the basics. Knowledge of leading edge uses of technology, in addition to basic Internet posting procedures, will help set your resume apart from the competition!

Resume Submission

Most job applicants submit resumes electronically by sending an email or posting to corporate or job search websites. In doing so, you still want to be certain that your resume is appropriately formatted, has a professional appearance, and is appealing to the reader.

When attaching your resume to an email, you typically want to save it as a Word document, which will preserve the formatting and professional appearance. If posting to a job search site, it may be necessary to save the resume in a plain text format. Though this file type will eliminate most of the formatting, it will enable your document to retain its basic professional appearance online.

Scannable Resumes

Many companies use computers or scanners to input large numbers of resumes and selectively screen for industry specific keywords. It is critical in these cases to be certain that your resume is current in terms of how your job skills and work experiences are described. If you are uncertain about the keywords in your resume, compare your resume with the latest job descriptions to be certain your resume contains the right language to catch the attention of both human eyes and computer scanners.

Electronic resumes or e-versions are typically formatted for computer scanners instead of human eyes. This electronic resume format is specially designed to be successfully scanned by computers. The typical formatting that makes a resume appealing to the human eye may create obstacles that cause a computer scanner to reject your documents. It is often best to submit both Word and scannable versions to increase your likelihood of a successful submission.

Personal Websites

Regardless of how sophisticated or plain your website may be, it can still be a positive resource for you to use during your job search. The key is to remember that a personal website needs to be professional when included in your job search. Be sure to edit any unprofessional photos or offhand postings before directing a potential employer to your site. When using your website as part of your job search, be cautious about including your entire resume. You don’t want to make yourself vulnerable to identity theft by posting your entire work history and personal address online. This can also be risky if you are currently employed and trying to keep your job search quiet around the office.

A personal website can become an asset in your job search if you post relevant articles you have written or outline special projects, such as software you developed or community projects in which you have been involved. Highlighting any experience as a Board member or a key organizer demonstrates your leadership abilities.

Online/Electronic Portfolios

Whether you have your own website or not, you can use the power of technology to showcase work samples using video, PowerPoint presentations, or white papers. Although you don’t want to include excessive links in your resume, you can organize a portfolio of key work products to add important details that your resume alone cannot convey.

For an online portfolio to add critical value to your application, include a slide show of specific accomplishments, such as photos of job sites, video snippets of presentations, or even statistics of outstanding achievements that go beyond the basics in your resume and you can add critical value to your application. Another alternative is to copy all your materials onto a CD and carry it along to present during the interview or leave for the hiring manager to review.

Online Networking

Professional associations often include discussion boards and may have job posting sites as well. Explore the sites of all professional organizations with which you are associated or may be interested in joining to determine what kind of networking opportunities may be available. In addition to message boards and online forums at professional organization websites, you may also investigate sites that include professional networking as part of their mission.

Even though thinking outside the box has become a trite phrase, the concept still carries value. If you shift your thinking away from the traditional resume format, you are likely to set yourself apart from the competition and create opportunities for yourself. Brainstorm a few tech-savvy strategies to gain results from your resume!

About the Author: Alesia Benedict, Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Job and Career Transition Coach (JCTC) is the President of GetInterviews.com, the country’s leading resume writing firm. They provide professionals with customized, branded resumes and career marketing documents. Her and her firm’s credentials include being cited by JIST Publications as one of the “best resume writers in North America,” quoted as a career expert in The Wall Street Journal, and published in a whopping 25+ career books. Established in 1994, the firm has aided more than 100,000 job seekers to date. All resume writers are certified writers. GetInterviews.com offers a free resume critique and their services come with a wonderful guarantee — interviews in 30 days or they’ll rewrite for free!

Doostang Success — Business Consulting Job within 1 Month of Beginning My Search

Alison

Wofford College, 2007
Senior Business Consultant – Perficient

“Initially, I was weary of looking for a new job. I had a stable job that was unfulfilling, but due to all the rumors about how hard it was to find a job, I was afraid to even look. I checked out listing on other job sites and became more disheartened after wading through hundreds of jobs that sounded like scams to find one possibly interesting position.

Then I tried Doostang! After spending a little time on Doostang, I found a number of opportunities that I found interesting and decided to submit my resume.

Within 1 month of beginning my job search with Doostang, I found a position as a Senior Business Consultant with Perficient (formerly Exervio) in Charlotte, NC.”


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