Does Your Resume Send the Right Message?

 

What message do hiring managers get when they read your resume?  Without realizing it, you may be sending mixed messages.  Aligning your job search with your current goals is a part of the resume-writing process many people don’t even stop to consider.  As a result, resumes can sabotage your job search due to a presentation of mixed skills and conflicting messages about your goals.  Be honest with yourself – what are your job search goals? Are you looking for more creative opportunities? A career switch? More money?  What’s most important to you right now?

Whether you are aware of it or not, your resume communicates your feelings about the job search, present situation, and future goals.  “Uncertainty” may be the strongest message hiring managers will get from your resume – a message not likely to instill confidence.  In fact, such “confusion” will probably land your resume in the “slush pile” where it will not be read at all.  However, careful analysis and simple organizational “tweaks” can make all the difference in getting your resume read and transform potential deficits into strengths.

Clear Job Goals – Where’s the Money or Self-Fulfillment?

Consider some basic questions about your job search.  Are you asking “where’s the money”?  Are you feeling unfulfilled and perhaps even unappreciated in your current career situation?  Do you long for a change in your career or are you seeking more flexibility in your schedule?  Do you have dreams of what you would really like to be doing but feel “stuck” just earning a living?

As a society, work expectations have changed drastically over the last couple of decades.  It is assumed most people will have a minimum of 7 different positions throughout their work-lives. Realistically, it is probably twice as many – although that reality doesn’t have to be as daunting as it sounds. What it actually represents is the culmination of the slow mentality shift away from “corporation as caretaker” that used to be part of a life-long career.

That change can give you greater flexibility, but with freedom comes responsibility – as the saying goes. Your responsibility is to figure out what you want for yourself – it’s never too late to decide what you want to be when you grow up (smile).  Crucially, if you have not figured out what is most important to you in your search right now, your resume is likely to reflect that indecision.  Take a few minutes and think about what you really want to do and then identify what you can do at this point in your career search.

Diverse Job Experience

Now, let’s get down to looking at your work experience.  How consistent has your work history been?  Do your positions demonstrate a clear progression of increasing responsibility or seem more like a “mash-up” of seemingly unrelated job experiences?  The latter description can certainly work against you if not carefully crafted into a cohesive resume.  These diverse experiences can become strengths and increase your value to an employer if “packaged correctly”.  Diversity can be an asset in today’s complex work environment.  If you are able to “connect the dots” for the employer by presenting a common thread that includes your passion for excellence, curiosity, and drive to make things happen, you can immediately move to the top of that pile of resumes on the hiring manager’s desk.

A varied work history – whether across industries or simply a number of different positions within the same field – doesn’t have to become an obstacle to the perfect job.  A bit of planning can help determine optimal presentation at this point in your career.

 

Transfer of Skills

A practical place to begin is with skills that can easily translate as strengths across industries.  Common examples include communication, leadership skills, and strategic planning.  You can start by thinking about how these “transferable skills” have been part of previous roles.  Those are areas to emphasize as that common thread mentioned earlier – think about your strengths and make those skills the core of your resume and job search.  Once you have done that, it is similar to decorating a family tree around the holidays – the ornaments in our analogy become those unique accomplishments you want proudly displayed in each specific position, while the “common thread” holds everything together.

Provide structure for your job search by presenting a resume to potential employers that sends the right message. Clarifying the purpose of the resume at this point in your life will present a cohesive “package” to hiring managers.  An authentic representation will land the job because of the consistent clear message about your strengths and skills.

Author: Alesia Benedict, Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW)

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Show Career Progression to Impress Hiring Managers

By Alesia Benedict, CPRW, JCTC – GetInterviews.com

Operations Intern, Chicago, IL
Consultant, West Lawn, PA
Research Analyst Intern, New York, NY
Jr. Designer, Boston, MA
Associate-Investments, New York, NY

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A consistent career progression demonstrates many of the qualities hiring managers look for in job candidates. By streamlining your resume to convey these strengths, you put yourself a step ahead of the competition even in a tight job market. A consistent career progression shows initiative, investment in your profession, and a can-do attitude.

Separate Out Different Titles in the Same Company

You may have changed jobs several times, but all have been with the same company. Progression up the ladder in one company indicates recognition of your strengths and skills by professionals knowledgeable about your performance. Separate out each title and include a job description and accomplishments for each as well. Don’t lose the impact of a well-showcased career progression by consolidating all positions into one. An example:

ABC COMMUNITY HOSPITAL

Director of Facilities

Quality Assurance Manager

Director of Safety

Highlight Accomplishments with Bulleted Lists

Be certain to distinguish daily job duties from accomplishments. Use a job description that is sprinkled with action words for a dynamic presentation of your skills.  Avoid the use of such terms as “responsible for,” as that relates a lower level position in which one “reports” to someone instead of positioning you as a creator in your own right.

The accomplishments should include specific achievements, such as annual sales, new programs initiated, or cost savings. Quantifying your achievements communicates the value you provided to your employer. Set up the bulleted lists like this:

·    Reduced operating expenses 15%, via expert Lean Management skills.

·    Negotiated lucrative $15M 3-year contract with major account.

Include Company Descriptions

You may be asking why you should worry about company descriptions. Isn’t the resume about you and not the company? But in fact, company descriptions provide a context for your duties and accomplishments, making them even more powerful. Managing a tri-state area for a Fortune 500 company with 35,000 staff requires a far different skill set than does managing a 12-state region for a 3,000-employee company. The company description only needs to be included once, a strategy that saves prime space on the resume to highlight your achievements if you had two or more different positions with one company.

Use Reverse Chronological Approach

The reverse chronological approach is preferred by most hiring managers because it is straightforward and shows a clear career progression. Some job seekers are tempted to use a functional format, especially if the work history includes a number of different jobs across industries. The reverse chronological resume actually explains career progression more clearly for those with a diverse background because you can show additional accomplishments or duties effectively, even if the positions may have been lateral moves.

Describe Performance Beyond the Job Title

Every job has “other duties as required.” Make those other duties work to your advantage. For many professionals, added responsibilities not only make the work more interesting while on the job, but also diversify your skill set for the next job search. If you sought out other responsibilities or volunteered to assist with major projects in other departments, be sure to state that in the accomplishments section.

A clear description of your career progression most effectively presents you as a capable and interesting candidate, and the hiring managers will want to know more about you after reading the resume. The depth of your skills will be communicated by “showing” the reader your progression, rather than by using too many adjectives to describe your talents. Show them your expertise and land that new job!

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!

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Show Employers They Need You!

By Alesia Benedict, CPRW, JCTC – GetInterviews.com

Mutual Fund Analyst, New York, NY
Consultant, Washington, DC
Investment Banking Analyst, Boston, MA
Analyst, Multiple Locations
Business Valuation Associate, Nationwide, USA

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The cover letter is the first opportunity you have to introduce yourself and your extensive skills to potential employers. Make this document work for you by showing employers how you can solve common and unique problems they are facing. Specific strategies in the cover letter will make hiring managers call you!

1. Toot Your Own Horn!

Be sure to include achievements and outstanding accomplishments in the cover letter as well as in the resume.  All hiring managers approach the screening process in vastly different ways.  By including significant achievements in the cover letter you generate interest in your resume and associate certain skills with your name. Listing accomplishments prompts the interviewer to read more and ultimately contact you.

2. Use Key Words Selectively.

Be cautious not to over-use phrases that have become so common they are practically meaningless. You may choose to use such words as “innovated” but be certain to describe exactly what makes your achievement innovative.  For example, “I increased sales 20% by initiating a hands-on mentoring program for new associates”.

3. Managing Challenges.

Employers want loyal personnel who are also able to make things happen. Do you perform well under pressure? Did you identify a procedural problem and devise a solution? Are you uniquely qualified to conduct sensitive negotiations? These are all examples of how you can contribute to the corporation. Describe how you managed these challenges to get the attention of hiring managers.

4. Avoid Explaining Employment Gaps.

You can’t hide an employment gap and if you try to do so, most hiring managers will look on that more negatively than the gap itself. Most explanations of employment gaps are best handled in the resume rather than in the cover letter. If you choose to explain an extended employment gap in the cover letter, the hiring manager may not read further. An exception is in the case of additional training. Improving your skills through formal training or an internship can highlight a change in career direction and emphasize your commitment to the profession.

5. Be Clear About What You Want.

End the cover letter with a request for an interview. Including an intention to follow up can also be effective. For example, “I look forward to meeting with you to discuss the many ways I can benefit your organization”. Being clear about your goals in the job search conveys a sense of authority and competence that helps the hiring manager see how you will perform in the position.

Think of the cover letter as an expanded version of your business card. Limited space forces you to be selective about what you choose to include. Emphasize the ways you can benefit the organization to show employers they need you!

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!

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Leverage Education to Land a New Job

By Alesia Benedict, CPRW, JCTC – GetInterviews.com

Junior Analyst, New York, NY
Consultant, Boston, MA
Associate, Los Angeles, CA
Marketing Specialist, New York, NY
Investment Banking Analyst, Burlington, MA

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Getting additional training is a critical part of job preparation throughout your career. Packaging that information effectively in the resume is not always as clear-cut. Based on how much time and money you have invested, training experiences may be more important to you personally than they are critical to landing a job. You may need some assistance in objectively placing the training where it belongs on your resume. Consider these tips to effectively present education and training experiences in your resume.

Placement: Where do I put my education?

The current format for most resumes does not lead with education.  In fact, it is not wise for someone with a solid career — and who recently obtained a degree – to lead with his/her education. Doing so may give the mistaken impression that your education is your strongest asset, implying that your experience may not be as impressive, is sketchy, or falls short in some fashion.

Emphasis:  How much should I include about my education?

Similar questions about your work history may be raised in the reader’s mind when extensive training experiences are included.  In fact a lengthy list of training may obscure your talents, again giving the reader the impression that your training overshadows your work experience or is even meant to obfuscate actual details of your career. In other words, the question may form in the reader’s mind – what is she / he trying to cover up?

Education Dates:  Should I include graduation or training dates?

Unless you are a recent graduate, it is not necessary to include specific dates of graduation.  In fact, including dates on early degrees may actually make you vulnerable to ageism. Including dates of education and training also clutters the resume and takes up valuable space that could be used for outlining other strengths.

No Degree: How do I handle the lack of a degree?

Including extensive training experiences can also be an attempt to over-compensate for the lack of a completed degree. Of course, a degree is an important credential, but if you don’t have one or didn’t complete all the requirements, don’t attempt to hide that fact.  It will only “come back to bite you”.  An option for managing the lack of a degree is provided below.

Education

Business Coursework (non-degree)

ABC University, Anywhere, USA

Annual Training: How do I decide what to include?

To manage extensive training or even annual certifications that you want to include, but don’t want to take up all the valuable real estate on the resume, group similar trainings together or indicate successive years for annual licensure or certifications, such as with first aid or safety training.

Professional Development / Certifications

First Aid Training (Annual Certifications 2005-2010)

Management by Proxy / Supervising Remotely

Future Education Plans:  How do I handle my intent to apply?

You may also be tempted to include additional training or education that is part of your future plan, but for which you have not been accepted.  Don’t succumb to the temptation.  Only include educational experiences you have actually completed or that are in process.  If you just began the program and feel self-conscious about stating that you won’t graduate for another 3 years simply include “in process” or the date of matriculation into the program.

Education

Bachelor of Arts in Business Management (in process)

ABC University, Anywhere, USA

Bachelor of Arts in Business Management (matriculated into program 2010)

ABC University, Anywhere, USA

Time Off for Education: How do I handle work gaps for education?

You can also add an educational note in the midst of your work history to explain any gaps for school-related activities.  Place the note chronologically as if it were a position, exactly when it occurred.  This serves to explain the offending gap in your employment, answering the question in the reader’s mind before they have a chance to ask it, and highlights your commitment to continued professional development. That blend of education and experience is typically the strongest presentation for any job candidate.

Tailor your resume by including your most important attributes and experiences early in the resume.  Remember, placement of education later in the resume doesn’t diminish its importance.  The education then becomes the foundation, consistent with its place in your career progression.  Because of your personal and financial investment in the process, you may be over-valuing the importance of educational and training activities because they are important to you personally.  Try to be objective or ask a trusted colleague or professional service for feedback if you feel too invested in putting your education first on 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!

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Four Ways Your Resume Should Show Off a Career Progression

By Alesia Benedict, CPRW, JCTC – GetInterviews.com

M&A Research Analyst, New York, NY
Associate Analytical Scientist, Cambridge, MA
Investment Analyst, Chicago, IL
Vice President-Product Development, Washington, DC
Investment Banking Analyst, San Francisco, CA

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Whether you’ve worked for the same employer your entire career or lost count of the number of resignation letters you’ve signed, demonstrating how you evolved as a professional is key to a winning resume presentation.

Prospective employers find career progression very important. What better way to showcase your potential for future professional growth than exhibiting your capability of successfully doing so in the past? It also proves you have possessed ambition and drive throughout your career. Even more significantly, it can clearly convey the depth and breadth of your experience to lend you a valuable edge in today’s highly competitive job market.

That’s why exemplary format is imperative to maximize career progression on your resume presentation. Maybe you’ve worked 20 years in 20 different companies, or you may have invested 20 years with the same company. In either scenario, your career progression is easily demonstrated on your resume using the following four strategies:

1. Emphasize Titles

If you’ve spent considerable time at one company but held multiple titles, do not make the mistake of lumping everything under one heading for that company. Unfortunately, by mixing and matching duties of different titles in one master description, the progression gets muddled.

Be sure to let those promotions work for you! After all, you worked hard to get them, so they certainly deserve to draw attention. Instead of organizing your experience by company, do so by title. In this manner, you will be able to approach each role by giving it its own identity and importance on your resume.

2. Focus on New Responsibilities

Even if you leave a company for another in what would be considered a lateral move, you can demonstrate the progression in your career by showing how you increased task ownership in the subsequent capacity.

Rather than repeating duties used to describe your previous role, be sure your resume description for each progressive role clearly shows new tasks taken on when you advanced. No matter how similar responsibilities may seem, your experience for each time period is sure to be unique.

3. Recount Accomplishments

No matter what your title was, reach back into your memory and pull out at least three of your most valuable achievements for each role. It’s great to have old performance evaluations handy, but even if you don’t, a little brainstorming can help jog even the worst memory. Consider the following:

* In what successful projects did you play a key role?

* What were the main objectives you set out to achieve?

* Are there metrics you can cite to show measurable accomplishments?

* Did you form any strategic relationships that proved valuable to the organization?

* What awards did you win?

* Were you selected to serve on any special committees or to head any teams?

* How did you contribute to supporting the goals of the department or organization as a whole?

This doesn’t have to be done in one shot, either. Take a week to think about it, and jot down some notes for each role you’ve held as each detail comes to you. You will likely be surprised how much you’ve actually achieved!

4. Highlight Newly Acquired Skills

The next step in your career journey will build upon the skills and knowledge you possess today. With this in mind, think about how each past position expanded upon your abilities. What new skills did you use? What new knowledge did you apply? If you completed any specialized training, be sure to include it as well.



Regardless of how many companies one has worked for, every career is marked by numerous stops along the way. Career progression is what will most effectively illustrate your ability to make a valuable contribution in the future, which is why it is such a vital element to your overall resume strategy.

Your resume isn’t doing its job if it doesn’t tell an employer the story of your professional journey, so be sure to optimize your presentation to make your career progression shine.

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!

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