5 Hidden Resume Killers!

You may think you have the perfect resume, but you keep getting overlooked for all kinds of positions, and you can’t figure out what’s happening!  Perhaps you are sabotaging yourself in ways you don’t recognize.

Almost everyone is aware of obvious job search killers in resumes, such as spelling and grammatical errors; however hidden mistakes often end up costing you the interview when you have an otherwise solid resume. Protect yourself from being misperceived out of a job opportunity by carefully reviewing your resume for hidden killers.

1.  Highlighting Political or Religious Affiliations

Many people fill their time with charitable work and, in the process, make some strong community contacts.  Great idea and very fulfilling, most likely, but if that organization is your local church or political action group, you may be sabotaging yourself if you include this in the resume.  Just the mere mention of such groups may subconsciously create a negative response in the reader.  Don’t place yourself at risk for potential discrimination or a negative first impression because of an association with a group that may not align with the values of hiring managers.  We all know it’s not ethical, but better to protect yourself, than be naïve and lose another opportunity.

2.  Explaining Employment Gaps with too much Personal Information

Although it is critical to be honest about gaps in your employment history, exercise caution about giving too much personal information or suggesting that your personal life may overwhelm your work life.  Be brief and succinct in explaining any gaps in your personal work history, and be aware that caretaking for elderly parents, for example, is becoming much more common. Career change or geographic moves may be part of necessary family caretaking decisions, which could also be important to explain in your resume. However you don’t need to provide a lot of detail regarding the emotional toll and investment of time such caretaking has taken.  The explanation doesn’t need to suggest you have been consumed by personal obligations, hinting that personal obligations may be more important than your work life.

3.  Broadcasting Weaknesses

Everyone has skill deficits or areas where his/her work could improve.  However, by over-emphasizing these deficits or appearing nervous about them, you are likely to sabotage the strengths identified in your resume.  Being honest doesn’t mean you have to hang your head and kick at the floor like a school child; it’s likely you feel worse about these shortcomings than necessary.  Emphasize your strengths and practice a response to express information about potential weaknesses. What is it that bothers you so much about this particular deficit when you likely have other strengths? You don’t need to be “all things to all people in order to land the job”, and feeling shameful about deficits can only work against you.

4.  Too Many Positions within the Same Time Frame

Sure, you may have worked 2 or 3 jobs in college, but later in one’s career, this may send a message that you are scattered, unfocused, or worse yet, not committed to your primary field of interest.  Potential employers want to know that you are working toward company goals with the same level of energy that they are, rather than being tired and distracted. Review the job history realistically.  You cannot misrepresent your work experience, but try to look at “your story” during that time of your life.  If there were a number of part-time positions pieced together out of financial necessity, be certain to identify the positions as part-time. Perhaps the positions included experiences for certification.  If so, mention it – this denotes a commitment to professional growth, and more clearly explains seemingly dual, simultaneous employment.

5. Over-emphasizing Periods of Self-Employment

Many potential employers question your ability to be a team player if you are accustomed to being the boss yourself.  It may also intimidate hiring managers or suggest that you are over-qualified, if you have labeled yourself President of your own company.  Again, don’t be deceitful, but be cautious regarding labels. Describe creative development skills associated with self-employment in ways that will benefit the prospective employer, such as market analysis, client development, or full P&L.

Increase your own awareness of potential “resume killers”, and you will be well on your way to eliminating obstacles to employment.  Resumes can communicate in many more ways than just using words.  The nuances of a resume are similar to body language – people get the message even if not overtly expressed.  Rid your resume of hidden killers and move ahead in your job search!

Author: Alesia Benedict

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!

Use Targeted Strategies to Land a New Job

By Alesia Benedict, CPRW, JCTC – GetInterviews.com

Investment Analyst, Boston, MA
Strategy Sr. Manager, SF Bay Area, CA
Investment Banking Analyst, New York, NY
Corporate Development Manager, Burlington, MA
Corporate Banking Analyst, New York, NY

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One of the single most important pieces of advice that hiring managers offer is to be single-minded in your job search. Although it can be tempting to take a “shot-gun” approach targeting any available opening, such a broad strategy is likely to work against you and can in fact communicate desperation. Following a targeted strategy projects confidence that appeals to hiring managers.

Narrow Your Job Search

To create confidence in your approach, identify a single position or “family” of similar types of positions for which you will apply. However counter-intuitive this may seem, you need to focus on the most highly desired positions for which you qualify. Targeting your efforts gives you a clearer focus, increasing your confidence and strengthening the core message in your pitch.

Align Your Resume with Your Target Position

Review your resume and highlight accomplishments that support your proven track record in this targeted area. Your resume must communicate the ways in which you can contribute to the employer’s bottom line. Compare the job description for the open position to your resume to be certain your accomplishments correspond to as many of those qualifications and needs as possible.

Create a List of Potential Employers

Potential employers may be compiled from online job postings, information from your network, or savvy analysis of the local business market. Conduct research on employers for potential openings, projects, and areas of professional interest. Prioritize the list based on factors of greatest importance to you. Then start to work on highlighting your expertise by creating solutions to the company’s challenges that you discovered in your research.

Develop a Plan

Your plan should include the basics of finding a contact to whom you can send your resume, as well as potential problems you can address based on your accomplishments and skills. Outline a link between a potential problem the employer faces, your plan, and your history of specific accomplishments in which you addressed similar challenges. Use your plan to show the employer exactly how you will provide immediate value by actually beginning to work for them before you are even interviewed!

Make a Cold Call

Call the hiring manager to follow up regarding your resume and discuss the ways in which your previous accomplishments, such as saving $100K annually by streamlining production processes, could translate into immediate results for their company as well. With your research on the company, you have an edge by providing specific examples about the value you can bring. Be specific in your examples, whether you are talking about sales figures, cost reduction, or winning Fortune 500 accounts.

Write Your Own Script

Writing down your accomplishments increases your confidence. Following a script can also help you express yourself more clearly on the phone. Review the script a few times to sound natural when talking with the hiring manager. While you may not follow the script verbatim, it can help you remember key points in making a case about your strengths. If you are unable to get the hiring manager on the phone, write up your script as a formal plan to include as an enclosure with your resume and mail it to the appropriate person within the company of interest.

Showing the employer your strengths and drive by addressing company problems before you even interview will distinguish you from the competition. Each contact with the company is an opportunity to demonstrate your skills and expertise. Be certain to take advantage of every interaction to show off your accomplishments and you will land a 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!

Win More Interviews: Show Your Value to Employers!

By Alesia Benedict, CPRW, JCTC – GetInterviews.com

Intern, New York, NY
Marketing & Operations Associate, SF Bay Area, CA
Investment Banking Analyst, Boston, MA
Business Associate, San Francisco, CA
Quantitative Analyst, Toronto, Canada

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Creating value for employers even before you land the job is a way to set yourself apart from the competition. The value for you is that such a distinctive approach is likely to accelerate your successful hire! An effective strategy for showing your value is to develop a plan that identifies and solves problems for the company, using tact in case the person who created the gaffe is also the hiring manager!

Research the Company

To accelerate your job search using this approach, you must target a specific company of interest. If you attempt to concentrate on a number of companies simultaneously, your efforts will be diluted and less likely to produce the results you desire. Focus your research on challenges the company is currently facing or on the analysis of products and publications. Match the area of analysis with your strengths and skill set so that you can highlight your value for the company.

Identify Gaps or Gaffes for the Company

Your research will create the framework for your plan by identifying gaps or gaffes in the company’s current operations. Gaffes are more likely to be found in branding or publications. If you are a proofreader or marketing specialist, you can distinguish yourself by identifying confusing marketing messages or typos in corporate publications. Gaps can be identified across a number of areas, including inefficient operations, slow sales, or ways that money is being left on the table.

Create an Effective Plan

Here is where your talents shine!  Create a stellar step-by-step plan for improvement using your strong skill set and unique perspective. Explain your rationale and implementation so the employer gets a clear sense of how you created the plan from start to finish. Your initiative is only one of the strengths on display in your plan.

Examples of plans you might offer include:

  • a marketing plan to expand into an entirely new market with an existing product line
  • strategies to increase productivity
  • creating an employee communication curriculum
  • cost-cutting manufacturing processes

Present Your Plan

Gaining access to the right people can be the challenge in this part of your job search. Return to your earlier research and pull out the names of specific department managers or project leaders. Ideally, you will be able to present your plan to the person with authority to implement the changes. Once you have the right names, package your resume and your plan with a brief cover letter and send it off. If using e-mail to present your plan, be certain to create an intriguing subject line to increase the likelihood that your email will be opened. Take the key aspects of your plan and incorporate these into a concise and eye-catching subject line.

Examples of effective subject lines might include:

  • Penetrate New Markets with Existing Product Lines
  • New Strategies to Accelerate Staff Productivity
  • Better Customer Service with Improved Staff Communication
  • Smart Strategies to Reduce Manufacturing Costs

Another important consideration in e-mail communication is whether attachments will be opened. Some recipients may be concerned about attachments containing viruses or company spam filters may block your email. Include previews of salient points in the body of the email to generate interest and spur the manager to open your attachments.

Follow Up

Your contact information will be included in your resume and e-mail signature, but continue your proactive approach by following up. Try following up with a phone call so you can have a real-time conversation with the decision maker. In attempting to get through, be certain to mention the plan you provided and state your intent to clarify any questions and to tailor the plan to the executive’s needs. If unable to get through, request a time to return the call or schedule a call. Your organizational skills will be noticed.

Creating a plan to address employer’s needs before you are even employed sets you miles apart from the competition! Your emphasis on providing value to the employer and making an investment of your time speaks volumes about the value you can provide on the job. Show employers your value to win more interviews and you will soon be getting paid for your skills and expertise!

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!

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!

A Powerful Resume for Powerful Results

By Alesia Benedict, CPRW, JCTC – GetInterviews.com

Analyst / Associate, New York, NY
Marketing Coordinator, Boston, MA
Private Equity Analyst, Marina Del Rey, CA
Consultant, New York, NY
Acquisitions Associate, Chicago, IL

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Everyone knows a resume is not the go-to source for entertaining reading material, but if you put in the effort to make your resume more interesting, you may also land a job faster in the process! The key to making your resume a proverbial page-turner is by using powerful language. Gaining the hiring manager’s interest prior to the interview can be done with a few simple tweaks to your resume.

Start with Your Strengths

Although many job seekers still want to start the resume with an objective, this is a sure-fire way to stop the hiring manager from reading your resume. The objective emphasizes your goals, not what you can do for the company. By starting with your strengths, you immediately get the reader’s attention because he or she is able to see you performing specific tasks for the company. Incorporate your track record in the initial summary for maximum power and efficiency in your resume.

Consider using phrases such as “key contributor with broad experience creating procedural systems from the ground up” or “significant strengths to rapidly identify and resolve challenges, while delivering high-level customer service”. Phrases like these convey strengths you bring to the position and allow the hiring manager to see exactly how you can contribute to the company.

Emphasize Accomplishments

As you revise your resume, compare your skills with the requirements in the job description for the new position. Those position requirements are going to help you emphasize parts of your job history that most closely mirror the skills needed for the job. Highlight skills needed for the job, but do so honestly.  Don’t risk losing your opportunity for an interview by over-representing yourself.

An effective strategy for presenting your skills is through the use of lists with action words. Quantify your accomplishments and use powerful language to communicate your strengths clearly and succinctly to the hiring manager. Look at the example below – it clearly presents a candidate who makes things happen!

  • Increased sales $5K monthly while maintaining high levels of quality and safety.
  • Captured $10K in savings by creating a comprehensive tracking spreadsheet.
  • Expanded business 10% skillfully developing relationships with diverse clients.

Use Core Competencies

Including core competencies is one of the most effective tools you can use. Not only can core competencies be critical in pulling your resume out of the pile by increasing the odds of being recognized by electronic searches, but it also provides hiring managers a quick understanding of your skills. Review the strengths easily identified in the list of core competencies below.

  • Business Intelligence
  • Internal/External Relationship Management
  • Inventory Control
  • Database & Tracking Systems
  • Budget Administration
  • Technology Applications

Avoid Repetitive Language

It’s easy to get in a rut by using the same words repeatedly throughout the resume.  A couple of key culprits include “managed” and “supervised”.  Even if you have to pull out the old thesaurus to help you come up with more interesting language – do it! Most word processing programs also have thesaurus functions that help you keep the reader interested by using different words. In our example, you might substitute “directed” for “managed”, or “monitored” instead of “supervised”.

Your goal is to keep the hiring manager interested in your resume – that means you need for the reader to make it through the entire document and still want to know more about you.  The only way for the hiring manager to quench that thirst for more knowledge about you is to call for an interview. Use interesting language even if you don’t see yourself as a writer.

As you read through your resume, gauge how interesting it is and how your skills are projected. Powerful language can move you to the top of the list of qualified candidates. Choose your words carefully to set yourself apart from the competition and achieve results! Now go out there and toot your own horn!

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!

How to Show Employers You Are the Perfect Fit!

By Alesia Benedict, CPRW, JCTC – GetInterviews.com

Investment Banking Analyst, San Francisco, CA
Retail Market Analyst, New York, NY
Financial Analyst, Los Angeles, CA
Vice President of Sales, Boston, MA
Financial Analyst Intern, New York, NY

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Observing others in the job search process may make it seem as though everyone else has all the luck in making the right contacts and easily landing a coveted position.  Upon closer inspection, you can just as readily identify many small steps that may help you become one of the elite, landing plum positions in a competitive market. Review the steps below to adopt approaches to carry your job search beyond mere chance and show employers you are the perfect fit!

Clearly Communicate Your Strengths.

Paint a picture of your talents for the employer.  How do you fit into the team?  What talents do you bring to critical projects?  Make a clear connection between your previous accomplishments and potential contributions for the prospective employer and they will understand why you are clearly the best candidate.

Be Assertive and Confident.

Approach companies of interest and inquire regarding openings even if none are listed.  Everyone is aware of the “hidden job market” online, however long before the Internet that same market existed in the minds of hiring managers and CEOs. Letting your interest in a company drive your efforts by initiating contact with key personnel will set you apart from the large pool of candidates.

Keep Good Records.

You certainly don’t want to embarrass yourself by following up with the same person more than once.  This organizational strategy also helps you remember important names and keep track of any personnel movement within and across organizations.  In addition to helping with the current job search, think of each of these individuals as part of your network over the long haul.

Outline Your Job Search Plan.

The spreadsheet of contacts, conversations, and resumes submitted will provide one part of the record while new prospects can make up a separate portion of your plan outlining goals.  By listing each aspect of your plan, not only will you create a comprehensive record of your job search, but you will also feel more in control of the endless string of tasks associated with the typical search. Making the search feel more manageable can help you monitor your stress and energy levels throughout the process.

Know Your Limitations.

Seek professional assistance for parts of the job search that are not strengths for you. It may seem that you cannot afford to spend the money right now, but perhaps you cannot afford not to do so.  If the job search has become so daunting or has drained your resources to such a degree that you feel devoid of ideas about the next step, then you definitely need to seek professional help. Feeling depleted of energy and ideas is a clear indication that you need a fresh perspective to help you create momentum for yourself in the search process.

Re-package Your Skills.

Researching industries similar to your experience or those with comparable positions may help you expand your targeted job search in a productive way.  You maintain the efficiency of targeting while identifying additional opportunities for yourself with a little creative thinking.  Certain skills transfer across industries, such as management, marketing, and sales.  Perhaps you have a solid track record in these basic areas or can describe your contributions to an employee morale campaign as part of your personnel management skills.

As you can see, the road to success is often paved with small steps. By building your confidence with clear goals, a strong organizational system, and key support, you can chart your own path to success. The solid image potential employers see will help you land that 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!

Fire Up your Job Search by Broadcasting Strengths!

By Alesia Benedict, CPRW, JCTC – GetInterviews.com

Operations Analyst, New York, NY
Sales and Trading Associate, SF Bay Area, CA
Financial Analyst, Los Angeles, CA
IT Manager, Boston, MA
Analyst – Private Equity Firm, Philadelphia, PA

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Think in Terms of Strengths

Being unemployed, under-employed, or under-appreciated in your current job can erode confidence.  In order to “fire up” your job search, you may need to re-assess the strengths you are emphasizing.  Follow these simple strategies to shift to a position of strengths.

1)    Brainstorm about what you love to do.  This first list should be exhaustive, including strengths from work and personal areas of your life.

2)    List specific skills developed throughout your work history.

3)    What results did you achieve from strengths listed in the first 2 steps? Review positive comments, good performance evaluations, or actual awards to jog your memory.

4)    Think of job requirements for positions in which you are currently interested, and combine the top 2 or 3 items from each of the areas above that you want to emphasize. Use this information to create an “elevator” speech for yourself – a brief, 30-second to 1-minute summary to describe your assets, not a laundry list, but a mini-story. Consider the director pitching his new movie project to a potential producer, or the inventor describing her idea to a potential investor. This becomes your “pitch” – a brief overview of strengths that set you apart from the crowd by outlining what you can do for the potential employer.

Write it Down

Why write it down?  It helps you own the statement.  Not only does seeing the statement in writing help you feel more confident, but it also helps you begin to believe it more strongly yourself.  However, if you notice what you have written down actually rings false or makes you question strengths you have identified, then something about what you have written “doesn’t fit”.  Stretching yourself to fit a particular job opening can be positive, but stretching the truth is never wise. If you can’t believe it yourself, the hiring manager will struggle, too.  Compare your “pitch” with what you created for the first 3 steps above.  Pay attention to how you feel in reviewing the lists and you will be able to fine-tune your pitch into an authentic statement of your strengths.

Practice

Making a brief statement of your strengths isn’t easy.  Practicing the statement will make you feel more comfortable and help you prepare to use it whenever the opportunity arises.

1)    Use the old “in front of the mirror” technique to help you own your new view of yourself, just like you did in speech class or for that first presentation at the office.

2)    Ask family and friends to serve as an audience – request honest feedback about your delivery – how believable are you?  If you don’t believe what you’re saying, it will show. They may notice it even if you didn’t.

3)    Use your network to practice.  Perhaps a small group of job seekers – whom you trust – can try out elevator pitches on each other and incorporate comments to improve the approach.

Networking Contact Follow-up

Remember to follow up after any type of networking contact, whether casual or formal. Incorporate your “pitch” into the follow-up correspondence.  You can send a “thank-you”, “nice-to-see-you”, or “I believe we have a mutual acquaintance” note – all of which can include a comment about your strengths.

Examples of situations where you might send a follow-up note include:

1)    Casual contact (“nice to see you”)

2)    Initial Meeting (“nice to meet you”)

3)    Job Fair Follow-up (“I enjoyed learning about your company and how closely my experience aligns with your needs.”)

4)    Introduction from a friend (“I believe we have a mutual acquaintance, Bob Smith, who suggested I contact you as my strengths could benefit your organization.”)

5)    Thank you (for any suggestion of an opportunity). Even though thank you letters may seem old-fashioned, they can be effective for that very reason – they set you apart from the crowd!

You can be sure the competition isn’t shy about broadcasting strengths and achievements, and their boldness could walk them right into your dream job! You have golden embers smoldering in your work history that, if stoked, will “fire up” your job search. Write down those strengths, practice your “pitch”, then confidently broadcast it!


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!