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

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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.

 

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6 Resume Details that Help You Land More Interviews

By Alesia Benedict, CPRW, JCTC – GetInterviews.com

Analyst, New York, NY
Data Specialist, Waltham, MA
Investment Banking Associate, San Francisco, CA
Litigation Secretary, Denver, CO
Director of Finance, Los Angeles, CA

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“It’s all in the details.” This old adage also applies to your resume. Getting the details right will land you that interview! The resume is your first impression. Make sure you send the right message by getting the details across in a powerful presentation.

1. Remember the Purpose of the Resume

A resume is designed to land an interview. You have to do the rest of the work in the interview to get the job. Remembering this primary purpose of the resume can help you remain focused on only those details of your work history that will compel the hiring manager to call you for the interview. Think of the resume as a pitch to the hiring manager. Each section has to speak to the needs of the company and serves a definite purpose in selling that message.

2. Omit Irrelevant Information

Be certain to include all necessary details about your work experience, but don’t fall into the trap of including accomplishments from early in your career because you have a sentimental attachment to those achievements. Another old-school approach is including an objective on the resume. An objective is considered irrelevant because it addresses your needs rather than those of the potential employer.

3. Stand Out From the Crowd – In the Right Way

If creating your own resume, avoid using any of the templates available in your word processing program. Templates create the same kind of document that the hiring manager is used to seeing from many other candidates. To counteract this effect, many are tempted to use fancy fonts, colors, and pictures. Resist that temptation! These superficial approaches will not represent the substance you bring to the position (which is what actually sets you apart from the crowd). Emphasizing your accomplishments is the way you want to stand out from other applicants.

4. Toot Your Own Horn

Though you may have a hard time playing up your accomplishments, the resume is not the place to be humble. Be specific about every achievement you bring to the table. These achievements are what will set you apart from the crowd. Details speak to your strengths and also prevent you from embellishing beyond your actual accomplishments. Unique achievements tell the hiring manager why they need to call you for an interview!

5. Go Beyond the Job Description

The job descriptions for most positions share many of the same responsibilities. Every banker, financial analyst, and sales professional has a similar base of duties. Including “other duties as assigned” to highlight your willingness to go the extra mile is not going to set you apart from other candidates. Detail exactly what those other duties are as long as they strengthen your position in the resume. If the additional duties are mundane, you achieve a greater effect by describing yourself as a “motivated team player” in the professional summary of your resume. If the duties are innovative and achieved strong results, then include those details in your accomplishments.

6. Be Specific

Specific details create a picture of your past successes for the hiring manager. Clarity in your resume helps the reader see you in the role of the new position. For example:

Too General:

Seeking a position as a project manager where I could lead effective teams for great results.

Specific & Powerful:

Experienced project manager with diverse leadership skills ranging from green initiatives with LEED compliance to streamlining operations, growing profits, and increasing productivity.

Remember that the details of your resume need to answer the hiring manager’s question of “Why you?” Don’t leave any questions in the reader’s mind that you are uniquely qualified to solve the company’s problems and create success. Get that interview with the right details in 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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Accelerate Your Job Search with Social Media

By Alesia Benedict, CPRW, JCTC – GetInterviews.com

Associate, London, UK
Business Analyst, Chicago, IL
Portfolio Consultant, New York, NY
Online Marketing Analyst, Waltham, MA
Risk Arbitrage Analyst, New York, NY

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If you haven’t noticed, social media has “grown up.” It’s one of the most effective ways to get your qualifications and resume in front of as many corporate eyes as possible. In addition to helping you expand the reach of your search, social media is also cost effective, measured only by the time you invest. Social media accelerates your job search exponentially, helping you reach far more people than traditional networking.

If you think about the concepts of branding and marketing yourself, social media is the ultimate tool for building your brand. You select what you want to highlight for potential employers and you control what values are emphasized in your social media presence. Think of social media as a huge networking opportunity and your online profile doubles as your calling card and your resume! Gaining more exposure creates additional opportunities. Social media is the key to opening the door to the hidden job market.

Engaging in a quick Internet search can yield hundreds of social networks, online communities, blogs, websites, and discussion groups for job seekers. In addition to posting on job boards and working with recruiters, social media networks such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter can significantly accelerate your job search. In case you aren’t convinced about the importance of social media in your job search, let’s examine a few specific benefits:

  1. Use of social media sites demonstrates your knowledge, skill, and familiarity with the capabilities of this current technology.
  2. Social media helps create your personal “brand.” You will become “known” to the individuals who read your profile without ever having submitted a formal resume.
  3. Social media is the ultimate networking tool, putting you in touch with individuals who are in a position to make hiring decisions about jobs that may never get posted. Better yet, an interest connection might be spurred to create a job for you based on your unique qualifications.
  4. Any of these sites can help you gain information about companies or industries of interest to you, making you an even more valuable candidate as you expand your knowledge and become known for your contributions.

Once you create a profile for yourself, you have to pay attention to it. You can’t expect the world to immediately come looking for you! The more active you are in social media networks, the more you establish a positive reputation for yourself. Don’t become discouraged if you don’t get immediate results. Building a professional network takes time.

You may want to avoid personal chit-chat entirely on any of your professional contact networks. It becomes all too tempting to post unflattering photos or unprofessional opinions about old bosses, especially if you don’t feel as though anyone is watching your Facebook page anyway. Make sure you are patient and professional while building up your network. When an employer decides to take action, you can be certain the hiring manager will run a Google search or review your social media pages. You don’t want an offhand comment or angry post to come back and haunt you later. Be smart and make your profiles and tweets work for you!

Most sites, including LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, each have different limits on the amount of information and the format in which you post. LinkedIn is designed primarily for professional contact, so you have sections for education, work experience, and your intent for setting up the profile.

Twitter has the most restrictive space limits. At 140 characters, you may not think you can say much about yourself. But if you think of your texting habits, considerable information can in fact be included in very little space. This space becomes even more valuable than the traditional resume space. Provide contact information and a few keywords that define your response to the discussion, your professional skills, or current professional trends.

Finally, there is Facebook. Most people think of Facebook as a personal site, but if you research a bit, you will see just how many businesses are using Facebook to strengthen their online presence as well. Have you been asked to “friend” a corporation?  Those requests are a testament to the power of Facebook for professional use and profit. Put its power to work for you by focusing on your credentials rather than your leisure activities. Include memberships in professional associations, a professional summary, pertinent work experience, or cutting edge professional development activities.

As part of job sites, LinkedIn, and Facebook, be sure to take advantage of the Groups areas to target contacts in your industry and demonstrate expertise. Be an active participant in discussions. Support other members and build relationships. The online community can be an integral part of your network and accelerate your job search exponentially.

As noted, maintaining a social media network takes just as much effort, consideration, and attention as face-to-face networking. Once you have your profile established, take some time to explore additional features of the sites and reach out to others. Experiment with social media and watch your job search take off!

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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