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 Many of these blunders are based on outdated thinking while others develop out of a desire to take advantage of that one moment when the hiring manager is screening your resume.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!

Establish Personal Brand for Job Search Success!

By Alesia Benedict, CPRW, JCTC – GetInterviews.com

Financial Analyst, New York, NY
Business Intelligence Specialist, Boston, MA
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Many job seekers attempt to use a functional format to emphasize specific skills or to cover up problems with the resume, such as job gaps, brief employment periods, or multiple jobs in a short time period. Or you may be trying to brand yourself, in modern terms, with the functional approach. Personal branding is a great idea, but be aware, the functional resume is not the way to create your brand.

Even though branding is a popular marketing concept for corporations, the transition to personal branding isn’t always as easy to establish. Brainstorm for a minute. Think of a professional you admire, whether someone in the media or in your own company. Analyze what makes their brand so easily identifiable. Now apply that analysis to your career. How do others consistently describe you? What is your specialty niche?

Identify Basic Skills

Make a list of your unique skills, training, or professional experiences to start. Review your career progression to tease out all the basic skills that align with the types of positions you are seeking. These skills form the foundation of your qualifications for positions and most likely equate with the “responsibilities” section in a job posting. These basic skills may not define your passion or your brand, but are important in helping you qualify for a position.

Categorize Unique Talents and Experiences

Next, match skill sets with your current career goals. Do you want to relocate abroad for your career? Mine your job history for global or international experience. Even if you did not travel, you might still have amassed experience in the international arena. Did you have sales accounts in Mexico or Canada? What about Pacific Rim accounts? Have you assisted in business development on the ground? Did you locate factories or suppliers overseas? These unique experiences can help you formulate your brand.

LinkedIn (Branding Profile)

LinkedIn is a great place to begin establishing your personal brand. The profile has specific sections regarding your education, key experiences, and areas of professional emphasis. Think about how you want to use this professional site. Are you trying to connect with others? Gain referrals? Get a job? The goals you have for the use of this professional networking site will reflect your emerging personal brand.

Join Professional Organizations that Mirror Your Desired Direction

Another important resource for broadcasting your brand is professional organizations. Research those organizations that align with your current career goals. You may need to conduct a broad search, such as “business development professional organization,” to discover new groups. Many professional organizations have useful member sections online to post your career interests or job search goals. These resources are a great way to solidify your personal brand.

Branding Strategies in Your Resume

Finally, consider how you will present your personal brand in a resume. Remember, the functional format may seem like the logical way to present a consistent brand, but most hiring managers prefer a chronological approach. In addition, the functional resume can be confusing to readers as they try to place your accomplishments with different companies or create a time frame of your work experience. The chronological approach provides a history of how your personal brand has become more defined over the last 10 to 15 years. A chronological approach is straightforward and provides a clear sense of what you have been doing professionally, an important component of your brand. You don’t want to raise questions in the mind of the reader about potential employment gaps, which is often the case with a functional format. Your personal brand will be clearly highlighted in a work history that describes your career progression in terms of skills and increasing levels of responsibility.

Establishing a personal brand requires complex planning and a clear direction just like any successful marketing campaign! Identify your strengths and align those with your goals for effective personal branding. Then spread the word and watch the opportunities grow!

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!

Update Your Job Search Strategies

By Alesia Benedict, CPRW, JCTC – GetInterviews.com

Research Associate, New York, NY
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Making a change in jobs can be challenging at any time in your career, but may feel even more daunting for those who have been with a particular company for a relatively long time. Putting together an effective job search and resume can be difficult for workers who may not have been out in the job market recently. A few strategic tips can help you position yourself as a viable candidate while reducing potential vulnerability to ageism.

Use dates and years of experience judiciously.

It is not necessary to include dates of graduation, professional training, or membership in professional associations. Simply listing these credentials is acceptable. It is not in your best interest to describe your vast experience in terms of 25 or 30 years of experience.  Consider describing experience with adjectives such as “broad”, “deep”, or “expansive” instead. Simply put, try not to call attention to your age, but rather your skills and expertise.

Limit the length of your work history.

Most hiring managers are only interested in the last 10 to 15 years of your experience. You may feel great pride in accomplishments early in your career, but highlighting your status as “rookie of the year” from 1987 is more likely to hurt than help your job search. Including points such as these could brand you as outdated, which may quickly end your consideration for employment.

Tailor the cover letter.

Individualize the cover letter by using the name of the hiring manager or contact person.  This may require time online to identify the person to whom you address the letter. An effective cover letter serves dual purposes: enticing the reader to learn more about you and listing your qualifications. By leading with a specific name you personalize the cover letter and show that you have done your homework.

Update the cover letter.

Review current business letter formats, for both written and electronic communication. Following the styles from your first typing or computer class will identify you as outdated. Email should also be formal and include traditional greetings and a signature with all your contact information. For example:

Name
Email Address
Phone
Cell Phone
LinkedIn Profile
(can be an asset if you have set one up)

Also be certain to include an appropriate Subject Line, such as:

Sales Management Position
Human Resource Manager Application
Financial Analyst Position – Your Name

If you are uncertain about the appearance of your email, send a test version to a friend, family member, or separate account of your own. If you choose to send a test email to another email account of yours, be certain not to send to an existing work-related account. Most company email is considered open to viewing by upper management. Using company resources for a job search is not good form.

Emphasize diverse experience.

A practical outcome of experience is the accumulation of many transferable skills. Related skills and experiences that distinguish you from other candidates can be included in the cover letter and in the summary section of your resume. Connect the dots for the reader by showing exactly which skills will benefit the potential employer, rather than just stating you have “transferable skills”. You can also highlight your ability to be flexible and adaptable – a team player – as you describe these additional skill areas.

Avoid early salary discussions.

Experienced workers have a reputation for being more “expensive”, so it is important to be cautious in any requests for salary expectations. If required, you may respond by stating your flexibility or describing salary expectations as within normal market range.

Mobilize your network.

With broad experience, you have probably built a solid network of contacts. Now is the time to reach out to those contacts to explore knowledge about openings and let people know you are looking. Think about professional organizations, alumnae groups, or local civic groups.

A job search takes time and career transitions rarely happen as quickly as you would like. Hanging in there while opportunities develop may be the hardest part of the search. Using strategies that make you less vulnerable to negative perceptions from hiring managers helps position you to move more quickly through the search process to 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!

Who Makes a Good Professional Reference?

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Employers place a lot of value on references, because these provide both an insight into how well you work with other people, as well as a subjective perspective on who you are.  While a resume is something that you can spend time tweaking and perfecting on your own, a reference isn’t entirely in your control, and is therefore more honest in some respects.  For this reason, it’s crucial that when you are deciding whom to ask for a reference, you choose someone who will not only sing your praises, but who will also be able to speak intelligently about you and give hiring managers a more complete picture of who you are and how you work.  Here are some individuals you should consider:

Your Current Employer

Few people will have a better understanding of how well you work for someone than your current employer.  Hiring managers like to speak to referrers who have a current, realistic take on the candidate being reviewed, and so they will take a lot of stock in what your current boss has to say.  Before you list this person as a reference, however, make sure that you have discussed with them your plans to find another position – otherwise you could find yourself in some hot water.

A Past Employer

A past employer is also a good person to turn to, especially if you haven’t worked too closely with your current employer.  It’s especially helpful if you had a particularly close relationship with your previous boss, and if they can provide a more valuable insight into who you are.  Depending on how much time has passed, it’s probably a good idea to refresh this person’s memory by summarizing some of the highlights from your working relationship, as well as to update them on some of your current professional endeavors.

Your Professor

Many individuals just entering the working world will turn to professors to vouch for them, and this is just as acceptable as asking an employer to refer you.  A professor will have a solid idea of your work ethic, your ability to collaborate with others, and your overall intelligence.  He or she will likely focus on the transferable skills that you possess, which you can utilize in the workplace.

A Coworker

If you feel that you cannot turn to an employer for a good reference, consider asking someone you work with.  A coworker can speak to how well you work in a team; they can also discuss your ability to take the lead on certain projects or help others with their work.

A Customer

Depending on your line of work, another individual to consider as a potential reference is a satisfied customer with whom you have worked closely.  This person can speak about your professionalism, your ability to get the job done in a timely manner, and your communication skills.  A customer who is willing to go out of their way to provide a good reference speaks volumes about your character and working style.

These are just a few of the many individuals whom you can ask for a reference.  Other examples include business contacts, teammates, family friends, and more.  Any person who is able to speak about your work ethic, leadership skills,  ability to learn, value as a team member, and so on, is a possible reference.  Just make sure that you ask them before you start giving away their contact information to hiring managers!

Until next time,

The Doostang Team

Leverage Education to Land a New Job

By Alesia Benedict, CPRW, JCTC – GetInterviews.com

Junior Analyst, New York, NY
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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

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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!

Language Secrets for a Successful Job Search

By Alesia Benedict, CPRW, JCTC – GetInterviews.com

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On the job circuit, it is important to be yourself and clearly express your experience and ability in a way that will resonate with recruiters.  Sincerity is a critical component of being authentic, however you may need to massage your language to make sure the hiring manager is listening.  Of course you don’t want to deceive a potential employer with a trumped-up version of yourself.  That is very similar to padding your resume – a definite no-no in the world of successful job seekers. What you must do to ensure a receptive audience is to say all the right things – in the right way.

1.  Use the Language of Results.

Most CEOs are interested in how your behavior and enthusiasm can help the company move toward specific goals and objectives. An effective strategy includes researching the company for new initiatives, pet projects, or even community involvement and aligning your key work experiences with the activities receiving corporate attention.  Critical information will provide the frame for presenting your skills to the employer. Highlight strengths and experiences that parallel the business intelligence gathered in your research efforts.

Tailor your presentation to garner extra attention from a hiring manager.  Interest may be generated from shared efforts on a community project, HR committee work on social events (translates to improved morale in the language of the CEO), or attending city council meetings on zoning issues (the Division Manager will see you as a trusted representative of the company, as well as a Subject Matter Expert on community relations and regulations).

2.  Verbalize How You Get Things Done.

Gather several sample job descriptions for plum positions and study them for skill areas emphasized.  Sure, every position will share some basic skills that form the core of that profession, but each company has unique expectations within a specific corporate culture.  Compare the job descriptions with your personal work history, not just in terms of basic qualifications, but also in terms of added-value you bring to the table from your personality, extensive contacts, or significant accomplishments. Help the hiring manager understand how you will enhance the team’s functioning, levels of productivity, or bottom line when you deliver your significant skill set.

3.  Listen for Clues.

Many companies share an idiosyncratic language that reflects the corporate mission. Listen to how individuals talk and write.  By identifying trends, such as “do you see what I’m talking about” or “I hear what you’re saying”, you have tapped into clues about how individuals understand the world around them.  Neuro-linguistic Programming (NLP) suggests mirroring the language of those around you helps to create a bond of shared vision and direction. You will make a solid connection.

4.  Utilize Action Words.

Using powerful language conveys your individual influence and authority. It is not necessary to be in a position of authority to communicate that type of strength to others. When job-seeking, you may feel as though you are an underdog in interactions, but this is the time to step up your game and project your confidence and competence. Action words are a great way to do so. Your list of accomplishments may include “projects executed”, “costs contained”, or “profits accelerated”.

5.  Express Professional Passion.

Passion ignites interest. Define your professional passion by listing all the career-related activities that excite you. Don’t be afraid to express those professional passions by talking about what energizes you. Enthusiasm is contagious and most employers are drawn to candidates who are energized about the profession, their company, or the mere possibility of making a well-defined contribution. Whether you are a dreamer or a doer, you have specific skills to offer – get excited and don’t be shy about sharing.

6.  Incorporate Nonverbal Messages.

Remember the power of body language in addition to all other types of communication. Pay attention to your nonverbal messages as well as those of the hiring manager. In any face-to-face interactions, use the basics of good eye contact, a firm handshake, and an open stance.  If the body language of the other person doesn’t seem as open, try engaging him/her in conversation that is appropriately upbeat. If you are in the office, pay attention to objects on the desk for clues to possible conversation starters – a favorite sports team or plaque of recognition. Over the phone or email, introduce your interest in a special corporate project.

Put these secrets to work and you will be communicating with prospective employers at many different levels. Being able to effectively match the hiring manager’s communication style in multiple ways maximizes a sense of connection and shared vision. Speaking the same language helps the prospective employer see you as part of the team, getting you a few steps closer to landing that plum position!

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!

Putting Your Education to Work on Your Resume

By Alesia Benedict, CPRW, JCTC – GetInterviews.com

Investment Banking Analyst, San Francisco, CA
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You’ve spent lots of money on tuition and endless hours studying to earn those degrees. Now it’s time to put that time and money to work for you to land a lucrative new job. Finding the best way to showcase this information on your resume, ensuring you make the most of your credentials isn’t so easy.

Even the most brilliant and educated candidate can readily get confused by the conflicting information offered by career experts. Rather than banking on educated guesses, use this quick “study guide” to test whether you’re maximizing your education background on your resume:

Where to Place the Education Section on Your Resume

Before even trying to assemble this information on your resume, a key step is to determine what type of candidate you are.

If you are a job seeker remaining in the same field and have at least five years of experience, emphasize work experience. This means detailing your work history first, followed by your education information.  Employers greatly value contributions you’ve made to current and/or former employers, since they are the best indication of your potential in a workplace environment. Your studies, while important and often mandatory for consideration, are typically secondary to experience.

Entry-level candidates who recently finished college usually have little work experience. Employers are fully aware of this, so while they are interested in any related internships or experience, their primary interest lies in the candidate’s education. The best option for entry-level candidates, therefore, is listing the education section first.

Another type of candidate who would list education before work history would be a career changer who recently completed a degree or course relevant to the new professional path. For example, if a retail manager just completed an MBA in accounting, passed the CPA exam, and is now seeking an accounting position, the education section would be placed before work experience on the resume.

Listing Coursework

Entry-level candidates could expand upon some practical experience acquired in the course of their studies. Yet for more experienced job seekers, such details are not only unnecessary, but inadvisable. A more experienced job seeker offering specifics about coursework could inadvertently lend a lower-level feel to the overall resume presentation. There are exceptions, however. For instance, candidates seeking academic positions would list relevant coursework and publications.

Stating Year of Graduation

Only recent college graduates need to list the year of graduation since the candidate will want to account for lack of work history. It will make sense to an employer that the resume doesn’t go beyond 2008 if the candidate received a degree the same year.

Otherwise, it is not a good idea to include a year of graduation, as this will give employers a sneak peek of your age. Let your credentials speak for themselves and avoid any potential for age discrimination by omitting the year you completed a degree.

Using Designations

Some candidates include a representation of degrees and certifications earned following their names. This can be a great tool to convey a credential without taking up much room. Since one’s name appears first, at the top of a resume, it immediately highlights your professional qualifications, especially for industry-specific credentials.

However, there are some pitfalls you want to avoid. If too many designations follow a name, the overall impact is lost. It’s great if you have five professional certifications, but you don’t need to list all of them. Try to limit it to three for maximum impact.

Listing a very common degree could also turn off a reader. “John Doe, BA” really won’t impress the same way “John Doe, PhD” will.

Maximizing a Professional Summary

If there are facts you want to emphasize but you don’t want to risk an employer missing it in the education section, feel free to make a mention of it in the professional summary. As an example, you may need an MBA in order to apply for a particular position, so you want to make sure the employer sees right off the bat that you have one. If your extensive work history has pushed your education section to the bottom of page two, the perfect solution is to briefly mention your MBA in your professional summary.

The professional summary is also a great way to include a fact that really has no place in the education section. For example, if you went to an Ivy League school, you can easily incorporate that into your professional summary without sounding pretentious.



Of course, these are general guidelines. The best strategy to present your educational credentials is as individual as you are, so make sure you do your homework when it comes to preparing 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!