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Right from the horse’s mouth….

Part of my job as a career coach is to keep an eye out on burgeoning trends; know when trends become passe; and listen, listen, listen to what hiring authorities want and need to see on a resume to garner their attention. I read a lot of blogs and advice columns on the job search, and two of my favorites are and Allison Greene and Nick Corcodilos are refreshingly candid, on how to land a job, and not end up working for jerks. Both provide insight that is spot on.

That’s why I was excited to stumble across a (new to me) blog, published in 2010. Head Smacking Tips For Jobseekers” which presents, from the manager’s point of view, why your resume is getting overlooked. Starting with “Don’t Name Your Resume, Resume.” I blogged about this very topic in 2007, and yet it’s still a common issue among job seekers. After you learn why it’s a bad idea, come check out this advice on how to best name your resume when sending it electronically that will put you ahead of the pack.


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Recruiter Preferences

I just got done interviewing Donna Tatum from The Renick Group for my weekend radio show, Career Matters heard on Fox Radio 910. Donna provided me with insight as far as what bugs her about resumes, and how a job seeker can put their best foot forward when working with a recruiter.

Since Recruiters and Hiring Managers are my “core audience” when it comes to writing resumes, you can bet I listened closely as to how get a resume into the right hands by avoiding certain mistakes and including the right key words.

The interview will air on Sunday, Mar 20, 2011 at 11:06 EDT. You can stream it at, or listen in if you’re in the Roanoke or New River Valleys.

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When Resumes are “Too Fancy”

I met a hospital supervisor about two weeks ago who shared with me his take on resumes and hiring. The Nursing Supervisor told me that when he gets an “over the top” resume he won’t even look at. He admitted that he’d been burned by employees who just didn’t live up to their resumes. That’s understandable.

In fact, I could probably make my resumes “over the top” too, however I try to make these documents as well-written as possible, but formatted in a such a way that the average Joe, who knows a few things about Microsoft Word, could do it himself. I don’t include graphs or charts, no color, and the fonts are pretty simple for compatibility across all platforms. Most of all though, I don’t utilize “overused” words and hyperbole, such as “successfully” and “results-oriented.” You either did it, or you didn’t. If it wasn’t successful, why would you list it at all?

I probably should make you aware that this Nursing Supervisor works for a VA Hospital which only accepts Federal Resumes. He added that he doesn’t want to see a 5-page resume for a nurse with only 2 years of experience. That being said, in my 9 years as a Professional Resume Writer, I have never written beyond 2 pages, because after much research, I learned that rarely will anyone read past the second page.

Always remember, the word “resume” is French for “summary.” It’s not a novel or life history. It’s a marketing document designed to get the reader to respond by contacting you for more information in an interview.

–Susan Geary, 1st Rate Resumes

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Job Hoppers Need Not Apply

I was perusing CraigsList this morning and stumbled upon an ad for a new restaurant that is apparently coming to a town near me. The ad didn’t identify the company, but stated great benefits, distinctive menu, yada, yada, yada. What really caught my eye in the vacancy announcement was the following:

Candidate Criteria:
• Must be employed in the restaurant industry or recently unemployed (1-4) months out
No more than 2 jobs in 5 years, 3 in 9-10 years.

This really floored me, because anyone who has ever worked in the restaurant industry will tell you that these folks tend to move around a lot. Now the hospitality industry is getting picky with its candidates and demanding an impeccable resume with solid company loyalty and no gaps in employment. In other words, those with a history of short-time gigs need not apply.

Six months ago I attended the NRWA annual conference where there was an employer panel to answer our questions. One recruiter blatantly said, “we will not consider any candidates who did not stay in former positions a minimum of 3 years.”

Times are a changin’. I have to wonder how this economy will affect the resumes of today’s job seekers. Many are losing jobs as quickly as they find them through no fault of their own and that can be detrimental to a once perfect background.

The only thing I can suggest is keep networking, choose your next job WISELY, and chase your passion. As long as you’re doing something you love, it won’t matter if your job lasts a month, a year, or a decade. Passion shows and grows, and it’s something you either have or you don’t. You can’t learn it or earn it.

–Susan Geary, 1st Rate Resumes

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Job Search News From the Trenches

Last week, while sitting on the set of JobQuest at Blue Ridge PBS, I was placed right next to a headhunter as we both manned the phones, helping callers with their job search questions. The show’s anchor Julie Newman informed me she wanted to interview me on live television about the state of the job search. “What’s it like out there? And what are you hearing from your clients?” I was like a deer in the headlights trying to think of what I would tell her in a concise elevator speech of less than 30 seconds (Broadcasters hate it when you take too long to answer a question.)

Thankfully, the headhunter sitting next to me came to the rescue! He had told me only a few minutes prior that he published a vacancy announcement for an administrative assistant in the Sunday Roanoke Times and within 24 hours had 100 resumes. 100! I asked him how many of those resumes were good enough to pass along to his client. He told me ONE. That’s right — 1%.

The fact is it’s taken longer to find a job in today’s market than it did a few years ago. There are fewer positions available and more people applying for them. The U.S. government reports that for every opening, there is something like six unemployed people out there to fill them.

If candidates want to find work, it is available, but it’s up to them to compete effectively. That resume from 5 years ago just won’t cut it, just like the IRS won’t accept deductions and tax credits from rules that applied to an earlier year that may no longer be applicable. The point is, if you’re trying to save money during this tough economy the last place is with a do-it-yourself resume. In the long run, how much will it really cost if it takes you LONGER to find a job?

–Susan Geary, CPRW / 1st Rate Resumes

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Are Cover Letters Becoming Passe?

I peruse the career e-groups from several HR associations, Resume Writing Groups, and Recruiters and I’m finding a lot of noise lately about cover letters. Apparently there are a majority of recruiters who don’t like them, and won’t even read them. That being said, they won’t rule you out for sending one, they just won’t read them.

While I can’t remember where I read this, or if it’s even true, statistics are being published that only 50% of hiring authorities want a cover letter these days. That kind of bums me out, because writing cover letters is my favorite part of my job. And I rarely have to go back and re-write them. My clients seem to like them.

Back to the egroups: the consensus among my groups agree that it’s still better to send a cover letter and risk having it “not read,” then to send a naked resume when a cover letter is desired by the employer. At least you have better odds at getting your resume read.

–Susan Geary, Certified Resume Writer / 1st Rate Resumes

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Great Paying Gigs for Polished Jobseekers

For the past few years, I’ve signed up with a number promotional marketing agencies that offer high paying “day jobs” handing out product samples and representing companies at grand openings and special events. These gigs, as I call them, require a head shot, full body shot, and resume to get started. Because they are considered modeling agencies, it’s perfectly legal for them to choose you based on your looks, because their clients are seeking a certain “someone” to promote their company (or products.) I like the variety of assignments, the flexibility (I have to turn them down a lot), and of course the rate of pay!

One of the agencies I’m signed up with offers a job discussion board for its models (that’s what we’re called) to share advice, ask questions, and get to know one another. Many times I see the same posting, “Why don’t I ever get called for gig?” which was recently answered (quite honestly) by one of the Bookers. I thought I share some of their insight with you, that was posted on their discussion board. I removed the company name to protect their privacy. Here are the ones I found most interesting:

*** Refrain from complaining about not getting any work in this forum. I assure you, our managers are reading and making notes of the many complaints posted on the Discussion Board – and it’s negatively affecting those people. ***

*** Have AWESOME pics posted of yourself! A clear, current and professional Headshot and Body shot. Over-processed or risque pics, or pics with your friends, boyfriend, kitty, etc do NOT work. If this is an industry you want to succeed in, spend the $$$ to get professional pics done. They’ll pay for themselves in no time from the amount of work you’ll receive as a result. It’s also a tax write-off. ***

*** Capitalize the First Letter of your first and last name in your profile. Clients who see that you couldn’t bother to type your own name correctly will wonder what kind of effort you’d give to their event. Certainly, those folks whose names aren’t typed correctly will be passed up for work every time. ***


So you see, it’s the little things that make a clear impression of what you can offer a future employer. Take note if you plan on signing up with any of the field marketing agencies who hire models by the day, or whenever you’re applying for employment.

Susan Geary, CERW / 1st Rate Resumes