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Give your resume a facelift to look years younger

Don’t let your resume date you.

I review a lot of resumes, and have noticed a recurring issue with older career professionals. The resume offers up more information than it should. Those little hints that reveal your age, or make you look older than you are. When it’s time to update your resume, resist the urge to just add a new job on it, and ignore everything else. Instead, give it a facelift with these 9 tips.

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Has Your Resume Stopped Working?

It’s time for a new model

If I wrote your resume sometime in the past 15 years, and it worked well for you, chances are you started tweaking and updating it yourself. Or maybe not. Either way, once the clock starts ticking on that resume, it will be out of date in a matter of years. Even if it garnered several job interviews in the past, maybe now you’re only hearing crickets. Chances are your resume needs an overhaul. Here’s why:

  1. Times and formats change. Just like cars and clothes, preferences come and go among consumers. In the past it was “one page” only. Then two. Now they have to be mobile friendly. What? Yes. They are being read on the small screen.
  2. Adding items throughout the resume, aka, “tweaking” it, can lead to serious mistakes. I’ve had client resumes come back to me after many years with jobs added, as well as misspelled words, incorrect verb tenses, and a host of other problems. You don’t update your tax returns every year. And you shouldn’t just start adding info to your resume without a lot of knowledge. It can be very expensive in the long run.
  3. ATS / Applicant Tracking Systems. These are the computers that read resumes before humans do. And the folks that make them, are always upgrading the software. Sometimes they don’t accept certain words (spam filters) or .docx formats. The rules they set for resume acceptance are always changing. Are you keeping up?
  4. Keywords change. Have you noticed how many acronyms, abbreviations, and new words have popped up in the last decade alone? DOS will make you look outdated. Ruby on Rails wasn’t even around back then. And it too may disappear in a few years, much like the mp3 player that was replaced by a mobile phone.

The next time you need to update your resume, save yourself the headache and time of trying to figure out what’s relevant for today’s market. Professional resume writers, especially those who are certified and belong to resume writing associations can save you a lot of money in the long run. It’s an investment in your career.

Send us your resume for a free consultation and no-obligation quote to: info@1stRateResumes.com.

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Blog Career Job Search Advice resume resume writing Roanoke Resume Writer Update Your Resume Month

Is Your Resume 1st Rate, or Out of Date?

It’s Update Your Resume Month again, and a reminder to anyone who writes their own: There have been changes over the past several years that can now bring your job search to a screeching halt; even if that resume worked wonders in the past. Here are five simple tips to get noticed, by recruiters and keyword scanners.

1. Dates of Employment: The object of your resume is to get the reader to quickly understand what you have to offer. They will also look at how long you’ve spent with your previous employers. Don’t make it a math assignment. First tell them in the summary you have 5+ or 10+ years of experience. The vacancy announcement will always stipulate the number of years of experience, so don’t make them go through every job with a calculator. They’ll burn through that 15 second scan in no time. Also, consider what’s easier for the brain to quickly comprehend. Is it Sep 2001 – Nov 2005 or 09/2001 – 11/2005? Numbers all mashed together take more time to translate to the reader than alphabet letters. Don’t spell out the whole month either. The first 3 letters save space and are still easily understood by humans and applicant tracking software.

2. Too wordy: The reality is we are nation of scanners rather than readers. When there’s too much text to wade through, the reader will give up and slide past all of it. Is it any wonder we see advertisements for pharmaceutical products in major publications with few words and a photo, followed by the small print on the following page listing all of the contraindications? Few people read that. Keep it simple. The rule of thumb is paragraphs should be kept to no more than 5 lines. Bullet pointed lists should not exceed 9 in a row if you want people to read it.

3. Logos, fancy fonts and graphs: Pictures can and do tell a lot, but with resumes keep in mind that automated scanners can’t see them. Also choose fonts wisely. Script, underlines, or any style that allows the letters to touch one another can turn your work or art into garbage characters.

4. SMALL CAP FONT: This particular font is usually used for names and sub headers, and mostly by professional resume writers. We used it heavily about 10 years ago. The only problem is it can’t be read by applicant tracking software. That means you may be submitting a really nice looking resume with no name at the top.

5. Use Numerals: Unless you’re applying for  job as the Editor of a magazine, most recruiters don’t care if you spell out the number seven (considered the most correct) or use the numeral 7. But which one just jumped out at you? Numbers matter and they save space. So feel free to break this rule depending on your occupation.

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Graduating Cum Laude — You May Brag About it Again

When I first starting writing resumes 13 years ago, it was not uncommon for my clients to want tell future employers about how they graduated with honors. The universities use the Latin term “cum laude” on the degree to distinguish these hard working students. However, you may remember that spam emails were rampant early in the new millennium, usually adversiting websites containing adult content or enhancement drugs. Employers began using “spam blockers” to keep sexually explicit messages from ever reaching their company inbox.

This posed a problem for job searchers who were highly qualified and graduated cum laude. That’s because, cum has a different meaning in English than it does Latin, and it became one of those words that triggered the spam blocker. Resumes that listed this phrase never made it to the intended recipient. Instead, the documents were sent directly into spam folders and deleted. Professional resume writers were told not to use the phrase at all, and instead write “with honors.”

As with everything else in the job search, the rules are once again changing. According to chatter this week in resume writer e-groups, the spam blockers from 2004 are no longer relevant, and emails sent back and forth among the members discussing the “cum laude” issue are not being rejected. Perhaps the software has become more context-based, although this is in no way a scientific study.

Does this mean we can go back to using “cum laude” on a resume? Maybe. I always tend to err on the side of caution when it comes to changes like this. However it’s nice to know that students who work hard, and earn top honors are less likely to be ignored anymore because of spam blocking software.

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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 AskAManager.org and AskTheHeadhunter.com 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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Yikes! It’s Tax Time Again.

Tax season is underway, and I know I have options when it comes to tax preparation: I can do it myself and hope I don’t make an expensive mistake. I can buy software and hope that I understand exactly what the program is asking me to do, or I can bite the bullet and shell out a few hundred bucks and get help from someone who knows convoluted tax code inside out. I don’t have time to keep up with the changes from one year to the next. And figuring out my tax burden is just not fun for me. Many people feel the same way about writing a résumé.

Tax preparation and résumé preparation are not that different. Both processes work best when you save vital documents, such as mileage and receipts for the IRS; and performance evaluations from previous jobs for your résumé. Not saving documents can be a liability, because it’s difficult to remember what to accurately list on your résumé or tax returns. Also consider how much is at stake if you’re ever audited. Yet many job seekers fail to understand the long term expense if a self-written résumé doesn’t generate interviews.

Additionally, I scratch my head at folks who look at résumé samples and copy sentences word for word thinking that’s going to grab the attention of a recruiter. I know I’d never copy anyone else’s tax return in order to get mine done, because it just won’t work. We all have a unique background. The same is true for the job search. Do you really have any idea what you might be leaving off? And what if the résumé you copied is out-of-date and has information no longer necessary?

If you’ve ever tried to complete your own taxes chances are you had to complete worksheets. A good resume starts with good information gathering as well. Both industries rely on worksheets, and client interviews for the best outcome.

While taxes need to be filed every year, thankfully we don’t need to apply for a job every year! Although a résumé should be updated once a year, or you should at least keep a running list of accomplishments and compile them in a folder. This should include annual performance reviews, job descriptions, awards, sales figures, and anything else where you helped your company make money, save money, become more efficient, etc. And just like your taxes, you’ll need to quantify in dollar ($) figures or percentage (%) points. Numbers are important!

Tax Filing fees are tax deductible. The same holds true for expenses related to the job search, which includes professional résumé services and software programs. So don’t forget to save those receipts if you do decide to invest in professional services.

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Rules are Made to be Broken

As I’ve mentioned on several occasions, there is a science behind resume writing that goes deeper than mere words on a page. I write a resume to reach several audiences, including strangers who don’t know you or your occupation, the hiring director who does know your occupation, and a computer that scans it first.

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Word Up. Why MS Word Matters

If you are serious about getting a job, your resume needs to be formatted in Microsoft Word. I quiz potential clients, and if you don’t have MS Word on your computer, then we can’t work together. Here’s why.

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Don’t Quit Your Day Job

One of the trends that has surfaced in the Great Recession is discrimination against the long-term unemployed. Last summer I noticed vacancy announcements clearly stating “only those currently employed need apply.”

The Department of Justice stepped in to examine this practice and so far has stated it is not illegal. That being said, even if employers remove the stipulation from their ads, who’s to say they wouldn’t discriminate anyway.

Therefore, if you have a job, and even if you hate it, don’t quit yet until you find new employment. Otherwise you’ll have a cross to bear.

If you have been out of work for a very long time, do volunteer work, or take classes, or something to show that you’re are actively staying up to date on your skills and to close the gap to make you more salable to employers.

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Underscores in your Resume

If your resume has underlined words in it, you could very easily be passed over for your next opportunity. That’s because computer scanners, which now read more than 80% of resumes…can’t decipher certain lower case letters such as p, q, or g that touch the underscored line. That’s problematic with electronic scanners because when any of the letters touch each other or an underscore, the computer can’t read it and it turns to goofy symbols. So skip the underlines in your resume and stick to clean fonts that any computer scanner can easily understand.