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The Rules are Always Changing in the Job Search

When I started writing professional resumes nearly 15 years ago, the job search landscape was vastly different than it is today. Although the Internet was around, and job boards were just beginning to crop up, we still applied for jobs using paper and fax machines. Those days are long gone, and it’s been a constant battle to keep up with changes along the way.

Since then , we’ve seen the advent of Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) where computers filter through key words before human eyes ever see them. Plus with the number of free resume samples floating all over the Internet, it’s become quite easy for job seekers with writer’s block to lift phrases and resume styles from others. It’s how crutch words and phrases quickly become the disdain of recruiters. My least favorite (and way overused word on a resume) is “successfully.” Career Builder recently released a survey of words that hiring managers have ranked as best and worst. While “successful” did not make their list, terms such as “team player,” “results-driven,” and “track record” were included as “least favorite.” As to words they liked, you’ll find them in the survey, but keep in mind, whatever recruiters favor today, may be out of favor tomorrow.

Therefore, use a thesaurus! Not all words have to parrot the vacancy announcement exactly. Instead, show off your broad knowledge of the English language. But if that’s not your forte, then hire an expert. We’re here to help.

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Gift ideas for New College Graduates

College graduation season will soon be upon us, and that means a new class entering the workforce. After spending tens of thousands of dollars to secure a degree, doesn’t it make sense to pay a few hundred dollars on professional services to get a leg up on the competition? A gift certificate for resumes, cover letters, and job search advice helps the new graduate land a job in their field much more quickly.

Years ago one of my clients purchased a resume package for his sister who was graduating college. A year later he told me it was like giving her a “winning lottery ticket.” Apparently she landed an internship with her dream company that turned into a $68,000 a year job. She was a chemical engineer, mind you. All occupations are different.

That experience helped me realize what a great gift my client gave to his sister. If you know someone graduating soon, let us provide the most up to date advice for job applications, resumes, cover letters, and online job searches. Contact us for details. 623-556-0330.

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An Experienced Job Hunter…

Who would you rather write your resume? Someone who’s been on a lot of job interviews? Or someone who’s been sitting behind a desk for 25 years, writing resumes, but never applying for jobs? This is kind of what gets my craw with a lot of (but not all) college career centers. They only hire those with Master’s degrees. That means not much in the way of real world experience (going out and fetching jobs) but theory only.

I’m a job jumper. There. I admit it. Not because I want to. Because I like the world of work, and that goes for applying for jobs and going on interviews. Every once in a while, I actually take a part-time job for a few years to continue to keep a pulse on today’s workforce.

There’s been tales told of the shoemaker’s kids having the worst shoes? Try writing a resume with a background of 80 or so jobs? Yes, we exist. But who better to help you with your career needs.

I’ve applied for a lot of jobs. There is no shortcut to experience, but you can learn from the experience of others.

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How to Spot a Toxic Co-worker

We’ve all seen them – TOXIC people who have a dark cloud over them, create a lot of drama, and point fingers that everyone else is the problem These people will undermine your career, drain your energy, steal credit for your ideas, and then point the finger that you’re the one with the problem and it was you who screwed them over. If you call them on their B.S. you will be crucified.
Most of the time they will give away their “tells” — so be on the look out for them. Perhaps they’re bragging about how they vilified their ex-spouse in a divorce, or how they screwed over someone else’s chance at getting a job. If you have a co-worker like this, RUN! Do not share anything with them they can later use against you, because they will. After all, if they’d screw over a spouse, they will certainly do the same to you, and feel no remorse whatsoever. They love playing the victim.
WikiHow refers to these types as “Impossible People.” There is nothing you can do about them, except ignore them.  Don’t stoop to conquer. You’ll never win.

Do not worry about the tales they tell about you. For they will continue to tell the world what shit heads they are through their actions alone.


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Keep Your Job Search Confidential

I get this question from time to time as to whether you should let your co-workers and managers know you are are actively job searching or you have a job interview with another company. To that I reply, “NO!” Sometimes I’ll get push back that it’s the right thing to do, so the company can have more time finding a replacement. It’s an ideal concept, but one that backfires more often than not.

For one, your co-workers and managers will begin treating you differently. Here’s why. Imagine if you’re married, and you approach your spouse to let them know you are interested in playing the field, to see what else is out there. Or that you plan to leave the marriage 8 weeks from now. What do you think the response will be? And then what if your new love interest decides you’re not the one after all? It’s not that different when it comes to the job search. If you don’t find a new job right away, or perhaps you decide you’re better off staying put, do you think your employer will embrace you? Or question your loyalty?

You’re not off the hook if your unemployed either. Sure you can mention you’re looking for work, but leave it at that. Blasting information about upcoming or recent job interviews among friends, co-workers, or on social media can  backfire because it invites competition for the job (maybe your co-workers are also interested in fleeing the coop).

Moreover, I’ve seen the chronically unemployed continue to make the same mistakes when it comes to job searching and networking. These are the people who hang out in LinkedIn chat rooms and: lament about how tough the job market is, all they want is a job, and then when they get an interview they complain loudly about the asinine questions, or hurl insults about the interviewer. That’s just bad branding. And poor etiquette.

The job search is much like a poker game. Keep a straight face and keep your cards close to the vest. Don’t make it easy for your competitors to beat you.  Or your current boss to remove you from the table.

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Today we are 13.

Today is a big day for 1st Rate Resumes. It was 13 years ago today that I walked into the San Diego County Building and registered the name in the State of California. It was my resolution to start a new job, so I created one. Mind you, I knew very little about operating a business.

It’s been a challenging occupation, but ever changing and always interesting. I spend a lot of time researching job titles, learning grammar and proofreading skills, cursing at Microsoft, and handling accounting duties. But we’re still here, and after 13 years and numerous cross-country moves, we’re not only surviving, but thriving.

As for the changes? I’ve seen the death of the one page resume, the evolution of online job applications (ASCII text resumes) and a huge surge in job fairs. I’ve been a part of JobQuest TV which picked up 12 awards — 2 of them Emmys. I’ve created the radio program “Career Matters Radio” which helps job seekers and the unhappily employed. I’m super excited about 2014.

The best part of this business is the people we get to help. When a client’s worst dilemma is having to turn down two job offers to accept a third, or when I hear of salary increases of $10-$12K or even double their current compensation, then I know I’ve done my job, and I don’t feel the least bit guilty of my fees. My clients know they are an excellent value in the long run.

And my dirty little secret to success comes from the 80+ jobs I’ve held. I know firsthand what to do, what not to do, etc. However, this current position of mine seems to be my calling. I know this because it’s the only one where I have served on Boards for Career Related Associations, judged annual awards, and have earned 5 certifications.  I guess you could say I’m building my own resume these days by racking up a few achievements. I’m hopeful you’re doing the same. Happy New Year!

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Attention New College Graduates

If you are about to graduate college, you’ve come to the right place. First Rate Resumes has helped hundreds of new college graduates launch their career.  It’s a tough economy, however, employers are still hiring. There’s just more competition. In order to compete effectively, you’ll need a 1st Rate Resume to put you ahead of the pack.  Many of our clients have been on multiple job interviews for jobs within their field. Professionally written resumes pay for themselves many times over, by opening  doors, and shortening the job search.

Send us your resume, or give us a call at 623-556-0330. We’d be happy to look it over, and give you a no-obligation quote.


–PS: A professionally written resume makes an excellent graduation gift.

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Your Document’s Skeleton Reveals a lot About YOU!

Did you know that every time you create a document in Microsoft Word you leave a trail? That trail includes just how seasoned you are at using the program. Are you starting with a template that someone else created? Are you setting and using tabs? Or do you just use the space bar to line up words and numbers? And why does this matter anyway?

It matters if you write your own resume. For one, the reader can turn on the paragraph marker (¶) to determine how attentive to detail you are. Whether you left extra lines between paragraphs, different font sizes to get everything to fit on a page, or you didn’t set your tabs correctly. You might claim you know MS Word on your resume, but in truth, the skeleton will give it away. So much so, that professional resume writers are required to have a “clean” skeleton when we submit items for publication.

Okay, so maybe you don’t plan to “publish” your document. But consider this: if your resume is submitted online through a resume parsing system, or is converted to a text format, it will look like hell. And that’s not a good impression when your job searching.

I remember when I first encountered the ¶ markers on a document. I thought to myself, “why would anyone want to work in MS Word with those things turned on?” I quickly learned to turn them off. Later, when I became a professional resume writer, and realized the importance of using ¶ in MS Word, I changed my mind. Using the ¶ marker quickly points out why the printer is spitting out an extra blank page (blame the cat leaning on the space bar). It alerts you to a extraneous lines, spaces, and inconsistent font sizes. You don’t need to keep it on when you’re typing, but it’s a good idea to turn it on to check and see how clean your work is.

Another thing to check in the document skeleton is the Properties. The Properties point out if you stole someone else’s resume and made a few edits, such as changing the name, contact, and employer names. Plagiarism doesn’t sit well with employers. The Properties also point out who the software was originally licensed to when the document was created. Some people use their employer’s computers to write their resume. Even if it was copied to a thumb drive, and added to over the years, that company name remains in the Properties. And it sure doesn’t look good when it matches the name of a former employer that’s on your resume.

Make it a point to add the ¶ marker to your list of tools when creating clean, crisp documents. It may make the difference between a job interview, or prolonged unemployment.

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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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Why People Quit Their Jobs

After 13 years of writing resumes, and hearing way too many workplace horror stories, it’s easy to figure out why people quit their jobs. While money and the ability to make a difference are definitely factors; the majority of job seekers have revealed to me they are not quitting their jobs. They’re quitting their managers.

One client told me when he started his job right out of college 28 years ago, he loved his company and his position so much, he never planned on leaving.  He worked for numerous managers, but it was his last 3 years with the organization that made his job a living hell. He had a bully boss, who would yell and scream over visible electric cords, florescent lighting, and not parking his car uniformly with every one else – front end toward the building. And no, he didn’t work for a car dealership; he worked in a television station. Antics like these might be humiliating, but they are not illegal.

Bad managers can make a job go from awesome to awful. And they cost companies a lot in poor morale, high turnover, company lawsuits, and the worst of all — violence in the workplace. The saddest part of this, is that most of their antics are not illegal. Rudeness is not illegal, even if it does create a hostile work environment.

Before signing on to your next job, checkout to find out if their are any issues you may encounter. You’ll save yourself a lot of grief in the long run.