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What “Scrappers” bring to the workplace

Yesterday I saw a Ted Talk that was eye-opening. Regina Hartley, works in HR Management at UPS, and said she prefers to consider the “scrapper” over the “silver spoon” because these people have faced adversity and are more likely to address problems and solve them. She asserts that the scrapper’s secret weapon is passion and purpose.

After watching this Ted Talk, I tallied up the number of jobs I’ve held. I stopped at 80, and this did not include the number of temp jobs I held for staffing agencies  where I went on a lot of assignments over a few years. I would consider myself a “super scrapper.”

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Scan the Headlines

It’s what we do.

Every day.

Whether it’s a Facebook news-feed or a newspaper, headlines help decide what we want to spend our time reading, or whether we should move on to another topic of interest.

With resumes, it’s no different. Recruiters need to know within mere seconds who you are and what you have to offer. In the news business it’s important that you don’t bury the lead. And it’s no different in the job search.

Think about it. If newspaper or magazine articles didn’t have a snappy, interesting headline, would you read that publication cover-to-cover in search of topics that interest you? Probably not.

So don’t leave your headline area blank. That’s the very first thing an employer will notice. Hint, it’s where the “objective” used to go. But don’t make it boring and vague either.

Here’s an example of a resume headline:

Multi-certified Job Search Consultant and Professional Resume Writer

Now the hiring director quickly knows what you’re all about, and whether they want to read further. It also has all the necessary keywords to get beyond applicant tracking systems.

With resumes, less is more. Remember that the next time you’re scanning a news headline or looking for a new job.

 

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Is Your Resume 1st Rate, or Out of Date?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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How to Choose a Qualified Resume Writer

Update Your Resume Month is now in its 10th year. I know this because I was around as a resume writer when this event got underway. Back then the resume writing profession was unheard of. Why would anyone pay someone else to do something they could do themselves? Yes, that was the attitude in 2000 when I launched a career as a professional resume writer. The economy was buzzing, and people did not need a stellar looking resume to get a job interview.

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Tricks of the Trade

When I write a resume I do everything I can to keep the reader in mind. What are they looking for on a resume? And how can I quickly draw their eye to what the readers is seeking.

Problem is, readers of resumes are all in search of different attributes, although they all seek someone who is going to have a positive impact on the bottom line. In other words, employers want a worker who will generate more revenue or savings than the employee will cost in annual salary and benefits.

So here are a few ways to help readers easily navigate your resume.

SUMMARY: In 20 seconds or less you need to communicate how you can effectively fill the role of the position you’re applying for. Have a degree and 5+ years experience? Mention it. Bilingual? It also needs to be stated up front. Other traits are also good to might include preferences: such as willing to work weekends, holidays, and nights.

CORE COMPETENCIES: One or two word bullet points that quickly point out your expertise. List 9 or 12.

EDUCATION: Where does it go? That depends on where you are in your career. If you just graduated college and have little to no experience in your field, than emphasize education toward the top of the resume. If you have more experience than education, the education goes last on the resume. That’s where recruiters typically look for it first. Whatever you do, don’t bury it somewhere in the middle of page two. It will be over looked.

BULLET POINTS: Don’t exceed 9 in a row. The eyes get bored and glaze over a whole bunch of text.

FONTS:  Even though we have access to fancy fonts, the issue at hand is that not all recipients have the same fonts you do. So stick to the basics: Arial, Times New Roman, Helvetica, and New Century Schoolbook. Don’t go below 10 point and don’t exceed 12 point. Eleven-point font is preferred. I’ve gone so far as to use 10.5 for better balance when necessary.

September is Update Your Resume Month. These tips are provided to you by 1st Rate Resumes.

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How a Professional Writes a Resume

Not to be confused with “How to Write a Professional Resume”
As a professional resume writer, I get a lot of requests to speak to college students, and out-of-work job seekers on how to write a resume. To be honest with you, it’s not something you can easily teach someone in an hour or two. Believe me I’ve tried. But I can tell you what process I take when I write a resume for my clients.
1.  I ask a lot of questions. I want to know who you are, what are your best attributes, what drives you, why do you like your job or occupation, what are you most proud of, and what do you want to do next.
2. Next I decide on a format or strategy. I analyze any potential red flags such as short stints, return to work, jail time, or no education. It varies and I’ve seen just about every situation.
3.  Then I research. I visit company websites, LinkedIn Profiles, and anything I can find on the occupation and the person I’m writing for. I analyze employee performance reviews and even negative things about the industry (hours, type of work, necessary skills and license requirements.)
4.  As I research, I write notes and start to format the resume, but I don’t start at the top. I fill it in all over the place, starting with the information I know and can easily transcribe: Education, Awards, Company names, locations, and dates along with job titles.
5.  When I’m  writing the body of the resume, whenever I come across some real earth shattering stuff, I give a brief mention of if in the Summary (Winner of 6 awards, for example.) But keep in mind, it’s only a placeholder until I actually clean up the Summary, which I do last. It’s usually when I come up with the headline statement, and it’s, in my opinion the most difficult part of the resume to write. Most Do-it-Yourselfers copy phrases out of books or from resumes they see and like. These statements appear disjointed and vague and rarely capture attention or the essence of the candidate.
6.  When I’m finished I proofread it, then I write the cover letter, and file both of them away for a day or two so I can proofread it again before I send it off to the client. TYPOS are hard to catch when you’ve just finished the document. Fresh eyes are a must.
Every resume writer has their own style and way of completing projects efficiently without sacrificing quality. I find if I get to know who I’m writing about, I can better describe the best attributes to the employers. I don’t lie, and I request that all my clients sign an agreement that they are providing me with truthful information.
So if you happen to have a lot of time and the desire to write resumes, you can do it. But make no mistake. This ain’t no get quick rich (work from home) scheme. You actually do have to work.
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What’s the Deal with Video Resumes?

I’m fortunate enough to know a lot of people in the job search industry so I’m always asking questions and picking the brains of experts about anything related to the job search. Most recently the topic of video resumes cropped up. I first learned about video resumes several years ago at a career conference. It seemed to me at the time that the only folks excited about video resumes were the people selling them.

Besides, I spent a good deal of my career in broadcasting and I know firsthand that most people just don’t look that good on camera without a lot of coaching and practice. (I know I still have a long way to go on this myself) So perhaps it’s not in a job seeker’s best interest to produce a video resume unless they are a talented actor or news anchor/reporter or product spokesperson.

And to add fuel to my argument against video resumes, here’s something I recently learned from my network. Apparently HR folks are not too pleased with them either. The consensus is that they can unintentionally cause discrimination during the hiring process, because the recruiter can see if the candidate is too old or young, racially diverse, or speaks with a foreign accent, before determining if they have the qualifications. That can spur lawsuits. And that’s what scares them.

Think twice before including video/photos etc with your job application. And you also might want to go back and check out your LinkedIn and Facebook photos to make sure they don’t reveal too much.

Enjoy the fruits of your labor this holiday weekend.

Susan Geary
1st Rate Resumes

SEPTEMBER IS UPDATE YOUR RESUME MONTH!!!

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Is it Time to Leave Your Job?

Has the joy left your job? Would you show up if there wasn’t a paycheck involved? These are tough questions to face in a stagnant economy, but the truth is, if you’re not pleased with your job, chances are you’ll be out of work during the next downsizing event anyway.

When I saw the following article posted on Salary.com, I knew I should share. Find it here.

It’s still Update Your Resume Month!

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Martha Stewart Rocks!

I’ll admit it, I’m a huge Martha Stewart fan! And I didn’t become a fan until 2 years ago when I had to spend 3 months with my mother. She had on Martha every day, so I was a kind of a captive audience, but I got hooked.

Martha is a very smart woman with a Mida’s Touch. I don’t envy her, but I do admire her. She started blogging a year ago, and is now reaching out to the rest of us to link to her blog at www.themarthablog.com. On my next trip to NYC, I definitely want to go to her show.

One thing I would love to see Martha do this Fall is a canning segment. Not just pickles, like on her farm show, but how to make creative packages, with custom labels we can download from her website and attach with a glue stick to the jars. And fun fabric on the top, with a fancy gift tag. (Martha are you reading this?)

PS–September is Update Your Resume Month.

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September is Update Your Resume Month

It’s time once again to evaluate what you’ve been up to over the past year. What did you do to help your company make money, slash costs, increase business, improve quality, etc. For a free worksheet, contact us, and we’ll get one right over to you.