Does the following description sound like you? • Enthusiastic with lots of diverse passions and interests • Get fascinated with something new, every few days • Come up with new, sparky ideas • Like starting things, but not finishing them • Have a bunch of tabs open on your web browser at any one time (what, just one webpage at a time?) • Find the idea of choosing just one career scary, limiting and very stressful
What if you could talk to four hiring professionals and ask them what they REALLY wanted to see in your resume? Do you think that might give you an advantage in your job search? I spoke to recruiters and career experts from across America and convinced them to share their best advice with you. So, without further ado, here are four tips from career experts to help you write a better resume and get hired!
1) Research the company and customize your resumeIn this job market, too many candidates are chasing too few openings. That means you must differentiate yourself. And a great way to do that is to customize every resume, to clearly target the positions you apply for. "I advise all candidates to send out no generic resumes. Make sure you include keywords from the job postings online or from the newspaper - this can grab employers' attention and keep them reading," says Felix Lin, a recruiting professional at Los Angeles-based Marclin Group. So, carefully match your resume to job postings, to make sure your resume hits all the hot buttons in every ad you respond to. In addition, research target companies using Hoovers and your network of contacts. The more you know, the better you can tailor your resume to appeal to hiring managers. "You want to know what kind of management style will be a good fit at your target employer. If you have contacts there, find out what happened to the person you'll be hired to replace. Were they fired, promoted, what? Use any advantage you can get - you have to research companies like there's no tomorrow," says Lin.
2) Showcase your achievementsWhen writing your resume, shoot off your big guns early. Because if you start off slow, employers may never finish reading. "Top career accomplishments and awards should be at the top of page one for impact, not buried on page two," says Ron McManmon, a former recruiter and currently Executive VP of Bend, Oregon-based Careeradex, Inc. For best results, mention at least 2-3 of your top achievements within the top third of page one -- this is the most valuable real estate in your resume. You can include your achievements in a Profile or Qualifications Summary section, with 4 or 5 bulleted paragraphs, each one or two lines long. Bullets make for easy reading and allow you to make your best points quickly.
3) Break up long text"Avoid paragraph forms that are text heavy and hard on the eyes. Bullet points definitely make for easier reading," says Rick Fox, Branch Manager at Edina, Minn.-based Princeton Search. My own rule of thumb is to break all paragraphs longer than three lines into two or more shorter, bulleted sections. Here's just one "before" and "after" example from a recent resume that crossed my desk, with grammar and punctuation improved as well. BEFORE Administrator of a 40-node local area network utilizing Windows NT primary domain model, integrated with a Novell Netware server for GroupWise E-mail access. Windows NT Server 4.0 provided DHCP-TCP/IP services for the intranet, as well as account validation, and management of shared resources. Windows NT Workstation 4.0 provided access to the domain. AFTER • Administered 40-node LAN running Windows NT primary domain, integrated with a Novell Netware server for GroupWise E-mail access. • Managed Windows NT Server 4.0 (DHCP-TCP/IP for intranet, account validation, and shared resource management) and Windows NT Workstation 4.0 (domain access).
4) Stay within two pages"The initial review of a resume is very brief -- as little as 13 seconds. We look for several items, including companies worked for, job titles and timeline. These should all be prominently displayed," says Doug Binning, President of Minneapolis-based Upstart Solutions. A good rule of thumb is to limit your resume to two pages at most. "The attention span of resume reviewers is notoriously short," adds Binning. Anything that doesn't make the cut can be used to create supplemental documents, listing your projects and prior experience in detail. Bring these supplements to the job interview, where you can use them to expand on your resume. Related: Warning! 3 Things that Shouldn't Be on Your Resume.
I get a surprising amount of between-jobs people coming to me and saying the following: JOBHUNTER: ‘No one’s hiring in my field so I’m looking for admin work – just as something to do for a while’. Caring Career Coach: ‘And how does admin work fit with your background?” JOBHUNTER: ‘I’ve spent the last 10 years as a senior ad sales manager’ Caring Career Coach: ‘Hmm, so no actual admin experience…’ JOBHUNTER: ‘No. And I don’t actually want to do admin work, but I know it’ll be easy to get because it’s just filing and making tea, and I’ve done much bigger and better jobs so they’ll just fall over themselves for me’ Caring Career Coach: ‘You’re a self-absorbed idiot. That’s why you don’t have a job. Bye!’ Just joking of course! (I don’t say that sort of thing until at least our second meeting) But seriously, there are a lot of experienced, smart professionals out there thinking that they can ‘always pick up admin work’. Because I do care, and I don’t want you to waste your valuable job hunting time, here’s why you should put the admin fantasy to one side and focus on something more ‘you’, right now:
Put yourself in the shoes of an admin hiring manager:HIRING MANAGER: “I need someone who is experienced enough to cover for my PA who is going on maternity leave. My PA is really important – she runs my life and this office, so make sure the replacement knows their stuff” HR: “Great, I have the CV of a guy who has spent the last 5 years as a banking lawyer and enjoys hunting whelks in the Antarctic. Oh, and the CVs of 20,000 experienced PAs” HIRING MANAGER: “Screw the PAs, bring in the whelk murdering banking lawyer! How lucky are we to have him! PAs have no actual skills do they? I’ll happily spend the next 3 months showing him the ropes. Incidentally I’m on holiday next week and my Shitzu puppy is filling in for me on the teleconference with New York”. Admin roles may not always need the levels of experience of a really great PA – yes, some of them do revolve around filing. However they are still roles that need to be done efficiently, and where people with the right experience, and who are most likely to fit into that environment, are likely to be have an advantage in getting the job. They are not an easy fallback. In this environment Admin roles are SWAMPED with applicants. Really swamped. Because so many people are thinking like Ms Ad Sales or Mr Banking Lawyer above. If you are 100% serious that admin is what you want/need to do right now, then by all means spend all your jobhunting energy on revamping yourself and your CV to stand out from the hundreds of admin experienced applicants. If you do it right, and if you do have the necessary skills, then yes, you’re in with a chance. But don’t kid yourself that these roles are open to just anyone with office experience and a CV – like any role, you need to present yourself properly.
What else can you do?If you’re only looking for admin work halfheartedly (hello to most of you!), then you will be better off using your time to think outside the box in terms of: A) job options which value some of your skills, strengths and experience B) how you present yourself. This does not mean only going for roles identical to those you have already done. It means capitalizing on your specific skills and figuring out where they will be valued. In doing so, you cut out the thousands of people who haven’t thought like this, only thought they had generic ‘office skills’ and so just apply for admin jobs… and are probably still applying fruitlessly today. Related: 5 Ways To Find a New Job After Being Laid Off. Marianne Cantwell is a Free Range Human, and a career change expert. She helps mid-career professionals figure out what they REALLY want to do with the rest of their lives. Marianne gets her clients thinking outside the box, excited and motivated to create remarkable, awesome, simply wonderful careers they truly love. Visit Marianne's site Free Range Humans and be sure to follow her on Twitter @FreeRangeHumans
Even the most confident, social and outgoing among us may find the prospect of both personal and professional networking daunting at times. From an early age we’re taught “don’t talk to strangers” but when we grow up, we suddenly find ourselves thrust into situations, be it at parties or business events, where we’re expected to initiate conversation with random individuals who we’ve never seen before, don’t know and have nothing to do with. Not only that, but we’re expected to get tangible results out of such encounters. Be it our matchmaking friend or our sales manager, they expect you to leave that party or conference with a date or a business card. The issue here is that networking, as well as being a social skill, also counts as a career skill and the majority of us have had no formal career (or social) skills training. However, building up such skills can be an essential part of building your career, so it’s worth investing time in yourself to learn these skills. Good, old-fashioned, paper-not-digital books are one of a number of ways to start self-training. Here are ten of the most rated books on networking; a good mixture of classics and newer titles. Click: Ten Truths for Building Extraordinary Relationships George Fraser If even the word ‘networking’ fills you with dread and you just find the whole concept too contrived, this book is for you. In it, George Fraser explains he prefers the term ‘connecting’ to ‘networking’ and encourages us to be sincere. It’s not wishy-washy vagueness though-each chapter is packed with practical, ‘takeaway’ advice. Networking like a Pro: Turning Contacts into Connections Ivan Misner On the theme of ‘connecting’, have you ever felt like you’re just amassing contacts without forging any type of close connection with them? This book shows you how to resolve this by breaking down a number of networking techniques, illustrated by real life examples. Breakthrough Networking: Building Relationships that Last Lillian D. Bjorseth Here’s another book focusing on the long-term nurturing of your network. It guides you through the process from meeting new people to establishing them as close and valued contacts within your inner circle. Like many of the best career guides, Bjorseth has corporate experience herself, so she knows what she’s talking about. The Networking Survival Guide: Get the Success you want by tapping into the People you Know Diane Darling At Position Ignition we believe in not ignoring your existing contacts but instead finding out what you can do for them and what they can do for you by getting to know them properly. This book echoes these values, although it also explains how to strike up conversations with new people and how to network anywhere-even on planes! [url=http://www.amazon.co.uk/Networking-Career-Success-McGraw-Hill-Professional/dp/0071456031">Diane Darling Although this is by the same author, it has a slightly different objective in that it focuses more on getting to know new people than getting closer to the ones you know. Just as valid a lesson-if we never got to know anyone new, we’d never have anyone to get closer to! Make your Contacts Count: Networking Know-How for Business and Career Success Anne Baber & Lynne Waymon This is as interactive as a traditional book can get, with various quizzes, assessments and step-by-step plans to guide the reader through all the stages of professional networking relationships. A useful read for all, from entrepreneurs to job seekers. Highly Effective Networking: Meet the Right People and get a Great Job Orville Pierson Networking as part of our job search is certainly useful, but a haphazard, confused approach can render it counterproductive. This book helps untangle matters by laying out the steps for a straightforward, targeted approach. Pierson is also honest about the time and perseverance required to get the job we really want. The Fine Art of Small Talk: How to Start a Conversation, Keep it Going, Build Networking Skills-and Leave a Positive Impression! Debra Fine What about books for those of us who aren’t even comfortable with starting a conversation when it comes to networking? This one starts right from the start, even providing a list of icebreakers. There’s an accompanying cassette so all in all it’s a varied learning experience! Savvy Networking: 118 Fast & Effective Tips for Business Success Andrea Nierenberg This is ideal if you don’t have much spare time for reading, or if you don’t enjoy reading long passages! The advice for business networkers is broken down into takeaway tips, flavoured with some real-life illustrations for variation. How to Win Friends and Influence People Dale Carnegie This well-known classic from the 1930s is still relevant to networkers today. Networking is not only about meeting people and getting to know them, but also about treating people in the right way. Chapters like ‘Six ways to make people like you’ may sound a bit ‘high school’ and clumsy but that doesn’t totally invalidate the sentiments behind them. Let’s face it, if someone doesn’t like you, they’re not going to help you, no matter how good a networker you are. It seems there’s a networking book out there for all of us, no matter what stage of our career-or career transition-we’re at. Books are just one useful tool in building up skills like networking. Try asking friends about their own experiences, seeking out specific training and, of course, getting out there and trying out these books’ tips for yourself. Practice makes perfect! Related: 5 Great Ways NOT to Network. Nisa Chitakasem is the founder of Position Ignition – a careers company dedicated to taking you to the next step in your career. Nisa is passionate about helping individuals find the right career path for them whether it involves finding a more rewarding career, making a career change, figuring out the right career plan or being creative about career directions. For free advice, guidance and information on careers visit the Position Ignition Career Blog or find her on Twitter [url=http://www.twitter.com/posignition">@PosIgnition