Understanding a Resume

There are three key issues to understanding a resume. They are The Audience, The Author and The Content. Each of these components requires careful consideration when developing your resume to ensure that you achieve the best possible results. At times such as now when the job market is tight it is more important than ever that your resume stands out from the crowd. Remember a simple rule, Less is More, you would not tell all on a first date, you would tell enough to make yourself interesting and the same rule applies to writing your resume.

The Audience in this case can be either human or mechanical and we have to consider both of these entities. We also have to consider another scenario, that of networking where the resume is used as an introductory tool rather than as a direct job application. In the case of the human audience we are most often considering a recruiter and secondly the networking contact. The recruiter is usually busy and pushed to giving each resume the briefest of scans. To overcome this issue we need to make the resume easy to read, so easy in fact that the information jumps off the page straight into their mind. Long, complicated sentences in the opening summary can jeopardize your chances of having your resume passed on to the hiring manager. The mechanical audience is usually some form of scanning system that is looking for key words. The objective is to make sure the correct words are in your resume.

The Author can either be the person who is the subject of the resume or someone who is employed by that individual. Every time that you show your resume to someone else and ask for their opinion your will receive constructive criticism. There is a fine line between constantly changing your resume for the needs of the opportunity you are chasing and doing it because someone else has made a comment. When choosing a writer to work with make sure that they understand you and your goals, this is not a five minute exercise but requires multiple conversations before a satisfactory result can be obtained.

The Content is the most important piece of the puzzle. This is normally divided into 3 main sections, The Summary, Experience and Education. There are many variations on this theme but in essence the goal in all resumes is to know your target position, research it carefully and focus your resume on answering the needs of the company. The Summary is where you make your first impression; this is the area where you have the first 20 seconds of the recruiters time. Make the best of this and deliver a clear, easy to read section. In the Experience section we are dealing with your accomplishments, we are looking for thoughts and ideas that make you stand out from the crowd. The final section, Education is where we list College and Corporate training information unless we have recently left school where we may also list our High School information.

In summary, a well written summary section focused on what you can deliver to an organization, an author focused on building a great resume that is focused on them and a content section that demonstrates your strengths and accomplishments will provide you with the finest resume.

Three Steps to a Successful Job Interview

Much has been said and written about insuring a successful job interview. Speaking as someone who coaches people for interview, a careful analysis reveals that there are three basic components to success. They are appearance, practice and preparation. No doubt you are saying to yourself that practice and preparation are the same thing but I will demonstrate to you that they are not.

Appearance is not often discussed but is crucial to your success. It makes little difference as to the organization you are visiting but a smart appearance makes an impression, it is often said that you never have a second chance to make a first impression and the first interview is no exception. Unless you have skills and knowledge that are not available anywhere else then you are in a competitive environment and you need to treat it that way. A man can always take off a tie if it is inappropriate but it is very difficult to put it on if you do not have one.

Practice relates getting ready to answer questions, understanding how interviews work and making sure that you are at the peak of your performance. At a minimum you are practicing your pitch and exit reason. The pitch is the answer to the question So tell me about yourself or other similar questions that are designed to see how you best fit the needs of the organization. Practice is the key to answering those interview questions accurately but without appearing rehearsed.

Preparation on the other hand relates to getting all the other pieces of information ready beforehand. A few examples of this are as follows: Research, make sure that you have completed an extensive search about the organization, it does not matter how high or low on the food chain you are remember you are interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you. Insure that you have a number of great questions to ask. Many states have access to free research services that can be accessed through the Internet and their Library systems. Make sure that you know where you are going and how long it will take you to get there, leave plenty of time so you will not be rushed. Bring cleanly printed copies of your resume to hand out; you cannot be sure how it has printed out from an emailed copy.

To summarize, there are many moving parts to a successful interview and with the appropriate actions you can stay in control. Your appearance speaks for you before you open your mouth, when you do open your mouth make sure that you can answer questions succinctly and accurately and finally being prepared in advance with information, great questions and having the logistics nailed down will all help to put you on the short list.

Barry Simpson – Your personal job-search assistant.


Why everyone is now called a ‘consultant’ and how it effects your job-search

There was a time when the term ‘consultant’ had a very specific meaning. Usually, these folks worked for ‘the big six’ accounting firms or one of the brand-name strategy shops (McKinsey, BCG, etc.). These people were high-paid troubleshooters with a top-MBAs.

But now the term ‘consultant’ seems to mean everyone. If you are any type of ‘contract worker’ you are now considered a consultant. Why is this important for job-searchers?

There are two key implications to this change. The first is that the term now means ‘anyone who has done any work for anyone “between jobs”‘. So putting ‘consultant’ on your resume will likely either beg questions that you don’t want to be discussing in an interview (“tell me – who were you consulting for”) or people will simply assume you put ‘consulting’ in the place of ‘long-term job-search’.

The other implication is that it is now OK to be ‘a consultant’ and job-hop here there and everywhere. This is a reflection of the view that, increasingly, there is no employer-employee relationship, but it is instead a ‘transaction’. You, as an employee, are expected to hire/fire based on Wall Street – forget any loyalty for there is a long-line of other folks waiting to take your newly-vacated role. Also, as an employee, you are now free to work for ‘the highest bidder’ because you are now a ‘skill-set’ or a ‘tool’ to address the current business need. Once that need has passed, your employment may end.

So what does this mean? It means, to quote my friend Cliff Hakim ‘We are all self employed’. The job-search is no longer a ‘once in a while’ task, but something that will likely be ongoing throughout your career. So while you think about your current ‘job-requirements’ you now should also be thinking ‘what is next (after this next role) and how do I plan for this’.

In the past, you were ‘prepared’ for a job-change if you had a current resume. Now being ‘prepared’ means having a current resume, cover-letter, active network, updated profile, and a working relationship with one or more recruiters.

Keeping this level of preparedness is not simple for you have to invest time and energy beyond your current job or search and think more about your ‘career’. That is one of the reasons we created VirtualJobCoach. There were no integrated toolboxes for managing your search and/or career, so every time you looked for a job, you used a bunch of different tools (calenders, resumes, cover letters, contact lists). These tools were usually ‘ad-hoc’ for your current search and promptly lost/deleted when you found your desired position. So, when you found yourself in your ‘next-search’ you had to either find these old/outdated tools and/or create new ones. Isabont, however, provides an integrated set of tools that, with minimal investment, can be kept current. With everything ‘in one place’ you don’t have to worry about files on your work laptop, or where you archived your latest and greatest cover letter. You simply go into your isabont account and update the files/information/network/to-dos/company lists.

You are now ‘ready’ for the next set of jobs that will make-up your career.

Three Things You Need To Know About Job Search In Difficult Times

If you want to be successful in searching for a job in these difficult economic times there are three key things you need to be doing. They are each to do with marketing yourself and include your resume, networking and your pitch. I will explain each of these in this article and how you can use these to rise to the top of the list. Remember – This is all about You.

A resume is the most important document in your bag of goodies. As you work to get your information into the hands of Hiring Managers put yourself in their shoes. What are they looking for? Does your resume stand out? It must portray you as someone who can add value to the organization from day one. You are limited to a short period of time when a Recruiter reads your resume and you must take advantage of every second to make an impression. Make sure you have the right keywords in your resume. Once you have completed the resume then you can move on.

It is often said that Networking is the key to finding a job and in my time as an Outplacement consultant I can confirm that to be true. Well over 85% of all my clients find their next position through a friend of a friend, or an alumni group, or through another organization that they belong to. Never dismiss a contact because you think they won’t know the right people. I could tell you any number of stories that would prove you wrong. Network, Network and Network and if that fails start Networking.

We are not intrinsically comfortable with Networking, asking other people for help, or in this case ‘advice’ we think shows weakness. Nothing could be further from the truth, great strength is required to contact someone you have never met and ask them for advice that could help you in the transition. Get to it!!

Our final item is ‘The Pitch’, the answer to the question ‘Tell me about yourself’ or ‘How do you see yourself fitting into this organization?’ These are both great questions when you understand what the interviewer is looking for. The interviewer is looking to hear about you strengths, abilities and skills and how they will benefit the organization. They are not looking to know when you last had a vacation (unless it is pertinent to the position) but they do want to hear what you did at what job that is relevant to them.

Practice a standard version of this in front of the bathroom mirror, when you have an interview research the company and the position and focus your pitch at the requirements.

The three steps we have discussed follow a logical pattern, prepare the resume that will get you in the door for an interview, network like crazy to extend your reach when it comes to finding opportunities and lastly practice the 90 second drill that will allow you to demonstrate very quickly that you can deliver the goods.

Be successful and do not give up!

Barry @ virtualjobcoach

Writing a resume – where to start.

The news is full of bad-news recession talk over the last few month, and you may already have started to think about taking steps to be ready, just in case.

If all you’ve done to date is thinking, CONGRATULATIONS! it’s a good start, at least you’re not burying your head in the sand about things.

I bet the first thing on your list is to update your resume.

And I bet (double or quits) you haven’t quite gotten round to start writing your resume yet.

Sure it’s a big job, it’s important, but let’s face it, cranking open Word and writing your resume just doesn’t motivate you.

So how about you do it in some nice easy steps – no need to stress yourself about having to get it all done in one go.

So here’s my suggestion:

Start with the basic stuff you don’t need to think too much about, like your contact information, your education, the employers and the positions you’ve had. That’s pretty straight forward, right?

When you add your information to the Resume builder in Virtual Job Coach, The resume is broken down into sections, adding your information is as simple as filling in a few boxes.

So go right ahead, sign up for a free account in VirtualJobCoach and start writing your resume the easy way.

How to write a resume – Action verbs

The best achievement statements begin with a strong action verb. Here’s a list to get you started.



Accelerated Acclimated Accompanied Accomplished Achieved
Acquired Acted Activated Actuated Adapted
Added Addressed Adhered Adjusted Administered
Admitted Adopted Advanced Advertised Advised
Advocated Affected Aided Aired Allocated
Altered Amended Amplified Analyzed Answered
Anticipated Applied Appointed Appraised Approached
Approved Arbitrated Arranged Articulated Ascertained
Asked Assembled Assessed Assigned Assisted
Assumed Attained Attracted Audited Augmented
Authored Authorized Automated Awarded


Balanced Bargained Began Borrowed Bought
Broadened Budgeted Built


Calculated Canvassed Captured Cast Cataloged
Catalogued Categorized Centralized Chaired Challenged
Changed Channeled Charted Checked Circulated
Clarified Classified Cleared Coached Co-authored
Collaborated Collected Combined Commissioned Committed
Communicated Compiled Completed Complied Composed
Computed Conceived Conceptualized Condensed Conducted
Conserved Consolidated Constructed Consulted Contributed
Controlled Converted Conveyed Convinced Coordinated
Corrected Counseled Created Critiqued Customized


Debugged Decentralized Decreased Deferred Defined
Delivered Demonstrated Depreciated Described Designated
Designed Detected Determined Developed Devised
Diagnosed Directed Discovered Dispatched Dissembled
Distinguished Distributed Diversified Divested Doubled


Earned Eased Educated Effected Elicited
Eliminated Emphasized Enabled Encouraged Endorsed
Enforced Engaged Engineered Enhanced Enlarged
Enlisted Enriched Ensured Established Examined
Exceeded Exchanged Executed Exempted Expanded
Expedited Explored Exposed Extended Extracted


Fabricated Facilitated Fashioned Fielded Financed
Focused Forecasted Formalized Formed Formulated
Fortified Founded Fulfilled Furnished Furthered


Gained Gathered Gauged Generated Governed
Graded Granted Greeted Grouped Guided


Handled Helped Hired Hosted


Identified Illuminated Illustrated Implemented Improved
Improvised Inaugurated Incorporated Increased Incurred
Individualized Indoctrinated Induced Influenced Initiated
Innovated Inquired Inspected Inspired Installed
Instigated Instilled Instituted Instructed Insured
Integrated Interacted Interpreted Intervened Interviewed
Introduced Invented Inventoried Invested Investigated
Invited Involved Isolated Issued


Joined Judged



Launched Lectured Led Lightened Liquidated
Litigated Lobbied Localized Located Logged


Maintained Managed Mapped Marketed Maximized
Measured Mediated Merchandised Merged Minimized
Modeled Moderated Modernized Modified Monitored
Motivated Moved Multiplied


Named Narrated Navigated Negotiated Netted Noticed Nurtured


Observed Obtained Offered Opened Operated
Orchestrated Ordered Organized Oriented Originated
Overhauled Oversaw


Participated Patterned Performed Persuaded Phased
Photographed Pinpointed Pioneered Placed Planned
Polled Prepared Presented Preserved Presided
Prevented Processed Procured Profiled Programmed
Projected Promoted Prompted Proposed Proved
Provided Publicized Published Purchased Pursued


Qualified Quantified Quoted


Raised Ranked Rated Received Recommended
Reconciled Recorded Recovered Recruited Rectified
Redesigned Reduced Refined Regained Registered
Regulated Rehabilitated Reinforced Reinstated Rejected
Remedied Remodeled Renegotiated Reorganized Repaired
Replaced Reported Represented Researched Resolved
Responded Restored Restructured Resulted Retained
Retrieved Revamped Revealed Reversed Reviewed
Revised Revitalized Rewarded


Safeguarded Salvaged Saved Screened Secured
Segmented Selected Separated Served Serviced
Settled Shaped Shortened Shrank Signed
Simplified Simulated Sold Solicited Solved
Spearheaded Specialized Specified Speculated Spoke
Spread Stabilized Staffed Staged Standardized
Steered Stimulated Strategized Streamlined Strengthened
Stressed Structured Studied Submitted Substantiated
Substituted Suggested Superseded Supervised Supplied
Supported Surpassed Surveyed Synchronized Systematized


Tabulated Tailored Targeted Taught Tightened
Took Traced Traded Trained Transacted
Transferred Transformed Translated Transmitted Transported
Treated Tripled Troubleshot Tutored


Uncovered Undertook Unified United Updated Upgraded Utilized


Validated Valued Verified Viewed Visited Volunteered


Weighed Welcomed Widened Witnessed Won Worked Wrote




Two Cover letter styles that get you noticed.

If you thought resumes were misunderstood, consider the poor cover letter. While most folks will agree that a resume is needed, cover letters are a different story.

In an earlier post on cover letters we looked into whether a cover letter is actually needed, and while I couldn’t find a consensus we could conclude: “Always include a cover letter, if it’s not needed then it will be ignored, if a cover letter was expected and you didn’t include it then it’s likely to count against you.”

It seems most of the reasons why people ignore cover letters is because there are so many poor ones out there.

So how do you make sure your cover letter does as good a job for you as your resume does?

Lets deal with the formatting here.

Most cover letters are in a paragraph format, which is all well and good, but if the reader has a large number of ones to read, all they see is three or four large blocks of text. Take a look at this example.

Cover letter Paragraph

It doesn’t look unpleasant, but you can see that all the text looks the same, nothing jumps out at you.

1. Bullet Point Cover letter

Choosing a different format will help your cover letter stand out from the rest and bullet points are a good way to get the reader to quickly see and read the most important points.

When you look at this example cover letter, your eyes are immediately drawn to the bullet points (as will any other reader). The bullet points already have the readers attention and now your words will have an even greater impact.

Cover letter Bullets

2. T-Style or Two Column Cover letter

An alternative is to include a two-column or t-style format in the cover letter. Like the bullet points your eyes are drawn to the two columns and the information each column includes.

Take a look at this example:

T-style cover letter

There’s a number of options for what you would include in the two columns, for example you could make one column “You want” where you would pick out from the job description the top 5 or 6 things, and in the other column “I have” which you would list the skills, experiences qualifications or whatever you have that matches what they’re looking for.

You Want I have
Choose 5 or 6 skills from the job description List the skills you have that match their needs here

Another option is to use one column to describe one type of skills you have e.g. business skills, and the second column lists some of the technical skills you have. These are by no means the only two things you could include in the two column format.

Want to try out the different options then log in to VirtualJobCoach and give it a try, use the preview function to see how they each look. A FREE eBook on writing Cover Letters is available from our Resources page.

Click here to see a video that explains how our cover letter works.

12 Days of Job Hunting. Days 7 & 8

7th Day. This is not the day of rest rather this is the day of building your marketing pitches. There are two components to this process. The first is “Why did you leave xxxx?” What we are looking for here is a short, concise and accurate answer that does not raise red flags in the mind of any interviewer. If you have been let go as part of a reduction in workforce then let interviewer know, something like “As I am sure you are aware xxx have been reducing their workforce recently and unfortunately this has directly affected me.” If you were let go for other reasons then a simple, non confrontational explanation that does not in any way hint of blame or criticism is the best approach. The second pitch that we are discussing is the answer to the question “Tell me about yourself”. The underlying questions here are “Why should I hire you?” or “What value are you brining to the table?” The goal is to provide a short, one and a half to two minute recitation of your career that highlights, remember the interviewer is looking to hear about your strengths, abilities and skills and how they will benefit the organization. They are not looking to know when you last had a vacation (unless it is pertinent to the position) but they do want to hear what you did at what job that is relevant to them.

8th Day. We have covered a lot at this point and we are now ready to start talking to people about ourselves and opportunities that may exist in the market place. On Day 6 we discussed getting together a list of all your contacts. Bring them together, old and new and put them into a contact system designed to help you network, something that provides you with calendars, to-do lists, reminders, etc. (www.vitualjobcoach.com is a great place to start). The average person knows around 200 people and that should be sufficient to get you started. It is often said that Networking is the key to finding a job and in my time as an Outplacement consultant I can confirm that to be true. Well over 90% of my clients find their next position through a friend of a friend, or an alumni group, or through another organization that they belong to. Remember that you are never approaching someone to ask for a job, you are always asking for advice, this is less threatening and the majority of people are more than happy to dispense advice for free. The next point to remember about networking is the most important question. “Who else should I be talking to?” this is the question that gets you to the next step. See you on Day 9. Good Hunting.

12 Days of Job Hunting. Days 1 through 6

1st Day.  This is the time to start a plan, do not run round in circles shooting out resumes to every company you have ever heard of  like some crazy paper shredder on steroids. To use the old saw, failing to plan is planning to fail. Make sure you know what your target job is. Create a financial plan. Make sure you have signed up for unemployment if appropriate. Organize an office space at home where you can block yourself away from other distractions. Remember that finding a new job is a full time job.

2nd Day. Having created the plan now is the time to start building your marketing materials. Start with sketching out a resume (for help visit www.virtualjobcoach.com). Decide on the type of resume; is this a chronological or functional resume? How hard do you want to make the recruiters life? Make the summary section at the top easy to read and compelling. There is no reason to explain your life history, keep it simple, and make it easy to say YES to you. Writing a great resume takes time and you will need to revise and review a number of times before you get it right. Check the spelling, check that grammar what you wrote, and most of all get at least one or two other people to check it out as well. This will take you in the region of two or three days so we will pick this trek up on day 5. While you are working on this also think about the other components of your marketing strategy, these include your cover letters, letters to recruiters and networking profiles.

5th Day.  The fifth day sees us straining at the reins, anxious to be out there smashing down doors and leaping tall buildings. Our first decision today is to think about where we might want to post our resume. There are many thousands of web sites where you register and post your information, there are some where you have to pay and there are some where you need to create a Bio and then send your resume along when someone expresses an interest. Choose the site that best matches your interest, register with recruiters who specialize in your area of expertise. Now take a short break and spend some time with family and friends, you have worked hard for a full week and developed the marketing kit that is going to make you successful.

6th Day. Sitting back and waiting for prospective employers to come knocking at your door is probably not going to work. Now is the time for you to start thinking about networking and research. Start by making a list of everyone you have worked with, think about members of groups that you know, this could be a social, religious or a professional organization. Everyone you know is a potential lead to a new position. Day 7 is going to involve some more marketing information you need to create but let us start with the networking list first. See you on day 7.

Good luck

How to write a resume – Publications

A large number of people will never write an article or book and therefore this section is rarely used. For those who have been published, including that information in this section is a great way to reinforce the breadth and depth of expertise and knowledge you have in certain topics.

Resume Publications

List the relevant publication along with details of where and when published. Graduates from colleges and universities with advance degrees can include their thesis, dissertation, papers and articles etc. in this section. Remember only include ones that relate to the needs of the position.