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.

Poets day Picks

Here’s my poets day picks from this week.

For folks who have their resume as a web page, this is a great article, from duct tape marketing on taking the idea of personal endorsement (as used by Linkedin) one stage further.

Fracat on the reality of how some resumes are treated. But despite their shoddy treatment at some places, Recruiting.com warns you not to fudge your resume as it raises doubts.

Blue Sky Resumes says while your resume may not need to be stellar, there is a baseline it has to meet, and most don’t!
Some tips to polish your resume from Employment digest, and if you were wondering which phone number to quote, here’s two points of view on the question of being contactable by phone while looking for work.

Career hub suggests you don’t discuss salary in the first interview, and Career Journal adds when salary does come up, there’s good chance if you ask for more you will get it. Don’t be too eager though, make sure you as for the job first from Career journal, and consider these interviewing tips

Scott gives 6 steps of advice on creating your own luck, and Career Hub help you get the right sort of motivation, both very much needed when job searching.

Have a great weekend

All that glitters is not gold…

After a 6 month stint as an independent contractor doing recruiting/sourcing work, my neighbor and good friend, landed what seemed to be the best job ever. Work from home 75% of time, flexible working hours, good salary and benefits, established and small dynamic recruiting firm, expansion plans aligned with industries she wanted to learn. All in all, pretty darned perfect.

Without going into the sordid details they parted ways at the end of last year, after 6 months.

Run Away

Chatting with her the other day about it all, it seemed obvious that the signs to “RUN AWAY – FAR FAR AWAY” had been there even before she started.

So how come she didn’t see the signs at the time, or was it something else?

It turns out it was a lot of somethings.

What was interesting was the “I knew that!” realizations she was having while we were chatting. These were things she knew about herself, but didn’t know she knew. Or at least hadn’t acknowledged them about herself.

The good news is that during all this time, she had still managed to keep in contact with some key contacts, and after only two weeks had another position lined up.

I’m sure there are many lessons she’ll take away from this, though the two that were immediately obvious were:

Don’t stop networking, a little is better than none at all.

If she had taken some time out to really think about what makes her tick, what she really likes doing and in what environment / situation, she could have saved herself a lot of time and anguish.

Most of all she wishes she’d taken a cold hard look at herself and the new job, and not the glitter.

What’s on your t-shirt

Chatting with a friend over coffee yesterday, he brought up Seth’s post about the t-shirt rule.

In typical fashion (doesn’t take much) we got distracted from the other thing we were talking about and spend a few minutes brainstorming how a job seeker could use t-shirts in their job search. Some of the bizarre ideas involved having your skills or achievements printed on the front of the t-shirt and your contact details on the back. Making up about half a dozen or so and wearing a different one each day. You could even wear it to a job fair, networking event or an interview (OK maybe not an interview), but it would certainly get you noticed, people would have something they would want to talk to you about, and you would almost definitely (can I use those two words together?) be memorable.

After the 5 minutes of hilarity, it struck me, if you had to choose just 6 or 7 of your best, strongest traits, skills, habits, achievements to adorn a t-shirt what would they be?

As Seth concludes “If you’re they’re not t-shirt worthy, what would it take?”

Elevator pitch thinking.

I’ve spoken to a number of job seekers over the last few months, and I noticed people fall broadly into three types.

The “on-target” group, know what job they want and what type of company they want to work for. Some even have a much clearer sense of what they want to accomplish in the role and where that will take them.

The “anything” group, know they have a broad range of skills and have a great track record, but don’t want to limit themselves to just one thing, just in case something else turns up that looks interesting.

The “don’t know” group, unlike the first two groups, these folks aren’t even aware of what they like doing, or what they want to do.

You can tell which group someone falls into from their response to a simple question: “What type of work are you looking for?”.

Even if you never use your Elevator Pitch creating one will help sort out your thinking and decide what it is you want to do. Or more to the point, when you decide what it is you want to do, you’ll find constructing an elevator pitch that much easier.

So don’t start with trying to word an elevator pitch, start with thinking what it is you want and like to do. When your happy with that answer, then you can go and try and create your elevator pitch.

12 Days of Job Hunting. Days 9 to 12

9th Day. So far we have written a resume, developed our marketing pitches and constructed a networking list, moving forward we are now going to start building our target company lists and add some other items to the mix including cover letters and some general tips. The primary task for Day 9 is to identify a list of organizations that you wish to target as potential employers. This is important at a number of levels, firstly it provides you with a focus, and you are not shooting resumes every which way rather you are focused on networking your way into an organization and insuring that your pitch, resume and cover letter (coming soon) are targeted. We are also going to use this list as part of our networking activities.

10th Day. The days are rushing by and as we call or email our network contacts our primary goal is to set up meetings either in person or if that is not practical by phone. With our target company list we can now provide a focus to our contacts on the types of people we are trying to connect with. Often when we ask the question “who else should I be talking with?” you are met with a blank stare as your contact has not been prepared. With the target company list we can now provide this information in advance and have a better chance of success in getting that elusive next step. To summarize, Day 10 is focused on setting up networking meetings and from now on we should allocate a portion of the day to setting up those meetings. Set a weekly goal as to the number of meeting you need to make in order to build out your network.

11th Day. Let us now start stretching our wings and adding some additional tools to our arsenal. As part of reaching out to our contacts it is necessary for us to utilize as many tools as possible and LinkedIn dot com and Plaxo dot com are two well known and business focused web sites. Build out your profile and connect with ex-colleagues from previous employers. This works just as well if you are employed and looking for the next great opportunity, make sure that your digital profile is out there and up to date. Recruiters troll the networking sites looking for strong potential candidates and in my experience I have seen senior level appointments being made as a result of these profiles. Our final piece of marketing collateral is the cover letter. Many recruiters will tell you that they never read it and they are a waste of time, others will say that they are crucial to the decision as to inviting the candidate in for an interview. As we are unable to determine which recruiter is which from an advertisement it is better to err on the side of caution and prepare a strong letter that clearly lays out your qualifications for the position. The worst that can happen is that is ignored.

12th Day. The last day in our program, this day is being devoted to summarizing important To Dos and adding some addition tricks and tips.

1. Create a professional email address; barefootwrestler @ xxxxx dot com does not portray a great impression.

2. A resume is not a chapter in a book. Focus on information that is relevant to your future employer. They do not want a life story. Ensure that your industry key words are in the resume.

3. The cover letter should clearly lay out your qualifications for the position.

4. The “Why I am no longer with?” and “Tell me about yourself” pitches should be practiced and focused on delivering success. No criticism of previous employers.

5. A solid list of contacts to build your network is vital.

6. Create a list of target companies.

7. Build your digital profile (You own your brand, make it work for you)

8. Set achievable targets and keep to them.

9. Network, network and network.

10. Success is directly proportional to the amount of effort you invest.

Good Hunting.

Job search the Randori way – No.5

Randori (translated as “making order out of chaos” or “grasping freedom”) is an ancient eastern art. Typically practiced in a number of forms of martial arts, it revolves around 20 principles to manage 6 factors: Mind, Movement, Body, Purpose, Communication, Environment. We’ve taken a little “poetic license” but have come up with the job seekers Randori, or the translation I really like “making order out of chaos”

Apply your Assurance and Skills

Establish and maintain a calm mental demeanor. Focused tranquility expands your perspective and allows you to work within your current environment. Calmness brings situational control to you.

Having practiced and refined your inner confidence and calm assurance you are prepared to demonstrate your abilities at every opportunity. Networking and interviewing are two activities of job searching where you will get the most benefit.

A great way to start each meeting is at the outset smile; an inviting, warm, sincere and honest smile; by doing this you are projecting your assurance. Be happy to meet somebody new who can assist you in your career. Every person that you talk with about employment could be the perfect person to help you land your ideal position; show them who you are. Networking gives you a great opportunity to showcase yourself and your skills better than a resume can display.

By entering into networking situations with calm assurance you will remain at ease and conversational, easily making connections with people. You will always make a distinctive first impression and leave people with the sense that you are a professional that they want to speak with again.

During the interview process you are at the very core networking, you are plugged into the network inside of the firm where you want to work. This is precisely the circumstance to show not only technical competence but also the skills to work within cohesive groups and in their environment. Hiring managers and peers are always seeking candidates who would perform well on their team.

You should practice using your inner confidence in different circumstances. Once you become comfortable using and demonstrating your new abilities, you will find that opportunities will occur and that you will engage people’s attention and they will listen to you.

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Other articles in the Randori series: 1 2 3 4

Greg, an expert Aikido practitioner, had taken these Randori principles and applied them to a business setting, and we thought they applied equally to the job search itself. You can learn more about Randori and Greg at Randorimind.com