A Resume Writer’s Advice: When to Leave Your Resume Home

I am a resume writer (among crafting other career-related documents) and while the former is certainly a main focus of my business, I am the first to tell you that it’s not always necessary to use your resume to land a great role.

Emily, are you literally saying I can toss my resume* out the window forever? Sign me up! Also, how do I then get a job?

Hold your horses! Let’s talk this notion through first. There are a handful of companies out there that are adopting a new type of hiring strategy in order to “reveal true talent” and source employees based on their sector-specific skills, rather than their work history (i.e., a resume).

Blind-hiring, as it’s called, means that your resume serves no purpose and most likely won’t even get an initial glance.  It means that you’ll instead spend anywhere from 4-6 hours on the job at your prospective employer, performing a task similar to that of your potential job description.  It means that you won’t get paid for it, but if you do a really great job (no pressure!), you’ll be in the running to continue in the process and perhaps land yourself a good job.

Cool idea? Maybe, if you have a less-than-ideal work history for that role/sector or don’t meet initial requirements outlined in the job description. While the trend may be slowly growing – and can allow applicants with an innate skillset to stand out when they would not if resumes were the go-to – blind-hiring is not yet common enough to replace the more traditional career-search techniques.

Overall, the true talent it reveals in a person’s work ability leaves out the very important process of getting to know a person through conversation, giving an interviewee the chance to promote their background, and determining via interactions whether he or she has found a good fit or not.

Many people could flip a great burger, but if you can’t sell to all the cars in the drive-thru, can’t work the register and don’t work well with others – you may not be a great fit after all, catch my drift?

The bottom line here?  The no-brainer? The obvious, ugly truth? Yes, cool idea. But this trend is a lot like man-buns: it works well in some sectors, definitely not in others, and is likely to fall by the hiring trend wayside faster than you can say, “double soy cafe latte with extra whip and a drizzle of caramel” in your most hipster of voices.

The resume is where it’s at. Always has been, and by our calculations, will continue to be, even as hiring trends evolve.

The resume remains your most important piece of armor when entering the often-brutal world of the career search.  It is your protective shield that says “Yes, I have all of the qualifications, accomplishments, and skills necessary to take this job and exceed all expectations.”

It’s the proof in the pudding.

The ReFresh Your Step proof in the pudding, that is. An RYS resume and LinkedIn profile** will help you outline and communicate the very best of you, before you even make it in for an interview.  And it’s with the RYS interview strategies and tactics, that you’ll yourself the new gig, before ever having to perform pro-bono.

It’s YOUR career: ReFresh. Revive. Renew.

 

——

*We still recommend always having an updated, strategic resume (and LinkedIn profile that is complementary to it). **LinkedIn is one job search component that has crossed from “trend” to “career mainstay.” We suggest making sure your resume and LinkedIn profile work in tandem but are not identical to one another!

Back to the Future (of Resumes)

Contributor: Michelle Dempsey

October 21st, 2015…

The futuristic date we all remember seeing punched into Marty McFly’s time-traveling vehicle of awesomeness is now upon us. For over 25 years we’ve watched Back to the Future II (along with I and III) without being able to shake the thought that the early 21st century may very well be filled with water-skimming hoverboards and sophisticated highways in the sky.

Well, here we are. We’ve made it. No hoverboards or roads in the sky, but rich with technological advances nonetheless. Suffice it to say, though, that while Marty McFly would have been highly impressed by the internet and the remote car starters of late, he would be at a huge disadvantage if he simply clicked “send” on his application email without knowing the REAL futuristic ways to land yourself the dream job.

Marty would have so much to learn about what it would take to get himself set up with a new career in the 21st century. His best first step in navigating this new world would be to collaborate with ReFresh Your Step, to ensure that his ride to success would be as smooth as hover boarding over water.

One of the first pieces of advice we’d give to Marty? Ditch the ancient “fax in your resume” technique – in fact, don’t even JUST email it in. Yes Marty, we know you’re really into this whole internet thing, so don’t worry – we have a few tricks up our sleeve for you that will let you use this “newfangled internet thing” for your job search in a whole new way!

  1. Social Media

Marty would obviously need to get with the times and create a social media presence. Then, he’d learn that interacting with the company of his dreams via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and even Pinterest or Google+ could help him secure a career without ever having to have actual interaction. Following a company’s social media account, liking their posts, re-tweeting their clever business ideas, sending a clever LinkedIn message are all surefire ways to get Marty noticed and start a conversation that could lead to an interview and even better, a job offer!

  1. Skype and FaceTime

Video conference calls may not have been Marty McFly’s specialty, but not to worry, we’ll brush him up on the basics of interviewing via Skype and FaceTime. Skype interviews are continuing to gain popularity, which is why ReFresh Your Step offers interview prep sessions which would help Marty not only look confident using said technology, but would also help him treat this techy interview as the REAL deal. Of course, it’s tempting to jump behind the screen dressed the part from the waist up, but we’d be inclined to remind Marty to cover up the Calvin Klein’s, as he’d do if he were walking into a live office interview.

  1. Smartphone-Ready Resumes

As new as the smartphone concept would be to Marty, we’re sure he’d be equally as shocked by the idea that his resume could be viewed on one. The truth is, most of our lives are handled from our smartphones. Employers are busy, and if your resume hits the inbox of an HR professional who has already left the office for the day – you (or Marty) would need to be sure that this piece of emailed gold would be compatible on their smartphone (or tablet!). ReFresh Your Step would be Marty’s partner in ensuring that his document’s layout and content would be prepared for optimal viewing in any new age technological device – so that his resume wouldn’t hit the trash bin just for not being smartphone (or 21st century) compatible.

Consider these three helpful tools the highways-in-the-sky for a ReFresh Your Step client. While we can’t propel your car off the ground, we can certainly help to propel your career to levels that you (or Marty McFly) would never have dreamed of! Great Scott!

It’s YOUR Career: ReFresh. Revive. Renew.

 

 

The Ethics of Resume Writing

The NY Times recently asked in its Ethicists column whether one should hire a person to craft his or her resume and cover letter. I read it ­– and the resulting comments – with great interest. Have I made a career out of something unethical, I wondered?

Not just to defend myself but I do believe the work of a highly certified resume writer is perfectly ethical, assuming the following points:

1) The applicant is honest if asked who wrote the documents. Although I’ve personally never heard of this happening, I do recommend to clients that they answer honestly if asked, “Who wrote these documents?” An appropriate response might be, “I partnered with a resume writer on crafting the documents to ensure my information was not just accurately represented but clear and concise as well.” If one is looking at a team management or project management role, you could point out that this is similar to collaborating with others on ensuring an optimal outcome. 

2) The applicant is responsible for providing requested writing samples or anything else relevant for the role itself. Though this is not common either, there are roles where writing samples, portfolios, or other materials are requested and relevant for the job itself. While it’s one thing to have a trusted writer (including your resume writer) review any such work as another pair of eyes, we do suggest clients prep those materials themselves.

3) The resulting documents accurately portray the background. I previously hinted at this but it is essential that the information be fully accurate. Surprisingly to some, this is very much a two-way street: the client must provide accurate information while the writer must ensure that the content correctly indicates the client’s background, accomplishments, goals, etc.

Additionally, a strong writer will be able to identify opportunities for re-positioning information to best suit a client’s goals but recognizes the line between “well-positioned” and “incorrect.” Lastly, it is not the writer’s job to verify a client’s information – honesty is the best policy, especially in the age of Google!

If you are in the market for strong resume and cover letter and are also looking for more than a service that simply reformats your info, I would also suggest considering the following points:

Collaboration: Look for a writer who will partner with you on the project. The ReFresh Your Step philosophy is that while we are the expert writers, you are the expert in you. You know your background, accomplishments, and goals best so it is ideal that we collaborate to ensure truly excellent documents. Not all writers share in this philosophy but many do. All you need to do is ask!

Methodology: Resume writing, similar to the overall job search, has changed quite a bit in recent years. We have found that it is essential for clients to understand why we did what we did with each section on the resume and overall. As such, we provide a methodology overview for each person that is tailored for each client and answers the vast majority of questions. This is especially important for the…

Interview: The resume gets you the interview and the interview gets you the job. If you follow that logic (and we suggest you do), then it is helpful to understand all aspects of the resume so you can speak to it in an interview. A highly skilled resume writer will collaborate with you on the full resume and cover letter project, provide you with the overall methodology, and prep you for the interview.

What are you waiting for? It’s YOUR career: ReFresh. Revive. Renew!

LinkedIn Series – Expert Power

Career advancement is what we all strive for. Using LinkedIn can be a very helpful tool to show how you’re an expert in your field. Staying current is necessary for both currently employed professionals and individuals searching for employment. That brings us to a very important question:  Actually, have you ever even noticed it?

LinkedIn truly is like the professional Facebook (but so help me G-d if they introduce a chat function); there is now a newsfeed-esque component that you see right when you log in to LinkedIn and that is fed by what goes into your Activity feed and those of your Connections. Go to your profile and look at your Activity feed–we’ll wait.

See it? My guess is that the feed is mostly full of, “You are connected to so-and-so” and the occasional, “You are not following xyz company.” Yawn. That filters directly into the Newsfeed of all your connections and they are likely skipping right over it. Why not REALLY utilize this section and indicate your sector knowledge in the process? Post relevant articles!

You might find it a challenge, being that there are already not enough hours in the day, to post a bazillion articles. Good news: it’s quality over quantity. All you need is a minimum of five minutes per WEEK to utilize LinkedIn for posting relevant news articles and trends that are emerging in your sector. Why would you do this? Three letters: SME. To be a Subject Matter Expert, and to communicate that expertise via LinkedIn is a subtle–but strategic–opportunity to broadcast just how knowledgeable you are of your particular industry.

If you are currently employed it’s not a suggestion but a necessity to know current and future trends. It isn’t only important for you–the professional–but also for your company. Your expert power will speak volumes to your commitment with the company/sector and it will more likely than not give you a better understanding of how your sector is evolving.

If you are not employed, LinkedIn serves as a platform allowing you to connect with the professional world without having to step into an office. Right from home, while your search for a job continues, you can boost your LinkedIn presence by posting relevant articles to your LinkedIn profile. Others will be able to view them and get an understanding of your expert power within a given industry.

In doing so, you are still demonstrating your SME-ness via LinkedIn and that can work wonders for your job search. Hiring managers and recruiters will see this about you and that, alone, can increase the likelihood that they will reach out to connect. The main idea is to continue to grow professionally regardless if you’re employed or not.  Every time you post something on LinkedIn, you are upping the ante on just how savvy you are and the powers that be will respond in kind.

Now that you are up-to-speed on how post sector-specific newsworthy info to your LinkedIn profile, let’s move on to why you want Siskel & Ebert to give your profile two thumbs up!

Until next time, it’s YOUR career: ReFresh. Revive. Renew.

 

By Sarah van Windt – Communications & Business Development Intern

LinkedIn Series – Profile Basics & Your Resume

You have your basic LinkedIn profile set up and have included (please) a snazzy headshot, but how do you work in your resume? Should your profile and resume match? Although your resume is an important part of your LinkedIn profile, they’re not the same thing. In fact, the two are more like supportive siblings than identical twins: they should complement one another but not match (exception: your basic contact and job info should always be consistent between the two!).

While completing your LinkedIn profile, keep in mind that it should be a good self-representation of where you want to go with your career while indicating that you have the foundation for it (again, similar to your resume…but not identical). Your profile should be straight to the point, but unique at the same time. Remember that others will be viewing your profile. It is a good idea for someone else (who knows you and your work) to review it and provide constructive feedback to ensure you are on the right track. View your LinkedIn profile as your image. Build it accordingly to create a powerful reflection.

Once you have the work/education basics in place, it is time to flesh it out with details. Concentrate on your accomplishments for each role and provide context if that would suit your needs. Additionally, indicate your Core Competencies in the Summary section (though they will be referenced again in the Skills/Expertise section; more on that later!).  Remember to read our post on Resume Don’ts (parts I and II); though it’s true that the two should not be identical, many of our guidelines here still ring true for LinkedIn!

We have much to cover regarding LinkedIn profiles–today’s post barely scratches the surface on how to handle the basic profile. Next up:

  • Creating a strong summary and how to obtain a unique URL.

Other upcoming profile topics include:

  • The importance of outside validation and strategies for obtaining it.
  • Why projects matter and how to work them in to your profile.
  • An overview on increasing your “Subject Matter Expert” presence and why you want to do that at all.

After we cover the profile, we’ll move into the amazing features built into LinkedIn and discuss how to maximize your usage of each one. Until then, remember, it’s YOUR career: ReFresh. Revive. Renew.

 

By Sarah van Windt – Communications & Business Development Intern

LinkedIn Series – Resource For Success

If there is a heaven on earth for HR managers and recruiters, it is definitely LinkedIn. Over the last several years LinkedIn has quietly moprhed into a vibrant resource for job-seeking and networking professionals.

Why is LinkedIn such a powerful tool in today’s job world? For almost every professional at any level and within (arguably) most every sector, LinkedIn is largely considered the best online professional networking tool out there. It allows you to create a powerful profile in which, if filled out correctly, will display your strengths and experiences as well as best position you for your target audience. Additionally, the platform allows for extensive research into sectors, companies, and people on top of its key messaging system, job board options, and additional perks just for being a member of the site (and a non-paying one at that).

The question remains, though: are you maximizing LinkedIn for your professional development purposes? Moreover, is your profile truly effective? Have you learned effective messaging techniques to utilize in connecting with people? Do you even know what those Skills/Expertise Endorsements are used for and how important they are to recruiters? LinkedIn is more than just a profile platform and it is in your best interest to know how to best utilize it for your future needs.

Stayed tuned and check back to our LinkedIn Series for some key tips essential for your success story using LinkedIn. We will be discussing a range of related topics that will be vital to your ongoing career success; some of our topics will include how to strategically improve your profile, understanding the logic behind your Skills/Expertise (and the endorsements that come with those), the most effective techniques out there for connecting with people, and so much more!

Of course, don’t forget to connect with us on, what else, LinkedIn! Until then, it’s YOUR career: ReFresh. Revive. Renew.

 

By Sarah van Windt – Communications & Business Development Intern

10 Resume Don’ts (6-10)

It may not have been another 3-day weekend but hopefully it was pool-and-BBQ-weather where you live! Welcome back to our Ten Resume Don’ts, Part II. If you need a ReFresher on points 1-5, click here.

6. DUA – Don’t use abbreviations if you aren’t absolutely positive that the reader understand them.  A lot of people like to include very technical content in their resumes which is fine, especially if their field or background requires it. Far too often though, candidates include abbreviations and acronyms that may not be understood by a general recruiter or even an industry professional who may not be as involved in a particular subject matter, skillset, process or program. Make sure you either fully define any abbreviations or are very confident that anyone reading the resume will understand your references.  Ask us if you need advice!

7. Don’t rely on general statements regarding your achievements. In other words, be specific. For example, instead of mentioning how you increased sales during a given time period, make the point more powerful by saying how you increased sales of whatever product or service by (X%) over the last (Y) amount of months or years. Quantifiable objectives are easier to read and understand for most people. We have methods of helping you grab that info too!

8. Don’t forget to present your contact information clearly and concisely. Like many of these tips, this may seem obvious but it is definitely overlooked. Without a cover letter, this may be the only information a hiring manager or industry contact has about you so make sure it is clearly and accurately (typos in the email address or phone number are embarrassing and can result in you missing out on a potential opportunity to be contacted )represented on your resume.  And while you were at it, make sure you have a company or professional email address listed ([email protected] may be cute but you should probably create a more professional Gmail or Yahoo-based address for professional correspondence). Live email addresses and LinkeddIn profiles are a must as well!

9. Don’t make excessive use of different font types, SIZES and colors. Generally speaking, RYS is a big proponent of using bold, underline, italics, and other tools to make a resume stand out in a positive way; however, too much use of these can take away from the content and turn off the person reviewing the resume. If the reader can’t understand the content, it won’t matter how the resume looks.

10. Don’t SOLELY base your resume’s contact and format on what you think someone ELSE wants to see. All of the other tips included in this post notwithstanding, your resume needs to convey who you are and what makes you special. So while there are plenty of guidelines to follow to make sure your resume is accurate, informative, and engaging (all of which are very important), it also needs to tell your story and highlight your specific qualities so that the reader gets an understanding of who you are and ultimately wants to meet or speak to learn more about you.

We know that writing a resume can seem daunting and are always here for whatever level of involvement you ask of us and are happy to be a resource. Remember, it’s YOUR career: ReFresh. Revive. Renew. And enjoy your summer!

10 Resume Don’ts (1-5)

Memorial Day weekend–the unofficial start of summer–has now come and gone. As many people use the hot summer months to step away and think about their next career move, we have put together a list of resume don’ts to complement some of our other resume advice. So as you approach the next few months, don’t forget to put on sunscreen and use the tips below to make sure you–and your resume–are protected:

1. Don’t assume your resume has to be one page. While for some younger or less experienced professionals, a one-page resume may make sense, it’s okay to have a 1 1/2 or 2-page document if that document captures the relevant highlights and proficiencies you want a hiring manager to see as a first impression.

2. Don’t then assume that your resume needs to be 5 pages either. Yes, you may be important and experienced and have a lot to share. Some of that can be saved for a subsequent meeting or interview. The resume still needs to be succinct so that someone can quickly look through it to get a sense of your background and accomplishments without feeling like they are reading a book. Some of our Advanced Professionals/C-Level clients had far stronger documents once we stripped them down to a more manageable 2-3 pages.

3. Don’t lie. Ever. Think this doesn’t apply to you? Think again. A good resume reflects the best of a person without crossing the line. Every detail of your resume should be presented with the assumption it will be fact-checked by someone during the hiring process. It is absolutely okay to build yourself up and make yourself as attractive a candidate as possible (it’s our job to know how and what the limits are!). But don’t…

4. Don’t submit a resume without running a spell check. And then check the proper nouns and other words (i.e company and town names) that aren’t in the dictionary. No matter how great your resume is, you will likely lose credibility if you spell the name of a state incorrectly (for those of you laughing, this happens a lot more than you think). We’ve also received resumes with obvious date mistakes (like the client whose resume indicated a job start in 1876). YIKES.

5. Don’t assume that content is the most important component of a resume. Of course, it is very important and as mentioned above, it needs to be accurate. But perhaps as important  as the content, is the format and style. Your resume needs to stand out to engage someone. If it is just a list of bullets, it may not get the attention it deserves, especially if it is being reviewed by a hiring manager, who has 100 others to skim through to decide the few candidates to recommend for the next round. Remember to check out some of our Case Studies and ask if you want to see more examples!

Check back early next week for tips 6-10! Until then, it’s YOUR Career: ReFresh. Revive. Renew.

How Your Smartphone Could Get You a Job

Today’s technology has enabled smartphone users to stay connected with social media, the latest news, and newest apps almost anywhere. While it’s easy to check your friends’ status updates on Facebook and Twitter, this WSJ article highlights another use for down time with a smartphone – applying for jobs. 33% of Fortune 500 companies have application sites customized for a smartphone screen, and the trend keeps growing. From McDonald’s to Macy’s, more and more companies are utilizing apps that allow professionals to apply for open positions on their smartphones. This movement may make things easier for potential employees, but it also means that applicants will need to think about how their resume looks on a small screen.

When applying for a job using your phone, it makes sense to think that hiring managers may be looking at your application on their phones. While most companies will use apps that are formatted for a smartphone screen, it is still important to make your resume stand out on an even smaller display. This can be easy if you know how to properly format your resume to gain maximum attention from a possible new employer.

Using certain key elements in your resume design will make your document engaging, but not “busy” or too overwhelming for a hiring manager. Our brains are always looking to break down information into smaller pieces that are easier to process – and technology is available to help do just that. Techniques like shading and bolding will help your resume seem easy to read while bringing out important pieces of information that will catch an employer’s eye.

Implementing these formatting techniques is something a good resume writer will know how to do and can utilize an individual’s experience to create an effective and attractive document. A customized resume will help draw an employer’s attention and help emphasize an employee’s best assets. ReFresh Your Step’s Resumes & Cover Letter services can do just that – check out our Before & After results to see what we can do for your resume. After all, even on a small screen, a great resume could be the key to getting the job!

It’s YOUR Career: ReFresh. Revive. Renew.

 

– Emma Ambler, Marketing & Communications Intern

Top Five Reasons to Hire a Resume Writer

Your resume – usually the first thing a potential employer sees  – is often a key determinant in whether you’ll be offered a job or even an interview. While it’s tempting to think that writing your own resume is the cheaper, easier option, it may end up costing you in the long run. Consider this: with so much riding on one document, using a professional resume writing service is a wise investment for jobseekers. There are many reasons to employ a professional resume writer – and it’s tax deductible (a BONUS reason)!

1. The experts agree! Some interesting statistics – according to www.theladders.com, a professionally written resume can make you 38% more likely to be contacted by recruiters, 31% more likely to land the interview and 40% more likely to land the job. With stats like that and an 8% unemployment rate (at least),  not using a professional resume writer can truly be hurting your chance at finding your next job.

2. You’ll Get to Recruiters Faster. Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) are widely used by employers and can work against you before your resume even reaches a hiring manager’s desk. With each job, there are certain keywords the tracking systems look for – with an 80% match of the right words, your resume will be sent directly to a hiring manager. A 60%-79%% word match may or may not be enough for your resume to move past the application process, and anything less than a 60% match will send your resume into the black hole of forgotten applicants. A professional resume writer will know exactly what keywords employers are looking for and can help your resume bypass the tracking system. Strongly accredited writers will even teach you how to quickly and effectively tailor your resume’s key words for individual job descriptions. Choose wisely!

3. Resume Trends Evolve: A professional resume writer is a trained expert and truly knows what employers are really looking for in a resume. Do you know what kind of accomplishments you should pull out of your experience and put onto paper? Are you aware of how your skills should be presented in order to show your potential to employers? Have you considered building in a strategy for how you want your document to be viewed by hiring managers? Resume writers aren’t inventing any of your experiences or abilities, but they know how to present them in a way to place you in the best light possible – and to show employers how valuable you are–and will be to them.

4. Accountability & Preparedness: Hiring a professional resume writer can also be a great way to reinvigorate your job search or achieve clarity and preparedness when looking for a new position. The fact that using a resume writer makes you 40% more likely to land an interview means that job seekers with professionally written resumes are landing interviews more often and thus have more experience putting their best foot forward with potential employers. Getting more interview opportunities will allow you to feel more confident and capable of finding a new job. Not to mention, seeing your new resume with all of your useful skills and abilities can enable you to communicate what makes you special to employers.

5. The Investment Often Pays off VERY Quickly. Although some may be reluctant to shell out money for writing something they could technically do themselves, hiring a professional resume writer may actually save you money in the long run. If you are between jobs or a new college graduate, you’re losing money the longer you remain unemployed – spending a few hundred dollars now can pay off when you land a job faster than had you written your own resume.

There are many more reasons to hire a professional resume writer – peace of mind that your resume is in the best hands, getting expert advice or even not having to stress out about whether or not you should have included your first job as a camp counselor. With statistics showing how beneficial a resume writer can be, the only question left is: when can I start using my new resume?

 

– Emma Ambler, Marketing & Communications Intern