cover letter

Resume Do’s and Don’ts For 2011

Posted on January 14, 2011. Filed under: cover letter, Resumes | Tags: , , , , , |

Don’t: Use a Fully Functional-Style Resume

More and more candidates today have some type of gap in employment. When preparing your resume, you must decide the best way to handle this gap. Unfortunately, many candidates elect to try to hide the gap by putting all of their information in a functional format. This is where the writer simply discusses functional skills gained over their career in an abstract sense. They may even have the functional skills as a header and list some relevant achievements that speak to each skill.

This strategy is successful in covering the gap in time on the resume, but it causes other, possibly more severe, issues in the mind of the reader. Most hiring managers and HR professionals know that candidates use a functional style to hide things like an employment gap or an absence from a particular position type or industry for a lengthy period of time. Often times, the gap the candidate is attempting to hide isn’t as bad as what the employer perceives they may be trying to hide.

Do: Provide a Chronological Listing of Employment

Bottom line is to use a chronological listing of the work history (if you want to create a profile section that details out some functional skills, that’s fine too) so that employers and recruiters can logically follow the sequence of your employment. Use years of employment only. If a gap exists (for example, if you finished position A in 2006 and started position B in 2008–2007 is the gap), create an entry to cover that time period using the same format as your other job entries. If the company name is in bold with all caps, then list “Family Sabbatical” or something like that in bold with all caps as well. Enter the location and dates just as you did for your other positions.

Do: Check Your Online Presence

Companies can check you out online and get a feel for the type of person you before they even pay one cent as part of a formal background check. Common searches include Google and Facebook checks of your name. A more in-depth review might include a search on Twitter and LinkedIn. Be sure to check your own account and see what type of information is posted. For example, what are your friends putting up on your Facebook wall? Also, consider your name and who else may share it. Will an employer doing a Google search find information about them and think that it is really you? Use your formal name or middle initial to help differentiate yourself if need be.

Don’t: Write a Resume Longer Than Two or Three Pages

As a general rule of thumb, two pages are usually plenty to convey whatever is necessary for a professional position. Some candidates may require a third page if they are in a highly technical field. Only candidates seeking positions internationally (outside of the U.S.) or in academia should have a resume (actually called a CV) longer than three pages.

For less-experienced candidates, a one-page resume is just fine as well. Don’t try to stretch the resume to two pages just for the sake of having two pages. Employers do not want to waste their time reading fluff. Some one-page resumes are the hardest hitting, most impactful documents I have ever written or read. The key is in providing enough detail that it generates interest in the reader to know more about you, but doing so succinctly.

The ITtechExec Way

To arm yourself with more tools in your technical job search arsenal, we offer a free Technical Jobs report & Online Identity Assessment to our followers. We also offer a 10% discount to our followers. Take advantage of our offer just by signing up to follow this blog or go to our website ITtechExec (be sure to indicate in the “How did you hear about us?” box that you found us through our blog).

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The Importance of Resume-Writing Credentials

Posted on September 17, 2009. Filed under: cover letter, Job Search Tips, Resumes | Tags: , , , , , |

Hiring practices have changed enormously over the last decade as employers gravitate to online postings, resume databases, and automated screening software. Combine these changes with the recent surge in unemployment, and job seekers face a complex and challenging task to create their marketing materials and manage their job search for best results.

Now, Stephen Van Vreede of No Stone Unturned and is better prepared than ever to provide job seekers with the powerful tools they need in today’s highly competitive job market. Stephen has completed a rigorous training program to earn the Academy Certified Resume Writer designation – a new, high-level certification that signifies mastery of best-in-class resume strategies.

Earning the ACRW indicates that a resume writer has successfully completed all components of The Resume Writing Academy, an intensive and comprehensive training program that teaches the following skills and concepts through classroom study, training assignments, independent learning projects, and intense individualized feedback:

* Resume Strategy & Client Positioning
* Resume Writing Styles, Trends & Techniques
* Cover Letter and Thank-You Letter Writing Styles, Trends & Techniques
* Personal Branding for Resumes
* Resume Formats, Designs & Structures
* English Language & Grammar

“My clients are facing steep challenges in the employment market these days,” says Stephen, “and even after 8 years in the career field, I wanted to be sure that I was preparing them with the very best strategies and documents. My investment in the Resume Writing Academy and the ACRW means that my clients can enter the job search with confidence, knowing that they have the very best, most powerful, and most up-to-date resumes to accelerate their search.”

In addition to the ACRW, Stephen has an MBA in Marketing from Villanova University and a dual B.S. degree in Finance & Logistics from the University of Maryland. He is a certified professional résumé writer (CPRW) and a member of the Professional Association of Résumé Writers and Career Coaches (PARW/CC). Stephen paid his dues in the corporate world eventually running a large-scale call center for a major truck rental company, and he has spent the past 8 years with No Stone Unturned, assisting job seekers in achieving their goals.

In February 2009, Stephen launched a new group job hunting networking site: It is absolutely FREE to join, and job seekers have access to everything on the site. Come check it out at NoddlePlace. You can also follow Stephen on Twitter.

The Resume Writing Academy ( is the first comprehensive, strategically focused resume training program that teaches writers of all experience levels how to develop resumes that get noticed and get results. Founded and led by industry leaders and multi-published authors Wendy Enelow and Louise Kursmark, the Resume Writing Academy is recognized for its rigor, high standards, and accomplished graduates. Stephen joins an elite group of only 30 ACRWs nationwide.

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The Great Cover Letter Debate

Posted on March 25, 2009. Filed under: cover letter, Resumes | Tags: , , , , , , |

To cover letter or not to cover letter … that seems to be the question these days. This past week alone on Twitter, my business partner and I must have come across or participated in no less than 30 discussions that started out something like this: “Do I really even need a cover letter? Does anyone read them anymore?”

At one point, someone even started a poll to gather opinions from around the blogosphere.

Responses to these pleas varied from “cover letters are worthless” to “one third of hiring managers say they still read them” to “social media is now replacing the cover letter.”

Whatever your take, there is no doubt that the presentation of the cover letter is changing to suit the varying avenues out there for applying for positions. Some claim that a short e-mail (a couple paragraphs max.) is fine with your resume attached when sending the resume via e-mail. Others claim that the cover letter detracts from the resume and sounds too much like a marketing letter anyway so ditch it all together. Still others think you should direct employers to your blog as a way of “introducing” yourself.

For me, I think this discussion really misses the more important point, which is what is the purpose of the cover letter in the first place? And if you opt out of putting together a traditional cover letter, how are you making up for it elsewhere?

When you speak with hiring managers and recruiters, some of them will tell you that they do not read through cover letters because they all sound like stock form letters written for hundreds of people to read. Other hiring managers will tell you that they might glance at the first sentence or two, figure out whether the letter is pretty pointless, and then quickly move on to the resume.

If all that is true, then what that tells me is that the reason cover letters aren’t often read isn’t because they are antiquated or even unwanted necessarily; it is because they simply aren’t effective and hiring people are tired of reading them.

Too often when job seekers are thinking about their resume and cover letter package, they are thinking about…themselves…and not about the audience they are trying to reach. This is a mistake for both documents, but it is particularly egregious when it comes to the cover letter.


Because a letter is a method of communication between you and the reader. If you aren’t able to communicate effectively with your reader, then you aren’t communicating.

Listen. A cover letter is your opportunity to showcase to a company what you know about it, be its culture, its needs, or its products/services. One of the biggest pet peeves that interviewers have is that they feel that most candidates don’t even know, much less care, about the mission of the company they are applying to.

So take what you know about the company and line it up with your background and accomplishments. Tell them how you fit in! I heard about a candidate who actually made a two-column table and placed the company’s job posting on the left side and then matched up those desired skills with his experience on the right side.

Personally, I like it when candidates talk about the products or services the company provides or quote from the vision statement of the company and personalize the letter that way. At least it says that you haven’t just sent this same letter to 200 other companies. It says that you want to work with this particular company for a particular reason.

I know, I know. I can hear you now: “It’s more time consuming this way.” But is it really? Think about it. Sure, you may spend less time sending out pointless cover letters but more time on your job search overall. So why not take the opportunity to turn what is a missed opportunity for so many others into an effective tool for you? Even if it costs you a few extra minutes on the front end.

These days everyone is trying to stand out. Maybe the best way to do that is simply to do the basic things well.

Did you find this post helpful? If so, please share it! Or send us a comment. We’d love to hear from you.

The ITtechExec Way

To arm yourself with more tools in your technical job search arsenal, we offer a free Technical Jobs report & Online Identity Assessment to our followers. We also offer a 10% discount to our followers. Take advantage of our offer just by signing up to follow this blog or go to our website ITtechExec (be sure to indicate in the “How did you hear about us?” box that you found us through our blog).

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