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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Self-employment on Your Resume: Is it Your Scarlet Letter?

Posted on December 18, 2008. Filed under: Resumes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Over the past year, I (@rezlady) have been on a quest to dispel as many myths as possible when it comes to job hunting, in general, and to the resume, in particular. Unfortunately, with all the online job posting sites available, these fallacies have a way of taking on a life of their own and even manage to fool many good resume writers and career coaches out there.

Contractors: You’re Entrepreneurs Too!

One of the most frustrating to me is in regard to self-employment and resumes. For years now, job seekers have been told that if they have a self-employment background that they need to downplay it or even leave it off from their resumes entirely. The original premise was that companies look down on self-employment and almost regard it as unemployment. In other words, it looks like a “gap” on your resume between one corporate position and the next.

Now it is true that employers do tend to look skeptically at self-employment, and for good reason. Many job seekers try to pass off periods of unemployment by claiming that they started their own business, which may or may not really be true. I had a job seeker the other day that was trying to explain away 2 years of unaccounted for work history. He claimed that he had started his own business flipping houses; however, during those 2 years, he had only flipped 1 house and that was a house he inherited from his father. It certainly didn’t cover the full 2 years. So he tried to make the most of it on his resume, which truthfully was all that he could do.

An employment gap is just that an employment gap, and you can spin it a thousand ways, but an astute employer will see it for what it is, no matter how savvy the writer.

What I am really referring to here are true entrepreneurs, people who have started, built, and managed legitimate small businesses. These companies have names. They have statistics. They have real clients or accounts.

Corporations would be crazy to turn their noses up at these people, and these job seekers would be equally as crazy to downplay this experience.

Entrepreneurs are some of the hardest working people on the planet. They are driven. They are rainmakers. They know how to wear lots of hats. These are all things that companies love and desire.

It’s All About Strategy

As with pretty much anything else, handling situations like these comes down to having a wise strategy. It is definitely true that when you craft a resume, you must always keep your audience at the forefront. And you must balance how much focus you give to different positions from your past. So I am not suggesting that you make a bigger deal out of your business than you should. It all depends on your target and the field/industry you are in. (For instance, if you are going for an engineering position, I might not go overboard on the fact that you operated a cookie business for 5 years; it just isn’t that relevant to the target; nevertheless, this doesn’t also mean that I think you should leave it off the resume completely.)

But somewhere along the line both job seekers and some HR types have spread the word that self-employment is bad news on a resume.

So my bottom-line advice is simple: Stop listening to scare tactics and start employing a clear plan to your resume. Find a good writer you can trust, who can help you assess how your self-employment plays out against your target market. Be smart and make sure that you can talk “corporate speak” and have a clear and focused brand that you position online through social. Honestly, if you can do that, you are way ahead of many corporate-lifers. For my technical job seekers, you really should check out our specific tips for consultants.

But whatever you do, don’t go hide in shame because you once worked on your own. Remember that many people out there today who would love to venture out and work on their own, even if it was just for a little while. Whomever said that self-employment is not worthy of merit on a resume apparently never came out of their cubicle.

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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Writing Your Own Resume? Think Again…

Posted on December 3, 2008. Filed under: Resumes | Tags: , , , |

Resume Writing

So What if You’re a Good Writer?

Before we say anything more, let us confess right up front that we are certified professional resume writers (CPRWs), and Stephen is an Academy Certified Resume Writer (ACRW). We have more than 10 years of experience writing resumes for professionals of all levels. So, yes, we certainly have a vested interest in seeing people purchase resume services. But listen, if we thought that doing it yourself was a good idea, we wouldn’t be in this business. Period. Why try to sell a service that people can easily do themselves?

When it comes to the resume, there are two extremes that you want to avoid. The one that has you spending all kinds of time and money to learn how to do it yourself. And the one that has you spending top dollar.

Whom Should You Trust?

Before hiring a professionally written resume service, you need to know what to expect from a resume service (setting the proper expectations), how much you should spend, and what the latest trends are in resume writing. Without a doubt, there are some poor writers out there, and you can waste valuable resources if you don’t know what to look for.

But none of that negates the need for hiring a resume writer.

Audience, Audience, Audience

The main reason that writing your own resume is a bad idea is that no matter how great you are at writing and page layout, you need to be really good at marketing, knowing your audience, and most of all, presenting yourself objectively. That is a tough thing to do when you are talking about you, and it is a really tough thing for your spouse or close friend to do. They know you too well, and they probably don’t know your audience at all.

This may come as a shock, but writing a resume is less about the candidate and more about the candidate’s target market. All writing is about communicating to an audience. If you don’t know how to appeal to that audience, then it doesn’t matter how great the product is!

And sometimes we think we know our audience because we’ve been in that industry or field for a while, but the truth is we probably only know that field or industry from a certain point of view (and it may not always be the most up-to-date; let’s face it, we don’t all working for cutting-edge organizations).

A certified resume writer does this for a living. You don’t. Your friend doesn’t. Yes, you could buy a book or follow a template, but now you’ve reduced the resume-writing process to nothing more than filling in blanks on a page. And you’ve probably spent hours trying to create a document that basically looks like everyone else’s or something you created in Microsoft Word.

Although we definitely agree that a resume is not all there is to conducting an effective job search, you should at least know that you have invested in a top-quality document that has a strategy to how it presents you.

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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