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 Résumé “Wow” Factor

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

The Magic Formula

As résumé writers, we are amazed at the amount of time we spend discussing the “wow” factor with job seekers. If any concept has been oversold in regard to résumés, it is the idea that a résumé must take on an almost magical quality that casts a spell over the reader, transforming the average professional into the “must-have” candidate of the year!

Of course, this magical quality is a moving target because no one quite knows what the special combination is to unveil this secret spell, and of course, everyone seems to have a different idea of what it means.

Not to mention the plethora of materials that are out there just promising to either create this almost-mythical document for you or to help you create your own.

“Get yours to the top of the pile! Just say our magic chant 15 times, spin around twice, and embed these special keywords behind the text of your document, and employers will be mesmerized!”

Laugh, if you want, but deep down, it is what every job seeker is really looking for…something that will make it easy for them, something that will overcome the fact that, by and large, they are hard-working professionals just trying to create a solid career that they enjoy.

Casting Spells Doesn’t Work

Listen. We’ve seen a lot of résumés. Pretty ones. Flashy ones. Video ones. Two-column ones. Colorful ones. Conservative ones. Progressive ones. You name it.

Sorry to say, but flashy résumés have not really proven to be anymore effective than traditional professional obituaries. Both can seriously hurt a candidate’s chances if they fail to understand what really makes a résumé work.

It’s Not a Secret

So does this mean you can’t use color or get creative with a two-column masterpiece?

No, but a solid résumé must accomplish 3 things: (1) Utilize strong writing skills with solid action verbs, (2) organize the candidate’s information in such a way that a clear picture of the candidate is revealed (scope of knowledge and responsibility), and (3) be attractive without being offensive.

We all like things that look nice, but color isn’t what sells a candidate. Let the “wow” factor be in the strategy employed and in the quality of the writing.

On the other side of things, however, don’t be so rigid that you force the writer to prepare a cookie-cutter résumé (Times New Roman, 10-pt, with lots of bullets!!). You’ll just end up with something nondescript, that looks like it came from a Microsoft Word résumé template, and is not much better than anyone with decent grammar skills could produce.

Problem-Solving Is the Wow

Do you know what really is the “wow” factor for employers? A well-crafted document that highlights the specific skills and accomplishments that they are interested in, that solve the need or problem they have! Please don’t miss this point. It isn’t the skills/accomplishments that YOU are most proud of; it is the skills/accomplishments that THE EMPLOYER is most interested in for the type of position being filled.

Sadly, most job seekers (and even some résumé writers) are all worked up about the font and type size of the résumé and less concerned about whether they really have the right strategy in place to attract their audience. Yes, a résumé should look appealing, but if you can’t speak to your audience, then it is all just fluff and no “wow.”

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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