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How to Write the Right Resume – Job Search News

See on Scoop.itFreelance Writing On Careers & Resumes

An excellent article from one of my colleagues, Susan Joyce of Job-Hunt.Org. She has been

writing a book, and as part of her homework on what recruiters want, she has been interviewing them.

Job seekers, career coaches and professional resume writers need to keep current on what recruiters and hiring managers are looking for in resumes, and this article sets out some specifics.
Read the full article on www.job-hunt.org

28 Resume Tips for New Immigrants to Canada from Canadian Recruiters

 

New immigrants to Canada face numerous challenges. Offers of advice on how to deal with these challenges as well as how to navigate the Canadian job search landscape have been chronicled in the book, No Canadian Experience, Eh? a career success guide for new immigrants. One of the appendices from the book lists several resume tips from Canadian recruiters and hiring managers. They were asked the following question in a survey: “If you had one piece of résumé advice for someone who is an internationally-educated professional or new immigrant, what would it be?” The 28 answers mentioned below were gleaned from a longer list, but these will put you on the path to understanding what recruiters look for in a Canadian resume. (Any edits to original responses are enclosed in parentheses [ ] ):

  1. Focus on your skills as they relate to the job for which you are applying
  2. Proper spelling and grammar are imperative. Employers want to know that those representing them can maintain their professional image [especially when it relates to written and verbal communication skills].
  3. Provide more detailed information on former employers and the positions held. Provide relevant website addresses for background information.
  4. Highlight Canadian equivalency in your education and use a functional résumé format
  5. Align work experience with the job requirements
  6. Be specific and detailed about job experience and capabilities
  7. Have the résumé professionally done, if necessary
  8. Ensure your education/qualifications have been accredited by a Canadian institution – and not just for ‘immigration’ purposes
  9. Make sure your résumé clearly addresses all the qualifications of the position. Adding a cover letter with a table (Column 1: You asked for; Column 2: I have) is very helpful to a recruiter who has hundreds of résumés to go through
  10. Don’t put personal details, e.g. date of birth, place of birth, marital status, etc.
  11. Try to gain volunteer Canadian experience to boost your chances
  12. Familiarize yourself with best practices of North American résumé writing, i.e., no personal information, picture, etc.
  13. Have the education assessed against Canadian standards. For example, a CA in India is equivalent to Canadian CGA Level 4
  14. Target contract roles to gain Canadian experience
  15. Summarize job related skills in the first paragraph of your résumé
  16. Make it simple and easy to read…not too wordy
  17. Be honest
  18. Link your experience to Canadian needs
  19. Have recommendation letters
  20. Match your past job responsibilities with the appropriate Canadian title. Give details of your work experience and of the education (possible equivalence)
  21. Tailor résumé to position, and research, research, research
  22. Detail as much Canadian experience as possible, even if it’s part-time, volunteer, or short-term work. Also, point out Canadian similarities in any relevant prior experience
  23. Create and grow a network – and don’t ever stop!
  24. Know who you are applying to. Customize the résumé and research the employer
  25. Highlight how you were the top producer, how you solved problems, etc. This would show that you were an above average employee and that’s impressive no matter where you came from
  26. Seek professional assistance developing a résumé suitable for North American roles
  27. List skills and abilities, and what you can bring to the table
  28. Use the combination résumé style and obtain a Canadian certification in the field that you are seeking to pursue before seeking work in Canada

As you will have noticed, some of these tips overlap, but the premise is consistent, and shows each recruiter’s perspective on the subject. Add your comments below.

Additional information on the book can be found at No Canadian Experience, Eh? a career success guide for new immigrants , and a copy of the Resume and Interview Trends Survey can be downloaded at Canadian Resume and Interview Trends Survey.

Is Your Résumé a Reflection of Who You Are, or is it a Fake?

Just in case you haven’t heard the news, the former head of PayPal, and recent CEO of Yahoo! has tendered his resignation five months after assuming the position. He fudged his resume – just a wee bit – by stating that he has a degree in Computer Science and one in Accounting. A vigilant shareholder, apparentlywith his own motives, did some research and found that the CEO does not have a degree in computer science. This is yet another high profile person who has had to resign his job because of inaccuracies in his resume.

Several years ago I wrote an article titled, Lying on Résumés…Alarmingly Common, and it looked at several high profile individuals who had embellished their resumes. A former manager of a professional baseball team had to retract a statement that he was an All American Basketball player, and that he played basketball at UCLA prior to signing with the Dodgers. Another sports executive switched his degree from social work to business administration in an attempt to gain an edge in the purchase of a sports team.

In Canada, a politician had to quit his caucus when it was revealed he never attended law school as he claimed on his résumé. There was also a ‘doctor wannabe’ who practiced medicine in the US and Canada for 10 years before it was found out he never had a medical degree. In 2007, the former dean of admissions at MIT had to resign after she lied about her academic credentials. She said at the time: “I misrepresented my academic degrees when I first applied to MIT 28 years ago and did not have the courage to correct my resume when I applied for my current job or at any time since.

So, whether it’s a degree that one does not have, or skills or duties that are exaggerated, it is obvious that many people feel compelled to beef up their resumes with fake accomplishments. More often than not the perpetrator is someone in a senior role. This leaves one to wonder why people who have been successful on their own merit, feel that they should embellish their qualifications.

Although reference is being made to people at high levels of an organization, it does not mean others with lesser qualifications are not using the same tactics. Surveys show from time to time that a vast number of people – ranging from general office to senior executives – pad their resumes. But as these people have found out it is never a good idea to exaggerate one’s credentials. Sometimes it takes five months to uncover the truth; at other times up to 28 years, but when it happens it can have a devastating impact on one’s career.

Since spring is in the air and the Yahoo story so recent, it may be a good time to review your resume and make sure that every  employer, date of employment, and achievement is correct. No one wants to be caught in embarrassing situations like these.

10 Resume Tips to Beat Online Applicant Tracking Systems

Career Coach Daisy Wright

Are you a job seeker who is frustrated with online applicant tracking systems (ATS)? Do you often wonder if your resume has disappeared into a blackhole because the only response you have had from the company is a generic, computer-generated acknowledgement? Well, you have a legitimate reason to be frustrated. After all, only 1% of total applicants get an interview. It’s also likely that your resume may have fallen into the 75% (approximately) of resumes that are discarded for using the wrong words. [Source: Preptel].

To help you understand the ATS process, and to find out how you can boost the chances that your resume will get through this ubiquitous system, I contacted two experts: Chip Cohan, VP of Business Development at PrepTel, and Sylvia Dahlby, of Advanced Personnel Systems, Inc., the company that develops the SmartSearch® applicant tracking system.

SmartSearch® helps companies find resumes fast in a searchable database, and because employers can store thousands of resumes in databases, the system helps them identify qualified candidates among previous as well as new applicants.

PrepTel, on the other hand, is a job seeker’s ally. They are the developers of ResumeterTM, a tool that uses the same technology hiring companies use to help identify deficiencies and show where a résumé may be improved, so it rises to the top of the applicant pool during the screening process. According to Chip, the tool “…enables individuals to quickly and easily customize a résumé for each job opening increasing the success the résumé will be reviewed and considered for an interview”.  This Candidate Optimization service is purported to “…improve a candidate’s chances of getting an interview, securing an offer, and maximizing their compensation package.”

Below are some tips that you should consider when using applicant tracking systems:

  1. Don’t limit the length of your resume. Job seekers are often told to limit their resumes to two pages. That’s still OK if you are sending it as an attachment or delivering it in person, but if you are using the ATS, you can send in a longer version.
  2. Use a generic heading like ‘Work Experience’. Fancy headings like Career Summary, Career Progression, and Notable Accomplishments, are passed over by the system because it is not designed to recognize such headings.
  3. Begin the work experience section with the name of your employer. It is customary to start this section with the employment dates, but the system looks for the name(s) of employers first. Therefore, start with employer’s name, your title, and the dates you held these titles, and place them on separate lines.
  4. Keep formatting simple and omit tables and graphics. The system cannot read graphics, and misreads PDF files and tables.
  5. Include a blend of keywords and phrases. Keywords are important, but the system is programmed to conduct semantic searches where it looks for strings of words identified in the job posting.
  6. Do not ‘sand-bag’ the system. Mirror the job posting as much as possible, but do not manipulate the system with needless repetitions of words and phrases. Recruiters frown on candidates who try to game the system.
  7. Research the company’s corporate culture. Before you submit your resume, visit the company’s website to get a sense of its corporate culture. Look at the words they use to describe their value, then incorporate those words in your resume and/or cover letter.
  8. Make the Resume Easy and Fast to Read. Even though the machinery is searching for keywords, candidates are well advised to have a nice, clean looking document with plenty of white space that’s easy to read on a computer screen and in print.
  9. Use Bullet Points. To avoid long sentences and huge blocks as paragraphs, it is advisable to use bullets, preferably asterisks.
  10. Add a Cover Letter. The cover letter is the perfect place to show interest and fit for the company culture.

Dahlby also offered some additional suggestions:  Job seekers should rewrite their resumes for each position to make sure they mirror the job description. She also advised against ‘sandbagging’ the process. Sandbagging is when candidates include needless repetitions of words and phrases, or when they try to ‘game’ the system by using a lot of keywords and hiding them with white fonts.

With the above information, you should now be equipped to optimize your resume to make sure it ranks high enough where a human will, at the very least, read it, and your frustration level should be reduced a notch.

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How a Patchwork Quilt Résumé Could Damage Your Brand

Wikipedia’s Definition of a patchwork quilt: a quilt in which the top layer consists of pieces of fabric sewn together to form a design.

By my own definition, a patchwork quilt résumé is one that is made up of phrases and sentences copied from other people’s career documents (résumé, cover letter, bio, or LinkedIn Profile), and presented as one’s own.

Recently, there was an intense discussion on the forum of one of my professional associations about someone who had copied blocks of a sample résumé to create her own then contacted one member to spruce it up for her. While scrutinizing the document, the member realized the contents didn’t gel, so she did a Google search. It turned out the sample résumé was crafted by another member of this same association and posted in an article on AOL.

I have had my share of people sending me résumés made up of bits and pieces of other people’s résumés, and sometimes cover letters. In one case, it was the summary from one of my own creations. As I started reading the résumé, I thought the wording sounded familiar. On checking, I realized it was one I had written for another client. This new client told me someone had helped him out for free but he wasn’t having much success with it.

When information is copied from someone else’s résumé, it is very easy to spot the patchwork quilt design. The information is incoherent; statements are generic and some phrases just do not match the person’s experience or background. Actions like these only serve to damage one’s brand, and elicit accusations of plagiarism, copyright infringements, and ethics. Moreover, if such a résumé lands on the desk of a discerning hiring manager, such a candidate’s credibility will come into question, and he or she will most likely not be called for an interview.

Here are the facts:

  • Your résumé is a branding tool that tells YOUR story, not someone else’s, and shows the face YOU want employers to see.
  • You are unique! There is no one else like you, with the same experience, accomplishments and work ethic. Your co-worker may have the same job description and may do the same work like you, but he or she is not your clone. You must differentiate yourself.
  • Your aim is to create a résumé that captures your unique talents, accomplishments and experience; not one that looks like a patchwork quilt, or one that gives the impression you have a Jekyll and Hyde personality.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Instead of scouring the Internet for sample résumés to build your own, take a look at your job description and ask yourself “What have I done with the job they asked me to do? How is the company better off since I joined?”
  • Read each job description statement and apply the ‘so what’ factor to each. For example, if one of your responsibilities is to “monitor and analyze sales promotion results...” Ask yourself, “So what? What did I do? What happened?”
  • Review your last two performance appraisals and look for the nuggets of your contributions from projects you worked on, objectives met and targets exceeded.
  • Start building a résumé that tells YOUR story. Make sure each statement addresses your value proposition, and answers the employer’s question “Why should we hire you?” If you are unable to create your own résumé, find someone whom you trust; has credentials and know what they are doing.

Don’t damage your brand with a patchwork quilt résumé. Learn to tell your own story and get hired!

10 Résumé Buzzwords to Avoid in 2012

Hear ye, Hear ye! This is hot off the Press! LinkedIn has just released its list of most overused professional buzzwords for 2011. They did this after analyzing 135 million professional profiles on their website. Some of these same words were on the list in 2010, and have resurfaced. Check your résumé or LinkedIn profile to see if you are guilty of using any or all of these:

1.      Creative

2.      Organizational

3.      Effective

4.      Extensive experience

5.      Track record

6.      Motivated

7.      Innovative

8.      Problem solving

9.      Communication skills

10.    Dynamic

As much as we might want to eliminate or reduce the use of these words and phrases, employers tend to lag behind with the use of clichés. Their job postings still include many of these words. Their applicant tracking system still contains these words and phrases, yet if the words are not incorporated in a candidate’s résumé, the résumé does not stand much of a chance of being seen by the human eye.

One way to overcome or minimize the use of these words is to give examples or tell stories of:

  • how you were creative
  • what problems you solved
  • what really got you motivated, and
  • how many years of experience you have.

By using this method, the hiring manager or decision-maker can easily see your potential value.

As with everything else, your decision to include or exclude these words requires a delicate balance. The fact is, there are going to be times when using the ‘word or phrase’ is your only option!

 

Source: LinkedIn’s Most Overused Buzzwords for 2011

 

10 Resume Pet Peeves Cited by Hiring Managers & Recruiters

Job seeker, sometimes it’s just a small blunder or gaffe that stands between your resume being selected for further consideration, or being tossed. Since recruiters and hiring managers play a significant role in your job search success, the onus is on you to know how to avoid these resume faux pas that irk them. Based on a survey conducted in late 2010 about Resume and Job Search Trends, the following were identified as the top resume pet peeves for recruiters and hiring managers:

  • “Generic  Objectives” that scream ‘me-me-me’. “It rarely helps, often hurts, and always takes up valuable real estate that could be better used to showcase your accomplishments”, said one respondent.
  • Massive email blasts where the resume is not tailored to the position for which they are applying.
  • Beginning each point, regardless of experience, with the standard “responsible for” with few, if any, real accomplishments.
  • A resume that contains “references available upon request”.
  • Lack of professionalism in the layout and composition.
  • Lack of detail on duties and accomplishments.
  • Dull job descriptive statements.
  • Content that is unrelated to the role.
  • Chronological history of events dating back to high school (especially when the applicant has been out of high school for 3 or more years).
  • Resumes with more than three pages, poor formatting, and spelling and grammar errors.

Some recruiters indicated that they prefer a longer resume as it enables them to see the breadth of the person’s experience and are better able to identify the skills relevant to the position they are trying to fill. However, these same recruiters say that clients/employers prefer a 2- or 3-page resume, and they would modify them to suit the client’s needs.

“As we are placing the candidates to our clients we prefer the longer version for details but we don’t like to send that to the client, unless specifically requested.”

While you might not agree with all of the above, some are glaringly obvious and should be avoided. Have your say.

Napoleon Hill – The Great Résumé Writer

Famed author, Napoleon Hill is best known for his extraordinary book, Think and Grow Rich, but did you know he was also a professional résumé writer? I made the discovery recently as I was leafing through his famous book for the umpteenth time! But, instead of calling the document a résumé or CV, he termed it a “Brief”.

So confident was he about his ability and the effectiveness of his ‘brief’, that he unequivocally stated, “The information described here is the net result of many years of experience during which thousands of men and women were helped to market their services effectively. It can, therefore, be relied upon as sound and practical.” Wow! How bold, Mr. Hill!

For those who believe they can prepare their résumés in a hurry, or that it doesn’t take much effort to develop an effective résumé, or it’s just a typing job, read Mr. Hill’s thoughts on that:

“This brief should be prepared as carefully as a lawyer would prepare the brief of a case to be tried in court. Unless the applicant is experienced in the preparation of such briefs, an expert should be consulted, and his services enlisted for this purpose. Successful merchants employ men and women who understand the art and the psychology of advertising to present the merits of their merchandise. One who has personal services for sale should do the same.”

Mr. Hill implied here that if one does not have the experience in preparing their own ‘briefs’, “an expert should be consulted and his services enlisted for this purpose.”  “Hello dear reader, are you still with me?”

While career coaches and professional résumé writers prefer to use the top third of the résumé – referred to as ‘prime real estate’ – to summarize the client’s brand and personal statements which capture attention, we might cut Mr. Hill some slack for starting the ‘brief’ with Education, as in:

“State briefly, but definitely, what schooling you have had, and in what subjects you specialized in school, giving the reasons for that specialization.”

That was what was common in his day.

He then continued: “If you have had experience in connection with positions similar to the one you seek, describe it fully, [and] state names and addresses of former employers. Be sure to bring out clearly any special experience you may have had which would equip you to fill the position you seek.”

This statement is significant. He implies here that it is not necessary to include all one’s experiences, because, in fact, that would take several pages for some of us. We should dissect the job posting then select and use only the experiences that relate to the employer’s requirements.

On the subject of references, Mr. Hill said, “Practically every business firm desires to know all about the previous records, antecedents, etc., of prospective employees who seek positions of responsibility. Attach to your brief photostatic copies of letters from:

  • Former employers
  • Teachers under whom you studied
  • Prominent people whose judgement may be relied upon.
  • Photograph of self. Attach to your brief a recent, unmounted photograph of yourself.”

Well, way back in 1937 when the book was written, it was customary to provide all of the above, but these days job seekers are advised to make sure they have their reference list ready, but rather than attaching it to the résumé, they should wait until they are asked for it. Of course, attaching a photograph to one’s résumé is not normally done, but with the availability of social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Google +, it’s difficult for job seekers to hide. Testimonials and LinkedIn recommendations also play a role in the modern reference process.

Mr. Hill also believed, like career service professionals do, that the résumé should be focused. Too many times I am asked by some job seekers to develop a generic one-size-fits-all résumé. Here’s what Mr. Hill said about this:

“Apply for a specific position. Avoid application for a position without describing EXACTLY what particular position you seek. Never apply for ‘just a position.’ That indicates you lack specialized qualifications. State your qualifications for the particular position for which you apply. Give full details as to the reason you believe you are qualified for the particular position you seek.” 

Mr. Hill also wrote about having a neat and professional résumé. He said, “Remember another thing; neatness in the preparation of your brief will indicate that you are a painstaking person.” One of the unwritten rules of résumé writing is that it must be free from grammar and spelling errors and it must be pleasing to the eye. No different from what Napoleon Hill stated so many years ago.

Finally, and this is where I draw my conclusion that the man was a professional résumé writer. He said, “I have helped to prepare briefs for clients which were so striking and out of the ordinary that they resulted in the employment of the applicant without a personal interview.”

The briefs that he prepared “were so striking and out of the ordinary…” They stood out; they were not created from templates and they were not generic. In other words, they were customized and reflected the job seeker’s personal brand! Résumé writers, career coaches and Napoleon Hill are on the same page when it comes to résumé creation. We painstakingly apply proven strategies that position our clients for job search success!

What are your thoughts? Was Napoleon Hill a professional résumé writer? Have your say.

 

 

When a Résumé Looks too Good to be True…

…It probably is! Some time ago I wrote an article titled “Lying on Resumes Alarmingly Common”, where I referenced a newspaper article with the heading “Official Résumé Wrong”! Fast forward to 2011, and it appears the topic of ‘lying on résumés’ has reared it’s head again. As a matter of fact, one month ago, I was reviewing the résumé of a young man and when I questioned him about his most recent experience, he admitted he had fabricated it because “others were doing it.” As a career coach and professional résumé writer, I owe it to my clients and myself to make sure that the information is correct.

Officeteam recently conducted a survey and it reveals, once again, that most job seekers stretch the truth on their résumés, particularly when it comes to their job duties and education. The job market may be tough right now, but job seekers should refrain from embellishing their résumés as they will be found out, sooner or later.

Here are some tips that Officeteam has offered to employers on how they can verify information on résumés. Job seekers should take note:

1. Watch for ambiguity. When reviewing resumes, question vague descriptions of skills (e.g., “familiar with,” “involved in”) which may be signs that a professional is trying to hide a lack of relevant work experience.
2. Ask once, ask twice. Pose interview questions that relate to specific skills needed. For example, if a candidate must know a particular software program, ask how he or she has used the technology in previous roles. If an applicant’s response is ambiguous, don’t be afraid to rephrase the question.
3. Get the facts. Ask references to confirm basic information such as the candidate’s employment history, job titles, responsibilities and salary. If they’re willing to talk further, delve into their thoughts on the individual’s strengths and weaknesses, interpersonal skills, and ability to work on a team.
4. Branch out. Inquire if references know of others you can speak to about promising candidates. Also, tap your own network to find mutual acquaintances who might be able to shed light on the prospective hire’s background and character.
6.  Put them to the test. To get a true sense of a candidate’s abilities, consider hiring the person on a temporary basis before extending a full-time offer. This allows both parties to assess whether the position is a fit.

How about you? Do you embellish, or have you lied on your résumé? Do you know anyone who does? Add your voice here!

Source: Officeteam

Related post: Lying on Résumés Alarmingly Common

Is the Résumé Really Dead?

Every so often I read a blog post or hear comments about the death of the ubiquitous résumé, and I am sometimes tempted to believe it. After all, it draws its competition from the overabundance of social media tools and, to a lesser degree, from individuals with the ‘gift of gab’ who can talk themselves into any job without a résumé.

But, let’s pause for a moment! Probably, the résumé isn’t dead after all. A few days ago, one of my clients was interviewed for a Senior Vice President position by the top three honchos of a company. They were impressed with the content and structure of his résumé because after the interview, he sent me the following note:

The Top Guy stated he had never seen a better résumé and appreciated the time and effort I put into it.  I was straight up and told him I solicited assistance. I said, “No one stands alone but draws on other people’s expertise as required”. He loved that.

Naturally, I was happy for him that things went well, and by the looks of  it, he may be getting an offer soon, but I also reflected on the CEO’s comment. This couldn’t have happened if it was a collaborative effort between the client and me. Before crafting the résumé, I put him to work by having him complete an assessment to uncover his strengths and the work environment in which he strives best. It was a worthwhile exercise for him as he wrote to say, “I want to express how important this process has been for me to re-evaluate my worth and experience. I have a fire I have not had in a while!”

The next step was to delve into his background, unearth his success stories and formulate them into a cohesive value proposition that articulates what he is good at, what he consistently does well, and how he delivers tangible results. He was stunned when he received the draft document and remarked, “To say we are blown away (the wife and I) would be an understatement. This is GOLD!”

Before meeting with company officials, we also discussed interview strategies – what to say, when to say it, and what to hold back.  This brings me back to the question, “Is the résumé really dead as some would have us believe?” Not really! Hiring managers and recruiters usually request one; job postings ask to submit one, and CEOs sometimes want to see one before agreeing to meet a candidate. What is on its way out is the résumé as it used to be. The one devoid of value-based scripts, filled with ‘responsible for…’ statements and does not address the employer’s needs or buying motivators. Such a résumé cannot stand up to the competition and will certainly meet its demise if it hasn’t already. On the other hand, the one that tells stories, focuses on major strengths, and promises value, that’s the résumé that will lead to interviews and then to a job offer.

What are your thoughts? Have your say below.

 

But, let’s pause for a minute! Probably, the résumé isn’t dead after all. One of my clients met the top three honchos of this particular company when he interviewed for a Senior VP position a few days ago. After that meeting, he sent me an email from which I quote:  

The Top Guy stated he had never seen a better resume and appreciated the time and effort I put into it.  I was straight up and told him I solicited assistance.  “No one stands alone but draws on other people’s expertise as required”, I told him. He loved that.

In order to come up with the client’s résumé, I had him complete an assessment. After he had reviewed the results, he said, I want to express how important this process has been for me to re-evaluate my worth and experience. I have a fire I have not had in a while!”

The next step was to delve into his background, unearth his success stories and formulate them into a cohesive value proposition that articulates what he is good at, what he consistently does well, and how he delivers tangible results. All this was necessary to craft the résumé that caught the attention of the CEO. Even the client was stunned when he received the résumé. He said, To say we are blown away (the wife and I) would be an understatement. This is GOLD!”

So, which résumé is dead? The one devoid of value-based scripts, filled with ‘responsible for…’ statements and does not address the employer’s needs. Such a résumé cannot stand up to the competition, and will certainly meet its demise if it hasn’t already. However, the résumé that tells stories; focuses on major strengths and promises value, that’s the résumé that will lead to success.

What are your thoughts? Have your say below.