Resume Boot Camp

The Shocking Truth Behind Résumés

resumelies_Jan2013_webMost people would agree that it’s still a tough job market out there. According to an article from CNN Money, for every one job opening there are three unemployed Americans, and that doesn’t even include upcoming graduates, the under-employed, and the currently employed individuals who may also be vying for the open positions. With all that competition there can be a lot of stress to impress employers.

That stress seems to be driving some job seekers to misrepresent themselves and their experience. The Economic Times recently published an infographic that highlights the results of a study about lying on resumes. And the findings paint a rather ugly picture. With over 80% of organizations reporting that they’ve caught candidates misrepresenting themselves, this should serve as a wake-up call for every job seeker to take another look at their resume and make sure they are portraying themselves accurately and honestly. You may be tempted to try and hide a work gap or a lack of education, but hiding or exaggerating facts on your resume, application, or during the interview can cost you the job. Whether it’s intentional or unintentional, it’s never a good idea.

Have you ever felt the need to misrepresent yourself on your resume or in an interview? Tell us what you did and how it worked out for you in the comments section below.

Formatting Rules to Keep Your Résumé Fit

WEB10MSC_RESUME-BOOT-CAMP_W2 A good résumé takes effort and time to create. A well-written, professional-looking résumé can take you far in the job search, while a poorly constructed one may do very little to get your career moving. Depending on the career field you are in or trying to enter, résumé content will vary from person to person. But, once you have decided what information you want and need to include on your résumé, it’s time to consider how to format that content. Check out these across-the-board formatting rules that you can use, regardless of the job you’re applying for. 

Include your name and contact information. Always be sure to include your first and last name, as well as your phone number and an e-mail address. It’s important to have all of your contact information in one area, preferably at the top of the page to help ensure that it’s seen first.

Divide your résumé into sections. Dividing your résumé into sections helps make it easier for a potential employer to quickly scan for key facts. Designate the different sections by including a short, descriptive title. For example, if you list any information about any degrees or training you have received, include a title such as “Education and Training” above that section. This helps keep your information organized and concise, and allows you to highlight the reasons why you would be a great fit for the job.

Use one font style. It’s better to limit your document to only one font, and try not to use anything difficult to read. Use a more professional, simple font style like Times New Roman, Arial, Georgia, or Tahoma. Also, be sure to use 10- to 12-point font to ensure that the person reading your work history doesn’t have to squint to decipher what it says.

Keep it short. The purpose of a résumé is to give a potential employer a summary of your skills and abilities. You want to give them enough information to know what you’ve accomplished in your career and why they should bring you in for an interview. The longer you work and the more work experience you gain, the more difficult to keep this content to just one page. But, the consensus among employers is to keep it as short, sweet, and to the point as possible.

Invest in good paper stock. If you’re delivering a printed copy of your résumé to a potential employer, invest in good paper stock. A heavier paper made out of a cotton or linen blend may help you get noticed. This also communicates to an employer that you put time and thought into creating it. The next time you’re ready to print off a résumé, stop by your local office supply store and purchase a heavy weight (90 lb. – 110 lb.) cardstock.

Create an electronic version. Many job openings today require applying online, so it’s a good idea to have a version of your résumé that will upload correctly when submitted. To format your résumé for online use, follow these tips:
• Use Times New Roman or Arial font
• Keep all of your content left aligned
• Remove any bullet points and replace with an asterisk or a dash
• Use spaces between all titles and headlines
• Copy and paste your Word document into a text editor, such as Notepad, prior to uploading it into the online job application text box. This will help remove any formatting from your résumé that could display incorrectly online.  

Not only do you want your résumé to have good information, but it’s also important for it to look good too. Use this advice to help you stand out from the competition when you apply for your next job.
We hope you’ve enjoyed the Résumé Boot Camp series and that you will use these tips of the trade to whip your résumé into shape! Here’s wishing you best of luck in all your job search endeavors.

What to Do About Work Gaps

WEB10MSC_RESUME-BOOT-CAMP_W2 Whatever the reason is you’re looking for a new job, you’re going to need a résumé. And, you want one to stand out to an employer and make them take notice of you in a positive way. So, what do you do if your work history has a few gaps along the way? With typically only one minute to grab someone’s attention with your résumé, prospective employers sometimes don’t take the time to investigate little potholes along a job seeker’s workforce journey. Employers see work gaps frequently, but what they really want to see is an individual’s career growth and progression. So, if you’re currently experiencing a few of those gaps in your work history, what can you do now to help your résumé compete with the elite?

Format your résumé into a functional format. The functional format focuses on your actual skills and accomplishments rather than on the dates you worked at a job or your job titles. When you arrange your résumé by your skills, you’re highlighting the main points of why an employer should hire you.

Align your skills with the job you’re applying for. Be specific about your skills and relate them to the job you’re applying for. It’s important to keep things relevant. If you’re applying for a job as an administrative assistant, the prospective employer probably doesn’t want to know that you also have a knack for laying concrete. Instead, list out relevant skills like your knowledge of Microsoft Office, the ability to book meetings using Outlook, and experience in coordinating multiple events or meetings at a time.

Include your accomplishments. You’re trying to tell an employer why they should choose you over the other job applicants. This is your time to wow a potential employer about what you have achieved during your work history. Listing these helps combat a work gap by showcasing that you do have experience and good skills that achieved results. This showcases you as a more serious job candidate. Again, keep your accomplishments relevant to the job you’re applying for, but be sure to target your proudest achievements.

List your volunteer experience. Do you volunteer for an organization? If so, include that in your work history section. It doesn’t matter if you got paid or not. It’s still work experience you can include to show you haven’t been sitting around during your time away from a job.

These are a few tips to help you out. Sometimes an employment gap cannot be avoided, but that doesn’t mean you’re not qualified for the job. In addition, one more piece of advice is to create a cover letter to go along with your résumé. In your cover letter, be succinct about your work gap, but use this as an opportunity to better explain your work history. Apply these tips to help your job search, and don’t let a work history gap derail your career plans.

Strengthen Your Résumé’s Core

WEB10MSC_RESUME-BOOT-CAMP_W2 Your work experience is an important part of why a potential employer should want to hire you. So, what does your current work history say about you? Does it make a potential manager take notice of you or does it only get a quick glance, never to be looked at again? Your work history section is the core of your résumé. As such, it has to be a strong foundation to be the focal point of your résumé. So, here are a few tips to help strengthen the work history section of your résumé. 

Work History
For each work experience you list on your résumé, make sure to note your title, the name of the company, and the start and end dates of your employment. If you are still currently employed there, say so. An example would be: Construction Supervisor | XYZ Construction Company | August 2008 – Present. If you are with the same company and have received promotions, list out each job title you’ve held and specifics about the work you did in each role. Do you have a gap in your work history? Find out how to fix that.

Next, to bring life to your work history section, describe your job duties and accomplishments. Be sure to incorporate numbers and results of projects you’ve worked on. This is the area where you want to show how much of an impact you have made through your work. For example, instead of saying, “managed the budget of ordering office supplies,” say something like, “oversaw the office supply ordering process and saved the company $200 per month on purchases.” This latter option showcases what you did and just how well you did it by demonstrating the cost savings you created for your company.

It’s important to still keep these points short and sweet, but be as specific as you can by including some numbers and results. The numbers are the validation that potential employers want to see to ensure that you can do the job and do it well. Also, use power words to add some punch to your information.

So, in the end, here’s a sample of what your work history section should look like:

Construction Supervisor
XYZ Construction Company | August 2008 – Present
• Oversaw employee safety procedures and successfully trained 100 team members about CPR and fire
   protection procedures
• Won a new company contract and saved the company $3,000 in construction fees
• Managed a team of 20 construction employees with no turnover in two years

One other important note to make is to keep your work history section relevant to the job you’re applying for. It’s about tailoring your information. For instance, if you’re trying to get into a professional environment, don’t include a previous summer job as a dog walker. And, if you have a long work history of several different jobs, again, just pick out the work experience that is relevant to the new job you’re applying for.

These are just a few tips to help your résumé work history get noticed. Be concise, and again, it’s OK to brag on yourself a little here. You want to let the employer know why you’re the best for the job opportunity. 

Résumé Boot Camp – What to Include in a Summary

WEB10MSC_RESUME-BOOT-CAMP_W2 Do you feel like your résumé is missing something? Don’t feel like it has that “Ka-Pow” that it needs to grab an employer’s attention? Well, get ready to whip your résumé into shape with our new Movin’ On Up series, Résumé Boot Camp. Each week for the next month we’re going to focus on a few key ways you can add some pizzazz to your résumé to help it get the attention it deserves!

So, to kick this training off, let’s talk about your résumé summary. If you don’t have one, add one. If you already have one, read back over it and get prepared to kick it up a notch. Here are some more specifics on how to create a standout résumé summary.

Besides your contact information at the very top of your paper, the summary should be one of the first items that a prospective employer sees on your résumé. Sometimes, people think that a summary is a brief outline of what you’re looking for. Here’s an example: Seeking a position as a marketing assistant at XYZ Company. Although that might be what you’re looking for, a prospective employer already knows that you’re looking for a job because otherwise they wouldn’t be looking at your résumé.

Instead, a summary should highlight your skills as they relate to the job you’re applying for and what you can add to the company. An example of how a summary should look is: Construction supervisor with five years experience managing construction crew of 30 people, oversee production and development; establish safety codes; supervisor of the year; increased production and revenue by 40% during 2009 over 2008.

When creating your résumé summary, here are a few key tips to keep in mind.

Be brief, but specific. Don’t give all your information away in the summary. Let this be an opening to your résumé that encourages an employer to continue reading and learning more about you. Be sure to outline what you can offer the employer.

List relevant skills. In your summary, list your most relevant skills as they relate to the specific job opening. Which of those skills do you excel at the most? Write those down.
Also, describe your accomplishments. What are a few of your greatest accomplishments that would relate to the job? Is there an award you won? It’s OK to brag a little because you want the employer to know why you’re great and why they should hire you!

Use action words. Although sometimes you have to list something in past tense, try to use as many action words as possible to communicate greater intensity. And, using action verbs will more likely to grab the reader’s attention than using past tense verbs.

Format correctly. Keep the summary statement at the top of your résumé and make it short and sweet – about four sentences or less. Again, you want to grab someone’s attention with your summary, but not give away all of your information. Encourage them to keep reading. Also, be careful not to use the words “I”, “me” and “my” in your summary. Employers know you’re talking about yourself, so saying “I” or “me” in a résumé might sound amateur and unprofessional.

So, now it’s time for you to check out your summary statement or start writing it today. This is a great way to set yourself apart from the competition and stand out in an employer’s mind. Have questions about writing a summary? Let us know. Also, tune in next week to learn how to write and format your work history on your résumé.