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Five Second Series – Part IV

Really?  Only Five Seconds to Catch Someone’s Attention?

You bet!

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Anyone who has hired or recruited more than a few times will tell you that they almost instantly know from one quick look, whether a resume is worth reading or not.

This is Part IV in a series about the ways you can catch the reader’s attention in less than 5 seconds. And, how to avoid reasons for rejection or what I call the “red flags” that cause the reader to set your resume aside.

Part I

Part II

Part III

 

Part 4: KISS – Keep it short, sweetie.

How to keep the reader’s attention.

Writing your resume is not easy at the best of times, and keeping it interesting can be just as challenging. Being brief is one of the best ways to keep the reader’s interest with today’s rampant short attention spans; and keeping it short seems to be a universal problem for most. I know you don’t mean to bore people with long-winded descriptions; you just don’t want to leave anything out! And I think it’s great that you are so keen about your achievements.

However, once you’ve written your resume, read each line of it and ask yourself these two questions:

  1. Is this information helpful in showing the reader who I am and what my talents are?
  2. Is this information relevant to the position I’m applying to?

If you can answer ‘yes’ to both, then you are on your way!


What to leave in and what to leave out – helpful tips:


 

Leave in common familiar language that the reader will be comfortable with.                             

Dude with empty speech bubble left

Leave out words, acronyms and language that are particular to one company or industry when possible. I see this most often with very large corporations or sectors such as pharma or academia. It can distract the reader and make it hard to understand the document when industry specific jargon is over-used.


 

Leave in specific tasks from your job description and describe how you fulfilled those tasks in

Dude many hats

your own way. Don’t forget to highlight any mentionable results!

Leave out job description bullets. Don’t cut and paste bullets from job descriptions, we know when you’ve done this and it doesn’t impress anyone.


 

Dudes village people

Leave in only information that describes your skills set, enhances your skill set with context, and/or answers to the job descriptions to which you are applying.

Leave out details that are redundant. If you taught yoga twenty years ago and aren’t applying for a health and fitness or related position, leave it out. If you climbed Mount Kilimanjaro within the last ten years, and there is room for it, and it doesn’t seem overkill – leave it in. It speaks of your health, tenacity, strength and courage.


 

Leave in your phone number so they can call you, your email so they can email you if they can’t reach you by phone

Dude telephone

and your name, so they know what to call you when they contact you.

Leave out your personal information. Marital status, birth dates, etc. are not anyone’s business but yours.


He and she dudes in suits

Leave in memberships to relevant associations, Board memberships, relevant continuing education, relevant training classes or seminars. Remember the word ‘relevant’, it’s key.

Leave out personal interests. Now, to be honest, this is controversial among recruiters. Some recruiters like seeing personal interests, some don’t. I don’t see the point of it. It’s not personal, it’s only business.


 

But most of all – keep it short, sweetie.

yellow clock

 

 

 

Five Seconds Series – Part III

Really?  Only Five Seconds to Catch Someone’s Attention?

You bet!

shutterstock_111105164

Anyone who has hired or recruited more than a few times will tell you that they almost instantly know from one quick look, whether a resume is worth reading or not.

This is Part III in a series about the ways you can catch the reader’s attention in less than 5 seconds. And, how to avoid reasons for rejection or what I call the “red flags” that cause the reader to set your resume aside.

Part I

Part II

 


Part III – Location, Location, Location

As it is with Real Estate, so is the wording in your resume all about location, location, location. What you write in your resume is important, but did you know that where you place certain words in a resume is just as important?  Studies conducted with professional recruiters show that routinely the eye falls on certain areas of a resume. Making these the key spots to place your most critical information i.e. the information you don’t want them to miss at first glance.

 

Here are the “hot spots” on a resume:

READ MORE

Five Seconds Series – Part II

Really?  Only Five Seconds to Catch Someone’s Attention?

You bet!

shutterstock_111105164

Anyone who has hired or recruited more than a few times will tell you that they almost instantly know from one quick look, whether a resume is worth reading or not.

This is Part II in a series about things to avoid and ways to layout your resume that will paint the most accurate impression of you.  These tips will help you avoid rejection and what I call “red flags” that cause the reader to stop reading your resume.

Dude sitting on laptop

Part II – What are you?

 

One of the first things I look for at the top of a resume is the title or titles that describe the individual.When I can’t easily see this, I often set the resume aside.

Make it easy on the reader and don’t make us read every line to figure out what you are and what you jobs you’re targeting. One of the easiest ways to do this is to write your title in bold in the opening paragraph.  Like this:

 

An energetic, highly organized and efficient Administrative Assistant with a solid history of completing administrative tasks quickly, accurately, and on a timely basis within a variety of industries.  A fluently bilingual and excellent communicator with an ability to connect with individuals at all levels, engendering trust, confidence and respect. Easily adapts to new environments.

 

Right away, within a second or two, a context is set and the reader knows what they will be reading about. Then the rest of the document will be interpreted within this context and all achievements support this role.

It sets the scene.

For example, using the above title of Administrative Assistant, every achievement written in the document will highlight the essential skills for that role.  When you describe what you accomplished, it will be read with Administrative Assistant in mind.  This is highly effective because it makes your resume easy to read, increasing your chances of a call because we like people who make things easier on us. :)

 

Another easy and  effective solution is to use a banner at the top of the first page.  This is helpful if you have different roles or levels of role you are targeting.  These are professional looking ways to tell the reader what you are targeting:

 

Sales / Sales and Marketing / Business Development

 

Or

 

Administrative and Operations Support / Administrative Assistant

 

Or

 

Director or Vice President Sales and Marketing

 

 Happy resume writing!

 

 

Five Seconds Series – Part I

Really?  Only Five Seconds to Catch Someone’s Attention?

You bet!

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I know 5 seconds sounds like one of those extreme statistics but it’s actually true.

Anyone who has hired or recruited more than a few times will tell you that they don’t need more than 5 seconds and almost instantly know from one quick look, whether a resume is worth reading or not.

Use words strategically

And it’s not only about aesthetics.  Key words jump off the page and catch your eye depending on where they are placed.

The way you layout your resume can give inaccurate impressions of your experience. Reasons for rejection or what I call “red flags” jump off the page quickly. In light of that, I’ve put together this group of blogs called The Five Seconds Series to help you avoid some of the more common pitfalls

Dude writing

Part I: Don’t look like a jumper if you’re not.

One thing employers don’t like to see is someone who has moved from company to company every year or couple of years, three or more times in a row.  We call them jumpers.  It can indicate a lack of dedication or loyalty, or an inability to adjust to new environments, or even a lack of skill.

Unfortunately, I’ve seen resumes that make a person look like a jumper at first glance, even when they’re not. The most common mistake is when you’ve held multiple positions in one company and have repeated the company name with each position making it look like you moved companies.  The easiest way to avoid this is to write the company name once and list the positions with their accompanying achievements under the one company name lest your promotions be mis-read as moves.


 

LAY IT OUT LIKE THIS

Acme Company                                                           2005 – present

Director                                                                        2011 – present

  • What you accomplished.
  • What you accomplished.
  • What you accomplished.

Regional Manager                                                          2010 – 2011

  • What you accomplished.
  • What you accomplished.
  • What you accomplished.

Manager                                                                          2007 – 2010

  • What you accomplished.
  • What you accomplished.
  • What you accomplished.

Associate                                                                          2005 – 2007

  • What you accomplished.
  • What you accomplished.
  • What you accomplished.

 

If you write the company name above each position, at first glance it can look like you jumped from one company to another too many times every couple of years.


 

AND NOT LIKE THIS

Acme Company                                                             2011 – present

Director

  • What you accomplished.
  • What you accomplished.
  • What you accomplished.

Acme Company

Manager                                                                          2010 – 2011

  • What you accomplished.
  • What you accomplished.
  • What you accomplished.

Acme Company

Assistant Manager                                                          2007 – 2010

  • What you accomplished.
  • What you accomplished.
  • What you accomplished.

Acme Company

Associate                                                                          2005 – 2007

  • What you accomplished.
  • What you accomplished.
  • What you accomplished.

Happy resume writing!

Cover Letters

Diane reading pic

You are defined by more than just your job and the cover letter is your place to showcase some of those other qualities you possess. The way it does that is that it allows you to be more human and genuine in the way you come across. While the resume is written in the third person, the cover letter is written in the first person. What’s great about this is it gives you the opportunity to be heard in your voice. This can add value to your resume.

I have to admit that I don’t often read cover letters because they are either way too long or not unique in their content.

That being said, sometimes I have three or four comparable resumes in front of me (all with a similar professional history), and find myself consulting the cover letters for more information. When the person comes across well in their cover letter, then that kicks them up a notch on my list. I still have to meet them of course, but now I have a better idea of who may be worth meeting.

 

IT’S ALL ABOUT TRANSPARENCY AND ENTHUSIASM

READ MORE

Top 10 Rules of Engagement

Career advice you can’t do without. From interview follow-up to writing an email to leaving a professional voice mail message, this post has it all.

Resume Writing: How do you eat an elephant?

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This is the site with bite sized posts and videos to help you build your new resume!  It was built for just that as well as to share a wealth of resume, interview, and job search knowledge from expert career, human resource, and recruitment professionals.   I’m so excited by the prospect of sharing it all with you because for the past fifteen years I’ve noticed that many people fail to get to the interview process because of a resume that doesn’t get noticed!  The fact of the matter is, resumes have become very important marketing tools and need to be constructed to work for you.  If yours does not – have no fear, you’ve come to the right place!  READ MORE

Writing an email that will get noticed.

Dude on stomach  computer

Preparing and executing a good email can make the difference between being noticed and being ignored. Writing an email that will get noticed requires nothing more than a little thought and planning.  A key part of your email is the subject line. Think of your email’s subject as your opening line. It’s your opportunity to make a grand first impression – to state what your strengths, titles, job targets and/or motivations are. More often than not, however, it’s an underestimated and, sadly, misused space.

 

As an executive recruiter the vast majority of emails I receive are from job seekers. I receive dozens of them each week and don’t always have time to open each one, but the ones I choose to read are often selected based on what is in the subject line because the subject line gives me a clue to what I’ll be reading about once I open it, and if it looks interesting then my curiosity is piqued.

READ MORE

How to Job Search

Dude with binoculars

If you haven’t looked for a new job in a long time, or don’t know how to go about finding a job because you’ve never had to look for one before, I can tell you, you’re part of a huge club! Most people, I think I can safely say, don’t look for jobs on a regular enough basis, so they’re not extremely familiar with it and, to complicate matters, the job search landscape is evolving all the time. For one thing, it’s grown larger since the last time you were hired and the number of competing applicants has grown as well. But more importantly, it’s become somewhat more sophisticated and a lot less personal. In a nutshell, your job search is going to take some effort. Unless you have succeeded in your field to such a degree that your name is known everywhere and your experience is in high demand, you have some work to do.

 

Finding a job is a job in itself.

Finding a job is a job in itself and, as my father used to say, “Any job worth doing, is a job worth doing well”. While there are opportunities that happen

“A job worth doing, is a job worth doing well”
to fall in our laps, they are rare and are not necessarily the best opportunities we can find. Often times, we accept what happens to come along because the prospect of putting ourselves out there in the very large world and risking rejection or frustratingly impersonal roadblocks can be very disheartening. There are indeed many difficult and frustrating experiences during a job search, but many of these can be solved with a little information. The concept being; if you know what to expect, then you won’t be blind sided or quite as disappointed.


Here are some realistic facts of the job search process that you can expect:

(I’m not trying to discourage you, I want you to be prepared!)

  • There will be many applications that won’t be answered.
  • Many messages, in fact the vast majority, will not be acknowledged and
  • Phone calls will not be returned.
  • There will be many more rejections than acceptances.
  • It takes an average of three to six months to find and land a job.
  • No one will find a job for you.
  • Sending out a resume that lacks focus and explanation about you and your talents, and hoping someone will figure it all out for you, is a hopeless and discouraging strategy.
  • Hoping someone will tell you where you should be and what jobs you should be doing is also not a good idea.

No one will watch out for your interests better than you will.

Now that we've faced the worst of it, we can move on and prepare our action plan.  Making your own plan with your own interests at heart will ensure the most satisfying results.  No one else knows what you want better than you do.  For example, there are elements of every job we have to put up with, but then there are elements of some jobs that really make us miserable. Do you know what those are for you? It is up to you, and in your best interests, to define yourself professionally and have a clear understanding of what you want and what you don’t want.

“Staying encouraged and positive will be your greatest assets.”

Stay encouraged, and remember that a negative attitude will work against everything you need to make your search successful. In order for your job search to work, you need to present yourself in your best possible light. Feeling encouraged, positive, and having a strong belief in the best outcome will be your biggest assets in achieving that.

 

Making your resume with the tools provided on this site and being aware of your strengths and value to the employer will help you get into that frame of mind.

 

It also takes a plan.

The plan requires many steps and lots of time. It’s not hard or impossible, just time consuming – initially. Once you have all your tools in place (resume, letter, email notes, what to say in a voice mail, etc.) you’re ready to implement your plan. To have a successful job search, you need to cast your net as widely as possible right from the start and the following three sections cover the essentials in implementing your plan. My post on How to Communicate with a Potential Employer covers what to do when you’re contacted for a new position and what to expect.

 

Here is what you need to do.

 

Part I

Newspaper colorful with jobs

a) Search for companies that may hire your skillset. Look up as many administrative names as possible for each of those companies, including human resources. (Often states and provinces have an online database of their manufacturing, service and distribution companies that you can search. These usually include names of the top management of these companies.)

b) Perform a search for jobs that you are qualified for on all of the major and minor job posting sites and in newspapers.

a. Take note of how each one requires you to apply.

b. Then look up as many administrative names as possible for each of these companies as well.

c) Make a list of all recruiters that work in your field or industries. If you are unsure as to whether they work with clients from your industry, include them anyway. Do not include them if they definitely don’t. Look up the names, phone numbers, and emails of each recruiter, associate, and consultant at each firm.

Clip board with checks

d) Make a list of all business contacts you have made over the course of your career. Find out where they are now and find their coordinates. (telephone and/or email)

e) Make a list of family and friends that you can talk to about your job search.

 


Part II

 

1) Make a resume that intelligently reflects what you do best and who you are.

2) Make a cover letter that expresses the reason for your contact and summarizes your talent. You may have to prepare several versions, one to send to recruiters, another to send to potential employers and another to send to contacts in your network.

3) Prepare an email note in which to send your letter and resume.

a. The subject line of emails to recruiters and potential employers should say your profession and target job title of the job posting number (i.e. Financial Anaylst – M&A, or Event Planner – Corporate, or job #2468894). Be specific, be direct – it demonstrates confidence.

b. The subject line of emails to your business and personal contacts should state the subject of your contact (i.e. Seeking a new opportunity et al).

 

Dude at computer desk

Part III

 

1) Prepare a letter for each company on your list from Part I step a. Individually address each letter to reflect the company name and the name and title of the individual that you are writing to. Send each one, ideally with a statement about why you find their company or organization attractive and how your skills can compliment their needs.

2) Prepare individualized letters to each recruiting firm that is personally addressed to each recruiter, associate and consultant in each firm and send them out.

3) Prepare individually addressed letters to each business contact from your list and send them out.

 

This should take you a while and if you give it adequate time and attention, who knows what can come from it? Your job is to think, eat, sleep and speak about your job search and to continue to do so until you’ve found that job.  If you do only 80% of what is listed above you will be ahead of the pack.  But, you wouldn’t settle for 80%! That would be sad.

 

INTERVIEW TIP: Getting an interview does not mean you found a job. It means you have an opportunity to practice your interview skills. That is another aspect of your ‘job search’ job. Read up on interviews on the Interview page of my site. If you haven’t had an interview in the last year, practice with friends or in a mirror. If you have not been to five interviews yet on this job search, make it a priority to go to as many as possible, even if the job is not exactly what you’re looking for. Do it for the practice.

 

Most of all, have a happy job hunt!

 

Interviews – Look your best for that important meeting.

Hangers

Preparing for an interview can be a stressful experience.  If you think about it, you have one hour (on average) to demonstrate all of your value to an individual you are meeting for the first time.  And, it all has to relate to the job your applying for. Interviews are rarely easy – from either side – because often one has not previously met the person they’ll be interviewing with. Yet you still have to be at your best. One thing is for sure, the more you practice and prepare, the better you will perform. And, because everything matters, be sure to give serious consideration to what you plan on wearing.  As trivial as it sounds, your clothes can do as much harm as good depending on what you choose to wear. READ MORE