#ResumeCritique FAQ

By George Bernocco, CPRW

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I just came back from a job fair in which multiple people came to me with their resumes. All the resumes were very different but the people had one thing in common: stepping forward and asking for help. Resumes are a difficult document to produce: A professional history conformed into a computer document is not easy to create. As I have recommended and performed resume critiques, it can be difficult to receive the constructive criticism that a critique provides. Here are some frequently asked questions about critiques:

What is a resume expert and why does their opinion matter?

A resume expert’s job is to take your employable skills and market them the best way possible through your resume. Also, a resume expert is proficient at identifying grammar, formatting and spelling errors. The important part of getting the critique from the expert is to identify your skills correctly and without errors. If you choose to have your resume updated by someone other than a resume expert, be aware that you may not be receiving a quality product. If you have 100 people review your resume, you have the possibility of 100 different types of resumes. A non-resume expert can help identify mistakes, but their version of a resume may not be ideal for your field or may not match what employers are expecting. Resume experts research current hiring trends to stay informed about how to create better resumes for job seekers. The standard for a resume expert is to receive a certification for resume writing from an accredited organization (thank you Erica Tew), and you should always ask for verification of this certification.

When should I decide to get a critique?

When you determine you can make improvements or changes to your resume, and when your resume is not working for you. A resume’s main function is to get you in the door for an interview and if it’s not doing that job, then it’s time to schedule a critique with a resume expert. No matter what, you should always have your resume proofread for errors before submission, and a critique will cover that.

What should I bring with me to a critique?

Your document package (Cover Letter, Resume, List of References, etc), job posting(s) that you are interested in, any industry information you find pertinent, and an open mind.

I don’t handle criticism well, how should I go about a critique?

A successful critique should focus on what is working for you and what is working against you. The critique should highlight the positives and how to enhance them, as well as areas that need improvement. The resume expert should always explain what and why they are suggesting these improvements, and if they do not, you should always ask. In the end, it’s entirely up to the person who has their name on the resume as to what they are satisfied with. Successful critiques are a dialogue and a debate about what works and what does not in your interest.

What if I don’t have the tools or skills to update the resume?

Let the resume expert know, for example, if they recommend a table on your resume, that you are unsure about how to insert a table. They should be able to walk you through the steps. If you do not have the tools, like an electronic version of your resume or a word processor program, the resume expert should be able to point you in the right direction. Don’t avoid a critique because of the uncertainty about how to make changes.

What if I don’t agree with any recommendations?

First, make sure you vocalize your opinions during the critique. When the expert and you have the debate and justify each side, the dialogue produced should provide a direction for you to go towards with your resume. Ultimately, the resume is your document to submit and it is entirely up to you how you would like it to look.

When is the resume finished?

If we are talking about finished in terms of ready to be submitted, then it is done when you are satisfied with it’s ability to market your skills and it is error free. In general, as a resume writer, I would say it is never completely finished. Resumes are living documents that are always changing based upon the career fields you apply for. Labor market hiring trends, your career path, and industries can influence how a resume may look. Unfortunately, learning about resumes can also be about trial and error. That is why it is crucial to utilize critiques to improve your chances of getting an interview.

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Success and Progress in #JobSearch

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Yesterday I was at home, Netflixing a television show I’ve come to love, and I heard this bit of advice, “Life will knock you down more times than you will ever image, so you can’t knock yourself down.”  It came when a high school junior didn’t want to attend college interviews because she felt she always ruined her good opportunities. What seemed at first like depressing reality ended up being motivating wisdom.  If you don’t believe you can do something, or succeed at something, why would anyone else believe you could?

This ties in to job search and any other career struggles we may face.  If you don’t believe you’re the best person for the job, is that same feeling becoming apparent to your boss or the hiring manager conducting the interview?

With all of the troubles life throws at you, don’t have your own negative self-talk be another obstacle. Success comes from trying.  You can’t fail if you don’t try, and sometimes the greatest successes come after what seems like the biggest failures.  I could share the countless times I’ve felt like I completely messed up in my career- some experiences ranged from being too young to understand professionalism with proper communication, and some have just been downright embarrassing- and although it might make some of you laugh, it would detract from my overall message.  The point is it was during those points that I really began to shape who I was.  We have the freedom to make choices; in how we act, what we say, how we treat others- and those choices influence our opportunities.

Routine means both a regular schedule and unsurprising, predictable, and monotonous.  If everything always runs smoothly, there will never be a reason to change or analyze your actions.  How we recover and progress forward from the obstacles in our lives, professional or otherwise, will shape the course for the rest of our lives.  That is why when you’re job searching, it is most advantageous to keep a routine, but vary the ways you job search every day.  If while you were working, you woke up at 8AM every day, continue to wake up at 8AM every day.  If you went for a run every other day at 2PM, keep doing that.  During your job search hours, switch the activities.  Perhaps one day you can complete applications, and another you can work on your resume.  You could take a free workshop on interviewing techniques at a local job center, and later on attend an industry networking event.  Maybe every Friday you attend a job search club as well.  Keep a routine, but don’t make your job search routine.  You have to vary the ways you market yourself to get results, and part of that comes from trying new things, getting out of your comfort zone a bit, and not being afraid to fail.

If networking in person or writing an email to someone you’ve yet to meet gives you some anxiety, then meet with a career advisor or research best practices so you don’t try to “go in cold.”  Education is one of the biggest ways to gain confidence because the more you know about a topic, the more comfortable it is to approach that topic.  If you’ve had a bad experience at a potential networking opportunity, remember that we consider an experience “embarrassing” when we think we are not meeting our own standards of what is acceptable.  There’s no need to over-apologize for embarrassing moments, but try to learn from it or laugh about it.  We are our harshest critics.

It’s okay to be afraid, and you have to put yourself out there to get noticed.  Just don’t let the fear of something going wrong stop you from doing anything you want to do.  Things will go wrong.  Something always does.  The question is, will a failure set you back from progress, or will you keep trying?  Success is temporary, but it makes all the struggles in between worth it.

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#Reference Check

By George Bernocco, CPRW

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The more people you recruit in your job search, the better chances of you finding a job. So now you have an opportunity in your sight. You are applying for it when it asks you to submit a list of references. References are the employer’s way of ensuring what they see is what they’ll get from you. Nothing predicts future behavior like the past, and that is what the employer is trying to ascertain. Here are some pieces of advice when it comes to references:

Ask First

One sure way to catch the employer and the reference off guard is not tell the reference to expect the call. A reference who is unprepared, and who might not even recognize your name at first, will only hurt you. Asking for help is difficult, but it is crucial to get those references to vouch for your skills. Most employers expect you to have at least three references ready for them at a moment’s notice. Asking first will let you know if the reference is available, and willing, to attest to your skills. Be prepared if they are not willing to provide you with a quality reference and have other candidates in mind. Also ask the references what they might say about you, just so you have an idea.

Professional before Personal

Always try to obtain professional references, and list them first. Professional references do not have to be just supervisors or managers. Professional can be coworkers, clients or employees who worked for you. Also remember that there are professional references if you’ve volunteered, or worked at an internship/externship. Personal references can provide quality information about you to the employer, and usually can attest to your soft skills, such as being friendly, personable, reliable, etc. They can be your friends, college advisers, members of your church, group members or neighbors. Family members are frowned upon when you provide references. If you truly believe you do not have any quality references, then you start building a network. Start volunteering, or joining networking groups, to build a reference list.

Current Information

Make sure you have your reference’s current information. Giving an employer a number that is no longer in service will only reflect poorly on your part. Ask your reference what their current title is, agree on a number for how long you’ve known each other and even ask for an e-mail address to give to the employer. When you provide the employer with up to date current information, the reference check will go smoothly on your part.

Give them Information

Let your references know what job you’re applying for. They can better vouch for you when they know what it is you want to do. Even offer to send them a copy of your resume and the job posting. If they use the same keywords as your resume and the job posting have, you have successfully proven to the employer that your skills can be verified.

Reference Letters

If you have a reference that will be unavailable, ask for them to write a reference letter. Let the employer know that your reference is unavailable and you have a letter, but still provide the employer with contact information of the reference. If you have reference letters as well as live person references, ask the employer if they would like the letters. Do not assume that the reference letters can replace the employer calling or e-mailing your reference unless that person is unavailable and has written a letter on their behalf. It would not be uncommon for your reference to ask you to write a recommendation letter about yourself and send it to them to review and sign. Just make sure you provide the reference with a reasonable date to give you the letter. Do not expect a reference letter at the exact time the job posting expires or a minute before you leave for your interview. Remember that your references have their own lives and may not make the letter their top priority. By providing a reasonable date, it gives your reference a timetable to work on it and also gives you time to ask someone else if they cannot succeed.

LinkedIn

The business oriented social networking site allows your connections to vouch for your skills. By providing the employer a link to your LinkedIn profile, they can have access to people who have written recommendations for you on that site. The key to getting recommendations is writing recommendations for others. If they can see that people not only highly recommend you, but endorse your skills as well, it will assist you with getting the job.

Thank You

Always thank your references for any service they provided. You do not want to burn your bridges by coming off as ungrateful. Send a letter, an e-mail or give them a call to show them that you appreciate the time they took to help you. In case the job does not pan out, you may be able to utilize them for other opportunities in the future.

The Stress-less Job Seeker

by Uri Allen, CPRW

During a job search, one can quickly fall into a stressful pattern of obsessively looking for work, sending out résumés at all hours of the day and night and mindlessly scanning job boards like Career Builder or CT.Jobs till the wee hours of the morning. The hunt for the next great job becomes all consuming and many job seekers quickly find themselves burnt out and overwhelmed early into their job hunt. You might even been one of these job seekers who day after day pound the real or virtual pavement in search of their next dream job going and not stopping until they are burning the midnight oil working on the 300th revision of their résumé.

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Don’t let Job Search stress get the better of you!

Job loss ranks in the top 10 list of stressful events on the Holmes and Rahe Life Events Stress scale and it’s no wonder why it does. Job loss can have outward impacts like financial uncertainty but also affect self-esteem and self-worth. Couple these with a less-than-stellar, extremely competitive job market and it’s easy to see how the job seeker of today can feel like the odds are stacked against them. In such a stressful time, it is crucial that job seekers take the time for self-care in order to effectively manage the rigors of being in career transition. Taking time for self-care as a stress management technique can help to rejuvenate you (and your job search), give you a fresh perspective and keep you from burning the candle at both ends and avoid job seeker burnout. Here are a couple of tips for stress management:

Schedules = Awesome

The most important step to self-care and stress management is TIME MANAGEMENT. Establish a schedule for yourself, including meal times and non-job search activity times and stick to it. Having a set time to wake-up will help you avoid the sleep till noon pitfall that many job seekers fall into and having a set time to go to sleep will help you avoid those late night job search Craigslist cruises. The biggest key to scheduling your day is if you set a schedule, stick to it. If you’ve scheduled your job search to end at 5…end at 5. Creating and staying on task with a schedule will help you to manage tasks, keep on top of your job search activities and establish a daily routine which, when you get your next position, will lessen the stress of having to get back into the flow of having a scheduled day.

Take 10!

Take 10 minutes every day to do something that you enjoy and that is NOT job search related. A short, refreshing walk, enjoying a favorite snack, listening to some relaxing music and focusing on your breathing or writing in a journal can help to rejuvenate and refresh you and give you a whole new outlook. This writer would even go as far to suggest you take 10 for every couple of hours you job search. These little tidbits of self-care peppered throughout the day will help prevent you from feeling drowned in the sea of job search activity.

While there is no magic cure to stay stress free during a job search, taking time to create a schedule and making sure to do some non-job search activity throughout your day along with getting plenty of sleep, eating right and exercising, will definitely help you maneuver the stress of job search a little easier.  Enlist the services of professionals at your local job service center and build a support system. Remember, stay positive, smile and don’t lose hope. Your dream job is out there waiting for you!

ImageA little humor goes a long way!

Saving Face, Booking Your Future: Using #Facebook for #JobSearch

By George Bernocco, CPRW

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There has been a lot of talk about LinkedIn to get people back to work. In fact, when I was asked to conduct a general social media workshop, the content I was given revolved almost entirely around LinkedIn. I consider myself to be a realist, and to not mention Facebook when talking about social media is incomprehensible. Facebook is wildly popular and trends suggest the social media giant will be around for quite some time.

When I do mention Facebook and employment in my workshop, people suddenly know someone who knows someone that was let go because of Facebook. A general search on Google provided me with multiple cases of Facebook causing people to leave a job unwillingly. Opening up your feelings in such an open forum can come back to you. The news outlets have plenty of examples of those who now regret what they said in a status update or a tweet. The news does not report how many people obtain jobs through Facebook. So how does one gear their profile to get them a job? Here are some pieces of advice:

privacy

Control your privacy

Make sure you get into your privacy settings and know who can see which parts of your profile. This is crucial, because if you haven’t been getting those calls for interviews and you’re wondering why, your Facebook profile may be accessible. Employers who can will access your profile and you want it to help you. The privacy settings can be confusing, but they are there to protect you. Remember that you can control who can see your photos, and other individual aspects of your profile.

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Keep it professional

You may find it amusing to have a profile picture from your last Christmas party. You may like to curse out politicians amongst your friends. Just remember that you can be found by people outside your group of friends unless you adjust your privacy. If a prospective employer sees you binge drinking in your profile picture, they will not like it. They will also not be too thrilled with status updates (if they have access to them) in which you decided to swear at someone. These are judgments that will be made against you and will impact your ability to be hired. Also remember that if you are asking someone for a reference, or having someone you know try to get you a job at a company, they may not want to vouch for you because of what they see on your Facebook.

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Create or join groups

As with LinkedIn, Facebook has groups you can join. These groups may be relevant to your profession. I would recommend joining them and connecting with them. If you cannot find any for your profession, create one. I don’t see a problem with joining groups that are directly related to your hobbies. Just be aware that the employer may have access to the groups you do join. If they do, avoid controversial groups, or ones that may disclose too much information about you. Otherwise, groups are excellent networking tools find out about job openings. When networking through the internet, reciprocity is crucial Help others and they will be more inclined to help you.

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Ask for help

Not everyone you are connected to may know you are looking for work. I have seen my fair share of status updates asking for a cover letter, a resume critique or where to find a job. The more people on your side for job search, the easier it will be to find a job. Maybe your network doesn’t know of any opportunities at the exact moment you posted your question. Hopefully from then on, you will be in the back of their mind so when they do hear about a position, they will let you know.

Facebook has really opened up the doors for social networking. Just ensure you can gear it towards obtaining employment. We all have our personalities, our personal lives which employers understand. However, it is an employer market in which the companies are looking for ways to cut down on such a large pool of candidates. Facebook can hurt; there is no doubt about it. The trick is to use any types of social media as a positive and by staying professional, managing your privacy and networking, you will have utilized Facebook to help you find a job.

Addressing #Education on Your #Resume

education

The Education Section of a resume has many purposes.  It shows the highest level you completed, if you’re a recently graduated student, additional honors or awards, and perhaps a solid GPA.   Regardless, many people must handle this section differently to market themselves effectively.

IF YOU’RE A CURRENT STUDENT OR RECENT GRADUATE…

…without much work experience, have your education precede your work experience on your resume.  Currently, your education is your more marketable offering, as opposed to professional histories.  Students and recent graduates should provide any of their school information that can help replace a lack of experience.  A competitive GPA may attract an employer seeking an intern or new employee (but note the use on GPA for non-students or graduates below.)  There may be networking opportunities if you seek work through an alumni association or student center as well, depending on what your schools career advisory department has to offer.  Any clubs, activities, or committees where you had a role of leadership or assisted in new developments could work here as well, just as long as those groups do not show your political or religious preferences.  If the hiring manager doesn’t hold a similar world view, advertising this information may hurt your chances of obtaining employment.

IF YOU’RE DEGREE ISN’T COMPLETED YET BUT WILL BE…

…in the next couple years, you can note the “Degree Awarded” date as a projection.

EDUCATION

University of Maine

Environmental Science

Projected Graduation Date:  May 2015

IF YOU FINISHED YOUR DEGREE YEARS AGO…

…place this information near the bottom, or on page two of a resume, so it doesn’t waste the valuable space your professional experience will utilize.  The typical standard is to not provide any dates in education unless they were within the last five to ten years.

EDUCATION

University of Massachusetts

Bachelor of Arts Degree – Business

As far as GPAs go, unless it was something outstanding such as a 3.8 or higher, I would leave it off.  This is a cause of contention among other resume writers, but my thought is this:  what is the purpose of showing your GPA?  To show the employer you did well in school?  Employers typically focus more on your professional accomplishments, as they are more relevant to their needs.  GPA’s just show, at the very worst, that you may still crave grade-based approval- which is not helpful in the world of work.

These days I don’t believe it matters so much where you went to school, as long as you attended some of that schooling in person.  Online colleges are a lot more cost effective these days if you work and complete your degree during your off hours.  However, if you’re a current student without any work history, attending school solely online, you will have to join some type of group or volunteer organization to show an ability to work as part of a team.  Essentially, you want your resume to show how you have interacted with coworkers, and hopefully, what positive results came from that interaction.

IF YOU LACK A FOUR YEAR DEGREE…

…but are only missing a few credits, you can label your education as a “Bachelors Candidate.”  Example below.

EDUCATION

University of Rhode Island

Bachelor of Science Candidate – Psychology

Another option would be to state what your major was, but without listing dates or Degrees Awarded.

EDUCATION

University of Connecticut

Major – Spanish

Concentration – Communcation and Language

IF YOU LACK A HIGH SCHOOL DIPLOMA OR G.E.D…

… one option may be to only list the name of the high school you attended without dates, and list your area of focus.  Such as:

EDUCATION

John Smith High School

Concentration:  Fine Arts

Another option I tend to use more and usually prefer, is foregoing the education section altogether.  Instead, list the relevant industry or management trainings, whether they were work sponsored or not.  Instead of “Education,” this section can be labeled “Professional Development” or “Industry Training and Education”  or any title that fits the courses detailed in the section.

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Management training courses sponsored through the American Management Association

  • Business Analysis Essentials
  • Negotiating to Win
  • Leading with Emotional Intelligence
  • Customer Retention
  • Mastering Google Analytics
  • Getting Results without Authority

The goal is to gain a job interview while minimizing any red flags.  If you’re a current student or recent graduate, you need to market your education to minimize the lack of experience.  If you have professional experience, there are various strategies to minimize any potential red flags if there is a degree requirement in the position.  When a specific degree isn’t a direct job requirement, showcasing achievements and quantifying duties can help get your foot in the door to an interview.

The Gatekeeper: First person you must impress on an #interview

By George Bernocco, CPRW

Interview day has finally arrived and you’re excited. The interview outfit is on and looking good. You have your commute mapped out and even left early in case there was traffic. Depending on the job you’re applying for, you will most likely arrive at the site and have to ask for the interviewer. There are many names for this person whom you meet first at the job site: front desk, administrative assistant, security, or even secretary. For the sake of this blog post, we will call them:

Security-Guard

The Gatekeeper

Secretary I have been on the side of interviewing candidates before and producing my results to my direct supervisor. The process was that my supervisor would have interviewed candidates for the first interview, schedule them for a second interview with coworkers and then make a hiring decision. I was involved in the second interview stage, but I will say I was only slightly involved (as well as my coworkers). My supervisor did value our opinions, but she valued someone else’s opinion above ours: The secretary. The secretary told our supervisor who was polite, who seemed prepared and who was on time.

When you have your interview suit on, you should be prepared to treat everyone you meet that day with an extra smile and an extra “have a good day”. That includes anyone you happen to see in the parking lot, when you are walking into the interview building or office, anyone you see inside, anyone who makes eye contact with you, you should at least smile to them. The gatekeeper is who you want to show them that you are ready for the interview. I am not saying go out and buy candy to try and “buy” the gatekeeper, which would probably hurt you. I am saying greet them, introduce yourself professionally, and state that you are here for an interview at the scheduled time. Be sure to thank them for anything they do for you like call the interviewer on your behalf to let them know you are here.

If you can make yourself memorable in a good way, do it. I was once waiting for my interview and I heard the two gatekeepers discussing a movie. They were discussing Cliffhanger, which I’ve seen and I am a movie fan. One person asked the other if knew the name of the actor who was the villain. The other person did not know, and I chimed in that the actor’s name was John Lithgow. They were pleased and I smiled telling them I love movies.

Believe it or not, there are people who look down upon the “gatekeepers”. I assure you that if you don’t treat this person with respect, the interviewer will find out. Just be aware that I have heard of companies which the supervisor sits at the front desk area just to see how a prospective employee acts. Even if the gatekeeper happens to have made a minor mistake, you should make them feel comfortable. Keep in mind they could be testing you, giving you certain instructions to see how well you follow them.

The Art of Revision in an Effective #Resume Summary

“By the time I am nearing the end of a story, the first part will have been reread and altered and corrected at least one hundred and fifty times. I am suspicious of both facility and speed. Good writing is essentially rewriting. I am positive of this.” — Roald Dahl

Part of my job entails training colleagues on resume writing and general career counseling in order to be prepared to take on a competitive resume writing certification exam.  Through this great experience, my team in the office has had a lot of time to develop and revise training for colleagues of various technical and writing skills.  No matter what, the profile section of a resume has always been the most time consuming.  One newer strategy came a few weeks ago, that has worked fairly well for my own purposes for advice to coworkers and job seekers alike.

[As a warning, all that follows is a journey down the dark caverns of my mind- or rather, my thought process as it relates to resume writing and strategies that have proven to be successful.  Excuse my seemingly contradictory blog here, as I detail the benefits of being concise in a long-winded post.]

The profile statement is typically a paragraph section underneath a headline statement on a combination style resume.  Here is where the first sentence has to be an all-encompassing marketing statement, highlighting the most significant selling points of the client that speaks to the employer’s needs.  Every time we write one, I think of my time in a Shakespeare festival playing an evil sister in a reenactment of King Lear.  My close friend Stephanie played the other evil sister and we had to ‘fight’ over the same man.  The first time running through the play quickly, it took an hour.  Then for the audience, the goal was to do the play in a half hour.  Then 10 minutes.  Then 5 minutes…. Then all the way down to 30 seconds.  What started off as a snarky, witty back-and-forth between Stephanie and me became an all-out fight scene.  We literally took each other down on stage, trying to get the essence of the evil sisters relationship conveyed under the time constraints.

And I see you, staring at me right now, thinking, “Land the plane…” Well, consider the full 5-7 sentences of a full paragraph the 10 minute version.  The very first sentence is that 30 second version.  The half hour may be the full resume and its accompanying documents, and the full hour would be the resume accompanied with the interview process until the hiring decision.

Giving the employer piece by piece what they need and no more is another exercise in time constraints.  Giving them too much too soon could dance on the border of being irrelevant and the employer may lose interest or not see the worth amongst the wealth of information.

To avoid resume jargon that doesn’t market a client well, I suggest the following.

When crafting the Summary-

1.      Determine the unique selling points.  3-5 of them would be ideal.  Selling points are what the client has to offer the employer.  Did they make or save money?  Did they manage a successful project? Implement a new program? Just complete a competitive training course?

2.      List the unique selling points in order of significance.  Determine which selling points have the most impact and lead with them.  Those of still impressive but lesser significance can help close the summary.  With all else excluded, the first sentence has to function as a stand-alone sentence, able to market the client well as leading statement in case the employer only skims the resume.

3.      Without using adjectives, articles, and pronouns, write the unique selling points as full sentences.  Describe the selling point in detail without any descriptive words.  This may seem difficult at first, but will be well worth it.  Avoiding the use of adjectives makes writers use only the facts.  By using only the facts, the true selling point is discerned without any “fluff” that could be considered debatable.  Articles are all of our neuter words like “the,” “a/an,” etc.  Removing pronouns helps lead with verbs, providing more impact to each sentence.

Take the example sentence of, “She had a great idea and developed a new marketing program  that beat what most of the local competition was doing.  Customers were prompted to come to the store because seasonal special discount coupons were mailed by her, and the customers gave her lots of positive feedback, they were so happy to have a surprise discount.” 

If we remove the adjectives, articles, and pronouns, it becomes, “Had idea and developed new marketing program that beat what most of local competition was doing.  Customers were prompted to come to store because seasonal special discount coupons were mailed, and customers gave positive feedback, happy to have discounts.”

4.      Use an active voice.  In the active voice, quite simply. the subject does the action.  Example – Jane developed a new marketing program.

If we were to compared this with the passive voice,  the target of the action becomes the subject.

 Example – A new marketing program was developed by Jane.

How do we place the above selling point in the active voice?  We can break it down one line at a time.  The first line, “Had idea and developed new marketing program that beat what most of local competition was doing,” is already active because Jane/She is the understood subject.  We dropped the pronoun in step 3.

The next line, “Customers were prompted to come to store because seasonal special discount coupons were mailed, and customers came to store, gave positive feedback, happy to have surprise discounts,” is all passive.  “Customers were prompted” and “special discount coupons were mailed.”  To change this to the active voice, the sentence can be changed to say “Mailed seasonal special discount coupons to customers, and customers came to store, gave positive feedback, happy to have surprise discounts.”

5.      Be concise but speak the employer’s language.  Now that we have dropped some unnecessary words, have understood subjects in the active voice, and a list of selling points in order of highest impact to lowest, we can edit the sentences further.  On a resume, you want to use as few words as possible to say your point.  Baroque, ornate sentences that flow on and on with continuous dependent clauses have no place on a resume.

Let’s take a look at how our summary line is going.  Now we have,

“Had idea and developed new marketing program that beat what most of local competition was doing.  Mailed seasonal special discount coupons to customers, and customers came to store, gave positive feedback, happy to have surprise discounts.”

35 words for one selling point is far too long.  Having one selling point take more than one sentence is also not the best marketing idea if high-value sentences are to be achieved.

Having a critical eye over what may be deemed necessary is crucial.  The first sentence begins with, “Had idea and…” Had idea?  Do we really need to say someone had an idea before they pursued something?  It is pretty safe to assume that before someone develops something new, they originally had an idea to do it.  Had an idea?  Dropped.

“Developed new marketing program that beat what most of local competition was doing.”  This new marketing program is unique.  No other local stores currently offer this promotion.  The real “meat” of the sentence is that she “Developed (a) new marketing program.”  What can we assume from the fact that it differs from what other stores currently offer?  Although “unique” was used earlier, I would not recommend calling something “unique,” because everyone thinks they are unique.  “Exclusive” perhaps?

“Developed new and exclusive marketing program.”  Now “new and” bothers me.  It may even be safe to assume that when someone develops something, that it will be “new.”  Typically, no one develops something that will not lead to some new change.  “Developed exclusive marketing program.”  There we go.  Next sentence.

“Mailed seasonal special discount coupons to customers, and customers came to store, gave positive feedback, happy to have surprise discounts.” Comma, comma, comma.  Everything about this sentence is dependent.  “and customers came to store, gave positive feedback, happy to have surprise discounts,” is essentially the result of this new sales promotion.

“Came to store” is just kind of, “meh” right?  I did X and customers came.  Since this is a sales-related statement, it may be more marketable to say, “increased traffic.”  From increasing traffic, there may be room for more sales.  Information on sales increases isn’t directly given to us, so we will continue with “increased traffic.”

Similarly, “gave positive feedback, happy to have surprise discounts.”  What we are really talking about here is “customer satisfaction.” 

Revisions in mind, we have now changed this too, “Developed exclusive marketing program. Mailed seasonal special discount coupons to customers that increased traffic and customer satisfaction.”

6.      Make the sentences showcase abilities to offer an employer.  The revision sounds very close to an achievement, which could be further developed into one for this resume.  For the summary section, remove the specific details and save them for the achievements section.  Revise the sentence so it is something they can offer a prospective employer, and the achievements section can become the “proof” section.

“Proven ability to develop exclusive marketing programs

that increase traffic and customer satisfaction.”

Where is it “proven?  In the achievements section below.

7.      Finishing touches: sprinkle in an adjective with a job title/phrase.  As opposed to being adjective heavy and editing them out, we originally removed all or most adjectives in step 3.  It is much more difficult finding the “meat” of an ability/offering when it is flooded by meaningless adjectives, but one adjective at the end of fine tuning the sentence is a great finishing touch.  This adjective can be used to describe the client, but avoid over-assuming or using clichés.  “Self-motivated” or “Results-oriented” may be on a lot of “No” lists, but I think they are safe to use.  It’s just a matter of quality, not quantity, when it comes to choosing these few adjectives.

For the job title/phrase, you can use the client’s current occupation, or a general term for their occupation- as long as it is not completely different from the job they are targeting.  Overall, I would only avoid using the word “professional” as a standalone.  If the person in our example is a manager in sales, we can call her a Sales Manager.

End result:

Results-oriented Sales Manager with proven ability to develop exclusive marketing programs that increase traffic and customer satisfaction.

18 words, one sentence from 35 words and two sentences, with the major change being only an increase in impact.  These steps take some time, but remember, like most writing- it is 20% drafting, and 80% revision.  Taking the time to critically revise makes a great impact on the resume’s marketability.  If this sounds like a lot to handle, feel free to contact me so I can get you in touch with a CPRW from a local job center in your area.

Take Your #Job Seriously, but Don’t Take Yourself Too Seriously

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Personal ownership to success is kind of lonely.  True success doesn’t come from one person being the sole expert in a subject, but rather shaping an idea over time with trusted colleagues.  Collaboration yields greater learning, and the sharing of ideas helps projects progress.  When working alone for too long, you may meet innovation’s biggest enemy: complacency.

Positive feedback is nice, but it doesn’t help us grow or achieve much.  Quality work thrives on constructive feedback.  In art school, we were never allowed to say, “I like it,” or “I don’t like it,” because they were meaningless, cringe-worthy phrases.  Explain why something works or doesn’t work so the project can progress.  Find those familiar with your work’s subject matter so you have a knowledgeable perspective reviewing the work.

“The truth will set you free, but at first it will make you angry.”

As vital as they are, change and collaboration can still be very difficult.  To be honest, not everyone is great at giving feedback, and you may encounter the person that can immediately take the wind out of your sails after weeks of hard work.  If that’s the case, thank them for providing their thoughts and tell them you will consider their suggestions.  Then on your own, objectively weigh all remarks to see if they would improve your work.  This is a discipline and a balancing act.  Trust your own knowledge that has taken you to where you are, but seriously consider the suggestions of others, as abrasive as they may come off at times.  Any review of your work is not a personal attack on your own character, and the sooner this is understood, the stronger you will become.

When facing criticism, there can be two extremes if confidence is lacking.  There can be the person without a backbone, who changes everything they do based on anything anyone says, resulting in some confused end-result that lost its original focus.  The opposite can be one that gets immediately aggravated that the feedback is not all positive, and shuts down, closing the door, and holding a grudge against the person that originally tried to help but did not “sandwich” the criticism around positive reviews.

sandwich

There have been times I spent hours working on a painting, and a critique tells me it would be more effective in a different color palette.  I can’t just click my mouse and change it when we are working with fussy oil paints, so at times I would receive the advice, but then choose to keep my painting as is.  Other times, I would agree with the criticism as I shared the doubts of my work but didn’t know how to articulate it.  Quite literally, I was so close to this painting, that I rarely took a step back to realize I was screwing the whole damn thing up.  I had people around that said it was “good” but I knew myself that it was far from “good.”  Yes, we are typically our harshest critics, but criticism is needed to find the best approach for a project and so that we don’t spend an entire weekend in a room without windows, surrounded by fumes from open canisters of  turpenoid, thinking the quality of work is still going strong.

Moral of the story?  Don’t spend an entire weekend locked in a room with turpenoid fumes.