Update Your Resume: 6 Tips for Traditional and Modern Styles

This was originally posted on LinkedIn, accessible at: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/update-your-resume-6-tips-traditional-modern-styles-erica-tew-cprw

Everyone needs a resume. It isn’t only for those searching for work. This document can launch your career, market your experience, open up networking opportunities, and land you interviews for your next move. If you’re dealing with conflicting advice or are unsure where to start, I have some suggestions for you.

So what is a resume?

A resume is a combination of your skills, results, work experience, and education. Consider it a brief snapshot or advertisement about you, developed for a specific audience.

If your resume is a generic list of your past jobs and daily responsibilities, then it is time to update. This resume style may have worked well enough in the past, but if you want to reach out to new people, build your network or develop leads, then your resume will need a targeted focus.

laptop notebook camera

(image via DeathToStockPhoto)

Your development strategy should reflect your audience.

Identify the purpose of your resume: Who do you want to see it? What do you want to showcase? Where do you want to grab their attention? Think of your audience as you write your content and remove anything that does not speak to them. This extraneous information can waste space. For example, if you are changing careers, explain your career history in a way that relates your skills and abilities to the new position. Focus on transferable skills and accomplishments of your past roles.

Create media that would impress your audience. This doesn’t have to be developed for printed paper either: think larger. You could create a website (about.me is a great free resource for developing your own biographical page), develop an infographic (canva.com has low-cost or free resources to make effective visuals), film a marketing video (use YouTube, Vimeo, or Vine for free!) there is such a wide variety of ways in which you can express yourself and share information.

Get Social

If you are active on social media, share that on your resume. Provide URL links and cross-link from one account to another to allow your audience to connect with you on their preferred platform. You can even promote your resume, be it paper, infographic, or video, across those social links to gain a wider audience.

Some social accounts are used distinctly for marketing yourself as a job seeker. For example, Pinterest can be a resource to those in visual fields. You can share your resume, showcase your work, and follow companies. For a job search related Pinterest, take a look at the Connecticut Career Guidance Pinterest here.

Writing Tips

  1. Avoid “shortcuts.” When it comes to paper resumes, never use a generic template. Why not? Because most of them have a large amount of white space and put all of your information into tables. This makes updating the resume down the line an arduous process (where I normally will just eliminate all formatting until I have plain text outside of tables). Further, this type of resume may have difficulty being “read” for scanning in an online application.

(image via Flickr )

2. Stay focused. Although you may feel a need to explain all the details of each job and why you left, save that for the interview. Keep cutting and editing information until you can get to the root of the matter in a few sentences. A few key ways to do this are to eliminate sentences that don’t start with an action. Cut out references to “Responsible for…” and keep in mind you want to describe the past job. Think of what you did every day in the form of an action (Ex. Resolved customer concerns at call center), not a list of semi-related skills, such as, “customer service, phones…”

3. Make it readable. Now that you have developed your content, find a way to make it easy for someone to quickly scan it. Make use of bullet points or use lines to separate sections. Use bold or italics or small caps to draw your eye in to key sections. For contrast, what you want to avoid is a document that looks like a wall of text. Break it up so it is easier to digest.

 If you’re creating a video or infographic, remember less is more. For an infographic, use minimalist shapes and lines to lead the eye across the image as you tell your career story. Overwhelming the image with graphics and icons can be too distracting.

For videos, make sure you have a quality camera with good lighting and audio pickup. Definitely work with a friend to film yourself: rarely do self-made videos from a laptop camera look professional. There are plenty of software programs where you can edit scenes or delete bad takes. Use minimal graphics to emphasize key words or points throughout. For each scene, stick with the rule of 3: you don’t want to have more than 3 bullets during a scene. More than 3 bullets in a presentation or video can make information hard to retain.

4. Create your own sections. Feeling locked in by the traditional standards? “Objective,” “Work History” and “Education” are not the end-all of resume sections. Some writers call these sections “functional headers,” which allow you to break up your resume content in a way you see fit. If you want to emphasize technical skills, career accomplishments, or volunteer experience, create your own sections and expand on the areas. This can be a great way of getting to your matching job requirements or displaying your experience across the years in one cohesive section.

(via printwand.com)

5. Don’t repeat. For example, if you create a “Career Accomplishments” section, do not copy and paste the same accomplishment and then list it again under the appropriate job in your “Work History.” Find a way to reword it and keep it brief. Choose one section to expand on this accomplishment and leave it there.

6. Proofread. Then have someone outside your field review it. Are you speaking in a lot of jargon? Try to make it understandable in case there are initial gatekeepers reviewing the material first. And of course, please do your best to avoid spelling or grammatical mistakes. Keep an eye out for formatting inconsistencies.

Most importantly: Don’t fret over “rules.”

Everyone has an opinion on resume writing, but you will develop the document or media you feel most comfortable sharing. When people use words like, “Always” or “Never,” take their advice with a grain of salt. There are no set rules in this project- only to create media that impresses your audience and furthers your goal. That goal may be an interview, a new client, or a new connection. Keep the media or document alive and change it every now and again to see what gains you the best results.

What strategies do you use when updating your resume? Let me know in the comments below. Our American Job Centers offer free resume writing resources, critiques, and workshops. Check out our Connecticut locations here.

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Waiting? 3 Post-Interview Tips to Improve your Job Search

interviews, waiting by phone

image via bestbuy.com

If you’re waiting to hear back from an interview, don’t be idle. Use this time to continue your job search and keep making a positive impression.

  1. Send a thank you note or email.

Sending this email will show your interest in the job and may set you apart from other candidates that have note sent any follow up communication.

A thank you note does not have to be long, but it should be customized for each interview. Reflect on a topic of conversation unique to your meeting and mention how you learned from the interviewer or enjoyed the discussion. Reiterate your interest in the position and state that you appreciate the time he or she took to meet with you.

If you’ve interviewed with a panel, send a customized note to each interviewer. If you didn’t get business cards after the interview, try searching on the company website or contacting the company’s front desk for correct spelling of names.

  1. Analyze how you interviewed.

Right after the interview is the best time to assess your performance.

  • Were you on time and dressed appropriately?
  • Was there a question you struggled with answering?
  • Did you answer any questions very well?
  • Did you learn something new?
  • Did the interviewer seemed interested in a particular answer?
self assessment, interview, after interview assessment, evaluation

image via shutterstock

This self-assessment will make you aware of any short falls. If you realize you failed to mention something during the interview that you feel is very important, you could incorporate that information in a follow up correspondence.

More than anything, this self-assessment will help you prepare for future interviews. Based on your review, determine if you should do more research on the company or practice answering questions in a mock interview. You can schedule a mock interview with a Career Development Specialist at one of our local American Job Centers in Connecticut.

  1. Update your job search records.

It’s critical to keep your job search organized. You should log your contacts and follow up results in a manner that is convenient for you.   Job search records can be saved in a notebook, day planner, or Excel spreadsheet. You can also categorize your emails to save employer correspondence.

Keeping information organized only takes a few minutes a day, but has great benefits. With a log, you can review your progress and see how your efforts have paid off. The log can also be an indicator if you should try a new strategy in your job search to yield more contacts. The record can assist in achieving short-term job search goals and make you feel more motivated to continue on in your search.

A sample job search log for a week is below, but you can search many templates available online or customize your own to your preferences:

GOAL OF THE WEEK: Contact 3 employers

Notes:

Complete        O Not Complete

 

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
Applied to ABC Co. online (Customer Service Rep) and followed company on LinkedIn. Sent cold contact email to Admin Recruiter, J. Cruz. Attended networking event. Met A. Sanders, Manager of Office Co. Interviewed for Office Assistant position with XYZ Corp. during recruitment event. Emailed thank you note to XYZ Corp. recruiter.
Notes: Application receipt notification. Notes:

Sent resume by request, Cruz mentioned emailing me next week to discuss.

Notes:

Connected on LinkedIn.

Notes:

Struggled with, “Why did you leave your last job?” – Overall, interview went well. Will contact me within 2 weeks.

Notes:

These tips will keep your job search focused, active and goal-driven. Use the interview as a time to market yourself for the open position, but use the time after the interview to assess yourself and continue making progress in your search.

3 Ways to De-Clutter Your Job Search

When you’re looking for a new job, you probably have a lot of different events and priorities going on.  You’re following up with employers, filling out applications, going to interviews, cold contacting, networking, and in between all of this – fulfilling family obligations who think you may have “free time” to help with any variety of situations.

How do you manage all of this?  Getting organized: you will be in better control of your time, resources, and energy.

1. Create an email address just for job search. This will allow you to properly follow up with employers, and you won’t miss a message because it was buried under junk mail. Get into the habit of even checking your Spam folder, because sometimes employer contacts get accidentally mistakenly filtered through there.

  • You can register for a free email account from many sources including MSN/Live accounts, Yahoo, or Google.  Google is the most dominant but there is heavier advertising in your inbox with these accounts as opposed to Live or Yahoo.  Find one you are comfortable with and choose a professional username such as “firstname_lastinitial@youremail.com.”
  • If your name isn’t available, avoid using the year you were born or zip code. This could provide either too much personal information or be an easy indicator for age.  If your original username option isn’t available, add in parts of your middle name or include your target industry/job title, such as “JohnTSmith@youremail.com” or “Erin_SalesRep@youremail.com.”

2. Schedule your day. This will help you keep a balance of personal and professional activities.  Treat job searching like a full time job, and put in around 8 hours a day towards your search.  This can include working on your resume, meeting with a career advisor, networking, filling out applications, following up, and researching employers.  Remember to keep a balance: if you start working 12 or 13 hours a day towards your job search, you could get stressed out and may not get at least 6 hours of sleep which is required for better cognitive functioning. Getting a good night’s rest and visiting with friends or family can re-energize you and may improve your efforts and contacts with employers throughout the rest of the week.

Below is a sample schedule to visualize the balance of professional and personal activities.  Note that the weekends are slim, with Sunday excluded.  If you treat your job search like a full time job, you can keep bigger activities for later in the week, and enjoy your weekends.  Just don’t forget to check your email in case an employer responds to you and requests a follow up.

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
Follow-up meeting with XYZ Builders: 10AM Coffee with Jen: 9AM Application and Resume to ABC Co. Review ACME Corp research. Application and Resume to Retail Co. Follow up via email with employers
Resume Critique at Job Center: 1PM Networking Club: 10-11:30AM Phone call with referral contact. Interview at ACME Corp: 1-? Research employers. 1-4PM FREE
Research employers. 1:30-3:30PM Work on cover letters for ABC Co. and Retail Co. Babysit nephew: 5-9PM. Send thank you emails. Dinner with Greg and Lori: 8PM FREE
  • Google calendars, Microsoft Outlook or Excel, a day planner, an app on your smartphone, or a regular calendar can all be useful tools for organizing your daily schedule.  Using a calendar that is connected to your email account has many benefits that make scheduling much easier: if you have travel plans, Google can sync your inbox content with your calendar and search features.  Whichever one you choose, stick with it.
  • For the schedule to work well you need to consistently use it. This will eventually allow you to chart your progress and you can see how much you accomplished over the past weeks. Use this as an evaluation tool. If you notice you haven’t gotten an interview call, see if you can modify your resume or have someone review your application materials to see how you can improve the contact efforts.

3. Storage: save emails or hard copies for later reference.  When you apply to a job, save the job description and announcement. When you have an interview with the company, these materials will be useful to review.  Also, if you find yourself applying to multiple jobs and an employer calls you, you want to know the company and job you applied for immediately to make a positive impression.

  • Hard Copies: When saving hard copies, organize job announcements by company.  If you are targeting different jobs, you can create separate folders based on occupation.  Alphabetizing is quick for an easy reference. Using file folders or accordion folders can make storing the documents more convenient.  If you customized a resume or cover letter specifically to that job, it may not hurt to place copies of those materials in the folder as well.  When you’re called in for an interview, you can review your contact with the company up until that point, and make copies of your customized resume to provide at the interview.The main goal is to not have cluttered piles of papers at your work station.  if you have a desk with your laptop or PC on it, it may be easier to focus if your desk is clear and you can reference your other materials when needed.  Seeing all the piles or your desk may get your materials disorganized, and could potentially add to any stress which would not be optimal when filling out your next application.
  • Electronic files: When using your professional email account, you can save your contacts and messages to folders within your inbox.  Right-clicking on your inbox or seeing a “+” sign by your folders can lead you to an option similar to “Create New…” Under this option, you can select “Folder,” and within each folder, you can make sub-folders.

For example, in the picture below, you will see folders with sub-folders, organized by Job and Company.

jobfolders

Keep in mind, these directions will be slightly different from provider to provider.  If you have any difficulty, consult your email providers FAQs or Help options.  Typing a question into a Google search can also refer you to helpful forums where experienced users help others resolve issues and provide tips.

Creating a separate email, scheduling your days for professional and personal activities, and organizing your storage system for employer contacts will make your job search more efficient. When you have balance in your schedule, you perform at your best. When you are in work mode, your job search email account and organized contact system will optimize your time spent on job search activities. You won’t need to hunt around for a particular file or resume, because the email won’t be buried under unrelated forwarded messages, nor will you have to search through piles on your desk and add on any stress. If you have any questions on these tips, feel free to message me or comment below.

If you have more organizational tips that have helped you in your search, please share!

Tattoos and Piercings at the Interview

By Erica Tew, CPRW

Recently, the question of tattoos and piercings at the interview arose and we debated what was appropriate.  We stuck with the conservative approach as general guidance: always cover up best you can in a professional outfit, and possibly remove any facial piercings. The goal is to be remembered for what you said, not your appearance. 

However, there is another layer to this subject I would like to address.  Before I delve into it, I want to share a few ground rules. I do not think under any circumstances should you show a tattoo that is religious, political, or offensive (lewd imagery, foul language, or gory/violent) in any way. I also think facial piercings should be on the smaller side, to not take too much attention away from your words.

Personally, I am a fan of tattoos and piercings. I think the creativity and skill involved in a well-done tattoo can be really beautiful.  I have a few of my own and have even weighed the interview appearance question on whether or not an industrial piercing or a nose ring should be removed. In my conservative workplace, a small nose ring is becoming very common, but I still tend to cover the industrial with my hair down.

Depending on your company’s culture and attire, tattoos or piercings may be acceptable, or even welcomed.  For example, there is a common belief that you should never trust a tattoo artist that doesn’t have any tattoos of their own.  It happens, but it is really difficult for an artist to make it without some of their own. Places that typically do not mind tattoos could be laborious jobs such as warehouses or shipyards. In retail, many shops welcome their staff to be creativity and display their own artwork; not minding tattoos or piercings.

What you may not realize though, is many of our corporate sectors are tolerant of tattoos and piercings as well. Some universities where you may be working independently can be accepting. Small businesses, startups, and other employers can be a mix- but my advice is, when possible, to simply walk into the building before applying.  See how the employees and managers dress. Note any tattoos or piercings and reflect manager norms in your own interview attire. Even if the employees have visible tattoos or piercings, but the managers are more conservative, you are safest with dressing on the conservative side for your interview. Some companies may not mind tattoos or piercings on employees, but when promoting an employee, they may prefer someone who more closely reflects executive style choices. Dress for the job you want, at the company you want.

Overall, researching the company culture will be most important when determining your interview appearance. Although tattoos and piercings are increasingly accepted, many companies still want employees to reflect their corporate brand at all times, and a tattoo may clash with that brand. If you really love a company and aren’t sure of their policy, it’s best to err on the side of caution, and cover up. If you have further questions, please leave a comment below!

5 Tips: What to Do at the #Interview

When you make it to the interview, you want to be on point. Prepare answers ahead of time that show situations, actions you took, and results to respond to many behavioral questions. Research the company: the company culture, mission, news, and services, can help you relate your skills in a way that shows benefit to the hiring manager. The interview will go even smoother if you follow this advice:

1. Silence your cell phone

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Most people will say to shut off your cell phone or leave it in the car. However, if you use it to schedule appointments, you may want it handy if asked for a follow up appointment or date for a second interview. If your phone does go off, it’s not an immediate “fail.” It all depends on how you recover. Don’t look at who is calling; just shut it down and apologize immediately to continue.

2. Smile

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Sure, interviews make everyone nervous. It may be a combination of nerves and adrenaline, but researching and practice will help build your confidence before the interview. If you’re too worried about how you sound or are constantly wondering if you relayed everything you wanted to say, your face may not read that you’re someone who is excited about the opportunity. Take a moment, breathe, and smile right when you shake hands. If this is a phone interview, smile as you talk as well. Your voice transforms when you’re smiling and makes you sound more enthusiastic and engaged. Plus, everyone likes being around a friendly person. Would you want to work everyday alongside someone who constantly keeps a serious face on?

3. Don’t talk money or benefits

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Unless specifically asked by the interviewer, do not be the first to bring up pay or benefits. Save these questions for the job offer. The interview is a business meeting where you and the employer are trying to see if you will be a quality match for the position. Show that you can do the job and you want to work for the company. It can be a major turn off if a candidate doesn’t use this time well, but rather just asks how much they would make. If the interviewer does bring this information up first, research average salaries from Department of Labor’s Labor Market Information website. Always provide a range for salary to avoid being too expensive or underselling yourself. For more information on Salary Negotiations, see George’s post.

4. Speak clearly and avoid the “Yeahs, Ummms, and Likes”

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If you need to briefly pause and think about your answer before responding, take the time to do it. The interviewer may need you to be a representative of the company, and depending on how you present yourself, speech included, your casual way of speaking may be off-putting. “Umms” and “Like” are fillers that can be reduced by practicing your answers beforehand. I am guilty of the “Yeah” abuse, but in an interview, the answer is always “Yes”.

5. Dress Appropriately

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You can never go wrong with a button-down/blouse and dress pants/conservative skirt. This rule can be modified from company to company. Some company cultures prefer very professional attire. If that’s the case, then suit jackets and ties should be worn. Everyone can benefit from having at least one great suit in their closet. If the office is more casual, perhaps replace the dress pants for some khakis. Research the company and try to match what the manager would be wearing. Ask ahead of time if you think you may be touring any facilities that may require boots, a hardhat, or similar special circumstances. In general, I don’t know of a time where shorts, flipflops, sweatpants, anything low-cut, or anything revealing could be considered acceptable interview attire. Try on your outfit ahead of time to ensure proper fit, and remember: you want to be noticed for what you said, not what you wore. For more on this topic, check out Uriela’s blog post about appropriate interview attire.

If you have questions or concerns about these suggestions or anything related to your upcoming interview, please drop us a line in the comments below!

[All gifs thanks to giphy!]

Re-Boot Your #OnlinePresence

Every new graduate should see the value in maintaining a solid, professional online presence.  Hiring managers and recruiters could be searching for you online at any point in the job search process. Are they seeing digital gold or digital dirt? Your online presence can validate your candidacy and effectively market you to stand out against the competition.

 

  1. Google Yourself

 

Take control of your online reputation. Try Googling yourself to see if you have any digital dirt in cyberspace. Growing up with the internet means you’ve been going online long before you thought about your career. Information about you (good or bad) may still exist in the form of online journals, games, forums or personal websites.

 

  1. Create Profiles on Social and Professional Networks

 

It’s time to re-boot your online presence. Develop new content on social networking sites, blogs, or personal pages to market yourself and your value as a candidate. To show up on the first page of search results, join sites that have a high Google ranking like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google+. Use social media to your advantage: remove any content under your control that is no longer relevant.

 

  1. Complete Your Profiles

 

So you’re on LinkedIn and Twitter. The only way they will help you stand out is if you complete your profiles. Many sites have step-by-step instructions for completing profiles on these networks. These sites are an opportunity to market yourself and complement your resume. They will only be worthwhile if they contain information that isn’t simply a copy and paste of your resume. LinkedIn can showcase your recommendations, endorsements, previous work history, awards, or skills that you didn’t have the opportunity to discuss in the interview.

 

Not completing your profile or leaving sections blank may not hurt your job search, but it is a missed opportunity that most cannot afford in this competitive market.

 

  1. 3 P’s: Public, Professional, and Presentable

 

Employers want to learn more about you and see if the person they interviewed is the same out of the office. If you prefer to keep your profile private, just remember that everything online has the potential to go public. A friend can retweet you from your private Twitter, you can be tagged in posts on Facebook, and friends can take screenshots on any app or platform.

 

Nothing online is ever truly private, so be proactive. Try finding a way to refine your regular use of social media.  Improve your chances of securing a second interview or job offer by showing hiring managers you present yourself professionally.

 

Some employers look up candidates to determine cultural fit.  Sharing your love of hiking may work in your favor, but your political views may be another story. Make sure any questionable content is removed. Leave any groups or unlike any pages that stir controversy or could be seen as a red flag to an employer.

 

And Remember…

 

Taking extra steps to ensure you market yourself effectively will make you stand out from the competition. Don’t overlook these details – start managing your online reputation today!