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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Turn Cold Contacting into Lukewarm Contacting

Aside from an interview, cold contacting for job opportunities is one of the most nerve racking experiences a job seeker can go through. Without the right preparation, phone calls can be awkward, visiting the local coffee shop to meet the manager can turn into a lifetime ban and your cold contact letters might end up back in your mailbox with RTS written all over them. Nevertheless, getting to know people is networking and networking is the best way to get reemployed. Here are some ways to make cold contacting less terrible.

 

First, don’t take it personal. Dealing with the stress of a job search is tough and your emotions can be running high. This is time to put on your “I can do it” hat and get down to business. Would a successful sales person lose their cool after a customer hung up on them? No, they dust off the phone and move onto the next opportunity because persistence becomes success.

 

Develop a strategy. Some ways to cold contact are; phone call, in person, mail (postal and email) and through social media. Begin by determining which is the most effective and appropriate method for your target industry. For example, visiting a restaurant between meal times can be perfectly acceptable whereas swinging into the local hospital HR is not. In either case, is always best to establish a contact through your network before you reach out to a company. This turns the cold contact into a lukewarm contact. If you can’t get an internal contact, don’t get discouraged; your professionalism and courtesy will win out.

 

Research to get prepared. To get ideas for dialogue, review the company’s website, LinkedIn and Facebook page(s) and search for job postings. Focus on industry trends, skills related to the position, their products and other details that interest you. Consider this, you can call a company and say, “I offer an extensive background selling xyz, a product that is similar to yours and I am interested in learning of any openings you may have.” Or, “I am unemployed and I am interested in job opportunities with your company.” The former states what you can do for the company, whereas, the latter asks what can they do for you.

 

Use foresight. An estimated 70% of the time, the HR representative will tell you to apply online. Avoid this hurdle by searching for job openings prior to contacting a company. If you see an opening, apply then make your contact. When you contact the company, explain you have applied to the job, however, you are so interested in the position you did not want to leave your résumé to fate of cyberspace. As a Job Developer, I had many of these conversations for my clients, one of which was with a nationally known home improvement store. During a phone call, I was ensured HR would review all online applications and schedule interviews based on qualifications. After politely requesting alternative methods for increasing my chances, I was invited into the store to speak with a department manager.

 

Practice, practice, practice. I know, “it’s only practice.” But in reality, practicing with someone will break the rust off. Friends and family are always good to embarrass yourself in front of or you can check out a reemployment service provider.

 

Take chances and be assertive. If you want something, use your wit and guts and go get it. Attitude is everything in the job searching world, expect challenges but also expect SUCCESS.

#JobSearch: You are the #Brand; Your Skills are the #Product

By George Bernocco, CPRW

Brand-Story

If you’ve ever tried to sell something to prospective buyers before, you may understand the concept of marketing. Trying to match what the buyers are looking for with the goods you have to offer. When you create a “Brand”, you are not only trying to match the buyer’s needs but you are trying to distinguish yourself and your merchandise from other vendors/products out there. Making your product stand out from the rest sells your product and thus creates a brand.

When we apply the concepts of marketing and creating a brand to job search, not much has changed. The product you are trying to sell is your skills. To create your brand essentially means that you get your brand name out into the market so that it can be found by interested parties. Word of mouth is a very popular marketing tool, which is why job search networking is crucial. The idea behind having a strong network is to have network contacts recommending your brand name product (your skills) to a prospective buyer (employer). By having more and more people discussing your product, your brand name has begun to develop a “presence”. By having a presence, you’ve become recognizable, memorable, relatable and authentic.

Let’s step back to think about some of the day to day items we purchase. There are some brands I prefer over others, and it depends upon my experiences with these brands. Commercials we see on television, or even before a YouTube video, are all about trying to make a company’s product real to you. When you are applying for work, you are on the business end of trying to make yourself real to a company. Interviews can be viewed as a live-action commercial, or “infomercial”, to the employer. Some commercials are more interesting and relatable than others, which is why we don’t buy everything that we see on TV.

So we’ve established network contacts that will also provide “word of mouth” recommendations about you. Now what is the next step to getting our brand out there? We can follow the business model of how companies get their name out there. Business cards, for example, sell a company’s product easily because they can be passed on to interested parties who have a reminder of their services. They are small little reminders about services and goods that are portable and easy to carry. Networking cards are identical to business cards and with the only difference being that you are the brand and your skills are the products being offered.

To take your brand development to the next level, technology has the potential to move your brand name through the world. Much like commercials have expanded from billboard ads to radio to television and now online videos, we must get our brand out there and up to date with current trends. The internet is an exceptional tool for you to utilize to get your name recognizable. As soon as you created any sort of profile that is visible to anyone else on the internet, you’ve started what we call a “digital presence”. Facebook, LinkedIn, a personal blog, Twitter, and much more can be all tied to your digital presence. You should select each social networking site carefully with the goal of controlling your digital presence. How you market yourself on these websites is imperative to your brand name. An employer wouldn’t hire an potential employee who has images of them doing drugs on Facebook much like you wouldn’t buy a car that catches fire in their commercial, nor would you probably trust the car-maker brand name. To sell your product, you must protect and maintain an “image” for your brand. In regards to your job search, your image should be professional, interesting and relevant.

Be aware of what may hurt your image when it comes to your digital presence. Much like a bad review at a restaurant can hurt its business; a negative search with your name can hurt your chances of getting a job. Your brand must be solid and dependable, which will reflect your product (the work you do).

Being a member of organizations and being published in relation to the work you do also assist with developing your brand. If your name is out there where employers can trace your work, you have successfully developed something that the potential employers can identify with. Just be aware that other information outside of your field could help or hurt. It is important to know what is out there regarding your product.

When you create your own brand and market your abilities as your product, you are answering the employer’s question: “Why should I hire you over the other candidates?” Identifying your strengths as brand name recognition will put you ahead of the candidates. In the end, the employer will select a brand (candidate) that is most in line with their goals and fits well with their corporate environment.

Different #Generations in the Workplace

generationcomic

What bothers me is that most of these articles take on the tone of “How to deal with ____ generation.”  That tone is the problem.  You’re seeking advice on ways to work with a diverse group of people and the tone of the article is negative from the start.  Our perception of an experience comes from the choices we make, and our mindset going into a situation can define that experience as positive or negative.

image via infinityconcepts.net/

image via infinityconcepts.net

Many times, generations get unfairly labeled.  You can’t label an entire group of people born within X number of years and expect those views to reflect in every workplace.  Stereotypes will always be stereotypes.  A stereotype, by its very definition, is “an oversimplified idea of a particular type of person or thing.”  When we oversimplify each other, we begin to oversimplify the human experience and what it means to really get to know one another.  I don’t think I could morally brush someone off because  I believe I think I know about their work ethic simply because I’ve Googled it.

For example, I saw this picture online that said, “My mom says she’s ‘bad at computers because her generation is bad with them,’ and then I remind her Bill Gates is part of her generation.” There are always exceptions! I feel these articles are creating a passive-aggressive tension between generations and other bloggers and I would like it to stop.

I know anecdotal evidence is a flawed argument but my goal is just to make everyone take all of these “Generational Advice” articles with a grain of salt.  I believe if you like what you do, you work hard, and you develop emotional intelligence to mitigate damage to communications- you will most likely not find difficulty in the workplace.  Humor also has this fantastic way of transcending personal factors. I’ve worked in many offices and everyone has had a great sense of humor… thank goodness. You can’t work with people all day long and not find ways to make one another laugh.  (You physically can’t- don’t try it! It would be bad for your health!)

Please don’t take this post to mean a homogenous workplace could be just as good as a diverse workplace.  Perhaps it could, yes, but I truly believe you need diversity in opinions, levels of experience, and varying specialties for an organization to reach its potential.  When it comes to working in an office with multiple generations, I believe the best advice is to just treat people like people.  If you’re new and looking for advice, here:  take a deep breath, smile, and introduce yourself to your coworkers.  You will get to know everyone in time.

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.

professional

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.

Fresh Dressed Like A Million Bucks

Mastering the art of dressing for the job you want

By Uri Allen, CPRW

 dress

Have you ever heard the saying “You should dress for the job you want, not the job you have”?

I want to first start off by saying, this blog post does not advocate wearing a cape to your next interview but there is evidence that shows a direct correlation between what we wear and how these choices impact how people perceive us. And this perception is more than clothing-deep. What we choose to wear  is a big part of how people size us up. Depending on what someone chooses to wear, people can make all sorts of first impression assumptions about things from their socio-economic status to their cultural roots to their level of business professionalism. So while you may have that winning hand-shake and perfectly polished résumé, if you come to a job interview at an accounting firm dressing more like you are going to a nightclub in Miami during spring break, you’re going to have a bad time. I’m surprised at how many people just don’t get the concept of looking the part. If you want to be taken seriously as a professional, you have to look the part. Here are a few tips to keep you looking sharp and avoid any potential outfit blunders during the job search and interview process.

When clients ask me what they should be wearing to an interview, I often ask them, “Well, what is the culture like? What is a normal day to day look for the company?” If they are unsure, I direct them back to doing some research on the company. Figure out what the cooperate culture is, stop by for a visit, ask people who you may know that already work for the company and use that information as your guideline. Once you figure out the baseline for appropriate dress for the company, a good rule of thumb is to always dress one step above the baseline during an interview. So for instance, a construction worker may, on the job, wear tee-shirt and jeans. So an appropriate one-level up for an interview would be jeans and a nice collared shirt with a tie or a sweater or blouse for the ladies. If the baseline is business casual ala polo shirts and khakis, nice pants and a button down and tie for guys and nice pants and a dressy shirt for a woman. The only exception would be if the dress is business and in that case you would dress business. So in a nutshell:

If Casual, Business Casual

If Business Casual, Business

If Business, Business

Don’t wear clothes that are too tight, too small, too sloppy, too big, too revealing or otherwise. You don’t want to be referred to as “the guy in the really tight sweater” or “the girl in the REALLY SHORT miniskirt” after your interview. You want the interviewer to notice your skills, not your cleavage and beer belly. When was the last time you saw someone with their muffin top hanging out of their too-tight clothing and thought to yourself, “well, there goes a professional”.  Yea, I’m going to guess…never. On the other end of the spectrum, clothes that are ill-fitting or too big most of the time look sloppy so if your interviewing outfit is now too big, it might be time to get a new one. Try your outfit on before the interview and make sure it fits. Think of Goldilocks…just right!

Another thing to remember is you are going to an interview, not Ibiza. What you might wear to the club probably isn’t appropriate to wear to an interview no matter how fancy it is. Leave the flashy nail polish colors and snake-skin shoes at home. Those sparkly pumps might look boss in backlight but in the office of your potential boss, they are probably more distracting than anything else. Also, leave any noisy accessories at home…the watch that beeps every hour on the hour or the chunky bracelet that jingles can all be incredibly distracting during an interview. Remember, you want the employer focused on you, not your accessories. Cover up any tattoos the best you can if they aren’t a widely accepted part of the corporate culture. Some places are totally cool with your ink but if you aren’t sure, err on the side of caution and cover-up that tattoo. Try to avoid any super-bright colors or loud patterns as those can also be distracting. Muted hues, pastels, neutral colors are always a safe bet.

Interviewers are like cats…easily distracted by things like shiny objects and noises. If you even think that it can be distracting, save it for something other than your interview. Use common sense and if you really can’t figure out what to wear, websites like Pinterest and their professional dress boards can keep you in the loop of what to wear in an interview. If you need access to clothing for an interview, organizations like Dress for Success can help (and organizations like these are not just for the ladies anymore!). Remember, non-verbal communication is a huge part of making a great first impression. Don’t let poor clothing choices say anything bad about you.