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.

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(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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Realistic #Networking Advice

By Erica Tew, CPRW

What is networking?

It is introducing yourself to people, forming relationships, and maintaining these relationships through effective communication.

Communication is about making decisions. You decide who you want to approach and how you want to do so.  Factors that can influence these decisions depend on what you know about the other party, their preferred method of communication, and the level of your relationship with that person.

When job seekers ignore these factors and abruptly ask strangers for jobs, or to find jobs for them, they are usually frustrated with the lack of success. This is because the strategy is only focused for the benefit of one person, the job seeker.

Why is networking so difficult?

I think it is because we place extra pressure on ourselves when job seeking. Networking becomes another burdensome task, like writing your resume or blocking away three hours of your day to fill out an online job application. Yet we all know networking does not have to be one of those things. If the terminology is causing you stress, drop it and focus on meeting other real people.

To put networking in perspective, think of your circle: your friends, family, and colleagues. Who, within these circles, actively networks? Your 8 year old niece who leverages social prowess and gets invited to Susan’s sleepover party. Your grandmother who raises funds for her church by hosting events and bake sales, managing to get donations from even the tightest of purses. Fred, the guy you hike with on Saturdays, who just landed a new client to get promoted. Your friend from high school who dropped out of college and now runs a successful online business. Networking is actively done by many parties who may never directly label their actions as “networking.”

How do you network?

Reach out to people you already know- family, friends, colleagues, etc. Provide some basics. When people say, “I need a job, any job,” the sentiment is understandable, but it makes the search so broad and open ended it feels insurmountable. Focusing on a specific job will not only help your own search, but it will help narrow down the focus for your friends who may scout around for you.

Explain what types of skills you have and try not to overuse the word “job.” Although you are looking for work, be open to advice and introductions. This is the development of your career for the long term, not only as a means for your next position. Effective networking continues as you regain employment.

Typically, people are more receptive when you ask for their opinion (as long as you ask politely and make sure they have the time to do so). To illustrate this, compare the two statements below:

  1. “Hi, I’m looking for a job. Can you alert me when there are openings at your company?”
  2. “Hi Mark, Hope you are doing well. I was wondering if I could get a few minutes of your time. I’m currently looking for a position in customer service, and was wondering if you had any advice about starting in the field. …”

Which message would you prefer? Although the first would be easy for a friend, it may be a lot of extra work for a stranger. The second is much more personalized and starts with a conversation, making this option more inviting. When you reach out to contacts, especially those you may not know very well yet, try to personalize the message and not ask too much too soon.

Long-Term Success

As you network, focus on creating lasting relationships. Make your contact attempts without holding high expectations. Don’t take it personally if someone doesn’t respond. Be open to any advice or feedback from your network. Learning one new thing can have the potential to dramatically improve your job search.

Additionally, actively listening is key to a successful relationship and develops more personalized bonds between people. When meeting new people, listen more than you share. This information will gauge your perceptions about how the contact prefers to communicate and if there is a possibility of a mutually-beneficial relationship.

The strategies in networking assist in a job search because the more people that know you well and trust you, the faster you will get responses back regarding feedback, advice, referrals, or job openings. Networking is not about what others can do for you, but about the quality of the relationships you develop.

Professionalism on LinkedIn Job Seeking Groups

By Erica Tew, CPRW

 The Dos and Don’ts of  Participating in  Job Seeker Groups on LinkedIn

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From previous posts and other blogs, you may already be well-aware of the many benefits of LinkedIn, including the fabulous recommendations  –  but there are also hundreds of great Job Seeking Groups on LinkedIn. You can search “Job Search” or any related keywords in LinkedIn’s search bar to find these groups.  Job seekers, career coaches and resume writers all network together and discuss strategies.  Members can share related articles they find particularly insightful or intriguing, opening up a discussion for members to weigh in on the topics with their own opinions.  At times, members can even share their job seeking troubles and ask the group for advice.  On this, I would caution everyone to not confuse LinkedIn Groups with anything else but a professional networking resource, so all members must try to maintain a professional image.

For an example, I have participated in groups where job seekers would give us a recap how their interviews or searches went.  These discussions were very effective; members helped the job seeker develop interview answers and avoid sending off any red flags to an employer, and focusing everything on the job opening in question.   The problem was this job seeker was providing details such as his general impression of certain interviewers’ personalities, company names to where he was applying and interviewing, and even making jokes when he shared that an employer asked a question that could be considered “illegal.”  (For the record, no question is ever “illegal.” That is a huge pet peeve of mine.  However, if an employer bases their hiring decision off of something not job-related and possibly discriminatory such as age, race, gender, etc – that is illegal.)

All of this sharing was received by the group of 400-500 members, but only around 45 were very active contributors.  From participating in a group, and getting to know people better online, it is natural that bonds can be formed.  I am virtual best friends with a few awesome women on Pinterest, in fact.  But differentiating your professional and personal networking profiles is crucial.  Posting very detailed and specific information on a LinkedIn group may become a huge regret if it gets you cancelled interviews or pulled from job offers.  Not all websites are as easy to delete posts as LinkedIn, but it is better to always think about your posts before submitting, instead of regretting later on.

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STRATEGIES

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In Connecticut, we have many no-cost networking groups available at our local job centers, and I will gladly provide more information on them if requested.  If you aren’t local and feel that online groups are your only resource, I recommend the following:

DON’T

  1. Share the company name or specifics where people could figure out the location.  This is a courteous gesture and will also help safeguard your place as a potential candidate.
  2. Give details about your negative impression of the interviewer (ie, if someone seemed unprepared, unprofessional, etc.) The details could be subjective and may relate to the company culture of being more “relaxed” instead of “unprofessional.”
  3. Speak to the group like you would a close friend or career counselor.  As tough as job searching is, LinkedIn is not an appropriate forum for venting, but we all need to do it every once in a while.  There are many resources and strategies to deal with job search and interview  rejection.  Take some time to clear your head until you can speak with someone you trust, but keep the discussion offline and in an appropriate setting.

DO

  1. Seek feedback.  Share the questions you were asked, how you responded, and see if you can find ways to strengthen your answer for the next interview.  This is a very proactive way to benefit from the knowledge of your fellow members.
  2. Share success.  This motivates other job seekers, and no success is too small.  Share if you landed an interview, or especially when you receive a job offer.  (Just keep in mind no specific details.)
  3. Reciprocate.  If people have given you helpful advice, they have done this out of kindness and the desire to network with you.  Help others by sharing what has worked for you.  This is the key to success in networking.  Which leads me to…
  4. Network.  Groups are a fantastic way to meet more professionals that you may not have had the opportunity of meeting offline.  Write personalized messages to the members you interact with and request to connect with them.

Explore the various job seeker groups.  Start joining a few and contributing with your comments or posts.  I hope you enjoy them, and let us know here if you have any questions!