Top Résumé Strategies for Older Workers

Modern resume close-up.

Updating the Résumé

Depending on when you last updated your résumé, the expectations could be quite different. For example, many résumés now have a summary or headline statement in place of former objective statements.

With advances in Microsoft Word, formatting and visual appeal can also make a strong impact on your résumé. Selecting the appropriate font and margin size can allow you to maximize space and increase readability.

 

Select a Format

There are chronological, functional and combination résumés. Work with a Certified Professional Résumé Writer (CPRW) or American Job Center Representative to determine which format is best for your situation. A brief overview of the top three formats include:

 

Chronological

This style focuses on work history, listing your most recent position first and working backwards (reverse chronological order). This style shows the timeline of your work experience and is the most common type of résumé.

Recommended for:

  • Advancing within present career field.
  • Steady work experience with limited or no periods of unemployment.
  • Experience relating directly to the work sought.

chronoutline

Functional (also known as Skills-Based)

Focuses on skills and experience instead of work history. The marketing strategy with this style is to use practical (functional) sections as opposed to chronological work history.

Recommended for:

  • No previous employment.
  • Employment gaps.
  • Frequent job changing.
  • Career changers or those in transition, to focus on skills gained as opposed to chronological work history.

Note: Most functional résumés exclude dates of employment, but this can raise a red flag to employers. It is best to include dates. If jobs were only for a few months, considering just listing the year you were employed. (Ex. “2013” versus “March-May 2013”)

functionaloutline.png

Combination

Emphasizes skills, experience and chronological work history. This style is divided in two parts. The top third uses functional sections to market relevant qualifications and/or career accomplishments, while the remainder focuses on work history.

Recommended for:

  • Career changers or those in transition, to emphasize transferable skills.
  • Applicants with strong work histories that want  to provide an overall picture of skills, experience, and accomplishments.
  • Combining skills developed in a variety of jobs or other activities.

 

combooutline

 

Top Résumé Strategies

 

  • Limit dated experience to the last 15-20 years. Recruiters and hiring managers tend not to view experience past 20 years as so much can change. If you want earlier experience highlighted on your résumé, consider adding a functional section without dates, such as a summary or accomplishments section, to include these details.

 

  •  Limit the résumé to two pages. If you are changing careers, one page may suffice, depending on your experience. The goal is to be concise and make the résumé easy to scan quickly. You can provide your LinkedIn profile URL to invite the reader to learn more about you.

Note: If you are providing your LinkedIn URL, make sure your profile is complete and matches the target position of your résumé. Your LinkedIn profile should not repeat your résumé, but complement it.

 

  • Emphasize skills for the position. Use the job posting as a guide to develop the language for your résumé and include any relevant computer skills. You may need to modify your résumé for each job. Using the same résumé for every application may not yield positive results.

(For more on matching your skills to a position and determining your “fit” for the job, check out “How to Stop Screening Yourself Out.“)

 

  • Describe career accomplishments. The résumé is your marketing tool to highlight your career history and capabilities. Do not wait for the interview to share your biggest accomplishments.

Think of your accomplishments in terms of the S-A-R method- explain the Situation, Action you took, and the Result of that action.

Chronological sample of achievements (incorporated into work history):

chron

Functional sample of achievements (in its own, dedicated section, placed within the top third of the résumé):

functional

  • Address gaps in work history. Explain what you did during the gap. This could include volunteer work, training programs or describing the skills you developed. The goal is to briefly explain the gap so the recruiter or hiring manager won’t make assumptions. Avoid providing personal information.

 

When writing your résumé, keep in mind it may go through various stages. Work with a résumé writer or job coach at an American Job Center near you to get started. Browse samples from résumé books and make notes to yourself about how you want that style to work for you. Print out job postings for positions that interest you. All of these steps will help you develop a résumé that will present you well and impress hiring managers.

 

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.

6 Resume Tips from Employers

As an Employment Services Specialist, I find it valuable to reference specific employer preferences/concerns when offering job search advice, presenting workshops or justifying resume edits. So, when I had the opportunity to attend a career fair recently I made a point to talk to recruiters, HR personnel and employers about resumes. I wanted to know what they liked and what common mistakes they saw. Here is what I found:

List a professional email address on the resume. I was ready to write this off as a cliché until I heard it cost someone an interview. Employers consistently mentioned this as a common mistake found on resumes! Check your resume, if there is something other than a combination of first/last name take a few minutes and create a new email address.

Customize the resume to each job. Yes, this is tough to do for career fairs since there are many employers and you might not know who is attending. Your best strategy is to try and find an attendees list, identify a few employers from that list to target then build customized resumes accordingly. If you have to use a generic resume, still provide one to the employer but get a business card and tell them you will email a customized resume later in the day (or next day). An added bonus is you’ve created a follow up opportunity.

Headline Statements are awesome. The headline statement is an occupational title geared toward the job you are seeking. On the resume it appears just below your contact information. The Employer likes this because it is easy to identify the candidate’s job target.

Self-serving Objectives are not awesome. Again, kind of a cliché, yet still mentioned as a common mistake. Remember, employers want to see how your skills benefit them not that you want a full time position with opportunities for growth and fulfillment as a…

Don’t fear the applicant tracking system. Applicant tracking systems are tools to help organize the chaos associated with hundreds or thousands of applications. Follow best practices when completing online applications and resumes such as using proper grammar, matching wording to job requirements, etc. Instead of blaming applicant tracking systems for not getting interviews, work on things you can control like having a resume critique and networking.

Print resumes on resume paper. Resume paper enhances the appearance of the document and shows you are willing to go that extra step. Most resumes employers see at job fairs are printed on regular paper which detracts from the quality. Resume paper and printing is available at no cost at American Job Centers across CT (www.ct.gov/dol).

Looking back, I am glad I took advantage of the opportunity to network with hiring personnel and employers at the career fair. I met very nice people who were willing to share their insight on resumes. If you are considering attending a career fair or are searching for work, hopefully these tips will help you land an interview.

Our Current #LaborMarket: Where do we stand?

By George Bernocco

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It’s been a while since I’ve posted and I figured I would not only do an update, but rather update us all on our current labor market. Questions still remain as we have transitioned out of the recession. Are there jobs and where are they? Let’s take a quick glance as 2014 begins to close out.

Unemployment Rate is down

The numbers show that, as of September 2014, unemployment rate is at 5.9% for the national rate (http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.nr0.htm). Just so you can see the decline of the rate:

September 2011 = 9.0%

September 2012 = 7.8%

September 2013 = 7.2%

September 2014 = 5.9%

(http://www1.ctdol.state.ct.us/lmi/unemprateCTUS.asp)

The number suggests that the labor market is getting better nationally. Now for Connecticut, the numbers are as follows:

August 2011 = 8.9%

August 2012 = 8.5%

August 2013 = 7.8%

August 2014 = 6.6%

Although the numbers show a decline, the unemployment rate in Connecticut is still above the national number.

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Want vs Need

As the layoffs hit during the recession, no one envisioned it might take a long time for them to return to work. As a result, employment gaps among the unemployed population became the biggest concern of an “employer” market. As employers were much more selective in determining their candidates during the recession, more and more people became “discouraged” unemployed. This process occurred over about six years, where unemployment extensions came and went.

And then, everything started to get better. Numbers started to fall back below pre-recession rated. Jobs started to come around. The result was people taking jobs they needed rather than wanted, as support benefits at state and federal levels were not enough for not long enough. Jobseekers, unable to get into the field they wanted for so long during the recession, began picking up employment opportunities as they were offered to them.

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“College Graduate working as wait staff”

The labor market has changed since before recession levels. Jobs are not quite up to where they were before the recession hit, especially when we talk industry specific. If we looked at hospitality and restaurant workers, there is practically a job out there for every single job seeker. These are jobs that some, not all, would be willing to take, or have obtained in the wake of the great recession. However, these employees may have never left “job seeker” status.

The job seeker today, which may be you reading this article, might be employed. Might be at a job they don’t see a future at. The job may have been something to pay the bills, and had little or nothing to do with the career you have in mind. The job may be part time. The job might be in your career field but pays significantly less than what you made before or what you were expecting. You might be a recent Computer Engineer college graduate working as a waiter. As a result, the job seeker is looking to get back on that path towards their career as they receive a pay check from their job.

employer_sponsorship

Employer Market vs Job Seeker Market

What has been predominantly an employer market is in the process of changing towards job seeker market. As the jobs begin opening up across career fields, job seekers (whether employed or not) will be more in control. Employers will still be selective of who they want, but may have to go out and find their candidate. Employers will have to create more incentives (Pay amount, vacation, bonuses, perks, etc) to hire people, and job seekers will have more of a choice of where and who they want to work for.

The process of transition from employer market to job seeker market has already begun. Which is why as a job seeker it is important to let the employers know that, even if you are employed, you are interested in a career with them. Making sure your resume and LinkedIn profile are out on the internet is crucial right now. Employers might be contacting you without you even having applied to them. This is a stark contrast from the recession era, where one would apply for a job over the internet and may never hear from the employer.

In conclusion, the job market is improving. The average job seeker varies from the job seeker of four years ago. Make yourself marketable now so that employers can find you and reach out to you for a career. When we talk about this recession, not only can we see the light at the end of the tunnel, we can begin to feel some of the warmth the light provides.

#Resume & Job Search Advice for Older Workers

1) Do not list every job you’ve ever had.

Your resume is not your life story. Think of it as a marketing document to sell your experience, skills, and achievements. This document should be customized specifically for the job you are targeting. In simpler terms? If you are applying for a job as a Manufacturing Manager, your experience as a part-time barista during college may not hold any value. If you are concerned about leaving a job out of your resume because it may show a gap in employment, then focus on the transferable skills. What details can you draw from that experience that will impress a hiring manager in the Manufacturing industry?

2) Do not provide unnecessary details.

Why did you leave your last job? That is a common interview question. Information about plant closures or involuntary discharges does not need to be listed on the resume. Instead, develop an answer that will briefly explain what happened without going negative. Wait to share this answer, if asked, during the interview.

Personal details such as marital status, appearance, health conditions, or children, should not be on your resume. Keep everything related to the job. Sharing personal information is not only unnecessary, but it may also open you up for potential discrimination. Marketing your skills and abilities is the focus.

3) Unless you need a CV, try to keep the document to two pages.

This isn’t a hard rule, but most hiring managers prefer if resumes stick to one or two pages. If you have over ten years of working experience, two pages may suit you better than trying to squeeze important information onto one page. If you are changing careers, maybe one page of related skills and experience may be enough. A combination of selecting only appropriate information needed to market you well for the job and formatting skills for margins, font size, and spacing to make the document readable, will help you stay within the one to two page maximum. Keep in mind, hiring managers do not get a lot of time to read through everyone’s resume. The resume is your advertisement explaining why the hiring manager should interview you, and you do not want to waste that space. Grab the hiring manager’s attention by showing how you can make an impact to the company: show a history of achievement, a competitive skill set, or any variety of details that relate to the job.

4) Do not use a generic resume objective.

With the competition for job openings, you need your resume to stand out. If the very first section under your contact information states you are “Seeking a rewarding and fulfilling full-time opportunity at XYZ Industries,” then the resume will probably not make an impact on the hiring manager. The standard resume objective only serves to share what you want from the employer, not what you can do for the employer. The standard resume objective may also be risky if there is an oversight and it isn’t customized. No employer would want to see a resume stating the objective is to work for the competition.

Make this first section show who you are and what you can do. “Results-oriented Manufacturing Manager offering proven record of improving processes and optimizing resources” can pique interest, especially if followed by a section that highlights specific, related career achievements.

5) Customize a cover letter with every application.

Similar to a standard resume objective, many applicants send the same generic cover letter. The cover letter can be a great opportunity to showcase writing skill and further make the match for the employer as to why you would be a great fit for the position. Do not reiterate your resume, but highlight a few key points and explain how your skills could benefit the company. Conducting some research before applying can help your cover letter stand out even more. Does the company have regular community service involvement? Share your volunteer experience to show why this company, specifically, would be your ideal company (in addition to why you are qualified for the job). Furthermore, if a specific colleague from your network advised you to apply for the job, the cover letter can be your opportunity to mention them. Employee referrals are more likely to get a chance to interview than someone going in “cold”.

6) Register for online job applications.

Nearly every company will make you complete an online job application. Hesitancy to provide personal information is understandable. However, many companies make applicants register with their website prior to applying for the job. In some instances, this registration can enhance the applicant experience (but we all understand, in many instances, this can feel like a major pain in the neck). For positive example, by registering on some company application websites, you can check the status of your application, maintain a log of jobs to which you have applied, continuously update your resume, and upload additional documents to make applying to future positions easier and easier. Not all websites are like this, but many registrations allow you to access certain features that may make applying a little easier. What the job seeker must do is maintain a list usernames and passwords, kept in a secure location or create log-in IDs and passwords you can easily remember. Only in very rare circumstances can you “bypass” the online job application. Even with getting a referral and interview by networking, there may still be some HR protocol to keep an application on file for every employee. Depending on how many applications you submit to companies, this list may be long, so organization is crucial.

7) Learn how to tell if a website is secure.

When registering to application websites online, you may be asked to first provide your name, city of residence, and birthdate. This is the same amount of information needed to create an email address. It is smart to play it safe; do not arbitrarily give out this information. In the same respect, online job applications cannot easily be ignored because they request this information. A few key features to look for are the “s” in the URL. A typical URL starts with “http://example…” but a secure page will have an “s” after the “http” such as in https://examplewebsite.com. HyperText Transfer Protocol and HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure. Additionally, there will be an image of a lock, either in the address bar, or placed somewhere on the bottom of the browser. When you hover your mouse over the image of the lock, there will be more information available about the security of the website. If you view the Certificate of Security, you can see whether or not the Certificate is still valid. If it is valid, you are usually safe to proceed forward. This advice also applies for online shopping, when you must enter your credit card information, or a variety of online activities. For future reference: review this infographic.

8) Most importantly, network.

Networking is one of the most successful ways to learn about job leads. Keep in touch with family, friends, past co-workers, neighbors, and anyone you know who may be able to keep an ear out for you. Make a list of your contacts who work at a company you would like to learn more about, or who may have contacts at a company for which you want to work. General etiquette will always apply; don’t expect everyone to be willing to help, but the more people that know you are looking, the more people you will have who can possibly get you information about a potential lead. Always try to offer your help for anything before asking for any favors, or show willingness to help out if needed.

Volunteering can provide recent experience on your resume as well as help build your network. Going online and joining social networking sites will also make networking easier. LinkedIn, Twitter, and even Facebook (among many other sites) can be used for professional networking purposes. In a previous post, our author George provided a break-down of the top ten social media sites, and how you can use them for job search.

Overall, a successful job search means you employ various methods until you find what works for you. Network in person and online, get your resume reviewed by both colleagues in your field and CPRWs at a local American Job Center, customize cover letters to market more of your selling points, and don’t be too nervous to fill out an online job application if you need to. There are many other strategies out there. This experience can be a learning process, and the American Job Centers offer many no-cost workshops to help you build skills or learn new ways to search.

Job Search Planning

 

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Success comes from hard work, and job search success takes planning.  When looking for your next position, ask yourself-

1.       Do I know what I want to do?  Can I do that here?  Do I need any further education or training to be qualified for this type of work?

This is a question only you can answer, but there are plenty of skills and interest assessment tools out there to help.  MySkillsMyFuture.org and MyNextMove.org can help get the ideas rolling if you are stuck.  Career counselors and workshops provided at local American Job Centers can also help you narrow down your choices.

Always compare your target occupation against Labor Market Information to see if that job is currently growing or if that position is popular in your area.  Some jobs are only available in major cities, so determining your target job can make you weigh a lot of factors.  Am I willing or capable of moving?  If I stay here, would I be happy to do another type of job?  Do I have the skills to do another type of job?

 If you need further education or training, there are many free online training programs sponsored by the American Job Centers, or see if local college or training programs are an option.  Depending on the career path, sometimes there is funding or assistance available for training.

 

2.      Who knows I am looking for work?

 Make sure your friends and family know you are looking.  When you speak with them, give them a brief overview of what you did and what you would like to do next.  If you’re open to different types of work, be specific.  Avoid saying you’d “Take anything,” because it is off-putting and defeats your purpose.  Saying you’re open to anything sounds like you’re not really focused on anything.  If you don’t know what you want, how can someone else properly refer you?  Keep in contact with your network and help them when you can so they can remember you if a fitting lead comes up.

Catching up with friends or family, going to an alumni or industry-related event, connecting with people through social media, or joining job search groups are just a few ways you can grow your network.  It may be difficult for shyer folks to “put yourself out there” but with research from the first step, knowing what you want may be a confidence boost on its own.  There are also lots of networking event ice breakers you can look up, but being friendly and helpful are always recommended.

 

3.     What am I using to market myself?

 Now that you know what you want to do, and you have researched the skills to take to do it (or are in a training program gaining the knowledge or experience needed,) you’ll need to develop some marketing materials.  Your resume is crucial, and will be supplemented by any other materials an employer can see or will receive.

If you’re applying to a position directly, be sure to optimize your materials with keywords so you make the match for the employer and show you are qualified for the job.

When posting your resume online such as on CT.jobs, be sure you title your resume something related to your field.  “Human Resources Manager” or “Results-Oriented Sales Representative” is better than “Tom Smith Resume” because the employer searches resumes on CT.jobs by keywords.

Searching job postings nationally will give you an array of keywords that are common across your target positions.  Save a list of these keywords so you can use them in context throughout your resume or application materials.

Resumes and application materials are supplemented by any online networking sites you have joined.  It is important to establish an online presence because many employers “Google” candidates prior to interviews.  In the same way that you do not want to be screened out for an improper Facebook photograph, you also want to be noticed for your positive contributions on the web.  Joining and engaging with other industry professionals on Twitter, Google+ or LinkedIn will reflect positively on you.  By default, Google will typically list these pages first if you actively use them and they are a great way to strengthen your reputation and positive image ever before any interview.

 

 

Targeting, Networking, and Marketing are essential for job search success.  Lay out a plan for yourself and create a list of realistic and manageable goals to complete these steps one at a time.  Like any activity, you get out of it what you put it.  Stay energized and motivated, and if you feel that negative self-talk is defeating your job search, disrupt your routine and try a new approach.  There are hundreds of ways to network and market yourself.  Finding what works for you and what makes the phone ring will take some planning and experimenting, but these tips should get you started.

When your #Resolution is to get back into the #Workforce: FAQ

By George Bernocco, CPRW

A new year brings about new promises, hopes, dreams and goals. Will this year be better than the last? In terms of the job market, we hope so. Over 1.3 million people are losing their unemployment extensions at the end of 2013 and now must look to the New Year with uncertainty about employment and employability. Let us look at some of the factors that will come into play for the 2014 job market:

Is the job market getting any better?

Yes. Slowly but surely the job market numbers have gotten better, especially towards the end of 2013. Every state is different, but Connecticut has improved recently in the fourth quarter. Unemployment rates across the board are shrinking, jobless claims are also going down and jobs are being created. The year to come looks promising when we observe what happened to the job market in 2013.

What will employers be hiring for?

Many different sources can point to many different directions, but I feel confident saying that technology and healthcare jobs will be at the forefront of hiring. Especially if any of the jobs cross over due to the new healthcare laws. Technology is an extremely important skill to have, whether is using a computer to creating an “app” for a tablet, the world has become more reliant on technology.

How will employers hire?

Marketing your skills successfully has always been the best way to get employment. I feel that the 2014 year will still be an “employer market” where companies can be pickier about whom they hire because of the amount of job seekers. Continuing to build a digital presence to get noticed by employers will follow through into 2014. Some of the items to obtain employment that will continue are:

  • Professional resumes and LinkedIn profiles
  • In-person interviews and videoconference/teleconference interviews
  • Cover letters and thank you letters; cover letter e-mails and thank you e-mails
  • Networking and social media
  • Online applications

Will I be paid enough?

Across the United States, at least 14 states (including Connecticut), will raise their minimum wages. Some of them are even adjusting their laws regarding how they go about raising the wage every year. The federal government is also looking at raising the federal minimum wage. Average rates of pay across the United States have increased by 3% for 2013, and are expected to continue for 2014.

Moving on towards 2014, our country is recovering from a long and difficult recession. The important part is that we are recovering and it may take a long time for the entire nation to feel parts of that recovery. Continuing to pursue your ideal opportunity, working on your digital presence and networking to break into the job market will all assist you in 2014.

Should old acquaintance be forgot,

and never brought to mind ?

Should old acquaintance be forgot,

and old lang syne ?

For auld lang syne, my dear,

for auld lang syne,

we’ll take a cup of kindness yet,

for auld lang syne.

new years

Sources:

http://www.shrm.org/hrdisciplines/compensation/articles/pages/2014-salary-increases-flat.aspx

http://www.npr.org/2013/12/24/256879640/living-wage-effort-eclipsed-by-minimum-pay-battles

http://www.careerinfonet.org

http://www1.ctdol.state.ct.us/lmi/index.asp

#ResumeCritique FAQ

By George Bernocco, CPRW

magnifying-glass

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.

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.