Writing the best resume, without the help of a professional writer, can be a pain in the crackers.
The best way to cut the task of writing is to focus your attention on less – not more – when writing your resume.
A great place to make any content writing project an easier chore is by first answering:
Does your document include every detail of your career and educational history?
In an attempt to be thorough, you probably included as much information as possible.
You may have even added all those professional references and a listing of your volunteer and personal achievements.
It can be easy to think that squeezing everything into a few pages is how to write your resume.
After all, more information is better, right?
In the marketing world, there’s a saying that, ‘Less is More’.
What this means is that you can make a greater impact and get the attention of hiring companies by rewriting your best resume to show a brand that’s all your own.
Think about the companies you do business with.
Big brands like Apple, Nike, Wal-Mart, and Pepsi have all successfully earned top market share because they’ve created a simple, yet powerful brand.
While you are not selling a product or a service, you are selling something much more valuable – YOU.
Here Are Some of Our Best Content Strategies For You to Implement
6 Ways to “Cut The Fat”
Paring down content starts with making some concerted changes to this document.
Stay with me. I know just the thought of this sounds counter-intuitive.
Let’s go over a few things to turn your current resume into a document that works for you.
#1 – Reduce long paragraphs and sections down to 3-4 lines or less. Take out the extra words like adjectives and focus on creating clarity when describing your job history.
A sentence such as this …
“Conduct train-the-trainer programs as well, coaching departmental trainers to provide staff with on-going support and guidance that fills the pipeline while decreasing the time spent on closing the sale.”
… could be widdled down to this:
“Deliver train-the-trainer curricula that enabled staff to fill the sales pipeline and close sales faster.”
Once consolidated, here’s an even better representation of how to write this sentence so it includes achievements too:
“Deliver train-the-trainer curricula that enabled staff to fill the sales pipeline 23.9% and close sales faster – went from an average 9 weeks to 7 weeks for most closings.”
When looking for more ways to reduce content within your best resume, be aware of content that doesn’t say much.
“Acts as a change agent and overall strategist. A professional who evaluates and responds to various changes to technological environments. A proactive leader who takes a company’s resources and maximizes it to deliver better performance.”
The challenge with the above is that there’s more vague detail than there are specifics, and therefore, raises more questions.
What great changes make this person a change agent?
Evaluate and respond? Those are weak describers.
What technological environments? SaaS? Cloud technologies? Product development? Mobile job applications?
What performance increases are being referenced?
See what I mean? Once you start peeling back the layers, the above sentence avoids answering those critical questions that HR managers and recruiters desperately want answers to.
#2 – Stick with the ‘rule of 3’ for bullet lists that you use to describe career achievements. Of course, you can always include more achievements when necessary, but ideally, have a minimum of 3 as a good base.
#3 – Cut down on unnecessary words, like ‘email’, ‘phone’, and ‘address’. View this before/after header:
John M. Doe
123 Miller Avenue, Springdale, IL 45523
Email: [email protected] | Cell: 817-235-1351
John M. Doe
123 Miller Avenue, Springdale, IL 45523
[email protected] | 817-235-1351
#4 – The 6 elements that the study above indicated were important, but make sure they are on the first page and in the top half if at all possible.
#5 – Leave out outdated sections, such as Objective, Personal Affiliations, and the phrase ‘References available’. No one uses those anymore.
#6 – Forget about adding your photo or any distracting formatting to the resume. Instead, use a professional format with strong section headings that match ATS categories.
What You Should Know About Keywords
Fail to include relevant keywords and key phrases to your job target, and you’re missing out on prime interviews.
In fact, if you know much about applicant tracking systems (ATS), you know that those systems look for keywords/skills.
Here are a few sample keywords by profession:
Accounting Software (Lotus 1-2-3, QuickBooks Pro)
Profit & Loss
Client Relationship Building
Affirmative Action/EEO Regulations
Employee Relations & Mediation
HR Program Development
State & Federal Rules and Regulations
Business Alliance Building
Departmental Operating Budget
Departmental Policy & Procedures
Here’s How To Know The Proper Length
Questioning resume page length is an age-old question that really should be put to bed, and let me tell you why…
Have you heard this advice: “Your document shouldn’t be more than 1 page in length.”
Make that same argument to someone with 10+ years of work experience (think established professionals, such as managers and executives), and well, you’ll likely hear grumbling with lots of disagreement.
How does a person with 10 years of tenure effectively squeeze that amount of work history — and all the necessary detail pertaining to such — into one page?
What is the big obsession with length anyway? Maybe it’s time to concern yourself more about…
- Ensuring your resume has an edge and is written thoroughly
- Utilizing a professional layout that adequately “sells you” to prospective new employers
- Writing quality content, while ensuring the content looks full, not sparse
- Covering and highlighting your most notable, and relevant knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs)
Why may the question about page length no longer need an answer?
Why is page length less of a concern these days?
Think of the places we now job search.
You see resumes on Craigslist, LinkedIn, VisualCV, and Upwork — and these sites are just the tip of the iceberg.
How many pages are your LinkedIn profile?
How many pages is your VisualCV?
These are likely idiotic questions because the Internet has changed how we view content.
Now, we focus more on “what’s above the fold,” keyword quality, and skim-ability when it comes to online content.
Leave Education OFF? What? Here Are 3 Scenarios When You Should.
Yet, there are rare instances when leaving education out is the best technique for securing more viable opportunities.
Maybe you have too much, too little, or it’s the wrong kind. =]
Here are 3 scenarios when you might exclude education from your best resume:
Scenario #1: Do you have too much education for the career you’re targeting?
Let’s say you have dual master’s degrees.
You find that the jobs you’re applying for require only a bachelor’s degree.
This is when things get sticky.
This is one of those scenarios when too much is too much.
Dual master’s degrees can make you appear over-qualified.
Dual master’s degrees can also give the impression that you’ll want more salary.
A huge red flag for hiring companies pinched by a tight budget.
Scenario #2: Is your education the “wrong kind” for your newly targeted role?
Leaving certain education or an industry certificate out is also needed when you’re eyeing a new industry/role, yet your college major is focused on your old career. In this case, you can’t afford to be pigeonholed.
An individual with VERY specific training will understand this most.
For example, I have a colleague who holds a college major in music.
Of course, this degree is perfect when targeting something in and around the music industry.
But, when he stepped outside that industry and went into providing technical solutions for businesses, that music degree becomes irrelevant.
This type of industry-focused certificate becomes irrelevant to a multitude of other industries, so job seekers would be wise to examine and possibly exclude such academic items from their resume.
Scenario #3: Is your education too much? Does the education section look more like the kitchen sink?
If you’re a job seeker who has found himself taking a whole “kitchen sink” worth of training and certifications over the years, you’ll find yourself in this pickle.
Employers like well-rounded, well-trained professionals.
No argument there. There are times when the excess should get “shaved off.”
What if you’re on the other end of the spectrum?
How To Handle LACK of Education
Sure, there are strategies for writing an effective resume in this scenario; e.g., using a combination format. This format allows people to somewhat “hide” certain career blemishes.
If you’re lucky, hiring companies will back-burner educational requirements in place of equivalent work experience.
If you’re unlucky or want to do more than cross your fingers and hope for the best, now the best time to address that lack of education.
Think of it this way. You’re likely being overlooked for prime jobs because of poor education, but when you do accept new jobs, you’re likely being offered a lower salary too.
So, do something about it.
Look into company-sponsored programs, less expensive community colleges [if you’re paying out-of-pocket], and pursue grants, work-study programs, and low-interest student loans.
Here’s a viable option that you may not have considered as well:
Look into open courseware.
A few national colleges are offering FREE online courses classes (aka open courseware) to students.
Disclaimer: open courseware tends to lean to technical areas; e.g. IT, math, and science.
Here are two example summaries:
What To Do When You Have MORE JOBS Than You Know What To Do With.
Job seekers are changing jobs more now than they did just 10 years ago.
Some experts speculate it’s about every 2-4 years.
An increase in the number of jobs held is making it difficult for managers to interpret a candidate’s full skill set because of the distraction between the number of jobs versus the quality of jobs.
A sizable list of jobs within any resume is perceived a certain way by those who hire. Keep in mind the average resume is between 1-2 pages.
Space is limited.
Hiring is expensive; and as companies continuously research, analyze, and implement strategies to improve costs, you bet reducing employee turnover and retaining great employees is a prime focus.
With this said, readers of your best resume might be wondering:
Why the continued change in roles?
Does he quit jobs too often?
Was he fired once or twice?
Why didn’t former employers successfully keep him?”
Now more than ever, it’s important to make slow and calculated career moves.
It’s estimated 15M are unemployed with record numbers of others experiencing long-term joblessness.
My advice lately, in fact, has been for job seekers to stay put, avoiding the open job market when possible.
Here are some thoughts on doing just that …
1) Remain with employers for a minimum of 2 years, preferably sticking it out even when the job doesn’t turn out exactly as you’d hoped.
Have you heard the saying, “you’ve made your bed now lay in it”?
Yes, not the smoothest medicine to swallow, I’m sorry, but it’s important to remain steady and not be hasty or erratic at the sign of trouble.
Instead of quitting or jumping ship, and presuming the company isn’t about to go belly-up, maybe there’s a less invasive alternative?
Maybe you can change jobs, but stay with the same employer?
Maybe you can ask for different/additional responsibilities?
Maybe you’re experiencing a rough patch that will pass with time and patience?
Keep in mind too that an impending boss change can benefit your situation … and if your current boss has been with the company for a few years, well, enough said. =]
2) Be proactive, rather than reactive. Do the necessary research before accepting any role [proactive] so you don’t find yourself abruptly back on the market [reactive].
Know the whos, whats, wheres, and whens before accepting any new role.
Companies ask for 3rd, 4th, and 5th interviews [and more sometimes], so ask to meet with your expected boss to further discuss the job, identify your match for the job, and so on.
Just a sampling of questions to ask and get answered:
What will be consuming my time?
Who will I be working with/reporting to?
What current problems exist within the department?
What does the company expect from me?
What measurement of success will you use to determine my value to the team, department, bottom-line?
Final “Food “for thought:
How would you apply hiring dollars? On a candidate who changes jobs every 24-48 months, or one who possesses a committed record of employment?
When a large number of roles that cover a short period of time is perceived negatively, it can adversely affect one’s search and career.
Dumbing Down Your Resume. Should You?
Is it ever good to look less qualified than you really are?
The question of whether you should simplify a resume in order to secure a job became a hot topic during the era of painfully high unemployment that lasted from 2008 to 2014.
Many people who’d been laid off were struggling to find a job to keep financially afloat.
In many cases, that meant modifying or omitting certain work history and education from their resumes in order to avoid appearing too experienced (aka “overqualified”) for a job.
Taking these measures with your resume is a survival strategy.
Part of the problem is age discrimination — that is, the assumption that because someone is older, they are overqualified and too expensive to hire.
A recent study by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that those over 64, especially women, were much less likely to get callbacks or emails after applying for jobs than were applicants between ages 29 and 51.
[Related Article: How More Women Can Transition Into Executive Roles +3 Tools to Help]
If you’re not getting responses, other factors may be at work. For example, hiring managers:
- Don’t like the layout of your resume
- Aren’t getting a clear understanding of your most relevant skillset
- Haven’t made a decision because they are bogged down with resumes from thousands of others with similar backgrounds
Still, enough people hear: “Sorry, thanks for your time, but you’re over-qualified for this job” at the end of an interview to know that it’s a real problem for experienced professionals who are searching for jobs that are a step down from the level they’ve worked at before.
4 Steps for Dumbing Down Your Resume … If You Must
If you decide to go this way, follow these five steps:
A resume is a marketing piece designed to “sell” you to the prospective hiring company, therefore, avoid a budget resume from a resume writing mill at all costs.
When you respond to an opening, tailor your resume carefully to the job description.
If the company is looking for a person with analytical skills and experience working with teams, highlight those things throughout your resume.
Use as many matching keywords as you can.
This will help your resume get tagged in the applicant tracking system and also show a hiring manager that you meet their requirements without adding extra information that might draw attention to your being overqualified.
2. Stick to the Last 10 Years
One way to simplify a resume is to limit the range of the experience you list. Include only the last 10 years of your work history with details.
Note, however, that many organizations use online job applications that require you to list all previous employment with dates, so leaving select employment off your resume completely might raise a red flag.
In these cases, consider adding an “Additional Experience” section with a general list of jobs you’ve held.
3. Know What to Omit
Sure, omitting certain career information might give you an advantage.
For example, leave your highest degree or specialized training off your resume if it’s not relevant to what you’re interested in (and name that section “Relevant Education”).
You can also omit the dates of your degree if you are concerned about revealing your age.
Responsibilities can be toned down, too, especially ones that relate to people and budget management.
4. Keep Your Social Media Profiles Consistent
If you’re strategically altering your resume to appear less qualified, make sure your social media profiles reflect that as well.
HR Managers and Recruiters check LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook profiles for candidates, and you want them to see the same story.
[Related Article: Recruiters & LinkedIn – How to Get Found by Recruiters on LinkedIn]
Example of a Poor, Better & Best Resume Achievement
Career progression and other factors vary from one individual to another; therefore, how often a resume is updated should be each individual’s choice.
Continued changes in titles or employment tasks are indicators the resume should be updated more often, but in cases where a person’s career is a bit more stagnant or slow-moving, updating the resume is probably better as a once-in-a-while project.
What resume touch-ups can you do in 15 minutes or less?
Integrating just a few additional keywords and sprucing up those accomplishments to include more numbers and percentages are changes people can make to their resumes in 15 minutes or less.
Take this before and after examples into consideration:
- POOR: Managed a growing sales team within the healthcare industry.
- BETTER: Managed ~13 sales reps, which focused on client accounts generating $13.1MM within the healthcare industry.
- BEST: Managed, trained, and coached ~13 sales reps, nurturing $13.1MM in yearly revenues generated via major client accounts within the healthcare industry (e.g. John Hopkins Hospital).
Simply pecking at resume content, making even the tiniest improvements, can be a good move.
Think of the resume as a live being — it needs attention [on-going tender loving care] and food [good content]. Ideally, the resume is always in draft form because it’s forever being added to and improved upon.
Before & After Resume Example
How Employers REALLY View Volunteer Work
Any break in employment is a challenge to handle from a writing perspective, especially since hiring managers generally don’t like employment gaps.
Unfortunately, gaps leave the door open for the imaginations of HR managers to “run wild” … incarceration, for example.
Not every hiatus will come across favorably.
So, job seekers need to be prepared for the potential backlash of taking a (planned or unplanned) break from the workforce.
Now, I will say that employment gaps seem to be less frowned upon at this point, mainly because there are millions of individuals who are unemployed.
Some with stellar work histories and more than adequate educations, meaning their unemployed status has nothing to do with their performance, but more likely the company’s lack of performance.
Rather than jump into a volunteer role just to stay busy or to help members of the community — factor the positive and negative effects of volunteering and adjust your strategy according to your findings.
[Related Resource: Here are 100+ Inspirational Quotes For Jobseekers]
How to Handle Date Gaps in Your Resume
Addressing any gap in employment really depends upon the length. Shorter timeframes, for example, maybe a few months to a year or so, aren’t absolute necessities to explain.
You might feel the need to explain, even though it may not be entirely necessary.
Hiring managers understand the inevitability of date gaps.
A gap that’s longer, maybe several years is trickier and definitely worth some initial words of explanation from the job seeker — oftentimes best within the cover letter.
Do you have advice on how to explain the time off in the resume?
When it comes to covering resume gaps, it’s best to be proactive rather than reactive, filling one’s time between jobs.
Volunteer work doesn’t necessarily need to be performed with a non-profit, but can also include professional non-paid work done to help a family business.
Any resume tip you can offer for those who have been unemployed?
For the employment gap that just bugs ‘ya, think about changing your resume around — especially if the current layout draws attention to the gap.
For example, a combination resume style might be just the answer to making the resume more top-heavy, somewhat overshadowing the employment gap. It’s not a perfect strategy, but it does help some.
Going this direction with your resume can also highlight those on-target and transferable skills most relevant to the reader as well.
How much time do recruiters ACTUALLY spend reviewing your resume?
According to research conducted by TheLadders (originally published @ http://cdn.theladders.net/static/images/basicSite/pdfs/TheLadders-EyeTracking-StudyC2.pdf-no longer published), the behaviors of recruiters were studied over a 10-week period to find some surprising results of how resumes are viewed.
Recruiters spent the majority of their time reading the top half of the first page, and some never even looked at the rest of the document.
When resumes were written in a format that included plenty of organized sections with call-out headings, recruiters were more apt to read to the bottom of the first page.
Will Your LinkedIn Profile Replace Your Resume?
Are traditional resumes facing extinction?
Well, some feel so … seeing traditional resumes as an outdated piece of job-search collateral.
When one considers the new technologies being applied to perform job-search tasks, such as Facebook and LinkedIn, one really needs to wonder exactly when the Internet *meteor* will arrive to finally “kill the resume.”
When you need an answer who do you call?
You call on the experts; those on the hiring and recruitment side of things. So, I asked recruiters and hiring professionals two questions:
Will LinkedIn eventually replace the resume?
What’s the view from your side of the desk?
I’m amazed and honored with the responses I received from those I reached out to on LinkedIn.
The massive pool of skilled, professional, and overall wonderful group of people congregate within some of those HR and recruitment groups.
For that, I say “thank you, thank you” … sometimes people are so giving that one thank you isn’t enough! =]
For the record: 80%-90% who responded believe LinkedIn will not replace the resume at this moment, nor with its current limitations. I’m not surprised.
After all, LinkedIn hasn’t filled all the gaps and benefits of the resume — however, I feel they’re working on it. =]
In some ways, LinkedIn provides the details resumes do not … or maybe, should. For example, recommendations.
Who doesn’t love reviewing credentials, online blog involvement, Twittering, and all those other job applications available via LinkedIn, in tandem with active words of praise from third parties?
Resumes Written By a Professional Can Be Tax Deductible — Here’s How
Gearing up to file your tax returns?
So are millions of other Americans by seeking out tax preparation services, or the alternative, a tax software.
Oddly we go from the cheer of the holidays, landing face first into one of the most stressful times for all of us: tax season.
Before filing your next tax return, remember that certain job-search services you received during the year are great tax deductions under the right circumstances.
There are a few considerations relative to tax write-offs that the internal revenue code has outlined for your consideration.
For example, did you look for employment within your career field?
Those in a career change seem to be excluded from this write-off.
Also, did you a long hiatus from employment?
IRS form 529 doesn’t specify exactly what “a substantial break between the ending of your last job and you looking for a new one …” so use your judgment. Lastly, you must not be a first-time job seeker.
Not too restrictive … for some.
Although there isn’t a cut-off amount, some career experts feel that itemized deductions for job-search services must be considered before using it as a tax deduction.
For example, a professional resume that cost $5,000 will likely raise suspicion with the IRS, especially since professionally written resumes generally average $400 to $800. Tax deductions need to be “reasonable.”
Here are services you can write off:
- Resume-Writing Services
- Travel/Transportation Expenses (mileage)
- Employment Agency Fees
It’s important to note the IRS Form 529 does not mention deductions for:
- Career Coaching
- Interview Training
- Dry Cleaning
For additional information about miscellaneous itemized deductions, visit http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p529.pdf. Locate “Job Search Expenses” on Page 5 of the IRS form.