Education Career Services

June 1, 2010

Resume Language: Grammar, Consistency, and Point of View

Although the rules of grammar, such as parallel sentence structure, consistency, and punctuation, do apply, the statements we create for resumes are somewhat fragments in bullet or paragraph form simply because we eliminate the pronouns (he/she, you, we).  However, this doesn’t mean correct grammar in any other sense of the word should be absent.  Above all things (along with accuracy), grammar adds to the professionalism of any document. 

What would you be more inclined to read—a document filled with glaring errors or a document that reads smoothly?  Keep in mind that people who read resumes on a daily basis, such as human resources professionals, hiring managers, and executives, probably see a whirlwind of poorly-written documents one right after the other.  And although applicants may not be writers by profession, they are expected to know and apply basic rules.  Otherwise, that resume is at risk of automatically going into the “no” pile.

When creating a resume, always keep your target readers in mind.  Are these people going to be able to read this without tripping over ideas or punctuation?  Are they going to understand what I meant to say there?  Because resume writing differs from most other types of writing, we need to make sure it is clear and concise (without being overwhelmingly choppy).  For instance:

Option 1
                * Responsible for the automation department and a $100M budget; led 45 personnel in system testing and verification; managed relationships with vendors.

Option 2
                * Oversaw automation department, controlling $100M budget, leading 45-person team in system testing and verification, and managing vendor relationships.

They both say the exact same thing, but Option 2 lets the reader flow with the sentence as opposed to stopping at every semicolon and also connects ideas/responsibilities in one sentence.  The use of the comma after “department” and before “controlling” connects the second part of the sentence to the main idea, which is overseeing the automation department. 

According to the Professional Association of Resume Writers (PARW), the use of either third-person or first-person is fine as long as it is consistent throughout the document.  Why eliminate these words?  Again, it enables the reader to flow with the document as opposed to feeling like they are reading a biography or letter.  Since they are more concerned about the value they can get from the applicant, they need something they can skim through.  Being consistent is important because the omission of pronouns can confuse the reader if it suddenly switches from first- to third-person.   Using Option 1 from above: “[I was/he was] responsible for the automation department and a $100M budget; [I/he] led 45 personnel in system testing and verification; [I/he] managed vendor relationships.”  Although they both work in this instance, it does not always.  As an example:

First-person: [I am a]Senior Executive offering world-class experience in sales, business development, partnership building, and operations leadership.  [I] Create strategies to reach target consumers while expanding profitability through product development improvements. 

Third-person: [He is a] Senior Executive offering world-class experience in sales, business development, partnership building, and operations leadership.  [He] Creates strategies to reach target consumers while expanding profitability though product development improvements.

Generally, the third-person approach is more commonly used and has its advantages in terms of easier readability for your target audience.  Consistency in all areas of your resume is vital, including spelling, capitalization, punctuation, spacing, and font, because you don’t want to confuse readers.  The only questions you want them to ask are, Could you provide me with more information? or When are you available for an interview?

Sigmarie Soto, CPRW
Head Writer – Career Services International

April 30, 2010

Personal Mission Statement, Part two of two

Victoria Andrew, YOUR professional writer and Team Career member concludes:

Creating a personal mission statement will be, without question, one of the most powerful and significant things you will ever do to take leadership in your life.”
 ~ Steven Covey, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People

A personal mission statement infuses you with the power to manifest personal vision in your life.  It is a method of synergizing your unique abilities, authentic truth, and the person you are in the process of becoming

Remember to be patient with yourself.  Conjuring a personal mission statement shall merely provide the steps and inspiration you need to create a life and a career that revolves around your own truth.  The process of crafting your statement may spark the motivation needed to fulfill your highest potential.

Most importantly, a mission statement generates a powerful branding statement within your resume.  Although it is typically more verbose than a branding statement, it will launch your creativity and assist you in developing an impactful opening to your achievements within a resume.

It will also bestow upon you the clarity needed to apply for the companies which truly resonate with your calling and purpose in this world.  Your career search will be more proactive and driven by the enthusiasm of bringing your unique talents to the corporation, which shall inevitably enhance client satisfaction and value to shareholders.

So, how do you concoct a powerful, personal mission statement?  Consider the following steps:

* Exercise your imagination.

1)  Imagine you have unlimited wealth, influence, and ability to manifest anything you dream.  Yet even with these luxuries and power, you are still obligated to pursue a profession in this lifetime.  If money was not an issue and you have no limitations whatsoever, what would you do with your life?
2)  Fantasize about your version of a perfect work day.  Where would you be working?  What projects would you pursue?  What type of people would you interact with?  What would give you a deep sense of fulfillment by the end of the day?  Write down your story of a day in the life of your dream job. 
3)  Author your own obituary.  Compose the succinct version of your contributions to this world during your time on earth.  What has been important to you?  What difference did you make to your clients, company, community, and society as a result of your profession?  Consider what you would like your descendents to remember you by for generations to come.
4)  Identify three or four of the greatest accomplishments in your career.  Consider your most significant achievements which truly transformed a company where you have worked in a positive light.  Utilize as many quantifiable details as you possibly can and construct your answers with a results-oriented perspective.
5)  Clarify your core values.  Some people operate according to a spiritual compass and others fulfill a set of principles to live by according to their philosophies.  Contemplate what you stand for and what you believe to be your truth.  Write about the actions you are taking to fulfill these principles on a daily basis.
6)  What inspires you? Consider the qualities they possess, and which you strive to emulate.  They may be people you know on a personal level, or famous individuals who are known for their achievements.  Compose a list of their admirable qualities.
7)  Write about ways you can make a difference to the ideal company or organization of your dreams.  Describe how you could add value to not just the corporation but to society as a whole when actualizing your specific talents and skills.
8)  Make a list of your top goals, both professionally and personally.  Write them with absolute confidence that one say they will be fulfilled.

Now, you are ready to write your personal mission statement.  Study the answers you have composed to these questions and hunt for recurring themes that arise.  Also, circle words you have repeated in order to discern subconscious patterns revealing what is important to you.  Keep in mind that it would be useful to construct a mission statement that is short enough to memorize.  As you evolve as an individual, your mission statement should be revised as well.  You are a work- in-progress.  Each day can become a masterpiece by practicing this invaluable self-assessment tool.

Thanks Victoria, your work is most appreciated,

March 24, 2010

A resume dilemma… one page or two?

If I asked a hundred recruiters, hiring managers, or people walking at a mall, they would all have slightly (some radically) different responses to the question: How many pages should a resume be?  To help un-muddy the waters, let me give you my take…

True enough, some questions do not have a clear-cut answer… this happens to be an example.  Being in the career management industry for decades and being a certified resume writer, a certified career coach, and a certified interview professional, there may be nothing more confusing than page length.  Way too many things to consider which would disallow a blanket answer.

Regarding length, things to consider include social and economic conditions, industry expectations, and position being sought as well as experience level / background / accomplishments and your goals.  All of these elements should be considered and a proper strategy based upon those elements is paramount to a successful campaign.

Times, technology, and attention levels have changed and so have the medium of information exchange.  As such, I disagree with traditional strategies proclaiming that a one-page resume is a mistake or that it automatically puts the candidate in a diminished capacity.  Heck, 8 years ago, the traditional long-winded approach was accepted… but not anymore.  Today, hiring managers are time-crunched and want to know YOUR value immediately… much like a 30-second commercial.

The foundation of my dissent comes from the top three career management associations in the country.  To summarize, The Career Management Alliance, The Professional Resume Writers Association, and The National Resume Writers Association advocate a single page resume over multiple pages.  I summarized a few of the reasons for your quick review:

     1) There is a 12-15 second reader attention (you have only seconds to attract the reader and define value immediately—not 2 or 3 pages down the road as the reader will never get past the first page).
     2) Resumes, under current standards, should not describe an employment history beyond 10 years (15 years is appropriate IF there is a direct correlation and benefit).
     3) Our sensate culture expects instant proof in the top third of the page. The remainder of the resume will confirm the top third; this is best represented with a single page document.
     4) Though not directly asked, the associations recommend the chronological resume format NOT to be used… I state this as many multiple page resumes use a chronological format (would just hate to see you fall into that trap).
     5) The top three associations recommend an assertive semi-functional format (leading into the single-page format). This strategy is finding a great deal of success for executives, students, and entry-level candidates.

The reasons above are not all-inclusive or exhaustive. But remember, there are no clear-cut ways as much depends upon external forces and changing expectations.  For example, if an industry, position, or client is best served with a two-page resume, go that route; if you are unsure about what is best for your situation, make a comment here or contact me directly. I will be glad to throw in my two cents.

A final word of warning (not to confuse you more than I all ready have): there is no one right way but there are many wrong ways.

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPCC, CPRW
Owner, Author, Publisher
Career Services International
Education Career Services
dhuffman@careersi.com
www.linkedin.com/in/dannyhuffman
407-206-5883 (direct line)
866-794-3337 ext 110

March 8, 2010

Résumés of a Different Stripe

Professional documents are not a one-size fit all proposition.  Depending on the goal, distribution strategy, and intended reader, you will require different résumés.  Let’s look at three:

Broadcast Résumé
If your strategy is to tap into the unadvertised job market (getting to a hiring manager before they post a position), you need a streamlined, value-centric résumé promoting yourself as the solution to a problem.  The goal is to get an interview or a call that can be transformed into an interview.  Very effective as a strategy, you aren’t competing with thousands of applicants, BUT it is a numbers game and you’ll need to broadcast mail hundreds, if not thousands, of résumés to get a good response.  Requires a financial investment of stamps, paper, envelopes, and probably professional writing, but ultimately, this is the most cost effective option.

Recruiter Résumé
Because the recruiter is putting your résumé in the hands of the employer, the goal is different.  While the above Broadcast Résumé leans heavily on the “Wow” factor, the recruiter résumé is heavy in detail.  The hiring manager is a captive audience with some degree of confidence that the recruiter isn’t wasting his time.  The Broadcast Résumé gets 12 seconds or so to make an impression; here, the recruiter is making that first impression.  Recruiter Résumés can be two or three pages long with no concerns about masking obstacles like age.  This option is VERY EXPENSIVE.  The recruiter may tell you “the hiring company pays my fee,” but the company is taking the 20% fee out of YOUR salary (up to $20,000!).  You keep paying for years because your raises will be based off the impacted salary, not what they would have paid you.  The recruiter’s goal is to make a fee, not find you a job; to do so they’ll place their easiest-fit client, not necessarily their best: “Hmmm, seems a bit old,” “You’re right, let me show you this other candidate.”

Job Posting Response Résumé
Applying for jobs online requires a customized résumé heavy on specific key words.  Key words are important to all résumés but here they have to be cherry picked from the posting and liberally used in the résumé.  Your résumé’s first goal is to make it through the screening software.  From there, a person will read yours and the thousand other applicant’s résumés, so it needs to be specific but unique.  Delivering value with tight content is as important here as in the Marketing Résumé.  And like the Broadcast Résumé, this is a numbers game; few applicants seem to know this, though, thinking applying to specific jobs is effective.  Instead, it takes many time-consuming tries (you should be customizing the résumé each time) and results in massive lost-wages.

Each of these résumés should be written professionally and we’re not advocating dismissing any of these strategies.  Being in the career management business for many years, if you would like to discuss strategies, please give us a shout.

Until then, never stop…

The above post was submitted by Robert Swanson, certified writer and manager at Education Career Services.

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPCC, CPRW
Owner, Author, Publisher
Career Services International
Education Career Services
dhuffman@careersi.com
www.linkedin.com/in/dannyhuffman
407-206-5883 (direct line)
866-794-3337 ext 110

October 20, 2009

GPA on Resume? Think Twice…

Question and AnswerOffering support to as many people as possible via multiple mediums, I am an advocate of social networking.  As such, I am on LinkedIn and often respond to questions posted on that site.  I’m easy to find and welcome you to take the first step and invite me to join your network.  After all, we all need a helping hand now and then!

Below is one question (and my response) recently submitted on LinkedIn.  I bring this to you as the question may be pertinent to just about everyone, including students and directors at all levels…

EMPLOYERS: Do you know the difference between cumulative GPA and overall GPA? Does it matter to you which is on the resume?

FYI–Cumulative GPA is the GPA received from the institution the student is currently attending. Overall GPA includes transfer grades in the GPA.

As an employer in the human capital field, co-founder of Education Career Services, author of career textbooks, and as one who has spoken at many employer-based committee functions, I feel confident the vast majority of employers know the difference between cumulative GPA and overall GPA.  Regarding placing the GPA on the resume, much depends upon the circumstance and time the degree was earned.  According to the Professional Resume Writers Association, the National Resume Writers Association, and the Career Management Alliance, the GPA may be placed on the resume under two conditions:

First: The degree earned should be within a two year period.  In other words, If an alumni wants to place his or her GPA on a resume, make sure the degree was completed within the past two years.  The reasoning, based upon the three associations mentioned above, is the degree has become the catalyst for the first job and within two years, the first job should be the catalyst leading into the second progressive position.  Again, it is important to prioritize the candidate’s value and practical experience (in the field) is slightly more advantageous than theoretical knowledge.

Second: The GPA should be greater than a 3.0 (based upon a 4.0 scale) for consideration of inclusion.  Remember, many employers understand the diligence of obtaining a degree and look at the mere completion as an accomplishment.  In many ways, that is the primary attraction of a degree, to “show” the potential employer a candidate’s character and ability to begin and complete a project. 

In the short run, GPA is important but for students not making honors, it is not a show-stopper.  Employers are looking for employees willing to get the job done with a proven track record; ultimately, there is no better starting block than a degree!

If you need further help or would like my guidance in any other capacity, do not hesitate to ask.

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPCC, CPRW
Owner, Author, Publisher
Career Services International
Education Career Services
dhuffman@careersi.com
www.linkedin.com/in/dannyhuffman
407-206-5883 (direct line)
866-794-3337 ext 110

October 16, 2009

White Space is Over Rated!

October 16 2009Cull through your resume books and articles; find any that say “white space is important!” and throw them out.

The claim is that white space makes things more readable.  By creating “islands” of text people’s eyes are directed there and they have room to read.  There’s truth to that.  For technical writers and layout designers of magazines/brochures…a lot of truth.

For resumes though?  No.  Not anymore.  Back in the old days when hiring managers had copious time to read the half-dozen resumes that crossed their desks, white space was handy.  In today’s world, where hiring managers have hundreds, if not thousands, of resumes to review with an Egg McMuffin in one hand and phone in the other, the game has changed.

First impressions are vastly important.  A lot of white space suggests a light career and lack of experience.  Several pages with tons of white space inconveniences the reader… because they aren’t readers anymore, they’re skimmers (and their hands are full!).  Ten to twelve seconds of eyes roaming the page looking for “eye glue” is all you have to grab attention.

What is eye glue?  First, a hiring manager has an employment problem needing to be solved so they skim the resume for what they need: relevant key words and key accomplishments.  A sales manager moving expensive technology wants to see large sales figures, complex consultative sales experience, and the word “technology,” among others.  When they find such a word, they’ll “read around” it to get the context and start roving again.

Our eyes look for “mental real estate”—highly recognizable things or words.  Industry key words are an example, high-profile clients or products, alma maters… whether they’re related to what they’re looking for or not, a skimmer will “read around” them for context and “chain” to another key word, eventually covering much of your resume (i.e.: “hmmm, Lucasfilm, what’s that about?” reads and finds the relevant key word archival, and chains around that).

As a design technique, concise bullets, bold text, italic text, centering, and small caps are far better than white space.  Attractively laid out, a “packed” resume allows chaining much better than isolating text in white space.

Of course, if you don’t have the accomplishments to fill a full page without padding, either look for more accomplishments (you have them), or space things out doing your best not to isolate text (thereby preventing chaining).  Students are NOT at a disadvantage here because school projects and VOLUNTEER efforts work very well on a resume.  Don’t wait until senior year to consider your resume; start capturing resume “bytes” immediately!

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPCC, CPRW
Owner, Author, Publisher
Career Services International
Education Career Services
dhuffman@careersi.com
www.linkedin.com/in/dannyhuffman
407-206-5883 (direct line)
866-794-3337 ext 110

October 5, 2009

Getting a Job in the Industry You Want

By: Leslee Lowe, CPRW

October 05, 2009How can you market yourself effectively to get into the industry you want?  We have our strengths as well as our professional and academic achievements under our belts- how big or small they may seem.  What is important is knowing how to leverage our personal characteristics and real experiences on a resume document to say “I can” meet the requirements of the job.

As a new graduate, I remember feeling overwhelmed and unhopeful while searching the job markets.  I wish I knew then how to highlight my transferable skills on a resume and bring attention to my achievements.  You must be honest on a resume, but you must also impact the reader with the potential and skills you offer.

A recent resume I wrote was for a new graduate seeking a career in public relations and communications.  This individual’s academics were focused in humanities as well as economic and social development.  So, how could she get a job in PR?  Well, the reason she was drawn to this type of work is because in her academic career she had been extremely involved in student government, student activities, and alumni relations.  She realized these positions were tapping her innate abilities to drive the strategy and implementation of diverse projects as well as spearhead events and communications creating lucrative partnerships and organizational value.

Although all of my client’s achievements were for various academic groups, I refrained from continually mentioning words like “academic”, “education”, “college”, “university”, and committed to the facts.  As you create your own document, think about how you too can let the reader know what you’re capable of without pigeonholing yourself into a specific arena.  Employers want someone who can make significant contributions, and if you’ve done it in one industry, you can certainly use those transferable skills to do it again in any other industry.

I also considered this individual’s experiences and all the smaller parts of the projects she worked on.  She was responsible for or educated in event planning, building/distributing newsletters, building alliances, delivering presentations, international relations, vendor sourcing, project leadership, research/survey tools, and spreadsheets/analysis.  All of these terms were neatly organized into a sleek design in the “hot zone” of her resume.  This will immediately spark the reader’s interest to look further down her resume at her focused achievements.

Too many new and old graduates alike make the mistake of stating what they want in the “hot zone” of their resume paper rather than showcasing what it is they offer.  I know my first resume was a boring chronological obituary of my past.  Such a document, I’m sure, hardly sparked any excitement.  You can and should thoroughly analyze your past and realize how much you can immediately, positively affect a potential employer.

Thank you Leslee for your insight and no doubt many of our followers will benefit from your comments.

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPCC, CPRW
Owner, Author, Publisher
Career Services International
Education Career Services
dhuffman@careersi.com
www.linkedin.com/in/dannyhuffman
407-206-5883 (direct line)
866-794-3337 ext 110

August 31, 2009

Repaving and Resurfacing the Resume Road: Part II

The following was submitted by Kimberly Sarmiento.  Kimberly recently published a career management book covering the in’s and out’s of cover letter development.  She is also a writer for Education Career Services.  The first part of the submission was presented on Friday.  Please refer to the previous posted submission.  I’m confident you will find her submission to be helpful…

August 31Prove you are a Safe Driver:

The appearance of job-hopping can trigger a lot of concerns for a potential employer.  If you have been employed at several locations in a short period of time, there are a few ways you can mitigate the appearance of being a flake.

First off, you do not need to include every position you have held.  If you left one job at the end of 2007, held your next position from April to July of 2008, and then took another job in September of 2008 and currently hold that job – you can omit the middle position without showing a gap in your employment (remember we are using only years – not months).  So unless that position adds value to your resume, leave it out.

Secondly, if you can group employment under one label – do so. For example, if you have sold real estate for ten years for multiple agencies, you could do the following:

Real Estate Agent     (1999-2009)
homes-to-go (1999-2001) ▪ home must sell (2002-2004) ▪ buy a home today (2005-2007) ▪ sell today (2008-2009)

This can demonstrate a continuous career path even in the face of changing-jobs.

Finally, changing jobs can be due to career advancement. There may be times when you will want to mention: Recruited to or Hired to establish in a line underneath your position to show that your change of positions is a reflection of your talent.  Just be prepared to discuss any questions your employer may have about loyalty and commitment in your interview.

So to recap, even if you are on a career path that needs to be repaved and resurfaced, you can still produce a resume and cover letter that paints you in the best possible light.  Always be truthful in your resume and answer all interview questions honestly, but use the above tips to give you an edge.

Danny Huffman, MA, CPRW, CPCC, CEIP
dhuffman@careersi.com
Education Career Services: www.educationcs.com
Career Services International: www.careersi.com

June 30, 2009

Resumes – it’s time to update but why?

Are there any trends going on without my knowledge?

As companies innovate and evolve, representing oneself via marketing materials (resume, cover letter, etc) must fuse company “needs” with candidate “skills.”  In a nutshell, employers want those capable and willing to grow AND not afraid of resolving challenges with “blue-sky” resolutions.

Estimates are clear; one has 12 seconds to 15 seconds to grab the reader’s interest, no more.  After this initial (and ever so brief) encounter of the first kind, decisions are made to discard or retain for closer inspection.  No doubt about it, the concept of instant gratification has seeped into the hiring process and now refuses to depart without a fight.  Corporate evolution via labor acquisition is now in time warp and the candidate must, as a natural reaction to this paradigm, hit quick and hard with the facts and only the facts.

In the end, individuals maximizing the marketing “hot zone” lands the interview.  For today’s resume/marketing trend tip, show your value/contributions as quickly as possible…that is, in the beginning.  So where is the beginning and how do I maximize it?  The “hot zone” resides in the top third of the resume.  In this pivotal region, employers are seeking value and take the approach: “What can you do for my company—now?”  So it seems that without a meaty worm on the hook, the big fish never bites (or calls to arrange an interview)! 

Elements attracting interview invitations are qualifiers defining what you will do for the bottom-line.  Unfortunately, too many resumes use the “tell me” approach as opposed to the “show me” approach.  The “tell me” approach uses fluffy soft words without a true declaration of action…this passive rhetorical road leads to burger flipping (I am speaking as one who flipped many burgers way back when.  As a result, I do respect the trade).  “Show me,” takes the reader to the context, the challenge, the action initiated or coordinated, and allows the reader to experience the results of your knowledge.

In the next submission, resume format will be examined. When you may ask?  Soon…very soon.

Danny Huffman, MA, CPRW, CEIP, CPCC
Career Services International
Education Career Services

March 16, 2009

Continued: Paper Equals Perception

For anyone who may be a tad confused, the following is a continuation of our previous submission….check it out and become caught up before continuing this submission.

 

What I see must be the logical choice. In the world of perception, what does the element of sight “see” on the page?

 

Spacing: is the white space symmetrical, reader-friendly, and comfortable (too much white space indicates waste or diminished skill; if not reader-friendly would one even bother to review; is the reader comfortable with the look or are the words or margins cramped with too much information)

Tone: is your tone assertive and confident (using passive verbs indicates a passive character or work ethic)

Balance: are you prioritizing value and maximizing the hot zone (placing key strengths and bottom-line results at or near the bottom of the page is not effective as you have the readers attention for approximately 12 to 15 seconds)

Focus: are you in control (do the readers have to guess intention? If so, you are telling a potential employee you are looking for an interim job and not a committed career)

Objectivity: just the facts, please (by using a first person approach, you introduce emotion and subjectivity—not necessarily a positive)

Metrics: show the reader what you deliver by showcasing quantifiable accomplishments (saying you are a team leader, in and of itself, means nothing. How many individuals or departments did you oversee, what was the challenge, your action, the result, and are any programs you initiated currently in use)

 

With each class, with each training session, and with each faculty development program, what and how something is written is much more powerful than what is actually said. Simple errors on print display more than a misspelled word. One mistake creates a perception of complacency or of one not being detail-oriented or sloppy. Another example my professor described of how one error changes perception was as follows (and this one I do remember): “While at a local IHOP, I ordered a stack of pancakes and cup of juice. Friends ordered omelets and coffee. When the waitress returned with the stack, I noticed there were no bottles of honey. Once the young waitress returned, I leaned into her area and asked ‘if she could give me some, honey.’ Unfortunately I paused between the words ‘some’ and ‘honey’ (notice the comma). The waitress was rather upset.”

 

Examining the statement causing the tension, the waitress perceived my request as inappropriate while that was never the intent. Consequently, we truly are what others believe us to be! Leading me to ask, what does your résumé portray?

 

Developing marketing materials, catching one’s work ethic, character, and persona can be most challenging. As our career blog progresses, you will be (re)introduced to concepts, designs, and tips to assist you in paving your career management success not only for the student of today, but for the executives of tomorrow.

 

Maybe I should have paid closer attention during graduate school?

 

 

Danny Huffman, MA, CPRW, CPCC, CEIP

dhuffman@careersi.com

Education Career Services: http://www.educationcs.com

Career Services International: http://www.careersi.com

Next Page »

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.