To keep up on the most recent developments in the resume industry, I occasionally read new resume manuals. And frequently, I learn something new from these publications. Yesterday, however, I read a publication about resumes for 2016 that stopped me dead in my tracks. Related: Will That Employer WANT To Read Your Resume? The book’s author devoted a full chapter to the need to write an Objective statement on your resume. An Objective statement. Are you kidding me? The gist of what this author had to say was that unless your resume has a strong Objective statement, the prospective employer won’t know what job you’re looking for. I must say that I stopped reading the book as soon as I saw that chapter, I was so appalled. Objective statements have gone the way of buggy whips and high-button shoes. Don’t get me wrong; there are as many individual views on what constitutes a good resume as there are resume writers. But I have yet to encounter any other certified professional resume creator who preaches the gospel of Objective statements. “What’s the problem?” you say. The answer is simple: An Objective tells the employer what you want. But the employer couldn’t care less what you want. The employer wants to know how well you’re going to give him/her what s/he wants. Just imagine, if you will, that you are invited to a friend or relative’s house for dinner. Before your host or hostess has a chance to let you know what’s on the menu, you pipe up, “I want roast beef, mashed potatoes and gravy, carrots and string beans, and, oh yes, some Neapolitan ice cream for dessert.” Even if the friend or relative had planned something similar for dinner, do you think s/he is going to feel very kindly toward you for that breach of etiquette? If you do that to an employer, s/he will probably feel more than a little annoyed with you. In fact, adding an Objective can cost you more than just someone’s wounded feelings. Telling the employer what you want instead of advising him/her what you’re offering the company could cost you the interview. The proper way to announce yourself is to begin your resume proper with the job title the employer is hoping to fill, followed by a brief statement introducing yourself and showing (not telling) why you are the best candidate for the position, based on your accomplishments. If you need an example, here is one I wrote for a job seeker recently: Project Efficiency Manager: Developed most effective, time-saving methods to achieve desired results by facilitating all aspects of selected business practices. Achieved 100% success rate in winning awards for law firm clients by rewording demand letters for greater impact. Cut labor and delivery times by developing mutually beneficial working relationships with suppliers and vendors. That statement tells the employer who the job seeker is and what s/he has accomplished in the past; it’s also a commitment to achieving similar results for the prospective employer. There is nothing about what that job seeker wants; it’s all about what that job seeker will deliver. And it will arouse much more interest on the employer’s part than any “I want” objective. It’s a new world out there, friends, one where your resume needs to show what you can deliver. So kick that objective to the curb and look for what the employer wants. This post was originally published at an earlier date.
A certain man, we’ll call him Patrick, was in dire financial straits. His business was failing, his wife had left him, and he was behind in his mortgage payments. Patrick’s desperation was so strong that he started playing the Lottery. Related: 5 Ways To Get A Job After several months without winning the Lottery, Patrick became really desperate, and decided to go to church to pray. He sat in a back pew, so as not to disturb anyone else, and started praying. “Oh, God,” he prayed, “You can see how badly off I am. Please, please, please let me win the Lottery.” A week later, he still hadn’t won the Lottery. So he went back to church. “God, this is Patrick. I’ve been Your faithful servant for many years. I really need to win the Lottery.” Another week went by. Still no Lottery winnings. This time, Patrick didn’t even bother with church, he sank down to his knees in his living room. “Oh, God, are you sure you have the right Patrick? I’m Patrick O’Donaghue, and I’m from—” Just then a blinding light filled the living room, and a thunderous voice said, “Patrick, my son. Help me out here. Buy a ticket.” I tell this story to demonstrate the best-kept secret to job-hunting success: You won’t get anywhere without plunging in. “What do you mean, Jack?” you demand. “I have a resume, and it’s posted on Monster.” To this I say, Good for you. But what else are you doing to market yourself? Are you on LinkedIn? Are you on Facebook? Twitter? Do you post regularly to these sites? What LinkedIn groups do you belong to? What message are you posting about yourself? If you’re going to get anywhere, you have to plunge right in. That means making sure your resume will show a prospective employer how you can solve his or her problem(s). Sometimes it means convincing that employer that his or her house is on fire, and that you’re the fire fighter. How about your LinkedIn profile? Are you one of those people who doesn’t show your face? Do you understand why a picture is so important? And yes, I get that you’re worried about putting your picture out there. Just please be aware that LinkedIn advises that you are 14 times more likely to have your profile viewed if you have a photo. Let’s face it; humans are visual. And we want to do business with people we know, like, and trust. In the case of a LinkedIn photo, the adage is correct that “a picture is worth a thousand words.” And what else have you done to draw attention to yourself? Do you at least repost material you find that may interest your prospective customers or employers? Do you blog? YOU: “Who, me? Write a blog? Myself?” Yes, you. Writing isn’t the horrible fate you’ve always thought it was. When the teacher assigned a 500-word composition as a punishment, she or he never realized that you weren’t learning your lesson, you were learning to hate writing, to associate it with being punished. So try. If you fail, try again. And again. Read blogs you like, and try to approximate what they do. Read everything you can get your hands on. You’re probably going to be using your native language, for crying out loud. Make your first attempts offline, in MS Word or some other word processing app. If you devote just 15 to 30 minutes each day to writing, you’ll get better. You’ll at least get good enough to write your own blog posts. Do you post to Facebook and Twitter? On LinkedIn, have you joined any groups that interest you? Try answering a few posts, as writing practice for your blog. The important thing through all of this is that you need to explore ways to get yourself known. The old way, where you just walked into the company and filled out an application, is no longer viable. Today’s world demands that you show your value, that you network with others. You need to take an active role in selling yourself. As the Lord said to Patrick, “Buy a ticket.” This post was originally published at an earlier date.
Have you looked at your resume lately? I mean, really looked at it? Have you ever imagined yourself in a potential employer’s shoes, looking at your resume, which is just one of a stack of resumes that could be four inches tall? And that’s just the resumes submitted for one job opening. Related: 7 Strategies To Get More Recruiters To Read Your Resume The average job opening will get somewhere in the neighborhood of 400 resumes. So I estimated the height of 400 resumes based on two pages per resume, which amounts to 800 sheets of paper, or roughly the height of just under two reams. This person has to fight his/her way through all that paper to find a single winning candidate. And when I say “fight,” I really mean “fight.” Which means that your job, as a candidate for a position, is to make things as easy as possible for the potential employer. And employers really hate, with a capital “H,” resumes that look like too much work. Those are usually the first to go into the circular file. In that spirit, employers aren’t fond of very tiny type, or very short margins. I have seen resumes set in eight-point fonts, because the candidate believed the old chestnut about keeping the resume to one page. I’ve seen resumes with barely a quarter-inch of margin space top, bottom, and sides, for the same reason. If you don’t want to reduce the employer to tears, you need to give him/her a document she/he can read without a magnifying glass. Another item to avoid: Long, drawn-out sentences. If your sentence goes longer than two lines on the resume, you need to break it up somehow. You need to squeeze that sentence of all unnecessary words as you would a sponge, down to its barest essentials. How many ideas does the sentence convey? If your answer is anything except "one," your writing is in trouble. Have you used two or three words when you could have used just one? How about breaking the sentence into bullet points, for ease of reading? And speaking of bullet points... Have you used more than six bullet points at a time anywhere? If you’ve done that, you need to reconstruct your descriptions of accomplishments. If you provide a reader with more than six bullet points without some kind of break, she/he will become distracted and could lose sight of what you’re trying to convey. She/he might even get bored, and stop reading. Your goal in writing that resume is to keep the employer reading. The only interruption should be when the employer decides to look for your phone number or email address. If you don’t make that resume the smoothest, most readable document ever, you’ve lost the battle. You want that employer to experience your resume as a description of why you’re the answer to their prayers. That resume is the employer’s first glimpse of you. If you’re interviewing for most office jobs, you’re not going to show up wearing a dirty tee shirt and ripped jeans, are you? So why, then, are you not showing the same care with the writing of your resume? This should be a no-brainer, like wearing your best suit to a job interview. It’s “just a resume,” you say? It’s much more than that, friends. It’s your future. This post was originally published on an earlier date.
“Always listen to experts. They’ll tell you what can’t be done, and why. Then do it.” – Robert A. Heinlein, Time Enough for Love Related: Top 10 Resume Trends For 2014 The first rule of resume writing is that there are no rules. Resume writing, in that sense, is a Zen-like experience, and the closest thing to a rule you’ll encounter is the one that says, “Write tight.” But that’s true of all writing, not just resume writing. You should never waste words. Words gain power the more sparingly they are used. Why use two words when one can do just as well? Everything else about writing a powerful resume isn’t rules but more a set of guidelines for what will get you the attention of the all-important hiring manager. Does your resume have visual appeal? Is it in an attractive, easy-to-read, 12-point font (or even 13- or 14-point, depending on the font)? Is there plenty of white space? Are your headlines or section breaks clearly delineated from the body of the resume? Beyond the esthetics, there’s the “meat” of the resume itself. What kind of lead have you written? Does your copy above the first fold in the page compel the reader to continue through the resume? I recently reviewed a resume wherein the entire top third was taken up by contact information and a photograph of the applicant. That’s nearly four inches of prime resume “real estate” gone to waste to serve the job seeker’s vanity. That applicant should have used that space for a simple yet powerful description of who he was and how he could alleviate the “pain” that had led to the job opening. Farther into the body of the resume, is there clear demarcation between the sections of the document? In other words, can the reader easily tell where the Introduction ends and the Accomplishments and Skills section begins? Most important of all, does your resume show accomplishments, or merely job duties? Do you show proof of your claim to “strong detail orientation,” or “leadership skills”? What about “communication skills”? Anyone can claim they have strong communication skills; but what does that mean, exactly? Conducting sensitive contract negotiations with union shop stewards or representatives of new suppliers takes one type of communication skills; directing a group of workers laying eight-inch poly pipe requires an entirely different set of such skills. They’re both communication skills. But do you see how important it is to describe each as a discrete activity, and not simply place them under the blanket category of “communication skills”? In fact, throughout your entire work history, I advise you to add the phrase “So what?” after each bullet point, and answer the question. That’s one way to determine if what you’ve written is an actual accomplishment or simply a job duty. Employers don’t buy job duties, they buy accomplishments, results. They already know what the job duties are. Your goal is to show your potential employer how you achieved solid results at every job you worked at, how you made each job your own, and left each job better than it was before you arrived. Which engineer would you hire: The one who says, “Responsible for utility plant waste water upgrade project for the instrumentation scope, basic engineering review, detailed engineering review and recommendations, along with engineering and project management team”? Or the one who says, “Installed cutting-edge waste water treatment system that cut annual hazardous waste expenses approximately $150,000”? Do you see how this turns the message into a vibrant statement about what you will do for the potential employer? Watch any TV commercial: whether it’s for shampoo, a household cleaning product, soap, or whatever. The commercial isn’t about the product’s history or about what it’s made of. No, when they’re selling you shampoo, for instance, they sell you on how great your hair will look when you use the product. You want to paint a picture in the employer’s mind of you meeting the employer’s needs, so that before s/he is even finished reading the resume, that employer is at least thinking of bringing you in for an interview. For years, Palmolive dish detergent ran commercials showing a manicurist using the product to soften her customers’ hands. Yes, there are no “rules” for writing resumes. There are, however, certain guidelines to be followed. Following these guidelines will help ensure that your resume winds up in the hiring manager’s “Yes” pile.