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Archive for the ‘Resume Writing’ Category

Do Your Homework: Critical Research When Considering a Career Move

UntitledYou’ve finally decided to consider career options and commit to your quest for an employment change. You’ve updated all of your job application documents and social media platforms with your current employment information and accolades. Aside from the information posted in the job description, have you really considered what your potential employer is TRULY seeking in a job candidate AND how competitive/creative candidates are expected to present themselves?

After working with a talented client, our plans for a simple resume update evolved into an intriguing project exploring the “soft skill” essentials of his potential suitor company within the global fashion industry.

We discovered that employees were “chatting” online about their corporate experiences, how to land a job, and what personality traits and passions candidates possessed that the employer was intent on hiring.   Absolutely none of this “golden” material was posted by a recruiter – we had to dig for it.

Our Findings 2

 

  • The company sought out individuals who thought on their feet, applied creative problem solving, and used all of their networks at their disposal to get things done.
  • Recruiters were interested in candidates who were able to display a unique passion for the beauty and fashion industry.
  • Employees felt deeply connected to the organization. They relished the opportunity to discuss their work on a deep level with colleagues, fashioning camaraderie.
  • The company incorporated third-party development programs that decreased voluntary employee turnover and continued to give the organization a leading edge over the competition.

Recommendations

 

  • Read company press releases. Identify what companies they partner with.
  • “Like” all associated social media platforms and engage in conversation by asking questions or providing positive feedback on a service or product (your name may get recognized by someone on a hiring panel).
  • Actively browse through related social media platforms to stay on top of the corporate news, events, and product lines.
  • Create a video – yes with you in it – as a supplement to your resume or cover letter. The more artistic the company is, the more appropriate this will be!
  • Pick out a concept, program, or product belonging to the potential employer that you personally connect with and plan to incorporate this into your cover letter. Cover letters are boring. Period. You can change that with your content and truly pique the reader’s interest. This also serves as a great talking point when you’re called for an interview!

Goal: Don’t let your application package sound and look like everyone else’s. DIG for information. Show them you’ve done your homework not just to make a powerful impression but also to truly find engaging, value-driven employment.

 

 

 

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Just landed a new job? Time to prep for the next one!

ID-100248984My next job you say?  Yes, that’s exactly what I said.  The job after this one.  For most successful career job seekers, the job search trend is to seek out an employment change about every two to three years whether it be working for a new organization or competing for an internal promotion.

So how do you start to prepare now?

Save your job description and original job vacancy announcement

  • These documents will come in handy when updating your resume with recent employment information.

Retain your performance evaluations and written recognition

  • Resume writers love to brag on their clients and highlight unique and noteworthy achievements. Unfortunately this area is challenging for many of my clients who spend precious time trying to locate or recreate these key documents and accomplishments.
  • If you are fortunate to receive a written or emailed compliment from a customer or client, request that your supervisor provide a copy of it for your records. These make great references when adding achievement-related content to a resume especially if they are measurable. Numbers demonstrate immediate value.

Keep a running list of on-the-job training

  • Did you attend an advanced spreadsheet workshop that increased overall reporting efficiency and performance? Do tell!
  • If the training is relevant to future job interests, you will want to make note of dates, general course information, location of the training, and course duration to either incorporate into the application process or as part of a resume update, cover letter, or LinkedIn profile build.

This process can be as easy as putting it all in a binder with labeled tabs and keeping it in a desk drawer at work. Some folks call it their “brag book”, or for a more muted and discrete approach, call it your “achievement record” .

However you elect to do it, it will benefit you in the long run.  You’ll want to thank me for it when the time comes!

Enjoy the new job!

Christine

Colleague Spotlight on ResumeBiz

Many thanks to Teena Rose for featuring me on the ResumeBiz Colleague Spotlight!  Are you considering résumé writing as a career?  Please visit ResumeBiz.com to read up on what seasoned résumé writers have to say about their successes and challenges in the business!

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The following was an interview we conducted with Christine Brugman from Resumes Right Away:

1. What led you to writing résumés?

My husband received military orders to relocate abroad for a few years, and my career went on hold. While overseas I pursued volunteer opportunities to keep me busy and potentially add some new skills to my résumé. I contacted an virtual nonprofit organization which focused on helping military spouses get career/employment ready. They were super excited to get someone on board with recruiting and management experience and kindly asked me to be their volunteer résumé expert. I was eager to take advantage of this new opportunity and researched everything I could on the art of résumé writing, combining it with my experience as a hiring manager to develop résumé workshops, serve as a HR/recruiting advisor for the team, and provide valuable insight “through the eyes of the hiring manager” to military spouse jobseekers. This initial volunteer effort as a “résumé expert” transformed into a new passion and career path.

Do you have a background that made you an ideal fit for the industry?

While working in the corporate sector for 15+ years, primarily as an operations manager, I created and implemented Career Development programs, recruiting processes, and management training efforts – all helping employees recognize and achieve their occupational goals and career potential. I also had an opportunity to work for a global recruiting firm and truly understand recruiting trends and the art of successful employment placement.

2. How long have you been in the industry? Would you recommend it to others? Why?

I’ve been working as a résumé expert and writer for the last six years. Would I recommend this career to others? While the career is rewarding to me, it’s definitely not for everyone. I enjoy speaking with people, hearing their stories, and working together to document their proudest achievements BUT it’s neither quick nor easy. Asking the right questions of the client can really make or break the résumé writing experience for both parties.

3. What is the single best tool you recommend for building client relations? Building your business? Improve efficiency?

The single, most successful tool that I recommend for both building client relations and building the business is face-to-face networking, period. Face-to-face networking allows people to tell their story in a credible and impassioned way. It puts a face to a name to a story which many times leads to joining job seekers with employers. Word of Mouth builds business as fast as Internet presence and online branding and marketing campaigns. It goes hand in hand with face-to-face networking. When you perform a service or produce a product that is delivered honestly, accurately, and at a good value to the recipient, that recipient will become your newest, biggest advocate to others. Efficiency is increased when you increase connections between professionals in your field and related fields to develop collaborative partnerships. Similarly, increasing the frequency of networking opportunities, and larger group interactions – think classroom/lecture settings – and a valuable web presence dramatically improves reach and efficiency.

4. If you could share one learning experience/great lesson, what would it be?

Focus more on networking and building client relations with your targeted clientele versus spending time (and money) on advertising efforts.

5. Looking back, what would you have done differently? Done the same?

When I initially got started, 80% of my focus centered on the use of broad advertising to promote the business with zero ROI. When I realized my efforts were not paying off, I focused on public relations to get the word out about my business – volunteering to teach free résumé classes on military installations, participating in employment workshops and job fairs, and consulting one-on-one with military spouses seeking employment through the military family centers. These efforts resulted in finding my niche (and passion) – military family job seekers.

6. What advice would you give someone just entering the résumé-writing industry?

Consider your areas of expertise and experience. Explore résumé techniques, volunteer with established professionals. Interact with a diverse client base to see where your experiences and techniques meet the needs of that client base against your comfort zones. Consider whether you are most effective working with professional and entry-level clients or do you have a background and talent for working with executive job seekers? Go with what works for your business and keep it simple by offering a handful of focused products/services. You can always continue to build up and grow the business.

7. How do you see our industry transforming over the next 12 months? 5 years? What do think résumé writers need to know in order to survive?

I see the résumé industry continuing to transform in the next 12 months, increasing the ties toward self-advertisement through social media mechanisms. The days of the two-page resume will decline and job seekers will have to learn how to limit and manage personal and professional information online. Virtual identity will be the critical point of entry for all job seekers and employers for that matter. In 5 years, it’s hard to say, but I fully expect technology and the job market will continue to shape the employer/job seeker dynamic by forcing unparalleled levels of transparency on the one hand and new techniques to conceal employment or organizational shortfalls. Successful résumé writers and career counselors need to understand the mind of the recruiter and hiring managers – “knowing the audience” and what attributes excite employers as well as those features employment seekers should accentuate for best effect in a volatile job market. In addition, a commanding grasp of current hiring trends, familiarity with growth industries and technologies, grammar and public speaking, coupled with frequent, effective communication and ACTIVE listening skills should join to ensure the client can successfully transmit his or her story to potential employers.

Julie Steed’s Interview: Create a Resume That Works

I had the pleasure of being interviewed by military spouse and freelance writer, Julie Steed, for an article geared toward the working military spouse and how to effectively update and keep the résumé current and ready for when opportunity knocks! Great article Julie!

(Click image for access to full article)

Julie Steed's Interview with Christine 2013_Page_1

Julie Steed's Interview with Christine 2013_Page_2

Job Reference Etiquette – The DOs and DON’Ts

Has an employer ever asked you for a list of references?  Were you prepared?  Did you notify your references in advance?  Did you provide favorable and verifiable professional references?  If you answered “no” to any of these questions, you may need a quick refresher on the proper etiquette of providing job references to potential employers.

As both a seasoned hiring manager and recruiter, I have been privy to various blunders that job candidates make when providing references.  Here are some of the most common:

  1. The candidate fails to provide favorable and verifiable PROFESSIONAL references.  These include contacts that can verify information on traits and characteristics of the job candidate, are available for comment, can mention the employee’s specific contributions to the workplace, and have favorable comments to make concerning his/her work history.  Most recruiters don’t consider personal references favorable to their screening process.
  2. Candidates provide recruiters with the number to Human Resources.  What most candidates don’t realize is that a lot of HR departments have strong policies limiting the information they divulge to potential employers with the exception of verifying basic employment information.  It’s best to provide a contact such as a former supervisor or client who can speak to the performance of the job candidate.
  3. The applicant fails to make contact, obtain consent from, and notify their ideal references.  It looks bad when a provided reference wasn’t expecting the call.  It is always best for an applicant to notify a potential reference that they are seeking employment and mention their interest in using their name as a reference.  In addition, ask what number they’d prefer to be reached at and what time would be best for the recruiter to make contact.  This allows the referral to make some notes and prepare for the call as well as to avoid being surprised by the call when it’s received.
  4. The applicant does not provide a quality amount of references.  If the employer asks for three professional references, provide five.  A recruiter’s position is to fill the position quickly and if he/she has to wait for a reference to return his/her call, it only delays the hiring process.  Provide at least two more references to be proactive in the event that the initial references are not available when the recruiter tries to connect with them.

So what are the qualifications of a good reference?  An ideal reference should be able to provide the following:

  1. Share how long the candidate and referral have shared a professional relationship
  2. Provide specific information relating to the candidate’s traits, overall performance and how it compared to other employees, and detailed information on their impact on and contributions to the workplace
  3. Highlight any special qualifications that made the candidate stand out amongst peers and briefly summarize the candidate’s strengths

The ideal reference should be someone who has evaluated the applicant either as a supervisor, manager, or client.  This person should demonstrate a strong ability to communicate and articulate vivid details regarding the candidate’s professional characteristics.  Peers generally do not make good references and neither do supervisors from fifteen years ago.

Should all references be previous supervisors or managers?  Not necessarily.  If the candidate is worried about getting a bad reference, it doesn’t hurt to call that supervisor and politely express his/her concern based on what may have happened on the job.  Chances are the supervisor will be honest – either he/she will provide a positive reference or encourage the candidate to avoid using them as a reference.  If the candidate does not trust the previous supervisor to provide a positive or neutral reference, then avoid that person all together.

In lieu of using a previous supervisor as a reference, the applicant can potentially use another department or division manager as a strong reference.  A lot of times department managers call on other departments to help resolve problems.  How often did this candidate come to the rescue?  What was their impact?  Or… was the candidate part of a project team?  What was his/her impact on the overall project, timeline, and team?

There are also plenty of cases where overachievers and strong performers in the workplace lack the support of their direct supervisors, creating an unpleasant work environment, not necessarily being the fault of the applicant.  In this case, avoid using this type of supervisor as a reference. If he/she didn’t demonstrate support on the job, chances are he/she won’t change their behavior as a reference.

So how should a candidate go about providing references to a potential employer?

  1. Contact and confirm potential references before applying for employment.  Follow the recommended criteria for selecting ideal referrals, get their preferred contact information, professional title as it was when working with them, a brief explanation of the relationship with the reference, how long the candidate knew each reference, and correct spelling of their names.
  2. Bring a printout of these references to the potential employer either when conducting an initial introduction, job fair, or to a scheduled interview.  Ensure candidate’s name and contact information is also on the document in case it gets misplaced by the recruiter.
  3. Avoid placing references on a resume.  This should be a separate document.  There are plenty of templates online for guidance on formatting and structure.

 

Christine Brugman MAOM, GHRM  |  Resumes Right Away LLC  |  Professional Résumé Writer and Employment Consultant

Common Resume Killers and Myths!

Click image to read original article by Hello I’m Logistics

This was a well-written article with some valuable insight into how a resume is read by the recruiter and red flags that catch their eye such as numerous short-term positions, multiple unrelated positions, long gaps between positions, including dates or experience that is not current, and typographical errors.  The author also touches on recommended resume lengths and dispelling the myths associated with these.

NUMEROUS SHORT-TERM POSITIONS

Regarding “Numerous Short-Term Positions”, this can in fact be a resume killer if the job seeker is identified as a job hopper, which raises a lot of red flags for potential employers and recruiters. If in fact you are NOT a job hopper and worked with a temporary staffing firm to secure work with several clients, I would recommend reading up on recommendations on how to incorporate temporary work into a resume, demonstrating total time worked with the staffing firm versus dates working with each employer/client.

LONG GAPS BETWEEN POSITIONS

“Long Gaps Between Positions” is expected, especially in this tough economy, however, in addition to filling in gaps with education, an active, unemployed job seeker can take advantage of volunteer opportunities to not only fill in the gaps but keep professional skill sets up and/or learn new ones that can be directly applied toward paid employment. This experience will also add additional bullets to a resume! I can happily attribute my last contract position toward my two years of non-profit virtual volunteer work (all online) while living overseas.

TYPOGRAPHICAL ERRORS, MISSPELLINGS, AND INAPPROPRIATE GRAMMAR

When recruiting for a staffing firm, grammar and spelling errors were the number killer on professional candidate resumes. Why? It simply came across to the recruiters as lazy – someone who lacked attention to detail and wasn’t serious about the position or obtaining professional employment. “Manger” (instead of “manager”) was the #1 spelling error I found. Since this is in fact a correctly spelled word, spell check doesn’t identify it as an error which is why it is important to have a resume thoroughly proofread by at least two other trusted professionals. Even with the resumes I write, I proofread AND use an online spell checker as spelling/grammar bugs have already been found in some of the latter MS Word programs.  Another key tip in identifying spelling errors is reading your resume aloud AND having someone else read it aloud.

DISPELLING MYTHS ABOUT RESUME LENGTHS

The article reminds us that there are no set rules for resume lengths, however, most corporate recruiters prefer to see the following:

  • Entry level/student candidates – With minimal or no experience, a one page resume is appropriate.
  • Experienced, professional candidates – No more than a two-page resume.
  • Executive and technical candidates – Two to three-page resume highlighting the last three positions OR last 10 years of employment.
  • Contract or staffing firm candidates – Your entire work history, up to 10 years.  This allows recruiters to place for several open positions.
  • Federal employment candidates – Your entire work history to include military service (whatever USAJobs Resume Builder will allow – follow their instructions to build your federal resume).  Most federal resumes range from 5-7 pages, but can be longer based on experience and qualifications.

All around, great article with valuable advice! The ultimate key in writing an effective resume is to TARGET your resume(s) toward the job(s) of interest, tailoring the content, formatting, and design for each specific position. Happy hunting!

Colorado Springs Gazette Features Résumés Right Away!

Many thanks to the Colorado Springs Gazette and reporter Erin Prater for her comprehensive cover story on Christine and Résumés Right Away!

We hope that you enjoy the read and we welcome your comments.  Lastly, there are a few points in the article I want to clarify.

I frequently work with and consult Soldiers and Airmen in Colorado Springs.  Many of them have experience with deployed and combat operations.  Those with combat experience contend with many complex variables in that environment, but they bring a strength, sense of teamwork, and focus that are unparalleled in the civilian environment.  When I meet with Soldiers that express concerns about their roles in, and perceptions of combat, we remain sensitive to the gravity of their experience while focusing on the positive, constructive lessons and applications of  combat. This approach is meant to instill confidence during the transition from military to civilian life.

In the example shared in the article, the Soldier I spoke with expressed concern that combat operations were his primary responsibility. We worked through the process to glean information about teambuilding, goal-setting, and mission readiness – all skills that are VERY transferable to and extremely valuable in the civilian workforce.

“Christine launched Résumés Right Away, which offers custom résumés and services to transitioning military members and small-business owners.”

Yes, we in fact provide career services to transitioning military members, but we also provide services to military spouses and professional, civilian job seekers.  We also partner with and provide business services and workshops for small businesses.

Click on the image below for access to the full article or click HERE.

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