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Whether you are just out of school, or have been working for years, it is helpful sometimes to sit down and think about what a resume is, before you start writing one.

Everyone will have their own view of what a resume is. I consider it to be a sales pitch. You are trying to ‘sell’ yourself to an employer, so they will hire you, instead of any of the other applicants whose applications come across the hr department’s desk.

And all the ‘usual’ rules of making a sales pitch apply –

  • Grab attention within the first 30 seconds.
  • Truth in advertising.
  • Show what makes you different from the competition
  • Tell them about the need that you can fill.

It’s important to keep these points in mind when you are writing your resume – they tell you a lot about what and how you should write it.

Grab attention – make your resume visually interesting, and your resume objective compelling.

Truth in advertising – do no exaggerate or lie about your experiences or abilities.

What makes you different – you are a unique person, not a collection of job data, let your potential employer see that person.

The need – they wouldn’t be hiring if they didn’t have a need to fill – what is that need and how will you fill it? (BTW – if they are hiring a customer service representative, they don’t need a customer service representative, they need excellent customer service that will encourage repeat business and promote good word of mouth about the company.)

Hello again.

This week is going to be all about resumes – what they are, different kinds, how to write them and more.

To start us off, here is a selection of articles and blogs that are great references for any resume writer –

Resume Articles
Best Resume Writing Tips – The name says it fairly well.

Resume Mapper – Link and information on a very useful resume tool.

6 Questions – Thoughts and advice on brain storming before starting work on your resume.

Resume Templates – If you work better with firm guidelines, check out info on resume templates, to help you color within the lines!

Cover Letters – An Essential Part of Every Resume Package – Because a resume by itself isn’t enough.

Resume Blogs
Blue Sky Resumes – a blog that focuses on everything about resumes.

Write Powerful Resumes – another resume blog by a wonderful writer.

Job Mob – This link is to a specific post on a more general blog that introduces some very unique and interesting ways of creating a resume.

Well, see you tomorrow, when we start with the bare basics – What Are Resumes – And Why Do They Matter?

As always, there is a lot more information and advice available then I can dish out! Check out these other sources:

Career change advice, suggestions, tips and resources for job seekers and those interested in a career change.

Cool Careers: If you are thinking about a career change, this site will help you find the information you need, from career advice to job search techniques, from student …

USAA: Changing careers? Our Changing Jobs Checklist helps make the process seamless. Learn more today.

All Business: If you’ve felt stalled in your career lately, you’re not alone. Many workers, faced with layoffs, changing technologies or corporate re-engineering have …

I do hope this goes without saying – but if you’re changing careers, you really need to think about changing your resume as well.

While you may know the work you’ve done has given you experience in managing small groups, writing reports or keeping track of expenses, that may not be obvious to an employer in a different career, with different assumptions and expectations. You can’t expect them to be familiar enough with your old career track to know the skills and experience it provided.

When rewriting your resume for a career change, make sure that you first cut out all the background clutter that isn’t explicitly relevant to your new career.

Of course, the correlation to that is to state, very explicitly, what makes your relevant experience . . . well, relevant!

Remember every step of the way – don’t assume the employers knows anything about your prior career. Explain in your objective why the career change is a good move for you, and how their company is a good one for you to move to. Explain in your experience how what you have done is relevant to your new career. Explain, explain, explain.

And don’t forget: Explain! 😉

Continuing our theme for the week . . .

So you’ve decided it’s time for a change – now what?

Deciding it’s time to do something different is relatively easy. Deciding what to do can be another matter entirely.

Here are a few thoughts that can help:

Career tests – Career tests can be either skills tests or personality tests. A good career test, like the Myers-Briggs personality test, can provide not only suggested career paths, but an explanation of why those careers would work for you.

What’s right?/What’s wrong? – It’s also a good idea to take a few minutes and think through what you have liked or disliked about previous jobs or classes. Don’t worry too much about field or subject – clerking it clerking no matter what the paperwork says. Instead think about what projects you enjoyed – organizing? writing? working with your hands? Whether you preferred to work alone or in a group, etc. What didn’t you enjoy? Did you hate being put in charge of a project, or auditing last years paperwork? Figuring out what you liked and didn’t like can help you figure out what career you’ll enjoy in the future.

How do you know when it’s time for a career change?

In yesterday’s blog I listed a few of the reasons why people choose to change career paths. But how do you know when it’s time for you to make such a massive change? Sure, your boss is annoying this week, but does that mean you should give up ten years of seniority to take a chance on something new?

If you currently have a job the best answer to this question is that if you constantly find your self thinking that you need to make a change – well then you probably need to make a change.

If you are currently out of work, it can be easier to make a change, but it’s harder to know if it’s the right time. However, being unemployed offers some flexibility. You can look for jobs in your current field, and other fields your interested in moving to at the same time, or you can go back to school while you’re looking for a job.

No matter what else is going on, being unemployed is a great incentive to rethinking your career path.

Welcome to New Career Week – this week is going to be a themed week focusing on everything involved in taking the step to start over in a new line of work.

Starting over in a fresh career isn’t easy. In fact, it can be fairly terrifying to take the step and say ‘it’s time for something new’. There are a number of good reasons to take that step though. A few of the more common are:

  • Dead end job: If your current career is just a dead-end, you may want to find a new path.
  • Out of Work: Many people start a new career after loosing a job, and having trouble finding a similar position.
  • Work Stress: Whether you just don’t like the job you have, or are under high level pressure day in and day out, work stress can take a serious toll on your health – and has a lot to do with many people seeking new career paths.
  • A Dream: Some of us have always had a dream job we just didn’t go after. Maybe it’s time to pursue that dream.

Over the next week, we’ll review how to know when it’s time to change careers, finding a new career path training and education, and finding how old experience can help in pursuing a new career.

When is the last time you told a ‘white lie’ on your resume?

Most job hunters do at one point or another, and I have some very serious advice on this point: DON’T.

The common thought behind resume white lies seems to be that an employer can’t possibly check the details of every resume they receive, they’ll never notice a little exaggeration or fib.

And for the most part, that’s true. After all most resumes don’t get a very detailed examination – it takes less then a minute for a resume to make the short list or end up in the shredder.

There is some detailed information available on why resume lies are a bad idea. However, the short version goes like this:

Aside from being ethically wrong – not a minor consideration in its own right – you will probably get caught eventually. Resumes that make the short list can frequently go under much closer scrutiny then the initial glance over every resume receives. And even if something doesn’t pop when the employer checks your references or background, they will notice when you don’t have the skill you claimed.

If the lie is found out before you are offered a position, you will not be offered one. If it is found out after you are made an offer but before you are officially hired, the offer will (legally) be withdrawn. If it is found out after you are hired, you will likely be dismissed from the position, and depending on the details of the ‘white lie’ may face legal action.

There are far better ways to present yourself in a positive light then lying about what you have done and can do. Just don’t.

Not everyone stops to think about what kind of resume they are writing. But everyone should. Picking a resume style that highlights your strengths can make a huge difference in a job search.

There are generally 3 kinds of resumes: chronological, functional and combination.

A chronological resume focuses on job history. Chronological resumes suit you if you have had mostly steady employment over the past several years, and have made strong contributions to the companies you have worked for.

If you haven’t built up an employment history – either because your new to the job market or have frequent gaps in your employment, but you have skills and qualifications that can benefit the company you are applying with, a functional resume may be the way to go. A functional resume focuses on what you can offer the company now, rather than what you have done in the past.

Finally, a combination resume is a mix of the other two styles. If you have a decent, but less than wonderful, job history, and have a reasonably strong skill set to offer, a combination resume may be the way to go.

Whatever style of resume you pick, make sure you put your best foot forward. Because employers don’t spend much time looking at each resume, it’s even more important that your resume tells the employer at a glance why you are perfect for the job.

I have frequently been amazed, appalled, and horrified at some of the interviews I have conducted.

Ladies and gentlemen, while not generally considered a tool for a job hunter, I commend to your attention a good ettiquette guide. Miss Manners is the classic of these, but many good examples exist and can be found in your local book store or library.

In the mean time, please consider the following recommendations:

  • Turn off your cell phone. Or if you must leave it on, set it on silent – NOT vibrate. And please don’t pull it out to check in the middle of the interview.
  • Take a shower the morning of the interview, and wear clean clothes.
  • Remember what your mother taught you – don’t interrupt, and say thank you before you leave.
  • Gum, breath mints, hard candy and anything else in your mouth should be swallowed or spit out before you arrive for the interview.
  • And don’t forget to be respectful.

Good luck!

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