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Resume Writing Is a Team Sport

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The Dunning-Kruger Effect and Your Executive Resume

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10 Best Executive Resume Writing Services Criteria to Evaluate the Best Resume Writing Service for You

10 Best Executive Resume Writing Services: Criteria to Evaluate the Best Resume Writing Service for You 10 Best Executive Resume Writing Services–A False Designation? Your List Is Based on Your Needs In short, there is no single 10 Best Executive Resume Writing Services list that will satisfy all of your specific expectations for the ideal […]

Don’t Rank Me in The 5 Best Resume Services in Salt Lake City, UT

More Resume Writing and Career Advice:10 Best Executive Resume Writing Services Criteria…9 Questions You Need to Ask Your Executive Resume WriterThe Worst Advice We’ve Ever Heard about Job Search StrategyThe Worst Resume Writing Advice We Have Heard7 Interview Fails that Won’t Get You the JobResume Formatting: Do’s and Don’t’s that Help You Stand Out

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How to Promote Volunteerism on Your Executive Resume

How to Promote Volunteerism on Your Executive Resume

Updated May 27, 2018

I received an interesting question that actually mirrors a question I get from my private clients quite a lot: Can I use volunteer work on a resume? This individual wanted to know whether hiring managers like what she has done, or will they consider it fluff? Her story is much like those of many who have experienced a gap in their career histories, whether voluntarily or involuntarily. This person has all the hallmarks of a top hire: She’s a college graduate, super smart, well-read, is a true knowledge seeker and seeker of truth, and has led major organizations with multiple reporting layers. Unsurprisingly, she sounds like many of the executives with whom I have worked over the years.  How can she promote her career history on her resume, even though the majority of her work has been in volunteer roles?

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How will you promote your volunteerism on your executive resume?

First and foremost, it’s important to recognize as an article of faith that work is work, even if it’s unpaid. Never lose sight of the fact that what you do every day has relevance for your job search strategy, because you’re doing something important and valuable.  And exploring what you like about the various volunteer roles you have had can help you narrow down your career target as well.

Examples of this type of volunteer work from which your resume can benefit can include:

  • Sitting on the board of a non-profit institution.
  • Volunteering at a church or synagogue.
  • Leading programs as part of your child’s PTA.
  • Organizing an event, such as a food drive or fun run.
  • Serving as a Boy Scout or Girl Scout guide.
  • Coaching a sports team.

There are, of course, many other types of volunteerism that can bolster your job application process. The crucial thing to remember is that you must couch your leadership contributions and your accomplishments in the same way that you account for them with your regular paid positions. Remember, work is work, even if it’s unpaid.

Let’s look at a few possibilities in which volunteerism can amplify your executive resume and your executive job search strategy overall.

Volunteerism that Supports Your Return to the Workforce

The first possibility is that you have been out of the workforce for a while, whether for family obligations, layoff, sabbatical, travel, or any other reason you’ve chosen to take yourself away from your career for some extended period of time. Now that it’s time to go back to paid work, you need to capture and organize your volunteer work to showcase its value.

To execute on this well, you should include volunteer roles as actual in-line work experience, and you’re not obligated to reveal the exact amount you were paid or not paid to do the work. The process of describing what you did every day and the successes you created are just as valuable – if you can prove that your expertise parallels the knowledge and experience that your career target requires.

Write down all of your volunteer work and the ways in which you improved or added to the organization. The categories of expertise can be leadership and management, financial responsibility, operational expertise, sales of ideas / services / goods, marketing, and more. These are exactly the types of knowledge and proven ability that your future audience needs to know you have, and they are subject to the challenge-action-result strategy that you’ve heard me talk about before in many other podcasts on this show. I’m not going to go in to the CAR strategy here, but rest assured that you can use the challenge-action-result method even when the work you have done is unpaid.

Each of these volunteer roles, and the promotions to leadership you might have experienced as well, become “jobs” in your resume, and they should be listed exactly the same way as your paid work is detailed. You make absolutely no distinction between your former paid work and your volunteer work, because they both are strongly reflective of the expertise your future hiring executive needs you to have to be successful in the role to which you’re applying.

Volunteerism that Supplements Your Ongoing Paid Work

A second flavor of using volunteerism on your resume is useful when you have had a largely intact career timeline but want to add to your career history some skills and expertise that your paid work doesn’t demonstrate.

Including volunteer work on a professional resume can be a critical way of ensuring that a hiring manager understands the full flavor of your experience. For example, your professional career might be a greased rail to success, but it might lack a specific dimension that you need to promote. By highlighting your volunteer experience, you can show that you have many types of expertise, not just the kind that you get paid for day to day.

Let’s say that you are a senior vice president of finance, and you want to demonstrate your expertise in operations and team leadership, so that you can move into a broader role, perhaps a chief financial officer position. You might offer up your recent work as the chair of a committee for a local nonprofit, a role you’ve held for several years. You then describe the scope and value of that work, for example, how you fulfilled the mission of the organization through the role, how many people you guided to that goal, and how you overcame multiple challenges along the way.

Volunteer Work as the Basis for Your References

Last, your volunteer roles can serve as a source of references for you. If you had any type of reporting relationship with leaders of a volunteer organization, it’s a good idea to ask them to write you a letter of recommendation on the organization’s letterhead commenting on your contributions. These people can also become excellent sources of references when you need to give names and numbers to interviewers of people who can vouch for your excellent work ethic, ability to organize projects and teams, and so on. These leaders likely will know you well and be able to describe your success and contributions to their organizations, and, because you have done an incredible job, they are going to be willing to share a few words with your future hiring executive as well.

Examples of the types of individuals who might serve as excellent references from your volunteer work include:

  • The executive team of the group to which you donated your time and expertise.
  • Event leaders, when you directed a portion of the event.
  • Co-organizers, who can comment on your excellent team spirit and ability to motivate the group.
  • Your direct report team.
  • A beneficiary of a nonprofit event.

To conclude, your professional paid work history is not the only type of work that belongs on your resume. By putting your volunteer work on a resume, you can expand on and elaborate on what makes you special and what makes you unique and the only one who can do what you do in the way that you do it. In short, volunteer work on your professional resume enhances your brand.

Resume Formatting: Do’s and Don’t’s that Help You Stand Out

Resume Formatting: Do’s and Don’t’s that Help You Stand Out

Put yourself in the shoes of a hiring manager. Two resumes are in front of you; both are possible candidates for the open position. The first is littered with text, margin to margin, full of inconsistent fonts and format, and very little useful information stands out. The second resume is presented with consistent font and format, short bullets with precise information, and plenty of white space. Which resume would you rather tackle first?

The appearance of your resume is not as important as its content, certainly, but your presentation can affect your future hiring executive’s impression of your candidacy. In the example above, the two resumes contain two qualified candidates, but the difference is clear. A cluttered resume displays a cluttered style — clunky and disorganized — which is the last thing any employer wants in their ranks.

Resume content is always more important than its format; however, you do need to pay attention to how that content is presented. Make sure you’re following the Dos and Don’ts for good presentation of your professional resume.

Template Don’t

Don’t use downloadable templates. On the one hand, the more generic your resume appears, the fewer seconds a hiring manager will spend glancing at it before putting it aside and forgetting about it. On the other, many templates are not built to present well across individual machines, so you never will be entirely certain that your beautiful layout will appear equally attractive on someone else’s computer, and especially not on a mobile device.

Format Don’t

Bright paper or flashy clip art will catch the hiring manager’s eye, but not in a good way.

These kinds of tricks appear unprofessional. Resumes that bring success use a combination of a clean layout with strong content without resorting to flash.

Typeface Don’t

While font choice is important, distracting choices can derail your message. Hiring managers should focus on content — your skills, abilities, and experiences. Don’t decrease readability by using more than two fonts in your resume. Using two complementary fonts, say one for headings and one for the body, highlights important pieces of the document while maintaining the integrity of the information.

Color Do

Use a strategic splash of color to emphasize particular information or graphical elements.

Spelling and Grammar Do

Spelling and grammar are small things you need to be conscious of through your resume. Spell check is not always reliable as it won’t catch every grammar mistake if of the words are spelled correctly. “To,” “too,” and “two” are often confused and can easily be missed in such a check.

White Space Do

White space on your resume is essential for the reader. Use reasonable margins as well as space strategically between sections of information. This gives the reader, a hiring manager or otherwise, a break and points of focus without using more obvious styles. While the information on your resume is important, you don’t want it to look like a page from a novel or high school essay.

Consistency Do

Being consistent with your format throughout your entire resume will allow your reader to follow patterns. This makes your resume an easy read rather than a search and find. If you use bold titles for your current workplace, you should do the same for all other experience listed. Special note: Limit your use of bold, italic, and underlined text—if you try to make everything stand out, nothing will.

By Kaley Buck, Five Strengths Contributor

The Worst Resume Writing Advice We Have Heard

The Worst Resume Writing Advice We Have Heard

While we have already discussed what should not be included in a resume and common myths, there are pieces of advice you should never follow when working on your resume. As professional resume writers, clients are encouraged to ask questions about the writing process and share advice they have heard. While some advice can be useful, other bits are completely off-base. No recommendation is perfect, but this article will discuss some of the worst tips resume writing you might have heard.

You should always include soft skills. – NOT

First, what are soft skills? Things like great written and verbal communication, the ability to multi-task, professionalism, and excellent time management are soft skills. Those are great things to mention in your cover letter, with examples, but your resume should have skills that are unique to you.

Career summaries are a must. – NOT

When describing your responsibilities in a previous or current position, you want to have a short, bullet type list of the accomplishments unique to you during that time. Be specific – don’t generalize – and include numbers, time-frame, and anything else that would create a portrait about your experiences and career history.

It’s okay to close gaps in your work history by adding time to other positions or give yourself promotions. – NOT

If you jump from job to job, it will not benefit you to omit some of the jobs and close gaps by adding time to the most stable position on your resume. Say you were a stay-at-home parent until your children started school full time, the worst thing you can do with that time, on your resume, is to give yourself a promotion such as ‘household manager’ or ‘home engineer.’ Changing the truth to make yourself appear better does not differ from lying directly to the hiring manager. If you are chosen as one of the top candidates for a position, the company will check this kind of information.

If you don’t have specific skills a company is searching for, add them to your resume anyway and hope you never need to use them or talk about them during the interview. – NOT

You should never claim to know or be the master of a skill you know nothing about. Chances are, you will need to demonstrate the ability in one way or another before you are offered the position. If a company has dictated they need a candidate with this skill, then you should have this skill before applying.

Don’t pay attention to the skills necessary for each position you apply to, just apply to everything and hope you get an interview. – NOT

Instead of seeking out jobs you are qualified for, apply to every open position – you’re bound to be called to at least a few of them, right? You will only receive interview invitations for jobs for which you are qualified. So, yes, there is a chance you will be called for a few of the positions you apply for however, if you apply to everything, your resume will be added to a file for that company. Some companies discard unwanted applicants while others keep applications on the chance that you are qualified for another position within that company. Over sending applications is not only a waste of time, but besmirches your reputation the more you send.

If you are changing career paths or moving positions with another company after decades at one company, just give a brief job description. Anything you accomplished was part of your job description. – NOT

Your accomplishments are your own. While it was necessary for your position, you still set out to complete a project, increase productivity, or implement something new and realized that goal. The base description for any position is a generalization of expectations.

Be sure to send your resume to many peers to seek their advice and then incorporate all the advice you are given. Then, start sending out your resume without checking it again. A professional resume writer is a waste of money. – NOT

Not every person who has ever written a resume of their own knows what is better for your resume. Double checking your resume for mistakes is incredibly important as even the smallest mistake can stand out like a sore thumb to any prospective employer. When in need of advice, it is best to seek a professional resume writer and use their services. There are tips and tricks for each position type. However, you should make sure you are asking your professional resume writer questions about their service and your personal resume.

The internet is a font of wonderful information as well as misinformation. There is a great deal of advice to be found that can lead you astray when delving into your resume. Resumes are a complicated style to master. While there are many useful guides out, utilizing a resume writing service can be an incredibly beneficial investment.

By Kaley Buck, Five Strengths Contributor

What Shakespeare Can’t Teach You about Resume Writing

What Shakespeare Can’t Teach You About Resume Writing

Writing your resume is not like essay composition. We have carefully collected words and phrases to include in our vocabulary in order to impress certain people or to expand upon standard expressions. That is not the case with resumes. In compiling your resume, there are things you just don’t do and things you should always do. While proper grammar is a must, Shakespeare would be disappointed with the butchering of language that is a resume.

Shakespeare is credited for introducing nearly 3,000 words to the English language. During his time as a playwright and poet, the English language shifted and evolved to be something similar to what we speak today. Linguistically, Shakespeare’s diction is only one generation removed from today’s vernacular.

“Resume speak” is a term that refers to the unique way a standard resume is written. It is a style that hiring managers and recruiters expect and appreciate to see in a resume. A resume written in anything but “resume speak” become awkward and lengthy when you should be short and to the point.

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“Resume Speak” vs. Prose

A novel can be written from multiple perspectives, but that is not something a resume should have. Standard practice on a resume is to drop personal pronouns like I, my, and me. So, instead of using pronouns, the style becomes first person implied.

Example:

  • First person: I managed a team …
  • First person implied: Managed a team …

The resume is a document all about you, making this style an acceptable means of communicating skills, experiences, and responsibilities. Using personal pronouns on a document all about you is redundant.

You will also omit any articles (a, an, and the) from your resume, within reason. It is common to include the occasional article, however, they are used very conservatively. If you take the article out of the phrase and it no longer makes sense, replace it. This will be more difficult to master than omitting personal pronouns.

Example:

  • Standard English: I managed a team to finalize a variety of projects over a fiscal year, resulting in a 15% increase in productivity for the duration and allowing departmental training for success company-wide.
  • Resume Speak: Managed team to finalize projects over fiscal year, resulting in +15% productivity and allowing company-wide departmental success training.

Remember that your resume is not a detailed record of your life experiences and achievements, it is a snapshot providing the best examples in a concise manner. “Resume speak” is simple on paper, but difficult to compose.

Why is this important?

Resume composition is not easy — it could easily take several hours to edit one section of your resume. It is important to follow the standard way of resume writing because hiring managers do not want your entire life’s story. Unless a potential employer asks for a very specific document for their application, they want something that will tell them enough about you to be considered for an interview. During the interview is when you can expand upon different things within the resume or cover letter that might need additional emphasis.

Resumes are often run through software that will recognize certain keywords the company needs to see on a candidate’s documents. Including too many words or too much information will slow down that process and some of these resume reading softwares perform by a word limit per page. Your resume is a brochure of your highlighted accomplishments, not a novel about every experience.

English is one of the most complicated languages to learn – everything has a rule. Understanding the unique styles of each kind of writing is not something you can master in one sitting. Shakespeare’s plays and poems were written for the common person. Composition of any academic paper uses language that can be found in Shakespeare’s work. Even journalism has its standards. But resume writing entails a unique set of rules.

By Kaley Buck, Five Strengths Contributor

 

7 Resume Myths: Kiss-of-Death Resume Fictions (eg lying on your resume)

These are the top 7 resume myths you need to forget today. Ever thought about fibbing on your resume? Telling outright falsehoods on your CV? You’ll get caught for that one and kicked off the interview roster for sure. Other less dire resume fictions beyond lying on your resume are also brand-damaging. Read on to learn more:

Crafting your resume requires knowledge of the current resume writing standards. Not everything that was once required is still included on the resume. We’ve been over-including personal information, using fancy fonts or formats, and what your resume should convey once it is completed, but what are you including that no longer needs to be there? Navigating the trends with professionalism and tact is daunting. Sometimes rules are rules, but in this case a lot of those “rules” are now more resume fiction than resume fact, and certainly they contradict current best practices for good job search strategy. This article will discuss some of those resume myths and why the change occurred. Doing the opposite of what was once conventional wisdom (especially lying on your Curriculum Vitae) absolutely will help your strategy and move your application into the “call for interview” pile.

1. References belong on the resume. NO!

Think that lying on your resume is still ok? These resume myths will keep your resume out of the "YES" pile! Following advice more resume fiction than fact is a job search killer.

Think that lying on your resume is still ok? These resume myths will keep your resume out of the “YES” pile!

Including your references right on your resume was once a common practice. Adding the phrase “references available on request” might not make your resume stand out, but you certainly don’t want to have your references personal information on every application. Many job postings will ask for either a separate page of references or have a section of the application to list them. Anyone you list as a reference has the expectation that you will only send their information to a hiring manager who has the intention of inviting you to an interview. You’ll be protecting their privacy as well as providing information exactly when it is needed.

2. Your resume should only be one page. NO!

A one page resume really is not enough space to convey all the relevant information about your experience, unless you are just starting out in your career. Any valuable information that sets you apart from the other candidates should be included, even if it puts your resume over one page. It is actually very common for most, if not all, resumes to be two-page documents. You shouldn’t go over the top and include every piece of your experiences, but don’t leave out important information. It’s a huge resume myth that your resume needs to fit onto only one page.

3. Incorrect spelling and grammar automatically disqualify you for the position. NO!

While it is important to proofread your resume, errors don’t mean your resume is discarded. Paying attention to the details does show the potential employer that you are a serious professional. The content and correct information are more important than spelling, but take a minute every few months to review your resume with fresh eyes.

4. Visual aids don’t belong on the resume. NO!

Color, graphs, and charts aren’t a waste of space on your resume. It’s a resume fiction that your executive resume should contain text only. Graphs or charts are able to convey a good amount of information in a short, sweet section on the front page. “Click-bait” surrounds our culture, with apps decreasing our attention spans, and including a graph could be that attention-grabbing piece. As far as a color pop goes, color makes a statement about your brand, and it tells your reader where you want them to look first for the best information on your resume document. Think about a product advertisement that made you buy the product just because of the ad. Your resume should be that kind of marketing for your brand.

5. Unique formats are necessary to make you stand out. NO!

Formats, while interesting and fun, do not make a difference in how a hiring manager looks at your resume. Many applications to read resumes or job applications dismantle any formatting on the resume. Simple formatting may look, well, simplistic, however that may be the best one to use. The file format can also make a difference when submitting your resume. Microsoft Word documents are easier to perform a search for particular keywords while searching in a PDF file does not allow the systems to pick up critical information. If the proper keywords can’t be found within your resume, you are invisible to employers using application-tracking or applications for resume dissection.

6. Objective statements are must haves on the resume. NO!

An objective statement declares your intentions about your career and used to be a must. However, it is more likely that an employer now will skip over this declaration and move to your experience and skills. They are much more interested in what you can do for them – what experience you will bring to them – than what you expect to achieve from this, or any, position. Every bit of space on your resume is important, especially if you have a lot of information you need to include. Wasting the few lines for an objective statement is unnecessary.

7. Lying on your resume is okay. NO!

This is the worst resume fiction–and the one most likely to get you into trouble. Lying on your resume can mean anything from excluding a gap in employment to claiming a degree you didn’t earn. Honesty is always the best policy, and employers will do enough research about their top picks for a position to know whether you value their time or lack integrity. Aside from legal consequences, lying on a resume is the worst thing you can present to any hiring manager. Claiming to be a master of any skill you have absolutely no experience in will result in either termination or a long, embarrassing conversation with your supervisor when it is discovered. In short, do not lie about anything on your resume. It is much better to show employers you have been employed and have gaps, have that experience they want with a lower level of preferred expertise, or know that you will need to learn things to be able to be their best choice than it is to say you know how to balance their accounts and only have experience as a babysitter.

Despite all the changes to resumes over the years, there are things that haven’t budged. Your resume is the one document that acts as a brochure to your life’s experience and can get you in the door to a new career. If you’re still stuck on what you do or do not need to include–without lying on your resume!–call the Five Strengths experts for guidance.

Photo attributed to Stuart Miles of FreeDigitalPhotos.net
By Kaley Buck, Five Strengths Contributor

The One Thing Your Resume Can Never Say About You

The One Thing Your Resume Can Never Say About You

Replaceable. That is the last word you want to come to mind when an employer or hiring manager is reading your resume. If you present yourself in a way that is generic or unappealing, you will not be seen as a likely candidate for the position. The company, essentially, is investing in your skills to better their company and they need to feel confident that you would make the company better, not stagnant and certainly not worse.

What Not to Include in Your Resume

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What is the one thing your resume never can say about you?

Your resume can either present your worth and personality in a favorable or a not so favorable way. Many employers prefer that you leave personal details and interests off of your resume for many reasons.

Personal information: Things like your marital status, sexual orientation, religious views, age, gender, social security numbers, and number of children should be left off this professional document. Certain details could lead others to believe that there is a form of discrimination happening if you are rejected as a candidate, such as your religion or age, and will put the employer in a difficult situation. Some of these details will likely come up in conversations later, like the interview, and you can share the information when appropriate.

Spelling errors and poor grammar: Proofread, proofread, proofread. Nothing is worse than seeing a resume of a well-experience candidate with poor spelling or grammar. It will make you appear unprofessional despite your previous positions or current standing.

Irrelevant work experience: No one cares about your first job from high school. It is most likely not relevant now, as you are established in your career.

Hobbies and oddities: If you knit hats for dogs, unless you are applying for a job that requires that skill, keep it to yourself. Things like this will make the employer look twice at your resume, but not in a good way.

Negative language: Even if a project went south, reflect on what went right, not wrong, and include those details. They will also not want to see reasons you left previous positions.

References: They will want references later, after an interview, not up front. If references are necessary, it will be included on the application itself or be requested before the interview process making it unnecessary to include on your resume.

Lies: Do not bend the truth. This goes hand-in-hand with plagiarism. Lies can be anything from “I am fluent in Swedish” to “I am an excellent typist.” If it is not true, it will come out eventually.

Too much information: Keep it to 1-3 pages, depending on your level, and years or depth of experience; anything beyond that is too much, and the hiring manager will not bother reading it.

Being too creative: Distracting colors, clip art, and unnecessarily fussy fonts distract from the meat of the resume making it very difficult to discern what your talents actually are.

Using vague wording, cliches, or situational jargon: “Thinks outside the box,” “ABC of DEF,” or “Oriented” are very generic phrases you should leave off of your resume. If it doesn’t make sense to someone aside from yourself or screams “I’m not original,” don’t include it.

Preparation

You want to be prepared for anything — new opportunities, unexpected job loss, or decisions about career changes. There are things you can do to be prepared like making sure your resume is always up-to-date, keeping up with your marketable skills, and networking. When updating your resume, you should make sure that you are current in all of your skills as well. It’s worth it to make time to work on yourself and refresh all of your skills. Being up-to-date is important on and off paper. Don’t put something on your resume that you’re working on, wait until you’ve completed it to include the new information. Networking will be much smoother if you know where you stand in your field, at your current position, and what your resume reflects. Don’t wait to build connections until you are looking for a new job, have connections you can count on when you need them.

How to Sell Yourself

There are only so many combinations of the same phrases used in a resume. After viewing resume after resume, a hiring manager seeing the same exact phrase over and over most likely has eliminated those generic looking candidates. Your resume is the document that gets you in the door and opens the conversation for an interview. It should be the flyer catching the company’s eye and drawing them in. Your resume should make the hiring manager believe you have what it takes and you should be able to follow through with that promise made in your resume. You have value and companies need to know what you can do for them.

All in all, your resume should display your expertise in your field. It should never let an employer think “this person will be replaced in a month or two.” Your resume is the commercial about you — it should reel them in with enough information to want more. You have to think about what you are in relation to your resume and what kind of impression you are making to any hiring manager.

 

Photo attributed to Feelart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
By Kaley Buck, Five Strengths Contributor