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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

Your Resume Is Your Worst Enemy:6 Ways to Defeat it

Your Resume Is Your Worst Enemy:6 Ways to Defeat it

Compiling an amazing resume is often described as the ultimate job search challenge. Truly, creating the resume that will secure an interview may well be the most difficult part of your job search. It doesn’t take much to land your shining finished product firmly in the “no” pile. There are turn-offs, red flags and simple mistakes that will send your resume straight into the garbage can. However, being aware of these common mistakes and avoiding them is half the battle. Let’s take a look…

Problem #1: Your resume is too lengthy, but you’re unsure of what to delete.

Deciding what makes the final cut on your resume can be a real challenge. Experts advise not to go further back than 10-15 years in your work history. Another way to determine this would be to not include more than your previous 5 jobs, whichever option is shorter. Descriptions of duties at each position can also take up a lot of room and is generally unnecessary. Using short sentences or bullet points can be great ways to simplify details. While there doesn’t seem to be a perfect length for a resume, one page seems to be the current trend with two-pages being acceptable if needed.

Beware of using what is termed as “filler.” This is an old trend that has gone by the wayside. At one time there seemed to be a misconception that having important words or different types of positions listed on your resume would increase your chances of landing an interview. This will not prove true if this extra information causes your resume to be so wordy and long that it is tossed in the trash bin. “More” is not “better” in when dealing with your resume. You do not want to appear to be someone who “dabbles” in everything; you want to show expertise or experience in a couple of areas instead.

Problem #2: You lack education and experience.

This can be a common problem as we search for positions that challenge us to better ourselves. When you find that job that mentions experience or education that you lack, you should still give it a shot. What do you have to lose by applying? Job listings tend to contain a wish list of sorts for the perfect candidate. Odds are, there isn’t going to be anyone that meets each requirement. Be honest in listing the education and experience that you do possess, don’t ever be dishonest. Even if your degree is in a completely different field, it still demonstrates your knowledge base and shows that you are a graduate. Fill in the blanks by expressing the interest and enthusiasm you have for the position along with a healthy desire to learn on the job. You may be surprised with the results.

Problem #3: Not only did you not stay long at your last job, you have a history of frequently changing jobs.

If you find yourself in a situation where you are wondering if a job should be listed, here is a common guideline. If you were at a job for less than two months, leave it off your resume. If the time spent in that position was over two months than in most cases you will want to include it on your resume. Such a short time frame spent in any position is bound to raise questions from a perspective employer, so be prepared to answer truthfully. It may be that the position wasn’t what you had hoped for or maybe there were economic problems that surfaced, whatever the case, be ready to discuss it.

A similar issue that you may face comes from hopping from job to job. While this may feel like a mark against you, that is not always the case in the eye of the hiring manager. Perhaps you advanced in status due to some of your job changes? Having the initiative to continue to search until you find what you are looking for and where you will happily stay may show the company in which you are applying for that you are in a real search for a long term career. As mentioned above, be prepared to discuss these job changes and the goal of each. Remember, no trash talking, that never leaves a positive impression. Avoid it at all costs.

Problem #4: You have sizeable gaps in your work history.

If you have time off between jobs that are long enough to draw questions it is a good idea to address these in your cover letter. Take comfort in the fact that with the economic slowdowns that have hit over the past decade gaps in employment history are much more common than they once were. State in your cover letter whether the time off was due to staying home to raise children or a tough job market, but do address it. If the length of your job search has reached a point that you must get something on your resume, then take up some volunteer or freelancing work and include that. As with anything on your resume, be prepared to have an open and honest discussion about it.

Problem #5: You are using outdated resume terms.

You want your resume to get noticed, but not for the wrong reasons. Below is a list of some of the terms you should now avoid even though they were popular in the past.

  • References available by request (Of course they are, but either include them, or don’t mention them).
  • Detail-oriented (aren’t we all? At least to some extent).
  • Hardworking (actions speak louder than words; no one really believes this statement until they see it for themselves).
  • Objective (very outdated, replaced with a job or career summary).
  • Responsible for…. (Using this format will cause your resume to become to wordy).
  • Problem solver (is this really unique to you? I don’t think so…).
  • Team player (again, action and time will tell).

Problem #6: You include too much personal information and decoration.

Even though talking about hobbies, religion and marital status discloses a lot about yourself, you don’t want to include these details on your resume. You also don’t want to be the one resume that uses a bright pink cursive font. While you will get noticed, it will not bring the results that you are hoping for.

A professional resume is crucial in today’s competitive job market. The details can make or break you. Be sure that your resume shows a clear direction along with career goals that you are hoping to achieve without including information that would be deemed too personal.

Remember, every mistake you may have on your resume is completely fixable, don’t lost heart. Don’t make more of it than it is by taking yourself too seriously. Your resume isn’t a legally binding document. Your past employer isn’t going to proof read it for you. Your resume is a summary of your work history, education and experience, that’s all. It’s your journey, your path and experiences and your future. Take the time to prepare a resume that makes you feel confident or hire a professional resume writer to do so, but take pride in yourself and your accomplishments, whatever they may be.

By Brandy Higginson, Five Strengths Contributor
Image courtesy of aechan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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

 

 

What Will the Resume Look Like in Ten Years?

What Will the Resume Look Like in Ten Years?

Over the past ten years, many elements of the resume have changed. That’s not to say that the professional resume hasn’t continually evolved since its creation, which is attributable to Leonardo da Vinci. The resume is a document subject to evolution, just like everything else. With every new piece of technology, an aspect of the resume changes. What exactly is different in the way resumes are written now versus how they were written ten years ago? What does that mean for resumes in the future?

One-does-all vs. One-for-one

One resume used to be enough. You would have one resume crafted, generic in content, listing your previous jobs and responsibilities. Numerous copies of that resume would be printed on expensive resume paper and it was used for every job application. Employers would receive applications from roughly ten people per post and take the time to review each resume. That isn’t the case now. Each job you apply to should have a variation of your resume with no repeats, the exception being applications to the exact position with other companies. However, more than likely, there will be keywords that differ from company to company. With the way resumes are now submitted, electronically, companies might receive hundreds of applications per post. It is easy for employers to weed out applicants with some type of resume-screening software, making keywords necessary. The software will eliminate applicants who don’t meet the keywords, narrowing the applicant pool. Some companies may still review each resume by hand, but customization is still important.

Method of Submission

Resumes have been sent by every method – snail mail, fax, email, donut delivery – and that will probably not change. In the past, you sent your resume by snail mail, waiting to hear back from the hiring manager once they have personally reviewed it. Now, email and online job application submission are the most common method of resume acceptance. Hiring managers typically use a hard-copy of the resume to take notes during the actual interview, which could change with the use of a tablet in the future, but that seems an unlikely progression given the interview environment. Having an online presence is necessary and can increase your chances of being asked to interview. The challenge lies in how you present yourself and through what type of online resource – portfolio, LinkedIn profile, website, etc.

Duties and Accomplishments

Your resume, at one point in your career, was a conglomeration of all your past jobs, the skills you needed for each one, and what duties you performed. However, there is such a thing as too much information. The current practice is to provide all relevant information that pertains to the job you’re applying to. As mentioned earlier, you will accumulate resumes specific to certain types of jobs and may have many versions of the same information. You will also leave out past positions that aren’t relevant, like the very first job you had waiting tables or cashiering.

Leaving out the irrelevant gives you room to expand upon your expertise in your field, including major accomplishments and special training. Highlight what you know best and show the employers what you can do. Minimizing the fluff in your resume will benefit you in the long run because most hiring managers use software to analyze resumes. The software is designed to recognize keywords within the resume and weed out applicants.

Personal Touches

While you should make yourself stand out from the crowd, you don’t want to overshare personal details to your potential new employers. It was common to add personal statements with details like your age, marital status, children, hobbies, religion, or even a photograph. Now, employers really don’t want to see information unless it is directly related to the job – they would actually prefer not to know personal details. Personal details on a resume leave the employer in a tricky situation because they could then be accused of discrimination based on those personal interests, your appearance, or affiliations. Really, the rule of thumb here is: When in doubt, leave it out.

You do want to be unique, but it should be shown through what you can do for that employer. Portfolios, websites, and social media create the whole picture for an employer. We are living in an age of technology where nearly every document can be forged – saying things or having them on your resume isn’t necessarily enough. If you say you can do something, you need to be prepared to demonstrate your talents.

The Only Constant Is Change

Proper grammar and spelling are the only things that will never change when it comes to a professional resume or document. What will resumes look like in our future? There is no guaranteed response to this, but predictions are welcome. Will we move to only using social media, like LinkedIn, as our means of job application and personal representation? It is always possible to move back to a simpler representation of the resume, however unlikely. Looking back through the history of resume evolution, dating back five centuries, it would be unlikely that a professional resume would stop being part of the job application process, but what it will look like is still a bit of a mystery.

Remember, the only constant in this world is change.

 

By Kaley Buck, Five Strengths Contributor
Photo attributed to Stuart Miles of FreeDigitalPhotos.net
What happens when you plagiarize someone else's resume? Don't even go there. “Think Different” by lekkyjustdoit at FreeDigitalPhotos.com

Resume Plagiarism: The Sordid Side of Executive Job Search

Resume Plagiarism: Avoid the Sordid Side in Your Executive Job Search

What happens when you copy from someone else’s resume (to you and them)? What do employers do to the resume to find the plagiarized content and how does that change your job prospects? Your resume is yours, to an extent, as original content is becoming less original. Read on to learn how you can avoid the appearance of having copied someone else’s resume–and perhaps save your entire job search from sinking.

Note: The quick answer is that no copying is allowed. The longer answer follows.

The combination of careers, experiences, and phrases to convey your background is limited, if you consider writing about only your job description. To that end, original content is becoming more difficult to create, even though it remains ethically wrong to directly copy information from another person’s resume or cover letter to claim it as your own.

How Can “They” Tell?

In many companies, the initial recruitment process is automated. Large companies received hundreds or even thousands of applications for any one open position. This means that digital applications or programs are used to sift through the numerous resumes and cover letters searching for keywords and requirements to identify qualified and ineligible applicants. Some job seekers will see that descriptions or skill sets can be easily copied from the hiring company’s website and pasted onto a resume to provide the illusion that the person has the exact set of skills desired for the position. Does strict copy-and-paste help the candidate? Definitely not.

What happens when you plagiarize someone else's resume? Don't even go there. “Think Different” by lekkyjustdoit at FreeDigitalPhotos.com

What happens when you plagiarize someone else’s resume? Don’t even go there.
“Think Different” by lekkyjustdoit at FreeDigitalPhotos.com

This opens the question: should a plagiarism check be used for resumes and will it actually work? The short answer is yes. Checking applicants through a plagiarism detecting software can show those applicants who are truly worthy applicants and those who are presenting skills they do not have. If the company values the importance of hiring the right person for the job, it would make sense to utilize the plagiarism check on the candidates who make it to the final round of decisions and interviews. Plagiarism, when detected, displays that the candidate is not only willing to lie to the company on the chance of getting a job but also cannot show their own skills properly. Checking for plagiarism eliminates candidates who are dishonest and do not have the skills necessary for the position.

Social Media Protection

With the use of social media sites such as LinkedIn, resume details and profile information can be easily copied and pasted onto a newly created profile. While you can post a Word document or a PDF version of a resume and cover letter, the most commonly copied bits of information are from the actual profile page. Copying from someone’s profile or having your profile information copied is wrong and there are ways to prevent individuals from keeping that information. Plagiarism is plagiarism–not flattery, not enhancing your abilities, and not increasing your chance of being hired.

Keeping your profiles up-to-date can help you attract attention from employers looking from your skill set however, if someone else has copied that information, or you have copied information from someone else, and both profiles appear in the search, it will appear as though both of the profiles are the same. The hiring professional will likely disregard both of the candidates, then, because they will not invest the time to discover who is the original owner of that information.

What do you do in that situation, if someone has copied your profile? First, make sure you are performing regular searches about something that is unique to your experience. Conduct an advanced search with “quoted keywords from your profile.” If you find results aside from yourself, someone has taken your information and posted it to their profile. Make sure you these individuals and call them out on it. Actually call them. Anyone can and will ignore an email, but it is much harder to ignore a phone call. The conversation will probably go a bit like this:

“Hi John. My name is Sam and I’m looking at your LinkedIn profile. It’s actually quite impressive and appears to be, in fact, a direct copy of my own profile.”

There will probably be more questions and a deeper conversation than above. Hopefully, they did not intend to copy your information with wrongful intentions and are now embarrassed that they were caught. Calling them will increase the chance that they will remove those pieces of their profile. However, if that is not the case and they refuse to remove the information, flag/report their profile to alert the authorities of the site and then contact tech support. LinkedIn’s tech support does not respond quickly so it is in your best interest to try to resolve the issue before contacting them.

Plagiarism of this kind is not just stealing or misrepresentation, it also limits the number of contacts the original owner of that information can make. This plagiarism creates a victim with few options to regain their strength.

How to Be Uniquely YOU in Your Resume

You also have to remember that if you use someone else’s resume as your own, there will be differences in experience. While some of your skills and general experiences may line up, not every project or achievement will be the same. Then, you have to realize that if you are doing this, someone else will have the same idea. What happens then, if you and that other person, are submitting the exact same resume, with different names, for the same position? Your resume needs to be a document that is unique to you.

There are guidelines to writing proper resumes that have been published to make it easier for you to craft the document. You can utilize professional resume writers and save yourself the trouble of creating all new content however, you would need to dedicate the time to provide as much unique information as possible.  Generic information or bland words don’t make you stand out on the page. Finding a way to represent yourself in a way that is unique to you and showcase your skills.

Hint: The combination of careers, experiences, and phrases to convey that information is limited, if you consider writing about only your job description. If you, as an executive resume writer would, capture the details of your outstanding accomplishments, nobody can claim your unique history, and you have ample discussion material for your interview to prove your unique expertise.

Creating your resume doesn’t have to be a chore or have you worrying about plagiarizing. Do your research to find unique ways to represent your experience. Executive resume writers (such as those of Five Strengths Career Transition Experts) will do this on your behalf, ethically and optimally tuning your resume to your goals.

 By Kaley Buck, Five Strengths Contributor

Smart Services to Pay for in your Job Search

Smart Services to Pay for in your Job Search

Smart Services to Pay for in your Job Search

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

When it is time to find a new job, no matter the circumstances, it can feel like a daunting task.  Even when you are tied into career networking and know the direction in which you would like to go, you can often feel very overwhelmed. Let’s talk about some often overlooked tools that you may not be utilizing.  These tools can prove to be instrumental in directing your job search and making it nearly painless.

  1. Job Boards

There are almost too many online job boards to count. So how do you know which job boards will not prove to be a waste of time? The truth is, this will take some work on your part.  You will want to stick with the familiar, large, more established sites that have been around and successful for a significant amount of time. Also you may want to start with those that are local if you are hoping to stay in the same geographical location. You may find that there is a minimal cost for access to some of these boards; however, many of them are free to use.

Hint:  Always use the advanced search options when searching for jobs on these sites.  By doing so you will significantly narrow down extra information and jobs that do not relate to your needs. This will help your search to be much more efficient.

  1. LinkedIn

If you aren’t already a member of LinkedIn it may be time to become one.  This network can be a valuable asset in your job search.  Rather than spending countless hours doing research or pounding the pavement looking for the perfect career opportunity, let others help you! By using career networking sites such as LinkedIn, you are sending out information about your job needs to a variety of people in many different types of work environments.  It is just like having a team of job recruiters on your payroll.  Don’t forget to give as much as, or even more, than you get—the more you help others, the more likely you are to receive the help you need as well.

  1. Background Checking Services

Have you ever wondered what a former employer would say about you?  You may not even be aware of this, but there are companies that will provide discreet calls to your last boss or supervisor to determine if they will give you a good reference.  One such company is Allison and Taylor, but there are also others.  These companies will help you to feel secure in knowing what potential employers will be told about you. They can also help you with background check reports and other personal areas that may come up as you search for that perfect job.  These services are not free, of course.  However, if you are serious about landing that position that you are qualified to have and just need to be given the chance, this route may be a helpful option for you.

  1. Resume Distribution Services

Resume distribution services are another excellent option that you may be failing to take advantage of.   These distribution companies can help make the most challenging job searches easy and efficient. They help you to reduce the time you would spend on a traditional job search.  These companies are able to maximize your exposure to extraordinary opportunities across the globe by distributing your resume to recruiters and companies that are actively filling positions in your area of expertise. Do a little homework (or ask Amy L. Adler at Five Strengths), find a reputable company and get your information out there!

  1. Resume Writing Services

The final service that is definitely worth mentioning is a resume writing service.  If you aren’t familiar with exactly how these work, let me give you the details.  You submit your relevant information such as: education, previous employers and work experience, additional skills, locations and fields that you are interested in, etc. You will probably also want to submit some form of a resume that you have used in the past.  Once they have all of the information that they need, they compile it into a simply amazing resume! Obviously this saves you both time and frustration!  Let’s face it, writing an attention getting, professional looking resume that will stand out above the rest is not an easy thing to do.  We are not all equipped with the skills or the time necessary to create an exceptional resume. Call Amy L. Adler at Five Strengths Career Transition Experts to talk about your current career goals and resume writing requirements.

And Remember….

No two job searches are the same.  You must personalize your journey.  Make choices that you have completely thought through and feel good about.  Be patient, it may take time.  There are countless “tools” available to help you, let that be a comfort.  Having many options and strategies to choose from is a great thing. Move forward with confidence!

By Brandy Higginson, Five Strengths Contributor

Man holding sign reading "unemployed."

How to Proceed after a Layoff: 5 Practical Strategies

How to Proceed after a Layoff: 5 Practical Strategies

Companies have ups and downs with the changes in the economy, and your employment status depends on the company’s stability. Being laid off is not the end of your career, as the layoff is not for cause—the job simply ceases to exist. Consider the following strategies to help you after a “separation,” an umbrella term for the various reasons you and your company part ways:

Take care of you.

Whatever the reason for the separation, it is never a pleasant experience. Allow time to heal; don’t waste your time being angry at your previous employer. Think about where you might have the ambition to work next, and prepare for your future rather than dwell on your past. You will find another job in your career field, provided it may take time. The best course of action, in the meantime, would be to work on yourself. This means you can allow yourself to grieve the loss of your former role while focusing on your future.

Reconnect with or build your network.

Man holding sign reading "unemployed."

Unemployment isn’t the end of your career. Start rebuilding with these 5 practical strategies for recovering after a layoff.

When you are ready to return to your career field, you will want that network to build on and rely on for opportunities. Branch out with contacts via LinkedIn or other business social media, and turn those online connections into phone calls and meetings to support your new job search.

Building your network:

  • Enhances skills you can bring to a business
  • Supports fresh ideas for your current or new organization
  • Develops an improved understanding of the business environment

—all helping you become a stronger leader and finer follower. It takes time to build a successful network, especially if you have not used this strategy before, yet it will be worth the effort.

One caveat: Don’t assume they understand your immediate needs or ask those contacts for a job. This is a binary, dead-end question that only can be answered “yes” or “no.” Instead of asking this closed question, use your networking opportunities to generate deeper, broader insights into your contact’s experience and expertise.

Volunteer in your career field or in your community.

Volunteer work adds skills to your personal knowledge bank and meat to your resume. It can also provide you with an activity to fill your time while you are in job limbo. Volunteering supports your current passions or demonstrates work you aren’t fit for. There are plenty of reasons to volunteer: to benefit others, to make a difference, to develop additional skills, to feel better about yourself, to explore other areas of interest, and numerous others. And, this volunteer experience can become a line item on your resume, which explains fruitfully what you have been doing since the time you separated from your company.

Learn a new skill.

Don’t just pass time — build on your abilities and enhance your skills. Maybe there is a computer program you’ve always longed to learn or a communication skill you recognize you need to improve on. Consider this time now available to build new skills and complete that course or certification you have been thinking about. Work on that new skill and add it to your knowledge bank.

Prepare your resume.

A resume is not just for earning your next job. It allows you to highlight your accomplishments and the skills you earned from those accomplishments. You can either use the time to reflect on your career and the skills you have and prepare a sparkling resume yourself or, as recommended, you can hire a professional resume writer to give your resume that extra polished feel.

Remember, a layoff reflects no fault of your own. The majority of layoffs involve mass groups of the company’s employees, not just one, not just you. Employers take the time to consider each individual they layoff, your being on the list is chalked up to crummy luck. Who is laid off has little to do with work ethic and competence and more to do with the budget or politics of the company’s situation. Dust yourself off and strive toward getting back out in your field.

By Kaley Buck, Five Strengths Contributor

Image by winnond at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

2014 Federal Tax Deductions for Resume Writing and Job Search Expenses

2014 Federal Tax Deductions for Resume Writing and Job Search Expenses

Although I’m not an accountant, I wanted to let you all know that there are good resources on the IRS web site that speak to the deductions you can take for your job search expenses. According to http://www.irs.gov/uac/Newsroom/Job-Hunting-Expenses, the following job search expenses count as deductions, if you are searching for a job in your current line of work:

  • Resume costs
  • Travel expenses
  • Placement agency fees.

Of course, check with your accountant or tax preparer to determine whether your specific job search expenses are deductible on your Schedule A on your 2014 Federal tax, as some job search expenses are not deductible.

 

Five Easy Steps to Executive Resume Readability

Five Easy Steps to Executive Resume Readability

Sometimes, people write things they don’t really want others to read. The fine print that flashes by other commercial. That long text at the end of the credits on every “The Big Bang Theory” episode. The note you passed to your best friend in sixth grade.

But not your resume. If your resume is not readable, nobody will try to read it no matter how amazing your experience may be. Here are five easy steps you can take to ensure that your resume is readable, presentable, and sending the message you, as an executive, need to send to your future hiring leader.Five Steps to Executive Resume Readability

  1. Use the right typeface. Whether you call it typeface or font, be sure to use a style and size that is easy to read. My personal favorites are Times New Roman and Arial, as they are universal to every computer. Second bests are Calibri and Cambria, Tahoma, Verdana, and Century, all in 11-point type. You may also try Arial Narrow or Garamond, but do not use either one of these in a size smaller than 11 points. While you don’t have to make your resume scream in the style of John Hancock, you do want to ensure that the typeface you have picked is more or less universally available and in a size that an ordinary person would consider large enough to read. It should go without saying that typefaces with scrollwork or shadows are better suited to documents that are not professionally oriented.
  2. Use horizontal rules and shading appropriately. Feel free to break up your text with horizontal rules and highlight important pieces of data with tasteful shading. Good color choices are gray, green, tan, and blue. I tend to stay away from red, as percentages of red come out pink, which I don’t like on professional documents. Of course, you will need to evaluate your specific industry and the expectations of your future hiring manager to determine how design-heavy you want to be. If you are applying for a marketing directorship or design a leadership role, you may be expected to present a resume that is heavy on design. On the other hand, if you are applying to be a bank executive or a financial leader, more plain may tend to be better for your specific outcomes.
  3. Use the right margin size. Although there are many ways to present resume date up well, a good rule of thumb is to decrease your margins from the standard 1-inch level to .5 inch to .65 inch. The benefit is you will have more page real estate to use, and your resume won’t look like it was styled after a college paper.
  4. Use page numbers and headers for page 2 and beyond. I agree, that headers take up space, but it would be tragic for one of your two-or three-page resume to go missing from the stack  without a marker to tell its reader with which candidate it belongs. You can feel pretty confident that a busy professional with a stack of resumes to read won’t take the time to sort out which paper belongs with which candidate, so please make it easy for that person to solve this potential problem.
  5. Standard resumes for executives do not exceed three pages. You may find a one-page resume or executive biography suffices for a particular purpose. Most professionals typically need two pages to do justice to their entire career history. And many executives often find their resumes go on to three pages, which at that level, it’s perfectly acceptable. It is not a good choice to exceed the three-page limit for the basic information of your career history. If your resume is too long, your reader simply won’t read to the end. Take advantage of your resume real estate in the most effective way possible, and be concise about your accomplishments. If you have additional information you want to present, for example a list of publications, presentations, or volunteer leadership roles, then please do include a separate document with a separate heading as an addendum. But the rule of thumb of one to three pages overall is a good one to follow.

In conclusion, readability of the resume document itself can be as important as its contents. It is possible that a hiring manager might find your resume hard to read and put it aside simply because it doesn’t match the expectations for usability. Do not be one of those whose resume is consigned to the trash simply because you didn’t consider the documents overall readability and design.

Learn why your executive resume isn’t making the cut: Top 5 Resume Mistakes That Say “Don’t Hire Me”