Monthly Archives: September 2016

Resume Writing Secrets Used By Experts

Starting to write your executive resume?

Many business people sitting in chairs and looking at papers

You might feel overwhelmed by the amount of information needed to produce a standout document – especially if you have decades of experience to cover.

I recommend taking a step back to look at your value proposition and contributions from throughout your career, framing your story step by step. Not only will this aid you in writing your resume succinctly and clearly, but you’ll be in better shape when it comes to fielding interview questions.

Consider using these 5 tactics to mine for career and personal branding in an executive career (the same steps employed by professional resume experts):

1 – Interview Yourself.

Ever stopped to ask yourself the same critical questions thrown at you in an interview? Most people don’t.  However, you’ll find that providing answers to these queries is a great pre-writing exercise for developing your executive resume.

As a first step, note your responses to these common questions:

  • What do you offer that makes you a competitive candidate?
  • How have you changed company operations, revenues, or market share for the better?
  • What do you expect to be accomplishing in your first year on the job?
  • How have your previous positions prepared you for this role?

Next, take your answers and fold them into the summary section of your new executive resume. You should have a list of key qualifications and an impression of the ROI you’ve generated, as well as an idea of your future contributions, from this exercise.

2 – Include Your Top Success Stories.

If you haven’t made a list of your top 10 career hits, now’s the time to do so. In fact, don’t stop at 10! Continue on until you’ve documented the best examples of your leadership abilities and reasons for promotion.

To include these in your executive resume, consider using a format such as C-A-R (which stands for Challenge-Action-Result) to show the situation you stepped into, the actions you took, and the resulting outcome for your employer.

When you add success stories like these, you’ll find these narratives will resonate far more with a prospective employer than a tired listing of job duties and divisional responsibilities.

3 – Answer The “Why Should I Hire You?” Question.

Consider this: when an employer makes an investment in you, they’re automatically rejecting the talents of every other executive candidate. They’re also taking the chance that the expenditures needed to hire you will result in serious ROI.

When you form your answer, think in terms of what this employer will gain? What can you deliver faster (or to higher-quality standards) than other candidates? Will your teams be more well-trained or responsive? How will you take the company’s needs seriously — and produce results attuned to their internal and external customer requirements?

You don’t have to supply a grandiose response to use it in your executive resume. Simply list the unique qualifications and capabilities you bring to the table, then further illustrate these competencies with success stories (see #2 above), and accolades from others (see #4 below). Back these skills up with metrics showing your results in cost savings or profit.

4 – Poll Your Colleagues.

Here, you can put the feedback from bosses, customers, and co-workers to good use. Chances are good that you’ve received kudos from the Board, within customer responses, on your LinkedIn Profile, and via email from colleagues. This information needn’t be contained in a formal recommendation letter to be valid; you might spot a pattern in the abilities that others have noted in their commendations.

Take a few minutes to summarize these accolades for use in your executive resume, pulling in a sound bite such as “Commended for hiring employees later promoted to SVP and VP roles.” You can also use a quote from a former boss or subordinate, shortening it for clarity and noting the job title of the source (such as “Peter’s skill in Lean Six Sigma has allowed our operation to become 34% more efficient.” – COO).

Tough Job Search Problems

The key to achieving your career goals rests first in knowing that you are a valuable person with a unique combination of skills and talents to offer the world, and then implementing a plan of action to identify and capitalize on that talent.

The following stories are based on real-life, job search problems and their solutions.

Each person overcame their roadblocks and used talent, perseverance and a plan to reach their dreams – and so can you.

Job Search Challenge #1: I’m Too Old.

John had been searching for a manufacturing management position for more than 8 months and had mailed his chronological resume in response to numerous newspaper ads. He was quite surprised that his resume had not generated a single call for an interview.

However, one glance at his resume clearly indicated the problem.

His resume outlined 30+ years of employment in a series of brief job description statements.

Solution:
Sadly, some employers may be reluctant to hire older adults for any number of reasons.

While there are many employers who value the maturity and skills of seasoned managers and executives, it is wise to play down age and focus on accomplishments. Keep in mind that resumes are not your memoirs, and it is not necessary to list your entire career history. Instead, concentrate on your most recent 15 or so years of relevant experience, emphasize your results and leave off dates in the education section.

Remember that the purpose of a resume is to generate interviews. Once you have the opportunity for an interview, you can convey flexibility, a team attitude, enthusiasm, and energy that will impress your interviewer.

Challenge #2: I’m Too Young and Don’t Have Any Experience.

Dan recently graduated from college and was eager to begin a career in marketing. His resume had produced only a couple of interviews and no job offers appeared on the horizon. Dan was convinced that age and lack of experience were to blame.

However, his sketchy chronological resume didn’t indicate any skills and training relevant to his career goal.

Solution:
It’s a Catch-22. You are enthusiastic about starting your new career, but you cannot land a job because you do not have the experience.

Right?

Think again.

You may be underestimating your skills and knowledge.

First, take inventory of all your skills, training, courses, and experiences (both paid and unpaid).

Second, use a functional resume format that will emphasize your skills and accomplishments related to your career objective.

Third, treat any relevant unpaid experience as work experience. Show how you have progressed since your first job, indicating any advancement or additional responsibilities gained through your diligence and results.

Fourth, you also will benefit by joining professional associations in your field. Attend association meetings and get acquainted with other professionals and volunteer to serve on special projects or committees to show what you can do.

You will not only build new skills but new contacts for employment opportunities as well.

Challenge #3: Too Many Jobs and Work History Gaps.

Marlene’s husband was transferred by his company to a new state every two or three years. Initially, Marlene didn’t have any problem landing a position in her new community. After a few moves and three short-term jobs, Marlene found the responses to her resume in short supply.

Her resume format clearly drew attention to her erratic employment history.

Solution:
If you have had a series of positions, it can be detrimental to list all employment on your resume.

For example, you can easily eliminate jobs that were less than a year or even close to two years without noticeable gaps. To achieve the greatest impact, structure your resume in a functional format that focuses on accomplishments followed by a work history section.

The same principles will apply if you have been unemployed for several years because you were raising a family, caring for an ailing family member, recuperating from an illness, or attending college.

Customize Your Resume for Different

Are you applying for similar roles but with different companies? Maybe you’ve decided to save yourself time by submitting the exact same resume to each position. It may be tempting, but don’t do it! You may think you can get away with submitting carbon-copy resumes, but employers can spot them a mile away.

If you are applying for very similar jobs within the same industry but among different companies and need to find ways to customize your resume, here are four ways to make subtle, simple changes that can have a great impact on your resume response rate.

1. Change the Title/Job Target

One way to customize your resume to the different positions you’re applying for is to adjust the title/job target of your resume so that it reflects your unique skills. This works well if you are posting your resume online and want to attract slightly different recruiters and hiring managers or are submitting directly to employers.

For example, if you are a registered nurse (RN) who is skilled in cardiac medicine and experienced as a travel nurse, you may write two resumes—one with the title “Cardiac RN with 10 Years’ Experience in Diagnosis and Intervention” and another titled “Skilled Travel RN with 10 Years’ Cardiac Experience and Flexible Schedule” to help you reach different audiences effectively.

2. Reorder the Keywords

Another way to customize your resume is to reorder your keywords. This is especially important if you’re posting your resume online and don’t want to post the same resume multiple times. But even if you’re submitting resumes to different employers, it’s good to create unique resumes—even if you’re simply shifting keywords to create subtle differences.

3. Rearrange Your Bullet Points

As you adjust your resumes for each job you’re applying for, you can try rearranging your bullet points so that the most important information for that position is listed first. For instance, if you are the travel RN with cardiac experience, you could rearrange your accomplishments so that your stellar cardiac background is listed first in one resume and, in the other, your travel experience is listed first.

4. Revise Your Career Summary

Your career summary is your chance to highlight moments that stand out the most in your time as a professional. You want this summary to be tailored as closely as possible to the job you want. This means it’s time to dig through the job posting to explore the critical requirements of the job. You want to make sure that you list your greatest moments that also mirror what the employer wants most in a candidate.

Tips for Successful Holiday Job Searchin

Your head tells you, “No one is hiring.” I am here to tell you that it is not true. This is actually the time we get to have fun with this process!

The holidays can present many leads to pursue and an abundance of opportunities to expand your network.

Whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, here are practices you can do to make job searching and holiday networking easier for you during this season:

(1) Networking is not only about attending events—use the phone.

Each day, call one friend and one former co-worker to whom you have not spoken with in a while and see how they are doing. Then let the conversation gravitate to what you are up to…naturally.

(2) Gravitate towards the positive people. Stay clear of the ‘bah-humbug’ crowd.

It is imperative to stay positive during the holidays. I am all for helping people with a pick-me-up. But if you feel someone is just a Debbie Downer who is going to bring you down with him/her, then find someone else to chat with, learn about and help. This is networking not therapy. Help someone who wants your help.

(3) When attending events, enter the event thinking, “Who can I help?” versus having the “Ugh, I don’t know anyone!” or “What are they going to think of me?” mindset.

You will appear more genuine and less stressed if you want to offer assistance than if you are feeling you have to fit in with the crowd.

(4) Do your homework before choosing to attend events.

Does it make sense for you to attend the event? If two events present itself, pick one and do it well. Don’t spread yourself too thin. Research who will be attending to evaluate how it can fulfill your personal or professional goals. Make sure attending serves a purpose for you—even if it is just to have fun.

(5) Not sure what to say or ask? Read “The Fine Art of Small Talk” by Debra Fine.

Choose 4-5 questions out of this book to help you get a conversation started. Or use it to create some of your own stand-bys. This will help reduce the awkward silences that can arise. Some of my favs that get things rolling:

a. How are you connected to this group? What brings you to the event?

b. What kind of day did you have today?

c. What do you enjoy most about what you do? What do you find most challenging?

d. Plans for the weekend? (then ask them how long they –or their children—have been engaged in that activity)

(6) Find a buddy to attend the event with you.

But do not spend the event chatting with each other. You can do that anytime. Plan to facilitate introductions for each other as you meet people throughout the event.

(7) Get there early whenever possible—easier to start conversations with the early crowd.

It can be a challenge to enter conversations already started if you are late.

Executive Resume is More Important Than You Realize

When applying for a job, the burden falls on you to prove you’re the best executive candidate—no surprise to you, I’m sure.  A great way to show your worth and prove you’re the right executive is by focusing on what the employer needs, then writing an executive resume that addresses those needs specifically.

Targeting Your Executive Resume Proves You Are the Best Fit for the Position

Employers absolutely need to know that the candidate they choose for a job is the best fit, which they do by confirming that a candidate’s past accomplishments and current skill set fall in line with the important day-to-day tasks and overarching goals of the position.

If you write a generic executive resume that doesn’t take into account the specific needs of the company or showcase your professional capabilities, you are failing to prove that you are right for the position.  Unfortunately, another candidate would be more than happy to pick up your slack—and take your job while they’re at it.

How Can You Ensure Your Executive Resume Is Targeted?

So how can you create that targeted executive resume that will show the employer that you deserve the interview?

1. Research the company and position: A great way to target your executive resume is to dig in and learn about the company and what the employer wants from its candidates.  Once you acquire this information, you will be armed with specifics that can help you determine the types of contributions you can make to the company.

2. Customize a job target/title, branding statement, and career summary: Instead of writing a bland objective statement, place a job target/title at the top of your resume that defines who you are as an executive candidate.  Also, create a branding statement (a one- or two-line statement that sums up the value you can offer each employer based upon their needs and how you can meet them) that is customized to the specific position.  Then write an executive summary (most commonly a bullet point list that shares your career highlights) listing accomplishments most pertinent to the position at the top.

3. Utilize keywords throughout: It’s also important to utilize specific keywords in your executive resume.  For example, if you are applying as an executive chef in the hospitality industry, you might incorporate keyword phrases such as “menu planning”, “kitchen equipment”, “banquet meal production”, and “procurement of food supplies” as indicators of your knowledge of the field. Keywords should be used in your job target/title, branding statement, career summary, and most other sections in your resume.

Targeting your executive resume requires a bit more effort but offers a lot in return.  By taking time to tailor resumes for each company to which you apply, you give them no doubt that you are the best person for the job.

A Short Attention Span

Realistically, that’s about as likely as presidential candidates shaking hands courteously, patting each other on the back, and exchanging friendly smiles–and meaning it!

EMPLOYER HIRING PRACTICE SHORTCOMINGS AND YOUR JOB SEARCH

Despite the times I’ve commented on employers’ extensive hiring practice shortcomings with regard to treatment of job seekers, I should probably try to be fair to them. Yes, they often treat candidates shabbily, but….

More often than not, employers are inundated with submissions whenever they publish a job opening. Those candidates who fail to take seriously the planning and preparation necessary to conduct an effective job search will either get skipped over entirely or, at best, receive a cursory glance before being put aside.

If you fall into that category, you probably won’t get the employer attention you need and want in order to land the position you’re after.

Think about it. When you get a flood of offers for a product or service you’re not even sure you’re interested in, how much time do you spend looking through those offers? They need to be attention-getting and compelling if they’re going to persuade you to devote your precious time to reading them, much less considering the investment the senders want you to make.

YOUR WIIFU MESSAGE TO POTENTIAL EMPLOYERS

Consider this critical point: Does your resume (and cover letter, if you’re using one) answer an essential question for employers–What’s In It For Us (WIIFU)? In other words, “Why should we care? What can you do for us that 5,000 other candidates can’t, don’t, or won’t?”

If your WIIFU (value) message doesn’t make you stand out, you’ve wasted your time–and the employer’s.This illustration concept shows the level of ROI. Return of investment is the gains compared to the cost.

Just to be clear, I’m not talking about unsupported superlatives or general claims (see examples below). The WIIFU element needs to communicate specific value to employers that sets you apart–your ROI potential. Ideally, the value message includes quantified/measurable information, which can give you a big advantage over candidates who don’t bother to provide this critical information.

WEAK SUBMISSIONS CAN “KILL” YOUR JOB SEARCH

And, no, using hype to get employer attention is NOT the way to go. A partial definition of the word reads “when the actual thing doesn’t turn out to be as good as expected.” Even if that gets you a phone call, it’s unlikely to result in an interview and even less likely to produce a job offer.

Ineffective (weak) submissions include wording such as the following:

  • Highly successful project completion
  • Increased revenue and profit
  • Cost-reduction expert
  • Award-winning sales professional
  • Record-setting, visionary leader