Feature: The Right Stuff for Resumes
Most of us view writing a resume as just slightly more pleasurable than doing our taxes. And, nothing could be further from the truth. While your tax filing indicates what the Government is going to take from you, your resume describes what you have brought to your career. It details the skills you’ve acquired, the responsibilities you’ve accepted, and the accomplishments you have achieved. In truth, your resume is a socially acceptable form of bragging, that most of us never practice.
That lack of practice, however, is what gets us into trouble. Most of us don’t write a resume until we’re in transition and often under pressure to find a new or better job fast. Building a complete and compelling history of your career is always a challenge, but doing it from scratch and/or under a deadline is what gives writing a resume a bad name. It’s all too easy to leave important details out, to include inaccurate information by mistake and to emphasize the wrong points for the opportunities you seek. In today’s workplace, you just never know when your dream job will come along or your employer will announce a staff reduction without warning. It’s absolutely essential, therefore, that you have an up-to-date resume all of the time and that it brags accurately, but persuasively about your value as an employee.
Even the best written resume that’s submitted at just the right time, however, will not guarantee you’ll be properly considered in today’s job market. Consider these findings from a recent survey by CareerBuilder.com:
To put it another way, the competition for the best jobs is fierce, and you must assume that you’ll have to be better than at least 50 and often 100 or more other applicants in order to get an offer. How can you do that? Here are some suggestions:
Never submit a generic resume. Employers and recruiters know that your resume was written on a word processor so they believe that tailoring it to a specific opening is not only easy but a measure of your desire. From their point of view, if you aren’t willing to invest the time to focus your resume on a given position’s requirements, you are unlikely to have the commitment necessary to succeed in the position. Certainly, you should still write a cover letter or message to point out certain key aspects of your record, but that communication should repeat and reinforce the factors that make you a dream candidate, not introduce them for the first time or point them out in a resume that’s cluttered with extraneous information.
Use the vocabulary of employers. While there are many ways in the English language to articulate your capabilities and accomplishments, there is only one way that information will be recognized by an employer. You must speak their language or rather the language they use with their resume management system. A large and growing number of employers now store applicant resumes in the databases of these computer-based systems. Their recruiters then search these databases using keywords to identify qualified candidates for each of their openings. Unlike humans, however, the computers cannot extrapolate or make inferences. They look only for exact matches between the recruiter’s keywords and the vocabulary on your resume. When tailoring that document, therefore, don’t search for just the right word, but instead, adopt the words the employer uses to search. Where can you find them? Look at the nouns and phrases the employer uses in its job postings and recruitment ads.
Make sure your resume is database friendly. In order to avoid having to maintain two different inventories of resumes-the computerized database for those received online and file cabinets for those received on paper-most employers are now scanning paper resumes into their resume management system. The technology involved, however, is often finicky. If it “sees” something it doesn’t like in your resume, it will transform the information into an unintelligible jumble that will prevent you from ever being identified as a qualified candidate. To avoid that situation, use a resume format that the scanner will like. Use black ink on white paper, a font size of eleven points or larger, and a font without a serif (e.g., Arial rather than Times New Roman). In addition, since most scanners do not read the front and back of a document, it’s important to produce each page of your resume on a separate sheet of paper.
No resume is perfect because no document can fully capture the personal qualities of a person. Words are simply unable to describe the right stuff you offer an employer. Until someone comes along with a better alternative, however, we’re stuck with these records. To be considered for your dream job, therefore, your resume has to work as hard as you do. And, for it to do that, your resume has to have the right stuff too.
Thanks for reading,
P.S. Remember what you learned in kindergarten: It’s nice to share. Don’t keep WEDDLE’s to yourself. If you like our newsletter, please tell your friends and colleagues about it. They’ll appreciate your thinking of them. And, we will too!
Section Two: Site News You Can Use
CareerBuilder.com introduced its Age-O-Matic feature which enables you to determine just how you’ll look (or maybe already do) if you continue to work in your current job. You upload your photo or use one the site supplies and then move scales up and down to indicate your opinion of your coworkers, bosses and output on-the-job. It’s clearly not a scientific evaluation-there are no positive responses to select-and you won’t be allowed to age gracefully. So, while you can add your name to the results and e-mail them to a friend or colleague, that might not be the wisest course. Most of the final photos resemble the chimps in CareerBuilder’s Super Bowl ads. Nevertheless, the feature does point out just how lousy you can feel (and look) when employed in the wrong job, the wrong organization or both. The subliminal message, of course, is that if you feel the way you’re likely to look if you keep the job you have, it’s time to search for another one.
TheLadders.com released the results of its survey of discrimination in the workplace, and unfortunately, such behavior is still a regular occurrence. Better than eight-out-of-ten respondents (81%) reported that they had witnessed some form of discrimination on-the-job, while more than half (54%) said that the problem was as bad today as it was ten years ago. The most prevalent forms of discrimination they cited were:
When asked to identify the sources of this behavior, an astonishing 77% said that it originated in the subtle cues as well as the explicit policies of the corner office. In essence, discrimination is a failure of leadership. What should you do if confronted with discriminatory behavior on-the-job or during a job search? First, get your facts together. Remove emotion as much as you can from your observations of the situation. Then, bring it to the attention of the employer’s ombudsman (or similar honest broker) if one is available. If not, bring it to attention of the boss’s boss. CEOs report to the Board of Directors, and in today’s regulatory environment, it’s a rare Board that will risk ignoring such illegal behavior. Unquestionably, there is risk involved in taking such a step, but the danger’s even greater in letting discrimination go unchecked.
StolenIDSearch.com was launched as a free resource that will help you determine if your social security number has been posted in a public document on the Web. Apparently, despite concerns about identity theft, some states and counties are still posting the images of documents that contain individual Social Security numbers, addresses, dates of birth, maiden names and other sensitive personal information. You have to wonder what planet these governmental agencies have been operating on not to realize the danger of such practices. Anyway, the site enables you to search through 2,369,669 Social Security numbers that have already been compromised by such public exposure. It is owned by TrustedID, a company that sells services to consumers to give them more control over who can see their credit information, and is VeriSign secured and hacker-safe.
WEDDLE’s publishes a fast way to find job boards for busy people. Called WEDDLE’s WIZNotes, it is a series of tailored guides, each of which provides compact, but complete profiles of the key sites that specialize in a specific career field or employment situation. There are WIZNotes for:
All you have to do is select the WIZNotes that’s right for you. And best of all, WEDDLE’s WIZNotes are a bargain to boot! To learn more and order your WIZNotes, please click on the appropriate link to your left or call 317.916.9424. Order today!
Section Three: Site Profiles
Site Insite … how well do you know the Web’s 40,000+ job boards?
1. After watching your employer come away empty handed at the Academy Awards, you’ve decided it’s time to move on. If you have over a decade of experience managing creative development, where could you go online to dream up some new opportunities?
2. You’ve just moved to Chicago and need to find a job that uses your background in managing product development projects. Which of the following sites would help you oversee a successful campaign to introduce yourself to potential employers?
3. You’re looking for a position with lots of growth potential, and a friend recently suggested that you try the mining industry. If the idea intrigues you, where could you go online to dig up some employment possibilities?
Site Spotlite … from the pages of WEDDLE’s 2007/8 Guides and Directories
Post full time jobs: Yes
Post part time, contract or consulting jobs: Yes-All
Distribution of jobs: Regional/USA: Upper Midwest
Number of jobs: 500
Salary levels of jobs: Up to $75K/yr
Offer a job agent: No
Resume database: Yes (resumes not searchable by employers)
How long are resumes stored: Indefinitely
Restrictions on who can post: No
Other services for job seekers: Assessment instruments, Job search/career information, Links to other sites with job search/career resources
Member, International Association of Employment Web Sites: Yes
Answers to Site Insite
1. All of them.
2. Only OpsLadder.com and allPM.com; PMTalent is the site of a talent agency and ProjectPeople is the site of a U.K.-based staffing firm.
3. Just MiningJobs.org; Miners.com is the site of a couple named Miner, WeDig.com is the site of a consultant named Wedig, and DigDirt is the site of an investigative services company.