Monday, December 22, 2008

Two-for-One Sale: Get Your Interview Tips Now!

I sent out a HARO request the other day asking for input on resume do's and dont's. I was flooded with so many good suggestions I couldn't use them all for my Gannett News Service and column, so I'm offering you a great deal today: Super resume advice at no cost to you! (I think I'm spending too much time reading the retailer ads that bombard my e-mail every day.)

Anyway, I'll let these people tell you in their own words what you can do to help you in your job search:

"One of my pet peeves is extremely vague objective (resume)statements. These are statements like "Objective: A position with a strong, stable company where I can use my skills and expertise to contribute to growth and advance my career." No kidding. This applies to every employee, everywhere. No one sends me a resume that says, "I'm looking to work for a financially shaky firm, in a dead-end role, at a lower salary, doing tasks that I have no knowledge of or experience with."
-- Anne Howard, Lynn Hazan & Associates

"When you write the cover letter and tailor the resume, be sure to reference the job posting and be specific in your response to what they’re seeking. If you don’t have actual job experience, explain how you obtained the skills needed. If you have actually done a particular task, make sure they can easily determine when and where." -- Minde Frederick,OBERON, LLC

"I once got a resume with a picture of a banana on it and a sidebar that read, "I'm ripening...". It definitely caught my attention but for all the wrong reasons. Bold moves are not required. Give me clean, clear and concise any day." -- Caroline Ceniza-Levine, SixFigureStart Career Coaching

"With the influx of applicants returning from military duty, most hiring managers in private sector organizations don't understand military job titles or levels and have no idea what duties or responsibilities are associated with those positions. Therefore, I recommend that individuals with military experience rewrite their resume to show what they did such as the number of individuals supervised or led, financial experience relative to budgets, project goals and how they were met, etc." -- Q VanBenschoten, North America for Intertek

"I particularly do not appreciate people who use 'non-words' such as 'like' or 'umm' or 'uh' throughout their sentences. This has become a significant communications problem particularly among those just entering the workplace. Whether a person works on the factory floor, in an office environment or on the road, the manner in which the information is conveyed is important to understanding the message." -- Douglas Duncan, Your HR Solutions

"We'd like to see more people include links to additional content available on them - a link to their blog, or white papers and articles they may have written. Anything that helps reinforce and demonstrate what they've stated in their resume." -- Mark Rouse, IQ PARTNERS Inc.

"Turnoffs: weird or inappropriate email addresses (, for example), strange 'personal interests,' and anything that is disparaging to a former employer." -- Gretchen Neels,Neels & Company, Inc.

"Spelling errors will get you thrown out. In addition, I only look at the work history, the cover letter, and most of the body are generally junk. With 100's of resumes to read you have to focus on what is important." -- Michael D. Hayes, Momentum Specialized Staffing

Any other advice that job seekers should follow?

Lijit Search


Anonymous said...

I'd like to disabuse people of the notion that "longer is better" when it comes to resumes. Focus on presenting only relevant information; it's important to demonstrate that you know how to filter properly, not just drone on and on. Bottom line: unless it's a HIGHLY specialized opening with lots of requirements, two pages should suffice.

Anita said...

Great addition to this post. Job seekers need to remember that hiring managers are being inundated with resumes right now, and their time is very limited. Keeping your resume to the most relevant information is key.

Anonymous said...

Here's a tip: Don't forget to use "keywords." Many companies use software to scan cover letters and resumes, looking for matches of required qualifications. If enough matches are not found, the resume is rejected without a human looking at it. Go through the job announcement and note the key words and phrases, and be sure to use those exact words and phrases in your cover letter/resume (but only if they apply to you, of course).

Anita said...

That's a good point -- not only will the software be looking for it, but even if a human being is scanning a resume, they're going to gravitate resumes that seem to match their ad the best.

Unknown said...

Some people omit their graduation dates on their resume so an employer cannot calculate their age. But omitting the date may actually call more attention to the very thing you are trying to hide. Furthermore, employers may assume you are much older than you actually are when you eliminate the dates. Be transparent and include graduation dates on your resume. It's a more authentic and wiser strategy.

Anita said...

Actually, I'm a little surprised that you say to keep the dates in. Many experts have told me to eliminate them for older job seekers. But you bring up a good point of being completely transparent. Thanks for pointing out this other side of the story.

Anonymous said...

After 28 years in IT with the same company, that company was sold and layoffs were announced. I was one of them. I had long read of the difficulty of finding jobs for those of us on the plus side of 50. I had also read a lot of advice about resumes, all similiar to what I have read here, so I immediately started sending mine out to sites on the internet - a succinct, two page beauty using keywords, accomplishments, skill sets, etc.

A week later I received my first call from a recruiter, who said my resume was “a little thin”. So I added all the details I had deleted the first time. I ended up with a seven page document, which I reposted to all the sites I had covered before.

I had a phone call from another recruiter, a phone interview with a company, and a firm job offer – all within a day and a half after I posted the second resume.

Some might say that a resume for a technical position should be more detailed than other resumes, but I really felt I had covered all the technical highlights in my first two page resume. So I’m not sure how to explain this “failure” of the common mantra of “keep it short.” Maybe the longer resume somehow satisfied an IT manager’s need for “more documentation”? :)

Anita said...

What an interesting story -- thanks for sharing it.
What I think is important to remember is that hiring managers are just people, with their likes and dislikes. So, what one may think is important, another may think is frivolous. In the course of doing this story, I do remember one hiring manager saying that a five-page resume didn't bug her, especially if the person had a lot of experience to cover. But the majority of those asked this question said they preferred it be kept to about two pages, mostly because they didn't have the time to read more.
I'd be interested to hear what others have to say about this....

Anonymous said...

I know many experts recommend leaving the dates off, but recruiters and hiring managers generally look at company names and dates and education during an initial 15-second scan of the resume. They don't like it when something is missing; it makes the applicant look intentionally deceptive...not a good way to start off the employer/applicant relationship.

Anita said...

Thanks for adding to this discussion. I think it's always a good idea that job seekers are armed with as much information as possible before they begin their job search -- you've brought up some really good points for them to consider.

Anonymous said...

I think the hardest thing about resumes is that there is no one "right" way to do them. I agree with Barb that leaving off dates calls more attention to age.

As to length, it is nice to have some flexibility, but be sure you don't stretch to 2 pages just because you "can." Typically, depending on the industry, I have my clients with 10 or less years of experience stick to one page unless there is a reason for a longer resume. (Some industries like longer resumes - such as IT.)

Key advice pertaining to length: your resume isn't an autobiography. It's highlights - chapter headings, so to speak.

Anita said...

I'm grateful you've added your input, since I know you spend a lot of time working with job seekers.

Anonymous said...

So I guess I should delete the banana clip art from my resume? Ha ha.

Most job seekers include their job duties on their resume but don't consistently mention the impact they made. For example, were they able to save the company time or money? Did they make recommendations? If so, to whom? Were they adopted?

For each bullet on your resume, ask "what?"--usually what's included in your job description, and "so what?"--what was the outcome or impact on your employer?

Anita said...

Great suggestions. I think the "so what" is a great tool -- that's especially important now that the competition is so fierce.
Maybe you can use you banana art on your holiday cards next year? :)