10 Simple Rules to Writing a Resume

1. Style & Font are least important:  If I help someone “tweak” their resume and the style is OK, I try not to change it. (Style meaning what kind of bullet points they use or whether they block things off with lines est.)

2. Length is even less important: Too many people worry whether their resume is 1 page, or 2 pages ect. A resume is as long as it needs to be to get the point across.

3. Simple is best: If something is confusing or redundant, change it.

4. Be consistent: Having dates as 3/09 in one place and March 2009 in another or using 7 different fonts is not what you want.
5. This is not an art project: The color purple should never appear on a resume unless you are Barney the Dinosaur and even that is questionable.  Please, no pictures unless you are looking for a job in the Philippines; for some reason every resume I have ever seen from there has the candidates picture on it.
6. Your resume is a marketing tool: It is meant to represent you at your best.  It should be accurate but does not have to include every detail of your life…especially if it makes you look weird or stupid.
7.  It should read like a book: Title at the top, (name, address, email, phone, est. ) syllabus underneath (accomplishments or skills) chapters below. (Job history, education est.) Chapters are read in chronological order and make sense.
8. The Summary and Accomplishments are critical to getting someone to read your resume: They need to be strong and engaging. If you can get a WOW! Out of someone’s mouth when they read your accomplishments you have done your job.  The Summary & Accomplishments should change depending on the job you are applying for.
9. Spell check and have others proof read your resume to make sure it makes sense: Having several typo’s on  your resume makes you look like a dork.
10. Rules are just guidelines: If not following some of these rules, or for that matter anyone else’s rules for writing a resume makes it better. Than don’t follow them. Heck after all it is your resume.


The ABC’s of Face to Face Interviews

There are many important points of a face to face interview that need to be considered. These are some of the most rudimentary.   We will call them the ABC’s:

-Dress for the occasion:

This does not always mean wear a suit whether you are male or female. I recently sent a candidate on an interview and they specifically said do not wear a suit as they are business casual. Do your best to find out from the person who set you up on the interview what the dress code for the interview is and how you should dress. If you can’t find this out then the rule of thumb is to dress professionally.  For a man you can’t go wrong with a pair of dress slacks, dress shirt with a collar and a sports jacket. You can always remove the jacket if it is more casual. For a woman slacks and a nice shirt will work. If you are interviewing for a bank or financial company a suit or pant suit may be in order.

-Come early:

Often at an interview there will be some paperwork to fill out such as an application, background check permission etc. Coming early you can often get this information taken care so it does not cut into the actual interviewing time. Also if you are driving or being driven to an interview coming early can handle if there are any traffic problems. Beyond these points there is something to be said for getting a little adapted to your surroundings before beginning your interview. I will make you more relaxed and can even give you a feel for the people coming in and out of the office.

-Bring prepared documents

It is good to have a small binder with several nice copies of your most recent resume. Also you should bring a list of your references on a separate sheet with their name, email, title, when you worked for them and phone numbers to reach them. If you are filling out an application at the interview a sheet with everything you would put on the application is generally a good idea, include exact dates of employment, who your boss was etc. will make it much easier to fill out your application. Human Resources may ask you questions on what you wrote on your application and if necessary you can refer back to this information. If you have a portfolio that supports your skills, say you are in marketing or Graphic Design, bring that with as well.  I would not whip it out at a moment’s notice like your Mother does with embarrassing pictures of you when you were an infant in the bathtub when you prom date comes over, But if requested at least you have it ready.

-Get business cards

Ask for business cards from everyone you interview with. Other than the simple fact it is a good professional thing to do, it also serves a few other purposes. Sending a thank you email is a good idea right after the interview and without a direct email address to the interviewer it is difficult to do this and make sure the email is received.

lso if you do not get a response for a while from the company you have a contact point to follow up with. Lastly the contacts you meet at an interview can be very useful in the future even if you don’t get the job.

-Make a good first impression

Make sure you smile look in the eye and shake the hand of your interviewer when you meet the person who is interviewing you. Try to be genuine as you do this. A fake or strained smile can do more damage than good. Be yourself, interviewers are looking to find out who you are not a just a perfect version of yourself you are portraying at the interview. Plus if you are hired and the fake version of you is all they see during the interviewing process, when they meet the real you, who is to say that your real personality is the right match for the culture of the company and not the fake one.

-Get your questions answered

Interviewing is a two way street. Certainly you’re there to be asked questions by the company to determine if you’re right for the role they are hiring for, but equally important you’re there to find out if the role and company are right for you. Definitely you need to have questions ready for the hiring authorities that you could end up working for related to job. But also it is important to have questions for human resources about benefits and the company in general. The more information you have early in the interviewing process the easier it will be for you to compare this opportunity to other potential opportunities you may have come up.

-Find out what the next steps are before you leave

A face to face interview for most companies is a considerable amount of effort and does not occur unless they are seriously considering hiring you.  Often it is the last step other than references or a background check before an offer of employment is extended. While you are at a face to interview and you are interacting with real live people, there is a certain obligation from the individuals you are dealing with to answer your questions; it would be rude otherwise. Therefore you should definitely not leave the building without getting some sense of what the next step is in the interviewing process as the sense of obligation to communicate with you tends to be much less when you are no longer physically at their offices. Take for example after a week of hearing nothing from the company you call HR and get nothing but an answering machine and no call back. The nerve racking thing about this lack of communication is that it does not necessarily mean that they are not interested in you and moving on. It truly may just be “their process”. So if you can find out exactly what their process is before you leave you will save yourself a lot of frustration.

Here are 10 tips from a Career Coach to help you find a job.

1. Have a plan:

The difference between one person’s success in a job search and another’s can simply be that the former has a workable plan; though a job seeker may be taking many of the right steps, if he or she does not have a plan, then the plan is incomplete, steps are missed, and the job seeker may give up because he or she does not have enough direction to carry a job search through to completion.

2. Be organized:

There are many methods of organization that you can use to accomplish things. One of the most basic methods is to create a check list each day before you begin your job search to keep you on track. For example:

  • Go on job boards and find jobs 9 – 10 a.m.
  • Go on LinkedIn and find jobs 10 – 11 a.m.
  • Follow up with companies you apply to 11 – 12 a.m.

Map out your day in the best manner you can. Of course, conditions may change, you may get a call for an interview or spend more time on one step or another, but as long as you have some plan in place that keeps you on track, you will have a much better chance of being successful.

3. Track your progress:

During your job search, it is easy to find yourself questioning whether you are being successful or not, especially if you have been looking for a new job for quite a while. An excellent way to keep to measuring your success on your steps along the way is to track your progress. Maintaining a chart or spreadsheet in Microsoft Word or Excel is an excellent measurement tool.

For example:

  • Companies applied today: 25
  • Companies applied to this week: 100
  • Total companies applied to thus far: 325
  • Number of responses: 30
  • Number of phone interviews: 12
  • Number of face to face interviews: 4

Why does keeping track of all these activities and recording specific numbers matter? This method offers you a true representation of how much effort is actually needed to get a job. Based on the example above, this person has averaged 1 face-to-face interview a week, or 4 in a month. These type of numbers will probably not result in getting you a job; 1300 applications in a month would be more likely to produce 4 face-to-face interviews a week. As long as these interviews are indicative of the right jobs for your skill sets, chances are you will be hired.

4. Apply in volume:

If you honestly think that applying to a few jobs online and casually networking to a few other folks will get you a job, then you are sadly mistaken. If this method actually works for you, then you don’t need to be reading this. However, I’m skeptical that anybody can casually look for a professional or management position and actually get hired. But, if you are like most serious job seekers conducting a job search, it is critical to let companies knowing you are looking and are a strong and viable candidate.

5. Diversify your search:

Not that long ago, the most common way to find a job was to read the job section in the newspaper. Now there are several ways to search for a job, and a newspaper is not one that any true job seeker uses. Here are some others that are worth trying:

  • Major job boards like Dice or CareerBuilder.
  • Mega job search engines like indeed, Simply hired or Juju.
  • LinkedIn’s job board.
  • Industry specific job boards. Just put the description of your industry into Google with the word “jobs” or “careers” and you will see that there is a job board specific to your background.
  • Approach companies directly that you would like to work for. Many companies don’t post their jobs but are still hiring.
  • Send your resume to recruiters.

6. Research the companies you apply to:

There are some jobs you may apply to that only stimulate a mild interest, and others you would kill to get. On the positions that most interest you, research the company and the position. You can even Google the hiring manager or contact him or her through LinkedIn, which can be helpful in increasing your chance of actually getting hired if you can talk to the hiring manager directly.

7. Online social networking:

With online social networking, you no longer do you have to go to weekly “business mixers” designated physical location to meet people who could lead you to your next job. It’s much easier than that. Facebook, LinkedIn and a host of other social networking sights provide ways to connect with people for very little if any cost.

8. Follow up with a phone call:

I have often been asked: “I applied for a job recently and got a first interview on the phone, but it has been a week since I got a call from the employer. What do I do?”

It’s simple. Call the employer! Take initiative! What do you have to lose? Get your name in front of the employer. Let the employer know who you are. Be not afraid.

9. Getting a job is sales and marketing:

Your resume is a marketing tool that sells you and gets you an interview. This is the same tool that a salesman uses to sell a product, a collateral, a brochure, a supportive marketing tool. The only real difference is that you are the product.

10. Make getting a job your full time job:

Some years ago, I was given some excellent advice on how to find a job: Make sure that looking for a job becomes your full-time job. If you are already employed, then this would not apply to you, as your full-time job is your job. Unless, of course, it is really important to get another job. If so, then be prepared to hold down two jobs, because “looking for a job becomes your full-time job.” If you are out of work, then it is imperative that you treat your job search as a full-time job. Get up early in the morning, and make your priority looking for a job. If you wake up at 10:00 a.m., and don’t get started looking for a job until after 12:00, then it is obvious why you are not successful in obtaining a job. Enough said.

Carl Schumacher – Career Coach, Executive & Technical Recruiter