Resume & Career Advice

May 16, 2011

Establishing Professional Online Identity

Employment: Professional Online Identity

Can your professional online identity get you hired?

The internet is a very powerful tool for communication, commerce and even for marketing oneself for employment. However, one must be aware that internet is both professionally constructive and destructive depending on how a person uses the internet and whether or not he or she practices discretion and moral ethics in his or her online activities. The modern day practice of Human Resource executives, who are tasked with doing background check as part of the recruitment process, includes checking an applicant’s online identity. When applying, one should keep in mind that the internet may make or break future employment. There are many ways to establish a professional online identity that would serve as a good reference to a person’s character, professionally and personally. These are:

1. Discretion and prudent use of networking sites. Popular networking sites such as myspace, multiply, twitter, friendster and facebook have become so prevalent that almost all people with internet access have at least account on at least one of the mentioned sites. These sites are very much trendy and fun, however, self-restriction and prudence must be practice in posting photos, blogs and comments. Photos wherein an applicant is drunk or nude and comments that are racist and insensitive are not the way to establish professional identity online.

2. One good practice is to join professional forums where one can air professional opinions and polite exchange of thoughts and ideas. Presence of these will imply that the person is intelligent. Another similar approach is development of an intelligent, prudent blog or contributing to online publications.

3. Make an online portfolio or a web-based resume that can be easily searched by employers and that can easily be referred to when hiring and recruitment are urgent. The trick is to develop as professional looking web-based resume that uses language excellently and that could market personal and professional strengths.

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May 9, 2011

Techniques in Shortening your Resume

Condensing the Resume Draft

How do you keep your resume short without cutting your job chances?

So you’ve had quite a few stints in numerous companies since graduating from college. Perhaps you’ve been working for twenty years, jumping from one field to another. Whatever your background, you end up with a three to five-page resume that lists all your skills and accomplishments. You’re just about ready to take the first step to getting your dream job. But then you find out (and if you didn’t know, I’m telling you now) that most employers prefer to read resumes that are one to two pages long. Your resume turns out to be too hefty. What do you do?

• If your resume is just a little over two pages, the first option will be to experiment with the fonts. Times New Roman is thinner and occupies less space, and you can use a smaller font size, but remember that anything less than 10-point might be unreadable. Also bear in mind to keep the type and size in your sections consistent.

• However, the most important thing to do is to trim your resume. Tailor your resume to fit the job you’re applying for. Anything that is irrelevant to your objective is excess fat. You can do without it. You might have been a sales executive for 10 years, but if you want to get a job as an IT professional, it just doesn’t help your cause.

• Use bullet points with clauses instead of complete sentences and paragraphs in the list of job responsibilities. It saves space and looks better. While you’re at it, remove unnecessary indents in your sections.

• Further, you don’t have to list all your responsibilities in a position. Highlights of some of your achievements and accomplishments do the job better. Employers normally take 20 seconds or less to scan your resume more relevant and more readable often ends up shortening it. It doesn’t hurt that you’re making your prospective employer’s life easier even before you get the job!

March 21, 2011

What You Should Know About Character References

Character Reference Letter

What’s there to know about character references?

You should know by now not to put “References Available Upon Request” in your resume.What you should do instead is write down your references on a separate sheet of paper, which you can hand out to prospective employers if and when they ask. But that’s not all there is to it.

More often than not, hiring managers would specifically ask you for work references—in which case, your list should include former supervisors, managers, colleagues, business acquaintances, or clients (if you own a business). For fresh graduates, your character references could be your teachers, professors, or academic advisors. Also, you may want to consider members from an organization you belong to, or someone of good standing in your neighborhood or community. Anyone who isn’t a member of your family would do. And although it should be a given, considering that more than one in four people falsify their references, it seems prudent advice to list real people with their actual job titles!

The important thing is for your references to be able—and willing—to put in a good word for you. They should be able to attest to your qualities, skills or abilities, whether you’re punctual, diligent, or an expert in spreadsheets. As such, make sure that you contact them beforehand, and ask permission to include them in your list of references. Don’t forget to ask them how they prefer to be contacted—through email, phone, or snail mail.

Sometimes, your references, especially the busy ones, might find it too time-consuming to write a character reference letter (as they sometimes might be asked to do), or they might not be sure what to say when someone calls them. You could offer a draft of what you would want them to say, or even just a list of your achievements to refresh their memories.

Finally, make sure that you maintain the accuracy of the information on your list of references. In fact, even if you’re not applying for a job (yet), it doesn’t hurt to keep yourself updated about your professional contacts. After all, with LinkedIn, Facebook, and other social networking sites, it takes little more than a click to connect with them. Just make sure it’s not a fake account!

February 28, 2011

How to Start Writing a Résumé from Scratch

Resume Writing From Scratch

Does it take you this much to build a resume from scratch?

Sam, not his real name, was a top sales and marketing executive in a high performing financial services company. He was delivering sales way above the majority of his colleagues. He was on top of his game when all of a sudden the financial crisis happened. The company was dissolved and the next thing he knew, he was out looking for a job. Being the sales and marketing professional that he is, selling himself through a resume shouldn’t be a problem— however, it was. Sam never made a résumé his entire life. Believe it or not, many people, even those with years of professional experience, do not own a résumé. Sam found out that writing a résumé from scratch is a difficult task.

One of the most important matters to remember when writing a resume is the target industry or position. In order to draft an effective résumé, the résumé writer should be able to use industry or field-specific jargons that would increase the probability of the prospective employers’ recognition of the applicant’s capability or compatibility to the position or at least the industry/field. Another important consideration should be assessment of professional strengths and skills. These core strengths should imply that the applicant has the qualifications best fit for the position.

Perhaps the most important and essential part of writing a résumé from scratch is the listing down of the two most common parts of a résumé— education and professional experience. List down the names of the companies, inclusive dates of employment, and relevant job descriptions including accomplishments achieved during the term of employment. This must be written chronologically. Not all employment experience though should be expounded in the résumé. Only relevant employment or work experiences with similar tasks must have longer job descriptions.

Résumé writing can be very difficult, even for marketing experts like Sam. Remember, it is never a sign of professional weakness to ask professional help when drafting a resume, especially drafting résumé from scratch.

January 24, 2011

How Long Should A Resume Be?

Resume Length

How long should a resume be to effectively showcase your career strengths?

With the competition on the job market getting increasingly competitive, an applicant must not compromise the presentation of his abilities just to save space. After all a résumé sells you as the product, so it must catch the attention and interest of the buyer. Most of the time, only applicants with very impressive résumés only get to the interview, so résumé length must not get in the way of landing the job you want.

Gone are the days when one-page résumé is a must. According to Grant Cooper, president of Strategic Resumes, “Brief resumes are simply no longer effective in today’s increasingly competitive job market. . . The advice that ‘They only want to see one-page resumes,’ is perhaps the single most outdated and incorrect statement job-seekers hear today.” Résumé length truly depends on the applicant’s experience and position he is applying for. Usually, though not always, new graduates and entry-level job-seekers often write one-page résumé while most executives at the highest levels need résumé that exceeds two pages. The thing is, if an applicant does not have enough experience to include onto a second page, one page is enough. If a single page is not enough, however, to sufficiently communicate the depth of their experience and skills, it is safe to go for two pages.

Remember to put only the most vital and helpful information about yourself in your résumé. Never submit a document that looks more like an autobiography than a résumé. Stick to career objectives, relevant job experiences, years of experience, industry, title/position, educational and special trainings and accomplishments.

Needless of length, an applicant must remember only to include relevant information for the position one is applying for. Word conservation must be practiced and the formatting must be crisp and clean. One must not cram all the information to follow the one-page résumé rule. Some even resort to using 8- or 9-point type to “cram” everything in a page. Experts say that many companies are perfectly fine with well-written, concise and well-formatted two-page résumé that is easy to read and includes all the information they need. Also, it is very important to remember that a resume must capture attention on the first page. The use of powerful objective (headline) and strong summary of qualifications (executive summary) will make your résumé impressive at first glance whatever the length is.

December 20, 2010

Why You Need an Updated Resume to Start the Year Right

Updated Resume for the New Year

Have you already updated your resume in case you need to submit one this new year?

For many people, a new year represents a fresh start: a new look, new gadgets, new relationships, new attitudes. Many companies also follow this lead and take the opportunity to reexamine their goals, restate their objectives, reorganize their structure or reevaluate their workforce.

In line with these, it is not uncommon for hiring managers to revisit their files to look at the people who applied but were not hired. Who knows? These people could fill positions that have since been opened. Perhaps they could bring more value to the company, or they could replace people who left or plan to leave. The good news is that one of those people could be you.

With the escalating reliance of companies on online resume databases, it is prudent for a jobseeker to update their resumes. Ask yourself: What have I done since I last submitted or updated my resume? What certifications have I received or projects completed since then? Aside from what is currently in my resume, what other skill have I gained or improved on that would be valuable to employers? Write them down before you forget the impressive details.

Now, the assumption in answering these questions would be that you actually achieved something after you last edited your resume. If this isn’t the case, all the more would you need to update it. Your objective, if you have one in your resume, is expected to change after a period of inactivity. After six months of not getting that “supervisory position in an established organization that would utilize [your] skills,” now what? Sticking to a formula that isn’t getting results doesn’t seem to be the best way to go.

Also, even if you do not have an online resume (and I recommend that you make one) you should update yours, if only to prepare for the steady increase in job opportunities that a revitalizing (or revitalized, depending on whom you ask) economy presents. The bottom line is we’re definitely better than we were during the recession, and this could mean, among other things, more jobs and more applicants. Get a head start by improving your resume or seeking the advice of a professional resume writer.

Complete the “new you” today by updating your resume to start the year right!

December 13, 2010

Resume Writing: Choosing the Right Paper and the Proper Font

Paper and Font for Resume

Do you pay attention to the kind of paper and fonts you use for resume writing?

You have already identified what position you want to apply for. You’ve discovered that resumes written using non-industry specific templates will guarantee your resume will be shredded in pieces. The job posting you’ve seen suits your qualifications and professional skills perfectly. You’ve managed to compose strong words on your resume which you feel will market and sell your professional self effectively. Your resume now is more dynamic and professional content wise. The resume you imagined in your brain looks perfect and you think you’ve figured out everything that would set your resume above from all other resumes. However, have you thought about what font to use, what not to use and what paper to print on?

In editing and doing the layout of your resume, always set your goals on making your resume look ‘professional.’ What does this mean? Begin with choosing the appropriate fonts. Although some serif fonts, which are fonts with edges, are used for professional purposes, serif fonts are less readable. San serif fonts are cleaner and more reader-friendly. Avoid using Times New Roman because that is the font used by most MS Word users. You need to use a font that presents your resume as something fresh. However, this doesn’t mean using the highly artistic fonts. Again, think ‘professional looking’ resume. Arial and Arial Narrow are good fonts. Professional resume writers prefer font size around 10.5 to 12. Do not use more than two font styles in a resume.

It is a major ‘no-no’ to use colored, scented papers. Resumes are not invitation letters to your wedding or your child’s birthday party. As a matter of fact, choose a plain white paper with the correct thickness— not too thin (those that show ink print on the back) and not too thick (those papers that are hard to fold). It is advisable to use plain white paper that is 20-pound weight. The paper should not be extremely smooth to avoid ink smudging. Also, the standard size of the paper is 8.5” x 11”.

Always aspire to give your resume a ‘professional look’— that’s the only way to do it.

December 9, 2010

Formulating a Competitive Value Proposition

Value Proposition

Do you see your value proposition at the core of the company?

Even marketing professionals fail in drafting an effective resume. “Its all about selling and marketing yourself,” says a professional resumé writer from a leading online résumé service provider. “It is all about creating an effective, competitive value proposition,” he added. So, in marketing oneself, one has to think about a good value proposition for them. In business organizations, including online businesses, effective competitive value proposition is a must. What value proposition exactly?

In a business or marketing setting, value proposition answers or summarizes why a consumer should choose to buy a product or avail of a service. In other words, value proposition is a statement that aims to convince potential customer that one particular product or service will add more value or will provide better solution to a problem than other similar offerings. Companies use value proposition to target customers who will benefit most from using their products. There are many considerations that must be thought of when creating or formulating value proposition. Below are some tips in formulating a competitive value proposition.

1. Know your company’s or business’ strengths. Get everyone involved in the company and do brainstorming. Ask everyone from customer service to top management and all departments ‘what the company or business does best?’ Identifying strengths is the first key in knowing what to offer.

2. Identify the market. Just as there was brainstorming with ‘what the company or business does best?’ there should also be brainstorming in identifying the market and segment it targets. ‘What is the target market?” Example, which particular segment of online users is the target for the product or service?

3. Learn from the customers. Ask the customers through surveys. Learn what the customers want through other forms of research.

4. Know the competition. Learning the competition’s value proposition can help you improve your value proposition. How to do this? Well, buy from the competitor and subscribe to their newsletters. This will be very beneficial to your company.

Value proposition can make or break a company. It is a must for any businesses to draft a highly effective and competitive value proposition in order for customers to patronize the company’s products and/or services.

November 22, 2010

Resume Writing with Zero Work Experience

Finding a Job With No Work Experience

Can you get a job with no work experience?

People have the mistaken notion that a resume should be made up mostly of work experience. This becomes a problem when someone without any work experience tries to write a resume to get his first job. With almost nothing to write, should he just list his education, address, and phone number, and hope he gets a call?

Creating a resume is like making an advertisement for yourself. If you’ve worked for a couple of big name companies, then those could be your best selling points. However, they are not the only details that would get an employer to buy. If you have no work experience, you could instead write something about your academic life. Put the clubs you’ve joined or led. If you took electives that relate to the job you’re applying for, then that would work too. You could also include your academic achievements or awards. If you are a member of the student council or have won competitions, you may list those as well.

Outside school, you might be involved in volunteer work or community groups, which you could also write in your resume. If you have completed certifications or trainings—especially those in connection with your potential job—then those would also be beneficial. If you maintain a blog or have put up a website, you could write that too. That doesn’t end there. You can even include certain abilities that relate to the job. Find out what the employer is looking for, and write in your resume how your character and qualities answer that call.

Nevertheless, your resume shouldn’t look like a jumbled list of everything you’ve done since you were thirteen. List down everything you can—following the suggestions above—and pick the “experiences” that relate most to the job you want. The fact that you were a hit on karaoke night would not exactly help you get the attention of potential employers. Determine which ones actually show that you’re the perfect fit for the person the company is looking for, and illustrate them in your resume using experiences that you might not have been paid for, but you have definitely learned something from. You may have no work experience, but these experiences would certainly work too.

November 1, 2010

Resume Writing: Targeted vs. General Resumes

Targeted vs. General Resume Writing

Should you a write a targeted or a general resume?

Job applications can be likened to marketing. As an applicant, you try to sell your skills to potential customers – the employers. But, before you get the chance to “sales talk” with these customers, you first need to present a product catalogue – your resume.

Resume writing has evolved dramatically over the years. Gone are the days when applicants tend to have those same generic-looking resume that overly state their past experiences. Employers now prefer simpler resumes that speak about the specific qualities and competencies of applicants. These resumes are regarded as “targeted”.

A targeted resume has numerous advantages as compared to generic ones. First, it highlights those competencies that are highly relevant to the job specification. In this time of specialized job responsibilities, highlighting these competencies increase an applicant’s chance of getting a feedback from an employer for the reason that they help hiring managers to easily sort out qualified candidates from those who are not. On the other hand, a general resume can be cluttered with too much and at times irrelevant information, there is a tendency for hiring managers to miss out the information they need. Moreover, a targeted resume can speak about an applicant’s seriousness towards the job he or she is applying for since it shows the effort of tailor fitting the resume just for that specific position. A generic resume, on the other hand, might give an impression that the applicant might just be trying out his or her luck about that certain job opening.

Just like in marketing in which a product needs to be in focus, a targeted resume helps an applicant to position himself for the job and showcases his unique selling points to prospective employers.

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