Resume & Career Advice

June 13, 2011

What You Need to Know About Resume Designs and Styles

Resume Design

Are you taking advantage of the right resume design?

It is true— resume is an art. However, resume should not look like the text version of a Pablo Picasso work. Resume should look professional, symmetric, clean while being distinctive and appealing.

Just like art, form should follow function. Always keep in mind that the main role and function of resume is to serve as a marketing tool for job seekers. Therefore, the structure and design of the resume should highlight the applicant’s qualifications. How is this done? When establishing sections, employ the F-Pattern, which is the way most people read— start from the upper left hand side move to the right, down, then to the right again. Important information and stronger experience should come first. When you are still a level-entry professional, you should place the ‘education’ section first before the ‘professional experience.’

Use only 2 font styles at maximum. Don’t be too colorful. Avoid using red, green, pink, yellow and orange. Font size should not exceed 12 and not be smaller than 10. Observe the importance of white spaces. This is accomplished by providing a distinct space between sections. Margins should not be more than 1” from all sides and should not be less than .5” White spaces are breathing spaces. Choose white, thick and unscented paper, preferably letter-size or A4 size.

In order to make your resume stand out, you may try to come up with personalized logos and experiment with font size, lines and background hues. The tricky part is how to make the design appropriate to the industry. Research, research, research. However, if the challenge is very tough, it is always a good investment to let a professional make a personalized and professional-looking resume for you.

June 6, 2011

Summer Job Strategies

Summer Job

Looking forward to a career this summer?

As summer approaches, you’re probably already thinking about that trip you want to take. You contact people and tag them along to make it more fun! Are you going with your friends or with your family? Then you decide where to go and what to do. Should you go hiking at the Grand Canyon, explore the beaches in Southern California, experience Vegas, or enjoy the theme and water parks in Orlando? After that, you prepare the things you need for the trip—sunscreen, clothes, cash, camera and more cash. Finally, you fly or drive to your destination.

Interestingly, to find a summer job, you must follow pretty much the same steps.

1. Contact your friends and family: Your network is perhaps the most important tool in finding a summer job. Ask them if they know someone from some place that is hiring. Announce on Facebook or Twitter that you’re looking for a job. Update your LinkedIn profile to show your skills and abilities. It helps to be referred in getting a job, and you won’t be referred if you don’t ask your friends.

2. Think about where to go and what to do: Do you want to babysit, wait on tables, or flip burgers? Do you want to be a lifeguard, a camp counselor, or a movie attendant? A lot of businesses boom in the summer. Some company somewhere is going to need the extra help. Frequent campus job fairs or online job sites to get an idea of what’s available. It’s a matter of knowing what you can do, what you want to do, and where to look for a job that might need you.

3. Get ready: Prepare your resume (make sure it’s professional-looking and error-free) and a list of your references (make sure they know you listed them). Practice for the interview with a trusted friend, so that you’ll ace it when you go through the actual thing. It takes work to find work. You won’t find a job by playing Xbox games all day. And no, I’m not saying that you should switch to PlayStation 3.

4. Head on out to your summer adventure: Looking for a summer job is an adventure. Only one out of every 4 job seekers will find work this summer, but don’t give up easily. Remember, you’re a jobseeker. You’re looking for a job, and certainly jobs won’t look for you. You can’t bring your summer getaway to your doorstep. You’ll have to go there yourself. The same goes for a summer job.

May 23, 2011

Professional Resume Writing: How Do You Make a Difference?

Resume Writing: Making a Difference

Does your resume set you apart from other employment hopefuls?

Many people believe that resume writing is a ‘piece of cake,’ ‘a walk in the park,’ until they get to sit down and craft their own resume. They sit for hours facing the computer or staring at the blank piece of paper they intend to pass as reference of their professional experience and qualifications for work. In an informal and unscientific survey on ‘whether quality resumes are easy to draft,’ thirty seven (37) individuals, who were asked from the 34th Street District of New York City, said that drafting resume is only a matter of putting employment record and contact information on a piece of paper. Sixty-three (63) out of the 100 individuals said that drafting resumes that yield result is a tough call. Of the 100 respondents, seventy-three (73) have either made or attempted to make their own resume. Twenty-seven (27) sought helped from professional resume writing.

Why has professional resume writing service become popular among job seekers? This is primarily because professional resume writing makes a difference—it provides job seekers the leverage in landing jobs. While resume writing is a personal endeavor of job seekers and job applicants, the challenging feat is steering one’s resume to the direction of the desired position and/or field or industry. One of the most common mistakes of non-professional resume writers is that their resumes sound too personal, unprofessional and too much crowded with information. Getting help from professional resume writers will provide applicants professional opinion on the strengths and weaknesses of old resumes and will be able to provide the applicants with new, stronger and much more professional resume.

Professional resume writing entails understanding of HR management preference for applicants, understanding of industry or position being applied for and the skill of effectively using language in to order exceptionally communicate an applicant’s qualifications and core professional strengths. This is why professional resume writing services make a positive difference in job seeking endeavors.

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!

April 25, 2011

Signs of an Overly Done Résumé

Resume Career Ambition

Is the ambition conveyed in your resume taking you to the right direction?

Majority of the people who send their résumés to professional résumé writers for objective and constructive criticism, think that their résumés are inadequate because they are too plain. Although résumés that are too plain are the majority, there are numerous résumés that are overly done. Yes, there are. These résumés, contrary to the belief that more information, more fanciful design is better— sabotage the chance of getting short-listed for job interviews. What is an overly done résumé in the first place? Answer the following questions to see if your résumé is overly done.

1. Is your résumé at least three pages?
2. Are your résumé’s job descriptions like an entry for an essay writing contest?
3. Do you see job descriptions with long descriptions of projects handled?
4. Do you see detailed job history on the position you have handled from 1983?
5. Have you included your high school and elementary under your educational background?
6. Are there words such as ‘jogging, working out, playing golf, reading books, collecting stamp, stalking’ and other hobby-related information?
7. Does your résumé look as colorful and fanciful as a Christmas tree?
8. Do you see a picture of you somewhere on your résumé?
9. Does your résumé look crowded?
10. Does you enumeration of your technical skills take up over 60 percent of your résumé?

If you have answered at least one ‘yes’ to the following questions, then it is highly likely that your résumé is overly done.

Résumés should be brief, yet informative. Recruitment officers look for more up-to-date experience, if the job descriptions are from the 1980s, better to simply indicate job position and year under the company of employment. Although writing and formatting résumés require artistic value, do not be Picasso and Michelangelo— keep colors used to a minimal and provide white spaces for eyes to breathe. Also, unless you are applying for a model, your photo is not required. Do not be discriminated or hired for the position because of your looks.

Get professional help if your résumé is overly done and if you find it hard to determine the appropriate format and which relevant information to include.

April 4, 2011

Drafting the Summary of Qualifications in Your Résumé

Summary of Qualifications

Can your resume’s summary of qualifications catch the attention of a potential employer?

So you’re already hyped up to create a résumé draft. You’ve already listed the names of the companies that you worked in, prepared job descriptions and list of accomplishments in every position you have handled and information about your education and some professional development activities you’ve had. However, in the process, you realize that you’re having difficulty with the summary of qualifications. According to an informal, unscientific yet practical survey employing random sample of 100 job seekers, the most difficult part of writing a résumé is the summary of qualifications.

The difficulty in drafting a summary of qualifications in a résumé is commonly not because of the lack of qualification but the lack of knowledge to discriminate the qualifications that matters for the specific job target. As all professional résumé writers would say, as much as possible be specific with the direction of your résumé. Having the knowledge of what position or at least field or industry you want to apply for. In drafting a summary of qualifications, answer the following:

1. What similar and valuable experience can I offer to the company?
2. What are my strengths that the company would benefit from?
3. What are my accomplishments in my past that is worth mentioning?

Funny, but true though, I.T. professionals tend to have the longest summary of qualifications. In fact, some can even produce a 100-page summary of qualifications because they either do not want to let go of some of their qualifications or they do not know which qualifications are relevant. Only choose relevant information. Below is an example of a badly written summary of qualifications.

Summary of Qualifications:
I am an intelligent sales professional with two years of professional experience in sales and am looking for a position in sales that can help me grow professionally in an environment that appreciates talent. My qualifications include proficiency in Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint and ability to handle pressure. I am athletic and member of the varsity team. I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in linguistics. I have been also recognized for excellence in organizing corporate parties.

If you’re current summary of qualifications reads similar to the example, either draft a new one or seek professional help.

March 28, 2011

How to Determine a Good Job Offer

Determining a Good Job Offer

Are your hopes high with the job offer?

A few months ago, Sam submitted copies of his résumé to several random companies he could think. He believes that just as long as he has the skills, experience and similar specializations of the professional the company is looking, the job would be good. Sam even posted his résumé to an online employment database to get his application to a wider number of recruiters, headhunters and possible employers. Sam is a good example of how many people find employment. Sam was successful enough to have been offered jobs from three different companies. Unfortunately, Sam is also of those who are not very keen in what makes a good job offer.

There are many aspects of a job offer that need to be reviewed before responding to it. The most obvious is the financial aspect of the job. How much is the salary or wage? This is undeniable the key consideration by most people. In this light, there are many questions that must be objectively answered. There are questions like: Is the offer salary competitive enough in the type of profession or field? Does the salary/wage offer make you feel insulted or pleased? If deciding on multiple offers— which job offer offers higher pay?

Another important consideration which people often overlook is the job description. Are you capable of the demands and challenges of the position? Is the job too demanding? One very important consideration is the organization. In determining a good job offer, one should not be limited to the job description and the salary alone. It is very crucial for people to look into the organization— the stability of the organization/company, its credibility and how it treats its employees. Do they provide good benefits? Furthermore, location and proximity of home to work should also be a paramount determinant. This will affect additional expense, which should affect perception towards the salary. If the job offer requires to relocation, ask yourself whether you want to and if it is worth it.

Nobody can point out which job offer is best for an individual— this is because there are emotions and preferences that are part of the decision making. However, in determining a good job offer, one must stay as objective as possible.

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!

March 14, 2011

Does Resume Submission (to Job Databases) Really Work?

Resume Submission

Is there any advantage with submitting your resume to job databases?

Because times are tough and competition in landing jobs are tougher today, job seekers are looking for alternative ways to get their résumés to as much employers as possible— the internet is the most powerful tool in making this happen. Prospective employers and job seekers have now capitalized on the internet technology in announcing job openings and in hopefully landing jobs. The proof of this is only keying in ‘jobs’ in any browser and hundreds of job databases appears on the result. Many of these job databases require job seekers to post their résumés so that possible employers will have access to these applicants. Does this work? Yes.

Although it is true that not many online applicants, particularly those who have submitted their résumés to job databases, are successful enough to have landed jobs or have been contacted by interested employers, many could attest that they have secured a job because of this system. There are credible databases that pass submitted résumés to companies. One consideration of this assertion is that ‘job databases’ are businesses that provide service to job seekers and employers.

The discouraging assumption that résumé submission to job databases does not work comes from the fact that there are too many applicants and only very little employers and/or number of vacant jobs. Also, most of the submitted résumés are not strong enough to be noticed by employers. These types of résumés may have not the correct format. It is very important to understand that electronic résumé submission requires specific format— the scannable format, which uses keywords are intended to match jobs in the databases.

In order to land jobs employing the method of submitting résumés to job databases the format of the résumés must be correct. It is a good career investment to ask for professional help if you are not capable of this.

March 7, 2011

Video Resume: A Job Search Advantage

Video Resume

Should we start using video resumes in our job search?

A video resume is a video, with length usually ranging from one to three minutes, where a jobseeker sells himself to potential employers. It has been catching on lately, as evidenced by many job and career sites allowing users to upload their video resumes. However, do video resumes actually help more than they hurt your chances at getting a job?

For one—at least for now—a video resume has the advantage of making one stand out. In a sea of text resumes floating around, video resumes are a haven of uniqueness, a respite for employers from the monotony of black and white. The important thing, then, is to make sure that your video resume makes you stand out for the right reasons.

Too often, a jobseeker would appear either artificial or awkward. Sometimes, video resumes would seem gimmicky or unprofessional. However, when properly made, a video resume shows employers what Arial on white background cannot: creativity and imagination.

Also, video resumes can effectively highlight your skills more than italics or bold typeface. You can write about your excellent communication and presentation skills or your command of the latest technology in your paper resume, but in your video resume, you can show them. It is no longer a formulaic description; it is the skill in action.

Ultimately, a video resume is an innovative supplement to your paper resume to give you an advantage in your job search. After all, a hiring manager would more likely watch an interesting video than read through mounds of paper resumes. The key word, of course, is “interesting.” Also keep in mind that a poorly made video resume could just as well ruin your chances, perhaps even more than a bland resume would. If you do it well however, a video resume could be your ticket to being a 36pt font size in a page of 12s.

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