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Resume Writing Tactics

  • resume strategyResume Strategy Challenge

    A client reached out with the issue trying to figure out how to deal with a nine-year gap in employment. As a mother of three, she was recently divorced and getting back into the workforce. Most of her experience prior to the start of her family was in administration and she was looking to return to something in that capacity. She completed an Associates degree in Business, but it was quite some time ago. Her goal was to find an office position she can utilize her prior experience in office administration.

    The old resume needed plenty of work. Along with a rather pedestrian looking header, the layout strategy just screamed for the reader to look at the dates, where of course, the nine-year gap was waiting to greet them. In addition, the spacing was inconsistent and phrasing left a little to be desired (by the way, many of these issues are pretty common in do-it-yourself resume attempts).

    Resume Strategy Resolution

    First things first. Our reader needs to be sold on the positives before the negatives even appear. Thus, we look to develop a resume strategy for keeping the eyes from settling on the dates. The old resume was missing any sort of an introduction, so we want to set a tone here. We built a profile and core competencies section with a focus on high-relevance skills (but the hard skills, not that soft skills fluff). I decided to space the lines a bit to make it easy for the eyes to rest here, but did so evenly so as to be unnoticeable to the reader.

    Next, instead of leading off with the Professional Experience section, I went either a small Functional Skills section. Now, note that I did not create an all-encompassing functional resume strategy, which raises red flags. This was a resume strategy with the purpose of being a reinforcement tool in support of the skill set before the weakness is eventually discovered.

    Traditionally, whenever a client has any significant experience in a field, Professional Experience section comes next. But we decided to roll Education above it to further push down those pesky dates. However, we removed the graduation date. We also added a few core courses for added relevance.

    When we finally got to Professional Experience, the idea was to make the dates blend into the background. Instead of using two lines for each employment entry, we used one. While the employment dates are traditionally aligned to the right of the page, we flip them next to the employer information. This prevented an easy scan of the dates. To further pull the eyes away from the dates, we bolded the job titles that led off the job header lines and made them slightly larger than the rest of the text.

    The client had five positions within her work history, but we only included three of them. With her date issue, we wanted to keep the document to one page. Additionally, her work history contained no notable highlights (at least none that she could recall). My normal resume strategy in such a case would be to use of bullet points to create white space. But with our goal to keep the eyes off of the weakness, I decided to place this information in paragraph form to keep the top of the resume the focal point.

  • resume writingMost people would like to believe that something as important as one’s resume has a standardized approach. Sorry, but that could not be farther from the truth. If there is one thing an experienced and successful resume writing expert will tell you, it is that we operate more with guidelines that we do standards. The reasoning is quite simple. Different circumstances require differing strategies and approaches. That is also not to say that more than one approach can get the job done.

    Throughout the years, advice has been passed down through various professionals and educators with regard to resume writing. Some of it is good, but a lot of it erroneous. This faulty advice has often locked applicants into imaginary boxes that yields poor results. And we are not  just talking about any professionals. Many job training  agencies and career professionals happen to be the biggest culprits when it comes to passing along  dated and erroneous information. Here are three of the most common myths that you should get past in order to unlock the true power of your job candidacy.

    Resume Writing Myth #1: Your resume should be structured in certain ways for certain professions

    I can’t blame you if you fell for this one. After all, we always want to assume that there is one ideal solution. “All IT resumes should be structured like this … all Engineering resumes should be laid out like that.” A very common question professional resume writers receive is “How should a (enter profession here) look?” Well, the real answer is that it depends upon many factors, not just the profession. For example, if Applicant A has 18 years of experience as a Project Manager with several major solution implementations under their belt, their resume should look drastically different than Applicant B, who may have relevant experience, but none within the past 6 years. How many positions are being included in total? Is the client’s background accomplishment heavy or does their candidacy leaning more on training and certifications? Don’t get wrapped up in looking for the standardized box in which to drop your resume.

    Resume Writing Myth #2: Keep your resume at one page no matter what

    This one is usually learned very early on, but the reason is understandable. Most people receive their first instruction on resume writing in high school or college. It is here they are instructed to keep the document to one page. But let’s remember that most new high school and college graduates have very little job experience to communicate. As such, it is usually beneficial in this circumstance to keep the document to one page. When your resume will be competing against dozens, maybe hundreds of others, you do not want your reader waiting an extra page of meaningless fluff. But the problem is that at some point, your experiences grow and and your resume needs to grow with it. A two-page resume is acceptable in most cases. In fact, since we are in the age of databases and applicant tracking systems, removing too much content from your resume will hurt its search strength. While brevity is always the goal, you do not want to bite off your resume’s nose to spite its face (in a manner of speaking).

    Resume Writing Myth #3: Communicating how well-rounded and diverse I am will be great for my candidacy

    Big mistake here. Unless you are seeking a position as a consultant, your reader generally does not care about your entire breadth of experience. They are looking to solve a set number of problems with the new hire. Your resume should be targeted and communicate (as quickly as possible) how your skills, experiences, training and certification will help to meet those immediate needs for which they are hiring. Now, once you are in the interview, communicating to the employer your other skills can set you apart from the other position finalists. But if you want consistency in securing interviews, be sure that you are resume focuses on specific skills, experiences, education and training needed for the targeted role.

  • networking resumeAs you know, any resume that is going to consistently work needs to be developed with the goal in mind. This not only means targeting for the specific position, but taking into account the environment in which it will be ready. The networking resume can be a little different and its regular job search counterpart.

    One of the major differences is that your resume review is in a different state of mind than your garden variety human resources professional reviewing your resume along with perhaps 100 others. The networking resume is not swimming upstream with dozens of others, so it’s reader can concentrate more on the content. In the standard job search, your resume has ten seconds or less to impress the reader. As such, everything from content inclusion to layout and design is geared toward delivering enough of a punch to clear the first hurdle to get you into the interview. When your resume is read by someone within your network, you already have their attention. This allows you some latitude in how you lay out your information and then what you include.

    There are also cases where your networking resume may want to go into more or less detail than you would for a standard submission, depending upon the situation. If your contacts know you pretty well and are familiar with your background and accomplishments, then perhaps your networking resume does not require a great deal of detail. The reader is someone familiar with you and your background already. So in this case, more of an outline style resume maybe all that you need. Then again, perhaps for this reader they are looking for details on a more complex background. Where as your standard job search resume may not be able to go into this detail because of space limitations, you’re not working resume has the latitude to do so.

    The networking resume has the benefit of knowing exactly what the reader dates. Because of this, we are able to sidestep some of the standard rules and guidelines of the process. As always, the name of the game is to give the reader what they need to pull the trigger. When putting together you are networking resume, think of your reader and what they will need to see. And don’t be afraid to violate some of those rules that you have learned in the past. After all, you are trying to win a job, not a contest.

  • read your resumeAfter spending hours and upon hours getting your resume and cover letter to look just right, you will likely want someone else to read your resume to ensure it has the impact you intended. But not so fast. To ensure they are reading the resume just right, you need to set some guidelines. You see, the average hiring professional that will read your resume is doing so in a completely different state of mind, and with a different goal. So technical proofing aside, if your friends and family are going to read your resume to help you, they need to do so under the right conditions.

    Have Your People Forget That They Know You

    One of the Achilles heels of having a friend or colleague read your resume for is that they care about you. However, that hiring manager does not know, not care about you. This means they approach the document with a little less care and technical attention. Your resume is one of many that need to be assessed to solve a certain number of problems. Anyone helping you by agreeing to read your resume needs to get into this state of mind. The idea is to ensure that the resume in fact cuts through this indifference to deliver the impact intended. A “friendly eye” tries more to do you a favor with “attention to detail”, when in fact distraction and indifference is the best thing they can offer you in this situation.

    Tell Them to Feign Visual Exhaustion (and a Tinge of Aggravation)

    One must remember that a resume in action rarely exists in a vacuum. Depending upon the position, your resume can be competing with a couple hundred others for the attention of the reader. What if your resume is #188 out of 205? If your friend, colleague or family member is going to read your resume to assist, they should read a few other documents first to strain their eyes a bit. Perhaps a good exercise would be to look up a few other resumes on the Web pursuing similar positions before reviewing yours. Some will be good, but very likely, most will be bad. This should dull a few brain cells and get them properly aggravated before getting into yours. This way, if message successfully gets across in that tattered state of mind, you’re on to something.

    They Should Give The Resume No More Than 15 Seconds to Impress for the Target

    Now that the stage is set for your friend or colleague to read your resume, let them know they won’t have time to read the whole thing. Recruiters and hiring manager know pretty quickly whether or not you are getting to the next stage. A study conducted by the Ladders revealed that recruiters give resumes an average of only 6 seconds before giving a “yay” or “nay”. That’s right … 6 seconds. So 15 seconds is actually a little generous. But since your colleague is likely not as versed in what to look for, let’s allot a little more time. In those few seconds, your colleague should be able to sense how your resume matches the targeted goal. The document should be easy to navigate so that they can easily flow to the most important information. This should be instinctive and effortless.

    A good resume is designed to deliver punch and effect quickly. So while tempting, you will want to stay away from the overly elaborate development that may look good to captive audiences, but serve little purpose to an overburdened, tired and distracted hiring manger. You are not trying to win a document beauty contest. You are trying to win an interview. “Runway” resumes are just like their fashion counterparts: great on the catwalk, useless outside the showroom. Leave the concept resumes to your competition. Build a streamlined resume and cover letter, and when your friends and colleagues offer to help with a review, ensure they are of that mindset when they read your resume.

  • short term employmentWhen To Include or Not Include Short Term Employment Entries In The Resume

    A resume that is going to achieve maximum effectiveness does not follow a formula. Every applicant has a different mix of skills and qualifications, so their resumes should be adjusted accordingly. But even for any one individual, every situation will be different. How to handle short-term employment periods can cause headaches for novice resume writers. But did you know that in 2013 approximately 40% of employees who left their jobs voluntarily did so within 6 months of their start date?

    Before your resume writer decide to include or exclude your short-term employment stay within the resume, you and they should be sure to consider all of the factors to determine its net effect. First, consider the overall hole that it will leave in your resume if you remove the position. If you had employment immediately before and after a three-month role, then leaving a three or four month gap is not a big deal. But what if removal of the position leaves you with a 17-month gap? Then you may want to reconsider. Another factor would be where within the timeline the position appears. What’s this position within the last year or two, or was it 12 years back? If exclusion of the position from the resume causes a notable employment gap more than a decade ago, it will be less relevant to the hiring manager than if that gap happened within the last year or two.

    Also, consider how the position aligns with your employment goals. Was this a 6-month “pay-the-bills” job that in no way aligns with your career path for the position you are pursuing? Depending upon how the rest of your professional experience on the resume lays out, you may not want this non-relevant roll sticking out like a sore thumb near the beginning of your resume. But perhaps it was a temporary job that perfectly aligns with your career that was followed by a long-term role. This is likely a situation where you would include the position, perhaps with a note regarding the temporary status of the position (so that your reader doesn’t assume you were released for any performance issues or that you abandoned the post.)

    As with anything else, what you do and do not include on your resume, as well as where you include it, is governed by one rule: how it will affect your reader. When your resume writer approaches any strategy element to your document, every final decision should be based upon this strategy assessment. Short-term employment tenures do not have to be resume killers if you take the time to consider the big picture.

  • resume writer emailThe cyber security analyst resume, when done correctly, puts you in high demand. As you can imagine, any profession associated with technology can only be expected to grow in the decades to come. Cyber security professionals are an organization’s front line defense in preventing database and network attacks. They are key in preventing countless dollars in financial information theft. By performing risk assessments and security measures verification, the cyber security analyst keeps businesses and government agencies running smoothly.

    To ensure your cyber security analyst resume attracts the attention that it deserves, there are certain skills, knowledge and qualities you will want to ensure your reader does not miss. Below are five such concepts that you may want to ensure hiring managers and recruiters do not miss in your resume and cover letter.

    Resume Skill 1: Vulnerability Assessment

    And effective cyber security analyst resume will communicate your ability to define, identify and classify holes in security when it comes to computers, network and communications infrastructures. When done correctly do you are resume proves to your reader that you can identify potential threats, develop strategies for dealing with high priority problems, and define ways to minimize consequences in the event of an attack. Are you a member of the Computer Emergency Readiness Team (CERT)? If so be sure your reader can see this. Your ethical hacking skills can also be of use here. The cyber security analyst skills in probing networks and systems to identify vulnerabilities is a valued commodity.

    Resume Skill 2: Firewall Development

    It is one thing for the cyber security analyst to be able to identify intrusions. But to round out the skill set, you should be demonstrating to your reader the ability to prevent them. Your cyber security analyst resume should communicate your ability to erect first line of defense protection of enterprise applications and data. Whether it is network layer firewalls, application layer firewalls, proxies or network address translation functionality, getting these concepts across to the hiring manager can put you in front of the other applicants who did not bother. Are you versed in the next generation firewall (NGFW)? The recruiter should not have to guess this. You can be of great help to organizations dedicated to detecting application-specific vulnerabilities.

    Resume Skill 3: Cyber Incident Response

    On the occasion that an attack dogs get through, hiring managers want to know that you understand how to respond to such creatures. WR Cyber Security Analyst resume tell the reader love your skills in developing Incident Response (IR) plans? What about your skills and documenting response plans and making them available to the entire organization? Are all staff members fully aware of their roles and responsibilities in the event of a cyber attack? If you possess experience in running simulated breaches, this is a valuable skill set to showcase on your resume.

    Of course, these are not the only skills of importance for the cyber security analyst resume. However, these are definitely high priority. You always want to ensure that you are examining the target job descriptions when putting together your cyber security analyst resume. Not every position will be the same, nor have the same skill set priority. Remember, any resume you send is supposed to speak to that specific readers need. Take the time, do it right, and watch your interview frequency increase.

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