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  • entry level resumeGraduation is near and it is time to look for a job that will jump-start your career. But as you sit in front of the blank screen, you realize that you have no experiences to communicate. After all, you are fresh out of college, right? There will be resume writing strategies you may have been taught, or read in a book that you will be tempted to integrate. But hold the phone. Some of the concepts that work for the seasoned professional with 20 years of experience may not work for you. Here are some quick tips to developing an entry level resume that will bring you a consistent interviews.

    Entry Level Resume Tip #1: Keep it to One Page

    Think of the career ladder like a pyramid. The lower you are on the ladder, the wider it is and the more competition you face (at least from a quantity standpoint). More competition in two more resumes for your reader to review. Yeah, the last time I checked, regardless of how many resumes they need to review, there are still only 24 hours in the day.

    As an entry-level candidate, you are not likely to have very much experience in which to communicate. As such, you need to ensure that you are not wasting your reader’s time. When you are an entry level candidate, you want to keep that entry level resume to one highly relevant page. In an entry level position scenario, you can bet that your reader will dedicate no more than 10 seconds to the initial review to determine interview worthiness. If they have to sort through two pages of non relevant information in order to gauge this of your resume, it is likely to end up in the trash can. Keep it short and sweet, but full of relevance.

    Entry Level Resume Tip #2: Don’t Oversell It

    The temptation to overcompensate for the lack of experience is always tempting. After all, it is natural to feel a little self conscious about not having an awful lot to say on the experience front. But you must resist the urge to use overly grandiose descriptions in verbiage in the place of substantive content. One thing that you must remember is that for an entry level position, higher authorities already understand that your experience is limited. So there is no need to overcompensate for it.

    There are ways to stand out from the crowd without smoke and mirrors. One thing to remember is that hiring managers sometimes see dozens or even hundreds of resumes. And they can see through the smoke. Too much self aggrandizing verbiage and you are likely to aggravate them more so than impressed them. There is a fine line between smart and type verbiage and filibustering. Be sure your resume is on the right side of it.

    Entry Level Resume Tip #3: Make Education and Training the Focal Point

    With little experience with which to impress your reader, use your education and training to draw the attention of the reader and make your case. You do this by leading off with this information, as opposed to relegating it to the bottom of the resume. In this case, you want to be sure to go into any detail that you can with regard to the education and training that can be relevant.

    Any coursework titles that would be of interest to the reader? Be sure to include them. How about any special projects you engaged in during your time in school? This could provide your reader with a little more meat in support of your application. Not to mention, this can definitely add searchable content to your resume that gives applicant tracking systems something to hang on to. Be sure to structure your entry-level resume with these high value items near the top.

    Entry Level Resume Tip #4: Don’t Drill Down on the Non-Relevant

    You have just completed four years of college, but during this time you also maintained several jobs. However, all of them were completely unrelated to the type of position you are seeking to start your long-term career. When writing your entry level resume, don’t waste the time of your reader by going into meticulous description of these jobs that in no way qualify you for what you will be doing in the future. Once again, the idea is to respect the reader’s time, as well as make it easy for them to find your high value content.

    Depending upon available space, you may only want to give one or two lines in description of these positions, if any at all. Now, you do want to include any information about the position that demonstrates achievement or your ability to rise to the occasion. Perhaps you submitted an idea that help increase office productivity by 30%. Or maybe you took it upon yourself to research a new bender, presented it to management, and had the idea accepted, resulting in a $5,000 annual savings per year. This type of information will hold more value than the day-to-day details of the position.


    The entry level resume can sometimes be more complicated to put together from a strategy standpoint than the resume for a senior manager. At least for the senior manager, if he has been in the same type of position for 20 years, the strategy is straightforward. For entry-level clients and career changers, we sometimes must get creative to ensure the reader does not miss the value. Just remember that when it comes to resume writing, don’t accept every guideline as law.

    While there are some aspects of resume writing we always want to adhere to, the overall goal will always be the same: communicate the value to the reader in the best way possible for your specific situation.

  • resume writing tipsAmerica has always been known as the land of opportunity. Immigration and employment in the US is always a heavy topic during our presidential cycles. The US GDP is $18 trillion. It’s no surprise that our global neighbors look to migrate for opportunity. As US citizens, we do not have that to worry about. We are right here in the center of the economic Mecca. I know, it does not always feel that way, but tell that to the resident of Greece, who are experiencing a 25% unemployment rate countrywide.

    But as US citizens, we not only have unfettered access to the largest economy on the planet, we also can access employment opportunities in foreign countries. And there are many benefits to doing so. First, you get to develop a global network of contacts. Secondly, international posts provide greater opportunities for promotion and advancement. And of course, you are exposed to other languages, which further improves your marketability.

    When deciding to apply for positions abroad, you will want to account for cultural differences and interacting with another country’s people and entities. But you have to get the job first. So your resume must do the same. Why should you go through the trouble? Well, think about it for a minute. Let’s be honest. As a US citizen, we are sometimes erroneously already considered by the reader of the resume (or Curriculum Vitae, as it is called in most other countries) as obnoxious and self centered. You do not want to confirm this by asking someone for a job and not even considering their cultural differences.

    Below are a few resume writing tips to consider before you begin preparing for this quest.

    Resume Writing Tips #1: Foreign Employer, or U.S. Employer with Foreign Offices?

    Just because a position is located in a foreign country does not mean that it is with a foreign entity. Before making changes to your resume, you will first launch to verify, if you can, exactly who will be reading and processing the resume. More than likely, if the post is in a foreign country but with a US concern, then a US compliant resume will work just fine. But if you are applying for a job with a foreign entity, then there are some resume changes that you will need to make to give yourself the best chance.

    Resume Writing Tips #2: Ensure MS Word Document is Configured to Spell-check for Their Language

    What you will find if you travel the world is that English, in one form or another, is pretty much the language of commerce. The chances are, if you are applying for a position abroad, the recipients will speak English. However, the likelihood is that it is not the US version of English. Did you know that Microsoft Word has the ability to spell check your resume in a number of English variations? There is even a Zimbabwe version of English MS Word can check. Be sure to change your resume settings accordingly.

    Resume Writing Tips #3: Adhere to That Country’s Resume Writing “Guidelines”

    Now here is the biggie. When it comes to resume writing for employment in other countries, you may be looking at different resume writing guidelines. For example, while in the US, we never put photographs on our resumes/CVs, but in many European countries this is standard. US resume writing standards also prevent us from including personal information on our resumes such as marital status, children, and religious preferences. But there are some countries where this information is standard for inclusion. Additionally, here in the US, we normally attempt to keep documents to two pages or less. There are exceptions to this guideline, such as scientific and academic CVs and federal resumes, but otherwise, 2 pages is the limit. But there are countries where extensive CVs are expected. They do not want to be truncated version of your background, they are looking for inexpensive accounting of your professional, academic and training history.

    So, before you began to spec out of the changes to your resume, conduct a thorough research of that country’s resume writing guidelines before you start.

  • resuem writingResume Writing “Rules” Don’t (or Shouldn’t) Exist

    As a resume writer, I am constantly asked questions such as “What is the rules for writing a resume for (insert career target here)?” Many people that I speak with heavy preconceived notion of what a resume should or should not look like. The truth is, whatever gets you into the interview door is the right way to do it. Yes, I know, that is pretty broad and open-ended. Well, it is meant to be.

    Resume writing is more of an art form than a science. Every reader is different, every environment in which it is red will be different. The competition level will be different. The competition volume will be different. As such, before you even type the first letter, take a minute, grab a cup of coffee, and consider who the recipient of your new resume will be

    Let’s say, for example, you are submitting a resume for an entry level position in retail sales. In this instance, your reader is very likely going to be inundated with hundreds of resumes just like yours. So from a structural standpoint, what should we do to make reading easier for this individual? Well, first, we need to ensure there is plenty of white space within the resume for this individual. Your document may be #117 out of 145 they need to review. And that is just today. In this environment, your resume will not have a lot of time to get the point across. Strategic keyword and key phrase placement is going to be important, along with with focusing on brevity. This individual will appreciate the respect for their time.

    But what if you are engaged in resume writing to apply for a  CEO level leadership role in a mid-sized or large corporation? While the concept mentioned above are important as a general guideline, the reader of this resume is experiencing a different reality. Your resume will not be competing with hundreds of other documents in such a case. This hiring authority will actually be expecting a little more detail. While you do not want to go past two pages if you can avoid it, you’ll definitely want to expound a little more on the details for this reader. With less competition and more at stake, the non contact details will have less of an effect on them. Almost from the very beginning of the process, your resume will be reviewed in detail. In such a case, you can afford to play with margins a little bit, as well as line spacing.

    Regardless of the advice of your cousin, your barber, your attorney or your bartender, there is no one way to provide effective resume writing. Everyone brings a different set of skills and training to be table. And every job target will focus on something different. Don’t start your resume with preconceived notions. Start with that blank canvas and create your resume masterpiece from there.

  • career change resume writingNothing presents a challenge to most career seekers more so than resume writing for a new career direction. After all, what do you say? With years of experience in another area, many job seekers find themselves not knowing what content to include in the new resume. Strangely enough, this is not a huge issue for professional resume writers. While most business professionals tend to focus on their work history (and understandably so), as certified resume writers, we are accustomed to looking at the totality of the job seeker’s offerings. Any effective resume is going to be more focused on the future than it will the past. Sure, depending upon the position, your work history can play a role in securing the next job. But the question for your reader and hiring managers will always be the same:

    “What can you offer right now that qualifies you to do this job now and in the future?”

    So let’s think about that. Is your work experience the only thing that you have to offer? The answer is usually no. In most cases, as a job seeker you are at least bringing a knowledge base, some training or formal education to the table. If this is the case, why not showcase these assets?

    Let’s say you have been a bank teller for the last 8 years. And now you’re writing your resume for an engineering position anticipating the completion of your mechanical engineering undergrad degree. The last thing that your readers will want to see is a two page resume where 70% of it goes into the minutiae of banking or the myriad duties of a teller. Your reader may need to know your work chronology, but they do not need to be dragged down the rabbit hole in the resume. Showcase your education. List out your coursework. Talk about any academic projects of note or elaborate on any internships that you had.

    Now, now, I know what you are going to say:

    “C’mon, the hiring manager pretty much knows all the courses I was required to take why am I giving them this information all over again?”

    With mostly people do not realize is that the resume communicates similar to the way we humans do. Often times it is not what we say that makes the impact. It is how we say it. A resume dominated by non-relevant information is likely to bore and disengage your review.

    Think about it. With regard to that bank teller resume, if you were applying for another bank teller position, its reader likely knows all the duties of a bank teller. But part of that resume writing process is giving them some of that information anyway. Of course, we usually want to focus our readers on high impact highlights and contributions, but that reader always get some information that they already have. But the biggest value one gets from a well-constructed resume is the establishment of a frame of mind with that reader when it comes to how they see and view you. You are trying to create a certain “environmental perception”, if you will, in which they process who you are and what you can do for them. In our example above, our reader needs to “see” and “feel”us as an engineering professional, not a banking professional. Do not be afraid to give them some of what they already know. I do not want to overdo it, but we must to present as that professional.

    So when it comes to your resume writing for your new career, think of it as you do your professional wardrobe: “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.”

  • resume-readerAs a senior level candidate, the skill set you communicate  to your reader on your executive resume is going to be a bit different than that of your middle management counterparts. You are speaking two completely different languages to your potential readers. In fact, your readers (and their reading environments) will also be vastly different. If your executive resume has not been performing up to standards, you need to take a step back and ask yourself “Did my resume content and organization strategy change with me when I decided to cross into the executive strata?” It is a question many don’t ask, but should. Here are some of the likely culprits if your executive resume is not up to speed:


    Too Much Focus on Duties, Not High Level Accomplishments

    While your middle management counterparts are trying to wow hiring managers with a number of duties and project, your goal is a bit different. Your resume should be clearly conveying the more abstract concept of being able to set strategic direction for an organization, as well as getting your team focused on achieving company mission. At this stage of your career, the task master approach won’t get you into the position you want. Be sure your resume speaks to your leadership skills in ensuring others check those tasks off in impressive fashion.


    Poor Organization

    If you are seeking a more senior level position, then it is likely you have a rich and full career behind you. When you are dealing with a one to two page limit, it becomes a challenge to structure your resume in such a way as to get the right information over to your reader quickly. The average resume has less than 10 seconds to make an impression. So if your diverse and varied background isn’t properly organized, your reader may miss the true value you bring to the position. If the resume is going to get you into the interview door, then it has to give the reader the critical information immediately.


    Too Much Fluff Verbiage, Not Enough Meaty Impact

    If there is one thing that hiring authorities hate, it is having to review resumes of littered with superlatives that can’t be documented or substantiated. While employers value good personality traits and qualities, they want to ensure you can do the job first. Your resume’s focus should be on core skills and qualities that relate directly to the position for which you are applying. If looking to convince leadership you are their next Director of Payroll, they care more about your ability to implement ADP than they do your being a “team player”.

  • handdocumentQuick Resume Changes That Can Make A Difference

    You’ve sent out dozens, if not hundreds of resumes over the past few months. But alas, no calls. Not serious ones anyway. You get the occasional call about a “business opportunity” or the ever-present offer to work a commission-only job, but nothing directly aligned with what you really want to do.

    Putting in hours and hours in the composition of your resume doesn’t guarantee that it will bring the buzz you seek. Like anything else, it isn’t necessarily about the time you spend on the resume, but the bang for the buck by taking care of the high impact strategies that make the biggest difference. If you have been experiencing lackluster performance, here are some resume hack suggestions that can help to amp up performance.

    Resume Hack #1: Quality Over Quantity

    One of the most common mistakes in strategy that resume writers see involves job seekers attempting to cram every single duty they have ever performed into their resumes. Your resume is supposed to get you into the door so that much of that minutiae can be discussed and reviewed. With limited page real estate to work with, one must balance available space with content priority. Every piece of information does not hold the same importance to the reader (and this is who we write for, right?) Consider what will move the meter and keep the focus there.

    Resume Hack #2: Use Layout Strategies That Create Navigation Ease

    There is nothing more frustrating to an exhausted and weary-eyed hiring manager than having to review a homogeneous resume where everything looks the same at a glance. Remember that the average review time is around 10 seconds or less at the beginning of the process. If they cannot determine a match within that time, they move on to the next candidate and you lose. An effective resume provides its reader with visual cues that tell them what is and isn’t critical in the first phase of that process. But don’t lean too much on bolding, italics and underlining. This can make the document “noisy” and also does not perform well with certain applicant tracking systems.

    Resume Hack #3: Strategically Integrate Keywords Through The Resume

    Our hiring manager from the early example is only spending 10 seconds reviewing your resume, right? Well, what do you think they are looking for? They are trying to quickly identify signs that you meet the position’s qualifications. If you are an accountant and your resume is devoid of words and phrases such as “GAAP”, “financial statements”, “general ledger” and other industry terms, how do they (or their company database) determine at a glance that you have the goods? While you do not want to overdo it, be sure your reader “sees the vacant job” within your resume.

    Resume Hack #4: Fix Alignment and Spacing Issues

    Inconsistency in spacing is more than just an eyesore. It can cause confusion for your reader. Related sections that are inconsistently aligned or spaced can have your reader thinking at a glance that they are not. Additionally, with hiring managers looking to pare a large stack of resumes down to a few worthy of an interview, you don’t want to give them to assume you’re sloppy and dismiss your resume arbitrarily for something that has nothing to do with your qualifications. Check your spacing between sections, paragraphs and bullets to ensure you are using the same settings within each data set. This will make for a more presentation friendly resume and help your reader immensely (see Hack #2)

    Resume Hack #5: Consider A Font Change

    You would be surprised at how a simple font change can ease the stress on a reader’s eyes. Some fonts are just more difficult to digest than others. If your resume is a bit content dense (and even if it isn’t), consider using a san serif font. San serif fonts have cleaner lines and keeps the document from looking as busy, even though the same number of characters are being used. The cleaner lines of the san serif fonts also make it easier for scanning devices. Of course, font selection should always be balanced with your job search goal. For example, perhaps a serif for works better for someone in a creative field. But for those who are not, this could help move the meter a bit.

    Quick resume hacks can help, but you also want to be certain that your resume is developed with a strategy that targets the goal. Just remember that your resume is not about you.  It is about your reader. And everything that you put within that resume should be with that in mind.

    Now go get that job!

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