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  • resume service successA few days ago, I was chatting with a friend about the subject of business financing and proper loan documentation, when the subject of resumes came up. Now, this subject was a little off course from where the conversation was, but it was a very interesting sidebar. The things he said mirror much of what I have told clients on many occasions, but it was interesting to delve into the subject with him to see what his personal experiences were when dealing with applicants and their resumes, and how he and his colleagues viewed certain scenarios.

    My friend often worked career fairs and he and his colleagues would collect hundreds of resumes at a time, with the ultimate goal of trimming each of their stacks down to around 20 to 25 resumes. According to this professional, there were two major criteria that immediately resulted in the elimination of 75% of the submissions:

    1) Resumes Longer than Two Pages ““ As a busy H.R. professional, my friend felt that the applicants did not respect his time by submitting unfocused three and four-page documents. It showed not only a lack of awareness of (or respect for) the process, but also demonstrated an inability to communicate briefly and succinctly. It is very rare that one’s qualifications cannot be communicated well enough in a two-page resume to convince the resume reviewer that you are worthy of an interview.

    2) Resumes Littered with Grammatical and Spelling Errors ““ When one is trying to convince a potential employer that they are a stronger applicant than the next person, one of the worst things one can do is to submit a resume and cover letter without thoroughly proofreading it. It demonstrates a lack of attention to detail and an inability to communicate in written form, which most positions require at some point. After all, you are looking to get a job where you are likely to be required to represent an employer internally and externally. Sending emails or other written communications that are difficult to read and full of errors looks bad on both you AND your boss.

    My H.R. friend said that he and his colleagues would actually have contests to see how many resumes they could eliminate before packing up to leave for the day, often trimming 75% of the resume submissions before the event was even over, meaning the elimination of most of the competition before the resumes had even been read.

    Beaten before the start of the race.

    Next time you want to know why the phone isn’t ringing, think about this … and not just the state of the economy. I’ll say it again:


  • The job search can be a grind. A frustrating, drawn-out grind. But does it really have to be THAT much of one? We usually look at aggregate numbers and comment on how employment is down, jobs are sparse, and employers are picky. But what does that mean from a micro viewpoint. In other words, how does it affect you directly?

    Every day, someone is being interviewed and someone is being hired. The nationwide statistics may not be as favorable as they once were, but as an individual, the only you are concerned with landing ONE job. So the question is how does one implement a strategy to stay ahead and out front of that sea of applicants that get marginal results? By doing the things that your competitors won’t, you can stay ahead of the game and ensure your best chance for a shortened job search. This is the first of a two-part series on ways you can build an advantage over your competitors.

    executive resume writerYour Competition Will Not Have their Resume Professionally Written

    I know what you’re thinking: “William, you are a resume writer. OF COURSE you are going to recommend everyone get their resume done by you are your fellow professionals.” Well, that is partially true. But it doesn’t stop it from being a fact. What many don’t realize is that there is so much more that goes into a successful resume than just your duties. With verbal communication, it isn’t what you say, but how you say it. Resume writing is no different.

    A resume is more of a print marketing document than anything else. A certified resume writer is trained to get eyeballs to the most important content with little effort by the reader. This is important when your reader is a tired middle-management professional with 15+ resumes on his desk with a mandate to get it down to 20 viable candidates by the end of the day. It’s really simple math: if my resume goes up against yours in a job search “¦who wins? I’ll let you guys marinate on that for a bit. (But here is a hint “¦ MY CLIENT’S RESUME WINS!). When you are trying to be the last person standing of 150 candidates, does it really make sense to ignore the importance of this tool?

    Let your competition use that home-spun resume, get poor results, and then wonder why the economy is so bad. You’ve got better things to do, am I right?

    Your Competition Will NOT Access their Network to Stay Connected

    Whether it is newspapers, temp agencies, company websites, databases, or job boards, none of them are as effective in finding employment as a well maintained professional network. It is a saying as old as the business world itself, but it is, and will always be true:

    “It’s not WHAT you know, it’s WHO you know.”

    Did you know that it is believed that more than half of available positions are filled before they have had the chance to be made public? That is because while the position was working its way through “proper channels”, some department head told his colleague who was looking to make a change, put him in touch with the right people, and he was hired. And you never even knew the position was available in the first place. Even while employed, the professional in this example who got the position likely nurtures and cultivates his professional network continuously to ensure they are there when he needs them. How does one do this?

    • When things are going well for you, take the time to reach out to those your professional network who may need assistance and see what information or services you can pass along to them without necessarily seeking anything in return. Consider it “paying it forward”.
    • If you have not developed a LinkedIn profile yet, you should do so immediately after reading this blog entry. As of June 30, 2012, professionals reportedly are signing up to join LinkedIn at a rate of two new members PER SECOND, and as of August 2, 2012, LinkedIn was operating the world’s largest professional network on the Internet with more than 175 million members in 200+ countries and territories. You can use LinkedIn to find those employed at companies you are interest in, contact current employees, and build relationships. Many feel LinkedIn is the next “resume“. (a discussion for another day)
    • When you get involved in Facebook and Twitter conversations, make connections with those involved in the conversation that seem to be heading in the same direction as you. Social networking plays such a huge role in our lives these days that now is a major player in search algorithms that determine where websites rank. Don’t just be a Facebook voyeur, get involved in the conversations! You never know what relationships can blossom out of it.

    Your Competition Will NOT Treat Their Job Search Like a Job Itself

    You can name the activity, but whatever it is, I can assure you that those who get up the earliest and work at it the longest will get the best results. One’s job search is no exception. If you are getting up at 11 am, applying to 3 or 4 positions, and calling it a day, then you are not serious. With 7.8% unemployment, you are not the only one looking for the next employment opportunity. Many people prefer the phrase “The early bird gets the worm”. I prefer the phrase “Money never sleeps”. While you are turning over at 8 am, someone is following up on leads, strengthening their network, fine-tuning their professionally written resume to target specific positions, and cold contacting companies of interest. When you finally get up at 11 am, they have spoken with recruiters and hiring managers, located and applied to numerous positions of interest, touched 5 or 6 people in their network, and followed up on other strong leads.

    Act as though looking for a job IS a job. Get up at 6:30 am and get dressed like you would for work. The act of prepping for the day is a good way to get you in the right mindset and build momentum. You should have prepped your schedule the night before so that you have a hit list for the day. Don’t fall into a comfortable rut that you may never climb out of.

    William Mitchell, CPRW

  • resume writerWhen as a job seeker you are looking at numbers like 8% unemployment and 127,000+ employees were laid off in August 2012, it can cause you to sit back and wonder “why bother”? After all, while you may be highly qualified and a great producer, what are the chances that you will be the one to get the available position out of more than 150 applicants? Well, the answer to this depends upon your commitment to preparation and the process.

    In our scenario of 150 applicants, you are likely looking at some 80% to 90% of applicants not taking care of business on the front end of the process. By taking care of business, I am referring to having a professionally written resume created to improve its performance in database searches and quickly communicate your value in relation to the position requirements and company long-term plans.

    Now what does that have to do with perspective, you say?

    Assuming that you have an excellent resume and cover letter prepared and practice your interviewing skills, you will already have an advantage over 90% of your competition who won’t bother to do so. So instead of swimming upstream with 150 applicants, your TRUE competition is 15 or so.

    Much more manageable numbers, wouldn’t you say.

    When combined with consistent networking, a broad social media presence, and other strategies to diversify your search, you will find that your unemployment stretch will be much shorter and employment choices much greater.

    I had a client who’s resume I was working on for the third time. She indicated that she’d found work within three weeks each time of the previous two times. While she said it jokingly, she asked “Is there really a recession, because it hasn’t affected me.” I laughed and responded “Apparently, not for MY clients.”

    Just remember that regardless of how much competition you are facing, if you are more prepared that the next person, it will be THEM wondering why the phone isn’t ringing. Even if one company is hiring for one position, your attitude should be “Why shouldn’t that employee be me?”

    I say, no reason (if you out-prepare the next guy).

  • resume writerHaving date gaps within your professional career does not have to be the end of the world. There can be many reasons why this would occur, ranging from family issues to a depressed job market. But regardless of the reason for the gaps, the goal for your resume writer remains the same:


    When it comes to writing your resume, we have several strategies for minimizing the impact of unfavorable date gaps within the resume.

    • First, you want to ensure that the reader does not visually pick up on the dates before selling them on the other things you have to offer. So in a case such as this, you would refrain from bolding and isolating your dates over to the right margin as most people normally do.
    • Another strategy involves going the “hard-sell” route prior to the professional experience being accessed. This is done by ensuring the executive summary area is as strong and visually imposing as possible to thoroughly convince the reader of the qualifications before they ever get to the date gap. The idea is to have the first impression get you over the top enough to get the interview.
    • Of course, if the gap is large enough that document placement strategy won’t do the trick, you can always address the gap in the cover letter if the reason is one you feel the reader will readily understand. I am personally not a big fan of this approach unless the resume simply cannot be configured well enough to divert the reader’s attention away from it.
    • Also, consider not including the months of employment and simply go with a “YYYY” format. This is the most effective way to hide multi-month gaps that occur within the same calendar year.

    As with any resume weakness, date gaps can be neutralized with some well-conceived planning from content and visual standpoints. If you are strong in other areas, then play them up as much as possible so that they can see a reason to bring you in to discuss it. Getting in the door is your goal with the resume. You can then proceed to sell them on the rest of you!

    William Mitchell, CPRW
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