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Don’t Blame The Resume

So many times I hear job seekers say something like:  “If I only had a great resume, then…”  The … can be any number of things from “I would get the job”, “I would get noticed”, or “they would give me a call back”.  None of those statements are actually true.  Resumes don’t think, feel, talk or produce anything.  Resumes are just pieces of paper (wood or electronic) that many job seekers use as a crutch.  NEWS FLASH:  Resumes Don’t Get You A Job!

Blaming your resume is just an excuse to not finding a job.  You don’t need an excuse anymore.  What you need is a swift kick in the butt.  So what is a resume good for anyways?  Here are the top three things a resume can do for you:

1. Provide background information on your experience level AFTER you make initial contact.  This is one of the biggest things job seekers ignore.  A resume should be used after you speak with someone, after the initial call/discussion.  The reason it is used after is so it can support your conversation and support the goal you are trying to accomplish with that person.  If you are talking to a hiring manager about a particular job opportunity, you can tailor the resume for the requirements of the job.  This type of resume showcases your depth of experience in a particular area.  If you spoke with someone who is going to pass your resume along to a hiring manager at their company, you would need a more general resume to demonstrate your breath (wide/general) of experience.  The main reason is you don’t know what the hiring manager is looking for.

2. Resumes are good if there is no other way to introduce yourself.  Some online postings only allow you to submit a resume and there is no contact information.  This is a time to submit your resume that is very specific demonstrating your depth of experience based on (relevant to) the job description.  Never send a general resume to these postings otherwise you are wasting your time.  You might be wasting your time anyways because you should be out looking in-person or meeting people (networking) first.  Sending a general resume (the kind you always send) doesn’t get you noticed.  You need to demonstrate a reason for the person on the other end to contact you to talk.

3. Resumes are good for hiding behind if you are scared to get out and meet people.  Don’t ever use this excuse anymore.  I have called you out so you can stop hiding.  Go out and meet people doing things you like to do or want to learn.  Learn how to introduce yourself and ask good questions of other people.  Learn about what they have done to find a new job or their current one.  Ask what they like and hate about it.  Help them out if they need it.  Genuinely invest in other people and they will invest in you.

A resume is your experience packaged in a one or two page overview.  It is not what you are good at, what defines you or how you think and feel.  Resumes can only lay there and look pretty…you need more guts than that.

Stop blaming your resume on why you are not finding a job.  Go hunt for jobs with a big gun…your mouth.

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Top 10 Tips On How To Find A Job 2012

Ok…here is my best shot at the most important tips on how to find a job in 2012:

1. Know Thyself – understand what you are looking for in your next job BEFORE you start searching.  You don’t have to figure out what you want to do for the rest of your life.  Pick one direction, plan it out and stick with it.

2. Don’t get bogged down by social media stuff – I hear a lot of buzz around should I use Twitter or Facebook to find a job?  What is LinkedIn and how can I find a job with it?  If you don’t understand these tools don’t waste your time on them until you do.  Don’t let them be a distraction to your job search thinking they are the “magic bullet”.  They can help but they are not for everyone.  A successful job search means you connect with hiring managers and they want you.  Social media tools can help these interactions get started but I have also seen people spend so much time trying to make it work for them they miss great opportunities.  Don’t go down this “rabbit hole” if you get easily distracted.

3. Be genuine.  Be yourself – whether you are meeting someone to help you with your job search or a potential employer, don’t oversell yourself and your accomplishments.  You are who you are.  We like you as you are.  Don’t be someone or something you are not.  You have gifts and talents just like everyone else and you deserve what you are looking for.  Focus your efforts on who you are not who you want others to think you are.

4. Be a dream seeker - it is ok to be looking for the dream job or the right situation for your next job.  Dreaming and seeing those dreams become reality is such a wonderful experience, everyone should be striving for it.  I am a big proponent of you trying to find an opportunity that is over your head or out of your comfort zone.  “Stretch jobs” can be one of the most exciting times in your working life.  There are so many companies and so many types of hiring manager.  Look for the ones who believe in your and willing to give you a shot at your dream.  They are out there.  You just need to find one.

5. Your attitude is everything – I can’t tell you how important your attitude is.  Be happy, optimistic and positive no matter what is going on around you.  It will seep into your conversations and make your presentations most fruitful.  A bad attitude will do the same but sour your chances.

6. Don’t be too proud – being too proud is actually a form of fear.  Pride forces you to not let others into your life.  Pride puts up walls that might not be able to be seen by the other person but are felt at a deeper level.  Try “humbleness” on for size and see how it feels.  It is actually very comfortable and opens more doors.

7. Don’t give “canned” ANYTHING – no canned responses, no canned resumes, no canned cover letters, and no canned tuna (jk on the tuna).  If you look or act or sound like everyone else you are going to be perceived to be like everyone else…B-O-R-I-N-G.  Don’t be boring.  Instead be bold in order to stand out in someone’s mind.  Don’t be cocky but be bold and look for ways to make an impression.

8. The details will kill you – if you have never heard the old saying about the “devil in the details” you might want to think about this one.  Spending your time on making sure your resume doesn’t have errors or your “elevator pitch” sounds comfortable or whatever you are doing is done well, is very important.  Employers don’t want people who can churn out calls or data, they want people who take pride in their work (and maybe churn out the calls and data).  Make sure you are taking the necessary time to proof your work.

9. Slow down – if you are always feeling like you are rushing to get that resume to that lady or hurry up and push out that blog post or trying to hurry through coffee with a friend because your “schedule” is waiting, then slow down.  Slowing down allows you to focus on one project at a time and pour your whole self into it.  That means being a little flexible with your schedule and not putting so many deadlines on your time.  Have a plan but give it room to breath and take shape.

10. Have fun – now this one can be taken the wrong way if I am not careful.  I don’t want you to think of your job search as a party, necessarily.  I do want you to be excited about what direction your next job is going to take you in.  Thinking about the excitement for what is next in your working life can really get you pumped up.  Finding a job is no easy task most of the time, you might as well try to find ways to make it fun.  Adding a little fun to the work can make the work not seem so difficult.

I love the 10 tips here and hope you do too.

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What Do You Need?

It is a new year for you and me.  I have been writing this blog for over four years now.  I just realized one very important thing.  I have never asked you what you need.  I have never asked you to let me know what interests you right now, where you are.

So this is not really a post but more of a question to find out what is the one thing you need right now in your job search?  Now maybe your first answer is:  “A job” which is a good one.  I think that one is obvious…hopefully.  Dig just a little deeper and tell me what you need right now in your job or your job search.  If you need help with your search, what specific help do you need?  If you need support in your search, what specific type of support do you need?  What one thing is dragging you down where you can’t figure out what to do next?

Think about it and let me know.  All job seekers are welcome.  You can comment here or send an email to me at:  jeffonjobs at gmail dot com.  I will respond (or not if you prefer) to each message I receive.  I want to hear from you.

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General Objective for Resume – 3 Tips

So you are writing a resume and wondering what is the general objective for your resume.  Well I am here to tell you that the most general objective is for it to get read by the person or people you are sending it to in the hopes they will pass it along to the hiring manager OR another person.  Getting your resume read and not just pushed off into the “no” pile is always the main objective.

So many people think the general objective for their resume is for it to look good or have the right key terms.  Those are important for the reader but at the end of the day you want your resume to get read and passed along to the hiring person if they are not the initial reader.  In order to make this happen you need to keep the following three tips in mind:

Tip Number 1:  Think of your resume as having a personality.  This might sound a little bazaar but stay with me.  If you can think of your resume as having one personality and only one, you can write it to align with that personality.  Now I don’t mean being too creative and writing your resume with a new font or quirky layout.  What I mean is if you are an administrative assistant and want to stand out from the crowd, give an example of how you helped your boss complete a project in the last moment or how you creatively pulled off a project by getting everyone else in the department on-board.  If you don’t have these type of examples, maybe you need to get more creative in your job.  Find your unique personality and let it shine through on your resume.

Tip Number 2:  Never make a punctuation or spelling error….NEVER!  I don’t care how many people you have to hire or corral to help you edit your resume.  Do it.  You don’t want one error on that resume ever.  I see the following errors all the time and you better not have them:  punctuation, spelling, grammar (big one), alignment, font style, font size, duplicate info, not relevent info, etc.  No errors.  No more.

Tip Number 3:  The general objective for your resume is not mainly about you but about the reader.  Don’t send the same resume to all job postings or to all your friends.  Send a relevant resume for a relevant job opportunity.  Never think of your resume as mainly about you.  It is way more about the reader than it is about you.  They need to be excited about you because you fit what they need.  Not the other way around.  They don’t care what your objective is…all they care about is their own.  Make it easy for them to get what they want.

There are many different ways to look at the general objective for resume creation.  Everyone has their own style, form and function.  But at the end of the day it matters most of all what the reader wants to see and not what you want to write.

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Resume Formats and Layout for a Professional Look

Resume formats come in many shapes and styles.  There are left justified, right justified, center and all variations in between.  So what resume format is the best one on the reader.  Yeah that is right, the reader:  a hiring manager, recruiter, computer screening the resume, the admin who sees them first, the reader…not YOU!

Think of a resume as a sales or marketing document and NOT a resume because that is what it is.  It is a document you use to display and demonstrate what experience you have to offer (benefits) and not just who you are (features).  I use the words “features” and “benefits” as an example of how people in sales and marketing think about promoting their service or products.  The features are not as important as the benefits.  So what are they:

“Features” are:  details of the product or service being promoted.  Details such as what you did/do on a daily basis, where you worked, if you travel and/or what you think you learned from each job.

“Benefits” are:  details of your successes in your past jobs such as “trained 55 new hires on company policies and procedures”, “type 65 words per minute consistently” and/or “surpassed sales goals by 122% during 2009 and 118% during 2010″.  These benefits are the sizzle behind what your role or daily work was/is.

So in the end, features or your job functions give you the ability to knock on the door of a hiring manager and the benefits begin to tell them who you are and what you are capable of.

So what is the best resume format for all job seekers…the best format is one that allows the reader to take five to 10 second snap shot of who you are.  Too many words tightened together without a lot of breaks does not allow the reader to quickly understand who you are.  Your resume is part of your story.  Your story begins and continues with any and all communications you make.  If your resume is the first time they learn about you, you need them to understand who you are quickly and what you have to offer.

So to me the best format is one that looks like this:

Using a layout or format that reads smoothly and free of complexity is good for the reader.  Strive to be as simple and to the point as you can.

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Objective For Resume

Does anyone use and Objective for their resume anymore?  The answer is a Big Fat No.  No way.  No how.  Objective for resume are the “old school” way of building a resume.  If you are still using them.  S-T-O-P!

Sorry to be so rough on the poor little objective statement but I want to be clear if you are thinking you should add one, you are probably a little out of touch with what is required in an updated resume.  Resumes are not about you.  I keep saying this over and over again but I truly want you to understand that resumes have changed in their form and function over the years.

A quick history lesson…

Most jobs in the 1800’s and early 1900’s were found within your family or friend network.  If you were born into a family of farmers, there was a pretty good chance you were going to learn that trade from and early age.  Once the industrial revolution came about the factories and plants were looking for good people they could trust to consistently put in their time at their post whether it was in an assembly line or at a desk.  The work was consistent, mundane and required a certain skill to do it over and over again.  Factories and plants were interested in what you wanted to do with your life because their work was consistent and were looking for you to want to be there.

As the industrial revolution migrated towards a more “international” and technology focus on jobbing, less and less of the mundane work was required.  Employers were not looking to make sure you were happy but to make sure they could survive AND how you can help them survive and prosper.  They didn’t and don’t want to know what your objective in your career is as much as they care about their objective and needs.  So an Objective For Resume was and has not even been looked at.  What was needed (and still is) is someone who can fix a problem or fill in a knowledge/experience gap they have.  Resumes moved away from you being part of an already well-oiled machine, to one with increased competition which needs innovative thinking and experience.  Your objective doesn’t matter much anymore…but theirs does.

So stop thinking about your resume as about you.  It is not and probably won’t be until we get back to the mundane work again (I seriously doubt it).  Get rid of the objective for resume, pick one job title and brag about yourself with as much detail and facts as possible.  Then put the resume on your desk and go out and meet people.  You will more effectively find a new job that way and possibly without a resume.  Not everyone needs one these days.

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The Perfect Resume – Five Tips on How to Write One.

A perfect resume is not written about you.  A perfect resume is meant to find you a job right?  If it is perfect then it will help you find a job fast.  The reason I say a perfect resume is not about you is because a resume done the right way, connects with the reader in a way that the reader says:  “Hey, I need to give this lady a call and see if she is a good fit for the opening I have.”  That is what a perfect resume is supposed to do.

So here are five tips on how to write a perfect resume every time:

1. No more than two pages.  If you have too many jobs or too much text about each one, shorten it.  I personally think a resume that is one and a half to one and three-quarters of a page is the perfect length.  Less than 1.5 is too short and 2.0 means you tried to squeeze in as much as you can.  Shoot for 1.75 pages for your resume.  It will be perfect.

2. You better not create and send the same “general resume” to all job postings you find.  This is a very easy way to get sent into file 13 (the trash) pretty quickly.  You must, must and MUST tailor EVERY RESUME to the job posting you are applying to.  Otherwise stop wasting yours and the hiring manager’s time.   General resumes don’t get read.  Your perfect resume must be focused on the job title you are applying for.

3. If you don’t meet 75% of the requirements of an online job posting, don’t even send a resume.  A perfect resume gets read every time.  If you don’t qualify with real world experience and FACTS to back it up then don’t even bother sending your resume.  It is not perfect because the hiring manager will get 50 to 500+ resumes and some of them will be perfect and push your wimpy resume off “the desk of follow-up.”

4. A perfect resume tells your story in a way that is interesting.   Anyone can list things like:  “I typed letters and documents” or “I cold called prospects to locate appointment opportunities”.  Those are boring and don’t tell your story.  There are facts to everyone’s job (well most everyone) so dig deep and state the facts, man.  Facts such as:  “Type 67 words per minute” or “juggled three attorney’s letter styles and completed most projects two hours ahead of time” or “averaged 22 cold calls per hour and uncovered 4 sales of over $1000 every day.” Those facts start to tell the kind of person you are and could be if they decide to hire you.  Facts = sizzle.

5. Stop being a wimp on your resume.  You are a fantastic employee and you deserve every job you are applying for (well most of you).  Show that strong attitude on your resume and then back it up when you get the face to face interview.  Your resume details should have some weight and power behind them.  Don’t write like you are back in high school (unless you are).  Don’t tell me you are not a good writer.  Who cares.  You better start practicing otherwise the good writers will get all the jobs.  Excuses are for wimps.  Stop making them especially with your writing skills.

A perfect resume starts with you feeling confident in yourself and finding ways to demonstrate that on paper.  List all your job functions and accomplishments at each company.  List them.  Read them again.  If they are not exciting to you, then find some new ones.  Don’t leave your desk until you have two or three for each job you have had.  They are there.  Go find them.

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Sample Job Resume

So you need a sample job resume so you can write you own, yes?  That is fine with me but keep in mind a few things when you are writing your own job resume:

1. You might be thinking too much about Y-O-U.  Most people write their own resumes from their perspective which is wrong.  How can this be wrong, you are probably saying.  It is plain wrong because the resume is really not about you.  It is about what the hiring manager is looking for not what you have to offer.  Some of you think I am crazy (that might be the case) but really it is true.  A good resume is not about you.  It should be about what the other person is looking for.  For example, you may have had three or four jobs in you life so far.  Each probably started out with you doing one or two types of work.  As you were at the company longer and longer, you probably started exploring different types of work within your current job.  Because there are so many different job functions you can put in a resume, you don’t want to talk about all the things you did there.  Your best bet is to select just the items that ARE RELEVANT to the job you are looking for.  Relevancy is what the hiring manager is looking for first and foremost.

2. You might be too critical (or not critical enough) of Y-O-U.  A resume needs to be given a once over by someone who is not emotionally tied to you in any way.  Your feelings are not at stake here but your ability to sell and market yourself to hiring managers is.  Finding multiple people who will give you good advice on the layout, design, messaging and format of your resume is more important than your feelings.  Give your resume to your harshest critics and make it better.

3. There is no sample job resume which you can just plug your information into.  You need to create the language or “feeling” of a resume on your own.  Now you can get some help with it, no problem.  But at the end of the day you need to be the writer of it otherwise it won’t speak of who you are.  I think it is good to have someone who can help you write a good resume or someone who can get it started and then you put your own style into it.  That is fine.  But DON’T let a resume writer write you something that sounds eloquent if you are more casual.  Writers will put some makeup on your resume but at the end of the day the hiring manager will have to see you for who you are.

Why not put the energy into writing something you are proud of at the end of the day.  You are who you are.  Be excited about that.  Be confident in that.  Use the sample job resume’s you find but write your own resume.  Writing your own resume will teach you things about yourself you didn’t know existed.  Take a few days, pick up a few books, review what is online and then get to work without any distractions.  Write your own resume in your own voice.  It is worth the effort.

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Management Resumes

I want to first make a comment about going after management jobs.  Management jobs are probably one of the toughest jobs to obtain if they don’t know you or you have never worked there.  There are so many reasons why this is true.  The following are just the short list:

  • Managing is about “culture fit” and tough to gauge in a short time.
  • Managers have to drink the cool aid – I don’t mean this negatively but a good manager needs to prove she/he embraces the goals of the organization so they can evangelize them though the staff ranks.
  • Managers have to be good at hiring – Hiring well is something that is tough to train and requires solid on-th-job experience.

So why would a company want to bring in someone from outside to manage their people?  There are many reasons for exploring this option but there are many more for bringing someone up from inside who is vested in the company and culture.

Putting together good management resumes is only part of the battle.  If a department head is going outside to find a manager they are probably looking for specific experience; lots of it.  Management resumes need to be heavy on experience and light on theory.  Showing strong success factors such as:

  • Reduction in turnover numbers
  • Increase in efficiency graphs and charts
  • List of employee comments collected from 360 feedback

All these type of things will really help your candidacy and give a solid punch to your management resumes.  You should spend extra time analyzing your results at your most recent company and past few to uncover good facts on your ROI as a manager.  Then you probably want to hand deliver your resume to every opportunity.  Sometimes you cannot do this but if you are serious about a job opportunity you found, find the hiring manager’s name and work address.  Put together a nice packet and send it via snail mail; old school.  This will get their attention because many people don’t do this any more.

You really need to find a way to stand out in order for your management resume to get noticed.

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Poop Or Get Off The Pot

This is for all the procrastinations out there.  Stop wasting time in a dead-end job.  Get yourself out there.  Meet people.  Talk about what you want to do when you grow up.  Get noticed.  Sell yourself more.  Ask good questions.

Find a new job, today.  Stop waiting and start moving.  I love this law of physics (and of job searching):  “A body at rest stays at rest.  A body in motion stays in motion unless acted upon.”

Act upon yourself today.

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