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THE BLUEPRINT

Tips and advice to assist you in your job search.

MONDAY, AUGUST 12, 2013

Are You Really Answering The Job Posting?

Or, are you simply picking out the soft qualifications you have and then uploading your résumé? Too many times I hear job candidates say, well they asked for a BS in A or B, but I have a Masters in…or I hear something like “well I may not have experience in ______(insert specific skill), but I am able to multitask, I’m detail-oriented, I have great communication skills; written and verbal, etc…” Well, most times those soft skills that most every job posting seem to include are pretty common, and for certain industries they’re a given. For example analytical skills in accounting or finance. And although you should still have them, the main part of the posting is usually the experience (hard skills) and educational part. If the posting is only asking for a Bachelor’s degree and you have a Masters it doesn’t mean the hiring manager will be more impressed. It usually means you’re over qualified, or better yet if you respond, that you don’t take direction well. So, back to the soft skills, which is my main point today. Don’t skimp on the crucial requirements thinking that as long as you have the other soft skills you’ll be called in for an interview. Trust me, it’s an employer’s market, therefore nine times out of ten they will go for candidates that meet virtually EVERY qualification listed. You’ll save yourself a lot of time “not” responding to job postings that you don’t totally qualify or are over qualified for. Until next time…

posted by WSteele @ 8:48 PM  0 comments

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 05, 2013

The One Page Résumé REALLY is a Myth!

Unless you’re a new college graduate, but beyond that do not believe that you can fit 10-15 years of experience on 1 page! Well, actually you can if you make it pretty vague.

Today, I worked from home and just happened to be channel surfing (which is why I usually don’t like working from home) and saw Lisa Ling co-hosting the Jeff Probst show. She was going on about the new season of her show Our America and went on and on about things she’s learned. What immediately got my attention and even made me cringe is when she said “a résumé is only supposed to be one page.” Who told her that? Really! I can’t believe that people are still believing this! Lisa of course is no professional résumé writer or hiring manager working in today’s world, so as many novices do she’s probably just going by whatever she’s used to. The sad part is, she’s perpetuating this myth to thousands if not millions of viewers, and most of them probably believe her!

Now, there are some hiring managers who still believe this and probably even prefer a one page résumé

depending on the company, but please believe me when I say they are a rarity! The norm is one to two pages. If you want to market yourself effectively and depending on your level of experience you may need two pages. I’ve even seen three for senior and C-level managers. More than that for federal résumés. Another thing to remember, and this is VERY important is that you must capture the hiring manager’s attention on the first page. Actually within 10-15 seconds starting from the top! If you don’t do that then it won’t matter whether the resume is one or two pages. They won’t be intrigued to read further anyway.
I have been writing résumés since the 90s and I’ve seen all of the changes through the years. Just remember, it’s the content that counts!

Until next time… Go get that dream job!

Wendy Steele
Founder & CPRW
BluePrint Resumes & Consulting

posted by WSteele @ 9:21 PM  0 comments

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 07, 2012

10 Things That Can Date You On A Résumé

 

Another BluePrint Résumés & Consulting Tip!

Today’s résumés usually consist of 1 to 2 pages, but can go up to 3 or 4 depending on your industry or level of expertise. For example, a federal government resume tends to be anywhere from 3 to 5 pages and a C-level executive can be 2 to 3. Unless it is a federal government résumé, you want to be careful how many years you go back. Although, experience “should” be key, and some hiring managers and industries appreciate this, age discrimination is very prevalent today. Older applicants in their mid to late 40s, 50s and 60s have to be especially careful in telling too much on a résumé. The following are some of the quickest and sure ways to date yourself on this important marketing tool:

  1. Your Email Account Provider- Still have a Hotmail, AOL or EarthLink account? You can still keep it for personal emails if you like, but for job searching, GET RID OF IT! Recruiters say this makes you look old. Better to get with the times and create an email address using Comcast, Gmail or another up to date service provider for job purposes.
  1. Your Email Address- Do you have your age listed in your address? How about the year you were born? This still tells your age. And it’s a huge red flag! You’re telling the recruiter or hiring manager right away that you’re 45, 55, 65, etc… and you never know who will frown at this and toss your résumé right in the trash without even seeing that you qualify for the position in other ways; the ways that should matter most.
  1. Your Middle Name- Listing your middle name on a résumé is not only antiquated, but depending on the name itself can date you. For example a name like Oscar, Walter, Henry, Jean, etc… and if your first name and middle name sound old fashioned that’s a double whammy! Of course you could be young and maybe your parents named you after a grandparent, great uncle/aunt, etc…That’s nice, but just use an initial instead, or better yet just leave it off period. A first and last name will suffice unless your name sounds too common. Now, if your first name sounds old fashioned well… just hope it’s overlooked.
  1. Adding a Suffix After Your Name– Skip the Jr., Senior, II, III, and so on. Unless you’re applying for a job at the same company as your father, there’s no need for this. It’s definitely antiquated and can raise suspicion as to how old you are. Even if you live in a rural area where this is still commonly done, it’s better to just leave it off.
  1. Adding Positions Beyond 20 Years- Especially if you go as far back as the 80s. The rule of thumb is to add the last 10-15 years on a resume. We try our best to stick with 10, but in many instances it’s necessary to go back just a little further.
  1. Stating Many Years of Experience At The Top of the Résumé-Even saying More than 15 Years of Experience in… can be a red flag right away! There are many postings that only specify 5 to 8 years of experience. Some job candidates think that if they have and show more than what a posting says this will make them appear more desirable, but in today’s times that’s not usually the case. Now, I have seen some industries, such as the insurance industry where depending on the position they don’t care. In IT there are many companies who will appreciate years beyond 15, but just to be safe only add this if the hiring manager already knows you, or knows the person who referred you who may have already put in a good word for you.
  1. Adding Old company names- I mean older names from the 90s and further back. So many companies have merged and changed names. For example, if you live in the Southeast and you used to work for a telecommunications company that has changed names through the years, a hiring manager can tell how old you are by this. So, let’s say the company was Southern Bell and now it’s AT&T, or Air Touch Communications which is now Verizon Wireless, and so on. If you must list experience from the early 90s and your company’s name changed, just put the new name. This will at least show that you’re up to date on the new name and keep the resume from looking antiquated.
  1. Listing An Old College Name or Degree Title- I went to University of Toledo, which is in Toledo, OH which used to be called Toledo University and I majored in Business Administrative Assisting, which is no longer offered, but Business Administration is. We had very similar course requirements and electives, but things were different back then.

Georgia Tech (Georgia Institute of Technology) changed their business degree from a B.S. in Business Management to a B.S. in Business Administration. So now instead of a BSM it’s a BSBA degree. This was to keep up with the standard degree name in the job market.  See? They’re keeping up with the times too! Now although the change was made last year, you still want to show that you’re current too! Most institutions have changed from “college” in their name to saying “University” however; I have seen plenty of resumes where the candidate didn’t bother to change it.

  1. Listing Old Computer Skills- Even if there are a couple of companies out there who still use mainframe and Lotus Notes, I wouldn’t advise adding this to your résumé! Unless of course that particular company is requesting this skill in the job posting. Old systems, programming languages and things that most companies have moved on from should be left off of your resume. Old versions too! V. whatever should be noted with the latest version. PeopleSoft is now Oracle (or some still say Oracle PeopleSoft), Peachtree is now Sage 50 Accounting and so on.
  1. Listing Hobbies- Now, I know most of you know better than this! However, I have seen one or two resumes this year with some interesting and non-related hobbies listed. Your fly fishing or drag racing hobby has no place on the résumé. Most younger applicants know not to do this, so again add it and you’ll date yourself. Gone are the days of showing how well rounded you are.

These Are Just Some of the Key Things That Can Date You.

If You Know of Others Feel Free To Share Them!

posted by WSteele @ 5:21 PM  0 comments

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 21, 2012

What Your Résumé Says About You!

By: Felicia Peoples, Editor

Most job seekers understand the importance of dressing for success. They wouldn’t dare show up for an interview dressed in jeans, tennis shoes and a tee-shirt. Instead, they would choose interview attire that presents them in their best light from the very first glance. When it comes to résumés however, the divide between job seekers who understand that appearances DO matter and those who don’t, increases significantly.

To assist job seekers and potential clients in determining the effectiveness of their current résumés, we offer Résumé Evaluations. This is great for persons who have a résumé but don’t know if it needs an update or a complete overhaul in order to help them find new employment or to advance in their current company. Our job is to rate it in the areas that we know matter most to hiring managers in today’s competitive job market. On many occasions, I have evaluated a résumé that in terms of content and/or appearance screams: AMATEUR…INEXPERIENCED…UNACCOMPLISHED…CARELESS;
I’ll stop there before it gets really ugly.

Then one day, the person whose résumé I have ripped to shreds (figuratively speaking), calls the office to enlist our services. We schedule a consultation and to my surprise, he or she is a brilliant, accomplished professional who is attentive to detail and a recognized asset in all positions and departments to which he has served. I let out a sigh of relief because the powerful resume I thought would be so difficult to create, will in fact be a breeze. Contrary to what his current résumé told me about him, I won’t have to stretch, bend and embellish the ordinary to find ways to make this client appear to be accomplished, visionary and results driven. This client is in fact all these things and more!! I liken this revelation to one day discovering the disheveled guy wearing wrinkled jeans and a dingy tee-shirt you see at Starbucks every morning is in fact the CEO of a multimillion-dollar company. Interesting… you always thought he was homeless.

While I know you can’t judge a book by its cover and you shouldn’t even try to, this cliché just doesn’t work in our modern, fast paced world. People don’t always have time to speak with you for an hour (as we do in our consultations) to get to know you on the inside. This is especially true as it pertains to hiring managers. The internet has reduced the world’s size so significantly that the pool of candidates for any particular job has increased exponentially. In other words, the Administrative Assistant job you are applying for in your home city of Atlanta, has been seen online by fellow job seekers all over the country. So not only are Atlanta job seekers applying for it, but so are the hundreds of persons who would like to relocate to Atlanta.

Gone are the days where hand-delivered résumés are expected, accepted or even welcomed. The days when you could show up, impeccably dressed and maybe score an impromptu interview are a thing of the past. Your résumé didn’t have to do ALL the talking then. But now, with one swift click of a button on a laptop, desktop or even smart phone, your résumé can be sent in response to 100 job postings per day, if you so desire. This ease in application translates to more applicants for any one position which translates to more competition: fierce competition.

Focusing only on traditional means of staying competitive: stellar job performance, impressive academic credentials and continuing education, is simply not enough in today’s cyber job market. In order for a hiring manager to be aware of your awesome job performance and excellent credentials, your résumé has to convey this. There’s no other way around it. So in these tough economic times, it’s no longer a question of whether you can afford to pay for a professional résumé; its can you afford not to?

So, think of your résume and what it says about you much like you regard the clothes you choose to wear to a job interview. Be as meticulous and scrutinizing in its appearance, formatting, structure and content as you are about the suit, shirt and tie combination you choose to wear to the interview for your dream job. After all, your résumé is going to determine if you even get the opportunity to interview, sell yourself and seal the deal. If you’re still unsure, remember the guy at Starbucks.

posted by WSteele @ 10:18 AM  0 comments

MONDAY, OCTOBER 22, 2012

Confused About the Federal Application Process?

It seems like everyone is trying to get a job with the federal government these days and who can blame them? I mean a full time, stable position with great benefits, opportunity for advancement, and so on. Plus, if a military base or agency closes you have opportunities to transfer somewhere else within the government.
Some things have changed now for the applicant requirements. The most recent being the KSAs (Knowledge, Skills and Abilities). Most positions no longer require the long narrative answers that once had to be included with the resume. Now you can add them IN the resume. The federal government is slowly doing away with them as well, so for some positions you may not even see KSAs. I always wondered why they need these anyway when the resume itself answers (or should) most of the questions anyway. And the questions seem so repetitive. Here are some key points to remember when applying for a federal government job:

  1. The federal government uses an applicant scoring system to consider applicants and you MUST meet ALL minimum requirements to even be considered during the screening process.
  2. Your resume MUST be tailored for the specific job announcement and you need to put the announcement number on your resume.
  3. Unlike traditional resumes for the private sector, the federal government asks for contact information, salary and hours worked for each of your positions.
  4. Many people think that you need to add every single duty on your resume, but this is NOT true. Adding extensive non-relevant information will not help. Adding every duty and responsibility will not help. Accomplishments and all skills that show how you qualify for the particular job posting is what will help.
  5. Most positions are posted on USAJobs.gov, but a lot of contracting jobs are not. It’s best to seek out contracting companies yourself to see if they’re hiring. If you’re already working for a contractor don’t wait until the contract is almost over to update your resume. You never know when someone may contact you about another opportunity. And… if you wait until the last minute to have your resume professionally updated it can be $100 or more extra. I’ve seen some companies charge half the rate of the actual resume for rush service. Remember these job postings have deadlines!
  6. Make sure you have the following: good or fair credit, ability to get security clearance, the exact education and experience they’re asking for on the job posting. They’ll deduct points if you don’t.
  7. Be patient. This is a very lengthy process which can take up to 6 months! They want to know everything.

Hopefully these tips help. One more thing, apply to as many jobs as possible and tweak the resume for the positions. It may sound like a pain, but it’s worth it!

posted by WSteele @ 7:22 PM  0 comments

MONDAY, JULY 30, 2012

Is Your Resume Extremely Duty-Driven?

If so, trust me this is NOT the answer! This morning I reviewed four resumes for free evaluations. Every single resume was so duty-driven I nearly fell asleep trying to read them. Many people think that if they show all of their responsibilities on a resume, that’s what sells them. A few duties are fine to give the reader and overview, but it’s how well you perform those responsibilities that set you apart from the rest. So, I can’t stress enough how important accomplishments are. By accomplishments I don’t mean just telling about awards and commendations. Quantifiable ones are best, but any results you’ve delivered will suffice. Having a problem trying to think of results? Do you work in IT or administrative assisting where every task is just that? A task? Don’t have numbers to show? Well, think of why you’re still there! And if you’re no longer with the company, think of the things you did at one time better than anyone else. Team effort? That counts too if you helped to achieve a goal! In fact, whatever goals your company has (or had) and you’ve helped them to achieve them, there you go! An accomplishment!

posted by WSteele @ 11:12 AM  0 comments

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 27, 2012

10 Reasons Why Your Resume May Not Be Generating Any Phone Calls or Emails

So, you’ve been posting your resume online to job search engines, company websites and you’ve even sent it to your best friend who sent it to his supervisor, who sent it to his manager (or so they said), and so on. It’s been three months or longer and you know you’re highly qualified for any company, so what could be the problem? Well, there could be a number of reasons why your resume just isn’t making the cut. Critical things such as:

1. No focus or specific target
2. A weak summary or profile to start
3. No relevant keywords to what you’re applying for
4. A one-size-fits-all resume
5. A laundry list of duties
6. Lengthy job descriptions 
7. Lengthy resume overall
8. Boring verbiage
9. Limited or no accomplishments listed
10. Information not relevant to what you’re applying for


Now, let’s start with #1. As a hiring manager myself, the first thing I look for at the top of a resume is the focus. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a candidate’s resume start off with a weak objective and then proceed right to the experience. What’s even worse, is when a person doesn’t take the time to change the target to match the position they’re applying for. For example, if you are applying for an Editor position, don’t leave ‘Seeking a Graphic Artist Position Where I can Grow With The Company’ on your resume from when you applied earlier for the graphic artist position. Take the time to change it. If you’re going to do a resume blast, then make sure you’re blasting to similar positions. Don’t just apply for any and everything that you are not even qualified for just because you “think” you can do the job.

Weak summaries or profiles will not prompt a hiring manager to read further. You don’t want the summary to be long and drawn out either. The summary is an introduction that says why you would make a good fit right from the beginning. This does NOT include your daily duties either. Save that for the Professional Experience section.

When using keywords (which by the way are very important for search engines and resume databases to pick up your resume) make sure you use ones related to the position you’re targeting. Not soft skills such as multitasking or communication skills. You need strong ones. All you have to do is look at any job posting of interest and you’ll see keywords right in the posting.

A one-sized-fits-all resume does not work! Nobody wants to see that you’re all over the place. Companies are trying to hire someone for a certain position to solve a problem, so your focus needs to be on helping them to solve that particular problem. Also, companies want people who are stable and will be with them for awhile. If the resume isn’t targeted, then it confuses the hiring manager. That’s great that you’re a Jack (or Jill) of all trades, but the fact that you can do carpentry, sales, security, HR and marketing does not help the company who’s just seeking a marketing coordinator. Just list information related to this position.

Duties! Duties! and more… Duties! This doesn’t work either. Many people assume that you must list any and every single thing you do on a resume which simply isn’t true. A snapshot is what a resume is. Your duties should be described briefly and then lead into your accomplishments.

See the above for lengthy job descriptions.

Ahhh the one page myth! Resumes are typically one to two pages. If you have 10 years of work experience and you’ve moved up through the ranks there is no way you’re going to get all of the relevant information needed on one page without the resume looking dull and dry. Senior level executives can be as many as three. It’s really the content that matters.  Also, if you have multiple positions to list, it is better to stretch it to the second page than to try and cram everything onto one page. Now, generally the one page resume is mainly for new high school and college graduates because they usually don’t have more than 3 years of work experience. Oh yeah, high school graduates need resumes too these days.

Are you repetitive in your verbiage? Do you start every description off withResponsible for…? If so, please stop this. It puts us to sleep. This is a quick way for your resume to end up in the slush pile… or trash.

Accomplishments are really the heart of the resume. This is where you really make yourself shine! Quantifiable results are best, but if you can show results of your duties, and how you’ve helped a company to either make money or save money that will be plenty. Many people make the mistake of thinking accomplishments just mean sales and awards, but that’s not all!

Information not relevant kind of goes back to the Jack or Jill of all trades. It also means that if you’ve been an elementary school teacher for your entire career to date, and now you want to transition to a corporate training position, then you’d better think of some related skills and expertise to list or don’t apply for the corporate training position. Just because you can manage a classroom of 4th graders, doesn’t necessarily mean that you can train a group of project managers for Coca-Cola.

So, those are just “some” things I see on resumes. There are other reasons as well. Start with paying attention to these and you’ll be off to a great start!

Good luck in your career search!

BluePrint Resumes & Consulting

posted by WSteele @ 4:20 PM  0 comments

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