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Saturday, July 11, 2009

Cloud Resumes

I have recently discovered some "Cloud Resumes" and wonder what on earth these people are thinking!

A "Cloud", in case you are unfamiliar with the term, is a graphically pleasing way to illustrate a list or large group of words.

In the case of a cloud resume, it involves writing out a list of your skills and personal qualities (so far I'm with you - you need this for your resume), then you graphically arrange them in a "cloud" or roughly cloud shaped grouping, with each item in a different size, font and varying shades of black through grey, sometimes colored.

It looks very attractive. But it is not a good representation of who you are or what you can do, unless you are looking for a job as a graphic designer!

So whether it's a cloud or some other creative form of resume, stay away from it - again unless you are looking for a job in the creative, artistic areas of work. Most employers would perhaps be amused, perhaps be exasperated, but either way it is highly unlikely you would land an interview.

Looking for a job is a serious business, so stick to business and keep ultra creativity, no matter how visually pleasing, for a more appropriate place and time.

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Saturday, June 20, 2009


Write list of all the things you can do relevant to the workplace. You need to know what you've done, and what skills you have to write a resume that will get you in the door for an interview.

Analyze the jobs you have had, both paid and unpaid. What did you do?

Then for every thing you did, write down what skills that duty involved.

What you have done that gave you a real sense of satisfaction?

If someone were to follow you through an entire week, what positive things would that person notice about what you do well and enjoy? What do people comment to you that you are good at doing? What do they ask you to help them with? What do they ask your advice on?

Check out the National Occupational Classification (you can “Google” these words, or try the O*Net site, ) for whichever jobs you are considering.

Carefully read the job description and the skills and qualities required. Write down everything mentioned that you can honestly say you have.

Use word lists to help you identify and describe your skills.

If you were asked to list all your skills, you, like most of us, would be hard put to come up with 20, certainly 50 would be a challenge, And yet, the average person has 500 -70 skills.

Is there anything that you think “everyone can do that! That is a strong, special skills of yours, because there is nothing that “everyone” can do! You need to know what your special skills are.

How do you identify your skills?

Out of every activity you do well, you can identify skills. Make a list of them.
Why do you need to know your skills?

Your résumé should show your strongest, relevant and most marketable skills and accomplishments. They are what make you stand out in the crowd.

So work on identifying your skills, and market them front and center to employers, on your résumé, cover letter and in the interview.

Friday, May 22, 2009

What is the initial amount of time an employer takes to review an applicant’s resume?

What is the initial amount of time an employer takes to review an applicant’s resume?

Answer: 30-45 seconds

Is your resume good enough to "hook" the employer is 30 -45 seconds?

The first half of the first page is all the average employer will see when making an initial scan of your resume. Make sure it has your main attention grabbing point in it.

What do you have to offer the employer that s/he most wants? What can you do for him/her that other applicants probably can't? What special skils, experience, personal qualities do you bring? What makes you a good fit for this job/ company?

You only have one chance to make a first impression, and with your resume this first impression is created by the first half of the first page.

Make is strong.

A note on cover letters ... only 50% of employers even read your cover letter, so for those who don't, the first page of your resume is your initial introduction.

Think like an employer. What does s/he want? Do you have it? If so, tell 'em!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Resumes: Don't bend the truth on your resume

It would seem an obvious statement but here it is. Don't lie on your resume.

Don't "bend the truth" either.

I had a client recently who was finishing a training course. He had finished the actual courses but still had to complete a certain number of hours practicum before he would have his certification.

On his resume he wrote that he was fully qualified, and was most annoyed when I told him he should not put that until he actually is qualified.

It would seem an obvious statement, but I come across it so often.

Misrepresentation doesn't work in the long run.

It may get you an interview and if you lie well enough at the interview it may well get you the job.

However, if you don't have what you claimed to have, sooner or later that is going to become apparent and it is grounds for instant dismissal.

I can appreciate how hard it is to know that you could get a job "if only...", especially in the tough job market we are experiencing just now. But lying is not the way to go.

Tell the truth. Make the truth sound as appropriate for this job as you possibly can, without exaggeration and without 'bending the truth'.

Need help writing an effective resume? I offer one on one assistance online and locally.

Or try this great tool.


Friday, April 24, 2009

Resumes: Don't overstate your abilities

One of the things that turn employers off is a resume that is so overstated that it's hard to believe anyone could be that good.

Even if it's not, even if it just stated you are really good at this type of work - make sure it's a genuine representation of what you can do.

You are not doing yourself any favors by getting into an interview for a job you couldn't cope with if you got it! Be realistic and truthful.

It's good to show how good you are in your resume, but don't overdo it.

No-one is "excellent" at everything. In some things we are just "competent", we may be "effective", or "proficient".

However, if you are "outstanding" at something, then you can say so - just make sure you really, really are that good before you write it.

Stories help.

If you have a one liner in your resume that tells of a time you totally reorganized the structure of the sales department, or that you were promoted withing 2 months of being hired because of your excellent communication skills ... if you have a story to back it up, then the employer can instantly see that yes, you do appear to have very strong skills in this area.

It's a tough call for most people to make themselves look as good as they really are (this is not the time for modesty) but not overdo it.

Take an objective look at what you can do, and be prepared to sell that, but know your limits. Keep it real.

I work one-on-one with job seekers to write resumes.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Target your Resume

One resume will not work for different types of work.

If you are applying for several jobs, say, in office administration, then one resume for all might do (although taking the time to target each more precisely to each job would be better). But if you are applying for office administration jobs and also for retail customer service work, the same resume cannot possibly demonstrate your strongest skills for both types of work.

Your resume does should only have the skills you can use in the job for which you are applying.

So if you are applying for office admin, where you will have no, or miminal contact with the public, your skills in handling cash, debit and credit will not be needed so should not appear in that resume.

On the other hand, when going for retail, minimal computer skills will be required, and those that are needed will not include using MS Word, Excel, Simply Accounting and other basic office software.

So when applying for the retail position, putting in your resume that you are very computer literate is good, but your skill with office software is redundant and should not appear.

It is one of the hardest things for a job seeker to do when writing their resume - to elimiate skills of which they are rightfully proud, but which will not be valid in the job for which this resume is intended.

So streamline your resumes to include only the skills for that specific job.

You'll find the employer rewards you for your clarity and relevance by inviting you in for an interview more often.

Need more help one on one writing your resume?

Monday, March 23, 2009

Avoiding repetition in your resume and cover letter

When you write your resume and cover letter, the same words keep cropping up.

I know for me, I always want to have several "excellents" and "effectives", and a few other of my favorites.

So how to avoid them?

There are several ways.

One of the most obvious is to use a Thesaurus, which is a list of other words to use to mean the same as the one you are searching.

Microsoft Word has one in the "Tools, Langauge" menu. If you highlight the word you are concerened about, it will automatically show you alternatives. Likewise, you can "Google" for an online thesaurus.

Alternatively, almost every job search book has word lists to help you. These word lists will give you other descriptive words, and also suggest action verbs to make your resume more dynamic. They can be very useful.

Again, using Google, search for "word list for resume." I just did it as I write this and a great variety of helpful sites came up.

The other time you need "new" words, is when you want to show that you have whatever a job ad is asking for.

You can't just take what the ad says and copy it into your resume and cover letter, no matter how close a match it is for you. Or at least, you can't do that if you want to be taken seriously as a job candidate.

Instead, go back to the thesaurus and find other ways to express that you have everything the ad is seeking.

That of course is not the total content of either your resume or cover letter, but it's something to bear in mind as you "tweak" your carefully prepared material for each individual position.

Your job is to show that you are an excellent fit for this position.

More help with resumes and cover letters...

Resume writing for computer jobs is a bit different than for other jobs. Find help here...

Other articles on this blog to help you are:

Cover letters to suit each job

Questions about resumes and cover letters

Resumes need action verbs

What does the employer want?