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Resumes mean so much to hiring managers. It’s your first introduction to a prospective employer and it’s how you differentiate yourself. But what separates the bad resumes from the good ones?

The best resumes avoid abbreviations. Abbreviations are not professional nor are they accepted. Nothing makes HR managers cringe more than seeing sentences like the following: “Answered the phone and went 2 C clients” (yes, I truly have seen this). It may be the information age but this is not a text message so don’t treat it as such.

Giving up too much personal information is a no-no. You should leave off anything related to hobbies or interests that are not related to the job. Do not include your weight and height unless you’re applying for a position as a gym trainer. If it’s not related to the job in any way, do not include it on your resume. Leave out your illnesses or why you took off 2 years to care for a dying parent. As hard as that may have been, it will count against you.

The best resumes are the best because they’re not being used as an art canvas. If you try to stand out by having large graphics on your resume it’s a bad move, because this will give you an unprofessional and amateurish looking resume. Your prospective employer only wants to see your skills, your duties and achievements. You’re not going to get anywhere by having a Word Art picture of a snail on your resume.

Keep the negativity to yourself. The best resumes are neutral in tone or highlight the best attributes of the applicant. But, if you have information on your resume that is negative, such as, leaving your previous employer because you did not like the boss, just keep that part to yourself. Do not try to explain the situation on your resume. That’s an impossible battle that you should not fight. Your resume’s job is to sell and promote you. So don’t eliminate yourself because you were negative.

Good resumes include dates. Do not make an HR manager have to guess. This kills your resume on the spot. You have to include dates. What years were you in college, did you attend graduate school or did you graduate from a trade school? How long have you been working at your current position? Do not make the hiring manager have to ask questions about your resume. The second they have to guess, your resume is going straight to the trash. Make sure your resume flows easily and there are no date gaps. If you took a year off to go travel or to go back to school, include this on your resume.

Bad resumes do not highlight achievements. Many people will fill their resumes with irrelevant information, but they leave off the most important part of the resume – focusing on their achievements. You want to stand out from other applicants, so how can you do that if you do not showcase what you’ve done. Explaining your past accomplishments means that the HR manager can see what you’ve done and know how you can fill their need. If you have the abilities, you need to showcase them on your resume.

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Focusing on your experience, your background and your accomplishments is what’s known as a functional resume. Chronological resumes list all of your employers in the order of the date that you worked for them, typically with the oldest employer at the bottom of the resume. Functional resumes are great for people who are looking to make a career change, people with multiple positions with different industries, people with gaps in their employment and those just starting out on their career. However, as always, I have to warn you that recruiter and hiring people really don’t like functional style resumes. They feel you may be “hiding” something.

You can combine both resume types to give yourself a well-rounded appearance to potential employers, plus hiring managers love to see a list of previous experience, especially when it’s for a  position of authority.  Providing work history is an excellent way to showcase how your accomplishments have translated to actual success in the work place.

Start by writing a list of the skills that you used at your previous jobs. List them one by one so that you cover a wide range of tasks on your resume. Depending on the position you’re applying for, modify your skills to directly reflect those of the position that you’re applying for. Don’t embellish, instead focus on what you’ve accomplished and how it will allow you to succeed at your new position.

Use bullet points to provide a concise and accurate depiction of your responsibilities and where you used your skills. List our your accomplishments and try to use numbers to demonstrate an actual value. You can say something like, you promoted better paper management and turned your office into a green office, reducing the waste and lowering cost for trash maintenance by a third. Or that you increased sales in your office by 15% over a 5 year period.

Show your employer in the bullet section of your accomplishments. You want to be able to match your accomplishments with a tangible company, so make sure to list the companies where you worked. Your  accomplishments only mean so much if they can be backed up. Listing your companies, or contacts you may have done a project for, will help highlight your accomplishments.

Use action verbs at the beginning of your accomplishments. Saying things like, “demonstrated” a strong desire to train new employees, is better than saying “trained staff.” Elaborate on your accomplishments, it’s all right to use descriptive words here. In fact, the HR manager may appreciate your ability to be descriptive.

Complete a short job history below the accomplishment section of your resume. This will help employers get a good idea of your work history. Make sure to include the name of the employer, your job title, the dates you worked for the employer and the location of the job. Write this list in reverse chronological order.

It’s time to get those accomplishments out there and find the job that you’ve always wanted!

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Finding employment can be tough, many people have been out of work at one point in their lives, but that doesn’t mean that you have to get down on yourself. Losing your job can be crushing, you have to deal with the loss of income, health insurance and the pain of rejection. If you find a job quickly those feelings soon pass, but if your job search drags out it can leave you strained.

The hardest part of being out of work for a long period of time is keeping that positive attitude, especially when the job search turns into months and years. You have to keep a positive attitude for your own sanity and to make a good impression with potential employment opportunities. Here are some helpful ideas for those job search warriors out there trying to keep their chin up.

  • Find something to do with your time, being a job hunting warrior isn’t about making the quick easy kill, if you want to have a good job that you will enjoy, then you need to do something that will occupy your time while you hunt. A hobby like an eBay store is a great way to expand your skills while still earning some money.
  • Take some time and do the things you would not normally be able to do. Spend some time with your kids or take a trip that you’ve always wanted (if you have the money).
  • Help out with the household chores. Just do something that will take your mind off of the hunt and recharge your batteries long enough for you to regain focus. You have to be mentally and physically prepared if you’re going to get back into the swing of things.
  • Learn a new skill. Take up sewing or start playing badminton, anything you can do to relieve the stress of looking for a job. Pacing yourself for the job hunt is important because you can burn out by focusing all of your energy into that one thing.
  • Update your resume. There’s no time like the present to start developing a new resume, now you can put some of those new skills that you’ve acquired on that and showcase what you’ve learned during your job hunt. A job hunting support group isn’t a bad idea either. There you can share your experience with other people and do some networking while you’re at it. These groups are here to help people, so take advantage of the opportunities you have.
  • Enjoy your day. Most wary warriors like to focus their job search efforts during the day when most people are at work but that doesn’t mean you have to spend all your day looking for work. Take a second to go outside and enjoy the air or read a book that you’ve always wanted to. Just do what you can to recharge during this down period because you’ll need it once the night job hunt is on.
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***A big thanks to Laura DeCarlo, President of Career Directors International, for passing along the information.

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“Each year, WEDDLE’s (www.weddles.com) conducts a year-long poll at its site to identify the thirty job boards and social media sites with the most support among job seekers, employers and recruiters. These sites are then recognized with a WEDDLE’s User’s Choice Award – the only accolade in the job market in which actual site users get to pick the winners.

While clearly not a scientific survey, WEDDLE’s User’s Choice Awards are a good measure of the intensity of support that individual sites have among their users. For that reason, we think it’s accurate to say that the sites with the most votes are clearly among the elite in the online employment services industry.

The 2011 winners include:

Absolutely Health Care; AfterCollege.com; AHACareerCenter.org (American Hospital Association); AllHealthcareJobs.com; AllRetailJobs.com

CareerBuilder.com; Climber.com; CollegeRecruiter.com; CoolWorks.com

Dice.com

EHSCareers.com; ExecuNet

FlexJobs.com

Hcareers.com; HEALTHeCAREERS Network; HigherEdJobs.com; HospitalDreamJobs.com

Indeed.com

Job.com; JobCircle.com; JobFox.com; Jobing

Monster.com 

National Healthcare Career Network

SimplyHired.com; 6FigureJobs.com; SnagAJob.com

TopUSAJobs.com

VetJobs.com

WSJ.com/Careers (The Wall Street Journal)

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