Have you ever noticed a dirty windshield before it reached the opaque stage? If you are like most of us, nope. You keep adjusting to the slowly deteriorating view until suddenly you realize it needs to be cleaned. And wow, what a difference once you wash it! There are a lot of areas in life where the same process happens. We are blind to the small changes until something triggers our realization that an accumulation has occurred.
Resumes Need To Be Cleaned Up Regularly
Here’s what happens to a resume after a while:
- changes of address or phone number forgotten
- promotions or training updates missed
- customizing one part for a particular job application
- skimming over stuff you already wrote because you know what you said
- references who no longer are available
Each little thing is like another tiny spot on the windshield. Not hard to overlook, until you drive into the sunlight and realize you can’t see very well. Most of the time you can wash your windshield with the washer spray and wipers, but sometimes you need to get out and scrub. How does this apply to a resume?
A resume update certainly is something you can consider doing yourself, if you are confident that your writing skills are up to the task. Don’t rush the job, save your work, and make sure you go over the changes after a break. Even professional resume writers will miss things, and that’s why proofreading is part of the process. Everybody makes mistakes, and the best of us will build in safeguards to catch those mistakes before submitting the final version.
If you are not sure what you are missing in your resume update, we offer a Resume Critique service that gives you a professional opinion and concrete suggestions for the price of a fancy dinner out on the town. That’s a good bargain! You will get the help you want on updating your resume, know that it is an impressive, professional showcase of your abilities, and get a good lesson in what to be aware of the next time you realize your resume needs to be cleaned up.
Do you know what “buzzword” makes me think of? Big bugs with wings that beat so fast the individual sounds blur together. In a resume, buzzwords are words used so often the reader stops seeing you as an individual. It can be tricky, though, because you have to figure out what’s been overused to that point of overkill (i.e. “detail-oriented, or “responsible for” … just DON’T DO IT).
Buzzwords vs Keywords
Keywords are essential in your resume because they are the phrases or individual words the screening system is looking for. There is a lot of quality information on keywords and how to use them on this blog and on other career blogs. Basically, a keyword is the information the searcher is hoping to find. If an employer wants to hire someone who knows Microsoft Office and can come in to start work without training, they are looking for “Microsoft Office” on your resume. If you have the skill they are looking for, say so. Tell them how well you know it, too. “Uses Microsoft Office daily” implies competency.
Every time you submit your resume, it should be checked for keywords that were used in the job description, keywords that are unique to you. Are you an expert at turning around failing companies? “Turnaround Agent” might be a good term to use for yourself. That’s not overkill, that’s demonstrating you fit their qualifications–and are an expert at it.
Buzzwords are different. Buzzwords are empty adjectives that have lost their meaning or never were clear in the first place. These words don’t have a clear definition for each person. They are more like opinions. Here are a few buzzwords as an example:
- team player
There’s nothing wrong with being an energetic, confident, creative, and detail-oriented team player, but you aren’t saying anything that hundreds of other people say on their resumes, too.
Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz….it all blurs together.
Be Better Than Buzzwords
Take the empty buzzword and fill it with facts. You are creative? State the facts that demonstrate that creativity, like “worked on development team to create promotional campaigns resulting in 45% increase of sales.” You just hit creative and team player with the same detail.
The more concrete your resume is, with facts and results that are measurable, the less meaningless buzz it has.
Do you use Google Alerts? It’s a great way to keep on top of the things you are interested in, and it can be very helpful when you are juggling all the details of a job search. It’s simple to set up notifications for your email or feed for whenever you want to be alerted to mentions of a subject.
Set Google Alerts For Career Leads & More
If you are interested in a particular company, you can ask to be alerted to any mention of that company online and get notified as it happens — once a day or once a week. Other possible subjects include:
- industries in the location where you are moving to
- breaking news about leaders and industry developments
- monitor your online profile so you see what they see when you are researched
- research your field for possible authoritative posts about current issues
- prepare for interviews by having intelligent things to say
Depending on how you set it up, your job search strategies can get a daily dose of helpful information to act upon without having to remember to do repeated research. It all gets sent to your feed or inbox and a quick skim down the list lets you know if anything is worth reading further.
As you do this every day, a gradual building of perspective occurs because you are seeing the big, online picture of the subjects you are interested in. The longer you do it, the more ideas you’ll have for adjusting your particular settings to fit what you are interested in. Automating part of your job search strategies gives you the freedom to focus on what you will do with the things you find.
I hope you have a presence on LinkedIn, because it’s one of the biggest sources of professional networking available right now. They’ve just added to their worth by introducing the new LinkedIn job search app for iPhone. According to LinkedIn’s research, forty percent of their members are looking for jobs on the site using a mobile device.
Why Make An App For That?
The faster you apply to an opening, the more apt you are to be considered for the job. This makes immediate action very important but a bit tricky if you are trying to keep your job search private. This app addresses that issue by acting independently of your network — everything you do with the app is discreet.
You can customize and streamline your search using advanced search filters like location, industry, company, job title, or seniority level. The app will also make suggestions based on your LinkedIn profile, saved searches, and jobs you have looked at.
You can whip out your phone and check the latest results while your coffee cools and research a possibility right there, looking at the company’s profile and seeing if you know anyone who works there. You can apply and on your next break see if a recruiter viewed your application. The app even reminds you about job openings due to expire.
The Thing You Need To Do First
This app is pretty nice for expanding the usefulness of being on LinkedIn, but you have to be part of the network first. If you aren’t, or haven’t done much to your profile because you don’t have time, it isn’t going to be very helpful.
Our LinkedIn Profile Development service can get you up and active in the most-used social network for professionals. Then you’ll see why so many of your professional peers are relying on this site for connections. Once you have a profile on the site, you can explore the potential and see why it is so popular.
If you do a search for “professional vs executive,” you will find a lot of stuff, but you won’t find a universal definition for each role. In fact, Asian job culture tends to put the title of “executive” at opposite ends of the career track, which causes a lot of confusion as companies go global. It’s a good idea to go past the labels and look at where you are in your career, what you want to accomplish, then take your list to compare it to what kind of resume you need.
Professional Resume Services offers both Professional and Executive Resume packages.
Here’s how they differ:
- Executive Resumes are designed for executive management, and C-level positions– those who are prepared to be at the head of an organization. They earn well over $100,000+ annually and carry all the responsibility of the power to control major decisions. These executive resumes must show that you are up to the task of leadership decisions that will affect many lives and fortunes.
- Professional Resumes are just as important, but they are designed to show your competency for a different kind of responsibility. Professionals, specialists etc. with five or more years of reliability and experience gradually creating a name for themselves. These are the people who understand how to work with their department to get the desired results. There’s leadership responsibility with much more hands-on daily tasking.
Still not sure what you need?
When you visit our website, a friendly contact box pops up with an opportunity to ask questions or set up a time to talk. If you don’t see it for some reason, there’s a “contact” tab in the lower right corner. We can help you figure out which of our services will work best for your purposes.
It isn’t difficult to end up in a job that leaves you wondering what you were thinking when you took it. But there still were investments that you made to be in that position, right? Here’s some thoughts on how to evaluate those investments, and what to do if you aren’t happy with the current return on your investment.
Investments in Your Job Today
Everybody invests three things in their career: time, money, and effort. But they vary widely on both the quantity and quality of what they put into it.
- Time invested includes how long you looked for your job, how long you’ve worked at your job, and how many hours you work. Time adds up in small increments, and the accumulated effect of the time you invested is valuable. You have experience when you have spent time doing something.
- Money invested can range from buying a paper to look at the job listings to buying the Job Search Success System. Your interview and working wardrobes, transportation costs, professional workshops; if you spent it to get or keep a job you invested it.
- Effort invested is harder to calculate. You can spend time at a training session and get nothing out of it because you were not really thinking about improving your skills. Effort means you have invested more than time or money — you put energy into it.
Improving Your ROI For Your Future Career
Professional development is all about adding effort to the money and time you invest in order to improve your return on that investment. You could buy that Job Search Success System, for instance, and invest money. You may even invest a little bit of time skimming the contents. But until you put effort into applying what you learn, you aren’t going to see much improvement.
You don’t have to buy anything to improve your ROI for your future career because you already have time and money invested to some extent. Add some appropriate effort to what you have and you will see positive change. It may take some more time or money, but those are useless without what you add to the equation.
At least twice a week clients will ask me if their resumes have enough branding–specifically, executive branding. Does their resume accurately reflect their expertise and what they are recognized for? Can I tell what their brand might be? Usually, my answer to these questions is NO.
Your executive brand doesn’t always speak for itself, especially if your resume is basically a job description of what you’ve been doing. No, you have to sprinkle aspects of your brand throughout your resume and let your reader know who you are.
How Do You Make Your Brand Stand Out on Your Resume?
Your brand is something that makes you uniquely you. You’ve had a steady career progression and along the way have honed your skills, learned new things, and carved out a name for yourself. You have distinguished yourself from others this way. You’ve also used your qualities to guide you to the next level in your career.
A brand is an evolution of where you are today. It communicates your value to the reader. Have you Googled yourself lately? What comes up in the searches next to your name? That will help you realize your brand.
To represent your brand on your executive resume, make a list of 5-10 strengths and personal attributes that describe you. Are these strengths and attributes on your resume? If a reader were to glance at your resume, would they be able to tell within 10-20 seconds what your brand is, who you are, and what you bring to the table? Is the first half of your resume selling the reader on your brand?
I know sometimes this can feel like a difficult thing to do. Many of our clients tell us they have this information but are unsure of how to incorporate that into their resume. There is help for that. There are many talented executive resume writers who specialize in executive branding and can walk through it with you. Whether you hire someone to help you with that or do it yourself, the most important thing is that your resume is infused with your unique brand.
This is the time of year when people suddenly realize the sun is shining and they are sick — sick of being inside. That doesn’t happen as severely if you have a few plans for time off to just regenerate yourself by doing nothing in particular, but if your life is planned down to the hour seven days a week, it will implode when a new thing is added to your script.
Plan For Margins
Every wise plan has margins. You can plan out a business goal, plan your job search, plan your vacation, etc., but you can’t plan what will happen when it hits real life. Now is a good time to look at your plans for the summer, when the vacation schedules collide with the work load, and decide how to make it fit together without making your life an unending series of urgent commitments.
I like to think of margins as the white space around the words on the page. If every spot on this page were filled with words, I’d have more information crammed into the space, but it would not be effective because nobody would read and retain it.
How To Plan Your Work Margins
That’s the way our plans work. We need margins around our careers and workdays in order to make them effective. We need to schedule a few days off where nothing is planned on a regular basis, particularly if we have lots of people in our lives. Kids are really good at interrupting plans with sudden illnesses, for instance, but they are not the only ones who interrupt a schedule.
- Planning days to slow down helps the rest of your plans go together because it gives a margin for sudden illness.
- Planning days to slow down helps the rest of your plans go together because it gives margin for contemplation.
- Planning days to slow down helps the rest of your plans go together because it gives margin for regrouping and getting back on track.
If you are having a hard time planning wisely, maybe you should consider talking to a mentor or career coach to get a bigger perspective on your life. Without a plan, you can have a full calendar and be exhausted with nothing to show for your effort. With a plan, you are going to see the full days on your calendar move you to your goals. With margins built into your plan, you will see things more clearly and be ready to meet the challenges with a smile.
Chris Crum just wrote on the way LinkedIn looks at the ‘State of Student Recruiting’ and says, “there are over 39 million students and recent grads on LinkedIn, and thousands of companies waiting to recruit them.” Of course, there’s a nice infographic and lots of numbers with visual imagery to help you see what the majority of students are looking for in employment goals.
Not surprisingly, the top things that matter to the 18-30 year old category is work/life balance, compensation/benefits, and a strong career path. They are least interested in company vision, flexible work arrangements, and being valued by their employer. I think that if you did similar surveys in different age groups, they’d come up with different priorities because the things you look for in a job depend on what is happening in the rest of your life.
Flexible work arrangements, for instance, are prioritized by people who have responsibilities at home that cannot be delegated. Being valued by your employer starts looking big when you spend years at a job where your contributions are not appreciated. Company vision might not matter at the beginning of your career, but after a while you think about a bigger picture and where your values align. These things don’t necessarily overtake the work/life, compensation/benefit, career path priorities, but they might.
Job recruiters should target your priorities
If you are looking for a job with certain priorities in mind, working with a recruiter who is going on the majority vote can be frustrating. You are on different wavelengths and the recruiter will not be connecting you to the right jobs for you.
This is why Professional Resume Services does things differently with our Recruiter Resume Distributions. Our process targets your preferences and we match you to the recruiters who meet your requirements in industry, position, salary, etc. The database we use is consistently updated and capable of filtering to your unique parameters.
If LinkedIn has over 39 million students and recent grads competing for a job in thousands of companies waiting to recruit them, there’s a lot of stuff to wade through to find the job that has what you are looking for. Recruiters help narrow things down, but they will keep the majority’s goals in mind. We can connect you to the recruiter who will target your priorities.
I hope you are on LinkedIn, because it is one of the fastest-growing ways to network with other professionals. The site does a good job of helping you figure out how to improve your profile and potential network, too. One of their helpful tools is found in their Targeted Status Updates list of 10 tips for engaging followers.
Under tip #2:
Informative, useful updates receive the highest engagement rates because that’s the information members expect from companies they follow on LinkedIn. After all, your followers are active on LinkedIn because they want to be more productive and successful professionals.
- 60% of members are interested in industry insights (my emphasis)
- 53% are interested in company news
- 43% are interested in new products and services
Now, a job seeker may not have too much in the way of company news or new products and services. But every job seeker should be staying current on the industry they hope to join once they are hired. You should be doing a lot of reading about your career field anyway, right?
When you update your status with industry insights, you are targeting the majority of professionals in your industry. It doesn’t have to be all original content, either. You can link to something that made you think and add your commentary on the subject, just like I am doing here. I am giving you two things: an authoritative source (LinkedIn) for some useful information and my unique perspective in it.
If you were an employer, you’d say,
Hmm…this person knows where to find valid industry information and knows how to expand on it.
This is good, because the more a potential employer can find on your thought processes, the easier it is for them to give you a chance at a job. Networking is an essential part of the job search, and this simple way to target your status updates strengthens your network and increases your authority.