5 Must-Haves for Your Resume

As a Certified Professional Resume Writer, I get a lot of questions from clients regarding what to include and what not include on their new resume. Here is the thing—if you haven’t written a resume for 15 or 20 years, then things have changed and what you need to have on your document today may be different than what you learned in college. Check out the list below for things you MUST include.

Item #1 – Contact information that includes one phone number and one email address. Choose the phone number that you utilize the most (usually a cell phone) and a personal email address (not work) that you check on a daily basis.

Item #2 – A skills section that is easily changeable. In the top one-third of your document, you need to have a competencies (skills, qualifications, areas of expertise) section that allows you to hit upon key words used in the job posting. If you don’t have this section, you are already going to have issues getting through Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) used on company websites.

Item #3 – Job history for the past 10-15 years. You do NOT need to include every job that you have had in your professional life. In fact, when you include jobs all the way back to high school, you are typically listing things that are no longer relevant and maybe showcase your age, too.

Item #4 – Achievements and accomplishments. As you are listing your jobs and duties, it’s vital that you include accomplishments and not just a long list of responsibilities. If you can quantify your information—think number of employees supervised, sales dollars achieved, new accounts managed—it will set you apart from other candidates.

Item #5 – Current community engagement or professional affiliations. If you are currently serving in organizations or are holding an officer position, then this would be important to your resume. If you volunteered at your child’s school in 1996, then it’s not worth listing. Keep this section current and informative and always think relevance rather than a plethora of information.

Finally, if you still aren’t sure what should and shouldn’t be included on your new resume, please contact me today and I would be happy to offer you a free resume review!

5 Common Resume Mistakes

As someone who has written resumes for clients since 2008, I like to think that I have seen it all. From someone putting their marriage status and number of kids on a resume to listing your graduation date of 1975, there are some things that USED to be acceptable on a resume that no longer are. Check-out my list of the most common resume mistakes that I see and how to fix them.

Mistake #1 – Using an Objective. Don’t do it. To be honest, no one cares that you want to “…further your career through a full-time position.”  Instead, tell the company your attributes through a carefully crafted career summary and eliminate what is in it for you. It’s all about the company and how you can assist the organization.

Mistake #2 – Focusing on Your Job Description. While you can definitely use your job description as a basis for your resume and professional history, it’s important that you discuss your accomplishments and not just your responsibilities. And, frankly, there are most likely a lot of other people out there who also have similar job descriptions. What did you achieve for the organization and how did you help them grow, prosper, and make an impact within the market? Focus on THAT.

Mistake #3 – Too Much Information. It’s awesome that you earned a varsity letter in high school for forensics; however, if that was 10 years ago, then it is no longer relevant. Don’t put too much information in your resume—especially if that information clouds what is most relevant. Instead, focus on the last 10-15 years of your job history and how that is relative to the position you are seeking.

Mistake #4 – Not Enough Information. While it is bad to include too much information, it’s also important to highlight your skills and not short-change yourself. I’ve worked with many clients who think they “only” do this or that. Or, they use the word “just” to describe their work history. Be sure that you are really highlighting what you did and what you achieved—don’t minimize yourself.

Mistake #5 – Using General and Non-Specific Words. When you are writing your resume, it is vital that you are specific and concrete with information. Consider the difference of mentioning that you “…increased sales” versus “…enhanced profitability by $100K within 90 days.”

Most importantly, be sure that you have someone else review your resume and provide feedback. Too often, we cannot see our own mistakes and may miss errors. If you want me to be that second set-of-eyes for you, email me today and I’ll provide you with a free resume review!

5 Tips for Explaining Gaps on Your Resume

It happens to everyone at one point in a career or work history. You move to a different state, struggle after your company closes, take time off to care for an ailing parent, or take a maternity leave after welcoming a child. While all of these things happen for various reasons, they also sometimes make writing an updated resume even more difficult. Read further for five tips on how to address these gaps.

Tip #1 – Be honest. Do NOT try to hide gaps or pretend that a two-year leave is not a big deal. If an employer sees that and there is no explanation as to what you were doing during that time, it immediately raises a red flag about your dedication and past work history.

Tip #2 – Don’t include all details. Just because your father is 85 years-old and you have taken time to care for him, you don’t need to include all of the information. Instead, say something simple such as, “Spent 2017 – 2018 caring for an ailing family member.” You do NOT need to provide a synopsis of your personal life.

Tip #3 – Short terms at companies should be explained. If you had bad luck and worked at ABC Company for three months and then they laid off the newest employees, say that. Otherwise, it looks like you may be a job-hopper who doesn’t dedicate himself or herself to the workplace. For example, the following information would explain this situation, “ABC Company laid off 20% of its current workforce during September 2018.”

Tip #4 – Educational leaves can be addressed. If you took two years ‘off’ from full-time work to complete a college degree, then state it. An example may be, “During 2016 – 2018, took time away from full-time positions to focus on completion of Bachelor of Science in Marketing.” Then, you can list your education on your document and also address the possible gap in work history.

Tip #5 – You are NOT alone. Most people think their particular gaps in employment look terrible. The truth is, everyone has some sort of work history that may not be ideal. The important thing is that you recognize it and know that a gap doesn’t automatically eliminate you from consideration.

If you have a gap in your employment and are concerned about it, please contact me today. Together, we can work on a new resume that will make your information shine and reduce the stress you may have about your past history.

5 Forgotten Keys to Resume Success

While Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) are vital and key words are a necessity in today’s job search, many job seekers often forget the basics when it comes to developing a new resume. Check out the information below to ensure you are not forgetting these items that are vital to your job searching success.

Tip #1 – Create a professional email address. Even though your college email address may still work, if you are seeking a new job opportunity, it is important to step into that professional space. Don’t use an email address that is not appropriate and eliminate the email address that you may have used for 20+ years. Instead, open a Gmail email account that you SOLELY use for job searching.

Tip #2 – Use your name in your file name. Use your name when naming your file. For example, I would name my resume document as Heather.RothbauerWanish.Resume. Do NOT just call your document “resume.” You want to ensure that your document stands out and can be easily found when the HR director is searching for potential interviewees.

Tip #3 – Match your resume and cover letter. If you are sending a cover letter, be SURE to use the same heading and formatting on both documents. This makes it appear more professional and also ensures all information is cohesive if the information becomes separated.

Tip #4 – Explain large gaps. Years ago, if someone had gaps in his or her job history, we tried to “hide” it and emphasize the continuous information. The truth is, people have gaps in their work lives for all types of reasons. Provide a short explanation to showcase that this was a purposeful leave.

Tip #5 – Balance text and white space. It is important that you include achievements, accomplishments, and responsibilities. At the same time, we want to verify that we don’t have text crowding the margins and that there is enough white space to make the document easier to read.

If you are still concerned about your resume, contact me today for a free resume review!

5 Tips for Rejecting a Job Offer

You THINK you have found your dream job and perhaps even enjoyed meeting the company personnel and thought the interview went well. Then, you receive a job offer and find out one of the following: the job isn’t what you thought it was, the pay doesn’t match your needs, or the position requires way too much travel for your current situation. Now, you have to reject the job offer – read below for five tips on how to correctly do so.

Tip #1 – Actually reject the offer. Sometimes people are so worried about saying “no” that they do nothing. This is definitely NOT the correct course of action. You have to follow-through with the entire hiring process, even if you decide you do not want the position.

Tip #2 – Put it in writing. Send an email and document the rejection of the offer. It’s important that there is a record of declining the position. And, if you would like to, you can also send a hard copy via mail.

Tip #3 – Use the “I appreciate you” sandwich. This looks like the following: thank the company and personnel for the time spent interviewing you and for considering you for the open position (positive). Then, state that you have decided to decline the offer (negative). Finally, end the documentation with another thank you and appreciation statement (positive). This allows you to have the order of thank you—bad news—thank you.

Tip #4 – Be concise. While it is important to state the rejection, it’s not necessary to elaborate on WHY you are declining the offer. Keep it simple and concise. If you feel that a ‘reason’ is a necessity, then just state that circumstances have changed or that the position isn’t the right fit at this time.

Tip #5 – Maintain open communication. It’s vital that you preserve this potential relationship. After all, the company may decide to re-offer the position in the future and offer you more money or exactly what you need to make a move. Do you want to be considered at that point? If so, then be sure that you are always professional and never bad-mouth the employer.

Finally, remember that just because one opportunity doesn’t work out, it doesn’t mean that you can’t still be positive about your job search and use that past experience as you move forward. There is something about knowing even more people and understanding more companies that allows you to build your network and enhance communication within your field. Use that information to your advantage and keep going—you WILL find the appropriate position if you don’t stop looking.

Ready to make a career move and not sure how your resume will work in today’s job market? Contact me today for a free resume review!

5 Tips for Listing Education on Your Resume

Obviously, as you create your new resume, it will be important that you include your educational background and those things that you learned in a formalized setting. However, it is also vital that you think strategically about where to list that information and how to list that on your document. Keep reading for 5 tips on how to position your education for maximum results.

Tip #1 – List education after your professional history. Most often, your experience outweighs your educational background. The ONLY time I switch the order—putting education first—is when someone JUST graduated from college and has zero professional experience.

Tip #2 – Do not list dates with your education. At some point, putting an older date on your education will potentially cause age discrimination. And, honestly, there is no reason to list the date. Sometimes companies will ask for a transcript during the application process; if they do, then they will see the date at that point.

Tip #3 – Use the proper names of your degrees. For example, if it is a Bachelor degree, be sure to specify if it was a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science. And, add the information regarding your major and minor.

Tip #4 – Use partial college credits to your advantage. I work with many individuals who attended college but didn’t graduate for a multitude of reasons. If that is the case, you can still list relevant coursework, number of credits earned, or the type of degree you were seeking.

Tip #5 – Workshops and continuing classes can be included in education. If you don’t have a college degree, but you received certificates or attended seminars, you can use that to show that you are a continuous learner and don’t settle for the status quo.

The  education section is a significant part of your resume; just remember that it is important to show that you are an employee who also desires to learn more about your industry and is ready, willing, and able to undergo additional training. This is also a gentle reminder to keep track of the trainings, workshops, and seminars that you attend so you can list them on your future resume.

Still confused about how to position yourself on your updated document? Contact me today for a free resume review!