How to Not Appear Old with Your Education on Your Resume

As you get older, it gets a bit more difficult to ‘figure-out’ how to include Education on your resume. Do you list high school or not? What if you went to college but didn’t graduate? Should you include the years of attendance and graduation? These are all things to consider when working with this portion of your document. Read below for some tips and ideas on how to include the “correct” information without appearing “old.”

Tip #1 – Don’t add years. That is right. The year you graduated college is not important. And, at some point, the year you graduated may start to date you and open you to age discrimination. If you know someone graduated from college in 1988, you may automatically think that he or she is out-of-date when it comes to today’s workplace. So, why put that information out there?

Tip #2 – List your major and your minor. Don’t just say that you earned a “Bachelor of Arts” degree—instead, state that you earned a degree in Chemistry or Marketing with a minor in History or Public Relations. This is the type of information that will be most applicable to your future job. Keep in mind that it is not necessary to include all of the classes you took or your GPA. And, be sure to list the name of the college from which you earned your degree.

Tip #3 – Don’t list EVERYTHING associated with your education. What does this mean? This simply means that you don’t have to list all of the clubs, sororities, or organizations you were involved with during your college career. Now, if you only graduated from college three weeks ago and have ZERO professional experience, you may want to consider adding your extracurricular activities to emphasize collaboration, leadership, and a focus within your desired work area. Otherwise, if you were a member of a fraternity from 1988-1992, it’s probably not vital that it ends up on your resume.

Tip #4 – Coursework but no degree? Here’s what to do. If you attended college for some time, but didn’t get a degree, then list it like the following, “Coursework – Accounting, ABC University.” Or, as an alternative, you could list the number of credits you earned towards the degree. And, if you have any sort of college education, there is no need to list high school education.

Still not sure how to list your unique educational experience? Email me at heather@feather-communications.com and I can offer you a free resume review.

If you want MORE resume tips, then download my free Top 5 Resume Tips to GET THE INTERVIEW.

5 Extras That Can Make an Impact on Your Resume

Most people who are creating a new resume know that they need to include a summary at the top of the document, a skills section, professional history, and educational background. However, beyond these ‘typical’ sections, there are also extra things can pack a ‘punch’ with your new resume.

#1 – Freelance or Contract Projects. Many individuals work as a freelancer, consultant, or temporary worker between full-time job opportunities. Don’t discount these experiences as un-important. Instead, they may be able to highlight a particular skill, shows your ability to remain flexible, and provides you with the opportunity to learn new things quickly. Use this to your advantage and show your diverse background and how this can impact future employers.

#2 – Side Hustles. More and more people are building a business ‘on-the-side’ and this may be able to be highlighted as you discuss your entrepreneurial spirit. Whether you are involved with a network marketing organization or serve as a business consultant, this may be pertinent information. One caveat – if your side business may be seen as competition with the intended job opportunity, you may have to be creative with how you word this information or portray it on the document.

#3 – Continuing Education. If you have worked at any length during your career, you have most likely attended workshops, seminars, or other events that further your education. This is important because it allows you to showcase that you are not stagnant in your career and are always trying to learn more and better yourself.

#4 – Volunteerism or Community Engagement. If you are a consistent and ongoing volunteer with an organization such as United Way, Junior Achievement, or Kiwanis, it’s important to show that you are giving back to the community and are striving to make a difference. Many organizations look for employees who are aligned with community-oriented initiatives.

#5 – Testimonials or Endorsements. If you have letters of recommendation or LinkedIn testimonials and you have a little extra space on your resume, you can also include what others have said about you. Not only does this solidify the information you have told the employer with your job history, it gives you third-party validation as you apply for future positions.

Remember that it is important to highlight your work history in your resume; however, it is also vital to show other ways that you stand apart as a potential employee. That can mean showcasing your volunteerism, leadership positions, unpaid work experience, and testimonials from former co-workers and supervisors.

If you are still unsure how to make your resume stand-out, contact me today for a free resume review!

How to Not Appear OLD on Your Resume

Now that you have decided to rework your resume and start applying for new positions, it’s important to set-up your resume correctly so that you don’t appear old and out-of-date in today’s job market. And, yes, I agree that age shouldn’t be a factor and experience counts for a lot. However, we all know that age discrimination can and does happen in today’s world. Whether you are 40-years-old or 65-years old, there are some ways to list dates on your document so that you don’t hinder your job search with your age.

Tip #1 – Only go back 10-15 years with your job history. Frankly, anything prior to that is most likely not relevant and if you start detailing your work history all the way back to 1982, people will start to calculate your age. The most recent work history tends to be the most relevant to your future roles.

Tip #2 – List only the month and the year or the years only in your work experiences. You don’t have to list exact dates. And, more importantly, if you have changed jobs extremely frequently in the past few years, you can also choose to just list the years only. It’s a way to be concise and also allows you to eliminate the look of a ‘job-hopper.’

Tip #3 – Don’t put dates on education. Whether you graduated last year or three years ago, it doesn’t matter. And, if you start to list that you graduated in 1990, you begin to date yourself and your experiences. The ONLY time that I put the dates with education is when someone hasn’t graduated yet and has an anticipated graduation date.

Tip #4 – Don’t list old technical skills. If you decide to include a technical section on your document, choose only those programs that are aligned with today’s workplace. Don’t mention that you are proficient in AOL (yes, that does happen) or Lotus Notes. Instead, focus on the programs that are used at the target company and software that is utilized NOW.

Tip #5 – Include volunteerism and community engagement from TODAY. That’s great that you were the football team captain and participated in 4-H during the 1990s. If you don’t have any community engagement since that time, then eliminate that section. And, again, things from 20 years ago are most likely no longer relevant to your job search.

Do you still have questions about your resume and what to do with dates? Or, are you concerned about looking OLD on your resume? Contact me today for a free resume review!

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.