4 Questions to Ask Yourself When Updating Your Resume

If it’s time to update your resume, you probably have several thoughts that include worrying about WHAT information to include, WHERE to draw the line when it comes to experience, and HOW to decide relevance versus quantity of information. By making sure you are asking yourself the right questions, you can also ensure the RIGHT information is included in your updated document.

 

#1 – What do you WANT to do? It’s important that you have a focus to your future career goals and examples of possible job opportunities. Knowing what you want to do and what you don’t want to do is vital to your job search.

 

#2 – What are your top two or three strengths? As you prepare for the job search and upcoming interviews, you need to start thinking about your strengths. What sets you apart from other candidates? Do you have exceptional communication skills? Do you know how to balance multiple projects and priorities? Are you able to gain consensus from the team? Use those skill-sets in your strengths area of your resume and in your career summary.

 

#3 – What has been your favorite job? Most of the time, identifying your favorite job will tell you what your skills are, what sets you apart, and how you make a difference. Think about how this job made you feel, if you liked the people you worked with, or how you made a difference. This (most likely) will help you shape your future roles.

 

#4 – What is relevant? This is probably the most challenging question…while all of it may seem important, not all of it is relevant. For the most part, only the last 10-15 years of experience is RELEVANT. Now, I used to (25+ years ago) clean hotel rooms…that’s not recent work history at all. BUT, if I was applying to any sort of position within a hotel (even as a hotel manager), I would include that information because it’s RELEVANT.

 

Making a new resume is both an art and a science; it’s a delicate combination that needs to be balanced. By asking yourself these questions, it will help to guide you as you develop your new document.

 

If you are stuck with your old resume or want some feedback on your new document, please email me for a free resume review: heather@feather-communications.com

Writing Your Resume in 2021

To say that the last year has been challenging and interesting would be an understatement. And, for many people, that included losing a job, working from home, teaching their children, and caring for others. If you are one of the individuals that is now seeking a new job opportunity, here are a few resume tips for the rest of 2021.

#1 – Call-out a lay-off due to COVID-19. If your company closed, you were part of a lay-off, or were downsized as a result of the pandemic, let a potential employer know that information. Now, it doesn’t need to be highlighted in bright yellow and listed at the top of the document, but it can certainly be a line-item at the bottom of the job information.

#2 – Discuss your new technology skills. You may have gained new technology skills (that you didn’t have before) during the past year. For example, are you now extremely familiar with Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and a new Learning Management System (LMS)? If so, tell readers that information and also let them know that you are a continuous learner.

#3 – Remind them you are flexible and adaptable. If 2020 and the first part of 2021 have taught us nothing else, it’s that we are definitely able to make changes quickly when and if needed. That is a valuable skill in all workplaces. So, make sure readers know that you are not afraid of change, you embrace it, and know how to be proactive.

#4 – Concise is still key. Even though things have changed, one thing hasn’t: hiring managers and recruiters are busy. Be concise and to-the-point. If your one-and-a-half page resume can be trimmed to one page, then do it. Don’t sacrifice quality; however, also remember that you have to grab the reader’s attention quickly.

#5 – Keep it simple. While a lot of people are seeking new opportunities, you may start to think that the fancier your resume is, the better off you will be. That is not true; in fact, keeping your format simple and professional will allow you to get through Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) and will make it easier for the reader to digest the information.

If you are still struggling with what to include and how to include it on your updated resume, contact me today. I offer free resume reviews and would LOVE the opportunity to give you the confidence you need in your job search!

5 Tips for Listing Education on Your Resume

When you decide to rewrite your resume, you need to consider the different sections to include, which information that needs to be addressed, and how to position your education within the document. Whether you have a high school education, three college degrees, or have attended workshops that align with your future career goals, it is important to know how to list education on your resume. Check out the tips below for the best ways to highlight your training and educational experiences.

Tip #1 – List education after job history. I typically place education after professional experience UNLESS the person graduated within the last few months and has ZERO professional experience. For the most part, after you have worked for a couple of years, your experience outweighs your education.

Tip #2 – If you didn’t graduate from college, you can still list the experience—without listing the degree. For example, if you attended two years of college for business, but didn’t graduate, you could list it as follows: Business Administration Coursework – ABC University.

Tip #3 – You do NOT need to include your graduation year. This is true no matter if you graduated high school, college, or attended 10 workshops. At some point, when you start to put a graduation date of 20+ years ago, you will find yourself open to potential age discrimination. And, the date works both ways: someone who graduated last week may be perceived as “not knowing anything,” and someone that graduated in 1990 may be perceived as being “old.”

Tip #4 – GPA is not a necessity. Now, if you graduated from college last Saturday and had a 4.0 GPA, that may be the highlight of your document. If so, then definitely include it. At that point, you probably haven’t had a lot of time to grow your professional history. However, if you graduated in 1993 and had a 4.0 GPA, it’s probably not as important today.

Tip #5 – Not ALL education needs to be included. For example, if you attended a technical college for one year, then worked for a while, and eventually earned your degree from a different college, you only need to put the information for THAT institution. Simply list the degree and from where it was earned—that’s it.

Consider all of your education, workshops, and seminars as an opportunity for you to showcase your desire for continuous learning while demonstrating your entire knowledge base. And, if you still have questions about where and how to include education on your next resume, contact me today!

What is the Right Length for My Resume?

You’ve read different online recommendations, you’ve read through your friend’s one-page resume, and scanned your colleague’s three-page resume. Next, it’s time to write your resume. And, you start to wonder…how long should my resume be? Is there a ‘right’ length? How long is too long? Or, is it an absolute necessity to have a one-page document?

This is one of the most common questions that I receive from my clients. And, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all response. I’ve seen it all—I’ve received less than one paragraph from a client and I’ve received an eight-page document that outlines all jobs from 1975 through today. Neither of those works for today’s job market. So, here’s the advice I give to my clients and several guidelines that can be used as you put together your own resume.

Tip #1 – Be concise. Don’t think that a two-page document means that you are a better candidate or that outlining your job history for the last 30 years is the right way to accomplish this task. Instead, think about what is important to the potential employer and how you can get the point across in a clear and concise manner.

Tip #2 – Think one page per 10 years of experience. If you have worked for 20+ years, it’s crazy to think that you can highlight your skill-sets and work history within one page. Or, if you have a lot of community engagement that may be important to the job opportunity and need to point it out, then do it. A two-page document is fine for those that have a great deal of work history.

Tip #3 – Three pages and more is only okay if you are in education or medical professions. Sometimes people think that longer is better and makes them appear more important—it doesn’t. In the field of education (i.e. college professor) or medical professions (i.e. doctor), a CV is often required and can be three pages or beyond. These documents call for publications listings, internships, presentations, and even more. If you aren’t in one of these fields, then avoid anything longer than a two-page resume.

Tip #4 – Don’t include irrelevant information. Did you letter in a sport during high school? Was that 25 years ago? Or, were you the 4-H club president in 1985? Here’s a hint: no one cares. I know that sound harsh, but it’s the truth. If it’s not relevant—leave it off the resume.

Tip #5 – Don’t include long blocks of information. Whether your resume is one page or two pages, keep in mind that most people don’t like to read long paragraphs of information. Instead, include concise and targeted bullet points—they can even be phrases and not complete sentences. My recommendation is not to create a bullet point that is longer than two lines.

Still don’t know exactly which information should and should not be included in your new resume? We can help! Click here to contact us today – we offer free resume reviews!

Check out these other offerings that can help you…

Free Download: Cover Letter Tips Checklist That Gets INTERVIEWS! Click HERE!

Free Resume Download: TOP 5 Resume Tips to GET THE INTERVIEW in Today’s Competitive Job Market. Click HERE!

Managing Employment Gaps on Your Resume

Twenty or thirty years ago, large gaps in employment were more of a rarity and caught the attention (not in a good way) of interviewers, recruiters, and potential employers. In today’s economy, employment gaps are much more commonplace; however, they can still be treated with suspicion and a feeling of mistrust. Through no fault of your own, you may have gaps in employment history. A company may have laid off its newest employees, the organization may have moved, or the entire workforce may have been alleviated of their duties.

Tip #1 – Add in your unpaid work history. When you have the heading Professional History on your resume, it doesn’t mean that all of it must be paid. In fact, many of us have relevant expertise gained through volunteerism, internships, and community engagement activities. If you volunteered during an employment gap, then put this information in your professional history. In additional to adding to your skill-set, it also shows that you weren’t sitting around at home during your time away from the paid workforce.

Tip #2 – Use years only for the dates. If you have only a three-month or six-month gap in your employment, then you can simply list your years of employment and this minimizes the time gap. However, if you choose to go this route, then be sure that you list all of the dates in years only—be consistent throughout the document.

Tip #3 – Group freelance work or temp agency work together. Many people work through an employment agency when they are having difficulties finding full-time work. Instead of listing a three-month stint at this company and a two-month tenure at another company while with the temp agency, simply list the entire timeline while working for the temp agency.

Remember—you are not alone—there are many candidates with gaps in employment history. It is the perception of these gaps that will make the difference between being called for an interview and having your resume moved to the ‘no’ pile. Rather than ‘hiding’ your gaps, be sure to identify why you are the right candidate for the position, highlight your skill-set, and align your document with the job posting.

If you still have questions regarding creating your new resume, contact us today. Or, if you are curious how your resume stacks up against the competition, email Dr. Heather for a free resume critique!

Click HERE to download our FREE Top 5 Resume Tips to GET THE INTERVIEW!

Is a Professional Resume Writer Worth It?

Sometimes, I will hear people say, “I can’t believe that you write resumes for a living. Don’t most people just write their own?” And, my answer is that, yes, many people choose to write their own resumes. However, did you also know that many people have difficulty writing and speaking positively about themselves? Please see below for the top three reasons why you should consider hiring a professional resume writer.

#1 – They will be able to extract information that you hadn’t even considered. A good resume writer knows how to ask questions, use the proper key words, and dig a little deeper to find the accomplishments at your past positions.

#2 – A professional resume writer is up-to-date on formats, technologies, and industry buzz words. Did you know that you should no longer use an objective on your resume? And, no one should use the word “I” within the document. If you aren’t sure what today’s trends are for resume writing, you may want to consider hiring a professional resume writer.

#3 – How much money are you losing while you sit and stare at your old resume? Figure out how much money it is costing you each day to not get started on your new, updated, and forward-thinking document. While hiring a professional resume writer may cost dollars up front, you will quickly find that the investment is worth it when you land your new job.

The bottom line is this—decide if you really have the time, know-how, and desire to craft your own resume. If not, this may be the time to hire out the process. And, if you want a resume writer that has gone through additional education, please be sure to hire a Certified Professional Resume Writer.

Questions about the resume writing process? If so, please contact us at Feather Communications. And, remember that we ALWAYS offer free resume critiques – find out if your document is up-to-par with your competition. We look forward to hearing from you!