5 Tips for Updating Your Resume During COVID-19

The past few months have been challenging for most employees and workplaces. In fact, the unemployment rate has skyrocketed and many people are on unemployment while they wait to see if and when their jobs will be back to “normal.” This is a time—whether or not you have lost your job or are still working—when it may be a good idea to review your resume. Here are some tips for update your document TODAY.

Tip #1: Say what happened. If you are on furlough due to COVID-19 or have been laid-off due to this situation, then make a line item on your resume that says you were placed on furlough or the company closed. Because everyone has been affected by the pandemic, it is okay to mention it on your resume.

Tip #2: Now is a great time to change directions. If you have always wanted to make a career transition or try a different industry, then now is the time to rework your resume toward that goal. In fact, all industries will be changing how they operate, so there may be more opportunities in your intended target industry.

Tip #3: Focus on transferrable skills. Let’s face it: you may have to switch directions or take a job that isn’t in your traditional goals; use what you have done in the past to ensure you are aligning it to future jobs. Discuss your cross-functional teamwork abilities, critical decision making, creative problem solving, and communication skills.

Tip #4: Don’t be afraid to state facts. You are NOT bragging when you talk about your accomplishments or achievements. Think of yourself as a reporter who is stating facts and discussing what happened. This is NOT the time to be demure or to worry about being boastful.

Tip #5: Start looking NOW. While many companies are in a hiring freeze, do not wait to look for new opportunities. If everyone looks for new jobs at the same time, there will be a LOT of competition. Keep your eyes open now and make sure that you are always available for new jobs.

As you move forward during or after COVID-19, make sure that you are aware of the challenges while still remaining hopeful and positive for the future. There ARE things you can do RIGHT NOW to change your resume FOR THE BETTER!

Salary Negotiation for Your First Job

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Less than 40% of job candidates negotiate their salary. Why? People often feel uncomfortable with the process or do not want to give off the impression of feeling pushy or greedy to a potential new employer. Break through this stigma by following these four simple rules.

#1 | Do Your Research

Many first-time and experienced job seekers don’t negotiate their salary because they don’t know what salary to ask for when seeking out a new position. Make sure to do your research ahead of time to know the industry, position, and location averages. Check out websites such as www.glassdoor.com or www.salary.com to start.

#2 | Adjust to Cost of Living

A technical writer in New York City is going to be paid more than a technical writer in Decorah, Iowa even with the same amount of experience. This is because of the cost of living differences. Be sure to create a hypothetical budget for yourself in the places you are interviewing and research the prices of things such as rent, utilities, and groceries. You should take into account these numbers when determining your needed salary.

#3 | Think Beyond Salary

When you accept a position, you are typically given more than just a paycheck. Reflect on what is most important to you and remember that you can ask to negotiate more than just the number on your paycheck. You could consider items such as vacation time, flexible work schedule, or professional development.

#4 | Practice & Be Ready

The best time to negotiate a salary is after you have the offer. This is so important that I am going to repeat it again. The best time to negotiate a salary is AFTER you have the offer. At that point, the ball is in your court. You know that the employer wants you. When an employer calls to offer you a job, DO NOT accept right away. Instead, show excitement and appreciation and ask if you can take a look at the offer and schedule a call to talk soon. Review the offer and determine your next strategy. If you decide to negotiate, be sure you can demonstrate your value proposition and why you are asking for something different.

So, go ahead. Take that chance. Negotiate your salary. Communicate your worth. We’ll be cheering for you!

Four Must-Haves for Your LinkedIn Profile

A LinkedIn profile is a must in today’s job searching world. With a majority of employers using LinkedIn as a sourcing tool to find candidates, you don’t want to miss out on the opportunity to have your information available 24/7. With having your information available at all hours of the day, you’ll want to consider these four tips when creating or updating your profile.

#1 | Completed Essentials

When an employer does an initial search for candidates, the three elements of your profile that initially show up are your name, your picture, and your headline. You want to be sure you have all of those items completed and customized to you. Make sure your picture is recent and high quality. Be sure your headline is something that is customized to your and your current situation. What do you do or what are you passionate about? What are you searching for? What do you offer?

#2 | An Effective & Creative Summary

LinkedIn offers an “About” section on your profile. It is so important that you are completing your bio and making sure it is value-packed. Focus on your mission, your accomplishments, and your specialties. Check out this post on writing a brilliant bio here: https://feather-communications.com/blog/how-to-write-a-brilliant-bio-top-5-tips/.

#3 | Complete Your Experiences

You can add your work and volunteer experiences to your LinkedIn profile, but it is important you are not leaving it up to others to interpret your experiences. For each experience you list on your profile, add accomplishments and skills gained or developed. You can also add files or a URL to each of your experiences if you have examples of your work that you are able to share.

#4 | Make Use of the Accomplishments Section

One of the last sections of your LinkedIn profile is “Accomplishments”. There are many different items that you can add to this section such as organizations, courses, and awards. One of the most underutilized sections is “Projects”. This is a great place for items such as work projects, capstone projects, or even other course projects that may be relevant to your career.

Moving forward, come back to your LinkedIn profile regularly. Just like today’s recruiting trends, LinkedIn is always updating and innovating. The tips listed here are just the start of things to consider when crafting your profile. If you are still unsure of how to include certain information or how to communicate your value in your profile, I’d love to chat – click HERE now!

Crafting a Resume When You Feel Like You Don’t Have Experience

Starting your job search and feel like you’re not qualified for the positions you’re interested in? Young professionals often don’t give themselves enough credit for the skills and accomplishments they possess. Reflect on these three tips to help you realize how great you really are!

Tip #1 | Lean on Projects

Have a relevant project from a class? Or maybe a project that let you expand your skills at your job that is relevant for your next opportunity? Highlight these experiences with bullet points that show your capabilities and accomplishments. You can put these projects in a “Relevant Projects” or “Select Projects” section on your resume.

Tip #2 | Highlight Essential Skills

Feel like you have those jobs that just aren’t relevant to your career? It is all about how you talk about them. Instead of focusing on responsibilities and duties, focus on those essential transferable skills. Need help crafting powerful statements that highlight your essential skills?

Tip #3 | Relevant Experience Doesn’t Always Mean Paid

Similar to projects, remember that volunteer experience is important to highlight on your resume if it is relevant to the job. When it comes to listing these experiences, remember that you cannot assume that the employer knows just by the title that it is a relevant experience. Paint a picture through your statements of how you’ve gained relevant skills through every experience.

When applying for jobs, remember that there is always going to be a learning curve with every new position. Be kind to yourself and remember to reflect on how you align with each job posting. Looking for more direction to make sure your resume highlights your strengths and abilities? I’d love to chat – click HERE now!

Biggest Cover Letter Fails for Young Professionals

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“Do I really have to write a cover letter?” Is a common question asked by those in the job search. The short answer: yes. The long answer: yes, you should write a cover letter. Cover letters help to tell a story that is hard to convey in a resume. It is your chance to push for an interview and answer any questions your employer might have by looking at your resume. Make sure your cover letter stand out by avoiding these three cover letter fails.

Fail #1 | Assuming “One-Size Fits All”

Your cover letter should address specific needs the employer expressed in the job description and should be customized to every employer. Think about cover letters like mail. No one enjoys receiving really generic mail that is addressed “Dear Current Resident”, just like employers don’t enjoy reading really vague and generic cover letters.

Fail #2 | Repeating Your Resume

Your cover letter is a supporting document to your resume. You should not repeat any accomplishment statements or stories that are told on your resume in your cover letter. Instead, pick two or three experiences or projects that are most relevant to the job description and go into more detail about how your experiences match what they are looking for in the job posting.

Fail #3 | Making Your Cover Letter About You

It’s not about you. Your cover letter is your chance to flatter the employer with how much you know about them through your research and how much you want to contribute to their goals and mission. Let your enthusiasm and excitement shine, but leave statements about what you’d gain from the position out of the cover letter.

Cover letters can be tricky to write but are so crucial for standing out in today’s job market. If you are still unsure of how to customize your cover letter and make your accomplishments shine, I’d love to chat – click HERE now!

 

Networking for Young Professionals

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We’ve all heard the phrase, it’s all about who you know when it comes to the job search. At first, the idea of networking and building connections might feel overwhelming. You might tell yourself you can’t network because you are introverted, you don’t know how to talk about yourself, or maybe you think it isn’t important for your field. Here is your reality check: networking is necessary for everyone, in every field. These three tips are here to help you make the most of your time while networking.

#1 | Have a Pitch: Having an elevator pitch is crucial to networking. More often than not, networking will be more conversational than just walking up to someone and talking for 30-seconds about yourself. However, the point of having a pitch is to provide you with the language to talk about your skills, achievements, and goals. If you have that plan you’ll be able to bring your pitch into conversations at formal networking events or even at a family barbeque. Don’t have a pitch? Think through this formula: current + past + future. What are you currently doing? How has your past shaped where you are now? Where do you want to go next?

#2 | Set Goals to Put Yourself Out There: Have a goal for why you want to network. Exploring careers? In a new place? Maybe you simply want to expand your network. While you’re setting the purpose of your networking, you also want to set a timeframe. Want to attend two networking events a month? Great! Put it in your calendar to help hold yourself accountable.

#3 | Don’t Save Networking for the Job Search: Many people believe networking is only beneficial during the job search, however, if you save networking for just the job search it may seem forced. You want your networking to be more focused on relationship building than asking for a job. If you are continuously thinking about networking throughout your career, you’ll have that established rapport and network to lean on when you need it.

Take advantage of that next networking opportunity and focus on getting to know others while also building long-term relationships. YOUR next job opportunity could come from someone you haven’t met yet—get out there and start establishing rapport with individuals in your industry.

Need more advice? Download our FREE Top 5 Resume Tips for New Professionals!

Don’t Make These Resume Mistakes

Whether I am working with a CEO, a customer service manager, or a teacher, I consistently see the same resume mistakes over-and-over again. Remember—if you haven’t written a resume in five or more years, things have changed! Please see the list below for the most common resume mistakes and how to avoid them. CLICK HERE TO CONTACT ME NOW!

Tip #1 – Don’t include personal details. Believe it or not, people sometimes include photos, marital status, and personal hobbies. Photos and personal details allow individuals to pre-judge you BEFORE you even get to the interview. Stay with professional information and documentation.

Tip #2 – Don’t include SO MUCH information. I understand that your work history is important and it’s difficult to know where to ‘draw the line’ with what is and what isn’t included. However, including everything makes NOTHING stand-out. Focus on what that particular employer needs to know about you. Keep the information concise and on-target for your desired positions.

Tip #3 – Beware of strange formatting. Don’t decide to utilize three different fonts, some clip art, and various colors. It’s very important to be consistent with your formatting and to give your resume a clean, cohesive, and consistent appearance. Remember – a recruiter or hiring manager is most likely only reviewing the document for about 5-7 seconds…you do NOT want that person to be distracted by formatting.

Tip #4 – Ensure space is utilized. Your resume contains prime real estate and we want that real estate to work for us. Put a header at the top of your resume instead of the word “Summary.” Mention your past positions or future desired positions by stating something like, “Executive-Level Administrative Assistant” or “Entry-Level Accounting Professional.” And, don’t include things like hobbies and volunteerism if you have more pertinent and relevant information that is DIRECTLY related to your future roles.

The tips listed here are just the start of things to consider when crafting your updated resume. If you are still unsure of how to include certain information or what sections you need to use on your resume, I’d love to chat – click HERE now!

How to Write a Brilliant Bio – Top 5 Tips

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Do you feel the dread when someone asks for your bio? You probably worry about what to write, how much information to include, and the best way to weave everything together. You are NOT alone. It’s common for people to feel like they are bragging, over-estimating their skills, and are exaggerating their achievements within their bios. I’m here to tell you this: If it happened, then it’s a FACT. And, you are NOT bragging. In fact, you are giving people the ability to get to know you better and to connect with you further.

Here is a snippet of my 5 Tips for Writing Your Bio free download:

1. Identify Your Purpose. Why are you writing this bio? Are you speaking at an event? What is your topic? Is your bio for a social media site? Who will be reading the information? Think of your bio from the target audience point-of-view.

2. Shorter is Better. Impressive people have shorter bios. People—audience members and readers—have short attention spans. Don’t assume that you have to tell your life story.

3. Put the Most Important Information First. If you have an impressive certification, award, or educational background, call-it-out immediately. When considering whether or not someone should read your article or listen to your presentation, think of WHY they should…if you are an expert in your field, then talk about that FIRST.

4. Add Some Personality. If you have something unique to you that sets you apart from others, talk about it. Don’t squash your personality so that your bio sounds like all the rest. Often, it can be that little bit of personality that someone will remember.

5. Read and Rewrite. Challenge yourself to review your bio on a regular basis; things change, jobs shift, and people evolve. Don’t write it and forget it. Instead, ask a friend to evaluate your bio, discuss possible changes, and keep the file so that you can easily make modifications.

If you are ready to GO FOR IT and write your own bio, download my Writing a Brilliant Bio: A Step by Step Guide – it offers examples of completed bios, questions you can answer to get started, a YouTube tutorial, slides from a 45-minute presentation, and the 5 Tips for Writing Your Bio download – it’s a 17-page comprehensive guide that will allow you to create a bio that gets NOTICED.

And, if you still have questions, contact me today at heather@feather-communications.com!

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!

Should I Hire a Professional Resume Writer?

So often in life, we try to ‘get by’ with doing things ourselves. Whether it is making birthday decorations for your child’s party, painting your kitchen, or landscaping your yard, we are always looking for ways to save money, maximize resources, and take pride in work we completed ourselves.

However, have you ever thought that doing all of these things can actually COST you in the long-run? Hiring a professional resume writer may be one of those instances. Read further to discover WHY you may want to hire a professional when designing your new resume.

Consideration #1 – It’s challenging to write about yourself. No matter how objective you are as a person, it’s almost impossible to be objective about yourself. And, a good resume writer can assist you with extracting information you didn’t consider; the writer can help you identify your strengths, focus on accomplishment, and write about your skills in a way that makes an impact.

Consideration #2 – Do you know the latest formats and technology? If you haven’t written a resume in 15+ years, everything has changed. You will need to know the correct key words to include, formats that work with Applicant Tracking, and what should and should not be included on your resume. For example, if you are still including an Objective or the line, ‘References Available Upon Request,’ we should chat NOW. Neither of those are typical on today’s resumes.

Consideration #3 – You are losing money every day you don’t have a job. Or, you may continue to be miserable at a job that you DESPISE. So, yes, a professional resume writer will cost you money; however, I see it as an investment. If you pay someone else $300 or $500 to write your resume and you get a job within four weeks, think how much money you are saving by landing a job sooner. As an alternative, you can continue to stare at your resume and try to figure out how to change things for three months and not have one interview.

As someone who truly enjoys doing things for myself, there are things that I have now outsourced to others. After reviewing how much time it takes me to do those things, I realize that it makes more sense financially (and lifestyle-wise), for me to hire others to complete the tasks that I don’t enjoy the most.

For example, I hired someone to clean my house twice per month. Instead of me worrying about how I’m going to find the time to clean while work piles up on my desk, I look forward to those two days that someone else takes care of the deep clean. And, while that is happening, I can finish work projects and focus on helping others.

If you are ready to outsource your resume project and want to move forward, contact me today! And, if you prefer to complete your own document, download this PDF that will provide you with key words, skills, and examples that will help you as you develop your new resume!