How to Identify Your Strengths and Skills for Your Resume

As you create your new resume, you start to gather information and identify where you worked, the dates, the official names of your degrees, and your professional affiliations. If it’s been 10, 15, or 20 years since you last wrote your resume, it’s vital to know that a skills section is a MUST-HAVE in today’s job search. This serves as an easy way for you to highlight key words and strengths. However, many people struggle with how to identify these skills. Read the tips below for ideas that will assist you with your new document.

Tip #1 – What comes easily to you at work? If you are in sales, can communicate with client easily, and know to establish rapport, then those are your skills. The things that come naturally to you with your personality and little effort are your innate skills. For me, it’s writing. It just comes easily to me and I know how to word things. For an accountant, it’s probably that they are detail-oriented, focus on analytics, and know how to problem-solve payment discrepancies.

Tip #2 – What would your boss or co-worker say about you? For many of us, it’s just not natural to think about how wonderful we are on a daily basis. So, instead of asking yourself your strengths, think in terms of your boss or co-worker. They may say you are organized, a good leader, can manage projects, and always adhere to deadlines. Once again, those are your skills and competencies.

Tip #3 – Focus on key words. No matter your skill-set, you must be sure that your verbiage aligns with the job posting. What does that mean? It means if you list ‘project management’ as a skill and the job advertisement asks for someone with ‘project leadership’ skills, then you need to change your skills are to say ‘project leadership.’ If you make this section succinct bullet points that can be easily changed, then it will be fairly simple to make modifications as you go forward with your job search.

Whether you call this section, skills, competencies, areas of expertise, or qualifications—they are all the same. It’s an area designed to make you stand-out and match key words to get to the interview. If you are still confused about adding a skills section, please contact me. I would love to provide you with tips and ideas for an improved document!

Your Resume Should be Relevant – Don’t Include Everything!

If you have decided to rewrite your resume, you are probably gathering information, getting organized, and trying to find that old resume file. And, as you stare at the piles of paper, different files, and past job reviews, you are now trying to decide which information to include and not include while also ensuring it’s in-line with today’s search engines and job openings.

Tip #1 – Don’t include ALL of your job history. If you have been working for 15 or 20 years, the jobs earliest in your career are most likely not relevant to future positions. For example, during high school, I was a bank teller and cleaned hotel rooms on the weekends. That was almost 25 years ago; therefore, not relevant to potential employers.

Tip #2 – Consider adding or not adding your side business. If you are in direct sales and use that as a “side hustle,” you will have to determine whether or not that is relevant to the job opening. If you are seeking a sales position, it may be relevant as you are good at building relationships, establishing communication, and managing accounts. If you believe the employer may see your side business as a distraction, then don’t include it on your document.

Tip #3 – High school is not important if you have a college degree. If you attended college or graduated with a degree, the high school information does NOT need to be on the resume.

Tip #4 – Work history in two separate industries. Maybe you used to be in sales and you are transitioning into varied accounting roles—then focus on your accounting positions first and put your marketing work history in a separate section. Focus on the types of positions that are relevant to the jobs you are seeking.

Tip #5 – Hobbies aren’t that interesting. Many years ago, people included hobbies on their documents and indicated interests such as running, traveling, and spending time with family. Unless you are a hiker and you are applying at a company that makes hiking shoes, it’s not relevant. In fact, sometimes hobbies can appear to actually pull your attention away from work.

Relevance is key when you are working on your updated resume. It shouldn’t read like a laundry list of every single thing you have ever done in your professional career. So, before you add more information that may not be relevant, think it through and remember that hiring managers make decisions quickly about who to call-in for interviews. Get to the point quickly and ensure you make it through to an interview so that you can WOW the employer with your skills and knowledge.

Why You Aren’t Getting an Interview with Your Resume

As with many of my clients, most people often feel like they are sending resumes to perfect job opportunities. But, they get discouraged quickly when they do not get call-backs for any interviews. It’s frustrating and they start to believe that maybe they don’t the correct skills and qualifications for today’s job market. There could be many reasons why they aren’t getting interviews; I can almost guarantee that SOME of it has to do with your resume.

Reason #1 – Your resume format is OLD. Maybe you haven’t updated your resume since 1998 and the last time you applied for a job, you physically went to the place of employment and applied in-person. Today, that almost never happens as all companies post jobs on their company websites and/or third-party websites.

If you have an Objective on your resume, still have the line, “References available upon request,” at the bottom, or are including any personal information, you may want to rethink your format. Don’t waste space with an Objective or useless information; instead, focus on what you can do for the company and pertinent information that aligns with the job opportunity.

Reason #2 – You Aren’t Including Key Words. Because you are applying online, the key words are your golden ticket to getting through the Applicant Tracking System (ATS). This means that your resume MUST contain the same words as the job posting.

When you read through the job opening, look for the qualifications, knowledge, or responsibilities sections. Then, make sure those skill-sets are the same ones listed on your document. Obviously, don’t include skills that you don’t have or can’t back-up during an interview; but, if you have to change Project Management to Project Leadership, then do it.

Reason #3 – You didn’t proofread your resume. So, when a hiring manager or recruiter receives hundreds of resumes, they immediately start looking for a way to weed people out—they are NOT looking for a way to include more people as candidates. Be sure to review the document prior to sending it to prospective employers.

Do NOT strictly rely on spell check or grammar check; instead, review it a couple of days after you have ‘finished’ it. Then, my recommendation is still to have a trusted friend or colleague review it for you. Often, someone else can more easily recognize our errors than we can. Don’t let a spelling or grammar error move your resume to the NO pile.

If you would like more resume tips, click HERE to download my number-one FREE offering!

Resume Formatting Mistakes You DON’T Want to Make

Because I typically work with clients who haven’t written or needed a new resume in 15-20 years, their previous documents tend to be formatted in a way that they learned in high school or college. When they send me their documents, I often discover that, in addition to containing older information, the document also has formatting that may be from 1995 or (gasp!) even 1985. If you are someone who is updating a resume for TODAY’S job market, read on to ensure you don’t make these resume mistakes.

#1 – Don’t use an out-of-date font. Do you remember when Times New Roman or Courier were popular fonts? Well, they aren’t anymore. In fact, studies have shown that sans serif fonts (those without the tiny feet) are much easier for people to read. Personally, I prefer Calibri – it’s the default font in Word and simple. In addition, if you Google it, you will find that Times New Roman is sometimes viewed as an “old” font—don’t use it for your resume.

#2 – Do NOT use text boxes and a LOT of graphics. It is perfectly fine to bring a graphic-related resume to the job interview and it does look nice. However, if you are sending resumes via websites, then you need to ensure your document is Applicant Tracking System-friendly. Simplicity is the key. Sometimes those charts, text boxes, and graphics just don’t translate well through those systems.

#3 – Don’t go over two pages. If you ask one person, he or she may say that you HAVE to have a one-page resume. Someone else may say two-pages is fine. My general rule-of-thumb is that if you have more than 10 years of experience, then two-pages is acceptable. If you are a recent college graduate, then one-page should summarize your experience. Anything over two pages isn’t even being read and means that you are including TOO MUCH information that isn’t relevant to your job search.

#4 – Have variations of files. Most online systems will ask for a Word document or a PDF. Follow those directions. Don’t make your resume in Photoshop, Illustrator, or Canva and then expect that the system will allow you to upload that type of file. Again, the simpler programs tend to work best. It’s also a good idea to have a text-based file, too.

#5 – Only include the necessary sections. Those sections are a career summary, skills area, professional experience, education, and community engagement (if any). Today’s resumes do NOT need an objective, hobbies, or other personal data. Again, keep it relative to work and how you can help the company.

If you are still unsure of formatting, content, or which information to include on your new resume, contact me today for a free resume review – I’d love to help you get one step closer to your next job opportunity!

Get Your Resume Done NOW – Here are the Reasons Why

You are very comfortable working in your current position and have worked at the same company for over 10 years. While you do enjoy your job, occasionally you may wonder what else is out there for opportunities of if you are being paid what you are worth. But, with your busy work schedule, your family life, and volunteer activities, re-writing your resume isn’t exactly at the top of your to-do list. I’m here to tell you to move that task up to the top of your list NOW. Check out my reasons below.

Reason #1 – Companies (typically) do what is best for the company. Given the evolving economy, changing resources, differences in profitability, and other marketplace changes, companies have to do what is best for them. That can mean restructuring, reorganizing, laying off a portion of the workforce, closing a facility, or ending a particular service or offering. All of that means that you (or others working there) could lose your job at any given time. It’s best to be ready if that happens. And, a large part of being ready means having an up-to-date resume.

Reason #2 – The PERFECT opportunity may come your way. Even if you are okay with your perfect position, what if you happen to see your old connection, Jon, at an event and he mentions that his company has an opening for your DREAM job. Then he mentions that the job opening actually closes tomorrow at noon and he needs your resume immediately. Do you really want to be the person that doesn’t have anything to send to him? I don’t think so. Making sure your resume is always up-to-date means that if the perfect job comes around, YOU are ready.

Reason #3 – Life happens. Although many of us would like to live in a world of constant sunshine and rainbows, we all KNOW that doesn’t happen. People get divorced, we have to move to a new location, or a close family member has a life-threatening situation. These instances require us to take a step back and review our lives. And, for working individuals, an evaluation requires us to review our job and career. Maybe we decide that we want to make a complete career switch or look at a new role. In these times, wouldn’t it be nice to have a resume that is already ready? When you are under stress, the LAST thing you want to think about is updating your resume.

As someone who has written thousands of resume since 2008, I can tell you that working with someone that is just getting ready for a job search is completely different than someone who is in panic-mode after losing a job or going through a life crisis. For your own sanity and for the sake of your future career, I can’t stress enough the importance of having a resume (check out my free download) that is updated and ready at all times.

Contact me today if you would like to get started on updating YOUR document – I would love to help YOU get ready for the perfect job opportunity.

Free Advice Can Be Costly For Your Resume

Have you ever asked a friend for advice or their thoughts as you tried on clothing at the store? Or, have you often asked a family member for their opinion on a new paint color for your living room? Usually, it’s a good idea to get an outside perspective for these types of things; however, even in these situations, the ultimate decision is yours. So, it may seem like a good idea to ask for advice on your resume. I’m ready to tell you that—in this instance—that ‘free’ advice may be costly. Read on for three reasons why it’s important to find a professional resume writer.

#1 – Uncle Bob or Sister-in-Law Amy may not want to hurt your feelings. If you are REALLY looking for someone to give you honest feedback, it’s vital that you ask someone who won’t be afraid of actually giving you the true picture. Therefore, asking a relative or a close friend may not be the best course of action. Instead, think of a current or past colleague (maybe not a close friend) who you know tells it ‘like it is’ and won’t sugar-coat feedback.

#2 – Carolyn hasn’t updated her resume for 20 years. You decide to ask Cindy, a professional colleague who you trust and believe can review your resume. The thing is, Cindy has been in the same job for over 20 years and she hasn’t even reworked her own resume during that time. That’s not to say she won’t have valuable feedback; however, is she aware of the correct format for today’s resumes? Does she know anything about Applicant Tracking Systems? Doe she still believe it’s a good idea to include an Objective? Choose someone who is knowledgeable about today’s job market and can position your resume for how today’s systems operate.

#3 – Do you hire a licensed plumber or do you call your friendly neighbor, Jeff?  If you have a water leak or bathroom issues at your house, do you call someone who is an expert and has a license or are you ‘okay’ with having your neighbor come over and hope for the best? For me, it’s a no-brainer. I want it done right the first time. As much as I may trust my neighbor, I want someone with education and experience so I have confidence in their abilities. A Certified Professional Resume Writer is someone that has continuing education and KNOWS how to write documents for today’s marketplace.

Finally, if you ask five people to give you advice on your resume, you will probably get five different opinions and will be more confused than when you started the process. This is YOUR document. Choose someone who can give you excellent advice because this is their area of expertise. You need someone who can be objective and honest with feedback while indicating what you could change for better results.

Now, if you want a free resume review from an expert in the industry, contact me today!

The Best Way to Organize Your Resume

If you haven’t written a resume in 15+ years or are starting over in a new industry, you may wonder what has changed in the world of job-searching. Even though the resume still describes your job history and education, the method and rationale behind the organization of the document has changed greatly over the years. Read the tips below to understand the different sections included on today’s resumes and what to include in each section.

#1 – Contact Information. This is at the top of the resume and includes your name, address (if you choose to include this), phone number, email address, and LinkedIn profile URL (if applicable).

#2 – Title(s) and Career Summary. Immediately after the name and contact information should be several job titles or areas of expertise. For example, if someone is in sales, it may read: Sales Leader | Account Manager | Marketing Expert. Then, after those titles, include a three to five-line career summary that gives a high overview or past employment experiences and qualifications.

#3 – Skills. This section could be called Skills, Qualifications, Areas of Expertise, or Competencies. Frankly, it doesn’t matter what you call it. The primary reason for this section is to highlight those skills that are required for the job opening. This allows you to hit upon key words used in the advertisement and gets you one step closer to getting through the Applicant Tracking System used on many company websites. In addition, remember that this section is always evolving and you should change the verbiage per job opportunity.

#4 – Professional Experience. In reverse-chronological order (starting with newest job first), this section details your work history and includes approximately the last 10-15 years of your job experiences. List the name of the company, your job title, dates employed (month and year), and achievements from your time there. One important note—do NOT just include a job description. Focus on quantifiable achievements that led to results.

#5 – Education. Include the name of your degree and the school. If you don’t have any official college education, then focus on continuous learning credits, workplace trainings, and seminars attended.

#6 – Community Involvement or Volunteerism. This section is optional and can include volunteer work that makes an impact on the community. If the volunteerism is related to your church (religion-based) or your children’s school, carefully consider whether or not to add that information. While we hope it doesn’t occur, we know that discrimination can occur on topics that include age, if you have children, and the type of church you attend.

If you have questions about the types of information that should be included or excluded from your resume, please contact me today – I’d love to ensure that you feel confident when sending your resume to potential employers.

Feather Communications Named one of the Top 10 Resume Services in Minneapolis

Feather Communications has been named one of the Top 10 Resume Services in Minneapolis.

Dr. Heather Rothbauer-Wanish, founder of Feather Communications, is a Certified Professional Resume Writer and provides resume-writing services to clients throughout the United States. Find My Profession, a website geared towards helping clients land job opportunities, cultivated the listing of Minneapolis-area resume writers. According to the site, a solid history of glowing reviews helped Feather Communications secure a spot on the list.

“I’m excited to be included as a top resume writer,” Rothbauer-Wanish said. “My passion for resume-writing has allowed me to assist thousands of clients in helping them to identify their strengths and achievements,” she continued. As part of her website, she features a regular blog offering implementable tips that range from formatting resumes to how to write a cover letter.

Tips from Feather Communications have been featured on CareerSidekick, MSN, Monster, Recruiter, MFG Jobs, and the Management Resource Association websites. “I absolutely love what I do and I am passionate about helping people market themselves to land their dream jobs,” she concluded.

For more information on resume writing services, please contact Feather Communications at 715-559-6378 or email heather@feather-communications.com.

Holiday Job-Searching Tips

It’s the holiday season of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the New Year—there are a lot of holiday parties, company get-togethers, and other networking events. It’s a stressful, busy, and complicated time of the year. Because of that, many job seekers take time “off” from actively seeking new opportunities. You may believe that everyone–including hiring managers–are also not working as diligently during the holidays—that is not the case. In fact, job seekers who search during the holidays will be more likely to secure a new position. Check out the tips below for more ideas!

Tip #1 – Networking Events are More Casual. During the holidays, events tend to be less formal and it may be easier to mention that you are seeking a new job opportunity. If you can, attend chamber of commerce events, fundraising opportunities, and volunteer at a local charitable organization. This is a great way to let people know that you are seeking new job opportunities while in a casual environment.

Tip #2 – Send Happy Thanksgiving or Happy New Year Cards. Instead of sending the traditional Christmas card, send a Thanksgiving Card or a Happy New Year Card. Do NOT ignore providing a thank you or note just because you think a thank you card or message will be ignored at this time of the year—that is not true.

Tip #3 – Relax and Enjoy Time with Family and Friends. Even though you may be actively searching for a new job opportunity through the holidays, it is also important to relax and enjoy time with family and friends. It’s vital that you take time to rejuvenate and relax while also focusing on the new year.

Remember—don’t take the holidays off when thinking about future career opportunities. A lot of job seekers decide to take a step back from searching during the holidays—DON’T DO IT. There is less competition, people are more relaxed, and the job market is as busy-as-ever during this time.

Need to know if your resume is ready-to-go? Email me for a free resume review!

Resume Tips for Applying to a Job When You’re Overqualified

At some point during your career, you may be applying for a job and you will discover that you are considered overqualified. It may be a job that you would LOVE to secure, but you are concerned that if you include your backgrounds, skills, education, and work history, the potential employer will no give you a second-look because you may be too bored, want too much money, or don’t really want the position.

Tip #1 –  Don’t include advanced degrees on your resume if they aren’t relevant. In the past, I worked with a client who had a law degree, but his entire professional career had been spent in sales and that’s where he wanted to remain. So, we only mentioned his undergraduate degree and focused on his sales and marketing skills—leaving off the fact that he was a lawyer.

Tip #2 – Choose the job history that aligns with the future job opportunity. If you have worked for 15 or 20 years, you likely may have older positions that aren’t relatable to the future of your career. Instead, only include the positions that are in-line with your career direction and use a heading that says Selected Professional Experience or Relevant Work History.

Tip #3 – Be specific with your skills. Instead of touting high-level skills that have nothing to do with your goals, eliminate these and really concentrate on the key words and qualifications that are listed in the job posting. By changing your skills and career summary each time you send your resume, you are also much more likely to get through Applicant Tracking Systems.

Tip #4 – Use a career summary that highlights why you are the right person for the job and why this job may be for you. Mention your passion for the field or a past accomplishment that directly aligns with this job opening. Show them why you are the right person for the position and why they should call you for an interview.

Remember, if you are already applying for a job and sending a resume, the company should understand that you are interested in the opportunity. However, it also doesn’t hurt to ensure that your resume aligns with that perception, too.

If you still have questions, please contact me today and I can review your resume – I look forward to  hearing from you!