Resume Writing Articles
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By Wendy S. Enelow, CCM, MRW, JCTC, CPRWEnelow Enterprises, Inc.
Just as resumes have undergone a dramatic revolution over the past 25 years, so have thank-you letters. Twenty-five years ago, a resume was a really just a formality – generally a single sheet of paper that briefly listed a candidate’s overall work experience and academic credentials. As the employment market changed, expanded, diversified and became increasingly competitive, so did resumes. Today, they are powerful marketing tools designed to “sell” a candidate’s skills, qualifications, accomplishments and career successes to give a job seeker a “competitive distinction” over other candidates.
The same is true for cover letters. They have evolved from transmittal letters (”Here’s my resume.”) to cover letters (”Here’s my resume, this is why I’m interested in your company and here are a few highlights of my career.”) to marketing communications (”Here’s my resume, some of my most notable achievements and, most importantly, the value I bring to your organization.”) Powerful cover letters now integrate the same concepts as powerful resumes. They are designed to “sell” a candidate and give that individual “competitive distinction.”
Now, as professional resume writers, career coaches, counselors and others in our community, you need to take those same concepts – sales and competitive distinction – and integrate them into the thank-you letters you prepare for your clients. Consider thank-you letters to be “second-tier” marketing communications. Your client has already used his “first-tier” marketing communications (resume and cover letter) to get in the door for an interview. He feels confident, was able to easily establish rapport with the interviewer, and is anxiously awaiting an invitation for a second interview or, perhaps, an offer. He’s excited; you’re excited for him. But, you both know there is competition for the position. What can you do for the client to give him a competitive advantage over the other candidates?
The answer is the thank-you letter – the letter you write for your client that acknowledges the time and consideration of the hiring manager, thanks him, and further expresses your client’s interest in the position. Unfortunately, most (not all) of the other candidates will be doing exactly the same thing.
After the interview is no time to stop selling. In fact, it is precisely the right time to continue selling – your clients’ unique skills, qualifications, accomplishments, credentials and more.
To ensure that your thank-you letters – and YOUR CLIENTS – stand out from the competition, use your letters as marketing communications to further sell your clients into a position. This can be easily accomplished by highlighting any of the following that may be appropriate to a particular client and the specific interview situation:
Using thank-you letters as a “second-tier” marketing tools often dictates that letters be longer than one page. Fine! There are no rules to writing thank-you letters that dictate that they must be one-page long. The only thing that should dictate their length is the amount of valuable information you want to include. If the company has already extended your client the opportunity for an interview, they’re already interested and will, in most cases, carefully read any and all material the client forwards to them – including a powerful, well-worded, sales-directed and competitive thank-you letter.
Here’s an example:
JOSHUA A. VIENS
120 Port Street
Lawrence, Iowa 55441
January 17, 2003
1209 Robert Trent Street
Los Angeles, CA 90045
First of all, thank you. I really enjoyed our conversation yesterday and am completely enamored with the tremendous success you have brought to PYD. There are but a handful of companies like yours that have experienced such aggressive growth and can predict strong and sustained profitability over the years to come.
I would like to be a part of the PYD team – in whatever capacity you feel most appropriate and of most value. I realize, of course, that you already have an HR Director who has successfully managed the function throughout the course of the company’s development. It is NOT my intention to compete with Leslie Ralson, but rather to complement her efforts in bringing renewed HR leadership to PYD.
Let me take a few minutes to highlight what I consider to be my most significant assets:
I have met the challenges of accelerated recruitment:
I have met the challenges of employee retention:
I have met the challenges associated with international HR leadership:
I have met the challenges of growth and organizational change:
I hope that the above information demonstrates the value I bring to PYD – today and in the future. You will also find that my abilities to lead and motivate are strong and have always been the foundation for my personal success.
I look forward to speaking with you and scheduling an appointment to meet with Mr. Baldwin. Again, thank you for your time, your interest and your support.
Joshua A. Viens
Remember, you’re the job search expert, and it is your responsibility to share your expertise with your clients! Job search DOES NOT stop with the interview, but rather continues throughout the entire process until such time as your client is sitting at his new desk in his new position. Thank-you letters are a critical part of the process. Use them wisely and to your clients’ advantage!
Bottom line … the more accomplishment-driven your resume, the more effective it will be, the more interest it will generate, and the more interviews you will get. Always remember that resume writing is sales and that you’re the product. Showcase the product’s distinctive features and you’re bound to make a sale!
Focus your resume on what you have done to improve operations, increase revenues, expand market share, strengthen profits, reduce operating costs, enhance business processes, upgrade technologies, deliver projects on-time and within budget, launch new products, build a strong workforce, and so much more. The challenge, however, is to identify those specific achievements.
To help with that process, below is a list of 13 different professions, each with a short list of questions to ask yourself to help you articulate your specific achievements. Use this information as a guideline to help you dig deep into your career and identify what makes YOU such a good hire.
ACCOUNTING & FINANCE – It’s all about the money!
ADMINISTRATION & OFFICE MANAGEMENT – It’s all about organization and efficiency!
CUSTOMER SERVICE – It’s all about customers, clients, patrons, and others!
ENGINEERING – It’s all about development and improvement!
EXECUTIVE & GENERAL MANAGEMENT – It’s all about bottom-line performance!
HEALTH CARE – It’s all about quality!
HUMAN RESOURCES – It’s all about the people and their impact on the organization!
LAW – It’s all about distinction!
MANUFACTURING & PRODUCTION – It’s all about yield and output!
RETAIL – It’s all about product movement and sales performance!
SALES & MARKETING – It’s all about capturing clients and generating profitable revenues!
TEACHING – It’s all about innovation and student/learner excellence!
TECHNOLOGY – It’s all about technology innovation and advances!
These questions are just a sampling of the many industry-specific questions you can use to dig for information and identify great achievements. Once you’ve done that, you’ll be able to write a resume that is just the right mixture of responsibilities, accomplishments, and career highlights to give yourself a truly competitive advantage in today’s hiring market.
By Louise Kursmark, MRW, CPRW, CEIP, JCTC, CCMBest Impression Career Services
Most resume writers agree, one of our most challenging tasks is getting the information we need to be able to produce meaningful and compelling documents for our clients. Whether we use worksheets, telephone or in-person consultation, or a combination of both, it’s imperative that we dig out the nuggets of information that will help us package, position, and sell our client’s value.
This challenge is more severe with some clients than with others. I have found the following strategies to be effective when working with those clients who don’t quickly grasp what I’m looking for or naturally think along the lines of “results” and “value to the employer.”
Establish a Clear Target.
If you don’t know what clients are seeking, you will not know what to ask them or how to position the facts you gather. Beware the client who says anything like this:
Quite simply, you won’t be able to write a powerful resume for this client, and his or her job search will probably not be successful. Why set yourself up for failure?
Instead, require your clients to tell you the type/level of job they are looking for and furnish you with a few relevant job postings. You can use this material to steer the consultation, and your clients will end up with documents that make the most of their relevant experiences and capabilities.
When talking with clients, tell them exactly what you’ll be looking for. Many clients like to talk in generalities, and you must bring them down to the specifics so you can gather accomplishment statements for the resume. You can prepare them by saying, “I will be looking for specific examples of things you’ve done in your career that demonstrate your skills,” but it’s quite likely you’ll have to be even more explicit than that. Here, behavioral interviewing techniques are especially helpful:
Some people respond best when the ideal response is modeled for them, so if you want them to provide examples to you, use an example in your language to them:
Interpret Their Remarks.
Another good technique is to draw upon what your clients tell you and feed it back to them. After doing this a few times, you might find that your clients “get it” and start to give you detailed examples rather than generalities.
Inquire About Context.
One of my favorite questions to ask clients is “What was going on?” when they took a specific job. I want to know the challenges they faced, what they were expected to do, and of course how they performed under those circumstances. With this context, I can write compelling position descriptions that focus on big-picture achievements rather than mundane day-to-day duties.
Understand the Challenge
Similarly, you can often write stronger accomplishment statements if you compare results to expectations. To get at this vital information, ask questions like these:
Some people respond well when asked questions that evoke emotions. They’ll reveal their feelings and passions in a way that points you in the direction of a key question or helps you understand what makes them great at their job. For example:
For some clients, an example is worth a thousand words. If they’re struggling to give you what you need, share with them some “typical” accomplishment statements for people in similar positions that you’ve culled from resumes you’ve written. Then ask, “Can we write a similar statement about you? Tell me about when that happened.”
Ask for Endorsements
Shy clients may feel uncomfortable talking about themselves. You might be able to get some rich content by asking them what others have said about them.
Call Them On It
In a few cases, I’ve had to take a bit of a challenging tone with clients who are simply uncooperative or unforthcoming. In these cases it’s important to use direct language so they don’t misunderstand. For example:
In other cases, it might be that the client has unrealistic job targets. While I don’t want to shoot down someone’s dreams, I think it’s important that clients have a realistic expectation of success when we complete a resume project, and I won’t hesitate to say, “I’m not sure you’ll be a strong candidate for the senior-level jobs you’re targeting. Do you have a back-up plan if your efforts aren’t successful?”
In the final resolution, we must work with the material we’re given. But it’s our job to go at it every-which-way to get rich material from clients who may not understand what we need or why we need it or don’t feel comfortable “bragging” about what they’ve done. The result of our hard work should be career marketing documents that impress employers with our clients’ capabilities, experiences, and successes. It’s not always easy, but it’s always worthwhile.
Remember the prediction that computers would create a paperless society? While this clearly hasn’t happened, it’s evident that computers have changed the way we work and communicate.
Similarly, the repeated threat that “the resume is dead” has not materialized, but resumes continue to evolve in new directions to meet the needs of an evolving workforce.
As resume professionals, we need to stay on top of evolving trends. And while the traditional resume is alive and well, in today’s competitive and active employment market it’s often appropriate to recommend and prepare additional documents that go beyond the resume to make an even stronger case for our clients.
Here are a few recent scenarios in which I have created documents other than (usually in addition to) a resume to help my clients succeed.
My client had spent ten years in high-profile positions with one of the best-known companies in America. When he left the company, within days he was receiving phone calls from recruiters, competitors, and other network contacts. They all wanted to talk to him about what he could do for them, and he set up half a dozen meetings for the next couple of weeks.
What a great position for my client to be in! He wanted a resume to bring to his meetings or send in advance. Yet, when we spoke, it didn’t seem that he would need his resume to provide details of his background – it was already well known, and he was meeting with people who knew him or knew of him. So rather than create a typical two- or three-page executive resume, I recommended and prepared a one-page “snapshot” that captured just the highlights of his career chronology, accomplishments, and education.
To supplement the one-page resume, we created a two-page leadership addendum that provided a more in-depth look into his top four or five career achievements. He planned to use these as a leave-behind following the meetings, to give his contacts deep and memorable insights into the kinds of challenges he had faced and the results he had delivered.
For another client, the first document we prepared was a two-page executive resume. As she executed her search campaign, I wrote custom cover letters and follow-up letters for her. After one series of meetings, she called to discuss an approach for her scheduled next meeting, and we decided to prepare a job proposal that spelled out precisely the challenges/opportunities facing the company and her value and ability to realize them.
Armed with this custom job proposal, she impressed the top executives with her vision and landed the job.
As a third example, consider my client who was a senior executive of a high-tech consumer products company. He knew his target audience of high-tech executives (and recruiters) would look online to learn about him before and during the interview process. So after creating his traditional executive resume, I wrote a one-page narrative bio and a leadership addendum and then referred him to a colleague who helped him create a complete web portfolio.
The portfolio included all of the documents I had created, shown in their entirety or pulled apart and presented in separate sections. Yet the portfolio format also allowed room for more, different, and creative additions that together created a comprehensive picture of this particular executive – his strengths and accomplishments, leadership style, and vision for the future.
To Infinity… and Beyond
There is no end to the variety of documents we can create for our clients! Taking a consultative approach, we can listen, analyze, and then recommend solutions that help our clients stand out from the crowd, convey just the right information, and create the right perception for each audience.
After all, we’ve evolved from typed CVs to powerful resume presentations. Why stop there?
From a number of roles and perspectives, I encounter a lot of questions about resumes. On the Alliance’s monthly ResuMentor call, from contributors to my various books, and from students of the Resume Writing Academy, I field questions every week of the year. Many of them have to do with so-called “resume rules” that have emerged over time as “the” way to do things. And questions arise when resume writers question whether those “rules” really apply.
When I respond to these questions – regardless of the rule, the complexity of the situation, the client’s profession or level, or any other factor – the answer is always the same: “It depends. It depends on what the client wants to be and the best way to position him or her to achieve that goal.”
The client’s current goals – not his or her experience, education, credentials, accomplishments, or any resume “rule” – must be the litmus test for every resume decision. There is never any one right answer or absolutely wrong approach. What works for one person will be entirely the wrong strategy for another person.
Let’s look at a few examples and I think you’ll see what I mean.
Resume “Rule”: Go back 10 or 15 years and then stop.
Resume “Rule”: Write a one-page resume for new graduates.
Resume “Rule”: Write a functional resume for a career-changer.
Resume “Rule”: Explain gaps in employment.
The above advice and discussion probably seem elementary to those of you who have been writing resumes for a long time! Yet if you are new to the field or work essentially in isolation, without the opportunity to run ideas by colleagues, you might find yourself going by the “rules” rather than assessing each situation according to your client’s scenario. I want to encourage you to break all the rules… or follow them, if that is most beneficial to your client!
By Wendy S. Enelow, CCM, MRW, JCTC, CPRW
Enelow Enterprises, Inc.
By Brenda BernsteinThe Essay Expert
Ever get a document back from an editor that has tons of red or blue lines (maybe even some green ones), and have no idea how to get rid of them all, or view the document the way it’s supposed to look? This article is for you!
Why I Love Track Changes
Microsoft Word has a very useful feature called “Track Changes” that keeps track of changes that an editor makes to a document, and allows subsequent readers to see what changes were made. When the “Track Changes” feature is turned on, anyone who opens the document can see every change made to the original document, whether to fonts, page formats, margins, and text.
Track Changes also has a “Comments” feature that allows explanations and suggestions to be entered in the margins of your document.
The value of Track Changes to me as an editor is that my clients can see what I’ve changed, and I can see the changes they make. I do not then have to go through their resume word by word to see what alterations have occurred. It’s also easy to accept or reject changes, without having to change individual fonts or colors. Gone are the days of manually inserting a strikethrough to indicate a deletion!
The Dangers of Track Changes
Track Changes can be troublesome too. You don’t want to send a document with lots of red lines and bubbles all over it to an employer or a school (many people have embarrassing stories of doing this)! The recipient then sees all the suggestions, changes, and possibly the original language and mistakes that needed changing.
As part of proofreading and preparing the final draft of a resume, cover letter, or essay, take the following steps to ensure that you do not inadvertently send a marked up copy to an employer:
Directions for MS Word 2007/2010
Directions for MS Word 2008 for Mac
Directions for MS Word 2003
On the Reviewing toolbar, click Next to advance from one revision or comment to the next. Click Accept Change or Reject Change/Delete Comment for each revision or comment. Repeat until all the revisions in the document have been accepted or rejected and all the comments have been deleted.
To accept all the changes, click the arrow next to Accept Change, and then click Accept All Changes in Document. If you know that you want to reject all the changes, click the arrow next to Reject Change/Delete Comment, and then click Reject All Changes in Document.
THEN, to remove ALL comments, click the arrow next to Reject Change/Delete Comment, and then click Delete All Comments in Document.
If you want to accept SOME changes and delete others, you can accept or reject changes and comments one at a time by right clicking on them individually. You will get a drop-down menu with choices of what to do.
Important notes for all versions of Word:
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