Sunday, May 31, 2015

Write a personal brand statement for your resume.

In contemporary resumes, personal brand and core competencies sections follow your name and contact information and precede all other information. A personal brand statement needs to be crisp, concise and include marketing ‘zing’ that excites one to read further. Lack of ‘zing’ often triggers no interest, no further reading and no response.

Tabulated core competencies are crucial to understanding your expertise. The core competencies section of your resume is most effective if it contains one or two word phrases organized neatly in tabular fashion so it can be skimmed quickly. It should contain key words found in the requirements part of a job description. Key words should also be used in context in the experience section. This is an important factor in getting a high score from ATS parsing.
These two sections should fit into the first third of the page so that the most important relevant results and accomplishments that follow in the experience section can be found on the first page.
Contemporary resumes no longer contain objectives. It can be reasonably assumed the job you are responding to is your job objective, which makes objective statements redundant and obsolete.
Karl has been reviewing resumes for people at no cost since 1999. He has been counseling job seekers since that time as well. If you would like his help, email him at

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

It is wise to follow the S.T.A.R. principle when writing resumes. But don’t write a book!

The S.T.A.R principle is a valuable tool to guide you through writing your resume. It organizes your thinking in terms of Situation, Task, Action and Result. Be careful not to get carried away though. Volume is the bane of resume writing. Under time pressure, readers will not read volumes of information about you. They are more likely to simply scrap your resume instead.

When writing about your work experience think in terms of all four elements of S.T.A.R., but focus your writing on Results and Action, in that order. The reader is looking for what things you have achieved (the results of your work) and how you achieved them. State a result first so the eye can quickly spot it. Then add a few words about how it was achieved.

The situation (problem worked on) is implied by the result. The task (the goals of the project) is implied by the action taken (how you achieved the result). It is not necessary to write out long descriptions about situation and task.

Since the goal of the resume is to generate an interview, it is important to create a decision to interview you. It follows that it is far better to trigger the reasons to interview you by generating interest through results and actions taken.

Word volume is the enemy of resume writing. Cut out words. Say things crisply and concisely. Write efficiently and you will help the reader to be efficient. Then you will be rewarded with interviews.

Karl has been providing resume critiques for job seekers at no cost since 1999.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Your personal brand is an important introductory part of your resume.

What you do and what your core competencies are makes a sufficiently complete brand statement for a resume.

Your brand should be presented crisply and concisely (no long paragraphs). What you do should be written as a strong marketing statement that excites the reader.

Your expertise should be presented in a neatly organized, tabular format. The idea is to make it easy for the reader to quickly decide to read further to find out about your specific accomplishments and work results presented in the experiences section.

Hiring managers will hire you if they believe you can help them achieve the results they are signed up to deliver. Find out what their key needs are and feed them!

Karl has been providing resume critiques for job seekers at no cost since 1999. 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Your resume should be saved in at least three file formats.

Every job seeker needs at least three files of their resume, each for different purposes. One purpose is to be compatible with different hiring processes. Some processes are manual, some are fully automated and some are a mix of the two.

So that your resume submittal fits their hiring process, a company may ask you to submit it as either a *doc or *.txt format. These are the first two file types. You may be asked to attach your resume to an email, copy/paste it in the body of an email, or copy/paste it into their online application form. If ATS software is used in the front end of their hiring process the document needs to be ATS-ready.

The third file format you need is one I call the ‘FOR HANDOUT ONLY’ copy. That is the document you might wish to hand to a person you are meeting with. It is an attractive version you would be proud of and the recipient would appreciate as a well-prepared, professional looking document. 

The FHO file should never be used to apply electronically to a job online because to make it beautiful requires using word processing creation techniques that will usually cause ATS parsing issues! Since you will not be applying electronically with this file, it can be saved in any file format you find convenient to use.

Karl has been providing resume critiques for job seekers at no cost since 1999. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

If your resume is not ATS-ready, you would be well-advised to consider fixing it.

There are over 200 different ATS (Applicant Tracking System) software programs used by hiring companies today to assist in identifying qualified candidates. Actually ATS parsing software is designed to disqualify candidates; only the cream rises to the top. If a company you are applying to uses ATS software on the front end of their hiring process you may not get a response or you may even be disqualified regardless of your actual qualifications for the position. This is because one can unwittingly build word processing attributes into a resume that cause parsing issues.

If you are not sure what is wrong with your resume or how to fix it, find a resume writer who has competent understanding of what word processing attributes cause ATS parsing issues and knows how to eliminate them.

Karl has been providing resume critiques for job seekers at no cost since 1999.

Monday, May 11, 2015

There is an important link between Resumes, Cover Letters and job search Tactics.

Do you ever wonder why I keep emphasizing the importance of the search tactic of speaking to hiring managers BEFORE applying online or submitting your resume and cover letter by any other means?

The most important reason for speaking to the hiring manager is to find out what the key issue to be solved is and to be able to tell how you can fix it. The key problem is not always evident or emphasized in a job description. The astute job seeker will learn what the hiring managers’ pain is and describe how he/she can help resolve it with an example of his or her work before he/she ever has a formal interview.

Once this important conversation happened it is then possible to edit a resume and cover letter to be responsive to the pain BEFORE applying for the position. Not only that, the cover letter can be addressed directly to the hiring manager instead of to a mundane “dear sir”, “madam” or “to whom it may concern”, or for that matter to someone in HR who is not the hiring decision maker. People prefer being addressed by name. It is much more personal and meaningful than the sterile alternative.

By reaching out to the hiring manager you are also showing that you have done some research rather than just applying blindly online like everyone else. And it avoids falling into the “bottomless pit”.

Equally important, speaking to the hiring manager enables differentiation from the competition. You are not just “one of the herd”, another “me-too” candidate. Differentiation is one of the keys elements of good marketing.

Obviously there is work to be done to accomplish this tactic. First you need to find out who the hiring manager is. There are many ways to do this. For people searching for an HR position it is rather simple to find out who the HR manager is.

Then one needs to create and practice scripts for the gatekeepers that will be encountered on the way to the hiring manager. And a strong script is necessary when one finally reaches the hiring manager. Scripts need to be internalized, not memorized. This is the hardest part of preparation. You can’t just blurt out that you are looking for a job to gatekeepers or the hiring manager or you will be diverted to HR and be told to apply online like everyone else, the dead-end approach unless you are looking for an HR position.

Contacting the hiring manager, either by referral, warm- or cold-calling or even using email requires careful planning and practice. Aside from salespeople, people looking for an HR position and certain marketers, many people might find approaching the hiring manager difficult to do. But it is an art that can be learned and is well worth the effort. Job seekers owe it to themselves to find out how.

Karl has been providing resume critiques for job seekers at no cost since 1999. 

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Job Searching 101: Job seekers are salespeople by default, like it or not.

Every job seeker should understand they are a salesperson. For some this is difficult to accept because they are not salespeople by profession and do not want to be. The truth is even some sales professionals have difficulty selling themselves as opposed to a product or service.

Regardless, here are some things one must think about when searching for a new job.

Selling requires collateral marketing materials, the resume and cover letter in the case of job seekers. These collateral materials are advertisements.

Advertisements outline the benefits of buying a product or service. The objective is to entice people to buy. The resume and cover letter must do the same thing.

Job seekers offer their services to a hiring manager (the buyer). The hiring manager is the person who has a need to fix. The greatest search success is achieved by those who can pinpoint that key need and show how they can fix it. That is sales!

When creating your advertisements, think like the hiring manager, the customer for your services. He or she is the decision maker and the most important person to impress. Put yourself in his or her shoes and ask yourself this: If I were the hiring manager what would I want to see on my resume that would make me want to interview this person.

Hint: Primarily it is your accomplishments and the results of your work. Your responsibilities and the companies you may have worked for are interesting but are usually not likely to get you an interview by themselves.

So here is some advice: Your resume needs to sell the benefits of hiring you. It must be easy to read quickly. So cull out words and statements that don’t really address the requirements of the job. Particularly, leave out fluff, things that are not pertinent to the job. Once people begin to read fluff they tend to lose interest quickly which makes your sale much more difficult. In addition to things that are not germane to the advertised position, fluff includes those self-assessing adjectives that say how great you are. Instead of making those statements, use your accomplishments and results to demonstrate how good you are without saying so.

It is also important to use an easy to read font and type size. An excellent choice is 12 pt Arial, but no less than 11pt. Stay with one inch side margins and no more than 2 pages.

Do not write in paragraphs; they are not easy for the hiring manager to skim through.

Finally, make sure you will score high if your resume is subjected to ATS scrutiny. Get help if you do not know how to do that. It is not intuitively obvious what you might do unwittingly in creating your resume that will cause you to be rejected regardless of how well you fit the job requirements.

Karl has been providing resume critiques for job seekers at no cost since 1999.