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Job Search Strategy
To Get The Job You Want.
Tour Overview
1. Assess Yourself
2. Research Potential Employers
3. Establish Your Fit
4. Write Your Own Resume
5. Start Networking
6. Get In On The Ground Floor
7. Create Your Own Job
8. Informational Interviews
9. Interview Preparation
10. Tough Interview Questions
11. Negotiation Skills
12. The Key To Hirability

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Online Career Guide



4.  WRITE A VALUES-BASED RESUME - based on your values and beliefs - showcasing how valuable your skills, talents and accomplishments would be when applied to the right company with the right job. Employers' most common complaint is they cannot find good help. Consider how pleased they will be to find someone who really wants to do the work they need done.

Tips and advice on How To Write A Great Resume

Make your own resume more compelling -- by selling your strengths to employers!

The goal of your resume is to make an employer want to interview you.  It's a powerful marketing tool that promotes who you are, what you want to do, and the value you will bring to an organization.

Your resume should be a results oriented, concise document that summarizes your accomplishments for a particular position.  To be effective, it must target a specific job and grab the reader's attention with strong selling points on why your skills and background "fit" the position you are seeking. Its main task is to secure an interview, not a job.

Resumes must perform their function quickly to escape the circular file.

The fate of your resume is often decided in as little as 5 to 12 seconds.  Up to 95% of the hundreds of resumes employers receive for a single job opening don't survive the initial cut.  They get rejected or screened out to reduce the number down to a manageable level.  The smallest mistake - missing skills, careless spelling, disorganized content, formatting errors - may be cause to disqualify you.

Most job seekers fail to demonstrate the value they will contribute to an employer.

Potential employers are looking for people who have clear ideas about themselves and what they do best.  Employers want to know: What value do you represent to me?  What specifically makes up this value?  You need to prove, with evidence, that you have provided value in the past that is consistent with the value you will provide your new employer in the future.

Employers look for compelling evidence that candidates have the skills their vacancy or upcoming position requires.  Employers are most interested in finding out what you can do for them.  To ensure your resume is given the attention it deserves, you must keep in mind the needs of the person who will be reading it.

Employers Need to Know

  • You can do the job
  • You have a positive work attitude
  • You are interested in doing the work
  • You are a good fit within the company's culture and environment

Your past and present work experiences will be crucial to convincing the employer that you have what they need.  The emphasis should be placed on the skills you have acquired that an employer would want.

While employers generally don't make a decision to hire on the basis of a resume alone, they often use a poorly prepared or presented resume as a basis to reject an applicant without granting an interview.

Employers regard your resume and cover letter as your best work and indicative of how you'll perform on the job in terms of work ethic, attitude, and willingness to succeed.  The goal for job seekers then, is to prepare unique resume documents that will distinguish them from the competition and make an effective presentation of their value to an organization.

The 4 Keys to Resume Writing Success

  • Packaging - The appearance, design and layout
  • Performance - The compelling evidence matching your skills to the opening
  • Positioning - The organized flow of information
  • Punch - The content must answer the question: Why should we interview you?

Resume Writing Tips

A good resume is the one that is tailor-made to a specific job or career field, one that fits your specific background, your unique contributions and your personal and professional goals.

As you begin to write your resume, work on the content and composition, then decide on a format that highlights your strengths and career goals.  Expect to go through several drafts in this process.

The language used to describe your background is also important. Since space is limited, choose active, positive language with short, direct, succinct phrases.  Using terminology familiar to employers indicates an understanding of the field while also highlighting your abilities.

You must personalize your resume in order to present your qualifications.  This will convey your "uniqueness" to an employer.  Since your goal is to stimulate a prospective employer's interest in you, you want your resume to reflect your personality, your strengths, and your skills.  As an employer scans your resume you want him or her to become interested in what you can do for the organization.

What you choose to include in your resume should paint a dynamic picture of yourself. It will often lead an interviewer's questions, so be ready to talk about, expand on, and articulate clearly, everything in your resume.

Bring your resume up-to-date by adding your most recent position and accomplishments.  Show how you identified and solved problems, followed by the results you have achieved.  Just as important, revise your resume to include keywords so that it can be scanned.

Don't string keywords together in a paragraph at the end of your resume so every word that applies to your career will be found.  Rather, work keywords into the body of your resume.  Some resumes are still screened first by people who won't understand why there is a paragraph of seemingly unrelated words at the bottom of a page.

Resume Writing Guidelines

Emphasize what you can do for an employer.  Be specific. If you are going after more than one job opening, customize your resume according to the needs of each position.  Remember to only include the experience that is relevant to the job.

You can start writing out an extensive rough draft of your background, identifying your skills and abilities, experiences, knowledge, and accomplishments.  Don't worry about the length of the first draft. Arrange all the information about your background in logical groupings and select the most pertinent information.

In most cases your final resume will be no more than two pages.  An effective resume must provide enough information to compare your qualifications with the needs of the job and be organized so that the employer can easily read the most important information at a glance.

You should match your skills and experience to jobs that require the talents you have.  Don't limit yourself to jobs you have previously held or for which your education is suited.  Assessment of your skills and interests may provide you with additional opportunities that align with your career goals.

The quickest way to catch the readers' eye and make them want to hear more is to show that you can produce value.  Your most relevant skills, achievements, education and experience illustrate this value.

A well presented, informative resume which demonstrates to employers an applicant's potential value and abilities in written communication is the most common and effective means of securing an interview.

Maintain consistency throughout the resume.  Content, layout, and information vary; the manner in which they are presented depends largely upon an individual's style and personal preference.  If you use abbreviations in one section, use them throughout each section.  If you capitalize a job title, continue this format throughout the document.  Providing consistency throughout a resume creates a neat appearance and enhances overall readability.

Remember that employers use resumes in several ways to: (1) eliminate unsuitable candidates; (2) match your qualifications to their needs; (3) develop interview questions; (4) judge your communication skills; (5) guide the interview process; (6) remind them of you when hiring decisions are made; (7) compare you to other candidates; and (8) justify their decision.

Using the above guidelines will help you write a resume that will serve as a solid record of your career accomplishments and goals.  They will also give you the best chance of getting through all the barriers and on to the next level of your job search - meeting the hiring authorities.

Quick Tips for both Cover Letters and Resumes

Attention-grabbing cover letters and resumes have one thing in common; they are written, organized, and produced to quickly demonstrate how a job seeker's qualifications match job requirements.  Keep these tips in mind when creating your documents.

  • Keep it concise
  • Make your words count
  • Avoid large paragraphs
  • Proofread thoroughly
  • Adequate margins with lots of white space
  • Neat, fresh, legible and error-free
  • Clearly identified skills, achievements and interests
  • Effective language and correct grammar
  • Communicate a professional image
  • Convincing, relevant and positive

How to Write a Cover Letter

A cover letter is a short introduction letter that accompanies your resume and serves as a formal introduction of you to potential employers.  It will inform the employer of your valuable skills and personal attributes that relate to the job.  The cover letter should persuade the employer to read your resume.  It is especially important that a cover letter be included with every resume you send to an employer.

Since your letter must be tailored for the needs of each employer and each position, you should do your homework to discover what is unique and special about the organization.  Remember that your letter needs to express interest and enthusiasm for why you want to work for the firm.

  • Convey genuine interest in the company and the position.
  • Use highly descriptive and persuasive sentences to induce a positive response from your reader.
  • Focus on the employer's needs, and highlight 2-3 skills that specifically fit the position.
  • Generally, these letters should not be more than 3 to 4 paragraphs in length.
  • Cover letters take time; give them the same attention as your resume.
  • NEVER address your letter to "Dear Sir or Madam", "To Whom It May Concern", etc.  This is the same as the junk mail you receive that's labeled "Resident", or "Occupant". Preferably, it should be addressed to the hiring authority, or, at the very least, the HR manager.  Be sure to include the person's correct title and business address.
  • Avoid overusing the "I" word.  Remember, this is about the employer's needs, not yours.
  • Be concise.  Omit detailed descriptions of unrelated jobs and do not rehash content from your resume.
  • Be polite and professional.  Thank the employer/hiring manager for their time and consideration.

More on... Tips and advice on How To Write A Great Resume

Your resume is a profile of your skills, job experience and accomplishments.  It is your opportunity to emphasize your strengths, education and talents and to tell the employer how you can help the company.

Employers and personnel managers are very busy and tend to rapidly review resumes.  Therefore, your resume must quickly catch the reader's attention and make them remember you.  Writing a brief, to the point description of your related strengths and experience can do this.  Write your resume to describe what you accomplished in prior positions, and how your skills will meet or exceed the employer's needs.

Quantify your accomplishments.  Rather than say you are a top salesperson, be more specific: Show how you added $300,000 to a former employer's bottom line.  Or, how you increased overall company sales by 20 percent.  Or, how you prevented the loss of a $2 million customer, or reduced turnover by 15%.

The fonts, the layout, the well-organized content and even the paper stock, all contribute to the way you are perceived by the organization.  The resume documents are the first test you must pass in order to get hired for the job and career you want.

Double and triple check your documents for any mistakes and extraneous information that will detract from your professionalism before you even have a chance to meet your potential new boss.

When sending paper resumes and cover letters, choose a good 24 lb. quality paper with a watermark, and with at least 25% cotton fiber.  Select a traditional color, white or ivory are most appropriate.  When you are sending resumes that will be scanned, use plain white 8.5" X 11" computer paper.

Visual Appearance of Your Resume

The visual appearance of a resume is almost as important as its content.  This piece of paper will be your first opportunity to present yourself to a potential employer.  The type style and organizational layout will convey an image of your personality and professionalism.  You are competing with many others and the look of your resume is a very important first impression.  The combination of great content and great design can secure the interview you desire.

  • Use a standard typeface that is easy to read: Bookman, Helvetica, New Century Schoolbook, Palatino, Times, Times Roman, Trebuchet MS, Verdana.
  • Use highlighted headlines in bold face type to make the resume easy to follow.
  • Allow sufficient white space and margins to make it more appealing to read.  Readability is extremely important considering your resume is reviewed for only a few seconds, by a person reading one resume after another all day.
  • Use bullet points and indents to set off accomplishments or add emphasis.
  • Electronic and Scanned resumes have a different set of guidelines, however it is still important to create a stunning resume you will mail or hand deliver to your contacts.

What resume format is best - Chronological, Functional or a Combination?

There is no right or wrong format, as long as your resume is concise, readable, and presents your qualifications in the best possible light.

Reverse Chronological resumes work best for people who have a strong, continuing work history with progressively more responsible positions.  Presents material in reverse chronological order starting with the most recent job and then working backwards.  Highlights the progress you've made in your jobs.

Functional resumes work best for entry level, career changes, and those with gaps in their work history.  Emphasizes your skills and accomplishments by listing experiences by major functional areas.  Skills and accomplishment oriented resumes may be more effective by showing the employer what you can do for him or her based on education, training, or prior experience and accomplishments.

Combination resumes combine the chronological and functional formats to highlight selected jobs.  A combination of the two may be used to highlight your experience or accomplishments gained from multiple jobs, or career changes.

Personal appeal to the employer -"Place yourself in the employers position"

  • What is this employer looking for?
  • What would set a truly exceptional candidate apart from a merely good one?

Research to find the answers to these questions.  Ask questions during an informational interview. Speak to other employees at the company and gather info from the help wanted ad/job posting to which you are responding.

Make it appeal to You

  • Present the skills that you enjoy using
  • Refrain from presenting skills you dislike and do not want to use
  • Describe accomplishments that make you feel proud because this will increase your confidence level
  • Provide a true picture of who you are and what you can contribute

What YOU should NEVER include in your resume

  • Age
  • False information
  • Marital status
  • Health
  • Number of children and their ages
  • Hobbies or dangerous activities (unless job-related)
  • Photographs
  • Race
  • Religion
  • Detailed description of non-relevant jobs
  • Controversial information (i.e., political affiliation)
  • Social Security number
  • Anything Negative

How many years should your resume cover?

  • Always remember, a resume is not a biography!
  • Generally anything over 12 to 15 years is irrelevant unless it was outstanding
  • If you include something over 15 years, do not use a date

Scannable and Keyword Resumes

Today's resumes have to be prepared in a fashion that is electronically compatible.  Your resume may be scanned whether you sent it via regular mail or e-mail. It is then added to a company's database where the employer can search for candidates via keywords.  For this reason you should include as many appropriate keywords or skill words in your resume as possible.

Keywords: nouns or short phrases that describe your knowledge, skills, and achievements that are important in the position for which you are applying.

It is in your best interest to utilize keywords throughout your resume, but they are most important in the very beginning.  Here you construct your Value Statement and Supporting Qualifications.  You can determine keywords by reviewing:

  • Job descriptions from previous positions you have held
  • Techniques that you use
  • The Dictionary of Occupational Titles
  • The Occupational Outlook Handbook
  • Industry/Professional and Technical organizations
  • Professional/Technical acronyms i.e., HTML (HyperText Markup Language)
  • Buzzwords specific to a profession or industry
  • Job postings or classified advertisements
  • Local government job service agencies
  • Recruiters job descriptions
  • Associates who work in the same field

Make a list of keywords and then write synonyms for them - this will broaden your chance for selection.

Additionally, you need to know a scanner reads a page like you do, from left to right, so don't have columns or lines.  Scanners also have trouble with serif fonts and any gradation or shading, so it's best to avoid these as well.

Use a standard typeface such as Courier, Arial, or Times with a point size of 10-14.  Use only capital letters or boldface to emphasize important information.  Do not use italics, underlining, boxes, or graphics.

Obviously, when you remove all the formatting it makes your resume look plain.  However, after e-mailing your resume, you can immediately follow up by mailing a distinctive paper resume to the hiring authority.  Please note: Before you e-mail your resume, look at your e-mail address.  If you've chosen a name that's other than professional, maybe it's time to select a new e-mail address which may be more appropriate for your career search.

The Internet offers many opportunities to "post" your resume.  Typically you will submit a scannable resume or complete a resume format found on a web site. Your resume may then be found through a search mechanism and reviewed by a large number of potential employers.  If you are currently employed, or wish to remain anonymous, you may want to consider a confidential job posting to protect your privacy.


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