Damned if you do, damned if you don’t: clichés on your résumé

The summary statement began with: “Results-oriented Marketing Professional…” As if my hand had a mind of its own, I circled Results-oriented and wrote “Ugh” next to it. I thought twice of erasing my first comment but in the end left it there. My customer did a double-take and pouted, hurt by my crudeness.

With all the negative press about using clichés, or outdated words and phrases, on your résumé and LinkedIn profile, there’s now a push to show how you possess important adaptive skills rather than to simply tell employers you have them.

Résumé experts say words like creative, team-player (ouch), innovative, hardworking, diligent, conscientious, and more are being thrown out the window. They’re seen as fluffy words with no substance.

Words like designed, initiated, directed, authored are more of what employers want to see on a résumé and LinkedIn profile. The big difference is obviously the “bad” words are adjectives and the “good” words are action verbs. To complicate matters more; even some of the verbs have fallen in the cliché category, like led, managed, facilitated, etc.

From a reader’s point of view, this makes sense. Someone who claims he’s outgoinghighly experiencedseasonedresult-driven, etc., seems to…lack creativity. Someone who can show that he is results-oriented by showing he began and finished multiple projects in a timely manner while also consistently saving the company costs by an average of 40% will win over the minds of employers. Showing is always better than telling.

Keywords and phrases: Here’s the rub—many job ads contains clichés; and if you’re going to load your résumé with as many keywords/phrases as possible, you’re almost inclined to use these outdated and useless words. Especially if you know your résumé is going to be scanned by an applicant tracking system (ATS). After all, you want your résumé and LinkedIn profile to end up at the top of the pile.

I performed a quick experiment where I looked at three job ads and attempted to find some of the overused words. Sure enough words and phrases like team player, hard worker, ability to work independently and as part of a teamdetail-oriented, to name a few,  showed up in many of the ads.

Why do companies write job ads that contain words that are almost comical? Part of the reason is because the fine folks who write these ads don’t know any other way to phrase effective ads; and partly because these are qualities they’re looking for. Almost every company is looking for a team player who can work independently as well. Every company desires people with excellent written and verbal communication skills (unfortunately, this phrase is now also considered a cliché).

This leads us back to our conundrum. What to do if you’re trying to write a résumé or Linked profile that includes the keywords and phrases? Not only to game the ATS but also to appease the eyes who’ll be reading your written communications?

The answer is: you’re damned if you do, you’re damned if you don’t. You can write your résumé and LinkedIn profile employing clichés, or you can avoid the them on your marketing documents, documents that are, after all, examples of your written communications. I say take the high road and don’t sell yourself out.

Is the résumé summary statement on its way out?

I’ve read many résumés that contain summary statements (or Personal/Professional Profile) which, in effect, say nothing at all. I’ve spoken to recruiters and hiring managers who told me they don’t even read the summary statement.

Is the summary statement on its way out or even dead? Is it wasted real estate? Have we become a society so hurried that we don’t have time to read a section of the résumé that tells our story, expresses our value, leads to the meat of  our experience, encourages reviewers to continue reading?

I fear we are reaching the point where the summary statement is gradually losing the foothold it once held. And as a result, I fear what used to be a poetically written four or five lines of prose is becoming obsolete and will soon be excluded from the résumé, simply because people who read résumé don’t have the time. I hope I’m wrong.

We can agree that summary statements should:

  • Brand us
  • Contain no fluff or clichés
  • Include keywords for a particular job or industry
  • Make assertions that are proven in the employment section
  • Grab employers’ attention with implied or actual accomplishments (WOW statements)

Now it seems to appear that none of that matters. Or if it does, a candidate’s value must be stated in a one-line concise, yet comprehensive manner. It’s like skipping the salad and jumping to the entree. Consider this summary statement and its revised version:

Information systems department manager specializing in project planning programming, techniques, and achieving business objectives. Successfully budget hundreds of thousands of dollars in software. PMP with experience in, requirements definition, prioritization, and resource allocation. Lead efforts that generate sales exceeding $3M in competitive pharmaceutical  markets.

Information Systems Manager–project planning, achieving business objectives

PMP–requirements definition, prioritiziement, resource allocation

Budget approximately $200K plus in software

Generate Sales in Millions

Does this revision say enough? It resembles a branding headline on a résumé or LinkedIn profile, no? When I asked professional résumé writers and recruiters, “Is the résumé summary dead?” here’s what a few of them  wrote:

“…the summary statement is dead (or not) depending on how it’s written and the audience. It’s dead if it’s irrelevant on a particular candidate’s résumé because the recruiters / HR professionals don’t want to see it; it’s alive and well if the reader–ATS or human–is searching for a quick synopsis of the candidates qualifications.” Marti Benjamin, Business and Career Coach.

 “I have my candidate compose what I like to call a Career Highlights section. Just a bullet pointed section of some actual career accomplishments. It catches the potential employer’s attention immediately. I feel objectives/summaries are just antiquated in a job market that is currently flooded with candidates.” Adrienne Roberts, Robert Half International.

“Are they on their way out? No….they have already left. Most hiring professionals will tell you that the summary, at least in the US, is an ignored piece of fluff, better left off to leave room for the information they need/want to know.” Sarah Douglas, G.C.D.F

“I feel that summary statements are still an essential component of a résumé, however I am looking for qualifications and hard data, not fluff about perceived skills. If you can quickly read the relevant experience, results achieved, number of direct reports and so on, then the soft skills can be explored further in the interview.” Judy Hojel, Leadership and Development Specialist.

“No, a well written Summary Statement is a must on any  résumé. It brings together the many detail lines of achievements and education to focus the employer on exactly how your candidacy fits the job position. It gives one a big picture view, with the detail to follow on the multiple pages.” Jay Barrett, Human Resources Executive.

As you can see, opinions vary on whether the summary statement is on its way out. I, for one, hope it remains as part of the résumé in a shorter version than the ones I’m seeing on jobseekers’ résumés. Similar to the revised one of the Information Systems Manager? No, but something concise, yet attention grabbing.

The most obvious differences between the résumé and LinkedIn profile–Part 5

resume linkedinPreviously we looked at the differences between the Experience sections of the résumé and LinkedIn profile.

In this final entry of a series about the differences between the résumé and LinkedIn profile, we’ll look at the overall purpose of each document–the most obvious being that your profile is an integral part of your online networking campaign, whereas your résumé is specifically designed to secure a job.

It goes to reason that more people will see your profile than they’ll see your résumé, unless of course you’re blasting your résumé to every employer in the world. Bad mistake.

Years ago I came across a poll on LinkedIn asking which document the participants would give up first, their résumé or profile. The majority said they’d give up their résumé before the profile. I tell my workshop attendees I would do the same.

Maybe this is because I see the profile as more dynamic than the résumé. Maybe this is because the profile provides more room to expound on your strengths and accomplishments.

Previously we looked at some differences between the two, such as the photo and Branding Titles; Skills/Expertise and Core Competency sections; Summary sections; and the Experience sections. Most are dramatically different (you don’t include a photo on your résumé), while the Employment sections show the most similarities. To follow are the glaring differences between the résumé and LinkedIn profile.

You use your profile to network online, but people want to see much of the content you would have on your résumé; although not a rehash of it. Even those in business must sell themselves to prospective business partners by showing their relevant experience and accomplishments. Keywords and phrases are also essential to include on your LinkedIn profile and résumé.

The profile is more dynamic than the résumé for many reasons. Call them bells and whistles, but there are features on the profile that you wouldn’t or couldn’t include on your résumé. Here are lists of features that are exclusive to the profile, that lend well to networking:

Activities allow visitors to see how you’ve been utilizing LinkedIn to network. Have you been sending updates with information about your industry and/or occupation? Maybe you’re attaching an article you found interesting and valuable to your network. Show people that you’re active on LinkedIn by commenting on updates.

Media can be positioned in your Summary or Experience sections. Show your connections PowerPoint presentations, YouTube clips, or, like me, a link to your blogsite. The introduction of Media is at the expense of many applications LinkedIn deemed unnecessary perhaps, some think, for business purposes.

Information-rich Skills/Expertise with Endorsements are a nice touch. You can post up to 50 skills or areas of expertise, and your connections can endorse you for each one. Endorsements is LinkedIn’s way of keeping networking active and paying homage to your connections.

Recommendations have always been a favorite of LinkedIn members and recruiters and employers, as recommendations allow them to see the favorable comments you’ve received, as well as the recommendations you’ve written for others.

Additional Info like Interests and Personal Details are normally missing from your résumé, unless the hobbies and interests pertain to the jobs you’re pursuing. A nice touch some people may not be aware of is Interests hyperlinks that take you to potential connections and groups.

Connections and Companies and Groups you’re following further encourage networking by showing visitors with whom your connected, which companies you’re interested in, and the groups to which you belong. You can chose not to allow people access to your connections, but that seem counterproductive if you’re trying to network effectively. Hopefully people will send you a note saying, “I see you’re interested in Kronos. I know the hiring manager for engineering there.”

This being the last entry in this series ends with, it may seem, a large boost for LinkedIn. I said I would choose the profile over the résumé, but I also stated that each has its own purpose, the former for a targeted job search and the latter for job search and business networking.

 

The differences between the Experience sections of your résumé and LinkedIn profile–Part 4

resume linkedin

In part three of this series, we looked at the differences between the Summaries of the résumé and  LinkedIn profile. In this part of the series we’ll look at the differences and similarities between the Experience sections of the résumé and LinkedIn profile.

Similarities between the two documents.

Although there are differences between the Employment sections of the résumé and LinkedIn profile, there are some obvious similarities, namely accomplishments and keywords.

Excellent résumés and LinkedIn profiles will include quantified accomplishments in their Experience section–#’s, $’s, and %’s are what speak loud and clear to recruiters/employers. People who are determined to show only the duties they performed at their previous organizations, rather than prove their potential value through showing their accomplishments, lose out in the battle for interviews.

Another serious consideration are the keywords and phrases that match a particular job description. The proper and frequency of keywords propels your résumé to the top of the pile that an applicant tracking system (ATS) deems worth reading. Similarly, keywords are essential to being found by recruiters/employers culling for talent on LinkedIn.

The format of both documents is chronological. How you are required to list your title, company location, and dates of employment on your LinkedIn profile, may be different than how you chose to treat this information on your résumé. LinkedIn wisely chose the chronological format as the structure for the Experience section; but if you want to use a functional profile, the skills area will be placed in the Summary.

Three differences between the Employment sections of the résumé and LinkedIn profile.

1. While some LinkedIn pundits believe you should copy and paste the contents of your résumé Experience section to the profile; others, including myself, feel that the LinkedIn Experience section should focus solely on a handful of accomplishments. The purpose of doing this is to show recruiters/employers what is most important, your accomplishments. Another sentiment is to provide them a different look than what they see on your résumé. Why be redundant?

2. The second strategy, treating the Experience section of the LinkedIn profile like the résumé, serves to provide recruiters/employers a full sense of the important duties you’ve performed and accomplishments you’ve achieved. In other words, copy the contents of your résumé to your profile.

If recruiters/employers are searching through LinkedIn for talent and not calling for résumés yet, they will get a good sense of what you’re capable of doing. This being the case, you will rely on them to sift through the content and glean what is most important.

Note: Another important point to make for this approach is the potential for more keywords in this section–thus, the potential of being found.

3. The third way to treat your LinkedIn Experience section is by doing nothing with it, as is the case with many executives I’ve seen on LinkedIn. I think this is a mistake. CEOs and Directors should at the very least describe what their company/organization does, giving visitors an idea of the breadth of scope of their responsibilities.

Executive résumé writers will tell you that every section of the résumé should be maximized with accomplishments and keywords. Why then should the LinkedIn profile Experience section not do the same?

Executive Resume Writer, Laura Smith-Proulx believes the more relevant information, the better; particularly when you’re trying to differentiate yourself from other executives. She writes: 

“The key to a strategic message in your CFO résumé is to do MORE with the details – taking the hard facts of budgets managed, teams directed, or cost savings achieved to fold in personal brand messages.”


The differences between the Employment sections of the résumé and LinkedIn profile are not as noticeable as the differences between the Summary, but it is important to take this section seriously, if not for citing your accomplishments and keywords. To create effective inbound marketing, you must help potential employers find you.

Next in this serious, we’ll look at the most obvious differences between the résumé and LinkedIn profile.

The differences between the Summary sections of your LinkedIn profile and résumé–Part 3

resume linkedin

In part 2 of this series, we looked at the differences between the résumé’s Core Competency and LinkedIn’s Skills and Expertise sections.

One of the most noticeable difference between the résumé and LinkedIn profile lies in the Summary. Simply copying and pasting your résumé’s Summary to your profile without any further action is poor laziness and cheating yourself of a great opportunity to show your value to visitors and potential employers.

As well, this is a great opportunity to tell your story, express your passion for what you do, and show your creativity. 

Today’s résumé’s Summary is taking on a more concise, yet informative, presence.  This is due, in large part, because people who are reading a large volume of résumés value brevity over verbosity. Whereas the LinkedIn Summary grants you 2,000 characters, the résumé’s Summary is usually no longer than 500 characters, preferably shorter.

Your Résumé. Brevity without fluff and clichés are key to the success of your résumé’s Summary. As the cliché goes, “You must say more with less.” The goal is to express your overall value and promise for future success. Consider the following Summary that is three lines on paper and approximately 280 characters:

Senior Accountant with cross-functional expertise in all phases of accounting, including electronic processes
Manager—up to 18 staff—increasing productivity through clear communication and expectations
Operational skills in high-volume environments; consistently increases annual discounts taken in excess of $100K 

Some believe a Value Proposition should replace the typical Summary. Here is an example of a Value Proposition that immediately states one’s value.

Throughout my career, I’ve been hired to increase productivity by at least 50% at companies that required someone who identifies problems and attacks them with an eye on a quick and effective resolution.

My leadership style is fair, while also placing a demand for excellence on those who embrace a cooperative environment. Those I mentor have commented on my ability to see opportunities and act with conviction. (412 characters)

LinkedIn Summary. The LinkedIn Summary allows you more real estate to tell your story and/or state your immediate accomplishments. It’s your decision whether to enjoy the complete space allowed (my Summary is 10 characters short of the maximum) or be more concise.

I reiterate,  it’s a mistake to simply copy and paste your résumé’s Summary to your LinkedIn profile, as it should be:

  1. More creative and personable; remember LinkedIn is for networking and should read almost like a conversation.
  2. Be written in first or third person point of view, though first is preferred by most.
  3. Written with paragraphs, resembling a story format—or bulleted statements, resembling quantified results and easier to read.
  4. May be the only major section fully read by visitors, if your Experience section simply states your title, company information, and dates of employment.

One of my favorite examples of a LinkedIn Summary is from Louise Kursmark, a professional résumé and LinkedIn profile writer. Her paragraph format begins with:

I wear a lot of “hats” in the résumé/careers field, having honed my expertise during a long career as a résumé writer, career consultant, speaker, author and trainer.

EXECUTIVE RÉSUMÉ WRITING My expertise and my passion! I work with executive clients worldwide, creating highly strategic career-marketing documents that communicate credibility, expertise and value.

WORLD-CLASS RÉSUMÉ TRAINING As founder and director of Résumé Writing Academy, I have guided dozens of professionals through a rigorous training and testing program to sharpen their strategic thinking and writing skills. Our students truly EARN the prestigious ACRW designation!

Louise continues to use most, if not all, of the 2.000 characters allowed for a profile Summary. The content of this excerpt  begins with an overall statement of her career achievements and talks about her accomplishments in her writing and worldwide training.

On the other hand, Martin Yate, author of the Knock em Dead series, prefers a bullet-formatted direct impact approach to writing his LinkedIn profile Summary. Here is an excerpt of his Summary:

DOCTORS SAVE LIVES, I MAKE THEM WORTH LIVING, this what is I do, this is my life:
I have been delivering résumés, job search and career management advice for 27+ years; and LinkedIn profiles and SEO for the last three years.
Ive helped people get their first jobs after graduation and helped them climb to V.P. level in Fortune 100 companies and now I’m helping their children climb the same ladder of success. If you want better control of your career I can help.
If you are facing career challenges, I write the most effective résumé/LinkedIn profile you could ever own, and I GUARANTEE you’ll get INTERVIEWS IN 30 DAYS.
80% of companies use LinkedIn to recruit, so your profile needs to tell a convincing story and it must rank high enough in recruiters database searches, to be found. I can create a profile that is both credible and visible.
PROVE THIS TO YOURSELF: Do LinkedIn searches for LinkedIn coach, Linkedin profiles, Linkedin profile writer, LinkedIn SEO, LinkedIn writer etc and youll find me at the very top in every one.
Do the same test for a variety of résumé writer or career coach terms and you’ll get the same results…. at the very top in every one.

Unlike Louise, Martin has a little space left in his Summary, but both Summaries it far succeeds the character count you’d find in a résumé Summary. One thing for sure is that their Summary style effectively describes their story and expertise.

Readers of résumés want quick and easy. Visitors of your LinkedIn profile want a networking document, not a rehash of your résumé. Don’t disappoint the readers and visitors on any count. In the next post, we’ll look at the differences between the Experience sections of the résumé and LinkedIn profile.

The difference between the résumé’s and LinkedIn profile’s skills sections–Part 2

resume linkedin

Part one of this series addresses the differences between  LinkedIn’s and the résumé’s first impressions; the photo and Branding Statements. This post will address the differences between the résumé’s Core Competency and LinkedIn profile’s Skills and Endorsements, which are distinct in their own way.

LinkedIn enthusiasts create profiles that are dynamic, while others who don’t understand the purpose of LinkedIn, simply copy and paste their résumé  to their profile and call it a day; done, complete, finito.

That’s not enough if you want to attract visitors to your profile, including potential employers. If you believe your LinkedIn profile is your résumé, you are mistaken; there are distinct differences.

Of the résumés I critique on a daily basis, I notice that many people neglect to include a Core Competency section. This is a mistake, for this section provides an ideal place to highlight the must-have skills for a position, as well additional skills that can be a tiebreaker.

If you’re sending your résumé to large or mid-sized companies that uses an applicant tracking system (ATS), the Core Competency section is a great place to include those keywords. Skills that are easy to scan by human eyes and keywords that will be captured by the ATS are the goals for this section of your résumé.

Here’s an example of a Core Competencies section from an operations manager’s résumé:

Strategic Business Planning Project Management Cross-Functional Team Building IT/IS~Human Resource Issues Employee Benefits Risk Management Hiring, Training & Coaching Negotiations Research & Analysis Financial Modeling Business Modeling Portfolio Management Acquisitions & Divestitures Policies & Procedures

LinkedIn places a great emphasis on skills/areas of expertise as evidenced by its Skills and Endorsements area. This section allows you to list as many as 50 of your strongest skills. In addition, your first degree contacts can endorse you for any of your skills with a simple click. (The jury’s still out on the value of Endorsements).

The most obvious difference between the résumé’s Core Competencies and LinkedIn’s Skills and Endorsements is the quantity you would include on your LinkedIn profile vs. your résumé. The example of the operations manager’s above lists 15 core competencies, a good number for someone in that position.

On the other hand, the Skills and Endorsements example below lists close to 50, which would be far too many for a résumé. This is LinkedIn’s attempt at encouraging its members to tout their skills and expertise, as well as increase the keyword count.Skills and Endorsements

Another noticeable difference are the tidbits of information provided under the covers of LinkedIn’s Skills and Endorsements feature. If you click on a particular skill or expertise, you will be brought to a page that suggests jobs you may want to pursue, people with whom you could connect, and groups to join. I find this particularly useful if I want to connect with someone who has experience with LinkedIn, as well as other expertise.Information from Endorsements

I think you’d agree that LinkedIn’s Skills and Endorsements feature is interactive, whereas the résumé’s Core Competencies
section is not. This adds to Linked”s dynamism.

The next post will address the differences between the résumé’s and LinkedIn’s Summary statements.

2 differences between the Résumé and LinkedIn Profile–Part 1

resume linkedinI tell attendees of my Advanced LinkedIn workshop, “Your LinkedIn profile is not your résumé.” It’s important for me to say this, as some of their LinkedIn profiles resemble their résumé. I can spot a copy-and-paste a mile away.

A LinkedIn “résumé” gives off a generic look rather than a unique document that makes LinkedIn a powerful tool for the job search. Potential employers are not looking for a rehash of your résumé; they’re looking for more, another look.

Let’s examine two differences between the résumé and profile.

The most obvious difference between the résumé and LinkedIn profile is the Photo. Because LinkedIn is a networking application and the résumé is a job search document, here is one major difference. A photo on your LinkedIn profile is necessary, as it enhances your brand. It may tell visitor you’re creative, sincere and compassionate, a leader, ambitious, serious, etc.

As well, a profile with a photo is more trustworthy and memorable. A recent statistic states that a profile with a photo is seven times more likely to be opened.  I for one will not open a profile if it lacks a photo, unless it’s someone I know.

I tell my attendees that despite their fear of age discrimination, a photo is necessary to network. Imagine attending a networking event where people walk around with a paper bag on their head. Not very personal.

The headline is second on the list of differences between the résumé and LinkedIn profile. An Advanced résumé must have a branding headline that immediately tells potential employers that you are the right person for the job. The headline is a simple line or two of what you do and some of your areas of strength. Here’s an example of a position-specific branding title:

Marketing Specialist 

Public Relations ~ Vendor Relations ~ Staff Supervision ~ Web Design ~ Event Coordination

Look at another branding headline that is written for a similar job:

Marketing Coordinator

Social Media | Trade Shows | International Travel | Increased Production | Graphic Design

Your LinkedIn profile has a branding headline that is similar to your résumé’s headline, save for the fact the profile isn’t written for a specific job. It needs to include more general skills/keywords. You may choose to use a branding statement instead. The same position may resemble this:

Marketing Specialist with expertise in Public Relations, Trade Shows, Vendor Relations, Web Content,
Event Coordination;
leading to increased visibility and profitability for your company.

Furthermore, the branding headline adds to the keyword count for those whose résumé will be sent through an applicant tracking system (ATS). As well it makes being found on LinkedIn more possible with key skills of your occupation and industry/ies.

In the next post, we’ll look at the differences between the résumé’s Core Competencies and the LinkedIn Skills and Expertise sections.

 

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