Category Archives: Résumé Writing

It’s the LinkedIn profile over the resume by a landslide: 3,338 voters decide

Like a lopsided political race, this one is a landslide. I’m talking about a LinkedIn poll asking 3,338 voters to chose between keeping either their resume or LinkedIn profile. Which one wins by 72%? Why, the LinkedIn profile, of course. I’m not at all surprised by the result.

What I find interesting is that the voters opting for the profile seem to have forgotten that the resume is where it all starts; it’s the foundation of your LinkedIn profile. No one writes their LinkedIn profile and then their resume. No one has their profile written for them and then the resume.

It comes as no surprise

So why is the profile the favorite of the two? In three words: “It’s all that.” Let’s face it, the profile is more exciting. It’s, dare I say it, sexier. Your heart flutters a bit when you see a great background image and professional photo respectively.

There’s also the Featured feature, where you can see one’s video, audio, documents, and links to a blog. LinkedIn has improved this feature in both look and functionality. With just one click, you’re brought to a LinkedIn member’s website, audio, SlideShare, or document.

You’ll find none of this on your resume. The photo is the exception but only for certain occupations and foreign country.

Another attribute that barely makes it on your resume is personality. The point I make about your resume being the foundation of your profile is true. However, once you’ve laid down the foundation, you need to personalize it with first-person point of view. Call it your personal resume.

In an article I wrote that is still streaming out there, I point out the differences between the LinkedIn profile and the resume. Here are some sections/features the resume lacks:

Photos and background image, already mentioned, are major differences that are being utilized by increasingly more LinkedIn users. Rarely will we see the light blue (whatever it’s called) default background image.

Same goes for the ugly light-grey avatar. Increasingly more LinkedIn users have professional photos or, at least, selfies (a no no) to be more recognizable, trusted, and liked. There still are some LinkedIn users who don’t get it, but LinkedIn isn’t for everyone.

Activity brings you to other peoples’ contributions on LinkedIn. They deliver you from a LinkedIn users’ profile to all their activity, articles (a dying breed), posts, and documents (what?). To me, this is where one shows their mettle; are they engaging with their network?

Skills & Endorsements and Recommendations I lump together because LinkedIn does—they’re located at the bottom of a profile. Endorsements are bling in most peoples’ minds, but the skills are what recruiters use to search for you.

Recommendations have lost the respect it had in the last decade. Which is a shame. If truthfully written, they can add a great deal to a job seeker’s candidacy. Recommendations used to be considered one of LinkedIn most valued features. Now it’s buried at the bottom.

In defense of your resume

In addition to your resume being the foundation of your profile—your profile shouldn’t be your resume—it serves a very special purpose, which is it’s required for a job search. I’m hearing the groans from the peanut gallery. “Networking will get you further in the search then your resume.”

This might be true, but the majority of the time you’ll have to submit a well-written resume even if you land the opportunity for an interview via networking.

Another key factor—and most resume writers will tell you—is your resume has to be tailored to each job for which you apply. There are two reasons for this. First, it has to get past the applicant tracking system (ATS). Second, it has to prove to the reader that you’re qualified f

A professionally written resume is a work of art. Having read thousands and written hundreds of resumes, I know the feeling of reading one that makes your head hurt. Many job seekers throw their resume together without thinking about five major considerations:

  • Length: too long, too short. There’s no solid rule on length but, generally speaking, it should not exceed the number of warranted pages. What warrants a resume longer than one or two pages? This is mentioned next.
  • Value add: means relevant accomplishments rule over mundane duties. The more accomplishments, the better chance you have of getting to an interview. Have you increased revenue, save cost, improved productivity, etc.?
  • Readability: three- to four-line paragraphs are the limit. A resume with ten-line paragraphs will be thrown in the proverbial circular file cabinet. Who wants to read a dense resume after reading 25 of them?
  • Fluff: “dynamic,” “results-oriented,” “team player,” are but a few of hundreds of cliches making the rounds out there. Stay with action verbs and do away with adjectives.
  • Branding: means your resume is congruent with your overall message of the value you’ll deliver to employers. This message needs to be delivered throughout your document.

The final point

I’m not foolish enough to believe that all things were equal in this poll. Those who voted for the LinkedIn profile are probably gainfully employed and have no use for their resume at this point. I voted for the profile because I benefit from it far more than my resume.

The question I ask myself if I were unemployed, could I rely on my LinkedIn profile alone to land me an interview? My course of action would be to take a more proactive approach and network before and during applying online.

Another consideration is how consistent is my profile with my resume. I believe that other than it being more personal and telling a better story, my profile is consistent with my resume. No surprises there. Final decision: I choose my profile over my resume.

The ultimate comparison of the résumé and LinkedIn profile: a look at 12 areas

Occasionally I’m asked which I prefer writing or reviewing, a résumé or LinkedIn profile. To use a tired cliché, it’s like comparing apples and oranges. The first fact we have to realize is that each has its own purpose.

Reading a Resume

The second fact is that, although the résumé and LinkedIn profile are trying to accomplish the same goal, show your value; they are different in many ways. One of my pet peeves is looking at a copy and paste of the résumé to the profile. It’s just plain wrong, and you’ll see why as you read this article.

LinkedIn Logo longPurpose of each document

Résumé

Your résumé is most likely the first document hiring authorities will see, so your value-add must make an immediate impact. If not, your chances of getting interviews are very slim.

You will send your résumé in response to a specific job. As such, it must be tailored to each job and contain keywords. Failing to do this will adversely impact your résumé’s chance of getting past the applicant tracking system (ATS).

Lastly, you use push technology with your résumé; therefore far fewer hiring authorities will see it.

LinkedIn profile

Your consistent message of value-add demonstrated through your résumé carries over to your LinkedIn profile. Your profile is NOT focused on a specific job; it is static and more general.

Most likely you’ll have a résumé constructed before you build your profile. Therefore, the stronger your résumé, the easier to build your LinkedIn profile.

You rely on pull technology with your profile, as hiring authorities find you by entering your title, areas of expertise, and location if relevant.

Comparing the two

I’ve broken down the sections of the résumé and LinkedIn profile to compare them side-by-side.  It’s easier to see the differences this way. As mentioned earlier, it’s similar to comparing apples and oranges.

Note: Sections 1 through 6 are those which both documents possess. Further down this article are sections the LinkedIn profile has and most likely the résumé doesn’t.


1. Headline

Résumé: A headline tells potential hiring authorities your title and a line below it your areas of expertise and perhaps a two-word accomplishment (Cost Savings) in approximately 10 words.

It is tailored to the job at hand, like most sections on your résumé. Most executive-level résumés have a headline.

LinkedIn profile: Similar to your résumé, a headline will tell hiring authorities your title as well as your major strengths. It is more general and includes more areas of expertise.

One benefit I see with the profile headline is it allows more characters to work with than the résumé. You have a little over 200 characters or slightly more than 35 words. If you want to include a short branding statement, this could be a nice touch.


2. Summary/About

Résumé: The résumé’s Summary sometimes gets overlooked in a hiring authority’s rush to get to the Employment section. The key to grabbing their attention is creating  accomplishment-rich verbiage, such as:

Operations manager who consistently reduces companies’ costs through implementing lean practices.

There are two other points I emphasize with my clients. The first is that the Summary should not exceed 110 words or three lines; the shorter the better. The second is there should be no fluff or clichés included in it. Instead of using adjectives, employ action verbs that do a better job of showing rather than telling.

LinkedIn profile: Your profile’s About section will differ from your résumé’s Summary for a number of reasons.

  1. It allows you to tell a story that can include the, Why and What, Who, and How. In other words, why are you passionate about what you do, who you do it for, and how you do it.
  2. Similar to your résumé’s Summary, you should list accomplishments that immediately speak to your greatness.
  3. Your About section is written in first- or third-person point of view, giving it more of a personal feel than your résumé’s Summary.
  4. It is significantly longer. You’re allowed approximately 2,600 characters to work with, which I suggest you use, providing it adds value to your profile.
  5. Finally, you can highlight rich media such as video, audio, documents, and PowerPoint presentations in the Featured area.

Read this article that describes how to craft a kick-ass About section.


3. Core Competencies/Key Skills

Résumé: Here’s where you list the core competencies or key skills for the position you’re pursuing. These skills are specific to the position for which you’re applying. You can also include skills that might be tiebreakers. Nine to 12 skills are appropriate for this section.

LinkedIn profile: This section is located further down your profile; whereas it’s typically placed under the Summary on your résumé. However, I wanted to discuss this out of order, as this is the closest section to Core Competencies.

List your outstanding technical and transferable skills in the Skills and Endorsements section, which is similar to the Core Competency section on your résumé, with a few major differences:

  1. You can be endorsed for your skills. There is debate as to the validity of endorsements, but they can be legit if the endorser has evidence of the endorsee’s skills.
  2. You are given up to 50 skills to list. I suggest listing skills that are related to your occupation.
  3. When applying through Easy Apply in LinkedIn Jobs, they are one criterion by which your candidacy is measured.

4. Experience

Résumé: Job-specific accomplishments effectively send a consistent message of your value. While a show of your former/current responsibilities might seem impressive, accomplishments speak volumes. Provide quantified results in the form of numbers, dollars, and percentages.

Good: Increased productivity by implementing a customer relations management (CRM) system.

Better: Increased productivity 58% by initiating and implementing – 2 weeks before the deadline – a customer relations management (CRM) system. 

LinkedIn profile: Your Employment section will be briefer than your résumé’s, highlighting just the outstanding accomplishments from each job. Another approach is to copy what’s on your résumé to your profile, but that lacks creativity.

I also point out to my clients that they can personalize their LinkedIn profile’s Experience section, which is not commonly done with their résumé. One approach is to write your job summary or mission in first-person point of view. Following is an example from Austin Belcak:

I teach people how to use unconventional strategies to land jobs they love in today’s market (without connections, without traditional “experience,” and without applying online).

My strategies have been featured in Forbes, Business Insider, Inc., Fast Company, and more. My students have landed interviews and offers at Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Twitter, Uber, Deloitte, Accenture, ESPN and more.

Read this article on 5 reasons why you shouldn’t ignore your LinkedIn profile Experience section.


5. Licenses & Certifications

Résumé: This section is usually named Training and if there are any certifications or licenses earned, they are mentioned here. I suggest that my clients list them above Education, as hiring authorities’ eyes typically go to the bottom of the last page to find Education. In some cases, especially with teachers, Certifications are listed at the top of the résumé.

LinkedIn profile: LinkedIn doesn’t see the placement of Licenses & Certifications as I do. On your profile they are placed below Education. This is not the point, though. One might wonder why this section even exists, as it is buried in the bowels of your profile.

6. Volunteerism

Résumé: I include this section because it’s a good idea to list your volunteerism, as it shows your willingness to help the community and demonstrates that you’re developing new skills. If you’re volunteering in your area of expertise extensively—20 hours—include it in your Experience section.

LinkedIn profile: This is a place for you to shine, in my humble opinion. The experience you list on your profile can be as serious and strategic as what you have on your résumé; however, you can also be playful. For example, two of my volunteer experiences are about coaching soccer and basketball.


7. Education

Résumé: Typically the résumé’s Education section consists of the institution, location, years of attendance (optional), degree, and area of study or major. You can include a designation such as Magna Cum Laude. Here is an example of how your education should be written.

University of Massachusetts, Lowell, MA
Bachelor of Science, Mechanical Engineering, Magna Cum Laude

LinkedIn profile: Many people neglect this section, choosing to simply list the information they would on their résumé. This is a shame, as LinkedIn gives you the opportunity to further support your brand by telling the story of your educational experience.

Take Mary who completed her bachelor’s degree while working full-time—a major accomplishment in itself. If she wants to show off her work ethic and time management skills, she might write a description like this:

University of Massachusetts, Lowell, MA
Bachelor of Science, Mechanical Engineering, Magna Cum Laude

While working full time at Company A, I attended accelerated classes at night for four years (two years less than typically expected). I also participated as an instructor in an online tutoring program, helping first-year students with their engineering classes. I found this to be extremely rewarding.

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Sections more likely on your profile than your résumé

The following areas are most likely not going to be on your résumé; although, they’re not entirely out of the question. For instance, you might have a Volunteer Experience on your résumé, especially if your volunteerism is pertinent to your career objective.

8. Photo and background images

These two images are the first to brand you on your LinkedIn profile. They are what truly separate the profile from the résumé.

Résumé: A photo is not likely unless you are in acting, modeling, or perhaps real estate. I have never seen anything close to a background image on a résumé. However, graphics are common for graphic artists and other creative occupations.

LinkedIn Profile: The photo and the background image are a must for the profile. Discussing the profile photo with my clients is somewhat touchy, as the average age is 55. You know where I’m going with this.

Here’s the thing: without a photo, you will come across as unmemorable, untrusted, and unliked. What’s most important is that your photo is topical, current, and high quality. I’ve seen photos of older workers that make their profile pop.

The background image, if done well, can demonstrate your industry or personal interest. LinkedIn allows you 1,584 x 396 pixels in size.


9. Articles and Activity

Résumé: Nonexistent. Your Hobbies and Activities section would be the closest match, but there’s very little information included in this area compared to the LinkedIn profile.

LinkedIn profile: Because LinkedIn is an interactive platform, your articles and activity will be shown on your profile. This is something I pay a great deal of attention to when critiquing a client’s profile. I like to see that they’ve at least been active four times a week.


10. Featured

Résumé: Nonexistent, primarily because this section requires access to links and downloads. Some job seekers will list a URL to their website, which is appropriate for people in the creative fields.

LinkedIn profile: This…feature…is not new; it’s just been enhanced. It previously had no name, but with the update, LinkedIn probably felt it needed to be named, as it wasn’t getting a great deal of play. As such, Featured no longer requires multiple clicks to get to the media you’re showing off.

What can you show off? You can provide links to video through YouTube and other sources; audio through podcasts and other recordings; PowerPoint presentations; documents; links to documents and your books. It’s a pretty cool feature, but is it being used to its capacity?

11. Recommendations

Résumé: Nonexistent, nor should they be included with your résumé. You might bring them to an interview as part of your portfolio, but to send them with your résumé just gives hiring authorities more verbiage to read.

LinkedIn profile: Where to begin? In short, one of the most important sections to be designated to the…you guessed it, bowels of the profile. What a gem these are in terms of branding you. Not only can you show hiring authorities how highly you’re regarded by people with whom you worked; you can write recommendations for your employees.

Read 5 reasons why LinkedIn recommendations should get more respect to get a clearer picture of how I feel about their treatment.

12. Accomplishments

Lastly we arrive at accomplishments, where so many great nuggets are hidden on your profile which could be included on your Résumé.

Résumé: Do you have a section on your résumé designated to outstanding projects? If you do, most likely it’s at the top just below your Summary section. It makes good sense if you want to highlight some of your greatest career accomplishments. Perhaps you have patents and publications listed on your résumé.

LinkedIn profile: Well, you can include the aforementioned and more; but in order for hiring authorities to see them, they’d have to be curious or you’d have to direct them to your Accomplishment section. I tell my clients to provide such instructions in the About section.

Write something in your About section to this effect: “If you would like to see how I raised 2MM in revenue for one company, scroll to the bottom of my profile where the project is listed in my Accomplishment section.”

Read How to direct visitors to LinkedIn Accomplishment section.

To further make my case, one of my dear connections was interviewed by Aljazeera America for his photography of homeless people and models in NYC. Naturally he has it listed as a project in this section. I had to write to him and advise that he include it as rich media in his About section. Here is the link to his awesome video.


Lastly…for real.

If you’ve read this far, I salute you. I would love to hear your feedback on this article, as well as know which you favor, the résumé or LinkedIn profile. By the tone of this article, I guess you know which one I fancy.

The Summary is the loser out of 3 resume sections. More than 2,000 people have voted

Would you have guessed that out of three resume sections—Skills, Summary, and Education—the Summary is the least necessary? I wouldn’t have. So much has been written on how to write the Summary, how to brand yourself, keep it brief, and show your value to employers.

More than 2,000 people responded to a poll conducted on 6/29—2,236 to be exact—and 46% feel the Summary would be the one to go if given the choice between the three sections. The runner up is Education at 35% and the last chosen to be eliminated, the Skills/Core Competencies at 19%.

People of various occupations commented on their choice. They ranged from recruiters, HR, hiring managers, resume writers, career coaches, and job seekers. The people who voted ran the gamut and many of them left comments, some of which are listed below.

Why the Experience sections wasn’t included in the poll

It seems obvious why Experience wasn’t included as a choice of sections to excluded from a resume. After all, isn’t that where you tout what you’ve accomplished or at least outstanding duties you’ve performed, what employers are most interested in? Pretty much.

If there’s one argument for choosing Experience as least necessary, it would be if the job seeker is a recent grad and their most important section is Education. Even so, most college grads have some work experience during the summer or through internships. This was not a poll option.

Skills/Core Competencies win

I was surprised that Skills/Core Competencies was, in the minds of the voters, the more important of the three sections. Only 19% of voters chose to hack it from the resume if they had to.

Austin Belcak, founder of Cultivated Culture, agrees: “To me it’s the Core Competencies section, Bob. Simply dropping in a skill with no other context provides zero value to the reader.” He uses Data Analysis as an example of how the skill can be misconstrued between two candidates’ resumes.

Biron Clarke, founder at CareerSideKick.com, makes a good point about using skills within the Experience section: “I think you could work around having no Skills section, like Austin said. It’s more convincing to demonstrate your skills in your work experience section, anyway. (Via bullet points showing how you used each skill, etc.)”

Adrienne Tom, founder of Career Impressions, is another one who would eliminate the Skills section, albeit reluctantly: “As always, for me it depends. It depends on both the person and their application avenue. Some job seekers can share some really impactful details in a Summary to hook-and-grab a human reader. Others may need the Skills section or Education section to help with online applications. If I had to pick, I’d be okay with removing a dedicated Skills section and then weaving the skills into actual resume content.

Education comes in second

Education was a tough one for people to cut from the resume. For some, their education means a great deal to them. They attended a top-notch university and want to tout their achievement of completing their degree.

But how relevant is your education unless it is absolutely required for you to secure a position? A teacher at any level comes to mind. But many feel that it’s your experience that really matters, not the fact that you have a Bachelor’s.

Cynthia Pong, JD (she/her) puts it well: “Education would be on the chopping block for me. Where someone went to school can be a factor of many considerations – financial aid, geography, life circumstances – that have nothing to do with whether or not someone can do a particular job well.”

All too often I come across job seekers who are at the top of their game but can’t check off the education box and, therefore, aren’t offered an interview. Is this a way for HR to disqualify candidates from consideration? Perhaps. However, ask most hiring managers if they’d consider someone with experience but sans degree, they’ll take the former.

Summary would be the section to go

And the winner…or the loser is the Summary. This would be the first section to go. There are some well-respected executive resume writers who have said the Summary is no longer necessary. Some believe they add no value to the document, mainly because they’re poorly written.

Ed Han is a recruiter, and he agrees: “All things being equal: I consider the Summary least useful. There I said it. Most job seekers write their own resumes, and the ugly truth is that there’s a really good reason there are professionals who do make a living writing resumes. Many resumes are just not written particularly well, with the worst cases being little more than an excuse for keyword stuffing.”

Another career development pundit, Ed Lawrence, speaks of second-hand information: “I chose ‘Summary’ for this reason—a recruiter once told me he skipped the Summary section because it basically says we are all the best thing since sliced bread. If not for that, I would still be agonizing over Education versus Summary.”

But in defense of the Summary, this is a section of your resume that can clearly display your value statement and what you can deliver to the employer. As long as it’s brief and contains no cliches, I see the Summary as a necessary component of the resume. If done well it can capture the attention of the reader.

The problem with the Summary is that candidates treat it as a place to stick the sparkling words that ring hollow. We’re talking about words like “results-oriented,” “dynamic,” “outstanding,” etc. When someone leads with words like these, I lose all desire to read the rest of the resume.

Have we arrived again at the debate, “Is the Summary dead”? I hope not. I think a well-written Summary can be a great section in which to state your proposed value to the employer, as long as it’s brief, tailored to the position, and contains an accomplishment or two.


The people have spoken

When more than 2,000 people vote, we have a poll. As I said earlier, some of the most knowledgeable resume writers and reviewers have weighed in. Many of them gave excellent reasons for deleting one of the three sections. Some couldn’t choose, or didn’t want to. The fact is that all the three sections are required given most situations, if not all.

10 Resume articles that will help you in the job search

This compilation of resume writing articles is based on my and others’ knowledge of writing resumes that will get you to an interview. Read one or many of these articles. As I publish articles, I’ll add them to this compilation. Enjoy, and I hope the resume articles help you get to your next interview.

The ultimate comparison of the résumé and LinkedIn profile: a look at 12 areas

Occasionally I’m asked which I prefer writing or reviewing, a résumé or LinkedIn profile. To use a tired cliché, it’s like comparing apples and oranges. The first fact we have to realize is that each has its own purpose.

The Summary is the loser out of 3 resume sections. More than 2,000 people have voted

Would you have guessed that out of three resume sections—Skills, Summary, and Education—the Summary is the least necessary? I wouldn’t have. So much has been written on how to write the Summary, how to brand yourself, keep it brief, and show your value to employers

Does resume length matter? A poll and 13 career authorities say it does

Just when you thought the debate was over, a poll and 13 career authorities prove differently. Should a resume be one page, two pages, or three pages long? Or does it depend?

Why your LinkedIn profile resembles a combination resume

What is a combination resume? Simply put it’s a functional resume and chronological resume combined. Your LinkedIn profile About section satisfies the first component and, well, we know how LinkedIn’s Experience section is a chronological format.

Hot resume trends for 2020: What the experts say

A decade has ended and now a new one is upon us, so what will 2020 bring in terms of résumé trends? One thing is for sure; if you plan to submit the same tired résumé for all positions, your chances of success will hover around zero percent. Some résumé trends will stay the same as they did in 2019; whereas others will change, or at least be reinforced.

Is it time to declutter your resume? 10 items to consider

I’m not a proponent of limiting the number of résumé pages to one, or even two. But seven-pages is definitely overdoing it. Now, I’m asking you what has to go when you declutter your résumé. Here are 10 items you should remove from your document before submitting it for a position.

Store your resume and 6 other documents on your phone

Consider this situation: you’re hundreds of miles away from your computer, where your résumé is stored. A hiring manager from a desired company sends you a text that reads, “Saw your LinkedIn profile and am impressed. Trying to fill an operations manager position. Like to see your resume today.” The only device you have is your phone.

3 reasons why your resume alone will not land you a job

One of my close LinkedIn connections told me that a client of hers would only pay her for writing his résumé if she would guarantee he’d land a job. Needless to say, she didn’t take him on as a client. I think most rational individuals would agree that she made the correct decision. There are NO guarantees that a resume will land you a job.

Is the resume Summary dead?

In this article, we take a look at the resume Summary and if it’s even useful. Experts weigh in. Result, most find the Summary a useful section to sell yourself early on. Others say to leave it off the resume, as they go directly to the Experience section.

45 resume words that need to be made extinct

There are a lot of words that should be left off your resume. Check out the list. Does your resume have some of the words on the list?

Does résumé length matter? A poll and 13 career authorities who say it does

As I was reviewing a client’s résumé, the first thing that stuck me was its length. It was four pages long. It’s not that I’m opposed to a four-page résumé. As I’ve said in the past, “If you have the goods, length doesn’t matter.” And I’m sure many resume writers would agree.

Page length was not my only focus. I also harped on the “so what?” factor. For each action I asked him, “What was the impact of your actions on the organization?” Did he save time, increase participation, improve processes, et cetera? Sure enough, there were some significant impacts.

By the time we were done, his résumé was a healthy three-pager. Are you thinking that three pages is too long? I don’t blame you for thinking that. Based on a poll I created on LinkedIn, the majority of people think a three-page résumé is too long. Who said the debate of resume length is dead?

The 1,007 people who took the poll certainly have an opinion.

The poll question was, “How many pages should a résumé be for someone with more than 5 years of stellar employment experience?” The possible answers were: “one page,” “two pages,” or “two or more pages.”

The clear winner was two pages, garnering 62% of the vote. One page came in a distant second place with 27%, and two or more pages came in last with 11%. I guess I lost big time; I voted for two pages or more. But as I’ve said, “If you have the goods, length doesn’t matter.” To a point.

Note: I also clarify by saying the work history must be within 15-years. You don’t want to go back 30- or 40-years in your work history and, thereby, produce a seven-page résumé or, more to the point, information that isn’t relevant and might reveal your age.


Here are some of the comments people posted with the poll. I hope no one takes umbrage with me for posting their thoughts. Of the 65 comments, I’ve chosen some of the ones that stood out.

Aiming for one page is a good exercise in writing in a targeted way and concisely. However, for many professionals who need a straightforward résumé to convey their qualifications for an area of expertise, 2 pages is sufficient and helpful. And, every once in a while, a 3-page résumé is warranted. (I feel the “boo” coming at me from some people in typing that statement.)

Rachel Akers

Bob McIntosh, CPRW, I completely ditto Rachel Akers. I rarely write a one-page résumé for someone with significant experience. As a recruiter, I always felt like I didn’t have enough info on a candidate for my hiring manager when there was only a one-page résumé. It left way too many questions.

Ashley Watkins

I completely agree with you, Rachel Akers and Bob. Résumé length is different for different people. For many, 2 pages are sufficient, but for some, the content may extend to 3 pages. My executive-level clients often need more, but the content is always strategically selected with the audience top of mind. Ask and answer: “does this detail matter to THIS audience?” If not, remove it.

Adrienne Tom

Agreed. I hate rules when it comes to page length, Bob McIntosh. Each person is different and has different types of experiences. We can’t box someone in with one page just because they have five-years experience. Some of the college/new grads I work with gained so much work experience in and immediately after college that it really breaks the one-page “rule”.

Erin Kennedy

It’s funny, one of the most frequently asked questions of Recruiters is about resume length. I think the answer is: It depends on how much experience you have. For a new grad, one page might be sufficient. For someone who has been in the workforce for years, 2+ pages is fine. Contrary to popular belief, Recruiters and hiring managers want to see details. Also, if we see a candidate that we like, we won’t be counting resume pages!

Cynthia Wright

I concur on page length in terms of capturing the right information, with the caveat to look at who is hiring you. A VP of Operations is likely to be hired by a COO, who is typically focused on details and may prefer multiple pages. Investors, on the other hand, want to see your ROI front and center. A CTO résumé need not take 4+ pages, as that individual will be hired by a non-technical executive. Ensuring the audience gets what they need is critical – and I always look at audience first.

Laura Smith-Proulx

I think it depends. No hiring manager dives into a stack of résumés thinking “Okay let’s find a good one-page résumé person to hire” or “Let’s find someone with the best 2-page résumé to hire”. It just doesn’t work like that. Some people are better off with a 1-page résumé. Some people will sell themselves better with a 2-page résumé. I think it shouldn’t be any longer than necessary, though If you can fit everything that’s relevant/important on one page, then do it.

Biron Clark

This one is a sort of depends answer. I can see a really good résumé for someone with five years’ experience be one page if all the information is very focused on a specifically targeted role. Generally, I would say two pages are okay if the content justifies it.

Shelley Piedmont

In my opinion the length of relevant experience, skills, education, etc are all factors. Generally 1-2 pages is good. I do not believe we should eliminate relevant content on a résumé for the sake of brevity, nor should we ‘fluff’ a résumé to reach two pages. Let the experience and goal drive the résumé.

Scott Gardner

I have operated in this field for many years. I believe you need 2 or 3 pages if you want a 60K Plus job. If you are working in retail. You only need 1 page. If you are Business Professional looking to Market yourself, you need a résumé that is detailed, has main keywords,and is attractive to the reader. I think that 2 Pages is sufficient. Three pages may be overdoing it.

David Dueh Chied III

Biron Clark, depending on the company, and the bandwidth of the recruiter, there just isn’t enough time to really review a complete résumé as it is — let alone make time to read multiple pages. In the end, the goal shouldn’t be to rely on your résumé being your ticket to hire, so don’t obsess over adding in everything.

Robert Liedtka, PHR

“Forcing the situation” to make all the information fit in only 1 page won’t really help the candidate in most of the cases.

2 pages is “normally” a good length to balance the most relevant information and its distribution in a nice way.

I normally think twice about going to the 3rd page – and try only to do it if all the information presented is really relevant and directly related to the next career goals, avoiding really old work experience in different areas, courses done +10 years ago, etc.

Juliana Rabbi

As a recruiter, I think it is short-sighted to hold by old rules. Rather than be constrained by page length, I like to see candidates use space effectively. If you are a seasoned professional – and have a ton of accomplishments that can’t be well articulated in less than 2 pages – then feel free to add that extra page. However, the real lesson is to use the space wisely and ensure you are listing accomplishments (as opposed to just job duties) in a succinct and impactful way.

Heather Spiegel

There you have it; opinions vary on how long a résumé should be. The majority of our experts feel that a two-page résumé is warranted, maybe even a three-pager, but there are some who prefer the one-page résumé due to time constraints. The résumé-length debate hasn’t died.

If you’re curious what some recruiters have to say about the topic, visit this conversations on Recruiters Online Facebook group. Many of them say 10 years is sufficient.

Why your LinkedIn profile resembles a combination résumé

You probably know what chronological and functional résumés are. Now imagine the two documents joined together as one. What you have is a résumé that demonstrates your areas of expertise as well as your accomplishment-rich work experience.

Reading a Resume

A while ago I wrote an article on how your LinkedIn About section can be similar to a functional résumé. Now I’ll take the concept a little further by explaining how your About and Experience sections can resemble a combination résumé if done properly.

The About section as the résumé Summary and  functional area

You might have been told that the About section needs to tell a story, which it should. However, if you want to highlight your areas of expertise (the functional résumé), you need to make them blatantly clear.

Following is partial example of one of my client’s About section which closely resembles the functional piece of a combination résumé beginning with ► BUILDING TALENTED TEAMS.

New technologies have the power to transform a business, especially when brought to market in the form of new products and services. That is what I enjoy doing.

Advanced materials and processes can form the basis for a product portfolio that will generate repeat revenues for years to come – if a company is able to leverage those innovations. I have been fortunate to participate in several technology firms where we did exactly that. Here are a few keys to our success:

► BUILDING TALENTED TEAMS – of professionals who are leaders in their respective areas. Then, encouraging and rewarding them for their collective success.

► ENGINEERING CREATIVE SOLUTIONS – that solve the customer’s problem, but also create manufacturing differentiators that will lead to follow-on production.

► OPERATIONAL SKILL – to simplify designs, improve on-time delivery, reduce rework and enhance efficiency.

► BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT EXPERIENCE – with more than 15 years of experience in technical sales and marketing of engineered solutions.

Differences between the About section and functional résumé area

1. Your LinkedIn About section is more than a Summary. There’s probably a good reason why LinkedIn went from calling this section Summary to About and most likely it’s because your About section can/should include elements of a typical résumé Summary and functional area.

2. No introductory paragraphs. Your résumé should not include the opening two paragraphs of your LinkedIn’s About section. There’s no need, or space, to explain the challenges of your industry, your passion, or a mission statement, etc.

Golden rules: résumé Summary is three or four lines at most, must grab the reader’s attention, and should include an accomplishment or two in order to show value.

3. Your résumé’s functional area won’t be as long.  The example above nearly reaches the 2,000 character limit. But the idea is the same. Under each area of expertise, you explain why they’re your strength in three or four lines.

The main reason why the About section is long is because your profile is a static document and therefore must cover more ground containing more information.

4. Tailor your resume’s functional area. Another difference is that your résumé will be tailored to each employer’s needs. Perhaps the employer is most interested in Team Building, Customer Relations, and Business Development. You simply highlight these areas on your résumé.


linkedin-alone

The Experience section as the chronological résumé

Now let’s see how my client’s Experience section clearly shows what he’s accomplished. (Again, this is a partial sample.)

A nice touch is how he breaks down his accomplishments by types, e.g., SALES GROWTH, PROFITABILITY, ON-TIME DELIVERY…

Led the transformation of this start-up, engineering research firm into a mature, product-based manufacturing business; sold the company; then helped to integrate it with a new parent company.

► SALES GROWTH – Increased product sales by 800%; now 87% of MSI’s total business.

► PROFITABILITY – Improved key production lines 30% by investing in Lean / Six Sigma / Kaizen initiatives.

► ON-TIME DELIVERY – Consistently achieved delivery commitments through tight-knit production teams, centralized reporting, targeted cross-training, and earned-value project tracking.

► HARVEST & DIVESTMENT – Marketed and sold the business. Leadership role in all stages of the sale process: selecting investment banker, identifying potential acquirers, preparing marketing materials, and communicating with prospective buyers.

► BUSINESS INTEGRATION – Successfully integrated MSI with new parent company. Retained customers while relocating and re-starting core manufacturing operations on the west coast.

Differences between the LinkedIn About section and Résumé Experience section

1. The value is clear. This position’s highlights clearly show value, as it is broken down into accomplishment types, e.g., SALES GROWTH, PROFITABILITY, ON-TIME DELIVERY…More so, the all-caps format makes it easy for the reader to see the accomplishment types my client delivers.

There really isn’t a distinguishable difference between the LinkedIn About section and résumé Experience section. Both should highlight accomplishments.

2. The length of my client’s Experience section for this job alone brings his combination résumé to two pages. He has two other roles as director of business development and principal engineer. In all, his combination résumé could be three-pages long, which is acceptable within a 10-15 work history.

3. The résumé Experience section must be tailored. It must be a reflection of what each individual employer requires. Your LinkedIn profile Experience section is static, like most other sections, so it has to cover a large swatch of value statements. Choose the ones that are of most importance to the employer.


If you need to revert from a chronological to a combination résumé, it would be a good move. Think about how your LinkedIn profile’s About and Experience sections are an example of how the combination résumé should be crafted.

Hot résumé trends for 2020: what the experts say

A decade has ended and now a new one is upon us, so what will 2020 bring in terms of résumé trends?

resume woman with coffee

One thing is for sure; if you plan to submit the same tired résumé for all positions, your chances of success will hover around zero percent.

Another well-known fact is that your résumé must demonstrate your value.

Some résumé trends will stay the same as they did in 2019; whereas others will change, or at least be reinforced.

Advice from 5 résumé experts

To discover which résumé trends you should follow in 2020, I asked five renowned résumé writers their thoughts on this topic. Each of them offers valuable advice from being aware of applicant tracking systems (ATSs) to ensuring your document expresses value to demonstrating emotional intelligence (EQ).

Virginia Franco: leverage alternate channels  

Virginia Franco, Executive Storyteller, Résumé & LinkedIn Writer, believes getting your résumé to decision makers (networking) will be key to your success in 2020, so the look of your résumé must pack a punch,

Virginia writes:

Because applicant tracking systems (ATSs) are so inundated with résumés, increasingly more people are recognizing the wisdom of throwing their hat in the ring via alternative channels that include a focus on networking and getting in the door through referrals.

As a result, it will be more important than ever in 2020 to write your résumé first and foremost for human beings.

This means embracing design elements that can range from the use of color, shading, and/or bold to draw the reader’s eye where you’d like it go – to even a graph, chart, or box with some standout text to illustrate a point you are making elsewhere in the body of the résumé (I’ve used them to convey a snapshot of powerful sales stats or even call out a compelling recommendation).

Because at some point in the hiring process you may have to submit online, your résumé should also aim to be ATS compatible. This means ensuring that any point you make via a text box, chart or graph appears elsewhere in your document – as ATS can’t read it otherwise.

More about Virginia: Virginia’s LinkedIn Profile, Virginia’s website, and Virginia’s articles in Job-Hunt.


Donna Svei: be mobile friendly  

Donna Svei, Executive Résumé Writer, says that hiring authorities will read your résumé on devices like your mobile phone. She also emphasizes that your résumé must be ready at the drop of a hat, not that you’re necessarily looking.

Here’s what Donna has to say:

When I think about résumé best practices, I ask myself, “What will make my clients stand out to hiring managers and recruiters?”

A big trend impacting all content consumption, résumés included, is the practice of using mobile devices as people’s preferred reading platforms.

Thus, your résumé needs to be easy to read on a phone. Send your résumé to yourself, open the file, and make sure you can easily read it. Check for:

  1. White space.
  2. A font suited to being read on a mobile phone, such as Calibri.

Adequate font size. I like 11-point.

Technology has made the traditional job search with a beginning, middle, and an end outmoded. The opportunity now comes from people you know, recruiters who constantly scrape databases looking for viable candidates, and alerts that tell you about openings for your dream jobs the moment they become available.

Because of this, I see more careerists preparing their résumés just to be ready. They aren’t looking but they want to be able to take their best shot when the big one comes along. That’s your competition. Be at the head of the pack, not limping into the mix with your newly updated résumé while the best-prepared candidates wrap up their interviews.

Résumé trends change slowly, even generationally. Regardless of your age, be a person who knows the trends and uses them to make the best presentation of themselves.

More about Donna: Donna’s LinkedIn Profile and Donna’s website.


Laura Smith-Proulx: be brief but powerful  

Laura Smith-Proulx, Executive Resume and LinkedIn Writer, emphasizes value, readability, and branding as important components of your resume.

Read what Laura has to say:

To keep pace with ever-shorter attention spans, résumés must prove their value to employers in 2020. Rather than dense paragraphs describing your work style, your résumé needs quantifiable results, a potent mix of keywords to satisfy ATSs, and powerful branding statements relevant to employers.

In 2020, brevity will be an important factor in capturing attention from your résumé. Branding headlines, which are simply statements encapsulating your value, can help cut excess verbiage.

For example, a paragraph on your technical sales skills could be replaced with “165% Annual Growth and 45% Profit Increase From AI Sales Techniques” – packing keywords, metrics, and technologies into a single sentence.

ATSs continue to be an important factor for résumés in 2020, especially if you’re applying to job postings. For example, a Revenue Officer résumé should mention contract negotiations and team direction, and if you’re seeking IT jobs, the résumé must reference emerging technologies and business collaboration.

There’s a plethora of tools such as Wordle or TagCrowd to parse job descriptions for keywords. Think of your résumé as a website that needs SEO strategies to be found, and you’ll get the idea.

A résumé with no quantifiable metrics is likely to be ignored in 2020. By putting figures to the cost savings, budgets managed, speed of implementation, market share growth, revenue produced, products launched, or profit generated from your actions, you’ll increase the chances of landing an interview. Be sure to align these stories with what the employer is seeking.

More about Laura Smith-Proulx: Laura’s LinkedIn Profile, Laura’s website, and Laura’s articles in Job-Hunt.


Adrienne Tom: share your career narrative  

Adrienne Tom, Executive Résumé Writer, LinkedIn Profile Writer, and Job Search Coach, encourages job candidates to apply stories to their résumés. Use SMART statements, she advises.

Read further to find out what Adrienne has to say about SMART statements:

2019 taught us about the importance of building and sharing a powerful career narrative. As we transition into 2020, I see career storytelling continuing to play a heavy hand in the creation of a modern résumé.

The reason for storytelling is simple. A flat file of facts does not compel résumé readers. Instead, employers wish to be engaged by meaningful content that summarizes relatable facts, applies authentic language, provides proof, and demonstrates a clear fit for the role.

To help craft your career story in 2020, share SMART statements in the résumé. Just like a SMART goal, a SMART statement is Specific, Measurable, Action-Oriented, Results-Oriented, and Time-Bound.

When delivered correctly, SMART statements help share and reinforce a career story –allowing for personalized detail that both differentiates and elevates. Also, all good stories have happy endings (or at the very least, wrap things up with a result). A modern résumé is no different.

Strengthen a career story with results-driven details. Align results with employer requirements for greater impact. Even better, lead with results as often as possible, reducing the risk of key facts becoming buried or overlooked.

An example of a SMART statement, that leads with rich results:

Generated over $600K in annual cost-savings and raised staff efficiency levels 65% after designing and implementing a global operational improvement plan across 3 countries with 6,000+ staff.

Ultimately, résumé strategy continues to evolve in the delivery of details. In 2020, ensure the résumé includes a variety of accomplishment statements, including SMART ones, to share your story better.

More about Adrienne Tom: Adrienne’s LinkedIn Profile and Adrienne’s website.


Erin Kennedy: demonstrate your soft skills and EQ  

Erin Kennedy, Executive Résumé and LinkedIn Profile Writer, says a résumé can show emotional quotient (EQ) better known as “soft skills.”

Erin offers:

During 2019, career professionals noticed a shift as corporations began seeking EQ from their executive candidates. In the past, these skills were considered fluff and a résumé no-no.

However, the dependence on technology and targeted specialties has caused a slight breakdown in communication skills leading companies to seek more “well-rounded” leaders.

Emotional intelligence is not something you can earn with a degree; rather it is part of your personality cluster. Are you adept at figuring out complex problems? Are you able to manage conflict?

Possessing strong EQ means you have self-awareness and the ability to understand your effect on others.

Corporations are looking for leaders with high EQ — if you don’t understand your own behavior and motivations, it becomes difficult to understand those who work for you. Displaying empathy and thoughtfulness rather than judgment increases productivity and solidifies loyalty.

So, how do you capture soft skills and EQ on a résumé while still showcasing numbers-focused accomplishments? The great thing is, they really go hand-in-hand. Easing soft skills or EQ onto your résumé can be as simple as:

Provide strategic and decisive leadership while collaborating effectively with fellow Board of Directors on a $23 million-dollar expansion.

Blending soft and hard skills together creates a much-sought-after candidate.

More about Erin Kennedy: Erin’s LinkedIn Profile, Erin’s website, and Erin’s articles on Job-Hunt.


The bottom line

If you’re writing your résumé for the first time or updating it, you will want to heed what these experts say about submitting the best document possible. This means:

  • Presenting a document that not only passes the ATS but also is appealing to the human eye.
  • Making sure your résumé is adaptable to all devices, including a Smart Phone, and is ready at all times.
  • Highlights your value and brand while also being easy to read.
  • Uses Smart Statements to craft a cohesive résumé.
  • Demonstrates your EQ.

If you accomplish all of this, your job search will be successful in 2020.

This article originally appeared on Job-Hunt.org.

Photo: Flickr, Fort Belvoir

Is it time to declutter your résumé? 10 items to consider

And comments from résumé authorities at the end of this article.

Recently one of my clients presented to me a seven-page résumé to critique. My first reaction was to see if there were duplicate documents. Nope, it was one résumé. Before I had a chance to speak, he said, “I know, it’s too long.” Too long was an understatement.

Reading a Resume

I’m not a proponent of limiting the number of résumé pages to one, or even two. But seven-pages is definitely overdoing it. There was what I refer to a lot of clutter on this résumé. To begin with, I noticed multiple duplicate duty statements; some of them were repeated verbatim. This résumé needed to be de-cluttered.

Now, I’m asking you what has to go when you declutter your résumé. Here are 10 items you should remove from your document before submitting it for a position.

1. Home address

There are two reasons why you shouldn’t include your home address on your résumé. The first is pretty obvious. We no longer communicate via snail mail. Hiring authorities will contact you with email, LinkedIn messaging, and even text.

The second reason is that you can exclude yourself from consideration if you live beyond what hiring authorities consider commuting distance. Years ago a recruiter was kind enough to review my client’s résumé for an opening. He looked at it for two seconds and said, “No good. She lives 50 miles from our company.” Case in point.

2. Fluff

My gag reflex kicks into gear when I read a Summary that begins with: “Dedicated, results-oriented, Sales Professional who works well as part of a team and independently….” There are so many violations with an opening like this.

The solution is obvious; stay clear of meaningless adjectives. The golden rule is show rather than tell. Try: Sales Manager who consistently outperforms projected sales growth by double figures. Collaborate with departments company-wide, ensuring customer satisfaction is achieved.

3. Graphics*

Graphics are cool. They add panache to your résumé, are visually appealing, and say a thousand words. However, the applicant tracking system (ATS) doesn’t digest them well*. For example, one of my clients used a graphic for his name. Stunning. But when we tried to look him up with Bullhorn, he didn’t appear in the database.

Graphic artists, web designers, photographers, and other artistic types rely on graphics to demonstrate their work. Business developers, marketers, salespersons, etc. feel numeric graphs make a strong point when expressing their accomplishments. The ATS will kick these out.

If you feel your résumé could benefit from graphics, the solution is to get your résumé in the hands of the hiring manager, which is a good policy anyway. Or if your résumé will be opened as an attachment, format your résumé to your heart’s content.

4. Objective statement

These words should be erased from your vocabulary. There is nothing redeeming about an Objective Statement. Most of them read: “Seeking an opportunity which provides growth, stability, and a rewarding opportunity.” Where in this Objective Statement is there mention of what the client brings to the employer?

Nowhere. That’s where. A Summary, on the other hand, does a better job of showing what value you’ll bring to the table. That’s, of course, when fluff is excluded from it and an accomplishment or two are included. If you’re wondering how your résumé tells the employer the job you’re seeking, simply write it above the Summary.

5. Duties

Everyone performs duties, but who does them better; that’s what employers are trying to determine. Take the following duties my aforementioned client showed me followed by my reactions in parentheses. Then read my suggested revisions below them.

Client’s duties

  • Responsible for terminating 40% of employees. (That’s unfortunate, but so what.)
  • Led meetings every week. (This is a given.)
  • Spearheaded the company’s first pay-for-service program. (Ditto.)
  • Developed a training program that proved to be successful. (How?)

Accomplishments

  • Surpassed productivity expectations 25% while reducing sales force by 40% due to budget restraints.
  • Increased sales 30% in Q4 2018 by spearheading the company’s first pay-for-service program. This garnered the Sales Department Award of Excellence.
  • Developed the company’s first training program which was adopted by other locations nationwide.

Notice how one of the duties of this sample were excluded from his résumé. It was irrelevant. He was reluctant to let go of other duties, but I told him fewer duties and more accomplishments are the way to go.

6. Death by bullets

Have you been told by recruiters that they want your résumé to consist of only bulleted statements? And have you read a two-page job ad that consists of only bullets? Do you get my point? Reading a résumé like this is mind-numbing. It is hard to differentiate the duties from the accomplishments.

A well-formatted résumé will have a three-to-four line Summary in paragraph format which shows value and promise of what you will deliver to the employer. Each position you’ve performed should have a Job Summary which is exactly that; it summarizes your overall responsibility for that job.

7. Killer paragraphs

The opposite of death by bullets is death by paragraphs. Some job seekers don’t understand that paragraphs—especially ones 10-lines long—are excruciating to read. So excruciating that hiring authorities will take one look at a paragraph laden résumé and file it in the circular filing cabinet.

My general rule is that a Summary in paragraph format should not exceed three-four lines. Similarly, a Job Scope or summary of a position should be brief. (If you’ve noticed, this article’s paragraphs don’t exceed four lines.)

8. Any positions beyond 15 years

Experts will agree that listing history beyond 10-15 years is a deal-breaker. There are two primary reasons for this. First, what you did before 15 years is probably irrelevant to what employers are looking for today. Software, hardware, procedures, licenses probably are considered ancient. Think DOS.

Another reason is ageism. Unfortunately there are stupid companies that discriminate against age. Hiring authorities can roughly estimate your age based on the years you have been in the workforce. Why rule yourself out of consideration immediately. Once you get to an interview, you can sell yourself based on the value older workers bring to employers.

9. Years you attended university

This is another way to date yourself and face possible discrimination. Hiring authorities don’t expect to see it on your résumé. The only exception would be if you graduated from university within the past four years.

10. References

I’ve seen a handful of résumés that included references. The reason why job seekers list their references is to include them in one document. By listing your references on your résumé, you 1) give employers authority to call them before an interview even begins, which might hurt you if your references say something negative; and 2) it lengthens your résumé.

In addition, References Available Upon Request is unnecessary.


By the end of our one-hour session, I was able to point out various items my client could remove from his résumé. I was also able to point out where he could write his duties as accomplishments, with quantified results.


Jessica Hernandez, owner of Great Resumes Fast, feels strongly about avoiding fluff and objective statements:

Fluff and objective statements are by far my two biggest résumé pet peeves. People just love to stack adjectives together when writing their summary, and objectives are focused on the job seeker and not the employer.

My advice is to scale back the adjective use and replace an objective statement or a generic career summary with a position title and snapshot that uses keywords, metrics, and hard skills. Don’t wait to sell them on what you’ve accomplished. Start mentioning it from the get-go.

Here’s what Rich Marsh, author and professional editor, has this to say about objective statements:

I often have to teach people that unless you’re straight from school with no work experience, you do not want an Objective Statement. The problem is that most folks I help haven’t looked for work in 15 years, and they used to use it back then.

I’ve had recruiters tell me that “An Objective Statement is the kiss of death.” That and putting “Cell:” or “c:” next to a phone number in your contact info. Both are signs that the candidate is “old.”

My valued LinkedIn connection, Candace Barr, Certified Résumé Writer, writes this about graphics:

While I do often add some small visual elements where/when appropriate, content is still king.  I see some beautiful, highly designed résumés that look amazing, but fail to tell a powerful story or quantify achievements.  It’s a fine balance to find – and another reason why working with an expert provides so much value. We do so much more than write documents. There is strategy and positioning behind each element of the résumé.

*My colleague and owner of Write Step Resumes, Ashley Watkins, says this about graphics:

As far as graphics, they’re actually fine for the ATS. The system will simply delete it. As long as the information you include on the graphic is listed elsewhere in the document, you should be okay.

Kate E. Williamson, Executive Resume Writer, warns against listing information in your Word header:

I see a lot of resumes that use headers and footers, specifically including name and contact info in the header. While this approach may seem like a great way to organize information, many ATS used by HR departments cannot extract info from headers and footers, which, in turn, causes issues in filing your resume into an HR database.

Photo: Flickr, Helen Greene

9 essential components of your job-search marketing campaign: Part 1

Every successful business requires a marketing campaign to promote its products or services. Businesses utilize a variety of delivery methods—social media, websites, television, radio, and other methods—to deliver their message to their consumers. Their campaign must be convincing, impactful, and informational, or it will fail.

social media phone

Like any company, a successful job search requires a marketing campaign to deliver a strong message. Obvious methods to deliver your message are the résumé and interview. But your job-search marketing campaign must consist of more than these two elements.

Part 1 of this article focuses on your written communications, as well as what comes before. Part 2 addresses engaging with your LinkedIn network and your oral communications. I’ve asked nine career-development pundits to contribute to this article. Read both parts of this series to learn about your job-search marketing campaign.

Labor market research

Before you write your résumé, it might make sense to know which skills, qualifications, and experience employers seek, wouldn’t it? This general information can be ascertained by researching the labor market. This should be your first task in you job-search marketing campaign.

Ask yourself these questions: What kind of work do I want to perform? What is my ideal salary? Is my occupation growing or declining? Take it further and ask yourself which types of companies I want to work for? Do I have a list of 15 companies for which I’d like to work?

Sarah J

Sarah Johnston, is an Executive Coach and Résumé and LinkedIn Profile Writer who understands the importance of researching the labor market. She writes:

There is a famous French quote that says, ‘a goal without a plan is just a wish.’ I’d like to go down in history for saying, ‘a job search without research and a strategy is like a trip with no destination.’

After getting crystal clear on your own personal strengths and career needs, one of the best places to start a job search is identifying a target list of companies that you’d be interested in working for or learning more information about.”

Any strong company will conduct consumer market research to determine if its products or services will be successful in a given geographic location. If they fail in this component of their market research, they will go under.


Résumé

One thing most job-search pundits and hiring authorities will tell you is that your résumé is a key component of your job-search marketing campaign. It is your ticket to interviews. However, few job seekers understand what employers are looking for in a résumé. Adrienne Tom, Executive Résumé Writer, knows what employers are looking for.

Adrienne T

To make your résumé stand out, Adrienne recommends two important strategies: making your résumé relevant and including powerful accomplishment statements. In terms of relevance, she advises:

Focus on creating good quality content. Align every point with the reader’s needs. For every point you write down in your résumé ask, ‘So what?’ and ‘Will this matter to this reader?'”

And when it comes to creating impactful accomplishment statements, she recommends listing the most important information at the beginning, which she calls “frontloading.”

Lead bullet points with results. Make it easy for hiring personnel to spot important details, fast; don’t make them hunt for it. Walk the reader through your career story, start to finish, by sharing relevant, measurable details that matter.

ashley

Ashley Watkins, Executive Résumé Writer, spent 15 years as a corporate recruiter, so she understands what employers are looking for in a résumé. She echos what Adrienne says about accomplishment statements:

Hiring managers want to know what you can do to positively impact the company’s bottom line. Use every opportunity to include numbers, dollar amounts, and percentages to validate your results. It’s crucial that job seekers bring their achievements to life and convince employers that hiring them will solve their immediate problem.

Ashley warns against writing generic, one-fits-all résumés.

Although having a clearly defined career target is the most effective way to land a job, many job seekers use a very generic résumé strategy when applying for positions online and when networking with their referral contacts. When you do not have a keyword-rich, targeted résumé focus, you are leaving it up to the reader of your résumé to figure out what you do. Therefore, increasing your chances of winding up in the ‘no pile.

Both résumé writers stress the importance of crafting a résumé that will pass the applicant tracking system. You will only accomplish this if, like Ashley advises, your résumé is key-word rich.

Successful businesses deliver a strong message that encourages consumers to buy. Your goal is to encourage employers to invite you to interviews.


LinkedIn profile

Ana L

Does your LinkedIn profile resemble your résumé? If it does, you’re hurting your chances of impressing people who read your profile.

Ana Lokotkova is a Personal Branding & Career Search Advisor, who specializing in writing résumés and LinkedIn profiles, as well as coaching interviewing. She sees the LinkedIn profile as a digital handshake.

The days of using your LinkedIn profile as a copy-pasted version of your résumé are long gone. Today, you can drop the résumé lingo and humanize every section of your profile. Your headline is the first thing people see when they come across your profile. Forget your most recent job title, and turn your headline into a slogan-like value proposition.

“Include relevant keywords that will help others find you on LinkedIn more easily. Write your summary section in 1st person. Help others learn about your WHY and what sets you apart from other professionals in your industry.

Vriginia

Another authority on LinkedIn is Virginia Franco, Executive Career Storyteller. According to her, the headline and new About section are critical to your LinkedIn profile’s success:

Storytelling as a concept is prevalent across our media today from newspapers to magazines. This is important to recognize because, in reality, readers skim LinkedIn profiles in THE EXACT SAME WAY they digest the news.

At first glance or when in a rush, readers skim the headline and the first section of the article tell them 1) what the story is going to be about and 2) help determine if the story is worth a deeper read when there is more time. Applying this methodology to LinkedIn, it is essential that a profile contains a headline and About section tells the reader what your story is about, and intrigues them to want to read more when they have time!”

Successful businesses recognize that their audiences vary. Whereas a document as factual as a résumé is appropriate for one audience, a document like the LinkedIn profile might be more appealing to another audience.

Approach letter

A little known tool for your written communications is a networking document referred to as the approach letter. In the days of digital communications, this is usually sent as an email or even a LinkedIn message.

The idea is to send this to companies for which you’d like to work but haven’t yet advertised a position. You want to penetrate the Hidden Job Market by being known by companies before they advertise a position.

In your approach letter you can ask for a networking meeting where you will ask questions about the company, a position you’re interested in, and the individual who has granted you the informational meeting.

Your questions must be illuminating, not a waste of time for the individual. Ask about potential problems the company might be facing. What are the major requirements for the position. How the individual came to working in their role and at the company. What they see the role or industry evolving in the future.

If your timing is right, the company might be trying to fill a position it hasn’t yet advertised. You could impress the person granting the meeting so much that they might suggest you to the hiring manager. At the very least ask if you can speak to two other sources.


In this article I’ve covered the written communications of your job-search marketing campaign. In part 2 we’ll look at the verbal side, which will include personal branding, networking, the interview, and following up.

3 reasons why a résumé alone will not land you a job

One of my close LinkedIn connections told me that a client of hers would only pay her for writing his résumé if she would guarantee he’d land a job. Needless to say, she didn’t take him on as a client. I think most rational individuals would agree that she made the correct decision. I do.

Job Seekers sitting

I found this client’s request ridiculous on at least three fronts.

  1. Writing a résumé takes commitment and expertise on the writer’s part.
  2. A job search is out of the résumé writer’s hand after it is written and delivered.
  3. It makes for bad business.

If you are going to employ a résumé writer, consider the role this document plays in your job search. It is an extremely important part of your success, but will not land you a job on its own merit.

1. What’s involved in writing an impactful résumé?

Good résumé writers go beyond taking your original document and simply editing it. They’ll add value to it, resulting in a better chance of getting interviews. At the very least, they’ll deliver the following services.

The interview

It all begins with asking questions. Some résumé writers will have you fill out a questionnaire, others will interview you over the phone, and others will do both. My preference is to have a client fill out a form and then talk over the phone for as many times it takes.

The résumé writer first needs to know your story. Are you pursuing similar work? What do you enjoy about you work? Adversely, what do you dislike about your work? Importantly, what value do you feel you brings to a company?

Questions like these are necessary to get to know you. But the résumé writer will ask specific questions that flush out your past accomplishments and potential for future greatness. A sound interview is essential in writing the document.

Writing the document

Good résumé writers won’t rely on a résumé template, as each client is different. But generally there are five major sections they’ll address in order: Headline, Summary, Core Competencies, Experience, and Education. In some cases, Volunteer Experience, Hobbies and Military History are included.

1. The Headline is a section that can tell résumé reviewers your value by your title and areas of expertise. This might be enough for the reviewer to put your résumé in the “must-read pile.”

2. The Summary should be concise, yet deliver an immediate impact. The résumé writer will suss out, in three or four lines, the value you’ll deliver to an employer. Take the following example:

Information Systems Department Director specializing in new project planning and achieving business objectives. Budget hundreds of thousands of dollars in project resources. Lead efforts that consistently generate sales exceeding $15K in a competitive pharmaceutical market.

3. In the Experience area, the résumé writer will take painstaking efforts to turn your duties into accomplishments. Here’s one example:

Used Lean methodology to increase productivity in a supply chain operation.

The résumé writer will push you to provide an accurate quantified result to make the accomplishment statement more impressive. Executive Résumé Writer, Adrienne Tom, and other executive résumé writers suggest front loading the statement with the quantified result. For example:

Increased productivity 80%—over a 3-month period—by employing Lean methodology in supply-chain operations. Acknowledged by CEO for this achievement.

4. Education section. You earned Magna Cum Laude in university. As a résumé writer, I would strongly suggest you include it in this section.
Follow up

Follow up

Some résumé writers ensure their clients’ résumés contain the proper keywords to pass the applicant tracking system (ATS). The résumé writer might invest in a program like Jobscan.co, which offers a premium account for Career Coaches and résumé writers.

For a nominal fee, the résumé writer would scan your résumé against job descriptions, ensuring the tailored document would have a chance of being seen by human eyes.

The résumé writer might include a certain number of emails as follow up, either free or for a small fee. I encourage my clients to reach out to me with any questions they have after their résumé is complete. The same applies to their LinkedIn profile.

2. The résumé is one piece of the job search

Any résumé writer will not guarantee that their clients land a job based on the résumé alone. There are many facets of the job search to consider. Here are a few.

Let’s talk about networking

To some job seekers, “networking” is a dirty word. Either they’ll begrudgingly do it or won’t do it at all. This is a shame, because networking has proven to be the number one way find a job. Some sources put the success of networking, if done alone, between 60-80%.

Networking is a great way to get your résumé in the hands of the decision maker. After applying for a position online, you should have someone within the company hand-deliver your résumé to the hiring manager, VP, or anyone of influence.

This was the case with one of my clients who gave his résumé to a neighbor that worked at his desired company. The neighbor delivered his document to the hiring manager of the department in which my client wanted to work. He was asked in for a number of conversations, until he was hired.

We hear of too many people who shotgun hundreds of their résumés online and then wait for the call for an interview. They wait and wait and wait some more.

Those who network are the ones who take their job search into their own hands. They approach companies of interest, get known by said companies, and find themselves in legitimate interviews.

Interviews get people jobs

A great résumé will get the attention of HR, recruiters, and hiring managers. But it will not secure a job offer on its own merit. Performing well in multiple interviews and what follows lands the offer.

Further, a strong résumé increases your negotiating power. Full of relevant accomplishments, your résumé tells employers a portion of your worth.

Of course a résumé alone won’t aptly express your worth. You must be able to sell herself to employers by reiterating your 1) ability to do the job, 2) wanting to do the job, and 3) being a fit in the company.

After the interview you must follow up with a thank you note for every person who interviewed you. Each note must be unique and delivered on time. A simple expression of gratitude isn’t enough; you must show you listened actively during the interview by mentioning an interesting discussion that occurred during the interview.

3. Going the extra yard

Astute job candidates will make the extra effort of bringing a portfolio of their work to the interview. Or they might bring a business plan of what they would accomplish within 30, 60, 90 days. Madeline Mann, creator of Self-Made Millennial, adds:

Instead of describing how you work, show it. Bring in a portfolio, build a project for the company, ask to share a presentation. In my career, I’ve only seen one or two people EVER go above and beyond like this in an interview.

This makes great sense. Wouldn’t you agree?

Convinced yet?

With all that the résumé writer must do to send the job seeker out into the wild, there still is much work for the job seeker ahead. The document the writer produces is of great value, but the rest of the job search can be of equal or more value. It all depends on how you look at it.

Executive Career Coaches, Austin Belcak and Sarah Johnston help people land jobs through the art of networking and power interviewing. Both of them would say the résumé is merely a piece of the puzzle.

So, given all the résumé writer does and what the job seeker must do upon receiving the polished document, why would a résumé writer only receive payment after a client lands a job. It just doesn’t make good business sense.