Preview: Kim Isaacs - What If They Read Your Resume First

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What If They Read Your Resume First? by Kim Isaacs Monster Resume Expert Your cover letter is a perfect opportunity to introduce yourself to hiring managers, dazzle them with your credentials and persuade them to read your resume, right? Sure -- unless hiring managers never read it. While its important that your resume is accompanied by a hard-hitting cover letter, busy hiring managers often review your resume before deciding whether or not to take the time to read your cover letter, which means they may never get to it. Knowing this potential fate for your cover letter, the best strategy is to craft your resume with the assumption that your letter might not get read. If your resume omits important details found in your cover letter, revise the resume to incorporate any information you think would entice a hiring manager to call you for an interview. Ask yourself these questions to determine if your resume needs to be modified: Is Your Resume Up to Date? If you havent updated your

resume recently and are using the cover letter to explain your recent employment, educational credentials, etc., take the time now to update your resume. Whats Your Objective? Are you using a one-size-fits-all-jobs resume and relying on your cover letter to clarify your career goal? If your resume does not clearly spell out your objective, you could be overlooked. Job seekers with more than one career goal achieve better results when they set up multiple resume versions, each one targeting a different objective. You can easily add your goal to your resumes Objective or Qualifications Summary section. Have You Elaborated on Your Work Experience and Accomplishments? When scanning through piles of resumes, hiring managers will review your last couple of positions to see if your experience matches their needs. Dont skimp on your employment section. For your most recent (and most related) positions, write a paragraph that describes your primary job tasks so hiring managers understand the

scope of your duties. Then show that youre a top performer by adding a Key Contributions section for each position held. Write about challenges you faced in each of your positions, the results of your work and the ways your employers benefited from your performance. Dont just rely on your cover letter for this in case it doesnt get read. Are Your Skills Clearly Listed? Hiring managers are usually looking for candidates with a specific skill set. Create a bulleted section called Areas of Expertise that includes the keywords for your related skills and proficiency areas. Use the Skills section in your Monster resume to highlight job-related skills. Are You Willing to Relocate? While this may feel like it belongs in your letter, if you are available to relocate or have definite plans to move, include this information in your resumes heading along with your current address. For example, put: “Relocating to Dallas, Texas in April 2003” or “Available to Relocate

Internationally.” On your Monster resume, include your geographic preferences under Target Location. Are you Reachable? If your cover letter states the best way to reach you (e.g., by cell phone), be sure this information is also included on your resume. You want to make it as easy as possible for interested hiring managers to contact you. Important: Dont forget that hiring managers use different methods to select candidates. Some will read the cover letter first and carefully consider its content, so its best to always include a compelling cover letter. Put Your Education to Work by Kim Isaacs Monster Resume Expert Whether youre a Harvard-educated MBA or recently obtained your GED, you can use your resumes education section to outshine your competition. If you are unsure about the best way to present your education, here are some common scenarios and strategies: Where to Place Education? The best placement depends on what you are trying to emphasize. • • Place experience

before education if you have five or more years of experience related to your goal. Hiring managers will be more interested in your job accomplishments than your education. Place education before experience if you are a recent graduate or have less than five years of work experience. If you are changing careers and have continued your education to support your new goal, education should come first. Academic and scientific professionals typically place education before experience on their CVs. On your Monster resume, the Resume Builder will place your education after experience. If you need to highlight educational credentials, use the "Objective" section as a career summary and mention your relevant education and training both here and in the designated "Education" section. The GPA If you are a student or recent graduate, list your GPA if it is 3.0 or higher. Consider including a lower GPA if you are in a very challenging program. Add your major GPA if its higher

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than your overall GPA. If your school doesnt use the standard 4.0 scale, avoid confusion by listing the scale (e.g. GPA: 4.1/4.5). As your career progresses, college GPA becomes less important and can be removed. Honors Include academic honors to show you excelled in your program. For example: Ace College -- Springfield, Illinois BA in Accounting (cum laude), June 2000 - Delta Gamma Delta Honor Society, Deans List, GPA: 3.9 New Grads Students and new grads with little related work experience may use the education section as the centerpiece of their resumes, showcasing academic achievements, extracurricular activities, special projects and related courses. For example: ABC College -- Brooklyn, New York BA in Communications, concentration in advertising, anticipated graduation December 2001 Senior Project: Currently completing mock advertising campaign for Coca-Cola (billboard/print/TV/radio ads, direct-mail campaign and press releases). Related Coursework: Advertising, Advertising

Writing, Direct Mail and Telemarketing, Media Plans in Advertising, Marketing and Advertising, Public Relations, Broadcasting Degree Incomplete If you abandoned an educational program, list the number of credits completed or the type of study undertaken. For example: College of Staten Island -- Staten Island, New York Completed 90 credits toward a BA in political science, 1981 to 1984 Experienced Job Seekers If you are focusing more on experience than education, list the basic facts regarding your degree, including institution name, location, degree, major and date. For example: New Jersey College -- Newark, New Jersey BS in Economics, Minor in Psychology, June 1983 High School Information Include your high school or GED information if you dont have any college credits. If you have college credits, remove references to high school. Educational Credentials Lacking? Some job seekers are concerned that their educations dont measure up to HR requirements. If you dont have a degree but

have been participating in ongoing training, list your related courses, seminars, conferences and training in the Education section (create a list called "Professional Development"). Your training might be so impressive that a lack of a formal degree is overlooked. For example: Professional Development Highlights: • Product Launch in a Global Marketplace • E-Commerce Solutions • Selling the Dotcom Vision • Increasing Sales Through Relationship Selling • Professional Management Program Write a Winning Employment History by Kim Isaacs Monster Resume Expert Hiring managers have love-hate relationships with resumes. They need resumes to find candidates to fill job openings, but they often have to wade through piles of poorly written work histories. If you give a hiring manager the information needed to make a quick decision about your credentials, you will have an edge over other applicants. Here are nine ways you can jazz up your experience section to

capture the attention of hiring managers: 1. Ditch the Job Description. One of the most common mistakes is to write experience sections that read like job descriptions. Some job seekers go so far as to copy job descriptions word for word. The result is a boring recap of job duties with no indication of actual job performance. 2. Prove Your Value. Hiring managers scan your resume looking for clues about what type of worker you are. If you show that you consistently produced positive results for previous employers, you will be seen as a desirable candidate. The key is to emphasize your accomplishments and provide proof of your potential value. 3. Quantify Results. Which statement has more impact? A. Significantly increased revenues and grew client base between 1997 and 2000. B. Increased revenues from $250,000 in 1997 to $1.5 million in 2000 and tripled client base from 2,500 to 7,000. In both cases, the candidate is trying to convey he increased revenues and expanded the client base,

but statement B measures how well he achieved this growth. Wherever possible, include measurable results of your work. Note that not everyone can release company performance figures. If presenting this information is a breach of confidentiality, find another way to present your accomplishments. For example, use percentages rather than actual dollar figures. 4. Are You Up to PAR? PAR stands for Problem Action Results and is a good starting point for thinking about your accomplishments. What types of challenges did you face? What actions did you take to overcome the problems? What was the result of your efforts, and how did your performance benefit the company? Write down a list of your PAR accomplishments and incorporate the most impressive ones into your resume. 5. Lead with Your Works Outcomes. An effective strategy is to write the result of your work before listing the problem and action. This allows you to lead with the most compelling aspect of your accomplishment. For example:

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Reversed an annual $2 million decline in market share by streamlining the benchmark process and building a top-flight sales team. 6. Make It Readable. Some resumes use bullets to outline work histories, but this tends to blur duties and accomplishments, which dilutes the impact of achievements. Other resumes use a narrative style to describe work history, which tends to be cumbersome to read, especially for hiring managers who are quickly scanning resumes to extract key information. Instead, use a combination of paragraphs and bullets. For each employer, provide a brief paragraph that details the scope of your responsibilities. Then create a bulleted list of your top contributions. The bullets draw attention to your accomplishments, while giving the eye a place to rest. Preface accomplishments with a heading such as Key Accomplishments or Significant Contributions. 7. Target Your Experience to Your Goal. Resumes are marketing tools. Your employment history should effectively market you

for your current job objective. Focus on accomplishments that relate to your goal and remove job duties and accomplishments that dont support your objective. 8. Use Power Words. The quality of the writing makes or breaks your chances for an interview, so select your words carefully. Avoid dull or stale phrases such as "responsible for" and "duties include." Review our list of "Action Phrases and Power Verbs" for inspiration. 9. Be Honest. Studies indicate that job seekers often lie about their work experiences on their resumes. But with honest and well-written employment histories, even job seekers with less-than-perfect backgrounds will secure interviews. The best strategy for your resume is to always be truthful about your background. How to Write a Career Summary Generate Interest with a High-Impact Summary Statement by Kim Isaacs Monster Resume Expert Hiring managers are busy people. A single job posting might attract thousands of resumes. To get

noticed, create a career summary statement. The goal of this section is to develop a hard-hitting introductory declaration packed with your most sought-after skills, abilities, accomplishments and attributes. On your Monster resume, use the "Objective" section to present your summary. Take these six steps to create a winning career summary: 1. Conduct Research on Your Ideal Job The more closely you can target your profile to the employers needs, the better your results will be. Start by searching jobs for your ideal position. Compare the ads and write a list of common job requirements and preferred qualifications. 2. Assess Your Credentials Based on your research, how do you measure up? How would you help potential employers meet their goals? Besides the qualifications described, do you offer any added bonus? If you are lacking in one area, do you make up for it with other credentials? If you are having a hard time assessing your skills, get help. Ask your colleagues,

instructors and supervisors what they see as your key qualifications. Review your performance evaluations. What do others say about the quality of your work? Then write a list of your top 10 marketable credentials. 3. Relay the Value You Bring to the Table The next step is to weave your top credentials into your summary. Keep in mind that the summary helps the hiring manager determine if you should be called for an interview. Include a synopsis of your career achievements to show that your dedication to results is transferable to your next employer. Explain how you would help solve their problems. Ask yourself, "How will the employer benefit from hiring me?" 4. Add a Headline A headline on a resume hooks your readers and compels them to continue reading. A headline should include your job target as well as the main benefit of hiring you. 5. Focus on Your Goal The most effective summaries are targeted on one career goal. If you have more than one possible objective,

consider drafting different versions. Fill your summary with key words related to your career field. Your profile can also be supplemented with a bulleted "Key Skills" section, which provides an easy-to-read listing of your core capabilities. 6. Proofread, Refine and Perfect First impressions are lasting impressions. Is your summary persuasive and free of errors? Is your tone appropriate for you career field? Avoid empty, generalized statements such as "excellent communication skills." The Finished Product Here is an example of an effective career summary: Corporate Real Estate Executive Increasing Bottom-Line Profitability Through Real Estate Strategies Professional Profile Accomplished executive with a proven ability to develop and implement real estate strategies that support business and financial objectives. Negotiate and structure multimillion-dollar real estate and service transactions. Have led key initiatives that reduced operating budget by $32 million,

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turned around companys overall performance and contributed to 550 percent stock increase. Recognized as an expert in applying financial concepts to real estate asset management decisions. Respected leader, able to build highly motivated management teams focused on achieving revenue goals. Keep up-to-date with changes in the industry through professional affiliations and continuing professional development (earned an MBA in finance/real estate and master of corporate real estate designation). Areas of Expertise • • • • • • • • • • • • High-Volume, High-Dollar Negotiations Strategic/Tactical Planning Multimillion-Dollar Operating and Capital Budget Administration Analytical and Financial Skills Statistical Modeling and ROI Analyses Management Reporting, Accounting, Property and Lease Administration Build-to-Suit Development Transactions Relationship Management Partnership Deals FCC Legal and Financial Compliance Facilities Planning/Management

Acquisitions/Dispositions How to Write a Good Job Objective 1. Avoid Job Titles. Job titles such as secretary or marketing analyst can involve very different activities in different organizations. The same job can often have different titles in different organizations, and using such a title may very well limit your being considered for such jobs as office manager or marketing assistant. It is best to use broad categories of jobs rather than specific titles, so that you can be considered for a wide variety of jobs related to the skills you have. For example, instead of secretary you could say "responsible office management or clerical position," if that is what you would really consider -- and qualify for. 2. Define a "Bracket of Responsibility" to Include the Possibility of Upward Mobility. While you may be willing to accept a variety of jobs related to your skills, you should include those that require higher levels of responsibility and pay. In the example

above, it keeps open the option to be considered for an office management position as well as clerical jobs. In effect, you should define a "bracket of responsibility" in your objective that includes the range of jobs you are willing to accept. This bracket should include the lower range of jobs that you would consider, as well as those requiring higher levels of responsibility, up to and including those that you think you could handle. Even if you have not handled those higher levels of responsibility in the past, many employers may consider you for them if you have the skills to support the objective. 3. Include Your Most Important Skills. What are the most important skills needed for the job you want? Consider including one or more of these as being required in the job that you seek. The implication here is that if you are looking for a job that requires "organizational skills," then you have those skills. Of course, your interview (and resume) should support

those skills with specific examples. 4. Include Specifics if These Are Important to You. If you have substantial experience in a particular industry, such as "computer controlled machine tools", or have a narrow and specific objective that you really want, such as "art therapist with the mentally handicapped", then it is OK to state this. But, in so doing, realize that by narrowing your alternatives down you will often not be considered for other jobs for which you might qualify. Still, if that is what you want, it just may be worth pursuing -- though I would still encourage you to have a second, more general objective just in case. Finalize Your Job Objective Statement Look over these sample job objectives to see how others have written them. Some are very brief, providing just a job title or category of jobs, while others are quite long and detailed. Use your best judgement for what is right for you. The most important part here is that you can clearly state

what sort of a job you want and know what kinds of skills and experiences are needed to do well in that job. Even if you decide to change your job objective later, it is very important that you decide on a temporary one now. The Executive Report by Wendy S. Enelow Monster Contributing Writer Looking for an alternative to the tried-and-true resume and cover letter approach to your job search? If so, an executive report might be just the right solution for you. Executive reports provide essential how-to information that is interesting, enlightening and moves the reader (your prospective employer) to action (calling you). No matter your profession or functional responsibilities, everyone has some special knowledge and expertise about how to make things run smoother, better, easier, more efficiently or more profitably. Your executive report shares this information. Jack Chapman, president of Lucrative Careers in Wilmette, Illinois, and author of Negotiating Your Salary: How to Make

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$1000 a Minute, pioneered the concept pf special reports. Ten years ago, the concept was revolutionary. Today, it holds increasing acceptance, particularly as part of a job-search-savvy executives career marketing portfolio, which includes a resume, various cover letters, assorted thank-you letters, an executive profile, and now, an executive report. An executive report works extremely well, because it: • • • • • Emphasizes your contributions. Positions you as an expert. Strengthens your credibility. Is presented in an interesting format. Has substantive information and value -- often money-saving, money-making, business-enhancing or time-savings advice. Most importantly, unlike a resume that screams "I want a job," an executive report communicates a candidates ability to contribute to the job contact. Your contacts read the report with their attention focused on their own businesses and the ideas you have presented to help them make or save money. They are not

distracted by your job-search needs. The primary elements of an executive report include: • • • • • A benefit-oriented title and, frequently, a subtitle. An introduction. Business tips that are beneficial to the reader. Personal information on each page. Professional binding. The days of the generalist manager are long gone in most companies. Today, more than ever, companies seek to hire specific talent to manage specific operations, solve specific problems, respond to specific issues and manage specific projects. The most valuable thing you can do in your search campaign is brand yourself by positioning yourself as an expert. Here are a few examples of executive reports written by other senior-level candidates. Use these titles to determine which topic would be most appropriate for your executive report. • • • • • • • • • • • Top 12 Leadership Strategies for Successful Turnaround and Profit Revitalization. Meyers Executive Guide to Launching New

Business Ventures: From Start-Up to Profit in Only Eight Months. Leading 10 Management Activities to Achieve World-Class Manufacturing Status. A Simple Low-Tech Manufacturing Solution that Saved $100,000 without Increasing Overhead. Eight Biggest Mistakes TQM Programs Make and How to Avoid Them. How to Profit in the Shift from "Sick Care" to "Well Care." Three Simple Things You Can Do Tomorrow to Double The Effectiveness of Your HR Organization. Four Simple Keys to Better Sales That They Dont Teach You in Sales Training. Gaining A Strong Foothold in Asia: Five Cultural Marketing Realities to Master. Eight Ways to Systematically Build Customer Loyalty (and More Business). The 10 Tiny Chinks That Can Bring Your IT Department to a Screeching Halt (and How to Eliminate Them). Special reports are not meant to replace a resume. Rather, they are used as an auxiliary tool, when appropriate, to clearly communicate your expertise within a particular function, activity or

discipline. Because executive reports immediately position you as a subject-matter expert, you gain a tremendously competitive advantage over other candidates. You have clearly communicated your knowledge and expertise, provided a prospective employer with new and useful information and significantly enhanced your credibility. If you have not yet done so, start working on your executive report today by asking yourself, "What is my top area of expertise and contribution?"