Today was my very first Facebook Live weekly Q&A session! I was nervous all morning approaching it but I think it went well. Or at least I'm happy with how it went. You guys sent in some great questions before and during the event that helped it go smoothly! I really need to work hard on looking in the camera though! You can see the live Q&A session here.
I've outlined the questions that I answered and some details.
Question 1: How do you follow up after an interview and with whom?
Question 2: Can you send a follow up after you haven’t heard.
Question 3: how to stay inspired and find a job during a lengthy and demoralizing job search
Question 4: On Pinterest I see all these amazing resume formats and templates, where can I make one and do they work?
Question 5: Is it best to send a resume in PDF or Word format.
Question 6: What was your experience that made you such a strong proponent of the informational interviews.
Question 7: What is the worst thing to do in an interview.
Questions 8: Can you tell me more about your Career Coaching Packages
Thanks to everyone who joined and to those who watched later! I'll see you next week, same time and same place!
You want a job. You know you need a resume but you think “how do I write a resume”, maybe you google it and then are lost in a sea of conflicting information! Should you do a super formatted “fun” resume that you see all over Pinterest? Or a super pared down resume to get past those resume bots known as Applicant Tracking Systems. I’ve already answered some of those questions but in short, you should have one resume that will get noticed by an ATS but also one that is aesthetically pleasing because after all a human will eventually read it.
But what information do you actually need in a resume?!
I’ve got you covered. I have a list of what you must have in your resume and what you might have in your resume that will ensure that it leads to interviews, and lots of them!
Must Haves Resume Components
1. Contact Information
I know that this seems obvious but you would be surprised! Make sure that your email is professional, that you list your cell phone number. Otherwise some optional pieces of information would be to include your LinkedIn profile link and your address, you could just put the city you live in and leave it at that.
There are some differing opinions on this. However for me it is mandatory. Not everyone will read it (like me for instance) but there will be a lot of people that do. It sets a nice tone for the resume and I like how it looks in terms of the format.
The key to an objective statement is that it is 1-3 sentences long and gives a brief overview of who you are and what you bring to the table (think of it like a micro-elevator pitch).
3. Skills Summary
The skills summary is all about those resume bots. Applicant Tracking Systems are very keyword focused and the skills summary is a great way to increase your chance of making it to the ATS’ list of recommended candidates.
Just don’t make it too long please! Have 6-12 skills and focus on matching the words to the words of the job posting.
You want to start with the most relevant education first so that is what gets noticed.
Are you a New Grad? Then feel free to include further details like course names, GPA scores, scholarships and awards. If you are not a New Grad then please do not include this information, your experience is what matters not the courses you took.
Further training, like courses, certifications and memberships could all be included under the Education section.
This is probably the most obvious section of your resume! The key is to follow the Reverse Chronological with your most recent job at the top.
What gets confusing for individuals is how to format this section and how to explain different working situations. Also, there are tricks you can do to highlight certain details that you want the reader to be drawn to. Ask yourself, what do you want the recruiter to notice first – the job title or the company name? Whatever your choice is put that on the first line, and maybe add some colour! Here is how it could look:
Company Name September 2015 to present Job Title (part-time/contract)
Notice how I used months. As a recruiter I hated it when people didn’t use months, at least for the last 5 years. Why? It doesn’t tell a complete picture. Let me outline why. Say I see the dates 2017-2018. I don’t know if someone worked there for two months (Dec 2017-Jan 2018), one year (March 2017-March 2018) or almost two years (Jan 2017-Dec 2018). I’m less likely to call someone for an interview when these sort of questions are raised.
Now to the content, the hardest part of the experience section. There are two things to focus on: your examples of how you made a difference and your accomplishments that will benefit your potential employer. Think of what you did that you were proud of (in terms of tasks, responsibilities and accomplishments) what skills, knowledge and experience did you use?
Most experts’ state to use an accomplishment based resume and while I fully agree, I also know that nothing about the job search process is black and white. There are many jobs that are very tasked based where you could be doing a disservice by ignoring that in your resume.
The next five components of a resume are completely optional but what I mean by that is for each of them there is a time and a place when they should be included (and when not to).
While volunteering is one of those things that are good to do that doesn’t mean that you need to include it on your resume.
So my first caveat is that if you volunteer and you have some room to fill out on your resume (say it is 1.5 pages) then by all means include it. If the Volunteer section means you will be going on to the next page and it doesn’t add any significant value then don’t include it.
What do I mean by significant value though?
Industry: There are certain industries that value volunteer work (education, arts and culture, not for profit, healthcare) and for those industries I would highly recommend including it.
Volunteer Relevance: If you are applying for a role that requires a skill set that you only used while volunteering then include it.
Career Story: Most entry level, new grads and individuals with a career break lean on volunteer experience to round out their time working, skill set and experience and in those cases you should always have a volunteer section.
I did want to note that Internships and Volunteer are not the same thing, even though both are unpaid work. An internship belongs in your experience section, just note it as such using the brackets (internship).
2. Memberships/Professional Associations
This section is only added when you are a member of a professional association common in industries like Supply Chain, Finance, Human Resources, Engineering, etc.
For streamlining purposes I do find that including them in your Education section is most effective.
List all languages spoken fluently, can included conversational as well if relevant for the job. Can also list in the Skills Summary to save space.
4. Technical Skills
This section is typically used in replace of the Skills Summary for individuals in the IT space.
In 98% of cases I recommend not including interests, even for New Grads. However there are times when it does add value. For example, if you are applying for a job in the arts and you are dedicated to that community include it. If you happen to know who the hiring manager is and their interests then definitely list any shared ones! But this is another section that should not put you onto another page, if it does then please leave it out!
Take the must haves, sprinkle in the optional components that make sense for you and your job search and you will end up with a winning resume that will lead to interviews.
I also have a handy checklist that you can download for free that will help guide you while writing it. Sign up here to get it!
I’m curious, what optional sections have you included that really added value to your resume?
If you were a hiring manager and read your cover letter, would you want to interview you? Read on for my secrets to engaging cover letters guaranteed to get you noticed!
Most people assume that cover letters aren’t read which means they either don’t include one, they write a boring monotonous one or they write it for the wrong audience.
Let me tell you a secret, you are right but also oh so wrong. Recruiters most of the time do not read cover letters – we just do not have the time. We receive on average 250 applicants per job posting (I’ve had up to 1000 before!) so we need to focus on the hard skills – do you have what it takes to do the job.
BUT, and this is a big but, a lot of hiring managers read the cover letter. They typically only see the top 10-25 candidates and they not only want to see if you could do the job but also do they think you have what it takes to be a member of their team. So if you are going to take the time to write a cover letter make it engaging and dynamic!
And even if the hiring manager doesn’t read it, just having one shows that you are willing to go above and beyond for this job so even for those industries where the likelihood of it being read is slim, I still recommend sending one in. It doesn’t hurt to spend an extra 10-15 minutes on a job you really want does it?
Most cover letters that I have read throughout my 15 years of experience are boring and monotonous that is essentially a sentence based regurgitation of the candidate’s resume. I don’t learn anything new about the individual.
When I write cover letters for my clients I have two main focuses: get their personality in it and summarize who they are and what they bring. Today I am going to share with you the ideal format of the cover letter with the secrets of how to get a hiring manager really excited to meet with you.
To start, the cover letter should be addressed to someone! Look at the posting, is there any instruction or a name included? If so, use that. If not, we want to address it to the Hiring Manager – do some digging and LinkedIn research to try and find out who that is! It also wouldn’t hurt to engage with them some way.
This paragraph’s focus is on Who You Are and Why You Are Applying. It is your hook, we want the reader (the hiring manager) to be intrigued with you and looking forward to reading more. This should be tailored to their needs as outlined in the job posting but you can lean on work you have already done in your Modern Resume and your LinkedIn profile by examining your resume objective, your LinkedIn Headline and Summary which all comes from your personal brand as developed through my free email course, the Job Search Roadmap.
Some things that this paragraph must include are:
The focus on this paragraph is Why this Job and Company and How you would benefit. This is a great place to compliment the company, ideally the hiring manager if you can. Talk about their reputation, what they have done right, some recent wins or future projects. Show that you have done your work and that this isn’t just some throw away job application for you.
Then move into what you bring to the table, how you would benefit the company, team and hiring manager in this role. There are a few things you can include in this section. You can talk about your story, or your call to action to this career and job. I always include a summary of how a client can benefit instead of specifics. This is done by taking a look at your accomplishments and seeing a common thread or pattern. For example, do you have a history of analyzing data, noticing areas for improvement and coming up with new processes that makes a team more efficient or productive? If so, write that!
This paragraph could/should include are:
Then move into some specific examples of accomplishments and results that you want to highlight. Ideally these will provide examples to the benefits you listed above. This can be formatted in a three different ways (I use all three depending on who my client is and what they are applying for).
My typical go to is the Bullet Points, what I like about it is that if someone is going to skim over your cover letter they will probably read your opening sentence and your bullet points and the closing sentence so by having the accomplishments that you are most proud of and of great relevance to the hiring manager highlighted then they will definitely pick those up.
I recommend three accomplishments with an added Education bullet point if the job, company and/or industry value education, training and certifications.
I lean on the table format for roles that are heavily skilled based – IT, Engineering, etc. Roles that require a lot of technology. Especially since hiring managers in these industries don’t typically read cover letters and if they do then chances are they are skimming it, so having a table making it clear that you are a perfect fit in terms of your technical skill set is key.
I use the paragraph format sparingly. I do love to use it when writing is a key part of a job since the cover letter is a great place to showcase your writing ability. It also works for roles where you may not have accomplishments that can be backed up by hard data.
Third Paragraph summary:
This is your lasting impression, keep it short and sweet with about two sentences. Open with the three reasons why they need you on their team. Close with a call to action – meeting with them, interviewing for the job, discussing your fit – be confident! Then sign off with your name.
Must haves for the closing paragraph:
The last thing I want you to do is go through your cover letter – is it conversational and does it showcase your personality? Pick word choices and sentence structure that gets a little bit of you in there. We want the Hiring Manager to finish reading this knowing three things
So now you have the knowledge of how to write a great cover letter, well you need a great resume to go with it don’t you? Download my resume checklist to help guide you writing one and if you need more register for The Ultimate Resume Workshop to learn all the ins and outs to writing a resume that gets you noticed!
Sara Curto, Career Management Specialist. Working with you towards Career and Job Search Success.
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