Stupid Resumes: 5 Content Reasons Your Resume Was Trashed

Shea Stadium demolition

Image via Wikipedia

Please bring the shredder a little closer to my desk. I have a lot of resumes that need to go in there.
So I hear people want to know why their resumes get thrown out some more . Here are a few more tips to stay out of the circular file. Imagining yourself on the other side of the fence can be helpful for figuring out why you didn’t get that call.

1. You’re looking to change fields without explaining yourself. While you might think you’d make an excellent paralegal after your IT position layoff, and have no legal experience whatsoever, just try to imagine what it’s like for the client. They pay mega bucks to hire a lawyer, but the paralegal does a LOT of the casework & preparation for them. You’re paying $500/hr for someone with no relevant training or experience. How would that make you feel?

2. Keep in mind cultural fit. It’s very easy for me to tell a hiring manager, hey, this person has the skills you want, just try to overlook their body odor and dirty clothes. You have to fit in where you work, both within your department as well as the company at large. If you’re a PETA activist and an accountant, and your resume screams ‘save the animals’, don’t think you’re going to be called in to interview for a slaughterhouse account role you applied for. You might be desperate enough to want the job due to the economy, but don’t think the company will be desperate enough to call you in for an interview. Check out my post on religious & activist resumes if you’re concerned about how your resume presents at http://wp.me/pWfpN-b.

3. You have to make a compelling case for yourself to be called with your resume. If 500 people applied to the job you’re applying for, what have you presented to impress? If you’re bored reading your own resume, everyone else is too. If you sound just like everyone else, you’ll remain unemployed like everyone else. If you keep repeating the same information over and over and over and over and over and over again, no one wants to hear it, even if you did the same thing at each job. No one wants to read it. No one wants to read it. No one wants to read it. Sick of hearing the same message? So are recruiters.

You need to make yourself sound like you’re done varied things with progressive responsibility. It’s OK that you haven’t always been a director, but faxing, photocopying, and answering phones do not each deserve their own bullets. Just make sure you’re not compelled to do a functional resume. As I’ve said before, Functional Resume = Shady Resume (http://wp.me/pWfpN-8).

4. You’ve included information that makes the hiring manager or recruiter uncomfortable. In other countries marital status, photos, exact salary histories, age, and number of children are required on a resume. Here it just screams: Wow, I hope they don’t sue for discrimination based on info the candidate has included. They say when in Rome, do as the Romans. When you’re applying to a job in America, don’t include personal information beyond talents & what you can bring to the table. TMI (Too Much Info) is a definite turn off. Another post I have about Resume Content (http://wp.me/pWfpN-1P).

5. You’ve included stupid information. Yes, I said stupid. There may be no stupid questions, but there are definitely stupid resumes. You might be an exact fit, but then list on your skills & hobbies your love of the Mets. The hiring manager is a Yankee fan. You just potentially lost candidacy over a completely irrelevant fact on your resume. Again, if they don’t ask for that type of info on the posting,  and it’s not a job to work at Shea Stadium, keep personal preferences and tastes off your application.

Besides, who still likes the Mets?

Less Design is More – Top 5 Ways to Get Your Resume Thrown Out

25_1_3 Red Swans anad Floral Border Close-Up

 

1. Mail in a hard copy on floral stationary. Or any ‘stationary’. Could be that small companies or those with older hiring managers might be impressed with such efforts, but even those places generally want it faxed in. (On a side note: Can you believe people still use faxes? Sorry, I didn’t get it, do you mind sending it again? Oh, you have a confirmation receipt that it was sent? Isn’t that lovely.)

2. Email in a virtual copy on floral stationary. Or any ‘stationary’. Even the ones in outlook, like simple plaid, are completely unprofessional. Not for sending a resume, not for once you start a job.

3. Put a border on your resume or cover letter. Again, no design is professional beyond a small logo, if you have one. I’m not going to say that if you’re an artist you don’t have more leeway, but for everyone else, NO.

4. Put a picture on your application for any reason beyond modeling-type jobs. If it’s a job on craigslist requesting it, save yourself scumbags checking you out – just don’t apply.

5. Use the resume format template options in word. They’re generally terrible, and show up awkwardly. If you’re not a pro at word you’re better off just enlarging & bolding your name, headings (like “Experience” “Education” etc.), then center everything. Better yet, play with word when making your resume, and make yourself a pro. There are very few professional positions that wouldn’t benefit from those skills.

…I have yet to hear that poultry, kittens, or flowers on a resume helped to make that ‘special’ impression that helped someone snag the job they wanted…but maybe I’m hanging with the wrong crowd!

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I’ve developed Sharon.cc as a Social Good platform. It’s not a business, it’s a collaborative site which helps people, companies, and places optimally market themselves.

Would you like an outlet for your career advice, job search struggles, free resume critique (anonymously published of course) or anything else you’d like to share?

Guest posters & interviews are encouraged – just send me what you’d like to share with my readers & I’ll post it if I feel they’ll benefit from it.

Also feel free to subscribe or follow me on twitter @sharondotcc to automatically be notified of new articles!

You want to work in HR by choice? Seriously? Well…if you’re sure…here’s how…

Someone posed this question, and I thought it might benefit others to share on the topic.

I’d like to break into the HR field. I’m pursuing my BA currently. What majors or certifications would you recommend I obtain to find a strong position in the field when I graduate?

I’m sure many employers look for HR certifications, or I can’t imagine why they’d be so popular.

That being said, I have never come across a resume/application for a position where this was a deciding factor.

I’ve yet to see a resume with no relevant experience or education, but has HR certifications – and see the candidate be seriously considered for a  position.

On the flip side, I’ve never seen a great resume with strong relevant education & experience that was not seriously considered because they did NOT have HR certificates…but hey, could be this happens other places.

Majors: a business or liberal arts degree ought to suffice if complimented by internships or junior positions in the field. Depending on what type of HR environment you’d like to work in, you might want to major in something relevant to that, as opposed to an HR degree (which not every university offers). If you decide later on that you’d rather work in a different area (say accounting) a general degree would be more helpful than a specified one.

Very few HR leaders I’ve met knew they wanted to work in HR (like me!). They generally fall into it from other roles or positions. Even within HR there are many types of roles from benefits, employee relations, recruiting (yay), union relations, diversity specialists, generalists (who deal with everything), payroll, timekeeping, leaves…you get the point.

Taking a position or internship while in school is my best advice. Had I not done social work internships, I would be a social worker now. I only needed one more year of school to have my MSW, but upon working in various social work environments I realized it was not the type of challenge I would enjoy long term.

Before you plan your life around a career you have yet to experience, try it out (paid or not). It might help you specify the area you’d like to focus on, or like in my case, save you from wasting time and pigeon-holing yourself in the career realm.

Final note on certifications: Many are expensive, require annual payment, membership renewals, or maintenance to keep the certifications. In the end they’re a business. Many people will write “six sigma black belt certification obtained” as that they no longer maintain it, but once they’ve achieved it and put it on their resume, it satisfies their goal.

*Exception tip: Once you’re working in a field, many employers will pay for you to obtain certifications & allow you to do them on work time. If so I definitely recommend this! It can’t take away from your resume, and will broaden your network and skills without losing time or money. Talk to your employee development person or someone from HR to see if your employer allows for this.

Shortlink to this post: http://wp.me/pWfpN-93

Mind Your Grammar: Top 5 Resume Tips of the Day

EGG Nonpast tense

Image via Wikipedia

  1. Keep all past job duties in the past tense, keep all current duties in the present, unless it is an accomplishment that was completed. If so that belongs in past as well.
  2. Be consistent with grammar. Either punctuate every sentence or don’t, either would be acceptable – but do stay consistent for all positions.
  3. Capitalize each job title, company, school attended, and the first word of each line. Use ‘sentence case’ feature on word to correct this for all if you do not have it consistent now.
  4. Do feel free to add more than one responsibility per line if related, i.e. answered phones, performed data entry, and organized files all belong on one line. If you did nothing else at a position that you could possibly correlate to the role you’re applying for, then keep it at one bullet.
  5. Do not leave cliffhangers, i.e. “Worked with CEO”  – this would be a wasted line/bullet/responsibility. Write what you accomplished for said key player, otherwise you’re leaving the reader to believe you fetched the CEO coffee or parked his car.

Shortlink to this post: http://wp.me/pWfpN-8w

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I Dream of Google – Getting a Job in 10 Not-So-Easy-Steps

Image representing Google Search as depicted i...

Image via CrunchBase

…but I don’t actually work there.

Noticing a lot of traffic is coming to my blog from people googling ‘google recruiter’ and ‘getting a job at google’.

Readers are confusing my blog, ambition, and talent for recruiting for being an actual google recruiter.

Yes, I’m a corporate recruiter, no, not for google (yet…).

Although I would assume the steps to getting a job there are the same as everywhere else. Here are my tips, I hope you started on this route when you were in 9th grade. Otherwise it may be too late and you might find yourself approaching 30 without the career of your dreams, but alas at least you can blog about it and know that thousands of people are in the exact same boat. Ahoy shipmates!

1. Push yourself to be the top of your class in high school, participate in extra curriculars, and learn as many languages as possible.

2. Go go a great college & get a high GPA, participate in extra curriculars, and learn as many languages as possible.

3. Do internships in the field you will work in the rest of your life (which yes you should have known and been working towards even in high school).

4. Get jobs at impressive places in that field in increasingly challenging and progressive roles and titles.

5. Then apply to their jobs at http://google.com/jobs (or wherever you want to work…like http://tinyurl.com/NYCDOEJOBS).

6. Pray a recruiter is impressed with your resume or credentials (or at least went to the same school) to put you through to a hiring manager or interview process. Or the robo-recruiter is impressed because you have a lot of the words from the job description in your resume (AKA job score) thereby automatically ranking you as a candidate worth human review in the applicant tracking system (ATS).

7. Ignore http://glassdoor.com & other similar sites. Take their comments with as much worth as amazon ratings…people will give a book one star because they don’t like the color color. If you really want to know what people who work at a place think about it, network with them and ask them politely.

Maybe google’s dropped in their ratings from the best place to work to top 3 best places to work, but hey, it gets lonely at the top. No place is perfect, but most people will only go on those websites to bash their employer anonymously. If they were happier they’d be out at happy hour with their office mates after work, not going home to rant about them online. Just Sayin’.

8. Don’t call them, they’ll call you. I’m always super impressed & revolted at the same time when candidates find my personal contact number (especially my personal cell phone). I think it shows they desperately want the job, but never have these people actually been a good fit for a role. I’m not saying not to follow up, but do it through advertised venues. Don’t go linkedin stalking. Instead find HR info from the company website, follow them on twitter, chat with them through facebook. Do not do an intellius search on them and show up at their house. They will not appreciate it.

9. No response? Better luck next time kids. Repeat process for every place you want to work at. If you only want to work at that one place and you’re waiting for the call back then stay on top of the company’s job boards to see if a role that better suits your experience is posted, or a more junior one in your field. Sometimes you need to take a step back or laterally to take a step forward later at a place you want to work.

10. Got a response? Make sure you have a dark suit you look good in, a put-together, yet naturally comfortable style, printed copies of your resume that aren’t stained, folded or wrinkled (yes I actually get those all the time…but save your money on the fancy paper and folders, those make you look more desperate nowadays, they’re just not necessary. A slightly heavier stock is nice, but I hate the resume-in-a-folder-in-a-binder-in-an-envelope old school thing). Go on the interview, be your charming, brilliant self, sell said fabulous self as rockstar without using those words, and mazal tov. It’s a job. And if you’re really lucky, maybe even a career.

Shortlink to this post: http://wp.me/pWfpN-8j

Going to Work for Google: The Career Equivalent of Going to DisneyWorld

This is one of the huge welcoming signs for Go...

Image via Wikipedia

There are very few places that offer better benefits than the government. Now imagine this place valued its employees, developed them, promoted talent, and only hired the best people to work with. Add in an incredible mission, forward thinking, world changing technology, and lots of perks. Then imagine this place is real and hiring.

Oh wait, it is real.

Working for google or similar (if there are) top-rated places to work does happen for some people. The question is, how to become one of them? How does one find employment in an amazing place?

I once spoke with a google recruiter I’m networked with from California a few years back. He politely explained to me that as that I did not attend an ivy league school and had not worked or consulted for one of the major firms, I had very little chance of being considered. Sigh. Was very discouraged, especially when I saw on the application you have to check off how long you worked at either: apple, bain, amazon, mckinsey, bcg, ibm, pixare, adobe, oracle, ebay, etc. It made me want to go get a job with one of those places to increase my chances of google wanting me.

Fast forward a few years later…I actually met people who work for google, people who went to good but not ivy universities (hey like me!). They never worked for those big reputation places, and they were hired fairly through their application system. When I mentioned what the google recruiter told me back in the day they were surprised, said it’s just not like that, and that people like me get hired all the time. Dare to dream.

And so I do dream, that one day I’ll find a great position in a place that doesn’t do things ‘the way they’ve always been done’, that might appreciate me and my talents, and hey, while we’re dreaming it’ll let me have a healthy work-life balance so I can see the kids once in awhile.

So I’d love to hear from you, faithful readers. Do you work for a great place or know of an amazing employer? Why do you love it? Are they hiring? Let us know!

For public notice post a comment here, for private requests please email: amazingemployers@sharon.cc

Shortlink to this article: http://wp.me/pWfpN-7R

Riverdale, NY Event: Help for the Unemployed & Underemployed

Lavie helped inspire my blog and I’m sure this will be beneficial to anyone seeking a job, or who would like to help those in that position. As we know with today’s economy no one 100% secure in their position, so even those currently employed may benefit from this.

I recommend that you at least consider buying the  book even if you can’t attend – http://wp.me/pWfpN-2r for more info on the book.

Hiring Tips from a CEO

(make that a fabulously-talented-yet-humble CEO)

Today I have my first guest blogger who’d like to anonymously share their opinion about hiring.

What’s yours? Send it over to me posts@sharon.cc and I’ll post it if I feel our faithful readers have something to gain from it.

Ever wonder what a hiring manager think when you apply for a position you’re not qualified for?

Do they think, well hey, you love kids, and want to help them, so maybe they’ll hire you to be a pediatrician even though you didn’t go to medical school? Apparently not. Here’s the real reaction: don’t over-reach if you need a job. If you’re secure and looking for a small advancement appropriate to your experience, well then good luck!

“Perhaps it is not your resume itself – rather it’s the content: do your job skills match what you are applying for?

You should realize that sometimes hundreds of people apply for the same job (although sometimes it is only a handful which may not be qualified, so don’t be discouraged completely).

If you aren’t getting interviews or responses to applications it may be that other applicants would be able to hit the ground running immediately, with little training; whereas you might seem to be a smart on paper if your resume is strong enough, but would need to be trained. 

If you know what you want to do, get an internship in the field.  Think outside of the box.  Ask people who work in the field to let you work for free.  Contact a non-profit that will let you work on your own schedule.  Call your college and speak to alumni in the field.  Ask friends and family who they know.  There are a number of non-profit organizations that can help with resumes. Start at the bottom up, with an entry level role in the field you want if necessary.

Sending a million resumes on Monster.com and other similar sites is a waste of time and energy.  Make sure your cover letter/resume matches what you are looking for. 

For instance, when I was hiring for a 10 hour a week job, I received almost 100 resumes.  People who were graduating applied and stated that they were interested in the job.  I knew they would quit the moment that a full time role was available elsewhere.  I only interviewed people who stated they were looking for a part time job and reasons why (for instance, a sophomore in college who would like to get experience to supplement education or someone looking to get back into the workforce slowly).

If you are getting interviews but not getting the job, you may need to look at your interview skills, how you come across (how do you look, how do you speak, do you have any weird mannerisms?) and how prepared you appear. Perhaps you could do mock interviews. Again, there are agencies that can help if you cannot afford to hire a professional.”

So there you have it ladies & gentlemen – a CEO is not thrilled that you’re under-qualified or not an appropriate fit but decided to waste time: both yours and theirs.

Put your energy into strong applications for positions you have a strong chance of obtaining!

Shortlink: http://wp.me/pWfpN-7g

12 Steps to a Career You Deserve


Hi my name is Sharon and I’m in a dead-end career/unemployed/underemployed….
All in unison: Hi Sharon.

Remember that you’re still the seller and that etiquette, manners, and patience will bring you much closer to your career goals than bitterness, laziness or rudeness.

1. Figure out what you’re actually qualified to do that you’d potentially enjoy, and reach within your bounds, overshooting them will be a wasted effort and give burn-out

2. Decide what type of position would suit you ideally, p/t, f/t, consulting, internship, etc.

3. Create a consistent, professional brand and profile for yourself: resumes & cover letters for various industries/target audiences, business cards, online web presence, thank you letters, elevator pitch, etc.

4. Apply to advertised jobs with targeted cover letters – I’ve seen many resumes thrown out because the objective or cover letter is targeted to a different job – make it crystal clear why you want THIS job, and why you’re qualified for THIS job, but feel free to mention what else you’d consider or to keep things broad

5. Send your resume to places you want to work, explaining why you want to work there & what positions you’d like, even if they don’t have advertised positions

6. Network with people in the industry you want to be in

7. General networking: make sure everyone you know or meet knows what you’re looking for and why

8. Follow up with sincere, personally written thank you notes to everyone who does anything for you in the process from introductions to interviews – but NEVER give a deadline or imply one, i.e., “I hope to hear from you regarding your decision by September 1” – it’s in poor taste, and perhaps it takes a month for the company to come to a decision – do you want the company to think you’re not longer interested because they couldn’t accommodate you?

9. Present your very best: have an excellent dark suit, pressed collared shirts, and classic bags/shoes/accessories/portfolios to present at interviews. Have something a little more daring for networking events to look professional but stand out of the crowd.

10. Confidence works: Interview and network like you’re everyone’s favorite person, try to figure out culture of others and tailor all responses and actions to where you are – when in Rome, do as the Romans

11. Realize that different strokes work for different folks: just because a technique landed your last job, don’t expect it to automatically work again

12. Negotiate offer, unless it’s clearly set in stone. Never expect to get more than you’ve asked for previously, and don’t expect much more than a job was advertised or offered at. Most companies figure nowasdays that they can find someone to do the job at the salary they want to pay, and they’re OK if that person isn’t you – but generally it doesn’t hurt to ask if a little more is available due to your extraordianary skills, value and talents you bring to the company. Reinstate why you want this role, why you want to work for the company, but is there any room for flexibility?

It can’t hurt – if a place rescinds your offer because you asked to negotiate you probably don’t want to work there anyway…that’s not nice!

Short link: http://wp.me/pWfpN-61