To Lead or Not to Lead?

Previously written and published on TalentZoo by Jessica N. Abraham-Hogan. It can be found here.

A very common misconception amongst the professional community, and especially where very talented people have the chance to “shine,” is that showing any type of leadership ability through resume or interview is a big “no-no.”

Many equate the demonstration of leadership ability as something that should only be done if one seeks an executive role or a management position. The reality is that lack of leadership could be the one thing holding them back from that higher-paying senior position within the team atmosphere — or even barring them from an entry-level position within a company that requires self-starters in a fast-paced environment.

Not showing leadership ability will not only hinder chances to get in the door, but also those for continuous promotion and increases in pay scale. As a matter of fact, lack of leadership ability may be why many have tenured a position for ten or more years without pay increase and without promotion. They are hardworking, serving employees, but they aren’t taking initiative. While they work hard and go above and beyond to meet goals, they may only be performing duties within the expectations of upper management.

It is important to rise above expectations, take initiative, and pull the team to the top in showing growth for a company and/or department while ensuring that the department continues to excel, as a unit, and that no employee is left behind, fired, or laid off.

In the case of a resume, why would a future employer or hiring manager choose someone that has only done what was dictated to them when they can select someone who will own that position and turn it into a driving force within the company? After all, business is business; in the end, numbers, process improvement, and team development are all that will matter.

Selecting a professional that will be the best possible janitor they can be will assure client satisfaction in returning to the urinal for another “splash” without hesitation. It will ensure that the company gains a positive reputation in a world full of critiques; where the smallest variables lead to the largest deciding factor and biggest impact within the company structure.

When a candidate selects achievements over duty and turns duty into achievement within a resume draft, an employer will be anxious to hire that candidate — or at least meet them for a coffee. Showing ability and how one has made an impact, how they have made a difference, and why no one else is more qualified for a particular position will push executives to favor one candidate over another — even if another candidate was already in the running for hire.

In addition to leadership abilities, one should also show personality and charisma. Allowing future employees to realize personality and character, high energy, and a good-spirited nature will also impact hiring decisions. Showing good personality will tone down a misconceived ideal one and will lead decision makers to find pleasure in making acquaintance and especially doing business. One doesn’t have to lead a team to be successful, but leading from within will guarantee a job well done and a future most secure.

Are you ready to “WOW” your future boss and/or hiring manager? If so, get with us. Let us write for you!

Marketing Through Resume: Achievements Over Duty

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This article was previously featured on TalentZoo.com. Click here to see the original article by Jessica N. Abraham-Hogan.

Aside from the new standards of quality that have been instituted into the new resume requirements for getting past Applicant Tracking Systems, we have to realize that, for most of our lives, we have been writing the resume wrong. Professional resume writers are often baffled at how some of the top professionals at Fortune 500 companies have included so few achievements within their resumes, but have listed many duties!

For the most part, employers already know what your job duties entail. As a matter of fact, it is actually the duty of Human Resources or Administration personnel to know this while recruiting and screening talent.

So, what is it that you achieved with this talent? This is what they are most interested in. They want to know what impact you can bring to their company. They want to know that you can make a difference.

Oftentimes, applicants are worried about the wrong things. For those that have not created financial impact, they may have made a difference through leadership or process improvements. They may have contributed to a process that made things easier for upper management to make a difference. They don’t realize that a little bit of elaboration and powerful wording can really make what they did a great achievement.

Everyone picks on the janitor, so I will pick on the plumber. Let’s say the plumber put on his resume:

  • Plunged toilets and ran chemicals down the drain.

ASK YOURSELF: What would have made this line more impactful?

  • Cleared drains and sewer pipes, plunging and snaking residue from clogged drains, while ensuring sanitation through clean flow of water wastes and avoidance of overflow in living and working areas.

Believe it or not, this method will not only impress employers and hiring managers, but it will also feed ATS with more keywords that will ensure your position at your dream job.

With the standard being set to inclusion of only the last 10 years of work experience, this will help make up for all those great positions and companies that you were only allowed to “make mention of” within your resume. A little elaboration will go a long way.

Are you ready to “WOW” your future boss and/or hiring manager? If so, get with us. Let us write for you!

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Marketing Through Resume: Position Yourself for Greatness

As a professional in an ever-evolving world of technology, it is absolutely important to keep abreast of changes that occur within the standard operations of society and hiring processes.

Not many realize that with the evolution of information systems, most hiring processes are initiated, if not fully executed, Online. Therefore, Hiring Managers and Executive Decision Makers are eliminating the number of resumes that they are scouring each week in order to streamline processes and maximize productivity in the job space, while keeping staffing down to a minimum.

Let’s take a deeper look into this science and discover how to get passed all systems filters to, at least, be considered for the position that many are applying for.

Did you know, that as this World of Technology evolves, so does the way the business world approaches Talent Acquisitions and Recruiting?

Professionals aren’t just sitting back behind a desk glancing over resumes on a day-to-day basis. Time is valuable and successful corporations are always looking for ways to cut back on unnecessary spending. As earlier mentioned, many recruiters are more than likely sitting in front of a computer and pounding away at their keyboards, seeking out potential candidates that meet the specific needs of an employer.

Whether it is a proprietary system, hosted on internal servers, or through a major job search platform, hiring personnel are able to search out the perfect candidate based on keywords searches. Often, more time is placed in discovering which keywords directly meet those needs of an employer than sifting through a plethora of candidates that do not meet them.

As many job search sites and resume writing services will point out, there is an algorithm in tact that allows recruiters to search for who they want and to avoid those that they do not. This system is dubbed “ATS,” a shortened version of “Applicant Tracking System;” and it is what will make or break a candidate’s forge to the top of the figurative totem pole.

You see, per position a company seeks to fulfill, an average of 250 to 300 candidates are competing to be seen and invited for interview. Unfortunately for most, they will never be seen. The “select few” will be invited to join the hiring process and asked to report for interview. Believe it or not, but many of the top professionals applying per position will actually be overlooked. Hence, these awesome candidates might never have their chance at a dream position and will remain in their current until they finally “hack” the system.

So, how do you hack this system? How do you rise to the top and become recognized as “cream of the crop?”

This is simple. Treat your career path as a brand, while showcasing brandYOU through the use of Internet Marketing techniques to enhance your presence in tracking systems. While ATS works slightly differently than Search Engine Optimization (SEO), the core concepts are totally the same!

Similar to SEO, ATS seeks out applicants based on specific keywords. The more keywords to match word-for-word, the better! The applicant will score a higher position within this algorithm. Unlike SEO, these keywords must be presented exactly as described by qualifying terms, as opposed to being strategized for conversational, organic placement and tone. Industry-specific terminology is highly encouraged.

Resumes are expected to be matter of fact, while engaging readers in a professional and narrative description of an applicant’s work history. This means that a phrase, such as “preparation of slideshows” would hold little weight, if any, to “slideshow preparation.” It gets even more complex.

Because ATS seeks applicant achievement over duty, it would be wise to include the latter preceded by a strong action verb and a powerful adjective. Whereas one may include, “Engaged in slideshow preparation” on their resume, another may include “Developed and executed highly professional slideshow preparations.” Not only did the second choice include powerful descriptors, but it also showed process, ability and to what quality. It also showed that it happened on more than one occasion; and therefore, it was not a fluke!

While both verbiages may find themselves ranking higher within ATS than those without optimization, the achievement-based resume will soar much higher. Once these resumes reach the hands of the talent recruiters, which do you think will receive further consideration?

Keeping your language brief within a resume writing is the objective, but the manner in which this is done, is also important. In marketing yourself, you have to sell your achievements by showing how even your performance of duties have made a difference.

Your resume must flow smoothly in keeping a reader engaged. As a matter of fact, your resume must flow smoothly, because your resume will merely be skimmed the first few times that it is read. Keeping content mapped out and consistent, the layout must reflect what the body is trying to convey to your future employer.

Structure is equally important to the Applicant Tracking System. Professional profiles may or may not be read with the ATS (The depends on the complexity of the engine being used.), but they must be present when distributing your resume to employers that do get to see your resume.

Within each resume, it is highly recommended that one includes a “Competencies Section,” with word choices that must completely be spelled out, at least once prior to abbreviation throughout the resume. This section also acts as a meta tagged “keywords” section within SEO to enhance your resumes overall potential. While many include these keywords into a section described as “Areas of Expertise,” one merely should feel comfortable in their ability to complete duties found within.

Expanding upon the ideal that layouts and consistencies are important for ATS and in mapping out your career, layouts keep resumes organized, experiences highlighted and abilities grouped. It also helps ATS differentiate the content you are submitting, especially in the case of extracting information to a separate database. In a more traditional format, it leaves your resume more visually appealing, balancing out white and negative spacing, and allows your resume to be properly scanned over in the second round of the hiring process, therefore passing the “30-second test.”

In physical hiring processes, a hiring manager is opt to starting at the expertise section, scan through previous employers, read your full education level and then check out the rest of the resume. Sometimes, they go directly to education, skipping experience, altogether, and continue at your affiliations and technical proficiencies. If they are intrigued, they will return to your biography, and then they will read to see if you are worthy of the position they are moved to interview you for.

You want to draw eyes to each section of your resume and encourage them to actually read what is written there. Avoid typos and formatting errors. They aren’t read by ATS and can negatively sway the hiring manager to dropping your resume into the garbage bin.

Speaking of garbage bin, industry rules have changed. You do not need to have a references section in your resume. You can drop that in the trash. Because many people lie about references and have others lie for them, it has become an unnecessary part of the resume process. It also takes up space that you can be using for something more valuable. It is wise, however, to keep a resume sheet on hand if your future employer requests one. This also goes for project sheets, which outline project histories, portfolio pieces and publications, unless you have a Curriculum Vitae (CV) resume type.

In creating proper spacing, keeping your resume to a proper link and utilizing negative space, one must consider level of hierarchy. While in ATS, there is no limit to how much space is being used. Understand, if you make it through the computerized process, a warm-blooded soul will be holding your resume in their hands. Length must be made appropriate to your level of hierarchy on the corporate ladder.

It is commonplace that professionals who have held tenure at a job site, entry-level personnel and students may only detail their resume to one page. However, there are some entry level personnel who hold hands with professionals of all industries that will find two-pages tells a clearer story of who they are, whether they have summarized this or are providing quality content in enhancing their resume to meet specific job descriptions. Hiring managers find it acceptable for medical personnel, executives and IT professionals to submit resumes at three to four pages.

Military personnel, medical doctors and professionals in the scientific community are expected to have four or more pages of resume material. This is where special resumes are created, distinctly prepared by federal standards and in CV-structured layouts.

Most resumes only include the last 10-12 years to compensate for age-stereotyping hindrances in the hiring process. An undated summary statement may be italicized below to show evidence of a career journey and previous experience in correlation to older-yet-relevant positions held. Remember to present yourself how you want to be perceived. This is Branding 101.

While most resumes are lacking a graphic appeal, many new designs have found ways to give resumes a persona. After all, when looking at a resume, one becomes familiarized with the person that they are potentially hiring. Your layout will tell a hiring manager your level of expertise within the corporate machine.

Graphic elements can hint at an “out-of-the-box” or innovative personality, highlighting your ability for creativity. The problem, however, is that ATS often has a hard time reading graphic resumes. And, while there are ways to get around this issue, most creative resumes suffer because some element or another is lacking in the process. Only a select few within the resume-writing world know how to get around this problem and can optimize your resume for discover in ATS engines.

Finally, in marketing yourself through a resume design, one must be aware of engine capabilities. While .doc extensions aren’t often looked at as a “finished project” in a world, where creating a .pdf document helps corporations protect against security and fraud while accepted as official and polished, .doc extensions are the most acceptable form of submission in this day. This document type provides ATS with an easier means of extracting your personal information than does .pdf, .rtf, .txt and even .docx.

Being mindful of your audience, keep both .pdf documents and .doc on hand at all times. After all, you may be submitting your resume directly to a decision maker and should plot to appear as polished as possible. In the end, it all comes down to one thing… BrandYOU.

How are you marketing yourself? What observation of your character would you like them to experience?

Stay mindful of ATS when submitting resumes to corporate engines and job search sites; and remember, I am only a messenger of what experts have analyzed over the years and through experience. Good luck!

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