Archive for the 'career marketing' Category

Differentiate Your Way to the Interview

Cans of bubbly, brown sugar water. Big stores where they sell hammers, plywood and toilet seats. Men’s black dress socks.

What is the difference? Coke or Pepsi? Home Depot or Lowes? Gold Toe or, uh…

The difference is all about the message the marketing teams of these companies create and blast out to the world. They tell us, through their marketing channels, ads, promotions and sponsorships, what they want us to know so we can make a distinction and a purchase decision. This is exactly what everyone searching for a new job must accomplish, too.

As I write this, we are in the final week of June. All those fresh, young college graduates have hit the market, ready to share their stories of internships, advanced PowerPoint skills, and, you can bet, excellent written and verbal communication skills. They all present themselves so similarly that a random selection from the electronic resume pile is probably as effective a way to select candidates as any other. The dart throw might beat the stock (uh, employee) picking.

So how do you differentiate yourself so you don’t seem like everyone else? Use current, marketable, valued skills and examples of times you have used them. This has not changed, but many people do not understand this vital, core deliverable of the effective resume.

Let me put it simply. You must tell recruiters what makes you special and different, not the same as everyone else. Answer this question: Why you? If you can make the case, you have successfully differentiated your way in the recruiter’s (read: buyer’s) mind. That can lead to the interview, a series of successful conversation, and a job offer.

If you want to be the human equivalent of a black-and-white generic can of “Cola,” just list your responsibilities and call it a day. If you want to stand out with a distinctive message and value proposition, if you want to be something an employer wants to buy, sell yourself with accomplishments and results. If you can do it, the interviews will come.

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Bill Florin is president of Resu-mazing Services Company. He has written more than 500 resume packages for clients since 2009.

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The Critical Skills-Example Link

Skills Need Stories. Give Examples.

Skills Need Stories. Give Examples.

Employers look for people with specific skills. If you can write code, manage a project, or sell, you have a specific marketable skill. That’s obvious. What isn’t as obvious is the need to make the link in your résumé between the claimed skill and a clear example of using that skill. Here is how it is done. The story supports the claim.

If your résumé includes a skills summary section, it probably lists a dozen or so things that you know how to do. This gives recruiters a quick summary of what you have to offer, and most résumés should have this section. Your challenge is to tell a brief story further down in the experience section to explain how you have used the skill. The following are three examples.

Skill: Advanced MS Excel

Example: Created complex Excel workbook using macros and pivot tables to capture and calculate inventory values for over 2,500 unique items.

Skill: Project Management

Example: Served as project manager for $1.5 million, six-month safety improvement effort that included installation of new equipment and life-protection systems.

Skill: Writing

Example: Authored more than 100 individual articles over 18 months and generated over 1,000 visits daily to company blog site.

Use these examples to tell your own stories. Remember, if you cannot give examples of skills used, you probably aren’t very good at them (at least that’s what the recruiters will think). Specific stories of skills used add credibility. Review your résumé, read every skill claim, and ensure that you have at least one story for each to make your document more powerful and believable.

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Looking for more résumé writing tips? Search “resume” with this blog’s search bar for much more.

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Your Résumé Must Have These 8 Things: More great information for building a great résumé.

Five Valuable Proofreading Tips

I will admit it; this is not one of the most interesting topics to discuss. But great proofreading must happen if your résumé, cover letter, LinkedIn documents and other written material will work for you. Here is some harsh reality: every time you apply with error-filled documents – even one error is too much – you are wasting an opportunity. You would have been better off to not apply at all.

Here are some tricks you can use to tighten up your writing.

Read it aloud. This means actual spoken words, not reading silently. I read every line of every letter and résumé I send to my clients because it works. It isn’t exciting, and the first few times you read aloud to yourself it will feel a little silly, but it will help. You will identify poor writing, poor or wrong word choices, and redundancy.

Get away from it. A little time between writing and proof helps a lot. Write it, save it, and step away. Come back later or the next day and read it after doing something else. Write, walk the dog, proofread – in that order.

Print it. I don’t like using paper and ink when I don’t have to, but a hardcopy version will give you a different perspective. Try changing the setting, too, by taking your paper to a different room or to a coffee shop. You will see opportunities for improvement.

Read it backwards. Get a ruler and read line by line from back to front, using the ruler to keep your place. This will change the context and you will notice bad punctuation, words and other errors.

Enlist help. Doesn’t everyone know a spelling and grammar freak? If you do, ask for a reading. It’s always easier to spot someone else’s mistakes than your own.

Remember that a single error on your résumé can get you discarded into the “No!” pile. Take the time and make the effort to have your very best work representing you in the career marketplace. Nothing less will do.

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See The Thank You Letter of Doom for an account of a job search blowout. The letter killed all hope.

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Bill Florin is the President of Resu-mazing Services Company. He can help you create and market yourself with error-free documents.

Annual Review Lemonade

Turn that big sour review process into tasty resume and LinkedIn lemonade.

Turn that big sour review process into tasty resume and LinkedIn lemonade.

Everyone hates annual reviews, right? Many are dealing with the process now, either writing their self-evaluations or thinking and writing about their employees (or both). The whole effort takes a lot of time, and many see it as just a necessary hoop that must be jumped through to placate the HR people to get to the raise on the other side. Here is another way to look at it: Use the time to capture the history of your best work.

Annual reviews are often the best source of information for people to use when writing résumés, LinkedIn profiles, and cover letters. It’s also a terrific resource to refresh one’s memory before a job interview. As a pro résumé writer, I love it when clients have reviews available as there will be solid and quantifiable information to include in the career marketing package.

Here are a few compelling points that should change your mind about annual reviews.

It’s a paid mini-résumé writing session. Think about the résumé creation process. You have to sit down and think about the work you have done and the accomplishments you’ve achieved. Isn’t that what happens when you do your self-review? You are writing about your year and putting your work in the best possible light to earn a big, fat, bell-ringing raise. Your employer is paying you to write this year’s section of your résumé.

You have access to information. When you write a résumé after leaving an employer, you may or may not have access to the data you need to tell your story. How much was that sales increase in 2009? You have access to information now that you can include in your review, and nobody will think twice about you researching it. If asked, you say, “I’m writing my self-review.” Done!

You get documented feedback from your boss. Many people complain that the only good feedback that they get is at review time. If that is you, capture this information and use it later if needed. Positive quotes can be showcased in a cover letter or (sparingly) in a résumé.

Get copies and bring them home. Be a freak about this! Ask for or make hardcopies of your completed, delivered reviews (with your boss’s comments and scores). Bring them home now and file them where you will find them later. Gather previous year’s reviews if you don’t have them.

Keep this in mind and use the annual review process as your time to document your year. Annual appraisal lemons can be squeezed into résumé lemonade later.

If you found this article helpful, please take a moment to share it. Also, be sure to follow this blog to get notifications of new stories. Thanks!

Bill Florin is President of Resu-mazing Services Company. After writing hundreds of résumés, he knows the value annual reviews in the résumé writing process.

Seven Critical Cover Letter Checks

checkmarkBefore you send out another résumé, either electronically or physically, check your cover letter. Is it doing all that it can to make the case that you are the candidate they should consider most closely? Work this list every time.

1. Does it exist? Sometimes people ask if a cover letter is needed. Look at it this way: if two résumés detailing equivalent experience and qualifications arrive, and one is accompanied by a well-written letter than sells the candidate, who is more likely to get the call? A great letter can tip the scales in your favor. Do it!

2. Is it a proper business letter? This isn’t an email. Nor is it casual correspondence. Use a formal business letter format that includes the date, inside address, a colon (not a comma) after the greeting, and a professional closing.

3. Do you state your purpose? Your first paragraph should clearly state the position for which you are applying, the location where you want to work, and where you found the position advertisement. If you were referred by a person, state it plainly.

4. Do you make a customized pitch? The most important purpose of a cover letter is to sell you for the position. Imagine that you have two minutes with the hiring manager to explain why you should be hired. Write this. Tie your reasons to the qualifications, requirements, and perceived culture of the company. Answer, “Why should I hire you?” Your cover letter should be customized for every position for which you apply. More work, but it’s worth it.

5. Did you address obvious questions? Relocations and long-term unemployment experiences that will be questioned should be addressed. Develop a one-sentence explanation. Something like this can work: “After a large reduction in force with my last company due to industry contraction, I am ready to bring my skills, experience and business acumen to your organization to be part of a successful future.”

6. Did you say “thank you”? You might find it hard to believe, but many letters get sent without the common courtesy of thanks. Don’t let that be you.

7. You proofread, right? Employers rightfully assume that if you are sloppy in your job search – when you have all the time you need to get it right – you will be sloppy as an employee. Simple typos can kill your chances (see The Thank You Letter of Doom for a real horror story). Don’t let it happen to you.

Do you have cover letter success stories to share? Tell everyone about it in the comments below.

Work your cover letter hard and the effort will pay you back. Good luck!

If you found this article helpful, please take a moment to share it. Also, be sure to follow this blog to get notifications of new stories. Thanks!

Your “Me Too” Résumé Isn’t Working

Anyone who has ever me_tooworked on the receiving end of a job announcement – they get to swim in the résumé tsunami – says the same thing. “I’m busy, and I only have a few seconds to look at your résumé. If it isn’t obvious that you’re a fit, you won’t hear from me.”

Knowing that, why do people still fill their résumés with clichés?

Proactive, results oriented professional…

Strong attention to detail…

Team player with a strong work ethic…

Stop! Everyone says that! If you want to be like everyone else, and not get the call, use the same words, phrases, and sentences. Copy your résumé from a template or a book. At least you will have saved some time.

If, on the other hand, you want success, describe what you have done using key words and phrases that recruiters will search on LinkedIn and in other résumé posting sites. Explain how you used a specific technology, tool, or business practice to achieve a result. Describe it plainly. Eliminate adverbs (e.g., successfully, proactively, anything ending in “ly”) as much as possible. Use the space for real information. Here’s an example:

Implemented lean methodologies to reduce production time by 2.5 hours per unit, increasing productivity by 17% and gross profit by 22%.

Reduced geriatric patient hospitalizations by average of 1.5 days in first six months on new case management and follow up initiative.

“Me too” doesn’t work when you need to differentiate yourself and get attention. Eliminate the filler and replace it with hard-hitting detail. It will make a difference.

Drip. Drip. Drip. Job!

Dripping Faucet“They say it’s their dream job, but I never hear from them again.” I heard this comment from another career search professional a few weeks ago on a radio broadcast. He was talking about the need to stay in touch with potential employers and the need to overcome the fear of being annoying (You can listen Steve Greenberg’s piece here). The advice was good and was also something that I experienced.

In one protracted employment courtship, I was in touch with the organization for 18 months before a job offer came. You could think of the process as drip marketing. Keep working as long as you haven’t been told, “No! Go away!” Here are some valid reasons to ping the potential boss:

You’ve been promoted or assigned to something new at your current gig.

You have completed new training, education or received a new certification.

There is something online about you and an accomplishment, appearance or something else positive.

You read something about the potential employer and have some valuable insight or suggestion.

You learned about the potential employer’s competition and want to share an idea for strategy.

Think about it and you can probably think of many other reasons to reach out and remind them that you are still alive and interested. Keep dripping the marketing and the job can happen. It worked for me.

Bill Florin is the president of Resu-mazing Services Company in Monroe, CT. Bill has helped hundreds of job seekers market themselves successfully for great career changes.