How do YOU look on paper?

Today the President will address Congress on the Job “situation.”  There are apparently lots of roads and bridges that need to be built and about 1 million unemployed construction workers in the U.S. ready and willing to build them.  That may give you hope if you know how to build a road or a bridge.  I don’t.  Recent Polls show the economy and jobs are the public’s top concerns and I know that’s true, especially if you’re unemployed or on the verge of losing your job like so many.

For most of us it’s been a while since we last looked for a job.  For me, it’s been ten years since my last job hunt and things have changed DRAMATICALLY!  I remember it like it was yesterday, but it was actually one month before 9/11.  The media landscape was rattled along with the rest of the world and I had to take a hard look at my career and ask, “Should I keep looking for a job in radio?”  The answer was a definitive “YES!”  I know without a doubt that I was meant to be a broadcaster.  These days we have to ask, “Does the job you’ve worked hard at for years even exist anymore?”  It’s clear things are evolving before our eyes.  And it’s easy to fall out of practice of writing a contemporary resume and your interview skills may be a bit rusty.  Did Social Networking even EXIST the last time you were looking for work?  It’s really a different world out there so I’ve set out to find the answers to questions you may be asking.

I spoke to Mandy Minor of, a writing and design company, about crafting a stronger resume. 

Corey:  This is the toughest economy any of us have ever lived through. What’s the best way to “stand out” on paper in the very large crowd of increasingly unemployed candidates who are finding it tough to compete for jobs with those who are currently employed?

Mandy:  It used to be common that you could submit a resume and wait for the phone to ring – and it would. That just doesn’t happen anymore; too many people looking for work. So while it’s still important to have a resume that showcases what you can do for the potential employer, it’s even more important to network and get comfortable with using technology in your job search. The Internet is ripe with articles on using Twitter, LinkedIn, and even Facebook to ferret out opportunities. And a good resume writer is now also a career coach who will have tips and ideas you can leverage to maximize your search

Corey:  Most people change careers at least 5 times in their lifetime. What advice would you give to someone who is trying to move into a new field?

Mandy:  The fact that people change careers so often – and it’s totally true – should make any job seeker feel better about their varied past. The trick is to focus on specific projects and accomplishments and how they benefited past employers. Most skill sets are useful in any industry. What architect doesn’t need project managers and sales people? What medical sales company doesn’t need associates with great follow-up and client relations? Chances are your skill set is going to be useful in a number of industries and positions

Corey:  You write a lot of resumes and cover letters for other people.  Why would someone hire someone else to write their resume?

Mandy:  There are so many reasons! : )

a. Resume writing is a balance of skill, experience, and psychology that you don’t know – nor should you. You go to specialists all the time for help with things you need only occasionally (oil changes, haircuts, medical treatment); resume writing is no different.

b. When you use a resume writer you’re saving yourself a ton of time. I’ve talked to people who have spent weeks trying to get their resume just right. Within seven days I’ve got their resume, cover letter, and interview follow-up letter done, and they can now focus on finding opportunities that are right for them.

c. Perspective. Writing a resume is most definitely a “forest for the trees” issue. I’m not sure how well my resume would turn out if I wrote it, simply because I’m too close to the situation and too emotionally involved to be impartial. Usually when you’re writing your resume it’s because you have to. You’re feeling pressured, maybe a little insecure, and pressed for time. A good resume writer not only get you the documents you need, but takes all of that away. I’ve had clients who were totally stressed out and feeling like unworthy candidates do a 180 in the self-confidence department when they saw how much they had accomplished in their careers. Only a third party can get to that level with you

Corey:  Are you seeing different types of jobs open up in this economy that people in disappearing fields may be a good fit for? Where are the jobs?

Mandy:  Solid skill sets are always going to be in demand; the trick is figuring out how to position yours so that it’s the skills that are the focus, not the industries where you used them. But it’s never a bad idea to keep your ear to the ground of what’s up-and-coming in career demands. Medical is hiring, and sales is almost always a good bet. I regularly post articles about hiring industries, specific job openings, and other useful career stuff on our Facebook page. Just go to Facebook and search for “J Allan Resume Studios.”

According to Ms. Minor, here are some tips anyone can use to strengthen their resume:

a. Have an opening statement that’s an easily-read core competencies section that focuses more on what you can do for the employer and less on you.

b. Create a separate section for awards and recognitions to ensure they see that you’ve materially contributed to the success of past employers, and sections for trainings and community service to show off your well-roundedness.

c. Use numbers to quantify your achievements, i.e. how many quotes did you formulate in a month, and how many were accepted? Things like that.

d. Never badmouth anyone or any entity. I know what someone means when they say, “Excel in areas and in environments where other associates fail” but it sounds too brag-y.

e. Downplay entrepreneurial experience because many employers are scared business owners will leave once the economy picks up. Portray this kind of experience in a light that’s more “employee” that “boss.”

f. Your resume needs to be two pages maximum. It seems like a daunting tasks but is eminently do-able.

g. Implement keywords that show up in job descriptions as close to the top of your resume as possible, say in a career summary or core competencies section. This helps your resume get past ATS (applicant tracking software), the scanning software that many resumes meet before a person reviews them.

Thanks, Mandy!  We’ll put your experience and advice into practice.

Keep the faith!

Corey Dylan

Additional Articles:

How to answers some of those Interview questions:

3 words that can kill your job search:

1 thought on “How do YOU look on paper?

  1. Awesome post!

    I also hired a professional for my resume and am glad I did. What an extended length of unemployment would cost me was way more than cost of the resume itself, plus there’s just something about writing your own resume–writing about yourself–that throws you off.

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