As a professional writer, I discovered early that collaborative writing was a vital résumé writing tool. When I began résumé writing 20 years ago, I hired a front-line representative that booked appointments and filled out questionnaires for callers. When I tried to write from such material, I realized very quickly that I had many unanswered questions that would require directly interviewing with my clients. And from the beginning, I found the personal interview and collaborative writing to be differentiating résumé writing tools and methodologies. So, I began writing résumé content as I interviewed my clients, and developed constructs around their accountabilities and accomplishments. Read more »
Nadine Maas, Free-lance Writer, self-published Author, and owner of Professional Profiles by Nadine, brings 25 years of business writing and 18 years of résumés specialization to the corporate and academic arenas. Her flair for translating client credentials, accomplishments, and career challenges into leading-edge resume presentations has won her a well-respected place in the business community.
All jobseekers need a professional résumé that will perform and withstand the challenges of the market place.
Chris came to me with a résumé that he felt wasn’t performing. When I reviewed it, I could understand why. He obviously was a talented professional, but his résumé wasn’t demonstrating his value.
I often say, if we were comparing a résumé to geometric principles, we would say the cover letter and qualifications profile are the theorem and the content of the résumé is the proof. In a cover letter, I endeavor to articulate a client’s special gifts and talents. In the résumé, I make sure that we prove what we say with substantial résumé content. In this way we intrigue a prospective employer with a real-world story and with what I call the reoccurring theme of a résumé.
People often wonder if they should use a topical rather than a chronological résumé and ask if I can prepare a topical résumé for them. But is that the best strategy? Of course having written thousands of résumés, I can do so. But before I do I like to share a few insights with them.
Most people want to use a topical résumé because they basically want to hide something. They may feel they changed jobs too often. They may feel they don’t have any experience in their area of new interest. They may be unsure of what they want and wish to cover all the bases.
I believe that all of us are richly endowed with natural gifts and talents. Isn’t it obvious when we sit in a performing arts center and listen to a voice like that of Pavarotti, or Sarah Brightman. These are people who discovered and used their gifts to bring joy to others, and ironically, they have been well paid for doing what they love so much.
What is it about an interview that connects with all the youthful messages we carry about acceptability verses unacceptability? Somewhere in time, someone indelibly impressed on our souls that as we lived our academic lives, there was some kind of transcript of life we were recording with every missed class, unfinished assignment, or lesser grade. Whomever it was that articulated that message, a well-meaning parent, a threatening teacher, an ambitious counselor, or the ever-illusive definers of success, the stage was set. We were programmed to think that our imperfect life would somehow need to be defended in almost every place. Why didn’t we finish college? Why did we stay in school so long? Why didn’t we get better grades? Why weren’t we able to get along better with people? And on and on.
People often wonder how much they should invest in their résumé.
In harder times, we are forced to cut back and analyze every purchase we make. The question is, can we afford to cut the budget on our advertising, our résumé, and our reaches to the marketplace? Can we afford to budget on the key to securing and increasing our earnings?
In down times, we may be tempted to wonder if our interview frequency or customer traffic is a measure of our talent.
My daughter is an entrepreneur and a talented, gifted artist, and I am a professional writer. Often I remark on how God gave us different gifts so that we could help one another. On good days when business is booming, and we are in high demand, we feel validated in our professional roles. But on quieter days, and in slower times, doubt can cast a shadow over our self-belief and sense of reality.
It reminds me of a what young man who was repairing my TV once said to me. “I always marvel” he said, “about how everybody needs me at once or doesn’t need me at once.” From a business owner’s perspective, I found this to be quite hilarious, but I also immediately grasped his point.
Keywords are your ticket to assuring the relevancy of your résumé and successfully sidestepping the potential hazards of Applicant Tracking Systems.
Such systems store, scan, and select job applications and résumés for prospective employers. This once traditionally major company recruitment methodology has now evolved into a standard approach for small and large companies alike, and thus can bypass qualified candidates. In this way, robotic systems leave the job seeker with the formidable task of bulletproofing their résumé and withstanding impersonal robotic scrutiny and exclusion.
Here is where your keywords can save the day. If they are an integral part of your résumé, they will be instrumental in passing the ATS test. Of course, integrating language from a particular job-posting if you have a specific job in mind is also helpful. Adapting our messaging to a position can be advantageous, however this is not always possible. Still if keywords are present, the battle is already more than half won.
My clients often ask about how we can be sure that the right keywords will be included in their résumé. I often tell them that the keywords and skill sets they bring to the table flow naturally as they tell their professional story. Skill sets can be included in a core competencies section in which we often list the concrete areas of expertise that you have acquired. Such words can become in effect key words. Therefore, Customer Service Management, Relationship Management, Sales & Marketing, Cross-Functional Team Leadership & Performance Management would be meaningful “tangible” keywords as opposed to “Team Player” which is a much more abstract. We can use words like team-oriented in a cover letter, but the résumé must be accomplishment-focused rather than obscured by abstract terminology. Describing these skills in a professional manner can tell your audience what kind of professional you are, what you bring to the table, how you have excelled as a thought leader, mentor, or manager. Quite often when I ask my clients what their magic is, they say things like, ” I can work independently or in groups” or “I am reliable and dependable”, “I get along well with others.”. Such things are ultra-basic and may well forfeit the persuasive advantage. When we purchase an automobile, we don’t ask if it has a steering wheel. We just assume it has! Thus, it is a given that a quality candidate is going to be reliable and dependable and capable of working independently or in group situations. We need to give our prospective employer much more meaningful content than that!
While graphics, tables and columns may be aesthetically pleasing, they can short circuit the scanning software. So resist the temptation. Uncomplicated, readable résumé designs do best within the ATS scanning process.
A simplified Word version or alternate text version is one sure alternative for ATS scanning purposes. PDF files do not always work so be careful to review what you paste online to make sure it is being interpreted correctly. A simple Word or text version works best because HTML is not really compatible with fancy fonts and formats.
In conclusion, I remind my clients not to become over anxious about keywords. There is an inherent specific language and terminology that is characteristic of each profession. As you collaborate with your writer, these terms will come naturally, and your writer will also be able to share valuable insights on integrating the terminology that is unique to your profession. If you focus on telling the best of your story, articulating the most impressive of your accomplishments, and using a compatible format for online postings and applications, your résumé will become keyword rich and ATS scannable.
So, choose your writer well, and he or she will help you tell your professional story in a way that will project your résumé past the scanners and into face-to-face interviews with hiring managers!
Years ago, we would try to craft a generic résumé objective that would open the playing field for prospective clients. Today, résumés are trending away from objectives. A résumé should tell your story, what you have done and how well you have done it.
But the objective is more specific and from that perspective, we need to tell our employer what we want to do with that experience and how we can bring value to them in that capacity. The cover letter then becomes the perfect forum for defining your objective.
Maybe we have had sales and operations management experience. The question is, what do we want to do now? If it is operations management, we need to show our commitment to that direction and give our employer reason to believe that we can succeed in that capacity. Accomplishment-focused résumé material and motivational and directional material in the cover letter is the key to doing so.
So, the cover letter in effect becomes our objective statement. It lets the employer know that we want a given position and our motivation to pursue such a position. Likewise, if we are going for sales and operations, we may wish to use two cover letters. Trying to be all things in one generic cover letter is usually a mistake. Remember the “Jack of all trades, master of none” lesson? If an employer thinks you are presenting yourself as talented in everything, they may conclude that you are expert at none.
A well-performing résumé must be distinctive, impacting, and accomplishment focused. Résumés have undergone a serious evolution in the past 10 years. Whereas a résumé was once regarded as an amenity, it has now become a required “passport” or right of passage to the professional marketplace.
A résumé can no longer pass as a simple job description. It must be an accomplishment-rich presentation that showcases the best of your skills and talents. Résumés do not perform well if they are superficial and filled with fluff and grandiose statements. A quality résumé should offer substantial content that demonstrates what you have done and how well you have done it and proves that you have delivered value to your employers.
Most people are very adept at doing their jobs and at a complete loss when it comes to describing their jobs or accomplishments. I often tell my clients that attempting to write their own résumé equates with trying to perform self-surgery or sew a garment on themselves while wearing it. It is a daunting if not impossible challenge. This is largely because along with not favoring writing and grammar my clients are limited by an inside-out perspective. I can bring them an outside-in perspective. We must remember that our reader knows nothing about us until we tell them. And when we tell our story we must preframe things in a way that will bring them into our experience without leaving them to fill in the blanks or expect them to know things we haven’t yet told them.
Offering 25 years of professional writing experience in the résumé writing arena, I have developed a high level of expertise in interviewing and collaboratively writing with my clients. Often they think they do not have enough of a story to fill even one page. It reminds me of a senior executive who came into my office with two 3 x 2 post-it notes, and asked if I could make a résumé out of them. I replied, “I can if you interview with me for an hour to an hour and a half.” When we concluded that interview, he was amazed to see how much rich and compelling content we created and what a rich story he had to tell! That rich and quality-focused content is what a differentiating résumé is all about. I write them every day for people of all walks of life at all professional levels.
Give me a call for a free consultation and I’ll do my best to help you decide what you need to target your career goals, identify the package that fits best for you, and make arrangements for delivering a rapid turnaround on a winning and high-quality résumé! Packages for senior, mid and entry-level professionals and 24-Hour service options are available.
Should you write your own résumé? There are a number of people that may think that their résumé must be crafted in their own words and emulate their personal communication style. Others think they can use templates and do a “slam dunk” job of developing an employment list. And yet others simply feel they can save money by writing it themselves.
The reality is that the résumé writing craft has changed dramatically. Whereas a résumé once could pass as a simple job summary, today a résumé must function as a primary marketing tool. A résumé cannot simply list the places you have worked, dates, titles, and perhaps a brief job description. Employers aren’t looking for a job description. They are looking for talented people who do their jobs well and bring value to the companies that have employed them.
The professionally written résumé by a proven résumé service is the only effective way to target the quality positions you want. Such a résumé must be accomplishment-focused. It must show your value, not only what you have done, but how well you have done it. Quantifying is always a good idea, even when our employment is somewhat abstract. That requires the strategy and expertise of a skilled résumé writer. Remember, it’s not just quality writing that makes a winning résumé. It is the content—content that tells your story, showcases your talents, and inspires and motivates the reader to interview you.
I have a dear friend who is an expert fisher woman. And one day when she was telling me the cost of her lures, I said, “Isn’t that a lot to spend on a fish who may snatch your lure and not become a catch?” She smiled and replied, “If you want the big fish, you must be willing to spend money on the best lures.”
And that is an excellent analogy to explain the difference between a homemade résumé and a professionally-written résumé. If you want the best jobs, you must present yourself at your best. And frankly, most people are not gifted writers, and most people have difficulty even recognizing or articulating the best of their talents and accomplishments.
So next time someone tells you to write your own and save the money, think twice. An unproductive job search can be very costly, and every day you spend looking for jobs instead of interviewing for them can be demoralizing. Don’t be tempted to lose valuable time and potential earnings. Find a professional writer that can tell your story and enjoy the differentiating advantage of a professionally-written résumé!
People frequently ask me to write a résumé to target a specific job. While some believe this is a viable strategy, it can be a very risky and expensive proposition. Unless a person has had two distinct careers and corresponding experience, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to do this.
The truth is, our story is our story. Our history is our history. When I write for people, I ask them what kind of position they want to pursue at this point in their career. What do they most want to do with that history. Then we collaboratively create bullets that establish relevance between where they are and where they wish to be. We accentuate the segments of their experience that can help a potential employer see them in the role they now wish to play. I have found this to be much more successful than trying to create a résumé to target a specific job by providing only a microscopic view of their experience and talents.
Once we have articulated their story in a résumé, I write cover letters that target the individual opportunities that they seek. The cover letter is really the rudder to the ship, and from that perspective, we get the opportunity to tell our audience what a client wishes to do with their experience, and how it can be of value to them. When we do that, we give the employer the advantage that one might have in reading a whole book verses one chapter. We represent our client in a third-dimensional view with a focus on their transferable skills. But we must show those skills in action, not in theory. Employers don’t want to hire theoretically-capable candidates. They want to hire proven talent.
The reality is that the more your audience knows about you, the more they can see your skills and talents through an accomplishment lens, the more likely they are to interview you and explore your value as a viable candidate.
With a few rare exceptions I find this a more realistic, cost-effective, and successful approach to the expensive multi-resume alternative. Tailoring résumés for specific jobs can be an overly costly proposition.
How can we fight discouragement and depression as we embark on a job search or a career transition? Recently, I had to have two surgeries, 10 days apart, one of them a foot surgery that was supposed to put me out of action for a couple of months. The trouble is as a business owner, I can’t afford to take that amount of time away from work. So I determined that somehow I would have to hasten though not compromise my recovery. After my one-day surgery, I was taking client calls and appointments on the way home. I found that absorption in my clients problems distracted me from my pain. I kept my foot elevated per doctors orders, but as I engaged my mind and focused on the needs of others I sensed that my discouragement and depression began to subside.
It occurs to me that although success is truly a blend of persistence and talent, I would rate persistence as a 90% success factor. I say this because talent is like a raw material, a gift that can only be transformed into value by relentless effort, without which there can be neither results nor success.
Have you ever noticed that how many brilliant and talented people in the world never seem to accomplish anything, never seem to arrive, never seem to have a sense of where they are going?
When I visited Florida, I became fascinated with the amazing capacity of these little chameleon creatures to change their color to match their environment. We can learn from them! It’s not that they become something they are not. Instead, they use resources within themselves to become what they need to be at a given moment. That’s a marvelous lesson for us. We can become what we need to be in a challenging economy.
Unemployment can present a daunting, discouraging, and formidable challenge to a job seeker.
As a professional writer and have had the privilege of writing resumes for over 8500 people of every walk of life. Over the past 20 years my work has been mostly about helping people to get better jobs and professional opportunities. Today, it’s about survival in an economy that has imploded into unprecedented job losses and stricken terror into the hearts of many.
Over the years I have had the privilege of working with thousands of clients who were endeavoring to navigate career transitions-─some weary of their career path, others interested in pursuing a lifelong dream, and others still looking for a life change. One young man told me that he had all the accountabilities of a manager without the title. He wondered how he could navigate a transition to the coveted management position he felt he had already earned.
There are many diverse ideas about what makes a résumé successful. People can be very dogmatic about what to do and what not to do when preparing a résumé . There are many different résumé styles. There are chronological, topical, and functional résumé approaches. Of course the final judge of what make a résumé successful lies in the perception of our marketplace and our prospective interviewers.
A winning cover letter is our introduction to a prospective employer. They must be rich in content and motivate our interviewer to meet with us. Cover letters can be a successful compliment to our resume. We therefore must give careful attention to how we write them!
Over the years, I have reviewed many cover letters and I have learned a great deal about what motivates our audience.
The cover letter is more abstract. It focuses on our qualities rather than reiterating our accomplishments. While our résumé is the forum in which we demonstrate in concrete terms what we have done and how well we have done it, a well-crafted cover letter shows our reader who we are, what we stand for, why others have appreciated us, and how we can bring value to their company. It is more about our feelings, our commitment, our drive, and our interests. We might view the cover letter as our theorem and the résumé as our proof. In the cover letter, we tell them WHY we can be an asset to them. In the résumé we show how we have been an asset and brought value to our audience.
The cover letter and résumé should compliment each other. If done well they fit hand in glove and combine to make a powerful impression and impact.
Cover letters must be a call to action. They must motivate our reader to want to know more about us, to engage with us in an interview. Giving our reader insight to our personality, our relationship building skills, and reputation with colleagues and managers is an important hallmark of a winning cover letter. Remembering that the more our audience knows about us, the more likely they are to interview us, we wish to tactfully acquaint our reader with who we really are and what we are about.
When we create such impressions and impact, we are much more likely to be invited into the interview process. So pay attention to your cover letter content. It can mean the difference between a silent telephone and a winning interview.