Librarian Resume Hacking

If you’re a librarian looking to improve your resume, this book is just for you! And we mean just for you. All the examples in here are tailored for librarians (and are also quite relevant for cataloging assistants or archivists). We actually went through many of your peers’ resumes, to identify what made the best stand out. This is what you’ll find in this guide: the most relevant, high impact material from librarian resumes. So our examples are all about maintaining collections, performing research and teaching about library resources.

It’s not a comprehensive resume guide by any means; there’s already tons of generic resume advice out there. Our e-books are quite short (around 3000 words), but straight to the point, because they have a single purpose: helping you make your resume distinctive. We do that by providing you stuff that is both highly valuable and uncommon in your field.

Our goal is to help you get more interviews, through a “do-it-yourself-in-one-afternoon” resume hacking guide.

GET IT NOW, on Amazon.com!

And if you don’t have Kindle, it’s not too complicated.

Dentist Resume Hacking

If you’re a dentist looking to improve your resume, this book is just for you! And we mean just for you. All the examples in here are tailored for dentists. We actually went through many of your peers’ resumes, to identify what made the best stand out. This is what you’ll find in this guide: the most relevant, high impact material from dentist resumes. So our examples are all about root canals, oral cancer screenings and extractions of third molars. It’s not a comprehensive resume guide by any means; there’s already tons of generic resume advice out there. Our e-books are quite short (around 3000 words), but straight to the point, because they have a single purpose: helping you make your resume distinctive. We do that by providing you stuff that is both highly valuable and uncommon in your field.

Our goal is to help you get more interviews, through a “do-it-yourself-in-one-afternoon” resume hacking guide.

GET IT NOW, on Amazon.com!

And if you don’t have Kindle, it’s not too complicated.

Get your IT Technician Resume Noticed, with a Compelling Summary

Computer techs need to showcase their skills with a wide spectrum of technologies, as well as being able to deal with all sorts of users. The resume summary is a very rich section designed to quickly demonstrate you’ve got what it takes! Let’s look at two examples of very compelling resume summaries for IT technicians.

1. Highlights of resume for Strawberry Inc.

  • Fully bilingual (English/Spanish) help desk technician with 8 years of experience providing PC and client/employee tech support for small/medium size businesses.
  • Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and proven expertise in supporting and optimizing performance of workstations, peripherals, operating systems, networks and systems.
  • Ability to manage multiple tasks at one time, performing simultaneous migrations on any given day.
  • Served as sole tier 2 desk-side support for 1400 users during staff shortage, closing approximately 60 service tickets per week.

2. Summary for Bank ABC Inc.

  • IT professional with 14 years of experience in tech support and customer service, including 4 years as a manager.
  • Multiple Microsoft and CompTIA certifications, with experience in supporting supervisors and administrative associates in a fast-paced environment.
  • High-integrity, total commitment to service delivery, and passionate about customer satisfaction.
  • Key accomplishment: Instrumental in involving organization on Dell’s next-day part service, reducing the need for external technicians and accelerating desktop repair times.
  • Key accomplishment: Trained 8 new employees over a 2-year period.

The goal of the summary is to: 1. show you qualify and 2. build a strong first impression. And you do that very, very quickly, in a few bullets. Unless you’re too early in your career, you should mention how many years of experience you have. Also touch on the industries you’ve worked in or any relevant expertise. You could also try to highlight whether you’re stronger on certain types of software, networks, hardware… Saying you’re well-rounded wouldn’t mean much.

Make sure your resume summary is tailored!

Always remember the job ad when preparing your summary. Maybe you’ll see certain keywords in there that need to be emphasized. There’s no such thing as a good one-size-fits-all resume. It has to be customized.

As I often repeat, accomplishments are the strongest elements of your resume, because they make you stand out from the crowd of computer technicians. On your resume, you want as many accomplishments as possible. But in your summary, you have to choose a few that seem most relevant for the specific job you’re applying for. Which means that your summary repeats your key accomplishments. It’s a smart thing to be redundant with the most valuable info on your resume! A potential employer won’t mind that you insist on accelerating desktop repair times or that you can close 60 tier 2 service tickets per week!

If you write a strong summary using these tips, potential employers are much more likely to give your resume a good read. And that’s a necessary step to getting more interviews!

More tips for IT technicians

If you’re looking for more advice specifically for IT techs, check out 5 accomplishments for IT technicians. But if you feel like 5 isn’t enough, get the IT Technician Resume Hacking e-book!

100 Years of Job Search

The 20th century was a time of major changes: city life, globalization, mass media, social advances… And these changes have had a big impact on the job search.

People don’t look for work like they used to

I’ve already explored 5 old lessons from resume history. These lessons reflect the elements of the job search which have survived the test of time. But now, let’s have a look at how things have changed. (If you want a bit of both in an infographic format, check this out.)

Most of the stuff I quote here is from the New York Times archives (which I’ve searched for words such as resume, career, jobs, cover letter, application, job search, …). I’m also presenting material from two resume books that were published in 1976.

What’s most important: resume or cover letter?

First off, let’s look at the actual documents a job seeker uses. While the resume is the core document around which today’s job search revolves, it wasn’t always the case.

In the book How to Get the Job You Want, there’s a section about common goofs, with the following question: “Did I include my résumé with my letter?”

Notice the order. Today, the goof would be to omit a cover letter… because sending your resume is the obvious part.

In that same book, the first chapter is called “Preparing the letter of application.” That’s what they begin with. It’s a priority. However, it’s not called a “cover letter” yet. That official name would come later.

And many employers find a personal letter, which highlights the relevance of the applicant’s skills to a specific job, to be much more helpful than the résumé itself. (New York Times, October 12, 1980)

Obviously, the further back we go in time, the more important letters become. And it’s not just a job seeker thing. People in the first half of the century would write letters quite often. It was a very typical way to communicate. Actually, there were very few options back then. So people wrote letters, and sometimes, it was to ask for a job.

And somewhere around the 80s, “cover letters” became the formal letter you and I know. By that point, however, it was clearer and clearer what the standard job search document would be: the resume.

Interestingly, the word “resume” (as a job search document) doesn’t appear in the New York Times until 1960, in an article called Job Seeker Gets A Proper Start With a Resume (October 27, 1960).

I haven’t found older resume books either.

Early days of the resume

The early resume wasn’t exactly what we see today. In the 1970s, it was “correct, but not absolutely necessary” to have height, weight, date of birth and marital status on your resume. Today, North American resumes have been mostly stripped of such information, to avoid potential discrimination. (But with the imposing presence of LinkedIn, these “equal opportunity” principles will have to be reviewed.) It took many years of adaptation to sort through different methods.

In the early days of the resume, they were meant for high-level positions. But it was anticipated that it would spread across the spectrum of employment.

Résumés are not usually required for clerical and skilled labor jobs, though their wider use might possibly expand… (Resume Writing: A Comprehensive How-To-Do-It Guide, 1976)

Also, there was a bit of a trend in the early 80s for the functional resume, or the skills-based resume.

Age is never mentioned, nor are dates nor chronologies from which age might be computed. ‘What we write are functional résumés designed to illustrate the value of the executive to the company. (New York Times, October 12, 1980)

This illustrates once again that people have been trying to improve the job search for a long time. (After all, people had noticed problems with job interviews back in 1948, and got computers involved in candidate selection as early as 1967!)

But that format wasn’t the right way to present most people’s experience. Today, when we talk about the functional resume we usually mean a hybrid between the chronological and skills-based resumes.

Resume format

The format is another major area of change for resumes and cover letters. Since most people in the Western world today have access to computers and nice printers, it’s fairly easy to edit and print tailored documents. But it wasn’t the case back then.

Here are a few interesting excerpts of formatting advice, which will probably make you thankful for word processing software. (Various excerpts from How to Get the Job You Want.)

You need an electric typewriter with a modern typeface. Suggestion: use a carbon ribbon, with a sharp, glossy, printed look.

A bit of advice: do not use your company’s stationery to apply elsewhere.

To make copies, find a reputable printer… As of this writing, the cost will vary from $10.00 per hundred for copies made directly from your copy by offset or lithographic processing to $30.00 per hundred for type-set copies.

In another book, we learn about typewriters with “attractive, readable typefaces”: the IBM Executive and the Selectric. There’s also lots of precise editing directions: double space this, triple space and indent that, center this 5 or 6 lines below…

Approaching the job search like it’s 1955

The approach to the job search has also evolved throughout the years. For example, in articles before 1940, there was no mention of education as a criteria for employment. Your experience and reputation were pretty much all that mattered.

I thought it was very surprising to find a reference asking people to be willing to relocate for work, as early as 1955.

In the 1970s, more and more people were going to college, but it was still fairly exclusive. Check out how you could demonstrate ambition on your resume:

… even character traits can be supported… Ambition can be indicated by having worked one’s way through college. (Resume Writing, 1976)

You can’t imagine that today!

And the idea of using your network and looking for work in many places was already there. Help of relatives and friends, college placement offices, direct application, private employment agencies… (New York Times, May 8, 1955)

You could also market yourself with broadcast letters.

The broadcast letter is a special type of employment application letter that is widely circulated to top company executives, rather than the personnel department. Its role derives from the fact that more than 80% of available jobs are never advertised and must be tracked down by mail.

(This 80% hidden job market has gotten really small, but many experts haven’t caught up yet.)

Send out at least 100 and preferably as many as 500 broadcast letters… (Resume Writing, 1976)

Perks from the Cold War

Google employees have their own fancy bus and free gourmet food. But the Cold War era brought about an unusual perk at a British factory.

More than 2,000 persons replied to an advertisement for 250 jobs at a factory in Penzance, Cornwall, an area advertised as “safe from nuclear bombs. (New York Times, September 10, 1961)

Social change

The 1960s were a major time of social change. More and more women were college-educated. The Black community made major strides with the civil rights movement. Notice the title of the following 1961 New York Times piece, which wasn’t generally considered offensive back then.

In a time where school and bus segregation were hot topics, this article discusses opportunity: “an even more basic dilemma […] the lack of equal job opportunity.”

Valedictorian Shirley Carmon was an ‘A’ student and a leader in extracurricular activities. Two and a half years after graduation, Shirley, like nine of her classmates, is working as a maid. (New York Times, November 19, 1961)

Many Blacks were moving North, where craft and white-collar jobs were given to Black people twice as much.

Unfortunately, racial discrimination is still very present today in America. A white person looking for a low-wage job will get twice as many callbacks as a black person.

Gender issues

In the 1976 book Résumé Writing, the author talks about “… employment opportunities for qualified blacks… for qualified women…” Yet, in that very book, traces of sexism are fairly obvious:

A resume of this kind could be written only by a man who is supremely confident… This man creates a favorable attitude even before an interview.

But consider the following two quotes. Just 12 years apart, they give an interesting perspective on how gender issues were evolving.

1958 – College Girl Likely to Put Career First

“Tell a girl who is a good college student that soon after graduation she will marry and raise a family, and she is likely to protest.” (New York Times, November 22, 1958)

That opening sentence (and the title) were meant to catch your attention, since that state of mind was quite uncommon. The rest of the text explains how a Yale-educated young woman truly found her calling in life through motherhood, after a few years of trying to have a career. And you can picture the average reader nodding and thinking: “Of course!”

But 12 years later, the tone had changed. Here’s another catchy title:

1970 – A Women’s Liberation Approach to Solving Career Problems

“Eight women sat upright and fiercely attentive in the living room of a midtown Manhattan apartment one evening last week. They were sustained by coffee and mutual need.” (New York Times, April 11, 1970)

“Women’s Liberation.” The 70s. You gotta love that stuff.

Misunderstanding the new generation of workers

Age was also an issue, back in 1939.

No informed person can honestly sympathize with the current catch-phrase – “The lost generation,” as applied to youth…
Present youth occupy a higher place in the affairs of the world than at any time in the history of mankind. (New York Times, December 10, 1939)

Those we often call the “Greatest generation” (the parents of the Baby Boomers) were sometimes referred to as the “lost generation”, because they were starting their lives during a major recession. But this reporter doesn’t seem to believe that they have it so rough.

While the world today is very different, the Millenials are also going through early adulthood in a world of financial turmoil. (Americans who graduated in May 2016 had an average student loan debt of $37,000, with less-than-stellar employment prospects.) Yet, many people think they shouldn’t complain either. But I’m not getting into that debate… just drawing some parallels.

Something to make you smile

By going through all this material, I catched a few funny bits. Some intentional, others, not so much.

A great fashion tip for the interview, the “2 seasons ago fashion”:

When you walk in, you want your suit to proclaim “I’m with it, but not flashy; I’m modern, but not faddish; I’m conservative, but not stuffy.” All these things, all at once. (New York Times, May 6, 1973)

Now think of two hobbies that everyone is into…

Mention interesting hobbies; omit commonplace ones, except golf and tennis, which accomplish wide rapport. (Résumé Writing, 1976)

(Doesn’t that feel like a Mad Men episode?)

Staying strategic while keeping up with the trends

How does that knowledge help today’s job seeker?

Well it’s interesting to note that tools and approaches have changed much more than the strategies. Yes, the resume has many weaknesses. And yes, there are many problems related to jobseeking. On that note, Richard Bolles (of “What Color Is Your Parachute?” fame) called the process “Neanderthal” back in 1980!

But it seems that the resume has strengths by which it remains very useful. It offers a quick glimpse at a person’s experience and background, and with the right amount of accomplishments, it can help you stand out. And that hasn’t changed much since at least the 1970s.

There are trends that come and go, and you do have to keep up. For most of us, this means applying online and dealing with applicant tracking systems. It also means to leverage modern tools for networking, such as LinkedIn. I would also mention letting go of the idea of the hidden job market (networking and applying online should each get half of your energy).

But don’t get caught in the trends. Your overarching strategy is much more critical.

* * *

If you enjoy job search articles that take a long time to write, you might be interested in:

4 Words to Transform your Resume

In 2012, IBM asked 1709 CEOs what traits were most critical for their employees to bring value.

“Across industries and geographies, CEOs consistently highlight four personal characteristics most critical for employees’ future success: being collaborative, communicative, creative and flexible.”

transform_traits_ceos_want-2

It reflects the commonly held views that, in today’s quickly moving environment, we have to be team players that can adapt and innovate.

Great! So let’s use these words once or twice on our resumes, to be more relevant and attractive as candidates… Right? Won’t people in the know be astounded to see these 4 qualities pop up on a single resume?

Can you trust self-assessments?

No at all. Recruiters have known for a long time not to trust these hard-to-substantiate claims. Because people in general are terrible at assessing how good they are. And when you’ve been a recruiter for a while, it’s pretty obvious. Problems in self-evaluations have actually been studied seriously. The phenomenon is called “illusory superiority” or the “above average effect”.

At Stanford University, 87% of MBA students thought they were doing better academically than the median. And on the road, 80% to 93% of drivers think they’re above average. Wikipedia has many more examples of inflated self-assessments.

Who would you hire?

Would you rather hire the “self-motivated IT security advisor who thinks outside the box” or the one who “created a process to identify new devices and alert the team within only 15 minutes of the device being connected to the network”?

How about the two following candidates? Would you rather meet the “proactive business analyst with strong communication skills”, or the one who “managed small development teams working on ASP.NET and SQL2005 web properties”.

While highlighting traits sounds vague and cliché, accomplishments, on the other hand, are very concrete and demonstrate value. Accomplishments feel like they can be trusted. They talk about what you did along with the results or value for the employer. But words like “creative” and “flexible” (and “strategic” and “results-driven”) are a dime a dozen. They’ve become resume clichés and buzzwords, and recruiters will tell you that they still see way too much in one sitting.

You can find lists of resume buzzwords in this survey by CareerBuilder, or this analysis by LinkedIn.

And I’m not suggesting that you should find words that are not on these lists in order to stand out. I’m suggesting that you should pick one or two traits that define you and move on.

In the CareerBuilder survey, notice the popular words: achieved, improved, trained, managed, created, resolved… Yes, they are verbs. But not only that, they bring out value from the perspective of the employer. And that’s what it’s about.

transform_not_about_words-2

The idea isn’t to find a way to plug these words in your resume. Since they’re the words behind accomplishments, you need to make sure your resume talks about accomplishments as much as possible. If you do that, all the cool words should naturally “appear” on your resume. But really, it’s the accomplishment itself that resonates with potential employers, not a certain combination of words.

The four words that will transform your resume

Alright. As promised, here are the four words that will transform your resume:

transform_resume_4_words-2

(Yes, the title was a trick. And yes, I think I’m being somewhat clever.)

Your resume is about accomplishments and results, not words and phrasing. Of course, if you want to show you’re a good communicator, you definitely have to tighten your style. Your resume will shine if it’s concise and clear. But no amount of writing talent will compensate for a lack of accomplishments.

Resume Hacking is a book series that was developed to help you write better accomplishments (which is usually how resumes can be most improved). Each book has examples that focus on one occupation. Check it out.

Get your HR Advisor Resume Noticed, with a Compelling Summary

The resume summary is a very rich section designed to quickly demonstrate you’ve got what it takes! Let’s look at two examples of very compelling resume summaries for HR professionals.

1. Summary for DEF Inc.

  • A strong HR profile with 7 years of relevant HR experience from large, international corporations.
  • Drives change and produces results under diverse business conditions, including acquisitions, hyper-growth, restructurings, outsourcing and integrations.
  • Merged four existing benefit plans into one corporate flexible benefit plan with $728,000 in annual savings while enhancing benefits to all employees.
  • Re-engineered HR organization: streamlined infrastructure and transitioned operations to shared services center in Montreal.

2. Profile

  • Accomplished human resources director with 13 years’ management experience in large, high profile, and complex public organizations.
  • Substantial experience in re-engineering critical HR processes, working with business units to develop high impact people strategies and realigning the mission, role, and structure of the HR function.
  • Extensive experience interpreting and applying [State] Compensation Plan and other employment laws and contracts.
  • Led a company-wide culture change process resulting in a shift in competitive mindset from regulatory to non-regulatory.
  • Drove setup of an HR organization for supporting business growth in China (growing from 3,000 to 6,000 employees over three years).

The goal of the summary is to: 1. show you qualify and 2. build a strong first impression. And you do that very, very quickly, in a few bullets. Also, unless you’re too early in your career, you should mention how many years of experience you have. If appropriate, you can talk about your experience with up-to-date HR software or recent trends in employment benefits or recruitment. Sectors or specialties you’ve worked in can also bring a nice touch.

Make sure your resume summary is tailored!

Always remember the job ad when preparing your summary. Maybe you’ll see certain keywords in there that need to be emphasized. There’s no such thing as a good one-size-fits-all resume. It has to be customized. As I often repeat, accomplishments are the strongest elements of your resume, because they make you stand out from your peers. On your resume, you want as many accomplishments as possible. But in your summary, you have to choose a few that seem most relevant for the specific job you’re applying for. Which means that your summary repeats your key accomplishments. It’s a smart thing to be redundant with the most valuable info on your resume! A potential employer won’t mind that you insist on six-figure annual savings or growing from 3,000 to 6,000 employees over 3 years.

More tips for people in Human Resources

If you write a strong summary using these tips, potential employers are much more likely to give your resume a good read. And that’s a necessary step to getting more interviews!

If you’re looking for more advice specifically for HR professionals, check out 5 Accomplishments to Make your HR Advisor Resume Stand Out. But if you feel like 5 isn’t enough, get the HR Advisor Resume Hacking e-book!

Get your Dental Hygienist Resume Noticed, with a Compelling Summary

The resume summary is a very rich section designed to quickly demonstrate you’ve got what it takes! Let’s look at two examples of very compelling resume summaries for dental hygienists.

1. Highlights of resume for ABC Clinic (recent graduate example)

  • Dynamic dental hygienist who perfectly speaks English and Spanish.
  • Managed a daily schedule of up to 14 patients and demonstrated flexibility when last-minute changes occurred.
  • Recognized by peers as an excellent care provider and patient advocate.

2. Summary for XYZ Dental Clinic

  • 21 years of experience in dental hygiene, dental assisting and dental laboratory.
  • Introduced use of intra-oral camera with various educational tools and software, which reduced patients’ reluctance to treatment.
  • OSHA-trained in office management.
  • Succeeded in maintaining high patient retention during two practice transitions and one office relocation.
  • Entrusted with the training of new clinical team members.

The goal of the summary is to: 1. show you qualify and 2. build a strong first impression. And you do that very, very quickly, in a few bullets. Unless you’re too early in your career, you should mention how many years of experience you have. Also touch on the sectors or specialties you’ve worked in. You could also try to highlight one thing about your people skills, since interacting with clients is a key part of your job.

Make sure your resume summary is tailored!

Always remember the job listing when preparing your summary. Maybe you’ll see certain keywords in there that need to be emphasized. There’s no such thing as a good one-size-fits-all resume! It has to be customized. As I often repeat, accomplishments are the strongest elements of your resume, because they make you stand out from the crowd of dental hygienists. On your resume, you want as many accomplishments as possible. But in your summary, you have to choose a few that seem most relevant for the specific job you’re applying for. Which means that your summary repeats your key accomplishments. It’s a smart thing to be redundant with the most valuable info on your resume. A potential employer won’t mind that you insist on being skilled at training your peers or handling all sorts of patients!

If you write a strong summary using these tips, potential employers are much more likely to give your resume a good read. And that’s a necessary step to getting more interviews.

More tips for dental hygienists

If you’re looking for more advice specifically for dental hygiene, check out 5 accomplishments for dental hygienists. But if you feel like 5 isn’t enough, get the Dental Hygienist Resume Hacking e-book!

How Much Would You Pay for Job Interviews?

Imagine if you could simply pick job openings and pay companies to be part of the interviewees!

This means no resume tailoring, no networking, no changes to your LinkedIn profile. And no waiting in the dark. Just update your resume and head straight to the interviews!

For example, let’s say that you could line up interviews with 5 companies over the next two weeks, for $5,000. Would that be a good deal?

How much do you lose while not working?

We’re going to build a simple model (but don’t expect bulletproof, space station science!). We’ll start with $60,000 as our base salary, since it divides evenly to $5,000 per month.

Each month you spend not working, you’re losing around $5,000 in gross revenue. But when you factor in unemployment benefits, payroll taxes and so on, the actual difference in your bank account is lower. So let’s keep numbers manageable and use a monthly figure of $2,500 of lost income.

How long will you remain unemployed?

Now, the big question is: How long will you remain on the bench? Of course, there are general market conditions and certain elements specific to your sector. But, compared to your peers, your unemployment period will vary according to how fast you can line up interviews (interview frequency), and how you come across (experience and interviewing skills). So let’s look at these elements.

How many interviews can you get in a month?

It’s hard to find an average for interview frequency because it varies widely according to where you live and the type of work you want. The quality of your resume and your networking skills also play a big part in the number of interviews you’ll be invited to. But for the sake of our model, let’s say one interview per month.

To help illustrate what we’re discussing, let me introduce 3 characters with very different interview “batting averages.”

There’s the average fellow: Regular Tyler. You know, just a good guy. Next, there’s the delightful and well-spoken Confidence Florence. Employers love her! And finally, there’s Anxiety Larry, who needs to stop biting his nails during interviews.

Since it’s common for an employer to invite 4 to 6 candidates to interview for each job, we’ll use an average of 5. If employers were to pull a name out of a hat, the average probability of getting the job would be around 20% for each candidate. So Regular Tyler, being our average guy, probably has around 20% chances. However, Confidence Florence is hard to turn down. She might sit at 35% chances of being offered a job, while Anxiety Larry may be closer to 12%.

How long before you get offered a job?

Alright, now let’s crunch some numbers (probability calculations) to find out how long it takes to get a job offer. Let’s use the case of Regular Tyler.

Every time he interviews with a new company (regardless of the number of interviews he’ll actually have to sit through), his chances of getting a job offer are 20%. That’s his personal interview success rate (or “batting average”). (If you’ve been keeping track of your job searching activity over the years, you might have an idea of where you stand. If you need around 5 interviews before you get an offer, you’re probably around average, like Tyler.)

Of course, he could be lucky and get a job with the first company. But mathematically, his probability of getting a job offer exceeds 50% after interviewing with the 4th company! In the graph below, it’s the moment where he crosses the yellow line. (If you want to understand the probability calculations, it’s quite similar to trying to roll a 6 on a die.)

So if there’s one month between each of his interviews, Regular Tyler will have lost 4 times a potential income of $2,500 (the figure we established earlier) before his chances become positive (i.e. above 50%). That’s $10,000.

Considering this figure, getting 5 interviews for $5,000 would seem like an offer that’s worth considering, no?

The impact of interviewing skills

Now, what if we compared Regular Tyler to peers with much different people skills and interviewing skills?

At a rate of one interview per month, Confidence Florence would already be in positive territory (probability above 50%) when interviewing with a 2nd company. At the other end of the spectrum, Anxiety Larry would need to wait for his 6th interview cycle to cross that threshold!

This means that Confidence Florence would only miss out on $5,000, but poor Larry would stand to lose $15,000! And while that certainly hurts, it also comes with 6 months of financial stress and negative thoughts. That’s a heavy burden! (And in a strong recession like what the US experienced post-2009, 6 months could become 12 or 18 months…)

So our first big take-away is the importance of interviewing performance. If you’re already getting interviews, but struggle with getting a job offer, this is where you need to focus. (The silver lining here is that you look good on paper. Or that you have a strong network. Maybe both.)

Broadly speaking, interview performance can be separated in four elements:

  1. People skills (self-confidence, good communication, empathy).
  2. Interview strategy (preparing tough questions, knowing the few things that make you stand out, understanding what they’re looking for, researching the company beforehand).
  3. Interviewing technique (telling compelling stories, body language, providing concise answers, eye contact).
  4. Quality of your profile (experience, accomplishments, education).

While people skills take a lot of effort to improve, you can still work on making a good first impression. And everything else can be reviewed, polished and practiced quite a bit. Even the quality of your profile. Remember that they can’t guess if you’re average or great. They will mainly judge you based on your own words. If you can make your accomplishments compelling, they’ll notice.

If you improve your interviewing performance, you’ll get a job offer earlier on, and that’s a few paychecks in your pocket.

But before actually performing, you have to find potential employers to let you in. And for some, lining up many interviews is the bigger issue.

Getting more interviews

Your interview frequency is obviously critical to the amount of money you won’t be earning while looking for work. If everything else remains equal, interviewing more frequently means that you’ll be back on a company’s payroll sooner.

Let’s go back to Regular Tyler. What happens if he increases his interview frequency to two interviews per month, instead of one? He would reach the 4th interview after only 2 months. In our model, that means he would have $5,000 of potential loss, instead of $10,000 with the previous rate.

This creates an interesting comparison: Regular Tyler at 2 interviews per month is in the same boat as Confidence Florence with 1 interview per month. Both stand to limit their losses to $5,000. Which is quite good, frankly.

So, how do you go about getting more interviews? First of all, to know if your interviews are too few and far between, compare yourself to peers in your region.

To improve your interview frequency, you can work on:

  1. Networking.
  2. Accomplishments/key differentiators (for your resume, but also for upcoming interviews).
  3. Tailoring your resumes and cover letters.
  4. Finding job boards specifically for your field.

The big mistake here is to focus on the resume. While it does play a key role in the process, it’s not nearly as powerful as a thought-out networking effort.

Networking is about being visible and relevant in professional associations and alumni networks, at industry events and on LinkedIn. It’s also about directly contacting hiring managers or selected companies where you would like to work. Don’t wait for job ads! Very few job hunters proactively grow and leverage their network. And it’s probably their most precious asset for finding work.

Search as if there were thousands of dollars on the line…

Forgive me for stating the obvious, but there’s a lot of money on the line. And my point is not that “you should get a job as soon as you can when you’re unemployed.”  

No. My point is that if you don’t take a step back to prepare a smart job search strategy, you might be leaving thousands of dollars on the table!

If your plan amounts to quickly updating your resume, telling your friends to keep an eye out and then heading for the job boards, you’re not working smart. You might be working hard, but not smart.

First, are you doing the right things? Find websites, follow LinkedIn experts, buy books. Read and research this! It’s not rocket science, but there are lots of good practices, which are not always intuitive.

If you’ve got friends or family in HR (or maybe marketing), ask them to check out your resume and LinkedIn profile, to see if it makes you stand out. And buy them lunch. Get them to listen to your elevator pitch and ask you common interview questions. Be humble about their criticism. This is how you’ll grow.

And if you know of an area where you’re especially lacking (resume, networking or interviewing), get professional help! It will pay for itself quickly and will save you a lot of trouble. In my years as a resume writer, I’ve seen countless clients who were really surprised by what I could help them come up with through an hour or two of discussion. Sometimes it was about phrasing, but most importantly, they had often left out 4 or 5 key accomplishments! And accomplishments are what you need to stand out! Both on your resume and during interviews. I really think my work was a sound investment for my clients.

If you feel that you need to work on accomplishments, you could start with a very affordable solution: the Resume Hacking e-books, with tailored accomplishments for your profession. But really, the key is to invest yourself in your job search fully, as if there were thousands of dollars on the line. Because there are!

Get your Marketing Resume Noticed, with a Compelling Summary

The resume summary is a very rich section designed to quickly demonstrate you’ve got what it takes! Let’s look at two examples of very compelling resume summaries for marketing people.

1. Summary for ABC Inc.

  • Dynamic sales and marketing executive with 15 years of experience and a history of increasing revenues and profits, winning major new customers, expanding existing accounts and decreasing costs.
  • Demonstrated expertise in strategic planning, customer relationship management (CRM), sales leadership and management, national account sales, and marketing.
  • Initiated two successful marketing departments (business-to-consumer) in two different industries.
  • Prevented a $4M+ customer loss and bolstered CRM function by strengthening customer service resolution/inside sales processes.
  • Supervised 18 direct reports, 3 agencies and had P/L responsibility.

2. Profile

  • BBA in Marketing from University of Texas, with experience in social media marketing and a passion for everything digital.
  • Proven excellence in branding, media relations, partnership building, problem solving, strategy and public speaking.
  • Executed Facebook based marketing program which resulted in 22% increase of sales,106,000 Facebook fans and 43,000 unique email addresses.

The goal of the summary is to: 1. show you qualify and 2. build a strong first impression. And you do that very, very quickly, in a few bullets. Also, unless you’re too early in your career, you should mention how many years of experience you have. If appropriate, you can talk about your experience with current hot topics. Sectors or specialties you’ve worked in can also bring a nice touch.

Make sure your resume summary is tailored!

Always remember the job ad when preparing your summary. Maybe you’ll see certain keywords in there that need to be emphasized. There’s no such thing as a good one-size-fits-all resume. It has to be customized. As I often repeat, accomplishments are the strongest elements of your resume, because they make you stand out from the crowd of marketing professionals. On your resume, you want as many accomplishments as possible. But in your summary, you have to choose a few that seem most relevant for the specific job you’re applying for. Which means that your summary repeats your key accomplishments. It’s a smart thing to emphasize the most valuable info on your resume! A potential employer won’t mind that you insist on reaching 100,000 Facebook fans or supervising 18 employees!

More tips for people in marketing

If you write a strong summary using these tips, potential employers are much more likely to give your resume a good read. And that’s a necessary step to getting more interviews!

If you’re looking for more advice specifically for marketers, check out 5 Accomplishments to Make your Marketing Resume Stand Out. But if you feel like 5 isn’t enough, get the Marketing Resume Hacking e-book!

Get your Web Developer Resume Noticed, with a Compelling Summary

Recruiters looking for web devs might not have a clear picture of what they need (programming? design? user experience? social media?). And since “internet magic” is a bit too vague, your resume should start with a resume summary: a very rich section designed to quickly demonstrate you’ve got what it takes! Let’s look at two strong examples of resume summaries for web developers.

1. Highlights of resume for Peach Inc.

  • B. Sc. in Web Development with 8 years of LAMP development (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP).
  • Excellent communication skills, with ability to understand both technical and business concepts and requirements.
  • As the owner of [company], developed, enhanced and corrected more than 150 websites for small businesses.
  • Created new forms to collect and validate data from the user in HTML5 and JavaScript, which improved completion rate by 55%.
  • Managed hardware and software for eCommerce department in 2012-2013 (including budgets, purchasing/inventory) and assisted with deployment of assets, reducing costs by $83,000.

2. Summary for Tires ABC Inc.

  • 20 years of experience in technology, 12 of which in front-end web development, including Client/Server application design.
  • Extensive experience as a web developer specializing in MVC and Single Page Application (SPA) design, development and deployment in Linux and Windows environment.
  • Key accomplishment: Managed [company]’s 30 websites through entire project cycle from concept, design/layout, and development to hosting, upgrading and maintenance.
  • Key accomplishment: Converted Drupal site [redacted].com into HTML/CSS. Created an Accordion View for Drupal website [redacted].com.

The goal of the summary is to: 1. show you qualify and 2. build a strong first impression. And you do that very, very quickly, in a few bullets. Unless you’re too early in your career, you should mention how many years of experience you have. Also touch on the sectors or tools you’re good with. For example, try to highlight your expertise with certain programming languages, CMS or other tools.

Make sure your resume summary is tailored!

Always remember the job ad when preparing your summary. Maybe you’ll see certain keywords in there that need to be emphasized. There’s no such thing as a good one-size-fits-all resume. It has to be customized.

As I often repeat, accomplishments are the strongest elements of your resume, because they make you stand out from the crowd of web devs. On your resume, you want as many accomplishments as possible. But in your summary, you have to choose a few that seem most relevant for the specific job you’re applying for. Which means that your summary repeats your key accomplishments. It’s a smart thing to be redundant with the most valuable info on your resume! A potential employer won’t mind that you insist on the fact that you’ve managed 30 websites or have improved form-completion rates by 55%!

If you write a strong summary using these tips, potential employers are much more likely to give your resume a good read. And that’s a necessary step to getting more interviews!

More tips for web devs

If you’re looking for more advice specifically for web developers, check out 5 accomplishments for web developers. But if you feel like 5 isn’t enough, get the Web Developer Resume Hacking e-book!