Written by Susan Lamphiear
“It’s not the evil empire out there, people,” Brenda Cunningham tells job seekers trying to craft their resumes. It’s a matter of convenience that companies are trying to deal with the huge numbers of resumes they are likely to receive for any given available position.
“Think of the resume as a marketing tool,” stresses Martha Rockwell. It’s all about using your very specific, targeted, resume to nab that precious interview.
“Focus on the HEADLINE,” Donna Tucker reminds us. Include that vital section on what VALUE you, specifically, bring to their business.
“No such thing as a generic resume exists,” explains Amanda Miller. Today’s resume more than ever before must be crafted and drafted for each position you apply for.
These four experts formed the resume panel, hosted by Career Connector’s Founder and CEO Jessica Pierce, who asked the bottom line questions job seekers long to have answered. Host of the panel, Jessica began using her own skills in resume building–and created Career Connectors eventually–when she and her husband were both laid off in 2009, and she turned to helping other job hunters at her church design their resumes.
The panel did not disappoint. Made up of professionals in resume writing, they possess certifications, belong to professional organizations like the Resume Writers Council of Arizona and the National Resume Writers Association, receive ongoing training, including national conferences, and well, they have years of experience helping job seekers design very specific resumes with the end goal of getting the interview. They are EXPERTS and their certification process is rigorous.
Biggest Resume Mistakes
- Failing to highlight or even include your accomplishments and results of your job experience. Use numbers if possible. Percents. Dollars saved. Numbers of people served.
- Missing, incorrect, inappropriate, or confusing information. Be sure to include your name! Include only one phone number to avoid confusion. Ideally use the preferred Gmail email account. DO NOT use inappropriate email addresses like firstname.lastname@example.org! Retire your AOL account!! Customize your LinkedIn profile URL.
- No goal is evident (no common theme). Include RELEVANT experience.
- Failing to take advice from experts. Professional resume writers are always learning and keeping up with industry expectations and following Best Practices.
Guidelines in Creating Your Resume
- There’s not one single kind of resume. Different companies and positions may need different focus.
- Remember professional resume writers use Best Practices; some companies and government agencies require specific formats. Be aware of requirements. The State of Arizona, for example, wants you to include ALL your work history. If it’s a requirement when you apply, then DO IT!
- Regarding COVER LETTERS. If there’s no place to include a cover letter, do NOT include one and DO NOT attach it to the resume. If you do, it interferes with the Applicant Tracking System (ATS). But if directions say a cover letter is “optional,” then INCLUDE your cover letter.
- Keywords are vital to the ATS. Don’t get creative with terms. Use standard terms like “experience.” Sometimes there are multiple names for the same or similar titles–change the title to match the job you’re applying for. If two terms describe your job, use the term used in that industry or the most standard term. The ATS may quickly eliminate you for consideration if it doesn’t recognize your key terms. Make sure your resume title reflects the work for which you’re applying.
- Measure your accomplishments–don’t just say you did it well. Avoid empty phrases like “consummate professional.” Results matter more than adjectives. What was your budget, did you meet it, and was it on time? Use exact numbers wherever possible. How much money did you save the company? What were your accomplishments? Did you make people happy? Did you improve something or create a process? Did you reduce or eliminate or streamline something? Use bullet points starting with action words to highlight what you did at the company. Don’t just explain your job description–instead, what were your RESULTS? Scale and scope of accomplishments are important. How many? How much?
Details to Consider in Crafting Your Resume
FONTS: No smaller than 10-point font. No lower than 10-point on sans serif fonts, 11-point on serif fonts. Try to take no more than two pages. Put a header on page two in case it gets separated from page one.
EXPERIENCE: Include up to 10 to 15 years of experience. Add an “additional experience” section without dates for prior relative experience.
DATES: Only include dates on degrees if it is recent and explains lack of experience. We often give away information when we don’t need to.
EMAIL: Gmail is the preferred general email program. Don’t use funny, silly, or childish email addresses.
ATS: Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) vary. Some cannot read newer or fancy fonts. Use standard fonts. Use standard headings. Put dates on the right side. Use .doc instead of .pdf format.
BULLETS: Begin bullets points with action words, then the accomplishment and how you did it.
EMPLOYMENT GAPS: Up to a six-month employment gap is acceptable without explanation. Explain longer gaps with a simple, one-sentence explanation. Don’t use dates, even in the interview. It’s YOUR business. For mothers with gaps of years, remember to use volunteer experience such as PTA or anything at school. In the experience section, especially in the volunteer category–10-15 years of experience–it doesn’t need to be paid to be considered experience!
VOLUNTEERING: Fill in gaps with contract work or training or volunteering in your field. Volunteer work counts as experience on a resume. If you don’t have current experience related to the job you’re seeking, get some experience NOW by volunteering, getting a certification, or taking a class.
AVOID: Do Not include an “Objective” or the phrase “References available upon request.”
PROFESSIONAL HELP: Consider working with a professional resume writer because that means your resume reflects best practices. Or do your homework and at least consider having a professional review your final resume.
Jeff Shewan, HR Associate
USAA seeks to be the provider of choice to the military community. Their mission is to facilitate the financial security of their members, associates and families, by providing a full range of competitive financial products and services. They offer products including comprehensive financial services of banking, investment, property and life insurance, and financial advice. Phoenix employs over 4800 people.
Jobs at USAA North Phoenix–at Happy Valley Road and I-17–include customer service, insurance, banking, IT software developers, and risk compliance. Perks include paid time off accrued by years of service, 12 weeks of paid maternity and paternity leave, a wellness program–including fitness center, energy/relax zones, and healthy points program.
USAA wants you to know military members are their primary focus, with thirty percent of new hires being veterans or military spouses, and they are mission-focused.
USAA is looking for employees who are mission focused and possess both the needed job experience and the certain fit–people who will do justice to their clients–their customers.
To apply, go online to set up a profile– including setting a keyword alert. Also, you can change your resume each time you apply for a different job. Click here to apply online for jobs.
Career Connectors Academy Training Program
Landi Carfi, Brighton College, VP Corporate Training
Career Connectors is proud to partner with Brighton College to form Career Connectors Academy. The Academy offers a wide variety of accredited online certificate programs, along with many professional development classes. Our focus is on quality and affordability. You will find the best online certificate programs!
Brighton College is proud to launch this new partnership with Career Connectors to offer the best support from both organizations.
Brighton strives to create an ultimate learning experience, driving employment skills for working, non-working and under-served adults.
The college provides short term certification programs discounted for Career Connectors Academy (30% discounts for programs already reasonably priced and payment programs while you are enrolled are available as low as $39 per month.) The average time invested typically ranges from three to four months.
Included among their certification offerings are the following: Technical Support, Programming, Cyber Security Medical Billing Coding, Pharmacy Technician, Web & Graphic Design (very big now), and Computer Aided Drafting & Design (CADD).
Throughout your time with Brighton, you receive support with issues such as awareness, onboarding and graduation. Then after you complete your coursework, career services are offered including professional development, employability and lifetime support.
For more information, visit the website and apply.
After the formal meeting, Founder/CEO of Career Connectors, Jessica Pierce invited attendees to visit with and take advantage of the expertise of hiring managers, resume and LinkedIn experts, financial planners, and the professional photographer who does free head shots. She also thanked Volunteers and the host, Highlands Church.