Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Resumes for Dummies 7th Edition by Laura DeCarlo

Don't you wish you had a comprehensive resume development reference in your library? If you are tired of browsing the internet, done with trying to decipher conflicting guidance, and ready to move forward with developing the most valuable tool you will ever need to support career advancement, pick up the 7th Edition of Resumes for Dummies. 
This latest version is jam packed with knowledge and insight shared by the most qualified professionals in the career development industry! 

It was an honor to be solicited to contribute to this reference, and it will be even more exciting and rewarding to be a part of making a difference in your life by turning you onto this amazing resource. No other reference compares and no other source is as complete with expert advice.
Quit scratching your head and get right to the source of job search secrets and resume development strategies!         


Wednesday, August 5, 2015

How do I find help with my Résumé?

Locate a Certified Career Development Professional, Career Coach, or Certified Professional Résumé Writer through one of the career development industry’s prestigious organizations. Validate service provider credentials, find a provider that specializes in your line of work, take charge of your destiny, and advance in reaching career goals!

Career Directors International (CDI)
National Résumé Write’s Association (NRWA)
Career Thought Leaders (CTL)
Résumé Writing Academy (RWA)
Professional Association of Résumé Writers and Career Coaches (PARW-CC)


How do I Convey Experience in the Résumé

Before you fall victim to creating your résumé based on dated guidance and antiquated reference materials that do nothing to set you apart from the competition, consider what the intent of the traditional résumé is.

Quite simply, the résumé is a snapshot of your background and previous experience. The content reflects your knowledge, skills, and abilities gained through your entire life experience – not just experience gained through previous employment history!    

Often, job seekers find themselves at a loss when seeking new opportunity or changing careers. Challenges appear when obtaining a new degree, discovering an interest in new ventures through volunteer work, or transitioning their skill set into another industry. Even more challenging, is when employers indicate they require candidates to possess experience (anywhere from 1-10 years in a particular field) or prefer candidates with academic education in the form of a degree.  

“I have a degree, but no experience..”

“I know I can do this job, I did the same thing as a volunteer for ten years….”

“I have no formal training, but learned all about XYZ while observing intricate daily operations of this organization for the last decade…”

“I learned how to write articles from years of reading publications of renowned authors…”

“I have no high school diploma, no degree, and no official certifications, yet am qualified. After 20 years of career progression in the same company, I know the job inside and out. I cannot compete with someone that has the education or a degree…”         

Employers want to know that you can do the job. They want to know what you bring to the table, not just in aspects of formal education but also the experience gained through hands-on application of concepts and acquired knowledge. If you can convey the right message, demonstrate that you possess the required skills and can, in fact, perform the job in the way that aligns with the employer’s expectations, new doors will open.        

The Merriam-Webster Definition of Experience:

*direct observation of or participation in events as a basis of knowledge 

*the fact or state of having been affected by or gained knowledge through direct observation or participation

*practical knowledge, skill, or practice derived from direct observation of or participation in events or a particular activity 

*the length of such participation ten
years' experience in the job>
*the conscious events that make up an individual life 

*the events that make up the conscious past of a community or nation or humankind generally

*something personally encountered, undergone, or lived through

*the act or process of directly perceiving events or reality

For now, forget about the traditional résumé. Online application programs and talent management systems offer candidates plenty of space to describe their previous skill set. Résumés created through online application programs sometimes well exceed the size of the traditional, one-two page résumé. In fact, there are explicit guidelines for including volunteer work and experience gained through multiple forums when seeking opportunity in government assignments. Use space to your advantage.

Rather than focusing on just employment entries, include time spent in volunteer assignments, time spent pursuing advanced education, or formal degrees, time spent in culturally diverse atmospheres, and the time spent pursuing personal interests. The bonus of this strategy is that you will generate credit for experience through automated screening programs, and these entries will help you cover gaps when removed from the traditional workforce.

Once you have a solid foundation of online résumé data, you can strategically pull information to develop the targeted snapshot, or traditional résumé typically used for interviews and networking.            


Monday, July 2, 2012

Online - ATS Compatible Résumé (ACR)

The most valuable service I provide to job seekers is to help them take charge of their own destiny in the corporate world.  True empowerment comes with being fully educated on the technologically that drives the job search in today’s labor market.         

How often have you heard this statement when reading guidance or talking about writing your Résumé:

‘There is no one size fits all’? Ever wonder what people are talking about?  That phrase starts to make much more sense when used in conjunction with discussions about ATS or Applicant Tracking Systems (also referred to as talent management systems).  What some may not realize, is that this phrase (no one size fits all) does not apply to the traditional version of the résumé.

However, it totally applies to the version you use to apply for job opportunities online. Let me introduce you to the Online – ATS Compatible Résumé (ACR), or the document you use to tackle online applications. The ACR is a living breathing document. You must tailor it to fit each job announcement, and it must be revised often to fit each job announcement, especially if you want the computer program (talent management system) or ATS system software to convey that you are the exact candidate the employer is looking for.  These computer systems analyze your information based on specific parameters (the job announcement or duty description) as defined by employers and HR reps. No two job announcements are written the same – thus the reason you must modify your content to score high during the screening process and gain recognition through these systems.

The traditional résumé serves as nothing more than a snapshot of your career history. If prepared correctly, only minor updates are needed as you progress in your career. You cannot possibly capture everything you ever accomplished in a 30 year career in just one or two pages, right?

Have you ever wondered why when you apply on line, the program directs you to “cut and paste your résumé here, oh, and by the way, attach your word document here”?  Quite simply, this represents two different processes. Unless the content of what you cut and paste into the program can be properly parsed and interpreted by the computer program, the pretty traditional version of your résumé will never be viewed by the hiring official. And, if there is only one option – “upload your résumé here”, stick with your properly formatted ACR Version of the résumé. Then, present your visually appealing snapshot or traditional résumé when contacted for the interview.      

There is much more to know. Ever wonder why you receive little or no response from submitting your résumé hundreds of times through online forums? 

If you have not properly formatted your ACR, and rely strictly on changing up the content of your résumé to an ASCII or plain text format with no modification to the presentation and formatting of content – a large majority of your information may be lost during the screening process.    

Want to learn more?  Reach out to me at Parker-CPRW to learn how you truly can conduct a successful, productive, rewarding job search in today’s labor market!     

Lisa Parker, CPRW, CEIP  

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Navigating the Online Application Process

The Online Application Process

Do these questions or comments sound familiar to you?

How do I capture 25 years of experience in just two pages?

Why do I never seem to get a response to my online applications?

Why did the employer say I was under qualified?  I have 15 years of experience!

They must be crazy - I bet they did not even read my résumé.

How do I know what the employer sees?

What am I doing wrong?

Can you help me?

If I can just get to the interview, I could explain……

Of course, you have (over and over again - even hundreds of times).  Here is another thought for you to ponder:  Most online applications direct the candidate to “cut and paste your résumé here.”  Oh, and by the way, “upload your résumé here.” The first thought any job seeker has, is “Why do I have to do this twice?”  The red flag is up and waiving, but most people just move on through the process and try not to think about the real reason.  They go ahead and cut and paste the information from their word document (the résumé), wondering why they are wasting valuable time, but know they have to do it to finish the application.  The answer is quite simple – two different processes. 

When you apply for a job online, you are sending your information through a Talent Management or Applicant Tracking System; commonly referred to as the online application program or ATS System. This is an automated program designed to track applicants (hundreds and thousands).  The ATS System manages data and screens the résumé of online applicants – or the information that they cut and paste into the program. The system parses or interprets the candidates information, summarizes the years of experience in a particular concept (or key word) based on the job announcement criteria.  If the candidate scores high enough, the application is “flagged” for a person (HR Representative, Recruiter, or Hiring Authority) to review. This “person” receives a Qualification Summary, or a computer generated report that has parsed and interpreted the data and outlines credit for experience based on the applicant’s skill set.  Then, this “person” will print out the “traditional résumé or word document to get an idea of how this person presents his or her self on paper.  Does that make any sense?

There has been little if any guidance provided to the general population on exactly how these systems are programmed to interpret the data they receive, yet you should know there is a distinct difference in formatting requirements, for the online-version of the résumé vs. the traditional résumé presentation.

Yes, if you want to present a visually appealing résumé commensurate with the competition, and still tackle the online application process successfully, you must have two completely different versions of your information compiled. 

Understand that the traditional résumé (the pretty-pretty version used for networking, interviews, and job fairs) only serves as a snapshot of your experience (the reason it becomes challenging to document a career that may span over 25 years). The traditional version of your résumé can rarely be used to tackle the online job search effectively due to a variety of reasons (formatting and content presentation) and if you cannot make it through the online ATS system, the traditional or pretty version serves no purpose.       

By understanding how the typical ATS system parses, interprets, and quantifies your skill set, you will be empowered to pursue every opportunity and finally, receive invitations to the interview.

To get ready for the online application process, prepare to “talk” to the computer system. Capture and copy all of the data from your traditional or pretty version of the résumé. Remove all formatting (graphics, text boxes, creative fonts, etc.) and save in a simple word document, one inch margins all around, using a simple font (times roman, arial, tahoma, or courier).  Save as a simple Word 2003 document (.doc) or as a plain text document (.txt) that opens in notepad.    

Properly Format Your Information

The most important thing to understand is that the basic programing of talent management or applicant tracking systems is fairly standard throughout the industry.  The systems are designed to parse and search for specific data. Additionally, the space allocated for candidates to portray their skill set is not unlimited, but certainly does provide a great deal more room to incorporate a skill set; unlike the standard one or two page résumé!

The typical ATS System is designed to look for standard subject headings followed by supporting information:

Contact Info | Summary or Objective | Experience | Education | Publications | Certifications

Note: On the traditional or pretty version of the résumé, you can use any subheading you like (Professional Profile, Objective, Core Competencies, Key Attributes, Professional Affiliations, Community, or Awards), but if you use these headers on the document you submit through an ATS system, the program will not be able to recognize or interpret the entry and will skip over the section completely!   

Contact Info:  ATS Systems will find it difficult to interpret a P.O. Box as an address.  Most ATS systems will not locate or interpret an address posted as a P.O. Box, therefore the information will reflect on the employer’s end as “missing”.  If possible, always strive to use a street address.

Summary or Objective: If you must include a professional profile, call it a “Summary” or “Objective”.  Remember that the ATS System will not give credit (years of experience) for any key words, or quantify the data found in a summary statement.    

Note:  If you want the ATS System or computer to give credit, or quantify content commonly placed under subheadings such as Summary, Professional Profile, Objective, Core Competencies, Key Attributes, Professional Affiliations, Community, or Awards, incorporate this information under a period of employment - somewhere in the presentation!        

Experience: An ATS System will search for the company name, the job title, and the dates of employment. Some ATS programs will not interpret or parse for the location, even though we use that as a standard for employer entries. To help the system identify an employer, or to be sure that the system correctly identifies an employer, you can trick the system into reading the employer name by following it with LLC, Inc., Corp, or Company. In other words, some systems may not interpret an employer such as “Department of Defense” properly.  Using a period at the end of the employer description helps the system move on in parsing the document. If you use any other dates in the duty description or responsibilities, the system may interpret that as a “break” and start another period of employment. 

Education: List the degree, list the major, list the university, list the date completed, and end each entry with a period. 

Certifications: Start with the word Certified, Certificate, or Certification; state the concept, state where obtained, list the year received, end each entry with a period [Certified Electrician, Department of Education, 2012.].

How to Quantify Years of Experience for the ATS Qualification Summary

The qualification summary (years of experience in a particular concept) is generated based on the use of a key word or phrase under a specific period of employment.  The ATS system looks for key words or phrases that mirror content found in a particular job announcement (remember hearing how the résumé must change for each job, there is no one size fits all……). When the system identifies a key word or concept listed under a period of employment, the system calculates the number of years a candidate held that position and provides credit for years of experience in that concept.  Just because the ATS System identifies a key word under one employer, programming will not allow the system to “assume” that the applicant worked with that concept for their entire career! If you list a concept such as “Microsoft Word” or “accounting” only once under a two-year period of employment, you will only gain credit for two years in experience. If you make sure to repeat the key word under each period of employment, you will help the computer program properly quantify your level of experience.  

A good example (although not the best) would be a candidate that worked construction for two years in one company right out of high school, while obtaining a degree (say using the key word welding). This same candidate obtained a degree in nursing and worked for the last eight years in one company providing “patient care”.  When the information is parsed and interpreted by the computer system, the candidate’s qualification summary will reflect “welding – two years” and “patient care – eight years”. This process does start to make some sense, as the computer programs do exactly what they are told to do when designed and/or programmed – they manage talent.                       

For candidates that have spent 30 years in one job, the task of presenting a skill set is very easy. For each key word mentioned in this “one job” scenario, the qualification summary will provide credit for 30 years of experience.  The traditional résumé is a snapshot of a candidate’s background. We cannot possible portray every accomplishment over a 30 year career, in just one or two pages.  Nor can we repeat each key word or concept spanning a 30 year career, with a work history compiled of sporadic jobs that lasted two to five years each, and still remain within the widely accepted parameters of two pages for the traditional résumé.

Once you master the concepts behind the online application, be sure to redirect your efforts in developing well written version of your Traditional Résumé Presentation. The competition is tough and you may be quite surprised to find, that employers are intrigued to locate a visually appealing, exciting, and dynamic presentation to review in the bottomless stack of applicants!          

Essentially - It’s All About the Strategy……….

Contact Lisa Parker, CPRW through the Professional Association of Résumé Writers and Career Coaches, or visit to learn more about competing for opportunity in today’s labor market!     

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Dusting Off - The Old Résumé

In May 2010, the Georgia Department of Labor reported that over 57,000 initial unemployment claims were filed with Atlanta leading other state regions in claims; reporting just over 28,000.

If you are a statistic of the 10.2% unemployed citizens in the state of Georgia, you know first-hand that the competition for placement in this labor market is tough. Businesses have made cut backs in most every area, to include employees, and with minor spikes in supply and demand; employers are reluctant to return to previous staffing levels.

This situation leaves job seekers desperate to find employment, as unemployment compensation benefits are limited. Time is running out, and many job seekers find themselves faced with new trends in securing employment. For the first time ever, many employers are asking for a résumé; and in some cases, doing this for positions that pay only minimum wage. Additionally, many employers track job applicants through automated data management systems, and will only accept employment applications through online programs.

The new strategies used by Human Resource Managers and employers to screen applicants may help them streamline the hiring process, but may also hinder their ability to hire the best candidate. Many of the more seasoned professionals have spent the majority of their career in stable employment, and have not had the opportunity to keep up with advancements in technology that support these new processes, so many job seekers find themselves at a loss if they cannot get their foot in the door to speak with a representative. The competition is tough, and it appears that those more familiar with automated assets have the advantage over those who lack the communication assets needed to apply for vacancies, even if they possess commendable experience or credentials.

Well, the only choice is the one that most job seekers find brings on more stress than the lack of a steady paycheck – writing the résumé. When a potential candidate has had the security of stable employment, and has not had to keep up with the strategies used to prepare a value-based, targeted résumé, they quickly find this task to be “challenging”.

The standard approach usually consists of going back through the years and remembering the guidance received when first starting out on a career path.

Gathering the contact information is easy; name, address, home phone, cell phone number, and e-mail address. Next, most job seekers decide to include an objective statement; a requirement still promoted by some members of the academic community, and remembered as a “must include” by the average professional. Finally, a chronological list of employers, responsibilities, education, and personal interests follows and the résumé begins to come to life.

Armed with the basic requirement, the job seeker sets out to obtain employment, and quickly comes to realize that the new résumé does not seem to be producing the expected results. Trying to identify exactly what may be the problem leads an already fear filled, desperate job seeker down a confusing path of information overload. Once you have made the decision to seek help in developing your Professional Résumé Presentation, things tend to get even more interesting.

The internet is filled with résumé help, and hundreds of service providers, but it can be overwhelming to decide which service is credible. The pressure to make a decision when seeking immediate help can cloud the ability to use sound judgment, and being vulnerable makes it easy for unethical services to take advantage of a serious situation.

By being an educated job seeker, you can avoid the anguish associated with finding a service provider that can help you address your career development needs. Knowing where to start when seeking professional guidance is priceless. The following information summarizes a few of the most valuable resources.

The Professional Association of Résumé Writers and Career Coaches (PARW-CC)
is the career development industry’s original certification organization for career development professionals, and résumé writers. PARW-CC is contracted by the Department of Labor, and the Federal Government to provide certification for their career development and employment service specialists.

Launched in 1990, PARW-CC is the industry standard and most reliable resource for identifying Certified Professional Résumé Writers (CPRW), Certified Employment Interview Professionals (CEIP), and Certified Professional Career Coaches (CPCC). On the PARW Web site, you will find a list of credentialed career assistance professionals, making it easy for job seekers to locate legitimate service providers around the world. The best thing about this resource is; that if a service provider is listed on the PARW Web site, you can be sure that they strive to uphold a strict Code of Ethics, maintain currency on trends in the résumé writing industry, and take their role in career development very seriously. Trends in the labor market, and the things an employer will look for in a candidate change on a regular basis, and even though a service provider may have obtained one of the certification credentials previously; if they do not keep up with trends in the industry – how will you know the product they provide is up to date? Visit PARW and check out the credentials of any service provider, prior to contracting them to work your project.

Georgia Department of Labor
Many career centers throughout the state provide résumé writing classes, and many of them have a Certified Professional Résumé Writer (CPRW) on staff that can assist job seekers as they prepare their most valuable marketing document. They may not be able to write your résumé for you, but they can provide some valuable guidance as you try to promote your value as a potential candidate. The career centers also maintain an extensive library, stocked with many of the most sought after résumé writing resources, and provide workstations where clients can use a computer to develop a simple résumé. Additionally, these services are free. Once you register with the Department of Labor, develop a viable résumé, and speak with an Employment Career Counselor, you will be well on your way to getting your foot in the door with a local employer.

National Résumé Writers Association (NRWA)
This organization was launched in 1996, in order to keep up with the growing need for résumé writers and career development professionals, and was spearheaded by some of the professionals originally certified by PARW-CC. As mentioned on their web site, with a mission to support the continued advancement and development of Professional Résumé Writers; NRWA developed a multi-step certification process for those seeking career development credentials, and takes pride in certifying some of the best résumé writers in the career development industry.

The NRWA is actively involved in public education and awareness initiatives. Through partnerships and alliances, NRWA is able to contribute not only to the career development industry, but also to those individuals seeking to advance in their professional careers. One of their most notable partnerships is with Southworth Paper, the most recognized and prominent supplier of résumé writing paper, folders, envelops, and accessories for job seekers. Included in each package of Southworth’s line of professional, watermarked résumé paper; you will find a résumé guide, complete with information about NRWA and the value of a properly written résumé presentation.

Consider this when contracting a Certified Career Development Professional; the cost is an investment in your future. These professionals are experts in their career field, just as you are an expert in yours. Pricing will vary in range, and prices are usually quoted based on the challenges your particular situation presents to the service provider, whether it be writing a Professional Résumé, or providing Career Development service.

A Certified Professional or credentialed service provider can be expected to charge by the hour, or by the project. Prices may range anywhere from $35-$90 per hour, or by the project from $185, well up into the thousands depending on the client’s professional background or career goal. If you happen to locate a service provider who charges a very low or standard fee for various levels of the workforce, make sure that you conduct your research and carefully consider your decision to move forward in contracting the service. This is one area where the old saying that “you get what you pay for” is very close to the truth.

Ms. Parker is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer (CPRW), Certified Employment Interview Professional (CEIP), Retired Service Member, Member of the PARW-CC Certification / Credentialing Committee, and Owner/Operator of Parker-CPRW.

Friday, June 25, 2010

A Great Résumé Writing Resource!

As a Retired Service Member, Certified Professional Résumé Writer (CPRW), owner of Parker-CPRW, and member of the PARW-CC Certification Committee, it is not often that I find an online resource that provides reliable information and resources for job seekers.

I ran across a site that I find very refreshing, as the contributors are hand selected by the web site host, and in most cases are certified service providers. In reviewing the contributions, it is apparent that the contributors make every effort to keep up with the trends in the labor market; as well as consider the needs of employers when guiding job seekers.

Do yourself a favor, if you are seeking reliable help in preparing your résumé, cover letter, or thinking about the next job hunt, and check out a service provider known as Workbloom.