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.

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Strategy Behind Bold

When preparing a résumé, the use of bold print is one of those things in the back of your mind that you should incorporate. Once all of the information has been gathered and typed into some sort of format, and the résumé is essentially complete, the first thing the average person does is go back and highlight items throughout the presentation in BOLD.

This event usually signals the light at the end of the tunnel, as the preparation process was absolutely, exhausting. The gathering of information took days, and trying to come up with a format was equally tiring, when having so many choices. Just having to consider all of the different approaches in résumé writing found out there on the Internet today can be intimidating. Then, you have to complete the task of compiling (writing) your information in the “best style” ever, in ways that each of us has fantasized will “wow” the reviewer.

Finally, after days or even weeks; the “Best Résumé Ever” is in the final stages of being ready to submit. With glee and a final sense of accomplishment, the final touches are set in motion to define our creative flair.

On average, the subject matter or things that people will use bold font on can be quite amusing. Some presentations will have only the dates of employment in bold (2003-Present); others will have the candidate’s name and category headings in bold (Professional Experience or Education), though some will use capital letters to help make these headings stand out. In some cases, the applicants address, phone number or even e-mail address is considered important information and call for bold accents. On occasion, you will find the employer name and/or job title prominently displayed in bold highlights, and of course the high school or college degree and institution.

For just as many people you find out there preparing a résumé, you will find just as many variations in the use of bold print when adding the final touches. What many people do not consider, is that there really is a strategy involved in using the bold print. How you choose to use the bold print can portray quite a bit of information to the reviewer about your approach in life, or to getting the job done. If your use of bold print seems hap hazardous, inconsistent, does not portray a theme, or employ a methodical approach; you may be sending the wrong message. Notice how nothing in this paragraph stands out?

Consider the following perspective when you set out to send a message to the employer, and decide to use bold highlights in your résumé presentation.

The purpose of bold font is to draw the eye to certain information, from the beginning of your résumé, right on down the first page and into the second. The information portrayed in bold should be the information you want the reviewer to notice, and to remember. When you consider that the typical résumé only receives 10-20 seconds of attention (some résumés receive even less), the use of bold print can be your best friend. Did you find your eye drawn to this statement when you began reading this paragraph?

Only the most valuable bits of information on a résumé should be portrayed in bold, and depending upon your career field or objective; this information will vary from one presentation to another.
The first and most common strategy is to highlight your name. You want to use an interesting font, and you want to portray personality through your name; in a way that the employer will remember the visual impact and associate your name with the position you are seeking.

The next most important thing to highlight is your job title. Most presentations today will list a job title right up front, and that should be the next thing the reviewer sees. The job title you choose to list should match the position you are applying for, and should be in bold. This covers two important areas. You have told the employer that you are exactly who they are looking for and stated your objective early on; and you have saved the employer valuable time, as they do not have to determine what your value is or what position you are seeking by reading through your information. This small attribute will leave a positive impression on the reviewer, almost at the most sub-conscious level, but there nonetheless.

This strategy can also be applied if you are using an objective statement or a profile narrative on your résumé. Make sure that you are careful to incorporate a job title in your statement, and highlight the information. Remember, that there is never a one size fits all résumé – you must design each résumé for the position you are currently seeking. Along these same lines, make sure that you highlight the job titles you have held when you incorporate your employment history. This strategy will draw the reviewer’s eye to your previous assignments; show progression in responsibilities and document advancement in your career field.

So, at this point, we have made sure the employer knows who we are, what job we are seeking, and this information is now reinforced by highlighting the job titles previously held. Great start! In other words, the target employer could care less about the names of your previous employers. If you choose to highlight the previous dates of employment, you are taking valuable review seconds away from other information in your presentation; not to mention drawing attention to the length of employment or any gaps in employment history you may have experienced.

The next strategy is to highlight a valuable contribution or accomplishment you have achieved in order to keep the eye moving, and prompt the reviewer to gather as much valuable information in the short period allotted as possible. By applying the bold font to a portion of one or more statements further down in your résumé, you will accomplish this task. For this strategy to be effective, the information you highlight needs to make a statement in itself. Review the following statement to get an idea of how this works; this statement provides two different opportunities to use the bold print effectively.

Negotiated a $10 million venture capital investment in XYZ Corporation which generated $1 billion in revenue over 15 years.

Negotiated a $10 million venture capital investment in XYZ Corporation which generated $1 billion in revenue over 15 years.

Negotiated a $10 million venture capital investment in XYZ Corporation which generated $1 billion in revenue over 15 years.

Notice how the highlighted text makes a statement in itself and could stand alone?

Negotiated a $10 million venture capital investment.

Generated $1 billion in revenue over 15 years.

Be selective in the information you choose to highlight, and refrain from overkill. Too much bold print can render the entire process just as ineffective as a bad strategy in choosing the wrong information to highlight. As a general rule of thumb, the use of bold is most effective when used sparingly and when well spaced throughout the page.

There is absolutely, nothing wrong with highlighting your education, degree, or special training that supports your objective. This is especially true if the employer has determined that a particular degree or level of education is a condition of employment. If this is the case, then you may want to incorporate the education information on the first page and draw the same attention to this qualification as you would your name and job title.

As long as you follow the basic concept, you will be able to intrigue the reviewer with the information presented in your résumé, and effectively portray the potential, or value you will bring to the organization. The competition is tough, and the little things that you use to promote yourself can go a long way. Your strategic use of bold print will serve to draw the eye down the first page, and on into the second as the reviewer tries to absorb more important information as quick as possible!