Resume Writing: 4 Disasters to Avoid

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Resume writing. It’s a chore many of us don’t do very often. Not surprisingly, a lot of resumes are a disaster—a kiss of death when you’re actively job hunting.

Even resumes from services that charge huge fees can be disasters. One man asked my opinion about a resume that an online service did for him—for a hefty $800 fee. I had to tell him he’d been ripped off. The copy looked like a high school student had written it.

If you recognize your resume in these descriptions, be sure to visit our resume page.

Here are a few common resume disasters:

1. The On-and-On-and-On Resume

A Chicagoland woman sent me a resume that was seven pages long. No matter how fascinating your career might be, no one wants to get seven pages from you. You need to select the best information.

Imagine that basketball great Michael Jordan was writing his resume—not that he needs one! We COULD list every single game he’d ever played and give his statistics from each one. But that would be utterly tedious. Even the most die hard basketball fans would be snoozing before they got a quarter of the way through it.

Instead, Mr. Jordan might write this:

Career Highlights:

  • Six times NBA champion
  • Five times NBA Most Valuable Player
  • Six times NBA Finals MVP
  • NBA Defensive Player of the Year
  • 10 times scoring champion
  • 14 times NBA All-Star

You get the idea real fast, without all the details. Less is often more.

Limit yourself to one or two pages (of course, there are exceptions to any rule).2

2. The Slop-Another-Job-On-Top Resume

That resume worked for you a long time ago.  And the next time you looked for work, you added your latest job on top. You repeated that process every time you’ve looked for a job. But that method doesn’t work. It’s important to evaluate and reevaluate yourself as you move through your career. A few things to consider:

  • Your skill set has enhanced/changed. Is that reflected on the resume?
  • How have you responded to changes in technology?
  • What is relevant/not relevant in today’s market or for the job you want?

A client from Texas sent us one of these. He wrote a resume after graduating from college. Even since then, he’s pulled out that same resume and put his latest job on it. It was like a fifty-year-old man walking around in his high school gym class suit.  We fixed that quick so that he looks like a real professional.

 

3. The Yep-I-Was-There Resume

I’ve seen thousands of resumes, and a large percentage of them focus on duties and responsibilities. They pay little or no attention to what the boss most wants to know: what results do you get? Even a lot of top performers do this, making themselves look bland, ordinary, and even boring.

Remember, your resume is a marketing document. If the boss reading it doesn’t get excited enough to pick up the phone to call you, it isn’t doing its job. The boss is eager to find someone who can help with his/her problems, so show you can cut through problems like a knife through butter. Show the boss that you get results.

I was astounded to see a resume from a client from Florida. This man was doing mind-boggling work creating facilities of a size and with features that hadn’t been done before. But it all focused on his duties. Blah blah blah. No wonder no one was getting excited.

4 .The Linger-Forever-in-the-Online-Database Resume

When applying for jobs online, it’s imperative that applicant tracking systems will find what you transmit. Otherwise, your resume will be lost in a sea of bits and bytes, destined to never see the light of day.

Applicant tracking systems are software packages employers use as electronic recruitment tools. Since employers can receive hundreds of applications for a single job posting, it’s impossible to read or even manually scan all of them. They use this software to select the best few—at least, according to the software.

You need to understand the power of keywords, how to use them, formatting that will allow your most critical information to be found by these systems, and much more. Just one example: information that you put into a text box may well be invisible to the applicant tracking system.

A man from Highland Park came to see us after being out of work for eight months. He’d diligently applied to jobs online, but had zero interviews. I doubt any human being ever saw this resume.

NOTE: If all you’re doing in your search is submitting resumes to online postings, you are doing yourself a huge disservice. You’re competing with a huge pool of applicants for jobs that quite often are not the best jobs.

 

A Poor Resume is a sign of a poor job campaign

While a resume is only about 10% of what it takes to get hired, it is important to do it right. Often, a poor resume is a sign that the rest of the job campaign is being waged poorly.

Career professionals can be a big help. A lot of successful executives have decided their job search is too important to do alone. At Lucrative Careers, we’ve helped countless professionals transform their resume from a bland, template-based chronology to a dynamic document that stands out from the competition.

 

Want us to fix your resume and/or discuss your job search? We’re happy to have a no-obligation phone call.  You can call Steve at 847-673-0339 or Jack at 847 251 4727 or send us a note at Steve@LucrativeCareersInc.com.

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Is Depression Beating Your Job Search Down?

Depression can kill your job search—and it can kill you.

When you’re out of work you need to do all you can to get on top of depression and keep it from hurting you and those you love.

Toxic Isolation

A lot of people react to depression by falling into toxic isolation. A while ago, one of our clients dropped out of contact. We had no response to emails and voicemails, and we grew very concerned. When he finally called, he admitted that most days he was too depressed to get out of bed, for what felt like forever.

Depression is different from the blues we all feel at one time or another. It can interfere with your ability to work, read, eat, sleep, and have fun. Feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and worthlessness are intense and unrelenting. Many describe it as feeling like there’s no way out of a dark tunnel. They can’t see a light at the end.

Constant rejection

It’s not surprising that unemployed people get depressed. Until you get that offer, there is one rejection after another, leading to crushing negativity. Without occasional positive feedback, it’s hard to put one foot in front of the other. Money issues create stress, and tension with spouses and kids.

Worse, one of the first things people ask when they meet us is “What do you do?” Who wants to admit, “Uh…I’m out of work at this point”? So it’s easier to stay home alone.

So what do you do to ward off depression—or climb out?

Be effective

First, let’s address the root of the depression – your unemployment. Unfortunately, for those lucky enough to have been out of the job market for many years, re-entering it and finding how the rules of the game have changed is a rude awakening.  Make sure that you are doing the right things to get hired.

Don’t waste time

Many people spend most of their time on the least effective activities, like job boards. Polish your personal presentation: how you dress, your resume, an updated LinkedIn profile and other marketing materials and that depict you powerfully. Thus, you will improve your first impression while adding efficiency.

Remember, job hunting is like boxing. If you don’t do it well, you get beaten up. If you’re spinning your wheels, call a career coach. If you feel you can’t fit it in your budget, do an internet search for free career counseling services in your community. Being ineffective will, in the long run, cost you dearly.

We are what we eat

To maximize energy and a sense of well-being, cut down on red meat and unhealthy fats, and replace them with vegetables, fruits and nuts. Watch out for “sneaky depressants” like caffeine, sugar/sugar substitutes, and alcohol; sure, there’s an initial boost or jolt, but the aftereffect is a sense of letdown. Ultimately, you will experience an uplifting transformation that carries over to your entire life and relationships.

Watch what you put in your mind

Resist turning into a TV zombie. While it’s good to keep a finger on the pulse of major news, avoid the “downers” that many news program churn out. Studies have shown that a daily bombardment of every fire, rape or murder that happened in your city actually weakens your immune system, and common sense says it brings your spirits down. Read or listen to inspirational books and recordings, and be selective about newspapers and magazines.

Volunteer

Find a place to contribute. Keep your skills sharp, be around other people, and get that satisfaction of a job well done that you don’t experience when you’re out of work. And here’s a helpful hint: you may be surprised to find out that when volunteer work is a good match, paid jobs often grow out of it.

Develop a cocoon of positive people around you

Spend time with upbeat friends, join a support group, and network with others. Stay away from negative people who swamp you with naysaying and whining. There’s no shortage of people who will continually complain about everything from the job market to the weather; you can’t afford to be around them.

Get out of the house 

Every day, get out of the house. Enjoy nature and spend time with other human beings. You can’t rise above depression by sitting around the house all day.

Work out

Being sedentary isn’t good for your body or your mind. On a daily basis, pick an activity you enjoy, e.g. bike riding, the gym, long walks, a sport, etc. and go do it. Think of benefits: looking and feeling more energetic, sleeping better, potential weight loss and more. Also, vigorous exercise stimulates the production of endorphins, powerful neurotransmitters that resemble opiates in their abilities to produce a feeling of well-being. Yes, the “runners’ high” is real!

Consult a professional 

Talking with a counselor can do wonders to lift your spirits. Further, some people greatly benefit from anti-depressants. They’re not for everyone, but they have helped a lot of people to kick a debilitating depression.

In summary, keep your spirits up and keep in action. Best of luck to you–and call us if you’d like to discuss your career/job search:  847-673-0339.

Age Discrimination: Getting Hired When You’re “Too Old”

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Many employers have a lot of opinions and stereotypes about older workers. They think:

  • They are over the hill
  • They cost too much
  • Their skills are out of date
  • They can’t work with younger workers
  • They won’t take direction from less-experienced bosses

No one wants to hire me–I’m too old

 

I run into a lot of older workers who have been out of work for a long time: six months, a year, two years, and more. Many have given up, though they’re still technically in the hunt. A lot of them feel bitter. I often hear them say, “No one wants people over fifty anymore.”

So what can you do to make sure that you’re not one of those who languish in long-term unemployment?

1,  Be sure you’re handling the fundamentals well

Many of the long-term unemployed aren’t running very good job campaigns. Their resumes are mediocre—or worse, they don’t have a credible LinkedIn presence, they don’t speak about themselves well, and they don’t have a solid marketing plan. Sitting at home in front of the computer sending out bad resumes all day is highly unlikely to get you hired.

This might get you calls for commission-only sales jobs or multi-level marketing schemes, but not good jobs.

I recently worked with an over-fifty client who had been laid off after working for the same company for over 18 years. Since then, she had been out of work for nine months, despite her impressive credentials and solid track record. But she didn’t know how to sell herself. For years, she’d kept her nose to the grindstone and did great work, but never tooted her horn. She didn’t have to because everyone at work knew how good she was. But when the company let her go, that changed. She had to sell herself.

After I helped her upgrade her marketing materials and self-presentation and develop a solid marketing plan, she quickly got hired – and avoided the stigma of “long-term unemployed.”

2.  Be sure your skills are up to date

It’s hard to compete if your skills aren’t current. Get training if you need it, so you’ll have the “right stuff” employers want. Low on cash? A lot of excellent training is available free or very inexpensively. If you’re near a community college, they may have affordable courses in what you need. Your local community center or public library may have free courses, and there is a lot of good material online. Just one excellent online resource is Lynda.com, with many offerings in software training and more. You can access it for a low monthly fee – or check with your public library. My local library gives cardholders free access to Lynda.com, and you can even access it from your home computer.

3. Address the technology issue 

Let them know that you’re not a “dinosaur” and you know something about technology. If you’re on social media, put your social media links on your resume. Likewise, be sure your command of technology is visible on your resume. Many younger hiring decision makers prefer texting, so communicating with them this way shows you know how to do it. You might take a tablet with you to the interview. You don’t even have to open it; just have it with you. Borrow one if you don’t own one. You may want to confront this issue proactively in job interviews.

4. Use a job interview strategy that works: Look for “pain”

It’s not good enough to handle job interviews like everyone else. If you do, the boss may think, “Why should I hire this expensive guy/woman (meaning YOU) when I could hire that college grad I met with yesterday for cheap?”

It is important to do what good sales reps do. They know that people usually don’t buy unless they are in some kind of pain. People might say, “My car works just fine. I don’t need a new one.” But if that sales rep asks good probing questions, they may uncover some pain. The sales rep might find out that the prospect:

  • Was very embarrassed when she couldn’t attend a party at a friend’s house because her car broke down.
  • Lives next to a family that just got a new sports car–and HATES being shown up by this neighbor.
  • Wants to visit family, but doesn’t trust the car on a long trip.

Aha! PAIN! Now there may be room for a sale!

So act like a good sales rep. Probe to find the employer’s pain. They’re not hiring just because there’s an opening. The pain may look like this:

  • The Public Relations Department is in hot water for bungling a sensitive call from a major newspaper. It made the company appear clueless, and the company president is LIVID.
  • An ace project manager is moving to Alaska, and the boss is worried about all those upcoming critical deliverables.
  • Sales are down and the boss is under the gun to turn things around-FAST.

After uncovering the boss’s pain, you can talk about how you’ve solved similar problems in the past and how your experience and talent will make an impact far beyond what recent college grads can do.

You’ve been around the block a few times, and have deep knowledge of how things work. Your database “cup” of useful contacts runneth over. You’ve demonstrated that you can be cool under fire and fix disasters. You’ve got good judgement. Plus, unlike the 20-somethings who often change jobs every couple of years, you’re a stable kind of person whom the boss can count on to stay around for a while.

5. Convince the boss that you can work with younger people

The boss may very well be wary of you, concerned that you’re not going to take direction. She may think you’re going to be another arrogant SOB, like the last older guy she interviewed who didn’t want to take orders from a younger person – especially not a woman.

Smile at the boss and put her at ease. Reassure her that you enjoy working with younger people and the great synergy that comes from teams composed of workers from different generations. If it’s true, you might say that you’ve done the high-level, high-stress jobs like hers, and at this point, you’re content to work under her.

Be sure to have a conversation with her about what you can do to make her look like a superstar.

Is it time to take control of your career? Let’s have a no-obligation conversation about your situation. Don’t procrastinate, call today at  847 673 0339. 

Remember, though age discrimination presents a tough challenge, people can – and DO – overcome it and finish their careers doing satisfying, well-paid work. According to an AP-LifeGoesStrong.com poll of baby boomers, 61 percent surveyed said their age is not an issue at work; 25 percent called it an asset.

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