Career Calling

June 25, 2014

Contact Information

Filed under: Resume Writing — claycerny @ 7:49 pm
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What is the most important element on your resume?  Contact information.

If an employer cannot reach you because your phone number or email are incorrect, it will probably move on to the nest resume.  Take an extra minute to review your contact information.  Make sure it is correct and easy to read.  This is especially true of email addresses.  I recently had trouble sending email to a client because she used zero after a letter.  I assumed it was the letter O.  If need be, change the font or font size so it is easy for someone to read your email address.  After you check your phone number, test your voice mail or answering machine.  If an employer calls and finds that your message box is full or that you have not set up you message box, you might be losing an opportunity.

Finding a job is never easy.  Don’t make it even harder by making it hard for employers to reach you.  Check your contact information, and make sure that your voice mail works.

June 24, 2014

Words an Employer Wants to See on a Resume

I recently read an article that listed 10 words employers don’t want to see on a resume.  After each word, the article listed a percentage of employers that did not like a given word.  None of the words had more than 20% rating, which means that most respondents didn’t care about a given word.  Worse still, many of the words listed in the article are often featured in job posts.  My take away from this article is that we should worry much more about showing why we are qualified to do a job than worry about one word a hiring manager or HR manager might not like.  Anyone who rejects a resume based on one word must have a great pool of talent.  My advice is to find words that show your strengths and qualifications.  That is what employers want to see.

May 17, 2014

Don’t Hide Achievements on Your Resume

I sometimes meet with clients who write resumes in a strange format:  They hide their success stories.  This format places a section called Honors or Achievements at the bottom of the document.  The problem with this approach is that information that might help an employer decide to bring a candidate in for an interview is hidden.

My advice is to put your achievements with the job where you received the honor or earned the distinction.  For example, if I was named Sales Professional of the Year for 2013, that achievement should be with my current company.  To make the point more impressive, I recommend adding something about scope or quantitative measure.  For scope, you could note how many employees were considered for the award.  For quantitative measure, you could list percentage over goal or increase from the previous year.  Be careful that you don’t simply name the award and not tell the reader why you received the honor.

Even as the job market heats up, competition for the best jobs remains fierce.  Show why you are someone who deserves an interview.  Don’t hide your achievements.

April 5, 2014

Show Your Level of Experience

When describing your work history on a resume, be sure that you show how your level of responsibility fits what prospective employers need. Review the samples below and note how it is possible to describe “scope” or “weight” depending on your career level. Demonstrate how your previous experience will let you fill the role you are applying for.

Early Career:

Worked as lead and assistant analyst for several projects. (Marketing, Project Management)

Prepared journal entries and government reporting as well as annual, quarterly, and monthly consolidated financial statements. (Accounting)

Contacted college instructors to promote books and materials from an academic publisher. (Sales)

Researched clients’ businesses and determined what events/awards would raise their profile and brand. (Marketing)

Mid-level and Managerial:

Oversaw facilities and service along with supervising 150 employees.

Supervised a team of 20 in delivering services to seniors, homeless, and victims of child abuse. Oversaw a $1.5 million budget for department operations and program costs.

Oversee radiology and MRI operations at an orthopedic practice that has had as many as 14 physicians.

Executive Experience:

Quickly took on increased leadership roles over 15+ years at 3 large corporations, moving from a positions as Process Engineer to Brand Manager to COO and President.

Directed operations at three casual dining American restaurants located in Wheeling, Illinois (Chicago), San Diego, California, and Naples, Florida. Managed annual revenue of $10 million and a staff of 100-120, including three Executive Chefs.

Direct finance and operations for a $500 million portfolio of student housing that generates $50 million in annual revenue. Collaborated with the CEO in establishing policies for acquisition, pricing, and sales.

Hired to turn around regional accounting operations in Russia and former territories of the U.S.S.R. ($175 million annual revenue) for a global leader that provides technical support to the energy industry. Reported to the European CFO headquartered in Zurich and a Regional Sales VP in Russia.

April 2, 2014

General and Specific Language in a Resume


Should the language of a resume be specific or general? Really, this isn’t a good question. The language of a resume should fit the kind of job you are applying for. It should show how you are qualified to fill the level of responsibility that the employer needs. Sometimes the terms will be broader. If you’re looking for a sales job that cuts across different industries, you will talk about sales in more general language. However, if you’re only seeking a sales job in IT, your language needs to reflect your background in that industry. That language needs to be more specific.


Beware of simply taking the job description for your current job and repeating it point by point. That language works for the job you are leaving, but it doesn’t show your next employer how you fit her needs. I recommend gathering 5-10 posts for the kind of job you’ll be seeking. Write your resume to appeal to the needs of these employers, speak to their key words, and match your technical skills to what you see in the job posts. A good review of the job posts will tell you how specific or general the language in your resume needs to be.

Avoid “Figure Me Out” Resumes

I’d estimate that 25% of prospective clients bring me a resume that makes the same mistake: It asks a busy employer to figure out what the applicant is looking for. In such a resume format there is no objective or profile/summary to guide the reader. Instead, the resume simply lists job after job. I’m looking at a sample in which a prospective employee describe three positions in accounting and six jobs in teaching. Is this person looking for a job in accounting or teaching?


Don’t make the employer guess about your goals. They do not have time. Keep your resume focused. Begin with a brief frame that tells the employer what you want to do and why you are qualified. If you’re applying for jobs that can have a variety of titles, I recommend starting with a simple objective that states the position you are seeking. After that give a brief summary of your qualifications. Some summaries offer a paragraph style description. I use two or three descriptive points along with six to nine key words. Here is a sample:


OBJECTIVE:           To obtain a position as (TITLE)



EXPERIENCE: Controller & senior accounting professional who has managed financial record keeping and advised owners on internal controls and operations.


LEADERSHIP: Proven team builder who directs staff, resources, and projects so goals are met and efficiency maximized.

• Accounting Systems                 •  Tax Preparation                •  Compliance

•  Cash Flow Management          •  Payroll & Benefits            •  Negotiation


By framing the resume in this way, you make it easier for someone who is reading quickly. Most HR professionals have to sift through large stacks of resumes for each job post. Keep your resume clear and easy to read. No one has time to figure out what you want to do.

March 26, 2014

Never Lie on Your Resume

Steve Masiello is talented, young basketball coach. He took his Manhattan team to the NCAA tourney and nearly beat powerhouse Louisville in the first round. Despite the loss, he was set to make a big career move in accepting a position as coach of South Florida University when a self-inflicted disaster struck. A background screen discovered that Masiello does have the bachelor’s degree that is listed on his resume. This fabrication will not only cost him the opportunity to move to South Florida, but his old job as well. Manhattan requires its coaches to have a degree.

Some might say that Masiello’s record speaks for itself, but many employers view a resume as a standard for honesty. If Masiello had stated that he nearly completed the degree or completed all but XX hours, he might have negotiated a different solution to his problem.

Lying on a resume is a time bomb. Any manager or co-worker could use that information against you at any time in your employment. Always cast yourself in the best light and sell your achievements, but never do so by stating something that another person can prove to be false. The price of lying on a resume can be very high.

February 22, 2014

How to Find Key Words

Many clients despair that they cannot find key words for their occupation.  In fact, they are easy to find if you look in the right places.

1.  Start with job posts.  For key word research, I recommend using 8-10 posts.  Note what words are repeated from post to post, especially for hard skills and technology.  For example, terms like cost analysis, budgeting, MS Excel, accounts payable are the kind of words that employers will look for when scanning resume.

2.  Perform a similar review on any LinkedIn contacts who are in similar professions.  Pay careful attention to the skills section in each profile.

3.  Research any job descriptions for the function you perform.  These documents can be very detailed, so be careful about selecting key words that match the job function you want to perform.

4.  Some websites post key words.  The problem is that these lists often cover all types of a profession from entry level to executive.  You need to identify those words that fit the level of experience for the kind of you want to pursue.

It’s important to have the right key words in your resume and LinkedIn profile.  To find them, study what your potential employer is looking for and how similar professionals describe themselves.  That’s the model for key word success.

February 20, 2014

Personality and Soft Skills

I’ve come across several resume experts who say that it is impossible to convey personality on a resume.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Soft skills and qualities give an employer a good indication of the kind of person you are and the kind of worker you will be.

For example, a word like flexible indicates that someone can fill different roles.  It is important to follow up on this point in the resume and show how you are versatile and able to take on different roles.  Similarly, a popular word in job postings that I often use in resume is proactive.  Someone who is proactive either prevents a problem from happening or solves it without being told to do so.  These are just two examples of how a personality can be conveyed as part of a well-written resume.  Here are a few other terms that you can use to give an employer a sense of what you offer:









Many job posts include these terms.  Find a way to integrate them into your resume so the employer can tell who you are as well as what you do.

January 31, 2014

Wordy Resumes

It’s true that employers read resumes quickly.  However, you still need to give them something to read.  A client recently showed me a resume that looked good, but said nothing.  It gave no reason to hire her beyond broad generalizations.

A good resume has content that is relevant to employers.  It is not wordy because it shows why a candidate is qualified for a position.  A resume becomes wordy when it includes elements that are not relevant to the employer.  Over 10 years, I’ve found that employers will read two page resumes formatted in a paragraph style.  They will do that if they can quickly see that the applicant might be a good employee.

Don’t hide your skills.  Sell them is a good resume that is rich in content and relevant to the employer’s needs.

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