Career & Coffee

Resume Writing, Job Search, Industry News and Erin’s weekly musings on all things career.

Using the C.A.R. method on your Resume June 2, 2009

Filed under: Resume Writing — erinkennedy @ 12:44 am
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Have you heard me talk about the C.A.R method? If you are a client of mine, you have. It’s a method I use in every single resume. It is, to me, the single most important factor when writing about your accomplishments.

OK, so what does C.A.R. stand for and what does it mean for you?

C.A.R. stands for:   Challenge   Action   Results

When consulting with clients and proceeding with the data mining process, I always ask them about their C.A.R. stories. What were the stories behind their accomplishments? What was going on in the company before they took on the issue? Give the reader some background, not a novel, just a hint of what the environment was like.

So ask yourself, what was the Challenge I faced when either a) I joined the company or B) I took on the new situation or C) I was promoted?  Briefly discuss the Challenge. Again, it doesn’t have to be super lengthy. You  just want to get your message across.

For the Action portion, this is where you can talk about what you did to resolve or change the situation. What action or steps did you take? For some jobs, it might be quite detailed, but I wouldn’t advise talking about every single thing. Summarize as best as you can. Remember, HR people have lots of resumes to review and not a lot of time.

For the Results portion of C.A.R., talk about the results. What was the percentage of production increase? How much did you increase sales or people productivity? Use numbers and percentages whenever possible.

These are the things that stand out and make you more employable as employers want PROOF of what you are capable of doing… it shows them what you can also do for them as well.

C.A.R. is the easiest way to pull out your accomplishments if you are having a hard time thinking of what you did/do.

Good luck!

 

Tips for Scoring at a Job Fair May 21, 2009

Many of you know that I was at the Detroit “Good Morning America / Women for Hire” job fair the other day. There were about 25 résumé evaluators and approximately 5000 job seekers. They literally were lined up outside the doors at 3:30am. Talk about motivated people. Wow. What a busy, productive and fulfilling day.

It was televised (GMA and local ABC news crew) and there were camera people everywhere. Sort made us feel like movie stars except the cameras really weren’t on us, and we didn’t get paid. But still.

All of us

(This is a group photo of the other resume writers/critiquers who donated their time at the job fair. From L to R:

Deb James, ME (in black), Dee Duff, Karen D’Anna, Kris Plantrich and Lisa Chapman. A smart, generous and fabulous group of women. We had a great time!)


I was really impressed by the amount of professionalism, ambition and previous success that most of the folks had. There were just a few people that could have used a few pointers. So here they are:

1-      DRESS AS IF YOU ARE AT AN INTERVIEW. Appropriate dress is really a MUST at a job fair. I know you already know this, but I thought I’d mention it again. You know the saying, “First Impressions are a Must”, well they really are.  I saw some people that looked gorgeous and really ‘wow’ed’ me. THAT is how you have to look. Not saying you have to go spend a fortune on new clothes. You can put together a new outfit from what you have. Wash your hair, do your nails, trim your nose/ear hair, you know… the usual. And if you have dread-locks, tuck them into your suit.

2-      HAVE A RÉSUMÉ PREPARED. (and if at all possible, have it professionally done). Yes, I saw many, many résumés and only about 5% of them were impressive. Remember, lead with your accomplishments, not your job description duties. The Microsoft Word résumé template was used in about 80% of the cases (yuck) I saw at the job fair. Remember, that is a template that doesn’t allow much give, so you may be cutting some significant info out because it won’t fit into the “template”. DON’T USE IT.

3-      BRING A SMALL BAG, TOTE OR BRIEFCASE. You will be bombarded with giveaways (pens, company trinkets, business cards, candy, brochures, etc.). It will be easier to carry everything and your résumé portfolio.

4-      GET A BUSINESS CARD FROM EVERYONE YOU SPOKE WITH. You might want to follow up with something you talked about. Even better, after you’ve talked with them, write down some key things you spoke about on the back of the card so you will have it to reference when you call, or if they call you!

5-      KNOW THE COMPANIES. Find out what companies will be there and get to know a little about them. Nothing impresses companies more then when you display the knowledge you have about them. Show off a little bit. Impress them!

6-      GET INTO A GOOD MOOD. I had a few folks come sit down with me who were shaking and I wasn’t even the hiring person! People can tell if you are nervous, distracted, moody, having a bad day, etc. That isn’t the best first impression to offer. Instead relax, smile, speak slowly and clearly (vs. rushing through what you want to say), and remember, the HR person knows you are nervous and understands. So try to relax and enjoy yourself. Fake it if you have to.

Job Fairs don’t have to be a bad/scary/nerve wracking thing. Remember, it’s just another avenue to try out in the midst of your job search. You get to meet new people, learn a few things about different companies, and have free coffee.

 

Interview with a Recruiter May 15, 2009

Interview with a Recruiter

Recently, I had the pleasure of having a conversation with a smart, straight-talking recruiter, Peggy McKee.

Peggy McKee is the owner of PHC Consulting. Her firm specializes in matching medical and laboratory sales reps/candidates with companies, and does so with great success. Despite the economic downturn, Peggy’s company has flourished and she’s had to hire additional staff to meet the placement demands. With her strong understanding of the medical sales industry, interviewing and hiring, she’s helped develop teams of top sales talent for laboratory service companies.

Having my clients in mind, I asked Peggy several questions about her recruiting process, what is important to her regarding hiring the right candidates, her thoughts on résumés, and more. I’ve wanted to “officially” interview a recruiter for a while because of the number of questions I get from my clients about what recruiters look for.

Our conversation went something like this:

EK: “Peggy, where do you find your candidates? Do they come looking for you? Do you recruit them? How does it work?”

PM:     “40-50% of candidates come straight to my website (www.phcconsulting.com). The other half is split between referrals, direct soliciting and social networking. “

EK: “Are candidates are expected to pay you?”

PM: “Absolutely not. Candidates should never pay a recruiter. Companies pay the recruiter for the placement. That’s how it works.”

EK: “It seems like I remember way back when some candidates had to pay the recruiter a percentage or a fee for the placement. I’m glad to know it’s not like that anymore… at least not with all recruiters.”

EK: “So you use some of the professional and social network sites to find talent?”

PM: “Definitely. I use LinkedIn and Twitter to find candidates by typing in keywords, names, titles, searches, groups, etc.”

EK: “And you’ve had good luck going that route? I’ve heard LinkedIn is really a great platform to find top talent. I tell my clients about it all the time.”

PM: “Yes, I use it all the time and love it.”

EK: “OK, let’s talk résumés. Do you have any pet peeves? What are your likes and dislikes? What do you like to see or not see?”

PM: “Well, I want to see 3 things:  how can you make me money?… how can you save me money?.. and how can you save me time? This is what the client wants to know, so this is what I look for.  I don’t like to read long paragraphs. I prefer bullets. I like to see experiences and accomplishments. Love to see numbers, rankings, percentages, etc.”

EK: “Just bullets? Ugh. Boring. I tend to stay away from just bullets. It looks like a grocery list. Numbers are great. Especially in sales résumés… definitely a must.”

PM: “No, I like the bullets. Paragraphs are too long. And yes, numbers are great and show me what they are capable of doing. “

EK: “OK. What about cover letters?”

PM: “I don’t like them, but I have to add that if you are going to write one BE BOLD! Don’t worry about “expectations”. Write something interesting!

EK: “I agree. Nothing worse than a canned cover letter. Make it as authentically YOU as possible.”

EK: “Any last thoughts about the résumé or cover letter?”

PM: “Have your references ready. Bring them to the interview. Have a clear and focused objective on your résumé so we don’t have to guess.  Be ready to answer “tough” questions at the interview. Don’t shy away from them. Be honest.”

**************

Peggy was so fun and enlightening to talk to that I look forward to continuing this conversation and bringing you more insight.

In the meantime, if you want to get in touch with Peggy McKee and help her celebrate her 10th year in business, you can go to her website or visit at www.phcconsulting.com.

 

Keeping it Relevant on your Resume April 10, 2009

It is very important to keep the information on your resume as relevant as possible. Remember, the hiring person is only going to take around 15 seconds to scan your resume, so yours has to be “quick and dirty”. In other words, keep your information current and pertinent to the job you want. If the reader has to weed through loads of extracurricular activities, you may find your resume tossed aside which takes you right out of the running.

 

Many times a client will send me “extra” information to put on their resume. Or, it is already on their existing resume. This “extra” information consists of things like:

 

– Church Involvement

– College Activities / Fraternity/Sorority info

– Sports Teams or Leadership

– Marital Status/# of Children

– Political Affiliations

– Scouts

Now, in certain circumstances you DO want to add college info, i.e. relevant coursework, volunteer activities, intern/externships, etc.  This is good to add if you are fresh out of college and looking for your first “post-college” job. However, when you are in your 40’s, it isn’t necessary to talk about your fraternity. I get this a lot. I know it was a great time for the client and they learned a great deal about life, service to others, and brotherhood. But if you have been in the workforce for 5+ years, you’ve really built up a good amount of experience that will warrant it standing alone on the rez without the aid of your college courses or social clubs. The exception to this rule is, if in this short amount of time after college when you tried your hand at say, sales, but your degree was in finance and now you want a finance job, THEN adding your relevant college courses would work in your favor.

 

In truth, sometimes extracurricular information can work against you. As important as your church or religious affiliation may be to you, it is never a good idea to add it to your resume. Why? Well, many reasons. One is– what if the reader is a different religion… one that doesn’t care for your religion at all (and you know we all have our differences!)? Right there it is a strike against you. Same goes with politics. Not a good idea to say your “volunteer” involvement was to work on so-and-so’s campaign. Now, if you have actually WORKED in a campaign/political environment, of course you would add it. I’ve had many clients who worked in PR or journalism-type fields for certain candidates and it was OK for them, because it was relevant to the PR/journalism job they were trying to land.

 

Obviously here in the States, adding marital status is not a good idea. In fact, people just don’t do it here like they do in some other countries.

 

You may think, “but I’ve heard it is good to add my community involvement, or that I coached soccer”. Really, it’s not relevant to your job search. Yes, you can handle a team of 8-year olds, but does that compare to running the operations of a multi-million dollar manufacturing facility? No.

 

If you are questioning what to add or what not to add, please, ask a certified resume writer. Let us be the ‘reader’ for you. We can help you decide what needs to stay or go. Our goal is that you get put into the “YES” pile, not in the circular file. Just remember that even though it seems important to you, or if it was at the time, if it isn’t going to help you get the job, then leave it off the resume.

 

Your Brand February 20, 2009

Filed under: Resume Writing — erinkennedy @ 3:53 am
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YOUR BRAND

Do you have a brand? Do you solicit it? Do you use it to promote your goods/services? Or are you not really sure what your brand is at all? Don’t worry, if the latter is your answer, you are not alone.

Creating a brand for yourself is a fantastic way to ensure you always leave a lasting impression to whomever you are communicating with. It points out very quickly what you specialize in, what your niche is, and what you are “known” for.

Take “Campbell’s” brand soup for example. “Mmm Mmm Good!” Does it bring back childhood warm and fuzzies? Daydreaming of tomato soup and grill cheese sandwiches? Well, then. The marketing team’s job is done. You know the brand, can hear the jingle, and it elicits an emotional response from you.

Don’t worry that your brand has to elicit an emotional response from your reader, but consider having a tagline in your resume that will help you stand out and keep you fresh in the reader’s mind. For example, if you are a Senior Executive of an IT company and want to keep your focus on what you know best– Business Development– than THAT could be your brand and what you could add to your tagline. Something like: John Smith::: Business Development & Channel Management Executive, IT INDUSTRY… that could be a possible tagline to showcase your brand.

Think about what you are known for at work, what you excel at, what people depend on you for and make that your brand.

 

Should you Hire a Resume Writing Service? February 6, 2009

Filed under: Resume Writing — erinkennedy @ 8:52 pm
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REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD OR SHOULD NOT HIRE A

RESUME WRITING SERVICE

If you live in Michigan, or anywhere else in our country, let’s face it. The economy stinks. People are getting laid off and companies are closing down or outsourcing to other countries practically on a daily basis. So, what good would hiring a professional resume service do for you? EVERYTHING.



It’s understandable to be cautious about hiring a resume writer, especially online where you can’t visually shake a hand or see an office full of certificates, awards, books, or anything else that might prove credibility. Here are a few reasons you SHOULD hire a professional resume writer:

1- PROFESSIONALISM – A professional resume writer knows what he/she is doing. I’ve had clients tell me over and over that having it professionally written got them the job. They had sent in the old one previously, and at my urging, resent the new one and got the job!

Make sure whomever you hire is CERTIFIED. If you are unsure whether or not your writer is certified, go to http://www.parw.com and type in their name. If they are certified, it will come up as such. A certified writer has gone through extensive training and was tested on it, ensuring their work meets the standards of the Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches. If you are going to spend the money, you want the best.

2- BRANDING/PR – A professional resume writer acts as your personal cheerleader, your brander, your public relations firm. You want someone who knows how to present your qualifications in your best light. They will gather the relevant information (career goals, experience, training, etc.) to create a professional image for you. Something you will be proud to hand out to a hiring manager.

3-GHOSTWRITERS- A professional resume writer knows how to craft content that gets people interested. They create a resume that sounds and feels like YOU. A professional resume writer constantly updates their skills and abilities by keeping up with the latest in career news, and attending webinars, teleseminars and conferences.

4- FORMAT – How bored are you when you see a resume that is bullet after bullet of a position description? Would you call that person back? Neither will the hiring person. Professional resume writers are TRAINED in creating unique documents with appealing fonts, borders and styling that is all YOU.

5- RESOURCE CENTER – Your professional resume writer is a career one-stop-shop! Chances are they have a wide range of resources to offer during your job search. Many are also Certified Career Coaches and remain well informed of career events and other services helpful to their clients. Many times employers will contact resume writers for suitable candidates.

Reasons NOT TO HIRE a professional resume writer:

1- They offer you a resume package for $19.95. Most likely this company is a printing or secretarial service that will rewrite everything you gave them, or dump your info into a pre-written template.

2- They tell you they are certified, but you check on the PARW site and they are not. WRONG. Turn around and go back. They are misrepresenting the truth and God knows what they will do with your money.

3- They offer a 30-day guarantee if you don’t get an interview. I know this is a touchy one, because many of my colleagues do it, but here is my beef with that: with each client, I put my heart and soul into the resume. I am already writing a resume that I think will knock the socks off any reader. So how can I possibly offer a rewrite on that? I already wrote a killer resume and I stand behind it. I would rather sit down with the client and go over job search because I guarantee that is where the problems lie.

So, to sum it up, it’s important to find a solid and reputable resume service. Check for memberships to professional career organizations with writers that are certified.

A professionally written resume is a good investment and is worth it’s weight in gold, not to mention it will get you noticed immediately.

Have you hired a resume writing service? What was your experience? I’m interested to know what you thought. Talk to me…



 

Career Summary September 11, 2008

Filed under: Resume Writing — erinkennedy @ 12:32 pm
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CAREER SUMMARY


Take a look at your resume. What does it say at the top? Does it accurately describe your strengths and skills? Does it grab you? If you were the hiring person, would you read it and say, “Wow! Who is this person?”, or would you put the resume in the circular file?

The top half of your resume needs to be fantastic in order to catch the attention of a hiring manager. If they have 200 resumes to look at a week, they will put aside the dull and uninformative ones to get to the more eye-appealing and exciting ones.

If you are still using an objective, say for example: “To obtain a position where I can use my education and experience to achieve a high-paying position with room for advancement”… BEEP! Wrong answer. If your resume says that, crumple it up and throw it out. It’s not doing you any good, in fact it is hindering you from landing a great position.

Your career summary needs to have action words and action phrases, along with a keyword summary of some sort, to stand out and put yourself above the competition. It needs to have tangible statements of what you’ve done and what you can do for the company.

The quickest way to land an interview is having an effective resume, if you haven’t been getting calls, you should consider having it rewritten… and watch the calls come in!

————
Erin Kennedy