Does your Résumé have a Voice?

Today I have laryngitis – I seem predisposed to this side effect whenever I get a cold. My voice wavers in its ability to communicate through the day. In the morning, I squeak a lot but can be heard if I strain; as you can imagine, due to this exertion, I can barely be heard by the end of the day. By evening, I have had it – cough, cough, squeak, squeak. In order to really get my voice back, I need to do the right things – proven strategies for improvement like resting my voice, drinking liquids & hot tea/honey, upping vitamin C, getting more sleep, etc. Even though it is frustrating to take these steps back to go forward, I know that straining does not work. Investing in time and effort will yield me a voice.

Sometimes when I evaluate a résumé, it seems to have no voice. There is a lot of information, but nothing jumps out…….lots of “sound” but the résumé is straining to communicate…..and failing to convey the message or get any results.

If you are not getting results, take a close look at your résumé. Does it showcase your value? Is it high impact? Engaging? Competitive? Powerful? If not, maybe it is time to take a step back and question your strategies. If you want to be heard, you need to invest the time and effort to be sure that your résumé has a voice in the market.

 

 

 

 

 

E-Notes or Cover Letters…are you confused?

DELETE-DELETE-DELETE. We are all overwhelmed these days with too much information– emails, text messages, Facebook posts, tweets, linkedin messages, blogs, and more.  Typically, in about 2 or 3 seconds, we rapidly skim these items to see if we are going to pay attention to them or delete them. So how do you get a recruiter to pay attention to YOUR cover letter…the one that enlightens them with all of the wonderful reasons why you are the best person for the job?

You might wonder if you should even send a cover letter at all? Yes! Well, sort of. But…not too much. Confused?  The real question is, “should you send an e-Note or a Cover Letter?”  Sending a resume alone is not enough. Providing a cover note fosters an opportunity to influence the recruiter and distinguish yourself from others (many of whom do NOT send one).  Traditional cover letters are about a half to three quarters of a page in length and go into detail about your background, your value, and how you can contribute to the company. The newer “e-Note” is a more concise version of that same letter, and can be a short paragraph or up to about a third of a page of information. It is not sent as a separate attachment. It is written in the body of an email with your resume attached. Or, in the case of job boards, it may be a few a few powerful sentences created in their designated “box.”

In a recent E-Summit training webcast delivered by “Career Gurus,”  Wendy Enelow and Louise Kursmark (via www.resumewritingacademy.com and www.careerthoughtleaders.com ), some crucial tips were provided on creating a powerful e-Note that gets noticed:

  • Keep it brief
  • Be sure to grab the reader’s attention with most important / relevant accomplishments
  • Use the subject line of  your email to convey expertise
  • Add contact information to an auto generated “signature block”
  • Be sure to convey why you fit the position

Follow these wise tips from Wendy and Louise and you will surely get noticed!

Polish Up That Elevator Speech

Most of you have heard of an “Elevator Speech,” right? The story goes something like this – let’s say you have an interview for a job you really want. You get into the elevator on the first floor of the building and find out the other person in the elevator is the head honcho who is going to have the final say in whether you get hired.  You now have about 60 seconds to ride in the elevator with her to the top floor.  When she finds out that you are the candidate under consideration, she seems curious about you. What “speech” can you give her in that elevator ride to peak her interest and ensure that you get the offer? Ahhhhh! If you don’t know, then you need to figure this out – and fast!

You meet people all the time, especially if you are networking, attending professional organization meetings, and actively pursuing job leads. Sometimes, you really only have about an “elevator ride” worth of time to impress someone or not. So what can you do? Try to identify what you really want to market about yourself and what sets you apart out there.  What value do you add? What do you want other networking professionals to remember about you? Practice your “elevator speech” out loud. Listen to other people’s answers when you ask them what they do – what impresses you? Who do you remember and why? These are not easy questions to answer – but investing some time and careful thought into your “elevator speech” can create a lot of opportunities for you.

If you are at a networking event, be sure that your interaction is not “just about you.”  It’s important  to focus on building relationships, too.  So show interest in the other person and ask how you might be able to help them. You will certainly be remembered for that!

 

Are you making some big mistakes on your interviews?

Everyone makes mistakes, right? But you may not be aware of some of the interview mistakes that may cost you a job offer! So what makes employers crazy? Here are some of the top responses that consistently pop up in surveys as well as from recruiter feedback: Being late for the interview (with no good reason); poor personal appearance;  overly scented perfume or poor hygiene; distracting jewelry (jangling bracelets, overly fancy jewelry in the workplace, or too many piercings); untidy facial hair; overbearing personality or a “know it all.”;  inability to express oneself clearly; poor grammar; over- emphasis on money or benefits not the job; bad-mouthing a former employer; no eye contact; expressing that one wants the job just for a short time; knowing nothing about the company; asking no questions about the job; poor listening skills.

 

Review these top items and see if there are areas you need to work on, such as:

  • Are you offending an interviewer with your perfume? Most recruiters will tell you not to use perfume at all, since so many people have allergies or just may have different tastes on what scents are pleasing.
  • Have you done your homework in preparing for the interview? You can read the company website, google press reports or business journals, or dig for information from someone you may know who already works there. If a recruiter is sending you for an interview, ask the recruiter for any info about the company or the position.
  •  Check out your mode of dress and jewelry in relation to their culture – are beards or facial piercings acceptable or frowned upon? Is business casual appropriate in that environment?
  • Are you asking about company benefits at the beginning of the interview? Try to focus on understanding the job itself and emphasizing your enthusiastic interest in the position. Let them hear what you learned about the company from your research and why you are so interested in working there.
  • Be sure you leave the interview on a note that highlights your skills and how you are going to add value.  Ask questions you have about the job, the department, the company, and of course, then feel free to ask a about the benefits and the potential salary range.

Are you recharged for fall?

Summer’s over and perhaps you took some time off to enjoy those last few weeks of August. Labor Day has passed, fall is in the air, and you are feeling the pressure of renewing your job search, but you are having trouble getting started. How to recharge your search? Well, starting at the beginning is always a good place!

♦ First, sit down and evaluate your job target – what is it that you are going after? Are you seeing jobs available in this area when you search job ads? Is this still what you want?
♦ Next, review your resume. Does it reflect the skills and experience you have related to this job target? If not, update that resume to market you more effectively to employers.
♦ Set up an action plan to get started. Put the plan in writing with target dates next to each of your goals. Your plan should include renewing contacts, building your network, and researching companies where you may want to work. Commit to spending time each day conducting your search.
♦ Get your resume out there. Get posted on key job boards (monster, hotjobs, careerbuilders, etc.) Find reputable recruiters who are actively filling the types of positions that you are seeking and get your resume to them.
♦ See if there are any professional associations in your line of work. These are great for professional development and for growing your network. Many have job boards for members only and some have support groups for those in transition.
♦ Keep track of your efforts. Get organized through a notebook, spreadsheet, or software program – whatever works for you. Be sure to follow up with anyone with whom you have made contact
♦ Treat yourself. A reward at the end each week can be a nice incentive to stay “charged” – whether it’s a new book, a manicure, or an ice cream!
♦ Review & modify. Go back and see if you are on track with your plans and target dates. Is anything in the way? Have any of your goals or wants changed? See if you need to modify your plan.

Having a new plan in place, with ambitious yet reasonable goals is a great first step to recharging for fall and reaching your goals!