News to Share

It's been awhile since I blogged! I've missed it, but active clients had to come first and January and February have been busy months.

Not only have I had many new clients (and my first from Brazil!), I also put together and submitted a comprehensive portfolio to Career Professionals of Canada to achieve my master-level certificate. The portfolio included an executive-level resume, professional biography, cover letter, recruiter letter, and thank you letter.

I am proud to share with you that I am now recognized at a master level from both Canadian and U.S. career organizations!

But, as recruitment continues to change and evolve, I will continue to take courses to keep my skills polished, and am currently focusing on improving my knowledge of LinkedIn as a social media recruitment tool. I have taken one course and am scheduled for another on this topic.

Next month I will participate in a CPC teleclass on documents suitable for portfolios, and the following month, I will facilitate a teleclass on how to conduct client intake interviews to ensure that the information gathered produces the very best resume possible - authentic, entirely customized, and effective.

One last little bit of news to share. Because I no longer refer to my resource library, I've donated several resume books to the Waterloo Public Library. The following should be on its shelves soon:

- Top Secret Executive Resumes

- Best Resumes for New Grads

- Blue Collar Resumes

- Best Canadian Resumes, 2nd Edition

This last one has samples of my work in it, as does the 3rd Edition, which I will keep in my library until there is a 4th Edition printed.

I'll try to blog again soon on a topic related to today's job search. If you have special request topics, please let me know! ~ Stephanie

Job Fair Review: 3 Tips to Improve Your Resume

Last week I provided free resume assessments at Halton Region's annual Job Fair. I believe that this was my seventh year at this event. For the last few years, I've been joined by Elizabeth Grin of Sunshine Design and Pamela Paterson, author of "Get the Job."

It's a well-attended event, and as per past years, we had a long line of folks waiting for an assessment. Also, as is typical, we didn't finish our last assessments until 30 minutes after the event had closed!

This year I provided assessments to 17 people, in roles that included an HR Manager, Financial Analysts, Risk Analyst, Purchasers, Administrative Assistants, Engineer, IT roles, and a stay at home mom whose 7th child had begun full time school, leaving her with time on her hands!

That's me at the fair, above. It's held in the Burlington Convention Centre.

Many attendees were new Canadians and many had resumes that were pretty decent. There's almost always room for improvement though. Here are the issues that I noticed most this year:

1. Check and double-check your grammar. A common error is this one: replace the word "of" with a possessive, as follows: "13 years' experience" OR "13 years of experience." I saw this error on many, many resumes. I also saw American spelling (labor vs. labour) and just plain typos. Many job postings require attention to detail or quality control; typos disprove both!

2. Pay attention to formatting. Too many resumes were hodge-podge in terms of formatting. Spacing between categories was not consistent, use of font size varied, bullets were not aligned, and the use of punctuation was not standardized. Again, this speaks to detail, but also it makes a big impact in terms of presentation. A pristine, tightly formatted resume comes across with professionalism, whereas a mish-mash comes across as not quite ready for distribution.

3. A job description is not a resume. This continues to be the biggest problem that I see. Job hunters create bullets that are job descriptions and call it a resume. Sometimes they even leave it in the 3rd person, as in "performs other duties as assigned." A job description defines the job's tasks as they would be performed by anyone doing the job; a resume should be personalized to your experience. A resume, to be effective, must convey value beyond a list of your skills and duties. Because, so what?! Every other applicant - at least those who are your competitors - will have very similar skills and duties. How will that help you stand out?

It's a competitive world, and it seems to only get more competitive. Today's job search requires a top-notch resume and cover letter, and increasingly, a LinkedIn profile that also conveys value. How do you capture value? Now that's a lesson in resume strategy, but in a nutshell it's this: demonstrate how your performance has impacted productivity and profits and you're on your way!


The New Resume

Today's blog is courtesy of someone who used "the new resume" as a search term, and ended up on my website. If there is one person using that term, there may be others thinking about it, and hence this blog!

Over the years that I have been in business, I have heard that the resume is dying or dead, that the resume will be replaced with a video format, an infographic, or sound bite ... and none of these has proven to be remotely true.

The current buzz is that LinkedIn is the next resume and this is the only one that has sounded rational to me. Populate your LinkedIn profile with details taken from your resume and add a great summary section and effective title - both are critical components of getting "found" by recruiters. Considering that LinkedIn is the new job board of choice, I'd say your LinkedIn presence is even more effective than just a resume!

However - and this is a big one - a simplistic resume repurposed in LinkedIn doesn't magically improve your attractiveness as an employee. A resume that is poorly written, that focuses only on Accountability and doesn't venture into Achievements, won't generate any more interest just because it's on LinkedIn.

Your value, dear job hunter, is not in the skills you possess; it's in how you use these skills. Let me use myself as an example to explain.

If I tell you that I write resumes, cover letters, LinkedIn profiles, professional bios and so on, does that differentiate me from the other resume writers you may be considering? Not so much. But if I tell you that my resumes are award-winners, that my cover letters have made it into Job Search Letters for Dummies and Best Canadian Cover Letters - well, now I'm telling you how effective my skills are. If I go on to tell you that my clients have landed jobs with all levels of government, with major insurance companies, banks and other prominent employers, landed jobs abroad or dream jobs, etc., again, you'll know that I not only have the basic skills, but I have developed these to an exceptional level of effectiveness. That provides you with a lot of value for your investment.

That's what your resume must do: it must demonstrate value, and skills are just the beginning of this process.

Why would a potential employer, who must invest in your salary, training and benefits, hire you just because you possess the skills, when s/he can choose from other candidates whose resumes clearly connect that dotted line between skills and how those skills positively impacted previous employers' bottom lines?

The principles of good writing remain constant: you must address your audience's needs and buying motivators. If you want a better resume, New Leaf is ready to be of service.

- dedicated to recreating resumes for job hunters - Stephanie