Want to thank a veteran? Hire them!

Want to thank a veteran? Hire them!

Growing up in a family with a long and decorated history of military service meant that there was always special emphasis placed on Veterans Day. Though I never served in the military myself, I have tremendous respect for those who do and their families every day of the year. Speaking from past experience as a small business hiring manager, the best way to honor a veteran’s service (while growing your business at the same time) is to hire them! Vets and to a greater extent their spouses are often shortchanged in their career development – low wages, dangerous work, lack of stability due to frequent displacement, employer prejudice, and the stigma of potential mental health issues can hold back talented Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, or Coasties. If for no other reason, hire a vet because they deserve a break! If you’re more concerned about how you can benefit, then consider that vets often the most skilled, disciplined, and adaptable employees you’ll ever have. Years of service, thousands of hours of training, and a rigorous chain of command mean that vets are used to executing at a high level in the most stressful and dynamic of conditions. Having a spreadsheet done by 5pm pales in comparison to patrolling streets where every corner can bring a deadly fire fight. Still not moved? Then how about a bribe from Uncle Sam? The eligibility varies, but your small business can claim up to $9600 in tax credits every year for hiring...

Seven Superb Websites for Job Seekers

One of the questions I get asked very frequently by customers is “What websites should I use to look for a new job?”. After a new customer asked me the same question today, I decided it was time to write a post with the sites I most often give out to customers. Here’s my list of favorites: 1. LinkedIn If you’re a white collar employee or professional, you must be on LinkedIn. It’s free to set up a profile and use many of the features to find potential jobs and connections (fees do apply for some of the advanced features) Many hiring managers use it as an additional screening tool, so if you’re not visible there, you leave yourself open to the interpretation that you’re unsophisticated, unconnected, or “just don’t get it”. 2. Your School’s Alumni or Career Center One of the perks of attending college is access to alumni networks and career centers – often free with verified attendance or graduation. Job listings placed with these centers are often far more exclusive and targeted – dramatically boosting your chances of landing an interview. 3. Indeed.com / USAJOBS.gov / Idealist.com These guys are the go-to job listing sites. Indeed aggregates everything it can find, USAJOBS hosts all federal employment announcements, and Idealist.org is the place to go if you’re looking for a service or non-profit job. 4. Lynda.com There’s a reason that LinkedIn just bought Lynda.com for 1.5 BILLION DOLLARS – it’s a wildy successful and amazingly cheap way to learn and master new stuff. With over 3500 video courses, you can learn Excel, get up to speed on...

An ode to Garamond

I read Huffington Post’s recent article about Times New Roman and resumes with professional amusement. As a resume writer, I come across 5-10 resumes every week from prospective customers that are written 100% in Times New Roman. It’s not a mystery why this is the case – it’s easily readable, universally compatible on computers, and is as close to a “default font” as exists in 2015. The problem? It’s almost impossible for your resume to stand out using Times New Roman – there’s just too many resumes that look the same. My recommendation? I love Garamond – it’s a serifed font like Times New Roman, but different enough that it stands out from the horde of job seekers relying on TNR. You might remember about a year ago, when a teen made news declaring that the federal government could save hundreds of millions of dollars by switching to Garamond (his logic wasn’t 100% on the money, but at least it made for a nice story). As you can see in the sample above, Garamond appears slightly smaller and thinner than Times New Roman at the same font size – creating a more airy feel that I prefer to use for many clients. It’s a classic font (almost 500 years old) that conveys a sense of tradition and elegance with its thinner and more rounded serifs, and saves space (about 7% compared to Times New Roman at the same font size). Bottom line, it’s a solid choice for your resume that looks different enough to stand out from the...

Escaping The Trap of Long Term Unemployment

Today’s April jobs report brings the same type of schizophrenic news that we’ve come to expect during this recovery. The headlines were nothing short of spectacularly good news – 288K jobs added, and a decline in the unemployment rate from 6.8% to 6.3%. Looking beneath the headlines, though, reveals that things may not be that much better for the long term unemployed. 806,000 people stopped looking for work – accounting for the significant drop in the unemployment rate, and the long term unemployed make up more than 35% of the unemployed. From my vantage point, if you’ve been out of work for more than six months, it doesn’t look like the job market has gotten significantly better. Which means that it falls to you to break through the very real wall (and employer prejudice) that’s holding you back. Here’s some advice we give our clients: 1. Assess why your job search is failing There’s no way to sugarcoat the fact that your job search is failing. Coming to grips with that fact is the first step in making yourself a more marketable employee. Are your skills out of touch with the market? Has the work you’re well qualified for moved overseas? Is your resume a hot mess? Do you interview poorly? Are your references subtly sabotaging you? Unless and until you figure out what’s holding you back, it’s highly likely that you’ll continue to be overlooked. 2. Leverage your social network and professional/educational organizations Hands down, your best bet for landing a new job is through someone you know personally. Second best bet is through a member organization like...

Check Out the New Digs!

You might have noticed that my posting has been sparse lately, and with good reason. For the last six weeks, my partner and I have been working on a new interface for our site. With our collective background in design and coding, we decided to handle the task ourselves. Right about the time the latest Google update significant increased our rankings and generated a surge in new business (nice problem to have, right?). Needless to say, redoing our humble little site turned out to be a big deal for us. Today, after all the hard work that both Melanie and I put into the site, we’ve launched version 2 of resume-express.com. Here’s some of the highlights: New logo and color palette to reflect our growing corporate brand Modern design (as opposed to the 2005 era design of the previous version) Easier readability (no more 11px font size and lines jammed together) More targeted content to help job seekers find exactly the information they are looking for An expanded partners section in anticipation of some new things we’ve got cooking We hope you’ll take a look around the site, and let us know your thoughts here, or on Twitter. Don’t worry – if it flops, we made a backup of the old...

5 Things That Everybody Thinks Are True About Resumes (but aren’t)

I talked to a customer today who was adamant that her resume needed an objective statement “so that they know what job I want”. Longtime readers, of course, will note my jihad against that offensive vestige of resumes past and can only image the head explodeyness that was swallowed with a smile. In the end, the customer is always right, so her resume has that utterly useless objective statement. It was a slight blow to my professional ego, and got me to thinking about other misconceptions customers have that I do my best to correct. Here’s some of the most popular ones that I deal with: 1. A great resume will land you a job. When the economy is roaring along and times are good, this is close to true. Now, when the addition of new jobs is not enough to keep pace with population growth, this is absolutely false. I like to counsel our clients that a great resume is 30% of the equation. Networking and interviewing skills are just as, if not more important. 2. One resume is all you need. I suspect this falls under “the easy way out”. The fact is that you should be creating a tailored resume for each position that you pursue. This can be as simple as changing the headline and key skills, or a wholesale rewrite. Matching the keywords in a given job posting will tell the hiring manager you’ve paid attention and have the requisite skills, with the added benefit of ensuring that your resume makes it past automated screening software. 3. Your resume has to fit on one page....

4 Things Recruiters Look for in Your Resume

Working with recruiters is a great way to get your resume in the hands of decision makers. Because recruiters get paid when they fill positions, your interests are aligned as you’ll both profit when they find you a job. As a resume writer, part of my job is maintaining currency on marketplace expectations for resumes (what recruiters and hiring managers are looking for). So, what do recruiters look for in a resume? Through personal relationships, social media, and professional organizations, I’ve identified the top four things that most recruiters are looking for when they review candidate resumes: 1. Justification When a recruiter recommends your resume to one of their clients, they are vouching for your experience and skillset (see below). As such, your resume needs to look clean and presentable to their client (ample white space,  proper font size and non-ridiculous margins) with sufficient content to convey a sense of professionalism and respectability. It boils down to one simple rule – you have to make the recruiter look good. 2. The right format. There’s a reason we send our clients their resumes in Microsoft Word and Adobe PDF formats. PDF looks great across all devices, and works well when you are sending your resume to the person who will be evaluating it. When it comes to recruiters; however, the nearly universal preference is for Microsoft Word documents (.docx, .doc, .rtf). Recruiters often put their contact information, logo, etc. on the resume prior to sending it to their clients, and frequently they will make changes to your resume to more accurately target the employer/position they have in mind for you....

Looking for the perfect graduation gift? A Resume Express Professional Resume Package

As we approach mid-may, a trip through any Walmart or Target should remind you that it’s graduation season. In fact, once Mother’s Day passes this weekend, it will be the big marketing push for the next 3-4 weeks. If you have a graduate that you’re shopping for, you can skip the stores and give our services as the ultimate gift! Our Professional Resume Package makes the perfect gift, because it’s something that your (starving) student can actually use and will impact their life for a long, long time. Research shows that the first job you have out of school impacts your career development and earning potential throughout your entire life, so setting them up with a resume toolkit (resume, cover letter, thank you/follow up letters) that is guaranteed to get results is the perfect gift. Best of all, we’re running a 20% special to ease the impact on your wallet. Please head over to our main site, or give us a call toll free at...

Subtext (And 5 reasons it’s vital in your resume)

In  addition to the skills, abilities and experience that you offer potential employers, your resume carries critical subtext that HR professionals will evaluate when deciding whether to let your resume continue through the hiring process. Subtext is the underlying message that you’re trying to convey. Because your resume will be very similar to many other candidates in terms of skills and experience, it’s vital that you answer these five questions: Can you communicate effectively? All jobs, from pest exterminators to Fortune 100 CEOs, require the ability to communicate effectively. A quick glance at a well crafted resume will reassure hiring managers that your communication skills are worthy. Conversely, a typo or ill-formed narrative creates a first impression that is often impossible to overcome. Do you work well in team environments? Can you work well within a larger team? Unless you’re in an outside sales role, you’ll likely rely on co-workers (and vice versa) to complete your work. A resume that highlights examples of this collaboration puts your future employer at ease that you’ll fit in. Are you adaptable? With corporate employers relying more than ever on a smaller amount of employees to do more work, employees with broad skill sets are far more valuable. While your resume should remained focused on your core talents/pursuits, sprinkling in other workplace skills and successes you’ve had will definitely elevate your candidacy. Do you learn new and increasingly specialized skills? Hopefully, your resume demonstrates a progressive history of responsibility and skills. That is to say that each job is a little more important and demands more skills than the one preceding it. As the manufacturing...

5 Critical but Often Overlooked Pieces of Resume Advice

In the course of writing resumes for our clients and updating this blog, we write/give a LOT of resume advice. Here’s five pieces of often overlooked advice that can make all the difference between a fruitless search and a shiny new job: Make sure your outgoing voicemail message is professional. What could be worse than having a resume that catches a recruiter’s eye, only to have them call your number and hear a ridiculous outgoing message like this:  By the way, the same goes for email addresses. Nobody wants to hire ‘sexmonster69@gmail.com’. Don’t share credit This flies contrary to what we learned in kindergarten, but in the cutthroat world of resume evaluation, it’s every man (and woman) for himself. If you were part of a team that managed a spectacularly successful project, your resume should focus only on your contributions. It’s not in any way dishonest, and puts your best foot forward. The things you find most interesting about yourself, aren’t. A lot of our clients can’t resist the temptation to list hobbies or unusual skills on their resumes, likely with the thought that it will help them stand out from the crowd. The truth? It certainly does make you stand out – you look unprofessional and less than serious about your career search. Leave the fact that you are an aspiring magician for your Facebook page. Leaving information off your resume can make you look better If you have a number of employers in a short time span or took a job that was a big step back in terms of career progress, it might make sense to leave one...