Resume Writing Tip: Overcome the Lack of a Degree on Your Resume

mortarboard So you found your dream job in a recent position announcement. The skills and experience being sought by the employer seem to be a perfect match to your background, qualifications, and career aspirations. There’s only one problem: a bachelor’s degree is listed as one of the “must-have” requirements, and you never finished your degree.

Is it hopeless to apply for a position when you don’t meet the education requirements listed in the job ad?

Not necessarily!

Employers are often willing to overlook the absence of a degree if a candidate has ample experience related to the job in question. So your resume needs to highlight precisely that by showcasing your history of proven performance. It will be especially important for you to include quantifiable examples (using numbers, percentages, dollar amounts, and/or before/after comparisons) of how you have improved operations, profits, team performance, customer service, market share, etc. on your resume.In addition, even though you didn’t graduate from a university or college, mention college studies that you did complete. This can be an excellent way to add in keywords (such as “BA” or “BS”) to your resume that would otherwise be missing — without being misleading or dishonest.

Here’s an example:


Coursework toward a BA in Advertising, 2004 to 2006

Completed half of degree program requirements prior to being recruited by XYZ Company to join their account executive team.

Job seekers without a college degree should also include highlights of any professional development completed to show a commitment to lifelong learning.

Here’s an example:

Professional Development:

Completed numerous seminars and courses on topics including:

Legal & Regulatory Affairs / Leadership & Supervision / Six Sigma Principles / Performance Management / Finance for Non-Financial Managers / Strategic Business Plans / Balanced Scorecards

So don’t be discouraged if you find a job posting that interests you but you lack the educational requirements. It’s worth a shot to apply for the position, and highlight the value you bring to the table through your experience and proven track record. Wishing you a successful job search!

Karen Hofferber

Senior Resume Writer,

Resume Strategies to Fill Gaps in Employment

ChainGap If you have a gap in your employment history, you may have concerns about how to explain this on your resume.

Keep in mind that many people step away from the workplace each year to raise children, care for ill/aging family members, return to school, recover from an illness/accident, or for some other reason. So the good news is that there is less of a stigma attached to this than there used to be.

It’s possible that you may not even need to explain the gap. For example, if you were away from the workforce from February 2006 to October 2007, you can de-emphasize the gap by listing years of employment (vs. months and years).

But if the gap spans multiple years, and especially if the gap has occurred within the last five years, then it may need to be addressed on either the resume or the cover letter. Employers like to see the work chronology, and may wonder what you were doing if large gaps are present.Serving as the primary caregiver for a family member or taking a sabbatical to pursue a degree are valid explanations for a gap.

You can also fill this time period by showcasing any volunteerism, consulting, or self-study you completed. Treat this experience just as you would a paid, full-time position, and try to include examples of key contributions you made. For example, if you helped with a school fundraising drive, mention how your efforts were instrumental in meeting or exceeding the giving goal. Be sure to emphasize skills and accomplishments that are relevant to your current career objective.

Best wishes for job search success!

Karen Hofferber

Senior Resume Writer,

Resume Tips for Mortgage Industry Career Changers

mortgage2The U.S. housing crisis has led to a mass exodus of mortgage professionals from this industry. With foreclosures and defaults skyrocketing, lending guidelines tightening, and home values plummeting, opportunities for commissions are scarce and layoffs are increasing. It’s tough to make a living originating mortgages when lenders and their loan products are dwindling and qualified borrowers are difficult to locate.

If you’re a mortgage lending professional and considering a career change, here’s some good news: armed with a powerful career change resume, you can successfully break into a new industry. Here’s how to make your resume shine:

1. State your goal. Remove guesswork for employers by clearly stating your career goal towards the beginning of your resume. There are several ways you can do this. My favorite is to create a resume title that spells it out succinctly — such as “Career Goal: Medical/Pharmaceutical Sales.” Another option is to write an objective statement, but make sure that your objective focuses on employers’ needs and not just on what you want. A third choice is to incorporate your goal in a powerful opening profile summarizing your key strengths. (See #3, below.)

2. Emphasize your transferable skills. Loan officers bring a wealth of skills and knowledge to the workplace that are transferable to many industries. Examples include consultative selling, needs analysis, risk assessment, relationship building, presentation skills, inside/outside sales, and computer proficiencies. But you have to spell out these transferable skills on your resume — don’t assume that these skills will be considered a “given” by employers outside the mortgage industry. You can incorporate your transferable skills into virtually all areas of the resume, including the qualifications summary, an “Expertise” (or “Key Skills”) list, and the “Experience” section.

3. Profile your most marketable strengths. A qualifications summary is a must for career changers. Written as a brief paragraph or a few bulleted statements, it gives you the opportunity to tell employers why they should interview you. For example:

“Multimillion-dollar producer motivated to leverage six-year record of sales performance to transition into new product lines and industries. Fast learner of complex products; ‘power user’ of MS Office; and expert prospector, negotiator, presenter, and closer. Consistently deliver quota-surpassing results, and excel in building rapport and enduring relationships with key accounts.”

4. Turn negatives into positives. The ability to survive during tough times is something to tout on your resume. If this is your story, consider adding a bulleted accomplishment or two highlighting this track record. For example:

  • “Generated steady referral business despite the collapse of the mortgage industry. Found creative ways to structure deals and meet client needs while adhering to lending guidelines and preserving company profitability.”

5. Use comparisons, pipeline metrics, or production numbers if your current sales have declined. “What do I use for accomplishments when the mortgage industry has tanked?” is a question that was recently posed to me by a loan officer client. You have several options, and depending on the specifics of your situation, at least one of these should be relevant and applicable. Use comparisons to your peers if this presents you in a favorable light.

For example, you may have only closed one deal last month, but if that tied for first place in your office then you can report that you achieved top ranking despite the industry’s decline. Or maybe you’ve been successful in generating a healthy pipeline even though some of these deals may not survive underwriting. Again, highlight the positive. And even if you haven’t received any sales awards this year, include previous honors.

I’ve included a few sample bulleted accomplishment statements below. Not all of these may be applicable to you, but I hope it gives you a jumping-off point to create your own accomplishment statements:

  • “Harnessed previously built relationships to continue bringing in deals and closing sales during period when few peers were able to achieve these results.”
  • “Consistently led the office in sales volume, earning top rankings for production during periods of high growth as well as market decline.”
  • “Maintained a strong pipeline (with $2.5M in pending deals) despite dwindling prospects and product availability.”
  • “Honored with numerous awards during five-year tenure, including repeated ‘Top Sales’ distinction for record-breaking production (six months in a row of $1M+ volume).”

6. Minimize industry-specific terms. The widespread negative press the mortgage industry has received, including the largely unpopular bailout plan, has the unfortunate residual side-effect of “guilt by association” for hardworking professionals on the front-lines of this industry. Combat this problem by minimizing industry-specific terms on your resume. Now is not the time to be connected to Fannie or Freddie, and any mentions of “sub-prime,” “Option ARMs,” “Alt-A,” and even the term “mortgage” should be used sparingly on your resume.

I hope this is helpful! If you need additional assistance, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me if you would like to discuss having your resume professionally written.

Best wishes,
Karen Hofferber

Senior Resume Writer,

New Year’s Resolution: Get (Your Resume) in Shape!

strongresume After my daughter was born, “Get in shape!” topped my list of New Year’s resolutions. Eight years and some 20+ extra pounds later, this pesky to-do item still taunts me. I blame it in part on my love of everything “ito,” as in Fritos, Doritos, etc.So if you’re looking for get-fit advice, I’m the last person you’d want to consult. But if your resume is in need of a shape-up, I can help!

Follow the suggestions below and I guarantee that with a bit of effort, you’ll start 2009 with a more “lean and mean” career marketing tool that can help you win the employment race.

Trim the fat. Is your resume loaded with flowery language? Does it suffer from “adjective-overkill?” Are there chunks of text screaming for white space? Is it guilty of bad resume lingo, fluff fillers, or information overload? Any of these things can weigh down your resume. My colleague and mentor Kim Isaacs is so masterful at eliminating excess on a resume that I affectionately refer to her as “the slasher.” See her article on how to write a concise resume.

Do sweat the small stuff. Ask any professional resume writer, hiring manager, recruiter, or HR executive for the #1 mistake they see on resumes and chances are they’ll answer with at least one (if not all) of the following: misspellings, grammatical errors, punctuation gaffes, capitalization blunders, and typos. There is no faster way to send your resume to the trash than failing to proofread meticulously. If proofreading isn’t your strong suit, then hire a pro.

Beef up the content. A common problem I see on resumes is weak content, which can creep in on virtually any area of the document. For example, does your resume begin with a cliché-ridden and “me-centered” objective (like “Seeking a challenging position with a growth-oriented company offering advancement potential”) instead of a powerful qualifications summary? Or is the experience section heavily focused on your responsibilities (what you did), but with minimal examples of your accomplishments (how well you did it) for each job? Are you missing strategic sections, like a list of your key skills or a technology summary? Have you maximized keyword density on your resume (crucial if you want employers to find you online)? With most resumes typically given only 15-30 seconds on the initial read-through by a prospective employer, strong content will help propel you to the interview pile vs. the circular file.

Go the distance. Another misstep I see almost daily when I review resumes is accomplishment statements that only go half-way. For example, I recently ran across this bulleted accomplishment on a corporate trainer’s resume: “Implemented ‘Service Excellence’ staff training program, which increased customer satisfaction scores.” This isn’t bad, but it leaves the reader hanging. By how much did customer satisfaction scores increase? Did this individual develop and/or conduct the training program? How many employees participated in the training? How long did it take for customer satisfaction to increase after the training was completed? By including just a few more details, the revised accomplishment statement is much stronger: “Designed and delivered ‘Service Excellence’ training program to 500+ employees, which increased customer satisfaction scores by 35% within two weeks.”“But wait,” you might be thinking. “Isn’t that just going to make my resume even longer?” Great question. Yes, fleshing out your accomplishments may mean adding a few more words, but that’s where judicious editing comes into play. You shouldn’t be trying to cram every single thing you’ve ever accomplished onto your resume. Only include stand-out achievements that bear the most relevance to the positions you are targeting. So while you’re boosting the impact of these key accomplishments, you’ll also be looking to cut less-essential statements. (That employee picnic you planned may have been a big hit, but if you’re not looking for a job where event coordination is important, then rethink this content). You can also combine similar accomplishments into a single hard-hitting bullet point to preserve space. And here’s a final tip on editing: if you are unable to quantify or explain the benefit/result of something you did, it probably should be cut from your resume.The bottom line is this: scrutinize each of your achievements to ensure that they are resume-worthy and that they go the distance.

Make your word choices more “muscular.” On a resume, every word counts. If you  rehash phrases like “responsible for” or “duties include,” you will lull the reader to sleep. The same goes for repeating lazy verb choices, like starting every other sentence with “managed.” Use dynamic language and varied, powerful action verbs to keep readers engaged. Get intimate with a thesaurus to reveal synonyms that might work for you.

Present a “buff” appearance. A beautifully designed resume is the equivalent of six-pack abs. Conversely, a resume with too little white space, margins set too tightly, too many or too few bullet points, inappropriate fonts, or text set too large (amateurish) or too small (headache-inducing) can be likened to the dreaded “spare tire” and dimpled cellulite that none of us want. Even if your content is strong and your spelling and grammar are flawless, a poorly designed or lackluster presentation will hinder your resume’s effectiveness.So print out this blog, power up those laptops, and by all means pass the Pringles – this is probably the only shape-up resolution that you can achieve in a single weekend and with no calorie-counting required.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Karen Hofferber

Senior Resume Writer,

Unemployed? Tips for Finding a Job During a Recession

recessionThere are few things more daunting than searching for a job when you’re unemployed – except perhaps searching for a job when you’re unemployed and the economy is in recession. Oh, and let’s not forget that in addition to the nation’s current economic woes, it’s also the holiday season – a time when conventional wisdom suggests that your odds of being struck by lightning are greater than your chances of getting hired.

Is a job search during a recession doomed for failure? Not if you think creatively, search aggressively, and maintain a positive outlook and forward momentum!I’m not going to “blow smoke” here – it’s true that our current recession makes for a decidedly tough job market. Job seekers will likely face some considerable challenges in the months ahead, and it seems that almost daily I’m reading scary reports of more large layoffs occurring nationwide. But the news isn’t all bleak. Consider the following:– CNET’s Webware blog reported just ten days ago that there are more tech companies with job openings than there are ones initiating layoffs.– Monster Worldwide’s CEO Salvatore Iannuzzi said in a recent interview with CNBC that a number of sectors are still hiring strong, including government, healthcare, protective services, mining, and exploration.– In their recent “Who’s Hiring in This Economy?” special report, a Cleveland, OH TV network news affiliate checked the latest numbers from Manpower (the world leader in temporary, temp-to-hire, contract, and permanent employment services); Forbes magazine; and the networking service JobFox.comto find what each consider to be the top “recession-proof” jobs. They predict continued job openings in areas including:

  • Accounting: The more companies reorganize, the more accountants they need.
  • Nursing: One field where there is still a shortage, with openings at many hospitals.
  • Physical Therapy: Openings exist at many hospitals.
  • IT: With companies keeping computers longer, they need people to fix them and update software.
  • Commission Sales Reps: In a recession, companies are desperate for good salespeople.
  • Security: You can’t have enough security these days.
  • Building Maintenance: As companies hold off on new offices, it’s paramount that they take care of existing facilities.
  • The U.S. Census Bureau: Now hiring thousands of workers to prepare for Census 2010.

And here’s more positive news: regardless of the industry and field you are targeting, there are a number of strategies you can adopt to increase your chances of recession-era job search success. Here are my top picks:

Arm yourself with a recession-proof resume. With increasing numbers of laid-off workers competing for jobs, it’s important that you have a flawless, compelling, keyword-rich, and employer-focused resume. Consider hiring a resume writing firm to write your resume. Your initial investment is well worth the competitive edge you’ll gain, and it will be more than recouped in your first paycheck.

Harness the power of the web. The internet is a job seeker’s best friend. Use it to find and apply for jobs (major job boards post openings daily), research companies, create job search agents, develop/update your online profile, and more!

Network, network, network! Networking is still one of the best tools in a job seeker’s arsenal. Check out Quintessential Careers’ compilation of how-to’s, tips, resources, articles, and strategies on this topic.

Get organized, keep a schedule, and follow-up relentlessly. Resist the temptation to become complacent, discouraged, or lazy. Bad daytime TV, king-size chocolate bars, and internet solitaire are not your friends right now. Create a schedule with at least three job search items to accomplish each day and stick to it. Print out and file all job ads that you respond to, attach the customized cover letter and resume that accompanied each ad for your future reference, and follow-up with prospective employers. When the phone starts ringing for interviews, you’ll reap the rewards of your efforts!

Freelance. A number of career fields lend themselves well to freelancing, including writing, designing, IT, and more. There are various sites on the web that allow you to advertise freelance services for free or for a nominal fee. The demand for talented freelancers is bound to increase during a recession, as employers look for the most cost-effective way to get the work done. In addition, the more you freelance, the more contacts you’ll make – and each of these assignments presents the potential for a full-time job offer down the road.

Volunteer. What are you passionate about? The humane treatment of animals? Global warming? Your child’s school? Get out and volunteer! Just spending a couple of hours a week contributing to a cause you care about is incredibly therapeutic, and it offers the added bonus of giving you something you can add to your resume to fill the gap between jobs. Plus, you never know where it may lead. Your enthusiasm may catch the eye of a hiring manager, or you may meet a fellow volunteer who knows of a job opening in your field.

Supplement your income with creative “moonlighting.” My friend Chris is brilliant at this. She’s a talented HR executive who is currently searching for her next full-time job, but in the meantime she’s supplementing her income by advertising various services on Craigslist, including house cleaning, overnight babysitting, dog-walking, and pet-sitting/house-sitting. It pays the bills and allows her to expand her network of contacts

Consider temp and temp-to-hire options. Temp agencies typically thrive during times of economic cutbacks, so start interviewing with them now. Many of these firms require testing to measure your proficiencies in various areas, so the sooner you begin the process the faster you can find placement. And keep in mind that a temporary placement can lead to a full-time job offer.

Don’t buy into the myth that the holidays are a bad time to job search. Check out Alison Doyle’s blog on Job Searching During the Holiday Season for more information. Still not convinced? Dust off your old copy of “Kramer vs. Kramer” and wait for Dustin Hoffman’s “find-a-job-at-all-costs-right-before-Christmas-Eve” scene. I dare you not to be inspired!

Happy job searching, everyone!

Best wishes,

Karen Hofferber

Senior Resume Writer,

5 Ways to Recession-Proof Your Resume

clip_image002In case you missed last Monday’s headlines, the announcement by the National Bureau of Economic Research made it official: we’re in a recession. I doubt many folks were shocked by this grim news, as it only reinforces what most Americans already knew – times are tough and belts are tightening.Layoffs are an unfortunate by-product of economic recessions, but if you take steps now to “recession-proof” your resume, you won’t be caught unprepared if you find yourself downsized. Here’s how:

1. Emphasize ways you have boosted the bottom line for your employers.

Now more than ever, employers will be trying to preserve profits and pinch pennies. Use your resume to prove your talents in this area and you’re bound to leave a favorable impression. This might include contributions you have made (either independently or as a member of a team) to cost-cutting measures, revenue-generating efforts, customer acquisition/retention initiatives, or productivity/efficiency increases. Wherever possible, quantify these achievements with numbers for maximum impact and credibility. Here are a few examples using dollars, percentages, and before/after comparisons:

  • Saved company $5K annually by transferring print newsletter to online format.
  • Minimized costly rework on widget product line to increase profit margin by 15% (equivalent to $2.8M in annual revenue gains).
  • Served on continuous improvement taskforce that cut store shrink in half (from 4% to 2%) to deliver annual bottom-line gains of $17K+.

2. Showcase examples of resourcefulness.

Employers value candidates with a proven history of innovative thinking the ability to do more with less, but these skills become even more sought after during tough economic times. A friend of mine who’s in the HR field calls this the “what if…” factor. She says that even when limits are placed on hiring, she’s always on the lookout for people who excel in asking “what if?” questions. As in, “What if we did it this way instead of that way?” Think about ways that you stepped outside the box to add value to customers without increasing costs to your employer. Or instances when you came up with a unique solution or creative idea that improved processes or increased efficiency. Or examples of how you have adopted a use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do withoutphilosophy in performing your duties. Showcase a few of your best “resourceful hero” stories on your resume and you will definitely be noticed!

3. Highlight versatility, flexibility, and adaptability to change.

Have you assumed expanded responsibilities beyond the scope of your initial job duties? Are you handling tasks that previously were performed by two or more employees? Have you led or participated in successful turnaround or change-management initiatives? Individuals who can demonstrate their abilities to help employers survive — and even thrive — during tough times are sure to be a hot commodity now and in the months ahead. Include a few key details of your strengths in these areas in your opening profile summary at the top of your resume, and/or add a few bulleted accomplishments relating to change-agent leadership and adaptability in the “Experience” section of your resume.

4. Start a “kudos” file.

If you don’t already keep copies of your performance reviews and letters of appreciation, client thank-yous, or congratulatory emails you receive, start now. This provides excellent fodder for your resume. You can include quoted excerpts right on your resume, either in a separate “Endorsements” section or sprinkled throughout the resume. To see a few examples of how to incorporate third-party testimonials into your resume, check out the network administrator (view the left margin) and theatre Instructor (view the right margin) resume samples on our website.

5. Keep your resume and online profile updated.

If you’re worried about your job security due to the uncertainty of the current economy, your best strategy is to keep your resume updated. The same goes for online profiles you may have on sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, or FolioClick.’s blog included some excellent advice on this topic in a recent post, reminding us that “potential employers may look at any online profile of yours, so keep them up-to-date and free of content that would embarrass you.”

Best wishes,

Karen Hofferber

Senior Resume Writer,

How to Write a Winning Resume

resume_gift Someone asked me how to write a winning resume, and the question took me by surprise. Usually people ask specific questions, like “How can I avoid looking like a job-hopper?” and “I’m concerned about age discrimination — should I drop my degree date?” (Or the always popular, “Can you review my resume…for free?”)

So after the question was asked, I saw 13 years of resume writing experience flash before my eyes, along with every resume tip I ever offered — it was like a near-death experience.Where to start? Winning resume strategies vary dramatically depending on the job seeker’s background, career level, goals, even geographic location. It would be impossible to give the recipe for a winning resume and wrap it in a pretty bow. But I like a challenge, so I decided to break it up into a list of do’s and don’ts. So here goes…


  • Do state your career goal. Your objective should be clear from the very beginning of your resume. You can incorporate your goal into a bold headline, or weave it into your Qualifications Summary. Thinking about using a “one-size-fits-all-jobs” resume? You could be in for a long job search.
  • Do include a Qualifications Summary. If you’re diving right in to your work history without a brief introduction, you’re missing the opportunity to spoon-feed your strongest credentials or “value proposition” to the resume reviewer — right at the top of your resume.
  • Do include your important skills. Hiring managers are looking for specific skills when filling a job opening. So create a bulleted list of your industry-related skills. Relevant job-related skills (such as “vendor negotiations”) hold more weight than general skills (like “communication skills,” which everyone claims to have).
  • Do include accomplishments. Most resumes are heavily focused on job duties, but employers want to see how well you’ve done your job. Include specific examples of the main ways you contributed to your employers, and hiring managers will see the value that you bring to the table. Use quantifiable accomplishments whenever possible.
  • Do pick the right length. If you’re a new grad with minimal experience, chances are you need one page. If you are an experienced professional with lots of experience, two pages should do the trick. If you’re a top-level executive with an extensive track record or a techie with many relevant projects, you might need three pages. Professionals who require a longer resume are in academia and need a CV, not a resume. A resume is a brief “snapshot” of your qualifications — you want to have something to discuss in an interview.
  • Do create an attractive design. Your resume needs to stand out from the pack of resumes, and a distinctive (yet conservative) design can help your resume get noticed. Make use of your word processing program’s formatting features, like font size, bold, italics, etc. But don’t overdo it –- it’s a careful balancing act to make sure your resume looks nice, and not like a three-ring circus!
  • Do give kudos to team accomplishments. Did your department generate $2.5 million last year? Then give credit to the team instead of claiming the accomplishment as your own, unless you want to look like a braggart who likes to steal the limelight.
  • Do use a readable font size. I’ve been seeing more and more resumes with teeny tiny fonts — apparently people are trying to squeeze in as much information on a page to avoid starting a new page. Not good. Your font should be easily readable on-screen. It’s better to go to a new page or edit some of the content and use a font that doesn’t make your reader squint (or just delete your resume to avoid a migraine headache). Along the same lines, make sure you have plenty of white space to make your resume reader-friendly.
  • Do include related hobbies. The emphasis is on related. If your hobby shows some aspect of your personality that would be desirable or an interesting talking point with the interviewer, include it. Avoid including anything that is kind of “out there” or would reveal something about you that you wouldn’t want your next employer to know.
  • Do proofread. Your resume should be error-free. Sending a resume with typos is the equivalent of showing up to a job interview with food stains on your shirt.
  • Do keep your resume updated. A resume that’s frequently updated and revised is more effective than one that is out-of-date and neglected. Make a point to update your resume when you have a new accomplishment, and take a good look at the document at least every few months.


  • Don’t use a functional format. It’s almost never the right answer, and only raises red flags and doubts about your work history. Plus, if you’re trying to hide dates, a functional resume may do the opposite and draw attention to dates. A “combination” resume (a reverse chronological resume that leads with a Qualifications Summary) works for almost all professionals.
  • Don’t be a copycat. Don’t use a resume template (unless you want to blend in with the crowd) and don’t copy your friend’s resume. You can use resume samples to inspire you, but don’t copy!
  • Don’t lose sight of your career goal. When writing your work descriptions, always keep your career goal in mind. Highlight the accomplishments that are related to your next career move, and downplay unrelated career information. Remember, you can’t include everything you’ve ever done, so you might as well include the skills and accomplishments that will grab your reader’s attention.
  • Don’t overuse bullets. Professional resume writers refer to this type of resume as a “polka-dot resume.” If you bullet everything, no one point stands out and you dilute the impact of the bullets. Instead, strategically use bullets to draw attention to the key points that you want to emphasize.
  • Don’t go way back. If your work history spans more than fifteen years, keep in mind that employers are most interested in what you did recently. So dedicate the most space to your recent experience. You can include earlier work history if you want, but consider summing up the highlights in an “Early Career” section.
  • Don’t use a funky font. Most resumes are being emailed and opened on computers, so it’s important that your font selection translates properly on the receiver’s end. If not, the receiver’s system will convert to a different font, and there goes all of your perfect formatting.
  • Don’t write “References Available Upon Request.” This is not the 80s, folks!
  • Don’t include personal information. Marital status, date of birth, salary data, and other personal information shouldn’t be included on most resumes. There are a few exceptions, like resumes going to foreign countries and entertainer resumes in which personal information is relevant to the job. Federal applications also require personal information such as salary history. Other than that, omit personal information.
  • Don’t use personal pronouns (“I,” “me,” or “my”). The reader knows you are writing about you. Use an “implied” first-person voice, like “Developed reports…” instead of “I developed reports.”
  • Don’t use bad resume lingo. If you’re a “results-proven leader with excellent communication skills looking for a growth-oriented position with a forward-thinking company,” please delete the bad resume lingo right now! This post has more detail on offensive, over-used cliches that should be eliminated from your resume.
  • Don’t lie. Whatever you are trying to cover up isn’t as bad as you think it is, and a dishonest approach can get you into all kinds of trouble (even long after you’re hired). And yes, omitting significant jobs is lying. “Honesty is the best policy” — didn’t we learn this lesson in kindergarten?

To your success!

Kim Isaacs

Career Change Tips: The Planning Stage

directions Heather Johnson returns to share advice on planning for a career change. When you’re miserable in your current career and know that you’re ready for a change, make sure you’ve done your research and diligent planning.

Best wishes,

Kim Isaacs

Career Change Tips: The Planning StageBy Heather JohnsonIf you’re contemplating a career change, you know that marketing and re-packaging yourself for a new goal can be daunting. Shifting careers makes looking for a job in your current field seem like a walk in the park. If you’re ready for a major change, consider these tips to make the process is as painless as possible:

  • Have a plan. If you’re currently employed, stay in your current job and map out your career change plan. A career change brings about changes in many aspects of your life, including your financial situation and family relationships. Determine what you need to do to make a smooth transition before doing anything else. If you’re unsure about how to approach your career change, seek the advice of a professional career coach or read books on how to shift careers. The more prepared you are, the more successful you will be.
  • Do it for the right reasons. Make sure you’re not just reacting to a bad stretch in your current job. Maybe your boss is making you miserable so it seems like an extreme change is in order, but perhaps you would be happy in a new job in your field with a new boss. When you change careers, you will be in a foreign work environment when you first start. Your job satisfaction will infiltrate every aspect of your life, so make sure this is the right move before going full steam ahead.
  • Take money out of the equation. Sounds easier said than done, right? Well, if you’re focused on the money, consider what the new career will mean to your quality of life. What kind of people work in this new field? What kind of hours does it demand? What kind of education do you need? Forget the dollar signs for a moment, and consider your future happiness.
  • Focus on your own path. Just because your friend made a smooth transition to this field doesn’t mean you can follow suit. It’s natural to compare yourself to others, but just because others have succeeded in a certain career doesn’t translate to your personal success. This is your path and your decision.
  • Refine your skills. Take a few courses to freshen your skills before you take the plunge. Practice skills required for your new field as much as possible, even if it means volunteering your services to charities or local businesses. Building your skills will give you renewed confidence, and improve your chances for success.

About the author: This post was contributed by Heather Johnson, who writes on the subject of how to become a nurse. She invites your feedback at heatherjohnson2323 at gmail dot com.

Resume Writing Tip: Format is Key to Success

resumepicIf you’re trying to select the best format for your resume, most likely a functional resume won’t work. Not convinced? Check out the following article by guest writer Jessie Richardson.

Best wishes,

Kim Isaacs

Resume Writing Tip: Format is Key to Success

By Jessie Richardson, CPRW

Many of my transitioning military clients are overwhelmed at the thought of capturing their experience in a resume, just like their civilian counterparts. Getting started with writing a resume can be overwhelming, but choosing the right resume format can be the key to getting your resume read. You may have heard that there are several resume styles from which to choose. Although technically that is true, there is really only one style that you should use. So heed this warning before you put that pen to paper – no matter who has “sold” you on a functional format – do not listen!

The two most popular resume formats are functional and reverse chronological. A reverse chronological resume lists employment with the most recent position first. Each entry includes the company, job title, dates, and a job description with an emphasis on accomplishments, and includes an education or certifications section. Functional resumes begin with a professional summary that lists primary functional skills, such as project management, maintenance, reorganization, etc. This is followed by skills and significant achievements for each of the primary functional skills. Next is a tabular summary of employment, followed by education and certifications.There are three problems with functional resumes. First, they do not provide hiring managers with enough information. As a hiring authority, how am I to know if you have three months or three years of “project management” experience? Second, they come across as suspicious. Functional resumes are popular among people with something to hide, such as habitual “job hoppers” and those with large gaps in their employment history. Third, they tend to be heavy on empty phrases like, “exceptional leadership skills.”

To a seasoned resume reviewer, this means nothing. A great resume leads the reader, on his or her own, to come up with the very assertions you would like to make. Aim to show not tell – a hard order to fill with a functional resume.In summary, readers want the resume in a certain format. List your work experiences in reverse chronological order rather than by function performed. If collateral duties and multiple, simultaneous jobs make your reverse chronological timeline somewhat difficult to follow, add a “collateral duties” or “additional experience” section and keep the focus on experience most relevant to your target. While a functional resume may make you feel better about representing your skills, it will not please the reader and you could suffer the consequences because your resume ended up in the trash.

About the Author: Jessie Richardson directs operations for, the military-to-civilian transition experts. She is a Naval Academy graduate and a regular commentator on job search best practices for military-experienced job seekers. Her e-mail address is jrichardson at militaryresumes dot com.

Summer’s Here and the Time is Right for…Getting a Job?

Beach JobIs your neighbor working on a home-improvement project just a neighbor working on a home-improvement project, or is there more to the picture? Could saying “hi” and lending your neighbor a hand lead to a great job opportunity? According to my career-coaching colleagues, including Wendy Terwelp, Laura Berman Fortgang, and Anne-Marie Ditta, taking advantage of the slow, breezy nature of summer to build relationships and strengthen your network could be beneficial to your job search.

Sizzling Summer Job Search Tips

by Kim Isaacs, Monster Resume Expert

Are you taking a break from the job search and surrendering to the lazy days of summer? The conventional wisdom is that almost everyone is in vacation mode from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Consequently, many postpone job searching until September. Is this a mistake? Could you be missing opportunities if you take the summer off? We asked the career experts to find out.

Summer Job Searching — Worthwhile or Waste of Time?

I often hear job seekers say that they want to take the summer off,” says Wendy Terwelp, career coach and president of Mequon, Wisconsin-based career management firm Opportunity Knocks. Terwelp says that by the time the summer ends, job seekers who took the summer off will be competing against even more job seekers who have followed the same strategy. Anne-Marie Ditta, president of First Impression Career Services, agrees. “A fair number of job seekers think that recruiters and hiring managers are unavailable during the summer,” Ditta says. Therefore, many believe it’s a waste of time to job search from June through August.

Debunking the Summer Vacation Myth

“Few people take long vacations anymore, so for the corporate world it’s business as usual in the summer,” says Laura Berman Fortgang, a pioneer in the personal coaching field who has appeared on “Oprah” and “The CBS Early Show” and wrote Now What? 90 Days to a New Life Direction.”It may take a little longer to get internal consensus on a hire because of staggered vacations, but why waste three months when you can move things forward during that time?” suggests Fortgang, who says that summertime can offer advantages to job seekers. “Sometimes, summer’s quieter pace gives hiring managers a bit more ‘brain space,’ so they are more attentive to employment applications,” she says. Summer can be a prime hiring season for some employers. “Many projects hit the ground running in the fall, and employers want new people in place,” says Fortgang.

Six Summer Job Search Tips

How do you keep your search moving forward in the summer? Our experts offer these tips:

1. Capitalize on Seasonal Events: Summer is a terrific time to network,” says Terwelp. “There are festivals, barbeques, weddings and other gatherings that can be a perfect time to connect.” Fortgang says that using personal and social gatherings to let people know you are looking is an excellent strategy.

2. Don’t Get Discouraged: Summer vacations may make reaching the right people more challenging, but “don’t use this as a reason to back off,” says Fortgang. “Be patient and consistent, leave polite messages and continue due diligence,” she says. Keep in mind that receptionists and other gatekeepers take vacations, too. “You might connect with that otherwise hard-to-reach hiring manager while your competitors are lolling around waiting until September,” says Ditta.

3. Keep a Job Search Schedule: Yes, it’s summer, but don’t be lulled into laziness. “Even if it is just an hour a day, put structure in place to keep you going,” says Fortgang.

4. Build a Network: “Form a group of like-minded job seekers to keep your summer job search on track,” Fortgang suggests. Meet regularly to share information on who’s hiring. A job opportunity not right for you may be perfect for someone in your network, and vice-versa.

5. Take Stock of Your Resume and Skills: Summer is the perfect time to assess and update your resume and skills. “Review your resume and add any new accomplishments or training,” says Terwelp. Also, brush up on any skills that may be lagging. “Take a class or two in the summer. Not only will you be improving your skills, but you can network with your classmates.”

6. Get Outside: Warm weather is the prime time for outdoor home improvement projects, and by helping your neighbors you can help your career at the same time. Walk around your neighborhood and offer to give someone a hand. While you’re helping that neighbor, you can share that you’re job hunting and tap into someone else’s network. “This can lead to more connections, informational interviews and maybe even a new job,” says Terwelp.When it comes to your job search, summer doesn’t have to mean slow. While that perfect swimsuit may remain elusive, you can use the summer months to find an ideal career fit. Your time and effort can reap big rewards and even land you a new job before autumn


This article was written by Kim Isaacs, director of and author of The Career Change Resume book. Visit the site to learn more about resume services to jump-start your career.

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