10 fixes for your resume

construction-work-carpenter-tools (1)I’ve been screening resumes for a long time.  One of my first jobs as an intern was to be a gate keeper for the hiring manager.  Yes, at 20, I was the reason you did or didn’t get the interview w/my boss.  Since then, I’ve read HUNDREDS of resumes of hopeful applicants pining for a chance to meet in person so they can wow me with their rehearsed interview answers (another rant for another day).  Regardless of whether it’s a starting position or a very senior project manager, I see the same mistakes over and over again.   Since sharing is care, here are a few tips from the trenches.

  1. Customize your resume for the job you are applying.  REALLY!  Don’t use some generic objective about how you are a senior IT professional looking to save the world when you apply for position in my non-IT department.
  2. ALWAYS include a cover letter or an intro paragraph with some degree of non-resume speak.  It’s your one shot to let you voice be heard.  Why do you like the company?  Why is this position a great fit?  Tell me about the 2 years you took off to raise your kids.  If you don’t tell me, I have to guess and it’s a thin line between a maybe and a yes.  A VERY thin line.
  3. Be really clear about your experience.  If you haven’t actually held the title of the position you’re applying for, you have to help me see that you have the experience.  Tell me in the cover letter, and tell me about your accomplishments that are actually related to the position you are applying for.
  4. Be brief, but not too brief.  You need to hook me.  Tell me something interesting you’ve worked on and how it turned out.
  5. Remember that you’re awesome, not perfect.  No one has a 100% success rate.  No one save millions of dollars on every project they manage.  Be confident, share your accomplishments, but not pour it on so thick we start gaging.
  6. Dear Sir is the worst way to start a cover letter.  You have a 50% chance of really ticking off the person reading your resume.  Do you want someone who is ticked off reading your resume looking for any viable reason to put it in the “no” pile?  More than likely at least one woman will be reviewing your applicant packet during the process whether it’s the recruiter, hiring manager, peer, or department head.   It shows that you aren’t thinking about your audience, which in my line of work, is a big red flag.
  7. MYA – Mind your acronyms.  If you’re applying for a job in a different industry, then you can’t use acronyms from the industry you’re in now.  Just spell it out.
  8. Don’t go too far back in your resume.  It shows me that you can’t edit or two that you’re living in the past.
  9. I know you have references, you don’t have to tell me.
  10. Feel free to name drop in your cover letter, and be prepared for me to call that person and get the goods on you.
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Elsa was right (let it go)

pexels-photo-42152I’m fascinated by the minimalist movement.  I love the idea of leaving it all behind with a backpack on my back and family in tow as we jet off to faraway places to experience life.

Except,  at this time in my life, that’s a vacation –  not real life.  My mini people need structure, stability, and mama likes her job, and dad likes his garage, and tv, and tools, and…

That’s cool.  I like things too.  I like my car, my house, my kitchen table, my cell phone, my kids toys that inspire and yes, distract them while doing the dishes.    I love my massive cabinet that holds food so I don’t have to go to the store every day.  I love my bed, and walk-in closet, and shoes for various occasions.

I also have a bad case of the just-in-case’s.  I’ll keep that coupon to Bed, Bath & Beyond just in case my sheets fall apart.  I’ll hold on to that dress I wore to a wedding 3 years ago just in case I need it for another wedding.    I’ll keep that baby carrier just in case I babysit my niece and we want to go on a walk.  I know how crazy it all sounds now that I’ve written it down. So yes, I get it, it’s emotional and difficult to part with things.  But you know what?  I’m doing it.  One space at a time.  I’m editing.  I’m not dumping it all.  I’m not living with 33 items in my closet (yet).  And I’m not downsizing our 1600 sq ft house for one of those fancy shipping crate homes that overlook the ocean.  I’m keeping my ice cream maker, because we make ice cream and it’s yummy.  I’m keeping my Christmas dishes because they make me happy each year I pull them out.  But the coupons, that dress, the baby carrier and HUNDREDS of other just in case items from my life are GONE!

As a result, there is a weight that has lifted I didn’t even know was there.  A natural high of having a spot for things.  I can’t even describe how happy I am now whether in my home or at work.  I’ve been freed from my stuff.

So how did I offload it all?  I give things away to neighbors via Buy Nothing, I donate stuff to both local charities and Goodwill, I trash the trash, and recycle the recyclables.  And I sell anything that fits in a flat rate envelope worth over $15.  The key to success?  Get it out of your house as SOON as you realize you don’t need it.  All week long, I toss items into a big Rubbermaid bin and process it on Saturdays.

It hard work.  It’s emotional to let go.  I’ve worked hard to buy this stuff.  Others worked hard to give me stuff.  But to let it go, those things that don’t bring joy to my life, that have sat and occupied space for so many years, or have completed their purpose in my life (so long breastpump, you sucked the life juice for my babies right out of me, and now it’s time to go!).  It feels good.  Really good!  Like brag-to-your-mom-because-you’re-so-awesome good.

For those of use seeking recognition, be prepared for “that’s nice”, “good for you”  No gold stars here, no awards banquets or headline news stories.  That’s ok.  I know it takes courage to do this work and perfection is never the goal.  Just start.  Finish one cabinet, one paper pile, and one closet at a time.  You can, you should, and you should start right now.

Thinking “thank you” doesn’t count

light-sign-typography-lightingSo a typical Monday morning, and I’m just warming up to the work week with coffee cup in hand when the phone buzzes.  It’s one of those Facebook messages.

I spent the weekend, like all weekends so far in 2016, taking pictures of my clutter and posting it on my local Buy Nothing group.  I’ve given away 100s of items from my closets, cabinets, draws, and even under the bed.

It felt good to give things away: I have more space, I didn’t add to the landfill, and the items presumably went to someone who needed it.  But to be honest, it’s hard work to do it this way, especially when the trash can is right there.  And the occasional public shout-outs of gratitude on FB don’t really do anything for me.  But then this morning happened.  I received a message about how much my gift of random toiletries helped turn a women’s bad week into a bright day.  Her thank you wasn’t public, it wasn’t filled with cute kitten pictures.  It was just one human being saying thank you, and how it impacted her in two sentences.  Simple right?

So why don’t we do this more often?  One, because it takes time.  Two, we don’t think it matters.  And “no time” + “doesn’t matter” = no thank you.  I will tell you it does matter. It made my day.  It makes me want to keep giving.  It made it seem worth it.  So take a minute right now, write a two sentence note/e-mail/msg/txt to someone you need to thank, professionally or personally.  Make it specific.  And hit send.  Worst case scenario?  The person doesn’t read it.  Best case?  You just made someone’s day a little brighter and it actually took less time than reading this post.