Tag Archives: resume writing tips

9 Words and Phrases That are Ruining Your Resume

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Every word on your resume matters—for better or for worse. There’s no such thing as a neutral resume content; anything that’s not making you more desirable to hiring managers is making you less desirable. Of course, those are the things you want to scrub, but how do you know what’s helping and what’s actually hurting?

To get you started, we’re put together a list of nine words and phrases that we still see on resumes all the time; hopefully, they’re not on yours, but if they are, we’d urge you to strike them right away.

Remove These Words from Your Resume

  1. “Unemployed.” The employment dates on your resume should make it clear whether or not you currently have work; there’s really no need to highlight it, especially with such a bummer of a word.
  2. “Hardworking.” The same goes for any of these vague adjectives that can’t really be qualified. Every jobseeker claims to be hardworking, but there’s really no way to prove it, so it doesn’t mean much for you to say it.
  3. “On time.” It’s assumed that you’ll do your work on time; there’s no need to brag about it.
  4. “Objective.” Every jobseeker’s objective is the same—i.e., to get a job—so there’s no need to say it. Use an executive summary instead, highlighting all the things that make you a good candidate.
  5. “References available upon request.” It should go without saying that you’ll provide references for any employer who asks for them.
  6. Anything that’s misspelled. You need a proofreader for your resume, because a single typo is all it takes to get your resume tossed into the trash can.
  7. Any outdated technical competencies. In 2017, there’s no reason for you to brag about your familiarity with email, Microsoft Office, or Internet Explorer. In fact, doing so just makes you look out of touch.
  8. Any meaningless corporate buzzwords. What does synergy even mean? If you can’t define it pretty readily, don’t put it on your resume.
  9. “Can’t” or “won’t.” A resume should be positive! Don’t bog it down with negative words.

Is Your Resume Full of Wasted Words?

If your resume is riddled with these harmful words, it may be a good idea to get a professional tune-up. The Grammar Chic team can provide you with a resume that’s both efficient and effective. Contact us today at 803-831-7444 or www.grammarchic.net.

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Don’t Let Job Hopping Derail Your Resume

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There was a time in American history where it may have been fairly common for an individual to hold a single job—or at least work for a single employer—for 10, 20, sometimes 30 or more years. But things have changed: Today, it’s much more common for individuals to hold several jobs over the course of a lifetime, changing positions, employers, and sometimes even changing industries.

In fact, some statistics show that the 42 percent of all employees change their job every one to two years—a phenomenon known as job hopping. This is an especially common practice among millennials, who are ever in search of personal development and career progression. There is nothing wrong with job hopping, and for some employees it can indeed provide a path to professional fulfilment. Where things get tricky is when you write your resume.

How Job Hopping Impacts Your Resume

The thing is, hiring managers and recruiters don’t necessarily want to spend time and money to get a new employee, train that employee, immerse that employee in company culture… and then lose that employee in just a few months’ time. Employers want a commitment—and whether you are really able to make that commitment or not, it’s important to have a resume that downplays your job hopping and brings some sense of cohesion to your professional experience.

This is all entirely possible, but it depends on the construction of your resume. Here are some tips we’d recommend.

How to Downplay Job Hopping on Your Resume

Include a professional summary, which should consolidate all your career experience into a single narrative. Maybe you’ve worked for five different marketing companies in the last decade. You can present that like this: “Marketing professional with 10 years of diverse experience.” Show how all the pieces in your career history come together. Identify the unifying threads. Guide the reader through the basic trajectory of your professional life.

Offer a summary of previous employment. Rather than going into great detail about your last dozen jobs, you might instead want to focus ample attention to the three or four most recent, and then provide a bulleted list of previous career experience. Rather than list a specific time frame for each of these bulleted items, just provide an overall, collective start and end date, i.e., Previous Employment, 2000-2008.

Tell a story with your different jobs and positions. The important thing is to convey some sense of narrative, which in some instances may mean leaving out positions that don’t relate to the big picture; if you primarily work in accounting, you might leave off that one summer where you worked as a cashier at CVS. Also try to emphasize how each new position brought you increased responsibility. Show that you have been growing, not just changing jobs on a whim.

Focus on accomplishments. If you were only at one employer for 18 months and basically twiddled your thumbs, that doesn’t really reflect well on you; but if you actually got a lot of major projects done in that short span of time, that’s altogether more positive. Make sure each section of your resume highlights concrete achievements and meaningful accomplishments.

Get Help on Your Resume

All of this may take a little finessing, which happens to be something our resume team does rather well. Get a consultation for your resume today, and make sure your professional narrative shines. Contact Grammar Chic at www.grammarchic.net, or 803-831-7444.

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Is It Time to Overhaul Your Resume?

If you’re like many people, you only give your resume a second glance when you’re looking for a new job. That can backfire when you’re in a rush to apply for open positions and you may not give off the best impression or emphasize your strongest assets. Keeping your resume up-to-date even when you’re not actively seeking a job can help you to be more prepared when an opportunity comes along.

Here are a few signs that it might be time to give your resume an overhaul and spruce things up:

It’s been years since you’ve revised it. Resume formats and trends have changed over the years, so if you’re submitting the same resume you used 10 years ago (or even 5), it’s going to be pretty obvious to recruiters and employers. Long gone are the days of objectives and “references available upon request.” Say goodbye to that AOL email or the address you’ve been using since college if it isn’t something professional. You want to ensure your resume is in line with what employers are looking for today and isn’t dating you.

Your resume could apply to anyone or any position. If your resume is filled with generic copy that doesn’t set you apart from the next applicant and doesn’t strongly demonstrate your capabilities, you’re wasting the opportunity to make a memorable first impression. In fact, you may find that your resume is being passed over more often than you’d like. Your resume should be a reflection of you and what you have accomplished throughout your career. Focus on your achievements and what you bring to the table.

You’re not getting many – or any – responses. You’ve submitted your resume to dozens of jobs yet hear nothing back. While part of this may be the competitiveness of the market and the particular jobs you are applying for, your resume may also be to blame. If employers can’t quickly see that you are a good fit, you have the skills they seek, and you can benefit their company, they’ll move on to someone who does fit the bill. Now may be a good time to really evaluate your resume and give it a good updating so that it works in your favor.

You’re getting calls for the wrong types of jobs. Are you getting calls for jobs that aren’t in line with what you’re looking for? Your resume may not be presenting you in the way you’re hoping it does. To you it may seem obvious what type of job you’re seeking or why you’re a good match, but to employers it may not be. Spell it out on your resume. Don’t let there be any doubt about your abilities or how you’re branding yourself. This is where a solid summary of qualifications and core competencies section come into play.

If your resume is missing the mark, or you’re just not sure where to start, the team at Grammar Chic is here to help. We will work with you to create an up-to-date resume that reflects you in a positive light and generates attention for the right reasons. Contact Grammar Chic at (803) 831-7444 or www.grammarchic.net today!

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3 Job Search Methods That Just Don’t Work

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When it comes to finding a job, there’s no such thing as right or wrong. Maybe you found your job because you know a guy. Maybe you found your job through diligently crafting a resume, sending it to a hundred recruiters, and following up regularly. Or maybe you just lucked into it—right place, right time.

What matters, of course, is the outcome. If you end up with a job that satisfies you—and that pays the bills—what does it matter how you got it?

It doesn’t matter, not a whit—but with that said, there are some job search methods that tend to be worthwhile, and some that simply don’t. There are even some job search methods that remain weirdly popular, despite the fact that they’re really just wastes of your time and energy.

For example…

Attending job fairs. You may have heard some wonderful, glowing reports from people who found their jobs via job fairs. And back in the day, job fairs really were pretty effective. That’s because you could go to a job fair, learn about different companies, and actually have a chance to meet with recruiters and interview for jobs on the spot.

That sounds great, right? Well, yeah, it was. But job fairs don’t really work that way anymore. These days, when you go to a job fair, you’re going to meet an awful lot of nice recruiters who tell you to… visit the company website and apply there.

So save yourself the trouble. Skip the fair and just do some online research on your own.

Resume blasting. A resume blast service does exactly what it sounds like: It blasts your resume out to a couple hundred employers, taking a shotgun approach to the application process.

But the way to win the attention of an employer isn’t with this scattershot approach. It’s with customizing your resume to fit the specific position—something resume blasting just doesn’t allow for.

You’re better off sending out three customized resumes, with personalized cover letters, than blasting a general resume to 300 different companies. Really.

Social media. No, wait! We very much believe in the importance of using social media to enhance your personal brand. In fact, Grammar Chic offers full LinkedIn optimization services, something we recommend to many jobseekers.

But what we don’t buy is that very many people get their dream job by hounding a company on Twitter, or that you can interview for a job over LinkedIn messages.

Social media is good, but it’s not that good. Don’t waste your time pursing an outcome that’s really just not very likely.

And don’t waste your time job-searching without a solid resume. Get yours professionally crafted by contacting Grammar Chic today: www.grammarchic.net, or 803-831-7444.

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Always Personalize Your Job Search Communications

The process of job searching typically entails a great deal of correspondence—and if you’re serious about making a positive impression on potential employers, it’s important that you personalize those correspondences.

What do we mean by personalize? Ultimately, you should really never begin an e-mail, thank-you-note, or cover letter with Dear Sir or Madam or To Whom it May Concern.

As you know from personal experience, these impersonal salutations always come across as spammy. When you get letters addressed like that in your own mail box, you probably throw them out immediately. And why would you think hiring managers would respond any differently?

The question is, how do you know how to personalize your correspondence? Hopefully, the job posting itself lists a specific contact person, in which case your job is pretty easy. Just make out the cover letter to either Dear Mr. [Last Name] or Dear Ms. [Last Name], and you should be good.

If no specific contact person is mentioned, of course, you’ll have to do some digging—on the company website first, and on the company LinkedIn page second. If you do your research and still can’t find a contact person from the hiring department, well, you’ve done your due diligence, and in this case you can get away with a generic greeting. Chances are, the person you’re writing to will be aware that he or she is tough to locate on the Web.

Once you actually make it into the office for an interview, you can always grab a business card of the person you interview with—ensuring you can personalize your handwritten thank-you note and all future e-mails.

And sending personalized follow-ups is something we recommend: It’s a small yet significant way to keep your name in front of hiring managers and decision makers, and to prove yourself to be an applicant of real distinction.

For help writing compelling, personalized correspondences, reach out to Grammar Chic at www.grammarchic.net, or 803-831-7444.

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Jobseeker, What’s Your Greatest Weakness?

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We recently shared a few tips on answering some of the most common—and most tricky—job interview questions. One of those questions is sufficiently slippery that it deserves some blog space all its own. You probably know the question already: So tell us… what’s your biggest weakness?

This question is a staple of the job interview process, and if an interviewer asks you to identify your biggest strengths, you can rest assured that a question about weakness is coming next. This question is designed to do a few different things. It evaluates how well you think under pressure. It evaluates your level of self-awareness and candor. And it allows the interviewer to see if you handle a treacherous scenario with aplomb, or if you deteriorate into a flop sweat.

Answering the Question

With that said, how can jobseekers prepare for this question—and when it comes, how can they answer it gracefully and satisfactorily?

Make sure you have an answer ready in advance. You’re probably going to be asked this question, so come up with your answer in advance; on-the-fly responses tend to come across like BS.

Give an answer that is related to your work. This is not the time to address a “weakness” in your marriage or in your out-of-the-office relationships. Don’t drag emotional baggage into the interview.

Be willing to laugh at yourself. If you can think of a humorous example of the weakness you’re discussing, that’s all the better, because it shows real confidence when you’re willing to be the butt of your own joke.

Make it something teachable. The best weaknesses to identify are the ones that you can be coached and trained on—because of course, your new employer can always coach and train!

Explain how you’ve worked on it. Emphasize that your weakness is something you recognize and are invested in improving on.

Don’t do a “humble brag.” Saying your biggest problem is that you work too hard or care too much is lame, and won’t fool anyone.

Arrive in your interview expecting this question—and knowing how you’re going to respond. For more job search tips, hit us up at www.grammarchic.net or 804-831-7444.

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What Your Job Search Needs is an Elevator Pitch

iStock_000020173836XSmallIf you’re in the market for a new job, you need to have a strong, hooky elevator pitch. You need it for a couple of reasons. One, you may actually find yourself in the proverbial elevator with someone—or, you know, having a drink with someone after a conference or seminar—and have an opportunity to do a quick sell for yourself. Of course, you want to be prepared!

You also need an elevator pitch for the job interview itself. Odds are, the interviewer will ask you some version of this tried-and-true job interview question: Why are you the best fit for this position? Or maybe you’ll just get a simple, So tell me about yourself. In either case, the correct response is to offer a succinct summary of your value as an employee. In short: An elevator pitch!

Crafting the Perfect Elevator Pitch

But what does a good elevator pitch entail? Here are a few tips for honing yours:

Remember what an elevator pitch is, and what it isn’t. A good elevator pitch is a 15-to-30-second synopsis of who you are as an employee. It is not a full walk through your resume. As such, you should be focused on high points and the general overview, not on hitting every single job you’ve ever had or every single skill in your toolbox.

Think in terms of value. You don’t want your elevator pitch to be a laundry list of skills. Rather, you want it to be a quick appraisal of the value you can offer an employer. Maybe you work as a Human Resources professional. Don’t list all of your skills in payroll, compliance, or whatever else; instead, say something like, “I can make your team members more motivated, engaged, and productive, and I can do it with a very small budget.”

Start with a full resume. One way to get your elevator pitch perfected is to start with a full page that includes all the things you want to say to a potential employer. Then, cut it down to half a page; then, to a quarter page; and finally, to just a few precious lines.

Rehearse your elevator pitch. The pitch isn’t just about the words, but how they are delivered. You should be able to give your pitch with total confidence. It should be as easy to you as giving your own name.

You need an elevator pitch, just as surely as you need a good resume. We can help with both. Reach out to Grammar Chic at www.grammarchic.net or 803-831-7444.

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