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How to Quickly Build Your Online Presence

A recent poll found that 30% of people have surfed the net to research people at work or potential business contacts. The reasons varied from simply looking up an address to researching a potential boss or preparing for a business negotiation.

The implications of this statistic are huge for anyone looking to advance their career. If you’re searching for a new job, it’s safe to assume that at least some employers are running an Internet search before they call you. If you’re currently employed, you can bet that some of your employees, peers, and business associates are looking you up online. Do you know what they’re finding? (If not, go do a Google search right now!)

Now, you may think online search results are pretty arbitrary but that’s just not the case. Savvy businesses don’t leave their web presence to chance … so why should you?

Here are just a few reasons why managing your online presence is crucial for career advancement:

  • Your employees, peers and superiors will research you online
  • Recruiters and HR executives may look you up before deciding to interview you
  • Former colleagues may try to find you in order to offer you a great opportunity
  • Headhunters may use the Web to find potential candidates for a new vacancy
  • Journalists may be looking to interview someone with your expertise

There is little doubt that someone, somewhere will look you up online during the next 12 months. The only question is what will they find, and that’s really up to you.

How I built a positive online presence (and how you can do it too …)

When I started my business, I was an unknown entity in a busy and fragmented industry. I knew that I had to use the Web to start building a viable business. So, I developed a four-step plan to do just that. It has worked exceptionally well for me and it can work just as well for you.

Step 1 – Create Online Profiles:

When I started out, I established profile on several high traffic and high-ranking social networking sites. This meant that when people googled my name, they quickly found me on page one of the results.

What you can do: Set up profiles now! My personal favorites for search engine visibility are:

LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com): This site will get you on to page one of Google if you set up a strong profile. But your profile must be keyword rich and also fully complete in order for this to happen.

ZoomInfo: (www.zoominfo.com): Another free site that ranks very highly in search engines. This site pulls from data freely available on the web, so search for yourself before starting. You may find they already have a profile and you can simply claim it and then edit it for accuracy.

Google Profiles: (www.google.com/profiles): This is a no-brainer. Google allows you to create a profile for free and then shows you at the bottom of page one when someone searches for your name. Do it now!

Step 2 – Promote your Profiles:

I included the URL for my website and online profiles everywhere – on my business cards, on brochures, in the signature line of every email I sent. I didn’t tattoo it on my forehead, but did pretty much everything else!

What you can do: You can promote your web portfolio in the same way that I promoted mine. Include the URLs on every resume and cover letter you send out. This will tell employers that you are web savvy and also allow them to learn more about you.

You can also include the URLs in your email signatures.

And once you have a strong online presence, consider adding a line to your letters and emails that says ‘for more information, feel free to google my name.’ This is a very powerful statement because it conveys a great deal of confidence!

Step 3 – Establish yourself as an expert in your field:

I was able to quickly establish a strong online presence just by writing short articles about career advancement and resume writing. I gave them to career-related websites in exchange for a Bio and a link back to the company website. Within 6 months my name was all over Google. My strong web presence now brings other opportunities such as speaking invitations, interviews with journalists and offers to write more articles.

What you can do: Website editors are in constant need of new and fresh content. Most are thrilled to publish articles and will publish a short bio at the end of the article. This is a great way to gain a reputation within your industry. If you don’t like to write, pay someone to put your ideas down on paper. There are many excellent freelance writers who can do this for you. Provided that you write articles about your area of business expertise, you can be sure that potential employers who research you online will receive an immediately favorable impression. (And don’t forget that link back to your web portfolio!)

Step 4 – Start Blogging and/or Tweeting

My blog gave me a great platform to prove that I knew what I was talking about. I was able to quickly establish a reputation as an ‘expert’ and, because blogs naturally rank highly in search engines, I quickly became more visible.

When I started my business in 2003 Twitter didn’t exist, but I couldn’t live without it now. I use it mainly as a way to learn and connect, but it’s also an excellent way to demonstrate expertise – and especially useful for those who don’t like to write. On Twitter, you don’t need to have a blog as long as you link to blog posts or articles that are useful.

What you can do: Blogging is easy to do if you like to write. For as little as an hour or two a week, you can establish yourself as an authority on your chosen subject. Two great options are www.blogger.com and www.wordpress.com. Both are free and easy to use. Once you’ve opened your account and chosen from some design options, you can start typing.

Twitter is even easier. Just join and start connecting with other people.

In both cases, the key thing is to have a strategy. What is your goal for your blog/Twitter page? How do you want people to think of you? I wanted people to see me as an expert on resume writing and job search, so I keep my blog and Twitter page focused on those.

In Summary

If 30% of people use Google to search for business associates, imagine how many more will do so a year from now. That’s why it is crucial to start establishing yourself online. As my experience shows, anyone can do it with some hard work and a clear plan. Using my four-step strategy, I was able to build over 30,000 references my company on Google within one year. 7 years later, there are 771,000. You can do the same if you work at it.

Author, Louise Fletcher

Louise Fletcher

Louise co-founded Blue Sky in 2002 after a career as an HR executive in industries such as music, video games, fashion and advertising. Louise is a word nerd at heart and loves to write. She developed the Blue Sky resume approach, has written three books, and has been a featured expert for Oprah Winfrey Magazine, The Washington Post and The Ladders among many others. In her spare time she paints and cooks. She also gardens, with results that can best be described as mixed.

The Power of Positioning: Marketing Yourself Like a Product

Can you articulate, in 20 words or less, what makes you uniquely valuable to potential employers? If you’re shaking your head, you’re not alone. Most people struggle to express what makes them special. But, if you can’t quickly and clearly explain your value to potential employers, how can you expect them to see it? 

As a business person and a consumer, you understand the importance of product positioning. You’ve seen the sales impact of great positioning and you’ve seen what happens when a brand or product loses its way. Yet few job seekers realize the need to position themselves for the marketplace in that same way.

Who Are You?

If you have ever gone through the process of developing a brand for a product or service, you will have a sense of the work involved in defining and articulating a brand message. You will also know that a brand message is not something you “create”, but rather something you discover. The product (in this case you) already exists. It already has strengths and weaknesses. Your goal when developing a brand is to find and articulate a clear and compelling message that resonates with the consumer (or in this case, with the employer.) 

That’s why we put Blue Sky Resume clients through a rigorous process of self-reflection. We ask them to answer probing questions about their successes. We challenge them to develop compelling stories - challenges faced, actions taken, results achieved, lessons learned. We ask them to recollect what others have said about them. During this process of reflection, patterns emerge and these patterns form the basis of the client’s positioning.

One recent client (a sales rep) had consistently exceeded his sales targets in every position and had done so even in challenging economic times and market downturns. It quickly became clear that this ability to increase sales was the core of his personal brand. Another sales rep was less fortunate in his choice of employers - he had worked in some very tough situations and had not always been able to beat his quotas but, in almost all his positions, he had forged unusual partnerships and alliances in order to get into new markets. This talent was a key feature of his positioning.

To decide on your own positioning, take yourself through this same process or reflection and discovery.  Look for the recurring themes in your career. Think about the most frequent compliments you have received, Identify those times when you were the happiest and most fulfilled in your job.

Then, work to hone all this information down to 15-20 words that summarize your unique value proposition.

Remember that – just as with a product – your positioning must be:

Truthful

Successful brands resonate with the consumer. Trying to be something you’re not just because it matters to your audience won’t work in the long-term.  I often wonder how many of the people who buy TV-advertised diet pills actually become long-term customers. I’m guessing it’s a tiny percentage. Why? Because the message is not truthful.

Supportable

If you say that “visionary leadership” is the core of your brand, you need to support the claim with specific examples of visionary leadership. For example: “Visionary Leader who transformed a struggling $5 million business into a $250 million industry leader in only five years.”

Focused

You have many strengths and talents. Don’t be tempted to focus on more than one or two, or you will dilute your message. When Apple launched the iPhone, there were many great features to highlight, but they kept their message simply and clean.

Relevant to your target market

Select those abilities and qualities that are relevant to the needs of your audience of potential employers. The manager at the ad agency you’re targeting will be very interested in the fact that you have worked as an account manager on Fortune 500 accounts, but may not care much about your prior experience as a sales rep for a small company.

Compelling and unique

This is essential in order to make a connection with others and it’s as true in career marketing as it is in product marketing. Avoid clichés and don’t copy a resume format or wording from someone else. Your presentation must be your own.

So you know your perfect positioning – now what?

Defining your positioning is the first stage of the process – now you must communicate your message effectively and clearly to your target audience, and you must do it in every aspect of your search.

Getting Specific

Resume and cover letter

Now that you know your positioning, you can create your messaging. Start your resume and cover letters with powerful positioning statements. Back up your claims with hard evidence and reiterate your message all the way through the documents. If your unique value proposition is the fact that you always drive exceptional sales growth by building partnerships and alliances, include specific examples for each position and provide dollar amounts.

Your Marketing Campaign

Your positioning may impact the approach you take to your search. For example, core branding for one of my recent executive clients was his ability to turn around struggling small to mid-size companies and bring them to profitability. This realization guided his subsequent job search – he was able to research local companies that fit his criteria and then manage a direct mail and networking campaign designed to get his resume in front of key executives.

Interviews

Since most interviewers are extremely busy, many will not have time to prepare in advance. As a result, they often use the resume as a guide, asking you questions based on the accomplishments you listed on your resume. If your resume is truly in line with your unique value proposition, this is great! Develop your stories in advance and practice, practice, practice until you are very comfortable articulating these examples of your ability to add value.

Online Presence

Have you googled yourself lately? Many recruiters and executives regularly use the Internet to research candidates. That means you need a positive Web presence. You must build professional profiles on sites such as LinkedIn, ZoomInfo, Twitter, Facebook, or Plaxo.

Another great way to build your online presence is to write articles on your area of expertise for Web sites and newsletters. Also, be wary of what you do online - if you have a personal web site that has been indexed by the search engines, turn it into a career portfolio. You don’t want the CEO of your dream company to come across that shot of you drinking tequila shots on vacation!

Ongoing Positioning for Career Advancement

It’s tempting to lose focus on personal positioning once you’re settled into a new position, but this is a mistake. Instead, you must develop and nurture your brand by remembering that everything you do – and everything you choose not to do - communicates who you are and what you stand for.

Good luck!

Author, Louise Fletcher

Louise Fletcher

Louise co-founded Blue Sky in 2002 after a career as an HR executive in industries such as music, video games, fashion and advertising. Louise is a word nerd at heart and loves to write. She developed the Blue Sky resume approach, has written three books, and has been a featured expert for Oprah Winfrey Magazine, The Washington Post and The Ladders among many others. In her spare time she paints and cooks. She also gardens, with results that can best be described as mixed.

Successful Career Change

Most people who have made the decision to change their careers face the same problem: How can I get hired when I don’t have relevant experience?

It is true that not many companies will hire you as a graphic artist if you simply send a resume outlining your ten-year career in tax accounting!  Even the best resume cannot hide the fact that your previous work experience has not qualified you for the position you seek. 

The good news is that there are ways to gain entry into your chosen profession.

Just do it!

As Nicholas Lore explains in his exceptional career change book, The Pathfinder, “you gain admittance into any group, social or professional, by creating agreement.”  In other words, people are accepted into a group (or career field) because other people agree they belong.  Agreement is developed through the things we say, the way we act, the knowledge we have etc. If a struggling, unpublished writer says “I hope to be a writer some day,” she has already made it clear that she does not consider herself to be a writer. Others will agree with her categorization and accept that she is not a writer. But if she writes every day, submits short stories to small publications, attends writer’s conferences and writes free articles for web sites and local newspapers, she is now beginning to create agreement that she is, indeed, a writer.

The goal therefore is to become your new profession.  Don’t wait until someone hires you before you think of yourself as a computer programmer. Start to think of yourself that way now. Begin gathering the knowledge and experience you will need. Surf web sites and chat rooms.  Join associations and networking groups. Talk to other programmers. Read books. Practice. And most importantly, build a body of work.  Act as you wish to be perceived.

Jeff’s Story

Jeff Davies is a perfect example. A nurse by profession, Jeff was also a talented musician.  He wanted to get into the video game industry, writing soundtracks and creating sound effects but he had little success when he first sent out his resume.  The few responses he got were standard ‘no-thanks’ emails. 

Eventually, a friend suggested that Jeff take a different approach.  Instead of sending in his resume, he created a demo reel of music he had written for famous video games.  In each case he replaced the existing soundtrack with his own music. 

Then he started to network his way into the industry, attending game industry conferences and trade shows. He met people and kept a database of his contacts.  He subscribed to industry newsletters to keep up to date with technological and industry developments.  He created a web site and sent a link to key industry figures.

He received several calls praising his creative approach although no immediate job offers.  Once a month, he stayed in touch with his network of contacts by sending a short email with a snippet of new music attached as an MP3 file. 

After four months, Jeff was called in to interview for a position as an entry-level sound engineer with an independent game developer.  The call came from the company’s creative director who had met Jeff a year earlier at a trade show.  The company is not Jeff’s ideal employer as they make games for children and Jeff is much more interested in role–playing action games, but he plans to stay there for a year learning all he can and then start to apply to the larger game companies.

Jeff’s success was well-deserved.  He took a proactive approach to his career change and dedicated much of his spare time to demonstrating his skills.  By the time he was hired, he already thought and spoke and acted as a video game sound engineer.

How You Can Learn from Jeff

Jeff’s story highlights that career-changers must take a different approach to job search.  If you are frustrated with your own job search, try following Jeff’s example:

  1. Get started.  Don’t wait for someone to pay you to be what you want to be. Just do it!  If you want to prove you can design logos, for example, volunteer to redesign the logo for your friend’s small business.  Or simply redesign some existing corporate logos for demonstration purposes. 
  2. Learn everything you can. Read books, join associations, go to education events and trade shows. Read newsletters.  Visit industry web sites and chat rooms.  Learn the language and jargon of the industry you want to enter.  Stay up to date with the newest trends and technologies. Become an expert. 
  3. Make contacts. Build a network of influential people within the field you want to enter. Find creative ways to approach them and maintain the connection once it is made. For example, why not offer to write an article for a trade magazine or web site? You can choose a topic which gives you a reason to contact key people within the industry. 
  4. Find Creative Approaches.  Do not rely on the standard resume and cover letter.  This will almost always fail when you are trying to make a shift to a new career. Most people will scan your resume to see how your past experience matches with their current needs. Therefore, applying to job postings is unlikely to help you make the change to your new field.

Making a career change is both challenging and exciting. The biggest problem you will face is the resistance of others who doubt your qualifications in your new field. The key is to stop looking for your dream job and start doing it. Eventually – like Jeff - you will gain acceptance and your transformation will be complete.

Author, Louise Fletcher

Louise Fletcher

Louise co-founded Blue Sky in 2002 after a career as an HR executive in industries such as music, video games, fashion and advertising. Louise is a word nerd at heart and loves to write. She developed the Blue Sky resume approach, has written three books, and has been a featured expert for Oprah Winfrey Magazine, The Washington Post and The Ladders among many others. In her spare time she paints and cooks. She also gardens, with results that can best be described as mixed.

7 Rules for Networking Success

Many people think that networking during a job search means calling everyone you know and asking them for a job. They associate networking with being pushy, overbearing, and an overall pest. People often shy away from networking because they don’t want to be labeled as this type of person. But research shows that 70-80% of all jobs are filled through networking. How can this be so, if networkers are such an annoying, self-serving lot?

Successful networkers are not egocentric, aggressive jerks. They show a sincere interest in their networking contacts. They work hard to develop a relationship, establish their credibility, and share information. They follow the rules of the game where everyone has something to gain. Like the lottery, you have to be in it to win it. Below are seven rules to follow for successful networking.

Don’t ask for a job…Ask for information.

Networking is not about asking everyone you know for a job. As a matter of fact, when you network you should never ask someone for a job…You ask them for information that will help you in your search. Your goal is to build a relationship and establish rapport so that if a potential opportunity becomes available in the future, they will want to refer you. Compare these two scenarios:

Scenario One

“Joe, I’ve been out of work for six months and I’m really strapped for cash. Do you know of any open positions in your department?”

You’ve put Joe in a very difficult position. Sure, he can sympathize with your situation, but he may not be able to offer you a job. Perhaps he’s not in a position to refer you, or there’s a hiring freeze, or there aren’t any openings right now. Whatever answer Joe gives you, it’s bound to be disappointing. So to redeem himself, Joe says, “I don’t know of any open positions, but why don’t you give me your resume and I’ll send it to the HR department where I work.” Bad move. Unless your skills match a specific opening in the company at that point in time, it’s bound to never be looked at. Joe will feel that he’s done what he can for you, but you will be no better off.

Scenario Two

”Joe, as you know, I most recently worked for a medical device company in their marketing group. I know that you’ve been in pharmaceutical sales for the past 15 years and I’m very interested in learning more about marketing roles within your industry” I don’t expect you to know of any open positions in your organization, but I’d like the opportunity to speak with you briefly to learn more about your organization and the pharmaceutical industry in general.”

Joe may think, OK, here’s a friend that wants some information and sees me as some sort of expert on the topic. That’s kind of flattering. I guess I could spend a few minutes with him. Does Joe know you’re looking for a job? Probably. But you are not asking him for a job; you’re just asking him for advice and insight. The stakes are low and the expectations are reasonable, so he is more likely to help you.

Don’t take up too much of the other person’s time.


Have an agenda and keep the meeting on track. Nothing scares people more than the prospect of someone eating up a lot of their time. Many people don’t want to cram yet another meeting into their already jam packed day. Contrast these two situations:

Scenario One

You meet with Mary after a mutual friend has agreed to help you set up a brief 20-minute meeting. You neglect to prepare for the meeting, ramble, get off topic and spend an hour and a half with her. Mary feels that you have abused the use of her time and you haven’t gotten to the critical questions you’d hoped to ask during the meeting. Mary feels burned and vows never to network again.

Scenario Two

You walk into the meeting with a prepared mental agenda that includes:

  • A reminder of who referred you and perhaps some brief chit-chat about that mutual acquaintance.
  • A statement up front that you have no reason to believe Mary can offer you a position and a reiteration of why Mary’s information is of interest to you.
  • An explanation of your agenda. “Today I’d like to tell you a bit about myself and get your perspective on the future of the high-tech industry.”

Remember to discuss your skills and accomplishments and show how you can add value to an organization. By planning out your meeting ahead of time, you establish your professionalism, gain credibility, and cover all the critical agenda items.

Give the other person a chance to speak. Ask questions.

When you network it is imperative that you do not do all the talking. If you have asked another person for advice, make sure they have the opportunity to offer it. Also, when you do all the talking, the other person might feel confused and unsure of what they are supposed to do with the information you have supplied. Here are some questions you can ask to keep your exchange balanced and establish rapport.

  • How long have you been with this company/field?
  • What do you like/dislike about your job?
  • What type of training do you need for positions such as yours?
  • What is the culture of this company and what are its guiding principles?

Ask for suggestions on how to expand your network.

One of the main goals of networking is to tap into the network of the people you are meeting with. Each person you meet knows 200 or more people. If you can gain introductions to some of them, you quickly increase your network and your chances of finding the right connection. Ask your contacts if they can recommend a professional organization or the names of some other people you should be talking to.

Create a vehicle for follow up.

If you want to establish rapport with another person, you need to create ways to keep the relationship going. Ask the person if you may keep them informed of your search progress. If you read an article that pertains to a discussion you had at a networking meeting, cut it out and send it to them with a brief note. Try to find at least two to three opportunities per year to reconnect with members of your network.

Find ways to reciprocate.

Building a network is about creating a genuine, caring relationship. Thank your contact for the information they have supplied and see if you can help them in some way. Maybe your contact is interested in living in an area that you are familiar with or has a child interested in attending the same school you just graduated from. Share your knowledge of the school and your experience there as a way to help the other person. Keep notes on what you learn about your contacts so that future correspondence can have a personalized touch like “How was Jane’s first year of school?”

Send a thank you letter.

Always thank your contacts in person and follow up with a letter. If your handwriting is legible, the personalized touch is always appreciated
Networking is an ongoing process. It requires persistence, attention, organization, and good will. Incorporate the art of networking into your job search campaign now and you will gain opportunities and build relationships that will last a lifetime.

 

Author, Barbara Safani

Barbara Safani

Barbara has been a career coach since 2002 and has her own business in addition to partnering with Blue Sky. Prior jobs included HR Manager for American Express, and ‘copy boy’ for Tom Brokaw’s NBC news show. She’s won 5 awards and her work has appeared in many books. She’s also a published author. Barbara’s favorite thing about her work is helping to build her clients’ confidence. Having two teenagers limits her free time but she loves to run in Central Park when she can.

Interviewing Authentically

The goal of the interview is to showcase your accomplishments while developing a relationship with the hiring manager. The quality of the relationship hinges on the job seeker’s ability to build credibility for their candidacy and effectively gain the hiring manager’s trust.

Despite this, many job seekers continue to “spin” their responses to interview questions. This is often the tact that job seekers take when they are asked questions with a negative slant to them such as “What is your greatest weakness?” or “Tell me about a mistake you made.”

Perhaps candidates spin their answers in an effort to downplay any blemishes in the their background or maybe because it’s the strategy that so many interview preparation books teach. Either way, candidates that lack authenticity are easy to spot and the outcome of the interview is severely compromised when job seekers chose to spin their responses to tough interview questions.

As a matter of fact, in a recent Society for Human Resources Management survey, recruiters and hiring managers reported that one of their biggest pet peeves within the context of the interview situation was candidates that responded to difficult interview questions with answers that attempted to spin a tough situation into one with only positive outcomes. Below are a few of the most common interview questions that job seekers try to spin their responses to.

What is your greatest weakness?

Red flag answer

“I am a perfectionist and I get frustrated when people aren’t as committed to the job as I am.”

Problem

The candidate is answering the question about a weakness by responding with an answer that suggests a strength. Such answers are disingenuous and are not well received by hiring authorities. The candidate is also assuming that perfection is considered a desirable trait in the organization. Some hiring managers will perceive a perfectionist as someone who gets so caught up in the details that they can’t achieve the project’s objectives.

Adjusted response

Earlier in my career, when I was a software developer, my strong attention to detail was an asset because I could quickly spot and correct systems errors. But after I was promoted to project manager, this strength became a bit of a liability because I was now responsible for delegating work and overseeing the big picture aspect of the project. I struggled at first because it was my nature to want to fix every error. While I still have that tendency, I now rely on the technical expertise of my team and this allows me to concentrate on delivering projects on time and on budget.

Tell me about a situation where you did not get along with a supervisor.

Red flag answer

“I’ve been very fortunate and I’ve never worked for someone I didn’t get along with.”

Problem

Everyone has had situations where they disagreed with a boss and by saying you have not forces the interviewer to question your integrity. It also can send out a signal that the candidate is not seasoned enough or hasn’t been in situations that require him to develop a tough skin or deal with confrontation.

Adjusted response

“It’s natural for people to have differing opinions. When this has occurred in the past, I have presented my reasons for my position and openly listened to my supervisor’s opinion as well. Recently my supervisor recommended a change to a report that in my opinion made the reporting more cumbersome and time consuming. I expressed my concerns but also asked many questions to determine what information my boss needed to capture that was not currently in the report. Once I understood her needs, I was able to offer a suggestion that satisfied her information needs and actually streamlined the existing report and made it easier to use.”

Describe a situation where an initiative you were part of failed.

Red flag answer

“I’ve never had a project that failed and my supervisors have always praised my work.”

Problem

If you can’t discuss a failure or mistake, the interviewer might conclude that you do not possess the depth of experience necessary to do the job. The interviewer is not looking for perfection. They are trying to better understand your level of responsibility, your decision making process, your ability to recover from a mistake, what you learned from the experience, and if you can take responsibility for your mistakes.

Adjusted response

“Everyone makes mistakes. I’d like to think that I have learned something valuable from every mistake I have made. In my previous role as marketing director, I launched a product and was disappointed in the initial sales results. I realized that we had launched too quickly and needed to do additional market research to determine the needs of multiple demographics within our market. Following the research initiative, the marketing was realigned with a niche demographic and sales doubled within one year.”

By developing and practicing responses to difficult interview questions that display honesty, thoughtfulness, good will, and fallibility you will create a realistic and authentic portrait of your candidacy and develop a strong rapport with the hiring authority. This will help you advance to the next round in the interview process and lead you one step closer to securing the position.

Author, Barbara Safani

Barbara Safani

Barbara has been a career coach since 2002 and has her own business in addition to partnering with Blue Sky. Prior jobs included HR Manager for American Express, and ‘copy boy’ for Tom Brokaw’s NBC news show. She’s won 5 awards and her work has appeared in many books. She’s also a published author. Barbara’s favorite thing about her work is helping to build her clients’ confidence. Having two teenagers limits her free time but she loves to run in Central Park when she can.

How to Write a LinkedIn Profile

9 steps to getting noticed on the world’s biggest online candidate marketplace

In 2009, LinkedIn reported that they were attracting over one million new users every 2 weeks. But I had to wonder how many of those new users actually ever set up a full profile, or used the system effectively. I can’t count the number of times I check a client’s profile, only to find a scant few lines of text and very little else.

This is insane! LinkedIn is not only a great way to network, it’s also increasingly used by recruiters to post vacancies and, more importantly, to search for candidates. You cannot afford to ignore this amazing job search tool.

If you do have a profile, you might think you’re done. Not so! Most of you haven’t set up your page for maximum impact and visibility. So if you have a profile already, use my nine steps to make it better. If you don’t, use them as a guide to create your first profile.

The 9 Steps to a Great LinkedIn Profile

1. List Every Job

When you write a resume, it’s OK to be selective about which positions you include and to omit early jobs. But this is a mistake on LinkedIn. Recruiters often search for people who have worked at a particular company in the past and if you don’t include that company in your career history, they won’t find you.

Likewise, LinkedIn allows people to search for former colleagues (which it does by looking for employer names). If you don’t list all your employers, you’re missing the chance to reconnect with a lot of people. 

Important to note: Linkedin’s search rankings depend in part on the number of contacts you have, so don’t limit yourself by not making every contact possible (I’ll say more about this a little later).

So my first tip is this: List every position you have held. Also, be sure to list all associations and certifications because recruiters may choose to search by these rather than by employer.

2. Write about every position

It may seem like a drag to write a description for each role, but this is important for 2 reasons:

  1. Recruiters want to know what you’ve done and this is where you can describe your successes and accomplishments.
  2. The descriptions will naturally contain keywords used by recruiters when searching and therefore may help you to be found.

Tip: Write something about each role you held and focus not on boring descriptions of responsibilities but on actions, impact and results. See my profile for examples of this.

3. Complete the ‘specialties’ section.

The specialties section allows you to list your key skills and knowledge areas. Think about this carefully and include as many keywords as you can. Think like a recruiter for a moment – if a recruiter is looking for someone well-versed in web 2.0 technologies and you don’t have those words anywhere in your profile, she won’t find you.

Tip: It’s a good idea to go through job postings looking for commonly used words and phrases in your industry or profession because these are often the terms recruiters will search.

4. Edit Your Sub-header

When you enter your current job title, LinkedIn automatically places it right underneath your name on your profile. So mine would read “Louise Fletcher, President of Blue Sky Resumes” if I hadn’t edited it.

Don’t leave this headline as is! Not unless your job title itself is so impressive that people would want to hire you just because of it. (For example, if you’re a joke writer for The Daily Show, that might be all you need to say!) But for the rest of us, our job title isn’t the most compelling thing about us.

This sub-header is highly visible in LinkedIn search results, so make sure you use it to tell recruiters something that will communicate your value.

5. Build a Strong Network of Connections

LinkedIn’s search results don’t work quite the way a regular search engine does. Instead, when you search their system, they serve up the names of people who are immediately connected to you first, and then go on to 2nd degree connections - those people who know someone that you know - and then third-degree connections and so on and so on.

This means that the more connections you have, the more likely it is that recruiters will find you.

There’s long been a debate about whether you should only connect with people you know and can personally vouch for (this is what the company recommends) or whether you should be what is called an ‘open networker’ and connect with anyone who asks.

To some extent, it probably depends on your goals for LinkedIn and your own personal philosophy, but if you want to be found in the maximum number of searches, there’s no debate. Open networking is the way to go.

If you decide that open networking is not for you, and that you really do want to limit your connections to people you know, then at least make sure to add as many of them as possible using the various features LinkedIn makes available.

6. Create a Personal URL

When you create a profile, LinkedIn will automatically assign you a profile URL that can be used to access your profile directly. It will usually contain numbers and letters. But you can change this URL so that it contains your name (mine is www.linkedin.com/in/louisefletcher).

This is important not so much for internal LinkedIn results, but for external Internet searches. When a recruiter or potential client researches you, you want them to find compelling and positive information. LinkedIn has enormous weight with the search engines, and your profile is one of the best ways to ensure you make page one of Google for your name.

7. Make Your Profile Public

LinkedIn allows you to control how much of your information is visible to people who are not connected to you. There is no reason not to open this up when you are looking for a new position. Remember that not all recruiters or clients will be viewing your profile after logging in to LinkedIn. Many will come to it via a Google search. If you set most of your profile to private, it won’t be very impressive.

Tip: To change this, click on the ‘edit profile’ tab and look for ‘Public Profile.’  Click the small ‘edit’ next to the URL and you will arrive at the page where you can choose what to make public. Unless you have a strong reason not to do this, I recommend sharing everything.

8. Get Recommended

LinkedIn allows people to write recommendations for each other and many recruiters place great store by these recommendations. Therefore you should ask your contacts to write them for you or, if you’re not comfortable just coming out and asking, write recommendations for other people without being asked. Many of them will reciprocate.

9. Stay Active

Once you have set up a great profile, stay active on the site. Post regular status updates (this will keep your name in front of your contacts who will see your updates on their page), continue to make new contacts, and use the site to research potential employers or network with people who can help in your search.

In Summary

LinkedIn is increasingly becoming an essential tool for professional and executive-level job seekers. Not only do they advertise vacancies and provide the opportunity to research and network with people in your target companies, but they are increasingly marketing their database to recruiters and this gives you an excellent opportunity to raise your profile and get in front of the right people.

It’s completely free to join, although there is an option to upgrade to a paid version (not necessary for most people) and it’s the largest professional social networking site on the Internet. 

Finally, as I mentioned earlier, LinkedIn profiles rank extremely high on search engines. This means that you when recruiters or potential clients search for your name on the web, your LinkedIn profile is one of the first things they are likely to find.

So if you do not have a profile, go set one up right now! And if you have one already, check that you’ve followed every one of my nine steps and make any changes necessary.

Happy social networking!

PS: If you are ready to really get the most out of LinkedIn, check out The Blue Sky Guide to LinkedIn. This downloadable e-book takes you step-by-step through the site, with detailed instructions and screenshots on everything from setting up an effective profile through making connections all the way to understanding the many additional benefits the site has to offer. Once you learn how to use LinkedIn properly, you’ll never leave.

Author, Louise Fletcher

Louise Fletcher

Louise co-founded Blue Sky in 2002 after a career as an HR executive in industries such as music, video games, fashion and advertising. Louise is a word nerd at heart and loves to write. She developed the Blue Sky resume approach, has written three books, and has been a featured expert for Oprah Winfrey Magazine, The Washington Post and The Ladders among many others. In her spare time she paints and cooks. She also gardens, with results that can best be described as mixed.

How to Take Charge of Every Interview

If you dislike job interviews, you’re definitely not alone. Many people are uncomfortable with the uncertainty of the interview situation. The good news is that you can eliminate a lot of this uncertainty by using a common interview technique to your advantage.

I’m referring to the technique of behavioral interviewing, which simply means that interviewers ask very specific questions about real situations. The theory is that your past behavior is the best predictor of how you will behave in the future, so employers probe your background for clues.

Let’s imagine that XYZ company is looking for a Marketing VP who can generate a lot of buzz with a small budget.  In order to understand your experience in this area, a behavioral interviewer will ask:

“Tell me about a time when you had to promote a product with very little cash.”

or :

“Describe a time when you created a lot of excitement about a new launch using non-traditional marketing techniques.”

Behavioral interviewing has become quite common over the last 15 years and, you may well have experienced it yourself, either as an interviewer, or an interviewee.  Provided you are prepared (and we’ll talk about this in a moment) a behavioral interview gives you an excellent opportunity to talk in detail about your experiences and accomplishments.

Unfortunately, many interviews still follow the old format – the questions may be arbitrary, sometimes based on the content of your resume, sometimes on the preoccupations of the interviewer.  They may also be very general in nature.  For example, if XYZ company isn’t using behavioral interviewing, they may ask VP candidates a question such as: “How much experience do you have working with a small budget?”  This question doesn’t invite the same detailed response as the request for a specific example – but who needs an invite?

But You Can Turn it Around!

The secret to wowing them at every interview is simply this:  act as though you were asked a behavioral question, even when you were not.

Imagine two different candidates for this fictional marketing position. When asked “How much experience do you have working with a small budget?” Candidate A replies, “I’ve had to do that a lot actually. Most of the companies I worked for were small to mid-size, so there was never a lot of opportunity to spend money. I’m very good in those situations and I always find a way to make things happen.”

Candidate B, however, gives a ‘behavioral’ answer:  “I’ve had to do that a lot actually. Let me give you a recent example… you know the film “Dark Night?” I created the campaign around that movie with a $10,000 budget.  It came to my attention because it was the only film all our staff were excited about, although it was a low-budget, independent production.  I decided to create a really cool web site themed around the film, and then we planted seeds of interest on forums and in chat rooms. The whole thing took off within weeks and the movie eventually grossed millions. We never did run a single TV advertisement. “ 

By answering in such a concrete and specific way, Candidate B brings himself to life – and ensures that he will be much more memorable than his competition.

Some Examples

You can use this technique for any question that is vague or general in nature:

Q: “How much do you know about?....”
A: “I’m very familiar – just recently I ....”

Q: “How often have you had to ....?”
A: “That’s something I’ve done frequently – actually, I remember when ...”

The technique also works when an interviewer asks a hypothetical question:

Q: “What would you do if .....?
A: “Well, I faced a similar situation just last year. What happened was ... ”

Preparation is Key

To prepare effective stories you must first focus on the employer’s needs and then develop examples that demonstrate your ability to meet those needs.

The employer’s needs

Research the company before you go for the interview. Identify their key business issues (Are they growing rapidly?  Are they in a crowded marketplace? Are they planning new product launches?) Get into the minds of the company’s executives and ask yourself: Given their business issues, what will they want to know about me?

Developing Your Examples

Use the C-A-R formula to develop stories that demonstrate your ability to meet the needs of the employer. 

C-A-R stands for challenge, action, result. To look at an example - if you know from your research that ABC Corporation needs a sales executive who can forge new strategic partnerships, develop stories about your experiences in that area.  Describe the initial challenge (e.g. need to enter a new market), the actions you took (researched the market, identified targets, met C-level decision-makers) and the results (built partnerships worth $15 million in revenues within 12 months). 

If your interviewers have been trained in behavioral interviewing, you’ll be exceptionally well-prepared.  But if not, you’ll be able to separate yourself from all the other candidates by telling compelling, interesting and targeted stories that demonstrate your ability to add value.

Author, Louise Fletcher

Louise Fletcher

Louise co-founded Blue Sky in 2002 after a career as an HR executive in industries such as music, video games, fashion and advertising. Louise is a word nerd at heart and loves to write. She developed the Blue Sky resume approach, has written three books, and has been a featured expert for Oprah Winfrey Magazine, The Washington Post and The Ladders among many others. In her spare time she paints and cooks. She also gardens, with results that can best be described as mixed.

Don’t Write a Resume – Tell them a Story!

To understand the impact that a strong resume can have, take a moment to put yourself in the shoes of the hiring manager who needs to fill a position.  Let’s call our manager Harry.  Harry desperately wants to make the right decision.  After all his team is understaffed, his workload keeps mounting and he seems to have new problems every day.  Now he’s been given permission to hire an extra person. Great!  Someone to help with the extra workload and maybe solve some of those nagging problems that no one has time for. 

But as he starts to wade through resumes, another possibility occurs to him.  What if he makes the wrong choice?  What if the person he selects actually makes the problems worse?  It’s happened before.  It wouldn’t be the first time that a candidate who seemed wonderful turned out to be under-qualified or lazy or a trouble-maker. And Harry knows that if he makes that mistake again, he’ll just fall even further behind and his life will get harder, not easier.  Not to mention how he’ll explain to his bosses that hiring the extra person didn’t actually make any positive difference.  All this after he spent months getting permission to hire someone in the first place.

So he’s nervous and as he wades through the stack of resumes, he doesn’t see any way to identify which pile each resume belongs in – the one for people who will make his life better or the ones who will make it worse.  After all, all the resumes look pretty much alike.  Half of them were created from the templates that come with Microsoft Word, the other half are bland and conformist.  They all seem to be from ‘self-starting,  highly motivated people persons.’  These are generalities that tell Harry nothing. 

Each resume outlines the responsibilities of prior positions, but this is no help because knowing what you did (or were supposed to do) is different from knowing how you did it.  Being “responsible for helping customers and tidying the store” tells Harry what the candidate’s employer expected of her.  It does not tell him whether she actually did it, or how well she did it.

The problem is that most resumes do not represent the living, breathing person who wrote them.  Instead of expressing skills and individuality and outlining the great things the person has done, they are simply a bland recitation of standard phrases and pat descriptions.  This does nothing to help Harry decide who will fit into his company.

And therein lays the answer to getting Harry’s attention and creating a resume that is a living, breathing document that screams “Hire Me!”  You need to tell him about yourself.  You need to bring yourself alive on the page and make him curious to meet you.

How?  Tell him stories that illustrate your ability to help him succeed.

The Power of Stories

Since the beginning of time, humans have enjoyed stories. Stories help us make sense of the world – we listen as the story begins, follow it through to the middle, and then feel satisfaction when we reach the resolution. A good story is both compelling and memorable.

But obviously you can’t just tell any old stories. (The one about that New Year’s Eve in Las Vegas probably won’t do you much good!) The stories you tell on your resume must show Harry that you have solved problems in the past – and that the problems you have solved are similar to the ones he is facing now. If you do that, why wouldn’t he interview you?

The Importance of Research

So you have to show Harry that you can solve his problems (or maximize his opportunities) but what are they?

If you currently work in the same industry and are simply changing companies, you probably know, because you work in a similar environment every day.  If you are looking to make a career change, you will need to be more creative and do some research.  Make contact with people who currently work in that industry, speak to recruiters, read trade magazines and interviews with industry luminaries.  Review job postings for the positions you are interested in and make notes of what seem to be the major concerns.  Read financial reports.  Patterns will emerge.  You will learn what is important to industry insiders.  (Hint: the issues will almost always relate to efficiency, sales, profit, costs, customer satisfaction or some combination of all five.)

What are Your Stories?

Go back over your career and think about each job you have held. 

Ask yourself: what problems did I solve for that employer and/or what improvements did I make? Your answers will form the basis of the stories you tell.
 
The stories do not have to be earth-shattering - we’re not looking for Middle East peace or a cure for cancer -  but they should center on the impact you have made in prior positions.

In my practice as a professional resume writer, I constantly meet people who have made a great impact on their employers but just haven’t really thought about it until we talk.  These people are from all walks of life and all levels – from CEOs to clerical workers.

For example, a recent client was looking to stay in retail customer service with a major retail chain.  We talked about her past experience and I asked her to describe a problem she had solved. 

Client: “The customer service desk was horribly disorganized which meant that customers had to wait on line while staff hunted for the information they needed.” 

Now I asked what she did to fix this.

Client:  “I stayed late every night for a week after the store was closed and reorganized everything.  Then I conducted a training session for the customer service team so that everyone knew where to find what they needed.” 

What was the result? 

Client: “Lines were much shorter and we won the company’s customer service award 2 quarters in a row.  Our mystery shopper ratings went up significantly.”

I summarized her story as follows:

  • Turned around ineffective customer service department by reorganizing customer service desk and training all associates.  Result:  Store subsequently won 2 company awards for customer service and mystery shopper ratings improved by 50%.

By telling this story, my client showed that she has problem solving skills, takes the initiative and really cares about excellence in customer service.

More stories

Here are some of the recent examples of stories I told for actual clients:

Programmer for animation studio

  • Developed tool to enable modelers to diagnose and correct modeling problems before rigging.  Prior to development of this tool, modeling problems were only identified during animation, resulting in expensive charge-backs and loss of productivity. 

Event Planner – not-for-profit

  • Conceived, managed and publicized regional Earth Day partnership with Whole Foods Market which resulted in record breaking sales and extensive media coverage, including The New York Times and WABC.  As a result the two organizations formed an ongoing national partnership. 

HR Manager

Negotiated a renewal of health benefits at 10% below nationwide average increase while enhancing employee benefits.

Product Development Executive – Video Games

  • Redefined product strategy and production processes for (company name withheld)  resulting in a 40% increase in revenue over a two year period, from $140M to $200M annually.

Publishing Executive

  • Built and led publishing division to package and sell original children’s books to major publishers, generating over $2M in sales to date.  First book sold over 500,000 copies with pre-orders of 400,000 for the sequel. 

Executive Assistant

  • Designed, created and maintained a resource assignment database using MS Access.  The new system allowed management to allocate 70 consultants efficiently. 

You can see that the achievements vary depending on the seniority and length of experience but all address some frequent problem experienced by the hiring managers in that industry/profession.

Now it’s your Turn

To create high-impact stories, think back over each position you have held and the things you did to help your employer.  Describe the initial situation, what actions you took, and the results of your efforts.  Then summarize your story into no more than two of three lines.

By filling your resume with stories of achievements, you will do more than attract the manager’s attention to your resume.  You will also provide him with a source of interview questions.  He can ask you about each story you told and if he doesn’t, you can use them anyway as you answer his questions.

In this way the work you do on creating compelling stories for your resume is also preparation for acing your job interviews. So start now - tell them a story!

 

Author, Louise Fletcher

Louise Fletcher

Louise co-founded Blue Sky in 2002 after a career as an HR executive in industries such as music, video games, fashion and advertising. Louise is a word nerd at heart and loves to write. She developed the Blue Sky resume approach, has written three books, and has been a featured expert for Oprah Winfrey Magazine, The Washington Post and The Ladders among many others. In her spare time she paints and cooks. She also gardens, with results that can best be described as mixed.

How to Write a Killer Sales Resume

My advice to people writing resumes is always to toot your own horn – after all, if you don’t, no else will. But this advice applies even more for sales professionals. After all, selling is what you do. Your resume should showcase your confidence and sales abilities – in other words, you need to brag shamelessly!

Here are 5 ways you can demonstrate that confidence to potential employers when writing your resume.

Sales Resume Tip #1 - Put your Best Stuff Upfront

Highlight sales achievements right up front in your resume introduction.  Choose the best 3 or 4 results and put them in a prominent place where they won’t be missed. This will ensure that the employer sees your sales success before getting to the career history section of your resume. You will immediately make a positive impression.

This is even more important if you’re looking to change industries – great sales results can go a long way towards easing fears about your ability to make a change.

Sales Resume Tip #2 - Pack Your Resume With Results

When you do get to your career chronology, make sure that the entire section is packed with results. Spend very little time on your job responsibilities – everyone knows what a salesperson or sales manager does. Instead focus on what you achieved. Show things like:

  • Sales increases
  • Market share growth
  • Sales rankings within your company (or industry if you know)
  • Client base growth
  • New accounts signed
  • Awards received

Sales Resume Tip #3 - Highlight Awards

The last point about awards should be emphasized. If you have won awards or honors for your sales performance, make sure those are highlighted prominently. If you have lots of them, you may even want to list them right upfront in your resume introduction.

Awards are proof positive of your skills and talents. Make the most of them!

Sales Resume Tip #4 - Include Training & Certifications

List training or sales certifications. Many companies want their sales people to know a certain sales approach and others want to invest in developing their staff. If you already have the training, that can make you very appealing over another candidate who will need to learn.

Sales Resume Tip #5 – Know Your Audience

You would never try to sell a product without knowing your target audience and the same applies to your resume.

Figure out who will be reading your resume and what their concerns are. Are you interested in smaller companies? Then you may want to show you can compete successfully with bigger corporations, or open new markets.  If you’re a manager or executive targeting smaller companies, you’ll want to show that you’re not just someone who directs events from 30,000 feet but that you also roll up your sleeves and do the work.

In larger companies, the opposite will apply. Have you managed large budgets? Big sales teams? Led major product launches? Worked on international sales?

Perhaps you’re targeting companies in a certain industry. In this case, you’ll want to show knowledge of that field or at least transferable skills.

So before you start writing, make some notes on your target companies and what they’re looking for. (Not sure? Check out job postings online for clues).

In Summary

The best sales resumes convey absolute confidence that the candidate can meet the needs of employers. By using these 5 strategies, you can make sure that yours is one of them!

If you’d like some idea, check out some of our sales resume samples and for more resume help, you’re welcome to sign up for our free resume writing course.

Author, Louise Fletcher

Louise Fletcher

Louise co-founded Blue Sky in 2002 after a career as an HR executive in industries such as music, video games, fashion and advertising. Louise is a word nerd at heart and loves to write. She developed the Blue Sky resume approach, has written three books, and has been a featured expert for Oprah Winfrey Magazine, The Washington Post and The Ladders among many others. In her spare time she paints and cooks. She also gardens, with results that can best be described as mixed.

Resume Writing Secrets for Technology Professionals

As a technology professional you have many of the same challenges as everyone else when it comes to writing your resume. But you also face some special issues that apply to you whether you’re in development, IT or some other technical role.

I’d like to talk about those issues here, and outline the best way of handling them.

You Have Two Audiences

Most people can write their resume for just one audience, but you have two very distinct groups: people who know technology and people who don’t.

The people who don’t know technology may include HR reps, recruiters and non-technical managers (for example, in many companies IT reports to the CFO). These people have a rudimentary idea of what you do technically, but what they really want to know is how your technical knowledge will have a business impact. (Will you work help them cut costs, save time, increase sales etc.?)

The people who know technology have different concerns. They will probably be managing you – or at least working closely with you. They want to know how much easier you will make their lives and much of this depends on your technology knowledge and skills.

Let’s take the two audiences one at a time:

Speaking to the non-techies

For these people it’s important not to let your resume get bogged down in technical terms that they won’t understand.

Don’t write long bullet points detailing the technologies you used. Instead, explain the impact your work made on the business.  Here are a couple of strong bullet points from a Systems Administrator resume:

  • Cut development costs more than 50% by outsourcing programming rather than hiring full-time employees.
  • Increased system availability from 85% to almost 100%, and improved customer satisfaction, by introducing N+1 redundancy and eliminating rarely used features.


Note that the second bullet point does include technical terminology (N+1 redundancy) but it’s not enough to confuse the layperson.

Talking to the Tech-heads

Now the second audience. This is the IT Manager, Project Manager, Director of Engineering or CTO. He or she will understand all your technical expertise and will actually be looking for it.

Rather than bogging down all your resume content with this information, include it in a technical skills summary (check out this resume sample for an example).

A couple of important tips on writing a technical skills summary:

  • Only include current technologies or platforms. Remove anything that is outdated because it will date you and also make it harder for the reader to find the important stuff.
  • If you’re a hands-on technologist (such as a programmer or a help desk technician), put your skills summary on page one before your career chronology. If you’re an executive, put it at the end of the resume.
  • Don’t include every little thing. If you clutter up your technical skills listing with things like ‘Safari’ and Microsoft Word’ you’ll hide the important skills.

Blow Your Own Trumpet

I’m not sure why, but most technology professionals seem to be reluctant to boast. That’s normally a great quality, but when it comes to writing your resume, you have to toot your own horn. No one else will do it for you!

Do a careful inventory of what you have to offer potential employers and then make sure that you communicate those things clearly throughout your resume. Always delivered your projects on time? Say so! Known for creating clean and efficient code? Make a big deal of it!

Be Concise

My last tip related to the length of your resume. Often IT and technology professionals try to tell everything in their resume and as a result, wind up with a document 4 or 5 pages long. This is too much.

While there is no set rule for resume length, as a general rule, one or two pages is the right length. I usually write one page resumes for new graduates or people with only a few years of work experience. Any more than that and two pages is usually warranted.

In Summary

Writing a technology resumes does have some special challenges, but if you combine the general advice in our free resume writing course with these tips specific to your field, you can write a resume that makes a huge impact on potential employers.

Also, feel free to check out our IT and technology resume samples to get some inspiration for your own resume. Good luck!

Author, Louise Fletcher

Louise Fletcher

Louise co-founded Blue Sky in 2002 after a career as an HR executive in industries such as music, video games, fashion and advertising. Louise is a word nerd at heart and loves to write. She developed the Blue Sky resume approach, has written three books, and has been a featured expert for Oprah Winfrey Magazine, The Washington Post and The Ladders among many others. In her spare time she paints and cooks. She also gardens, with results that can best be described as mixed.

How to Write an Executive Resume

Executive resumes that get results have one thing in common – they answer the employer’s key question: what’s in it for me?

Your resume will be read by high-level recruiters, CEOs, COOs, CFOs, or Board Members. When these people pick up your resume, they want to know how you will help them solve their business problems - will this CIO candidate solve our ERP problems? Will that GM be able to turn around our struggling division? Will this CFO candidate be able to help raise money in a tough climate? In other words, what’s in it for me? This is what every recruiter and every executive wants to know and yet 95% of executive-level resumes don’t answer the question.

That means that if you rework your resume to quickly and clearly convey your value, you will be one of the elite 5% and you will immediately garner more interviews.

To see how well you’re doing, check your resume against my five rules of executive resume writing. If you can honestly say you have done all this, your resume is GREAT!  But if it’s missing even one of these elements, you need to rework it now. 

Executive Resume Writing Rule #1: Tell them what they want to know

Don’t begin your resume with an objective statement that describes your desires and career goals. Even the most caring senior executive simply doesn’t care what you are looking for – he only cares about “what’s in it for me?” He may care about what you want later when he knows you, but for now it’s all about him.

This means you need to replace the objective statement with a powerful summary that shows how you will add value to potential employers.  The key is to demonstrate to the reader that there is a clear fit between your skills and their needs.

Executive Resume Writing Rule #2: Focus, Focus, Focus

A good executive resumes needs a clear, succinct message about the value you bring and that message must be focused on your target positions/companies.  This may mean that you need more than one resume. For example, if you have experience in more than one function (for example, accounting and investment banking) or if you have strong knowledge of more than one industry, you should write different resumes for each one.

This allows you to clearly demonstrate your value by emphasizing the aspects of your expertise and experience that match the employer’s needs, and minimizing those that don’t. 

Your resume focus should be consistent throughout. If you state in your summary that a key strength is your ability to open business in new markets, then make sure that throughout your resume you give concrete examples of successes in this area. Eliminate any information that doesn’t support your clear and compelling message.

Executive Resume Writing Rule #3: Show Them the Money! 

You must present evidence that you add value. Too many resumes focus on job responsibilities, but describing achievements is much more powerful. Job responsibilities are simply those things we are supposed to do. Achievements show what we actually did and they are a powerful way to show your ability to make a difference.  If your resume shows that you have increased revenue and/or profit, cut overhead or boosted productivity, people will want to meet you.

Be very specific when you write about accomplishments. Don’t say “increased sales” without saying how much you increased them. If you mention that your new workflow design boosted productivity, be sure to say what the improvement was. If the information is confidential, use percentages or say “approximately” to avoid giving away company secrets.

Executive Resume Writing Rule #4: Context is Everything

In order to really appreciate your achievements, the reader needs context.  If you say that you “increased sales by 12%,” the reader may be quite impressed, but if you tell him that you “reversed a four-year sales decline and increased sales 12% in the first year,” he can now truly appreciate your accomplishment.  Try to provide context in each position description on your resume instead of just describing your responsibilities. For example, your position description may begin with:

  • Recruited to turn around struggling manufacturer whose sales had been declining for five years….

Or:

  • Hired to establish a new territory and charged with meeting revenue target of $5 million within the first year…

This opening gives the reader an understanding of the challenges you faced when you came into the position. He or she can now appreciate the significance of the fact that you reversed that sales decline with 24 months, or that you actually achieved sales of $7 million.

Executive Resume Writing Rule #5: Design Matters

Recruiters and hiring executives will judge the book by its cover, so make sure the cover is a good one! 

Your resume design should be clean, easy-to-read and should draw attention to key information. If you want readers to focus on the top brands you’ve marketed, using bolding or color to highlight those names and place them in a prominent place in your introductory summary. If you want people to immediately see the financial impact you’ve made in various positions, then use formatting tricks to highlight those numbers.

Be sparing with your bolding – remember executive resume writing rule #2 (focus, focus, focus). Your formatting should emphasize and reinforce the focus you chose, not distract from it.

Writing a Strong Executive Resume Really Does Make a Difference

For many people writing a resume is akin to going to the dentist. You hate it. But rushing through the process will cheat you out of the opportunities that should rightfully be yours.

Follow these executive resume writing rules and you will see an improvement in the response rate to your resume. If you establish a clear focus, start with a powerful summary, express and quantify your accomplishments, provide context and design your resume well, your value will be clear to potential employers, who won’t have to ask: what’s in it for me?

Need more help? Use our library of executive resume samples for inspiration, or sign up for our free resume writing course.

 

Author, Louise Fletcher

Louise Fletcher

Louise co-founded Blue Sky in 2002 after a career as an HR executive in industries such as music, video games, fashion and advertising. Louise is a word nerd at heart and loves to write. She developed the Blue Sky resume approach, has written three books, and has been a featured expert for Oprah Winfrey Magazine, The Washington Post and The Ladders among many others. In her spare time she paints and cooks. She also gardens, with results that can best be described as mixed.

7 Secrets of a Successful Marketing Resume

To write a successful marketing resume, you really need to step back, think about the skills you use every day at work, and then apply them to yourself.

Marketing is what you do best, so marketing yourself should not be too difficult once you get over a few mental hurdles.  Here are 7 resume writing secrets that should help you get into the right frame of mind.

Marketing Resume Secret #1: Accept that You are the Product

First you must view yourself as the product being sold. I know that sounds a little crass – you’re not a product, you’re a multi-dimensional person.

But still, lots of marketing techniques and approaches are very valid and helpful when conducting a job search.

As a marketer, you’ve developed marketing plans. You’ve positioned products. You’ve developed brand messages, created tag lines, conducted market research - all of this experience will be helpful as you think about marketing yourself.

So the first secret is to own the fact that you are now the product.

Marketing Resume Secret #2: Know Your Audience

You would never recommend going to market with a product until you had defined your target audience and the same applies to your resume.
Figure out who will be reading your resume and understand their concerns.

Are you interested in smaller companies? Then you may want to show you can market successfully within small budgets, and handle lots of responsibilities. If you’re an executive, you’ll want to show that you’re not just someone who directs events from 30,000 feet but that you can also roll up your sleeves and do the work.

In larger companies, the opposite will apply. Have you managed large budgets? Massive campaigns? Led big teams? Worked on international marketing?

Perhaps you’re targeting companies in a certain industry. In this case, you’ll want to show knowledge of that field or at least transferable skills.

So before you start writing, write some notes on your target companies and what they’re looking for. (Not sure? Check out job postings online for clues).

Marketing Resume Secret #3: Know Your Value Proposition

What is it that makes you uniquely valuable to your target audience?

We each have a unique blend of skills, characteristics and experiences that make us different from every other person looking for a job. In order to write a truly effective resume, you need to know your unique blend, which we’ll call your value proposition.

(You can see why knowing your audience is so important. Your value proposition may be completely different depending on the types of companies you’re targeting).

Marketing Resume Secret #4: Develop the Messaging Strategy

You wouldn’t create an advertisement or a website without a clear strategy in mind and the same applies to your resume.

Once you have identified your audience, defined their needs, and developed your value proposition, you have some strategic decisions to make.

  • How will you best structure your resume to communicate your value?
  • What keywords need to be in there?
  • How can you give real-world examples of your value proposition in action?
  • What is the best layout and design to reinforce your message?

All these decisions should be made before you start writing.

Marketing Resume Secret #5: Present Benefits not Features

Many amateur marketers make the mistake of focusing on features instead of benefits when selling a product.

The resume equivalent is to focus on job responsibilities and skills, but not on the value you have added.

In order to hire you, companies need to know that you will help their business by selling more products. This means you have to show that you’ve done it before. It’s not enough to tell them that you were responsible for developing integrated campaigns, or that you have designed websites before. You have to tell them how those things impacted your former employers. Show them the money!

Marketing Resume Secret #6: Design Matters

Your resume layout must support your core message and your strategy. If you decided that your value proposition is the fact you have always increased sales on a small budget, then you need to structure your resume to make sure that point is front and center.

Check out our resume samples for some ideas on how to do this.

Marketing Resume Secret #6: This is the Brochure not the Catalog

Don’t try to say too much!

You can’t possible tell the whole story of your career in this one document and you shouldn’t try.

Be concise and focused. You know your audience, you know what’s important to them and you know what you have to offer. Say just enough to convey that and not a word more.

In Conclusion

As a marketer, you have a distinct advantage over most people who try to write a resume. You already know how to persuade other people to take action. Now you just have to do it for yourself.

Good luck! And for more resume writing help, check out our free resume writing course.

 

Author, Louise Fletcher

Louise Fletcher

Louise co-founded Blue Sky in 2002 after a career as an HR executive in industries such as music, video games, fashion and advertising. Louise is a word nerd at heart and loves to write. She developed the Blue Sky resume approach, has written three books, and has been a featured expert for Oprah Winfrey Magazine, The Washington Post and The Ladders among many others. In her spare time she paints and cooks. She also gardens, with results that can best be described as mixed.

7 Resume Mistakes and How You Can Avoid Them

If you’ve worked long and hard on your resume only to find that it’s not getting the response you hoped for, it may be because you have made one or more common mistakes.

Over my career, I’ve seen tens of thousands of resumes and I’ve seen just about every mistake you can imagine. But some are more common than others. If your resume isn’t working for you, check whether you have made any of these frequently seen errors.

Resume Mistake #1 - Focusing on Yourself Rather Than on the Employer

Think of a resume as an advertisement for a product, only the “product” is you.  Just like any other advertisement, positioning is everything.  The person who receives your resume will scan it quickly – perhaps for no more than 20 seconds – to determine whether you can help her company.  Your job is to say quickly, clearly and loudly that you can!

Don’t just launch into a chronology of your career history.  Instead, determine your own positioning by spelling out your message at the start of the resume and giving the reader your version of events upfront.  For this reason, you should use the first 1/3 of your resume to create a compelling personal profile which highlights your key strengths in an attractive, easy-to-read format. 

Resume Mistake #2 – Starting with an Objective

Don’t start with an objective.  Recruiters and hiring managers don’t like them because they focus on the needs of the job seeker rather than the needs of the potential employer.  Consider this objective statement:

“Seeking a software engineer position with a progressive employer where I can contribute to the development of new technologies and work with bright, committed people.”

This may be very honest but it is irrelevant to the reader, who does not care what you want and only cares what you have to offer.  Instead of an objective, try using a positioning statement that clearly and concisely explains what you have to offer. 

“Senior Software Engineer with 10 years experience developing leading-edge technologies.”

Now the reader can immediately see your value to the company. (For even greater impact, tailor this statement for each position so that the reader immediately sees a match between his/her needs and your skills.)

Resume Mistake #3 – Focusing on Responsibilities Instead of Results

Don’t provide a laundry list of responsibilities without showing what results you achieved. Most employers already know what the main responsibilities of your job were.  They want to know what makes you different from all the other applicants. 

An effective resume summarizes job responsibilities in a few sentences and then provides details of quantifiable achievements. 

Resume Mistake #4 – Not Being Specific

You must place your achievements in context by providing specifics. For example, don’t say something vague like “contributed to product design.”  This tells the employer nothing about your actual contribution.  Instead be specific about what you did:
“Conducted market analysis for (name of product) to determine design and mechanics.  Led changes to original design spec. despite initial internal objections.  Received critical acclaim and sold over 4 million units.”
See how being specific makes a difference?  This level of detail shows the reader the contributions you have made in the past and therefore the contributions you can be expected to make in the future.

Resume Mistake #5 – Poor Design and Layout

At least 50% of the impact of your resume derives from design.  A strong resume design will pull the eye through the document, making it easy to keep reading and will highlight your key strengths clearly.  But if your resume is badly laid out, disorganized or hard to read, it will be discarded before the reader knows how qualified you are. 

To see examples of good designs, check out our sample resumes.  Take time to understand how the page has been laid out and then apply what you’ve learned to your resume.

Resume Mistake #6 – Writing about Everything (Including the Kitchen Sink)

Think of your resume as a brochure, not a product catalog. It doesn’t have to tell your entire story – just the parts that will help you find your next position. So be selective about what to include.

Don’t mention experiences and accomplishments that have nothing to do with your career goals. Don’t include outdated skills or computer knowledge.

Also avoid including personal information. Don’t detail your marital status, age or the number of children you have.  Don’t mention non-professional affiliations such as political or religious volunteer work unless it directly relates to the position you are applying for. 

Information like this runs the risk of turning the reader off.  However proud you are of personal achievements, you should not run the risk of alienating someone before you even have your foot in the door. 

Resume Mistake #7 – Not Having a Clear Focus

This is absolutely essential. You cannot appeal to a target audience until you know who that audience is. You must determine the types of positions you’re seeking and identify what is important to hiring managers filling those roles.

If you have several different career goals, create several different resumes, each one carefully targeted to appeal to employers in that field.

If you try to appeal to very diverse audience with one resume, you will simply wind up appealing to none of them.

In Summary

When you send your resume out, it must speak articulately for you.  You can’t explain inconsistencies, clear up confusion or fill in things that are missing.  Your resume has to make your sales pitch in a clear and compelling manner within 20 seconds.  Invest the time to make it exceptional and you will see an immediate increase in the response rate.

Need more help? Sign up now for our free resume writing course.

 

Author, Louise Fletcher

Louise Fletcher

Louise co-founded Blue Sky in 2002 after a career as an HR executive in industries such as music, video games, fashion and advertising. Louise is a word nerd at heart and loves to write. She developed the Blue Sky resume approach, has written three books, and has been a featured expert for Oprah Winfrey Magazine, The Washington Post and The Ladders among many others. In her spare time she paints and cooks. She also gardens, with results that can best be described as mixed.

5 New Media Resume Writing Hacks

Do you work in new media? Whether you’re a web developer, social media specialist, designer, copywriter or content producer, here’s how to create a killer resume that opens doors.

Develop a Communication Strategy

You should treat your resume just like any other communications piece. You would never recommend writing copy for a website or setting up a company Facebook page until you knew the target audience. The same applies to your resume.

Figure out who will be reading your resume and what they’re concerned about. Are you interested in working for a web development agency? Then you may want to show you can work well with clients or even that you can bring in new business.

If you plan to seek a leadership role within a corporation, you’ll want to focus on how your knowledge of digital media has driven sales or profit success for past employers.
If you’re a project manager, your focus will be on timely delivery, project complexity etc.

Perhaps you’re targeting companies in a certain industry. In this case, you’ll want to show knowledge of that field or at least transferable skills.

So before you start writing, make some notes on your target companies and what they’re looking for. (Not sure? Check out job postings online for clues).

Focus on Results

You have two audiences for your resume. Some of the people who interview you, such as HR managers or recruiters, may not be fully clear about what you do or why it’s important. 

After all, you’re in a relatively new field and often they’ve just been told to find someone who “knows new media.”

Your second audience will know exactly what you do. These are the new media agency heads or the marketing managers you will be working for.

The good news is that you can appeal to both audiences effectively by doing one thing: showing how you have made a difference to business success.

  • How did your web copy improve sales?
  • How did the site you designed for a client change his business?
  • What new technology platforms did you migrate your company’s products to?
  • What new services did you launch and how much revenue did they generate?

Showing results will give potential employers confidence that you are not interested in technology for technology’s sake, but that you really know how to use new media as a way to improve their results.

Don’t Get Bogged Down

To follow on from that point, it’s important not to let your resume get bogged down in technical terms that some people won’t understand.
Don’t write long bullet points detailing the technologies you used. Instead, explain the impact your work made on the business.  Here is a strong bullet point from a social media specialist resume:

  • Launched company’s first blog focused on targeting the needs of the company’s clients (small home-based businesses). Built subscriber base of 3,100 in 18 months and grew email list 327%.


Note that this candidate explains how the new media (in this case a blog) directly impacted the company (attracted the attention of over 3,000 small business people and more than tripled the company’s contact database).

Talk Technology

This may sound contradictory to the point I just made, but it is possible to cover your technical knowledge without bogging down the rest of your resume.  You can do it by adding a technical skills summary.

A few important tips on writing such a summary:

  • Only include current technologies or platforms. Remove anything that is outdated because it will date you and also make it harder for the reader to find the important stuff.
  • If you’re a hands-on technologist, meaning a doer rather than an executive, put your skills summary on page one before your career chronology. If you’re an executive, put it at the end of the resume.
  • Don’t include every little thing. If you clutter up your technical skills listing with things like ‘Safari’ and Microsoft Word’ you’ll hide the important skills.

Include Social Media Links

You’re in new media, so show that you’re active online by including links to some of your online profiles/pages. You can see an example of how to do this here.
One word of warning – make sure the profiles you link to are professional in tone and content!

In Summary

Following these tips - along with the strategy outlined in our free resume writing course - will ensure that your resume appeals to both managers and recruiters in the new media field.

For inspiration, check out our new media resume samples. Good luck!

 

Author, Louise Fletcher

Louise Fletcher

Louise co-founded Blue Sky in 2002 after a career as an HR executive in industries such as music, video games, fashion and advertising. Louise is a word nerd at heart and loves to write. She developed the Blue Sky resume approach, has written three books, and has been a featured expert for Oprah Winfrey Magazine, The Washington Post and The Ladders among many others. In her spare time she paints and cooks. She also gardens, with results that can best be described as mixed.

How to Write a Killer Resume for Creative Professions

There are some key principles to good resume writing that everyone should follow but creative professionals have some special challenges and opportunities.

In this article, I’ll explain what they are and provide 5 tips for developing a really effective resume – one that recruiters can’t resist.

Creative Resume Tip #1: Remember it’s a Business

Yes, it’s important that you have great creative talents and that people love your work, but you’re there to help the organization succeed. If you’re a graphic designer, your designs are supposed to drive revenue or profit gains. If you’re a music producer, your audio is supposed to do the same.

No matter what your creative profession, you are using your creativity towards an end goal. And you must keep that end goal in mind when you write your resume. Show employers that you know how to harness your creativity to help the organization succeed.

(This is why it’s important to try to find out the results of your work if people don’t usually share it with you. Keep a record so that when you have to write a resume, it’s easy to do).

Creative Resume Tip #2: You can be a Little Different

Don’t be stuffy or too formal with your resume design and layout. Being in a creative field gives you a little more leeway than someone who works as an accountant.

Use colors. Add a personal logo if you have one. If you’re a graphic designer, think about ways you can demonstrate that skill. If you are an illustrator, consider using one of your drawings in the resume. A fashion designer might include a design sketch. And no matter what profession, include a link to an online portfolio of your work.

Creative Resume Tip #3: Don’t be Too Different

You must strike a delicate balance with your resume. A little creativity is good, but too much can obscure your message.
When thinking about how you can spice up your resume, keep your value proposition and strategy top of mind. (Not sure how to develop a value proposition? Take our free email course and learn how).The key is to use creativity to enhance your message not obscure it.

Also, be aware of constraints if you will be emailing your resume. You must send a MS Word version because PDFs are not readable by applicant tracking systems (meaning your resume won’t be found months from now when the company scans its resume database looking for a designer). And when you email Word documents, your documents can lose their formatting if you don’t use common system fonts.

I work on a Mac but many of my clients are on a PC. Fonts I have found to travel well include Arial, Times New Roman, Georgia, Tahoma and Trebuchet.

Creative Resume Tip #4: Put Yourself in the Manager’s Shoes

This isn’t really a tip just for creatives , it applies to everyone. When writing your resume, forget about yourself and what you want and start thinking about the hiring manager and what he wants.

As he looks for a sound engineer or interior designer or architect, what will be his primary concerns? What will he want to find? What will he want to avoid?
If you’re not sure, ask people you know who hire for positions like yours. And read lots of job postings looking for the common themes. When applying to a specific company, you can also research their products and their current situation to look for hints about what will matter most to them.

Creative Resume Tip #5: Make the Introduction Count!

Once you know what the hiring manager wants, show him that you have it right upfront.

Start your resume with a strong profile that summarizes exactly what you have to offer and why you would be the best person for the job. I can’t tell you what should be in here – that will depend on what the manager’s primary concerns are. But you can review our resume samples to get some ideas.

In Summary

In the end my advice boils down to this: your resume should show that you are the perfect creative professional to meet the target employer’s needs. If you use these tips to make sure your resume does that, you will get more calls.

Need more help? Check out our free resume writing course. You’ll get my some of my best resume tips and tricks emailed to you each day for 7 days.

 

Author, Louise Fletcher

Louise Fletcher

Louise co-founded Blue Sky in 2002 after a career as an HR executive in industries such as music, video games, fashion and advertising. Louise is a word nerd at heart and loves to write. She developed the Blue Sky resume approach, has written three books, and has been a featured expert for Oprah Winfrey Magazine, The Washington Post and The Ladders among many others. In her spare time she paints and cooks. She also gardens, with results that can best be described as mixed.

Secrets of Resume Writing for Non-Profits

If you want to work at a non-profit, the chances are you are committed to making a difference. After all, you’re not in it for the money! Showing this passion is important when writing your resume, but it’s just as important to demonstrate that you can make an impact.

Non-profits are generally working to support a cause or make a difference in some area of public life, but in order to make that difference they have to raise money and control costs. In other words, they have to operate like a business. This is important to keep in mind as you put your resume together.

Show Passion

Your resume must show non-profit managers or Boards that you care about what you do – that you are driven by a passion for their mission. This is especially important if you are looking to leave a corporate job to move into the non-profit world.

Your target employers know that the work is often hard, sometimes dispiriting and never well-paid. They look for passion because they know that’s what will make you stick out the bad days.

This means that you should customize your resume each time you send it out to make sure that it directly speaks to the mission of the non-profit.
But keep it balanced.

If you resume is filled with too much fluffy idealism, potential employers will worry that you don’t have what it takes. Passion for the cause isn’t enough. They need hard-working pragmatists who can make things happen. You will have to navigate bureaucracies, bring people together, resolve conflicts, handle rejection and most of all, do a lot with very little money.

Therefore, you need to strike a balance between showing commitment to the cause and displaying some hard-nosed business savvy.

Emphasize results

The way to keep this balance is to stress results. If you have business experience, don’t shy away from that. Make your successes a central part of your resume. If you increased sales, tell them about it. If you cut costs, explain by how much and how you did it.

These results will demonstrate to the managers reading your resume that you can deliver for them.

Show that you are resourceful

Non-profits are vastly different from one another in many ways, but the one thing they all share is a need to do more with less. Most are strapped for cash, and even the organizations with lots of money, like the Gates Foundation, require their projects to run on tight budgets in order to make sure that most of the money goes towards making an impact.

So your resume should highlight times when you have achieved results while keeping costs low, or come up with creative low-cost solutions that have increased sales, or improved productivity or cut costs.

Stress flexibility

Usually I advise people to keep their resume very focused on a narrow set of skills, but non-profit resumes are a little different. In most cases, the successful candidate will be handling multiple responsibilities and you will often need to help on a project that isn’t actually your responsibility.

So if you have a variety of skills, make sure you say that. For example, if everyone in your office comes to you for computer help, mention that fact.
Or if you know how to design flyers and brochures even though you work in accounting, put it in your resume. One of those could be exactly the skill your target employer is looking for in addition to your core functions.

In Summary

The best non-profit resumes strike a perfect balance between passionate idealism and a strong focus on results. Get this right and you won’t have any trouble scoring interviews.

Author, Louise Fletcher

Louise Fletcher

Louise co-founded Blue Sky in 2002 after a career as an HR executive in industries such as music, video games, fashion and advertising. Louise is a word nerd at heart and loves to write. She developed the Blue Sky resume approach, has written three books, and has been a featured expert for Oprah Winfrey Magazine, The Washington Post and The Ladders among many others. In her spare time she paints and cooks. She also gardens, with results that can best be described as mixed.

5 Tips for Media and Communication Resumes

If your job is communications, then resume writing should be a piece of cake, right? So how come it’s so hard?

Of course communicating on behalf of someone else is much easier than doing it for yourself. I am just the same. Writing a resume for someone else is easy for me, but it’s much harder when I’m asked to write a bio about myself.

But I have some tips that should make writing your resume easier.

1. Develop a Strategy

Develop a communications strategy for your resume just as you would for any other communications piece. You would never recommend writing a press release, or creating copy for a website until you knew the target audience and the same applies to your resume.

Figure out who will be reading your resume and what their concerns are. Are you interested in smaller companies? Then you may want to show you can work successfully within small budgets, and handle lots of responsibilities. If you’re an executive targeting smaller companies, you’ll need to show that you’re able to both direct others and roll up your sleeves to do the work.

In larger companies, the opposite will apply. Have you managed large budgets? Handled crisis communications? Led big teams? Worked on international projects?

Perhaps you’re interested in a specific industry. In this case, you’ll want to show knowledge of that field or at least transferable skills.

So before you start writing, make some notes on your target companies and what they’re looking for. (Not sure? Check out job postings online for clues).

2. Think About the Structure

Don’t just follow a resume structure you saw someone else use. Think about your strategy and the story you want to tell, and then determine the best structure to tell that story. 

For example, someone who has decided to emphasize the impact his web copy had on sales may choose to have a ‘selected sales results’ section where he highlights his top successes.

Someone who has decided to emphasize that she handles PR for high-profile clients could do this in a ‘selected clients’ section.

On the other hand, if your strongest selling point is the experience you gained in your most recent position, adding extra sections like this may draw the reader’s attention away from that experience. In that case it may be best to follow a short introduction with your career chronology.

You can see that writing a great resume isn’t just about cataloging your career history. It’s a strategic and thoughtful process that takes into account lots of variables.

3. Use Third-party Validation

Nothing you say about yourself is ever as powerful as things other people say about you, and that’s what I mean by the phrase ‘third-party validation.’

If your work has ever been praised by others, consider including some of those comments in your resume (for example, thank you letters, performance reviews or LinkedIn testimonials are all useful).

If you have written something that has been reviewed, you might be able to excerpt some of the reviews on your resume.
And of course, awards are excellent third-party validation. If you have lots of them, make them prominent on the first page of your resume.

4. Quantify Your Impact Where Possible

Media and communications isn’t like sales. You can’t always quantify your successes. But you should try wherever possible.  The more numbers and facts you can include in your resume, the more impressive it will be.

And don’t shy away from quantifying just because your actions were only one aspect of the success. If you worked on a successful product service or strategy, but were not solely responsible, you can still take the credit you deserve. Simply say:

• Key member of the team that …
Or
• Played integral role in ….

5. If You Can’t Quantify, Focus on Impact

If you can’t find actual numbers for media impressions or readership of an article you wrote, look for other ways to describe your impact.

Why did you do what you did? What was the business reason behind your decision to write white papers for your company’s website? Why did you decide to add that new feature to your company’s newsletter? Include your reasoning when talking about your accomplishments. Let me give you an example:

A PR manager devises and manages a crisis management campaign for her employer, a restaurant chain, after salmonella sickens hundreds of customers around the country.

She cannot quantify how many people were impacted by her campaign, but she can talk about why she did it (to mitigate damage to the brand) and she can describe what she did. Here’s the bullet point she could write:

  • Minimized damage to brand after national food poisoning incident. Developed crisis management strategy that included interviews with major media and a proactive role in pushing Congress for new food safety legislation.

Let’s look at one more example. A cable news producer comes up with a new format for a regular newscast. His show isn’t a ratings success and is cancelled within a few months. But inspired by his idea, the network decides to try something else and the new show shoots to the top of its timeslot among the desired demographic. Here’s a possible bullet point for that situation:

  • Challenged stagnant format of long-time news show, developing kernel of idea that ultimately became [show name], the #-rated show among the all-important 25-54 demographic.

In Summary

As a communications professional, you have an advantage over most job seekers. You already have the skills you need to write an excellent resume. All you need to do now is put them into action!

I hope these tips have been helpful and, if you need more help, check out our free email resume writing course.

Author, Louise Fletcher

Louise Fletcher

Louise co-founded Blue Sky in 2002 after a career as an HR executive in industries such as music, video games, fashion and advertising. Louise is a word nerd at heart and loves to write. She developed the Blue Sky resume approach, has written three books, and has been a featured expert for Oprah Winfrey Magazine, The Washington Post and The Ladders among many others. In her spare time she paints and cooks. She also gardens, with results that can best be described as mixed.

Writing a Great Resume for the Entertainment Industry

In many ways, writing a resume for the entertainment industry is just like writing for any other industry, so be sure to check out 7 Resume Writing Mistakes and How You Can Avoid Them and also Don’t Write a Resume, Tell a Story.

But there are some special points I wanted to make in relation to the entertainment industry (and by that I mean everything from music to films and TV to video games).

Please note: These resume tips do not apply to entertainment talent. Your resumes have very specific requirements and we don’t specialize in that area. But if you develop video games, work in television, design sound for movies, write scripts, market music or work in any other entertainment industry profession, these tips will help you hone your resume.

1. It’s Still Business

Your job is to entertain people, but it’s still in a business. Whether you’re just starting out, or at the most senior levels of your industry, your resume needs to show how your creativity and hard work drove ratings, sales, brand awareness, or some other business metric.

If you’re a video game designer, how did the changes you made to a game impact the final outcome? Was the game faster? Did it get better reviews? Did it sell more copies?

A TV programming executive will need to show how his decisions impacted ratings and advertising revenue.

A director of animated movies must be creative – but her creativity is in service of the goal of making money.

Bottom line: Entertainment is a business like any other and your resume should show that you understand that.

2. Third-party Validation is Very Powerful.

Third-party validation simply means the stuff other people say about you.

As an entertainment professional, you have a great advantage here. Accountants don’t work on things that get talked about publicly (at least, not unless the company gets into some very high-profile trouble!) But you work on products that people review and discuss.

Use this to your advantage. If you worked on a TV show or movie or video game that got exceptional reviews, scatter a few of them through your resume. They don’t even have to be newspaper reviews. Perhaps your game or TV show was discussed on Internet forums, or maybe the book you edited was sold on Amazon and reviewed by readers. If so, choose the best quotes and use them in your resume.

And of course, awards are excellent third-party validation too because they prove that others valued your work. If you have lots of them, highlight them prominently on the first page of your resume.

3. You can be a little creative

You don’t have to be stuffy or traditional with your resume design and layout. Being in a creative industry gives you a little more freedom than someone who works as an engineer.

Use colors. Add a personal logo if you have one. Look for ways to set yourself apart at first glance.

4. But Not Too Creative!

You must strike a balance with your resume. A little creativity is good but too much can obscure your message.

When thinking about how you can spice up your resume, keep your value proposition and strategy top of mind. (Not sure how to develop a value proposition? Take our free email course and learn how). The key is to use creativity to enhance your message not obscure it.

Also, be aware of constraints if you will be emailing your resume. You must send an MS Word version because PDFs can’t be read by applicant tracking systems (meaning your resume won’t be found months from now when the company scans its resume database looking for a designer). And when you email Word documents, they can lose their formatting if you don’t use common fonts.

I work on a Mac but many of my clients are on a PC. Fonts I have found to travel well include Arial, Times New Roman, Georgia, Tahoma and Trebuchet.

5. Name drop!

If you have worked with famous people, drop names! Everyone is impressed by famous names whether or not they admit it. But it’s more than that – having worked with people who are at the top of their game sends a clear signal that you are also at the top of yours.

You can also drop the names of big-name companies for the exact same reason. By doing so, you attach some of their prestige to yourself.

Need more resume help? Check out our free resume writing course and learn some of my best resume writing secrets.

 

Author, Louise Fletcher

Louise Fletcher

Louise co-founded Blue Sky in 2002 after a career as an HR executive in industries such as music, video games, fashion and advertising. Louise is a word nerd at heart and loves to write. She developed the Blue Sky resume approach, has written three books, and has been a featured expert for Oprah Winfrey Magazine, The Washington Post and The Ladders among many others. In her spare time she paints and cooks. She also gardens, with results that can best be described as mixed.

A Fresh Approach to Job Search with the Help of an Old Standard, the Library

I love doing research on the Internet and I frequently direct my clients to job relevant resources on the web. But for certain research, you just can’t beat the public library. Some of the best research tools online are fee based, but candidates can gain access to these same resources in book form at their local library. Whether you need to search for recruiters, networking leads, or decision makers, the library can provide priceless (and free) access to numerous search-relevant materials.

Below are a few of my favorites:

The Corporate Directory of U.S. Public Companies contains essential financial and business data for over 11,000 U.S. public companies. The directory is the only publication to provide salaries and ages of officers and directors as well as their full names and titles.

The Encyclopedia of Associations is a comprehensive source of detailed information on 22,000 American associations of national scope. They also publish an International Organization listing of 22,300 associations and a regional, state, and local organization listing with 115,000 entries. Included in the reference book are addresses and descriptions of professional societies, trade associations, labor unions, cultural, and religious organizations.

Kennedy Guide to Executive Recruiters published annually, this national guide includes recruiter names, addresses, phone and fax numbers, and web and email addresses. An international version of the book is also available.

The Directory of Top Computer Executives concentrates on organizations that have the highest potential to be supporting large IT functions. For an organization to be listed it must have a full-time VP, Director, or Manager of IT; have a multi-user host computer; or have more than 75 deployed PCs in the U.S. or 25 in Canada. The Directory lists the top-ranking individual over the IT function, such as the CIO or VP, Director, or Manager of information technology. In addition, second-level managers (which directly report to the top executive) include the manager of software development, manager of operations, manager of networking/data communications, manager of microcomputers, and the manager of technical support.

Consulting & Consulting Organizations Directory contains more than 25,000 consulting firms and independent consultants that operate throughout the United States and Canada. More than 400 specialties are represented including finance, computers, fundraising, advertising, and more. It covers top consulting firms and individuals in several general areas of consulting activity including business and finance management, marketing and sales, manufacturing, transportation, operations, computer technology, telecommunications and information services, engineering, science and technology, architecture, construction and interior design art, graphics and communications media, environment, geology, and land use agriculture, forestry, and landscaping, politics and social issues human resources development, education and personal development, health, medicine, and safety.

Thomas Register of American Manufacturers allows you to look up a brand name and find out the name of the company that makes the product.
Standard Directory of International Advertisers and Agencies lists 1,800 advertising agencies, advertising expenditures, personnel, and clients.
The Corporate Finance Sourcebook features over 1,900 of today’s top investment sources and over 1,400 service firms.

Nelson Information’s Directory of Investment Managers profiles investment managers and investment specialties and includes addresses and web URLs.


Securities Industry Yearbook includes information on individual securities firms, such as key personnel and department heads, number of customer accounts, registered representatives, offices, and capital.

Standard & Poor’s Security Dealers of North America is a comprehensive guide to brokerage and investment banking firms in the U.S. and Canada. The Directory contains all the facts you need for conveniently locating firms and facilitating transactions. This bi-annual publication includes thoroughly researched listings on over 5,000 main offices and 10,000 branches along with information on key executives and department managers and their addresses, phone/fax numbers and internet and email addresses.

ABA Financial Institutions Directory lists head office and branch listings for all banks, savings institutions, and top credit unions along with names of officers in key departments including finance, loans, operations, and marketing.

Gold Book of Venture Capital Firms is a comprehensive directory of venture capital firms arranged by geographic location with indexes by industry, stage of funding, key principals, and a listing of firms in alphabetical order. Each listing contains key statistics such as a sampling of portfolio companies, amount of capital invested, preferred investment size and industries served.

Careers in Public Accounting: A Comprehensive Comparison of the Top Tier Firms compares “top tier” firms, including profiles and various articles covering current events and trends that might impact the industry and employment within the industry.

Author, Barbara Safani

Barbara Safani

Barbara has been a career coach since 2002 and has her own business in addition to partnering with Blue Sky. Prior jobs included HR Manager for American Express, and ‘copy boy’ for Tom Brokaw’s NBC news show. She’s won 5 awards and her work has appeared in many books. She’s also a published author. Barbara’s favorite thing about her work is helping to build her clients’ confidence. Having two teenagers limits her free time but she loves to run in Central Park when she can.

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