Get Job Application Feedback Online

Some job search engines offer features that give feedback to job applicants who use their online services to apply for jobs. This offers you the opportunity to see how you compare to other applicants who use those services. It won’t help you learn anything about people who don’t go through the same service. Still, this could net some valuable information. Just keep in mind that you need to use these services judiciously and correctly. Read the article linked to this post for more details and good tips.

Online job searches are best done with an organized plan and with resumes customized for the job and set up specifically for electronic processing. Using appropriate key words and a bit of SEO work can help your resume make it to the top of the pile too. Don’t overdo it, but don’t try to use a one-size-fits-all form either. If you need help, it’s worth a few dollars to get it done right. There’s a reason job coaching and resume services stay in business. It’s gotten much more complicated due to all of the automation.

People with higher-level technical and executive searches, who want to manage their own search, can still benefit from having someone help with the writing and planning and tracking.  The new features on Career Builder and Monster may, or may not, be of benefit. It depends on the industry and type of search. Today, electronic searches are waged all the way up the line. Networking is great, but a good search can find unexpected opportunities too. The people I talk to tend to use both.

Is your resume out of date?

Resume styles change, just like technology and educational requirements. In a job market where hundreds of people apply for every opportunity, you want to look your very best. Here are five tips to help your resume get to the top of the stack.

Most people have an email address, which should be included with the address and phone number. That said, the email address needs to be professional and use your name. Try not to get msmith4985. Try other combinations of your name and initials. Definitely do not use crazymary@whatever.com.

Many people are also on LinkedIn and have professional profiles and recommendations on other sites too. This type of website address may be included if you are a professional. There are several reason to not include it too, but you can be quite sure most employers check social media and find it anyway.  It may be wise to fine-tune your social media sites before embarking on a job search.

On the other hand, if you have a Facebook or MySpace personal website, don’t put it on your resume. If it’s got some really “interesting” information, you can try to clean it up. Just be aware that many things don’t go away and can be found in online searches. Over sixty-percent of employers check social media sites when hiring and admit to being influenced by what they find. You may not like it, but that’s what happens. You decide what’s more important, total freedom on social media or a paycheck.

Every resume should be tailored for a specific position. The changes may be minor, but the resume must fit the job. Don’t let canned job titles and incorrect terminology for the industry get your resume discarded.

Sell yourself with a professional summary, not an objective. Today, companies want to know what you can do for them. They have no interest in hearing what you want.

Make achievements stand out. Use bullet points, active verbs, and results to describe your experience. Be specific about achievements, such as “improved sales of widgets 25% in 2009.”  Every job has something that can be quantified. Think about what was on your last review. How is your job performance rated? A secretary might say “improved production 20% by reorganizing the file system.”

Keep your resume easy to read. Don’t try to cram twenty years of experience into a single page resume. You can’t do it. On the other hand, don’t stretch a year of experience out beyond reason. Old guidelines say keep it to one page. That won’t always work for long careers and technical/professional resumes, but that’s not a license to write a book. An easy-to-read, well-organized resume is the top priority now. Avoid lengthy paragraphs of text that take a lot of time to read. Recruiters and managers are unlikely to spend the time. You have about 90 seconds to get their attention. Scary, isn’t it?

What is a master resume?

Do you know what I mean when I say you need a master resume? I mean you need one solid document that spells out every detail of your career life from day one. It should include the dates of employment, names and addresses of employers, job descriptions, college jobs and job gaps, salary history, promotions, key words, key accomplishments, training, several close coworkers names and contact information (personal, as well as business, because people change jobs), supervisors names and contact information, your personal addresses, and even why you left that job. You may even want to include a statement that you develop to put a good spin on a job that had a questionable ending. This document is for you and only you.

I’m sure you now wonder why your basic resume isn’t good enough. One reason is that your career will span decades. You won’t remember the details twenty years in the future. Now, I can hear some of you saying that everyone knows you drop jobs that go back more than ten years off of the resume. That is often true for job hunting. However, it won’t help you when you need to track down a retirement account after the company name changed three times. Worse yet, you may have moved and forgotten to notify them. It also won’t help you when you get an offer for a government job that requires a background check that may go back many, many years. These projects require accurate details right down to zip codes, neighbor’s names, and phone numbers. No one knows they need this information until they need it.

A much more important reason is to make targeted resumes and interviews stronger. A master resume makes it easy to have several well focused resumes prepared. These can be modified quickly to personalize the response to each opportunity. The master also documents useful details to make your cover letter stand out. It’s easy to prepare for interviews and answer those tough stress questions when you have accurate information to offer. In addition, you create a long term networking and reference tool too.

My way of doing this is to create the master document and format it. Then, I can save it several times as a new document and strip the unnecessary information, along with adding specific details for multiple targeted job searches (such as a resume for a management position and a resume for a lead technical position). Be careful doing this! It’s critical not to leave in the wrong information. You won’t get a job by telling the employer how you reworded the reason you left a job where you hated the boss.

If you just need a little help, I have special discounts for quick reviews and tips. I also offer a full set of services, including resume(s), cover letter(s), interview preparation, and job search set-up, monitoring, and strategies.