Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Do Resumes Need to Include Months of Employment?

As a resume writer, I was always taught that resumes did not need to include months of employment, years alone were sufficient.

Nevertheless, recently, more and more companies and recruiters have begun demanding use of months claiming that by not using them, applicants are either "lying" or "hiding something." I spoke to a hiring manager recently who said, "I want to be aware of any possible gaps in employment."

This comment struck me as odd, so I questioned her some more on it. "OK, so you find out the candidate was out of work for two or three months in 2000. What does that do for you?"

Her answer: "I drop them from consideration."

I have to admit that I was stunned by that. As a former hiring manager, I cannot recall a time when I used a two-month gap in employment against someone, particularly someone who was otherwise qualified to work for me.

In fact, my thinking on that has always been, "but for the grace of God, go I." Who knows when that could have been me?

Let's face it. You could have numerous reasons for having employment gaps of less than a year. Health reasons, either because of you or a family member being one of them. Now who wants to put that on their resume "I was out of work because I had a major medical issue" or because "my spouse was sick."

So I responded to my hiring manager friend, "what if the candidate explained the job gap on the resume? For instance, they put something like "laid off from Jan. to Mar. 2000" or "medical sabbatical." Would that make a difference?"

Her answer: "Probably not."

My reply: "No wonder people lie on their resumes then."

In another scenario, I was having a conversation with a recruiter who was bemoaning the lack of months on most candidates' resumes. In this case, my recruiter friend made an interesting point: "If they leave off months, then a candidate can easily make one year look like two."

He then gave me a scenario:

XYZ Company: 2006-Present (but with months: Mar. 2006-Present)
ABC Company: 2004-2006 (but with months: Dec. 2004-Mar. 2006)
LMN Company: 2002-2004 (but with months: Jan. 2002-Nov. 2004)

His point was that if you look at the ABC Company listing, without the years, it looks like the candidate worked there 2 years when in fact it was only 16 months.

Again, my reply: "OK, so it was 16 months instead of 24. Otherwise, the client has had a steady work history. What difference does it make to the employer to know this? I mean, can't you find this all out when you ask the candidate to fill out a more extensive job application?"

His answer: "We want to know what people are hiding."

My reply: "I'm confused. What is this client hiding exactly?"

His answer: "Eight months of employment at ABC Company."

My reply: "So what difference does that make in evaluating this candidate to determine whether you want to interview him or her?"

It seems to me we have all forgotten the main intent of the resume: to review a candidate's background and decide whether you would like to move forward. After all, if a candidate is well qualified and seems to meet your needs but you are concerned about the actual dates of employment for some reason, isn't that something you could just...ask?

Maybe it is just me, but I am having a hard time understanding how the lack of months is the great differentiator. In the case of my recruiter's candidate, adding dates would not be a big deal. (Unless, of course, you see that "gap" from Nov. 2004 to Dec. 2004, and you just need to know how many days elapsed in there!). But in the previous case with my hiring manager, if a candidate showed a two-month gap, he or she wasn't even up for consideration! So what is a job seeker in this situation to do?

It seems reasonable to me that applicants should have some room for providing their background in the best light without being accused of "lying" or "hiding something." They should also not be stuck in a position where they feel they have to divulge personal information like an illness or family issue in the hopes that a hiring manager will be OK with that explanation.

I recognize that hiring managers/recruiters and the like are tired of uncovering lies later on in the process after a candidate is hired, but there has to be some room for middle ground.
So who am I anyway? Why do I think my advice is so valuable?

My name is Stephen Van Vreede. My company is called No Stone Unturned, and I have spent 15 years on both sides of the corporate hiring experience.

The short story is that I have an MBA in Marketing from Villanova University and a dual B.S. degree in Finance & Logistics from the University of Maryland. I am a certified professional résumé writer (CPRW) and a member of the Professional Association of Résumé Writers and Career Coaches (PARW/CC). As I mentioned, I paid my dues in the corporate world eventually running a large-scale call center for a major truck rental company, and I have spent the past 7 years with No Stone Unturned, assisting job seekers in achieving their goals.

In February 2009, I launched a new group job hunting networking site: It is absolutely FREE to join, and you have access to everything on the site. Come check it out at NoddlePlace. You can also follow me on Twitter.

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Resumes - Secrets of the Career Summary - Is it Mandatory?

A Career Summary is not mandatory. However, there are times when it will give you a tremendous advantage over the competition.


The purpose of this section is to make your key qualifications instantly recognizable, and stand out in the mind of employers. When you have Relevant, Obvious, Specific, and Exceptional qualifications sprinkled throughout your job history, the summary gives you an opportunity to collect them all into one place -- right at the top of your resume. Employers will find them faster, which is super important, and they will pack more punch because they will be seen as a collection, rather than a number of scattered, individual items.


If you don't include this section, employers will base their decision to interview you almost entirely on your most recent experience. That's because the stuff at the top of the first page of your resume gets the most attention. If you have only worked at one job, the Career Summary is not needed, and may in fact be redundant and work against you.


The easiest and most powerful approach is to customize the summary for the position. Write and format the rest of your resume without a Career Summary, and leave a gap between your contact information and your job experience, about 1/3 of the page. When you come across a position that you want to apply for, fill the space with bullet points that match your experience with the job requirements.

For example, if they need:
  • 3 to 5 years of experience in accounting
  • Able to do administrative tasks
  • Must multi-task

You create bullet points like these:
  • 3+ years of experience in accounting
  • Adept at administrative tasks including: phones, calendar, meetings, coordinating events
  • Multi-tasks strategic objectives with tactical issues

Ready to learn more about how to get more interviews for each resume you send out?

Download my FREE 12-page report, "Anatomy of a Perfect Resume," at so you can learn:

The 4 most common deadly mistakes that people make and how to fix them!
How to create the perfect Career Objective & Career Summary sections
How to maximize your resume so you're the candidate your next boss wants to meet!

Scott Shane Holt has seen it all while hiring over 100 people, in good times and bad, and as an executive coach helping managers and other professionals accelerate their careers.

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Saturday, April 4, 2009

Revising Your Resume

Writing a resume is a way for you to showcase yourself to a company that you are applying to work for. Because your experiences and skills are most likely changing on a regular basis it is a good idea to update your resume on a quite regular basis.

Resumes should be easy to read and easy to navigate. The more current you make your document, the more a potential employer will be able to see exactly what they need to know about you.

When thinking in terms of the look of your resume, you should make sure that the font, style and format is simple, but at the same time catches the eye. An employer who is going through a stack of resumes is going to be more inclined to read the one that is aesthetically appealing and that draws the eye towards the most important features. Your name should be one of the main focal points of your resume.

Putting your name in a font that catches the eye and stands out will ensure that the employer will remember it. You should also tie the font of your name in with other main objectives of your document. An element of style that repeats itself almost guarantees that it will be focused on, and thus remembered. Also remember though that this does not mean to use fonts that are outlandish, keep them professional and simple, yet appealing.

The header should consist of your full name and contact information, including email address, home address and telephone number. Making sure that this part of your header is very visible will ensure that you are remembered.

The next thing that you should worry about is your objective statement. The statement usually falls at the beginning of the document and gives a quick sentence synopsis of what type of individual you are and what type of position you are seeking. When updating a resume you should always try to change your objective statement. You aren't always going to want the same thing so you should put exactly what you are looking for in this statement.

One of the best things to remember when updating your resume is how to format your employment history. Many job-seekers think that they should have their jobs listed in order of most current to least current under experience, this is incorrect. The way that jobs should be listed, in the experience and job-history section, is from most relevant to least relevant.

If you are applying for a job at a marketing agency as a marketing agent of some sort and your last job was working as a dog walker, you may not want to list that first. When an employer is looking at your employment history you want the very first thing that they see in this category to be work that has prepared you for the job that you are applying for, and each job after that should be put in that order of relevancy. If you have some jobs that aren't relevant at all, it is sometimes ok to just leave those off of the document completely. Remember, no employer wants to see clutter.

Some other details to keep in mind are to list your skills and training that can help you with the position you are applying for and to try to keep your resume to one page. If an employer is only looking at your document for less than a few seconds, you want them to be able to soak in all the information that their eye can catch; hence why it should stick to one page, if possible.

Kathleen Whitlow is a copywriter and marketing agent of The Charis Group. The executive recruiting agency provides executive headhunter services throughout the nation. For more information on their Executive Recruiting Agency please visit their website.

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How to Do a Resume in Simple Steps

When writing a resume, the ultimate goal is to get the job. This is actually wrong; the real objective is to get the interview, because this is the venue that will enable you to present and show your true skills and abilities. Let's see how to do a resume in simple steps:

- First of all you need to organize the content. Make a list of the jobs you previously had and write down the dates. It is important to show that you are well organized, so avoid sloppy work. Do not leave anything out, because nowadays employers like seeing how experienced their potential employees are.

- Include awards, degrees and skills, or anything that could be impressive and gripping.

- Organize the lists by category, avoiding unnecessary details. Keep to facts.

- Try to tailor your resume to the particular position. Try to see what the most significant part for this job is; if the employer considers educational background more important, try to focus on that; if professional experience is more crucial try to focus on denoting your prior experience. Include details that show what your role has been in the previous companies and job positions and do not omit any awards or acclaims you got due to great performance.

- State your objective; keep it to the point and use small and simple sentences, customizing it to the position as much as possible.

- Mind the format. Keep clean lines and make your resume readable. Keep in mind that your resume is the first impression you create. You don't want it to be the last, therefore you need to make it gripping and interesting.

- Be concise and precise. Avoid spelling or grammar mistakes and anything that might create the impression that you are a careless and disorganized person.

To get more help on how to do a resume just click here

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Sunday, March 29, 2009

Resumes - Best Objective Statement and Summary Section to Get the Interview

Remember, there are no hard and fast rules about what needs to be in your resume, or what format you should use. Whatever gets the employer to call you for an interview, is great.


The best time to use an objective statement is when you're switching job functions and/or industries. Without an objective statement, employers expect that you are applying for the same job as your current job, and that you are looking in the same industry. So for example, if you last worked in the construction industry as an accountant, and you're applying for an accountant position at a college, employers get really confused and throw your resume away.

The same thing can happen if your last job was working as a business analyst in the financial services industry, and you're applying for a project manager position, in financial services. These jobs are often very similar, but again, hiring managers are looking for the easiest decision, and may just throw your resume away.

In either case, the best thing to do is "hook" the manager by letting them know exactly what you're looking for, AND telling them about your best qualification:

Objective: A _________ position in the _________ industry, using my _________ skills

This statements works really, really well because it only takes 1 or 2 seconds for employers to see why they should hire you, and practically forces them to read the rest of your resume.


A really good, well written, summary section allows you to be considered for the job, based on the strength of your entire career. Without it, employers will base their decision solely on your last position. So, if you have worked at more than one job, and your previous experience is valuable and relevant to your target position, then you need to use a summary section.

A summary section is really valuable when you want a job like the one you had two or three jobs ago. Imagine that you worked in computer support, later as a software tester, and now you're a computer programmer. You decide that you hate being a programmer, and you loved being a software tester. You can use your summary section to "position yourself" as a tester with some development skills, which is always in high demand.

Ready to learn more about how to get more interviews for each resume you send out?

Download my FREE 12-page report, "Anatomy of a Perfect Resume," at so you can learn:

The 4 most common deadly mistakes that people make and how to fix them!

How to create the perfect Career Objective & Career Summary sections

How to maximize your resume so you're the candidate your next boss wants to meet!

Scott Shane Holt has seen it all while hiring over 100 people, in good times and bad, and as an executive coach helping managers and other professionals accelerate their careers.

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What Are Unique Resumes?

Do you think that unique resumes are ones that are written on colorful paper and use wild fonts? If so, you are in for a rude awakening when you go out into the job market. While employers want to seek out someone who will think outside the box, so to speak, they are always looking for someone who presents themselves in a professional manner. You will not be doing this if you send out a resume that is written on pink paper and uses a fanciful font. In fact, this will be detrimental to your quest for employment.

The same concept applies for cover letters. Do you think that you can send a resume out without a letter of inquiry to go along with it in this market? Not hardly. Employers are receiving hundreds of requests for jobs that they advertise in the paper. Those who have the most unique cover letters are more likely to get their resume or application noticed.

The documents that you send to a prospective employer is the first impression that they have of you. What type of impression do you want to make? Do you want to give them the impression that you are a run of the mill, ordinary person? A flamboyant flake? Or do you want to stand out above the rest with by presenting unique resumes that are both creative as well as professional?

Hopefully, you chose the third option. In order to do this, you are better off to hire a service. A professional service will charge you a few bucks to create your documents for you, but this is a mere investment into your future. If you want to land the job of your dreams, you should be willing to brush up on your appearance. Think of unique resumes created by professional companies as comparable to buying a new suit or shoes for the interview. You want to present yourself in the best possible light that you can, and one that stands apart from others. The way to do this is to hire a professional company that will create for you the documents that you need to stand apart.

Unique resumes and cover letters are those that are creatively inspired but are still professionally crafted and give the reader the impression that you are a serious person and one who should be considered for the job. They are the best way to get yourself noticed for an interview in a very competitive job market.

Julia Regan is an author and consultant for

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10 Tips to an Excellent Cover Letter

We can call a résumé a technical document. A technical document has no scope for errors. What you present in your résumé is correct data. For example let us say that you were born on the 22nd April 1986. That is a fact. That is data verifiable. It is exact. Similarly your education. Only one unique individual such as you has one hundred per cent verifiable data that ties in to you and your records whether they be your parents, your academic grades, sports accomplishments and or any other such.

On the other hand a cover letter while technically speaking may not be a 'technical' document comparable to the résumé that is under reference, it highlights your other skills that may not be finite. That is the reason why we need to be more careful in crafting a cover letter. All errors and mistakes in creating a cover letter straight away contribute to your failure in provoking the HR personnel sending you the call letter.

So let us go through the 10 most common cover letter mistakes and see how you can over come them. These tips come to you from my experience of having poured over thousands of cover letters and résumés.

1. Career Objectives: The first thing you should be doing is to address your cover letter to the job you are applying for. The HR executive is not interested in how that particular position is going to help you progress in your life. S/he is more concerned about what you did, how you are helping the current employer or helped the previous employer. Your cover letter should reflect your genuine interest in the position that you are applying for. Ideally it should also be clear about how long you intend to be with the company should you be invited to join them. Consider the difference between these two real-life examples:

Wrong example: " Though my experience as a Sales Executive is gratifying I am looking at an administrative position in Purchase department to help hone my negotiation skills."

Right example: "This Sales executive position excites me and am sure I would be able to contribute significantly to the turnovers if I am given an opportunity. You may please consider my performance with my current position."

2. Wasted space: Ideally cover letters need not extend beyond four paragraphs. You would be wasting precious white space repeating the obvious - mentioning the position and how you came to know about it and why you are applying,especially when it appeared in the "situations vacant" column. Instead of that it would be better if you just mention the skill sets that you have and how you would be able to add value to the position that you are seeking. A lot of rhetoric would be out of the window and only what matters, in this example is, your people skills and your experience should be highlighted. Mentioning other things that are irrelevant to the current assignment that you are eying only weakens your cover letter.

Wrong example: " This is with reference to the "Situation vacant", advertisement that appeared in today's The Times, pg 4, for the position of a sales executive. I have graduated from the University of Midlands, majoring in Sales Management." The HR executive is aware that you have applied for this position. Besides you have already mentioned it in your résumé. It would be better if you stick to establishing your skill sets as a Sales person and how you helped your current employer reach the set goals.

3. Cover letter templates / forms: There are plenty of sites out there that have a template or a form letter in place. It is like walking into a store and picking up a shirt. A shirt has a collar, two sleeves, a pocket and buttons right across the front to hold it in place. Similar for any letter, you have an address, a subject, an opening paragraph, an introduction and elaborate on it in the next paragraph and then you have a closing. There ends the similarity. The fabric of the shirt is different. The shirt you pick up depends on the occasion you have in mind. So is with the cover letter. The position you seek is different. The employer is unique. So are their expectations from you. You need to tailor your cover letter exactly to the potential employer's needs. You do not pick up a unisex, fit-all shirt. Similarly you do not have a universal cover letter template or a form. Every job is unique. So is every employer . Your cover letter should make it abundantly clear to the HR your commitment and familiarity with the position that you are aspiring to get into. HR can identify a template or a form letter and throw it into the dust bin or move it to the recycle bin.

In a real life situation I had come across a template wherein the applicant had filled in the blanks with a pen. The worst case scenario is that - you are insulting the HR.

4. Do not beg: Never ever pour out your woes into your cover letter and beg for a job. You should always quantify your positive attitude and make a strong pitch about why you think you are more suitable for the position. You should in your cover letter sound more determined and not at all desperate. The HR person should find a lot of optimism and enthusiasm from you towards the position. On the other hand should you pour out your heart about how important this job is to you he or she may be turned off by your desperate plea for employment. However, a fine line often separates the two, so the best advice would be to follow your instincts.
Wrong example: In one of those cover letters there was this plea: " Look I have my mom in the hospital and I need to pay those bills. So please help me with this job." A classic shout from the roof tops," "I AM VERY BADLY IN NEED OF MONEY!"

5. Missing résumé: Check. Once. Check again. Double check. See all the attachments are in place. You have also mentioned in your Post Script that you have enclosed your résumé . But you forgot to staple it. It is very easy to forget to attach file while sending your cover letter through email. This is a fatal mistake. That HR is not going to call you or mail and ask you to send the résumé again. Because there are plenty of others who did it right without committing that grave and fatal oversight.

6. Typing mistakes: You call them typos. It is very easy to make all those typographic errors. But it is also very easy for the HR to discard your cover letter especially when it is full of annoying typing mistakes. You are deliberately playing into his or her hands. You are helping them make a choice that is detrimental to your success.
Here are a few common technical mistakes to watch out for when proofreading your letter:
Checking the spelling of the name of the employer and see that you have it right. Check to get the correct spelling of the hiring individuals name.

Check the address, email, phone numbers again and again and make sure that you got them right.

It is very easy to make the mistake of indicating the name of one organization on the envelope and an other, on the cover letter you are inserting into that envelope, especially when you are applying many at one go. Please proof read and spell check.

7. Corrections: Your cover letter should contain all the relevant information. In case you have forgotten for some reasons to include your contact detail or details like email or your phone number and such things, please do not try to over write or scribble again. My sincere advice to you would be to fill in those details and print it out again. It is considered unprofessional if you try to scribble, fill in with hand or worse still, lazy. Please avoid using a post-it or sticking something to the cover letter. Do not use the correction fluid either. It is always better to retype it and print it again. But before you print it again, proof read it for mistakes and omissions and commissions.

8. Photographs: Until or unless you are specifically asked to send your photograph never volunteer it. They are in the serious business of hiring talent that would complement their own talent pool and not otherwise. So please avoid pinning, stapling or attaching your photographs to either the cover letter or the résumé.

9. Signature: Last but not the least. I have come across any number of cover letters and résumés that do not have the signature of the candidate that is applying for the job. You should append your signature at the close of your cover letter and ideally the résumé too.
10. Stationary: Please avoid stationary that is gaudy and with bright colors. Never use your personal stationary that would send out a signal that you are too casual about your job application. White and ivory color papers are best with black print.

Your signature gives that personal touch to your application. So do it. Sign it before you mail it. Do not use a hand script font and spoil that sense personal touch. Sign it either in black or blue color ink.

Wish you the BEST OF LUCK!
Some more tips:

You could use Arial or Times New Roman font - size 10 pt. Do not use transparent or personal stationary while applying.

Let your cover letter adopt a serious and professional tone.

Research the company you are planning to join. Try to have accurate details. Today there are many avenues that are open to you to find out much about these organizations. However while trying to incorporate such data in your cover letter make sure that it is accurate and authentic.
* 1667 Words

Anil Atluri Web content providerYou can reach me at the DOT achievers AT g DOT mail DOT com

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