The Art of Tailoring Your Resume

The Art of Tailoring Your Resume

If you’re anything like I was when I first started my job search, you printed off a stack of resumes and merrily set to work, dropping them off at places you’d like to work until your supply was all gone. You made everything vague enough to make sense pretty much everywhere you applied, and figured that was good enough.


A vague resume will not get you a job

By now, you may or may not have figured out that it is indeed not enough. Your days of sending off bunches of generic resumes to whatever job postings you see online or in your neighborhood are over.


Tailor to fit

If you’re serious about getting a job – from McDonalds to lion taming to high end sales – it is your responsibility to tailor your resume for each place you apply instead of sending out a one-size-fits-all. Include work experience most relevant to each place uniquely, change your mission statement, write a cover letter explaining more deeply why you believe your presence would benefit them. Your potential employer goes through a lot of resumes – it’s kind of insulting if you were too lazy to make reading yours worth their time.


So just put in the effort – apply in a more quality way to less places, and we can pretty much guarantee you’ll get a lot more callbacks & interviews.


Ensure Your Resume Highlights Your Skills

Ensure Your Resume Highlights Your Skills

Your resume is an at-a-glace document that highlights your work history and accomplishments. As you detail those accomplishments it’s important to remember to also highlight the skills you’ve acquired along the way.


Some skills are specific to each job or industry. Others are applicable across the board. To make yourself irresistible to employers you want your resume to highlight both. Here are some of the skills employers consider beneficial regardless of the specific job.


Planning and organization

Whether you work on your own doing administrative tasks, are out in the field talking to a variety of people, or are in charge of a group of people, planning skills are essential. Employers want to know that you have the ability to prioritize your undertakings and budget your time appropriately. An organized person who is adept at managing their time will invariably do what they say they are going to do, during the time frame they specified. They’ve figured out how to break long term goals into achievable short term accomplishments.



Communication skills are the bedrock of just about any position. It’s imperative that you understand what is being asked of you and in turn, have the ability to make yourself understood easily and fluidly. Your resume should highlight the ways you excel at communication at all three levels, listening, verbal and written.


Problem solving

Once you’re hired an employer will want to feel confident that you have your job thoroughly under control. Your resume should demonstrate your ability to take initiative to come up with creative solutions to problems as they occur. Demonstrate some you were able to make a difference in your previous position. How you improved systems or work flow or how your efforts saved the organization time or money.

Accelerate the Hiring Process

Accelerate the Hiring Process

The job hunting process can sometimes go on and on and on, but there are some things you can do to put some gas in that engine.


Remember one size does not fit all

If you’ve been on the job hunt for a while you might be tempted to just send out the same cover letter to every position that seems like a possible opportunity. Creating different cover letters doesn’t mean just changing the name of the company. It means researching the company you’re applying to and including specific information about them, and you and them in the cover letter. It means highlighting specific experiences you bring to THIS position. One size actually fits no one well!


The same thing goes for your resume. Tailor your experiences to what best match the job you are after. You might want to change the order of your information to best grab the attention of the hiring manager for each job you are applying for.


Don’t just throw everything against the wall and see what sticks

Speaking of applying to everything that could possibly be an opportunity – don’t. If you are not suited to the job it’s a waste of your time and the interviewer’s for you to put in an application. Do your homework find jobs that suit your skills, experiences and aspirations and focus your precious energies on those.


Don’t forget your keys

As you know, there’s a lot of competition for jobs. Hiring managers read all kinds of resumes for every posting they put out there. By using key words you’ll ensure your resume and cover letter get more than a passing glance. To do this, look at what they wrote in the job description, then reflect their phrasing and words right back at them.


Look beyond your resume

Of course, you are going to update your resume with all your current experiences and qualifications. But that’s not the beginning and end of what a potential employer might see. They might check out what you’ve got on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook. If you have a website, they will likely look at what you’ve got posted there. Make sure your online presence is as up to date as your resume!

The Positives of A Gap On Your Resume

The Positives of A Gap On Your Resume

You will often hear that having an employment gap on your resume is bad news. It raises red flags about your ambition and your dedication to your work.

The fact is there are lots of reasons for an employment gap. Maybe you decided to take time off to travel or to go back to school. Maybe you were busy taking care of a loved one. Rather than thinking of the negative aspects of a career gap, think about the ways you can talk about it positively.

Learned new things in an nontraditional way

Let’s say you did take the time to travel. Even if you spent all your time exploring the nooks and crannies of new cities without a thought about career or professional development, you still learned new things. Talk about personal growth. Talk about learning to think on your feet. The communication skills you built talking to people from all over the world. The new perceptions you bring to life and work in this country. Frame the experience as an opportunity for personal growth.

Learned new things in a more traditional fashion

If you decided to take time off work to go back to school that’s a total plus. You realized the fast track to getting ahead is improved qualifications. You are now far more prepared for the changing employment market and bring brand new skills and determination to your new job.

Whether you took courses specifically to increase your skill set and employability or out of personal interest, the take away is you are invested in improving yourself. Talk about what your new skills/outlook bring to the job at hand. How you can’t wait to put what you’ve learned to practice.

The importance of priorities

Maybe you had to take time off to care for a loved one or yourself. Sometimes life chooses our priorities for us. When it comes times to talk about that gap during the interview quickly explain it the way and go to the positives. This is what happened. The most important thing for me during that time was X. That’s behind me now and I’m ready to focus on my career.

Jobs You’d Rather Forget

Jobs You'd Rather Forget

A resume is a constantly evolving thing. Always being added to and subtracted from as you switch jobs, take courses, attend conferences. In general, we add the newest jobs and experiences we’ve had to our resumes and when there’s no more room, condense or remove the less significant ones altogether.

Swept under the carpet

But sometimes you come to a job you really hated and the feeling is on the mutual side. Your first instinct might be to simply try to forget that job ever happened and put it behind you. However, if you do that, there may be a significant gap on your resume. One way or another you will probably need to talk about it in your next interview.

Relevant or not relevant?

Sometimes the decision is made easy by the degree to which the job was relevant to your career. For instance, if the job you hated was in the service industry, but you plan on making a career in sales, you can just leave it off and simply say why at the interview (without ever saying anything negative about your previous employer).

However, if the job is directly related to what you’re applying for now, you have to choose. Either leave it off and hope the gap isn’t a big deal or leave it on and hope no one contacts them. In the article, Can You Leave a Really Bad Employer off Your Resume from Chron they suggest the best course of action is to actually include the job, but not use the employer as a reference.

Find positives in the experience

Did you learn any new skills during your time there? Did you have any new responsibilities? Find something positive to say about it during your interview and finish off by saying it was no longer a good fit. Don’t give in to the temptation to say something negative about a former employer. It will only serve to put you in a negative light with your prospective new one.  Focus on your achievements and your potential and that’s what the interviewer will focus on too!

Resume To Get You Started In The Job Market

Resume To Get You Started In The Job Market

If you’re just getting started on the job hunt, you’re going to need a resume. There’s a lot of information out there about what your resume should and shouldn’t be. But what about the basics? If you’re new to resume writing, this quick resume for beginners guide will give you everything you need to know to create a great one.

Resume Sections for Beginners

Every resume is different. There’s no single way to make your resume look. There are, however, a couple things every resume should have.

What to Include in Your Resume

  1. Contact Information: Have your name, phone number, email and home address at the top. Make your name stand out by using a larger font or using bold type.
  2. Profile: Include a little bit about yourself and why you’re right for the position. This section should be about 3 or 4 sentences.
  3. Skills: This section should be considered optional as you can include skills a little later in your resume. If you do have a skills section, use bullet points and make sure to address the skills required in the job posting.
  4. Past Experience: List your past jobs. In the first line include your position, the company name and the dates you started and finished. If you’re still working there, you can put: Start date to current (ex. March 2013 – Current). Underneath this write a couple of sentences about what you did here. This is the other area you can include specific skills.
  5. Education: Like the Past Experience section, your education section should have a title. This title should include the institution’s name, its city and your graduation date. If you haven’t graduated yet, put the date you expect to graduate. Under this title, add your specific area of study.

Writing for Beginners

Now that you know the different sections of a resume, you’ll want to start writing it. Not everyone finds it easy to talk about themselves in the way a resume requires, but selling your best attributes is a key part of the resume. When talking about yourself, the career website The Ladders suggests to avoid the following words:

  • Highly qualified
  • Results focused
  • Has talent for
  • Energetic
  • Confident
  • Professional
  • Successfully

These are overused terms that tend to lose the employers attention. The hiring manager is only spending a couple moments looking at your resume, so you don’t want them to gloss over anything. Focus instead on terms like:

  • Achieved
  • Resolved
  • Improved
  • Influenced
  • Created
  • Managed

No matter what terms you use on a resume, the best thing you can do is back up the terms with evidence of what you achieved, resolved or managed. Use specific examples if you can, while keeping things brief.

Resume for Beginners: Rumors

You may have heard any number of rumors about what resumes are and aren’t supposed to be. One of the most common rumors is that a resume can’t be longer than a single page. There’s some truth to this rumor, but it’s more like a rule of thumb. Most employers spend as little as two minutes looking at your resume, so having all your information on a single page makes it easier for the employer to look it over.

Another suggestion is that you can have a page for every 10 years of work. Chances are if you’re new to resume writing you’re not there yet. Our advice is to stick to the single page to make sure your resume gets looked at.

Rumor number two is that your resume needs to be creative and cool to get noticed. This really depends on the job and industry you are applying to. If the industry is a creative one, like advertising or design, having a creative looking resume can be a showcase your skills. For other industries, overly creative resumes can distract from what their really trying to see, you!

Choosing The Perfect Words For A Standout Resume

Choosing The Perfect Words For A Standout Resume


Passionate. Managed. Team player. You’ve heard these words before, and you’ve probably used them on your resume. They’re not bad words, but there is one problem with them. Everyone uses them. If you want to create a standout resume, you’re going to need to do better than just using the same, uncreative words that everyone else uses. This doesn’t mean you should go reaching for a Thesaurus to find the longest words. You still need your resume to be clear and to sound like you wrote it.


The trick then, is finding the right words for your resume. Creative words that clearly explain who you are and what you did in your past work experiences.

Words to Avoid

Words that are generic, common and don’t actually say much of anything are to be avoided at all costs. Words like go-getter, hard worker, proactive don’t say anything interesting about you. Of course you’re a hard worker. No one is writing “average worker” on their resume.

The Right Words

There is no shortage of lists filled with words you can use for your standout resume. You can find some here, here, and here. You don’t need to use words that sound smart, or ones that you’ve never heard before. You do need to find the word that best describes what you did in your role. Rather than writing that you “were responsible for” something, clarify whether you implemented it, formalized it, executed it or pioneered it.


Using the right words on your resume, and in your cover letter, will give the hiring manager a clearer idea of what you specifically did in your various roles. This will help them get to know you and your abilities, and put your standout resume at the top of their list.


Never Written A Cover Letter Before?

Never Written A Cover Letter Before?

When you first start looking for a job, one of the top things on your To Do list should be to write a cover letter. Some job seekers might think the cover letter is a formality that you add to your resume. They couldn’t be more wrong. Cover letters are the personal introduction to your resume’s more formal application. Hiring managers will go through the cover letter first before even looking at your resume. Here is our guide to the cover letter for beginners.

First Things First

Before we get going, there are a couple quick tips to keep in mind. says: “Keep it short. I started putting word limits on cover letters because I couldn’t stand, nor did I have the time to read, the especially long letters I’d receive.”

Another thing to keep in mind is writing in a personable tone. The cover letter is a chance for you to bring out a little bit of your personality. Keep things professional, but don’t be afraid to let some of you shine through.

Addressing the Letter

Beginners often start their cover letters with “To Whom It May Concern’. Always try your hardest to find the name of the person in charge of hiring. If a job is posted on LinkedIn you will be able to see the name of the person who posted the job. If a job posting doesn’t give you a name, call the company, mention that you’re applying for the job and ask if there is someone you can address your cover letter to.

Starting your cover letter off with “To Whom It May Concern” or “Dear Hiring Manager” isn’t going to get your cover letter thrown out, but having the right person’s name there gets you off on the right foot.

First Paragraph

Introduce yourself, note the position you’re applying for and give a reason or two why you want this specific job. Note something specific about the company, the way they do business or someone you know working there. Demonstrate that you’ve researched the company and the position you want.

Second Paragraph

This is the meat and potatoes of your cover letter. In this paragraph you want to talk about you, what you’ve done and what you can bring to the company. Focus on what the job posting mentioned as key responsibilities and qualifications needed for the position. Mention successes you were a part of in your last job. You want the person reading your cover letter to come away thinking, “this person is perfect for the job”.

Final Paragraph

This is where you wrap it all up. Reiterate the fact that the skills you have are a perfect match for the awesome company you’re applying to.

Finally make sure you let the hiring manager know what the next step is. A lot of job postings say that they will contact you. In this case, make sure you include something along the lines of “I look forward to hearing from you.”

If it is not expressly stated that you will receive a call, we suggest something like “I will follow up with you in a week’s time.” This lets the hiring manager know exactly what to expect.

The Cover Letter for Beginners

You’ve now got a great cover letter to go along with your resume. Writing from scratch can be tough though. offers a great example of a cover letter.

Avoid These Interview Pitfalls

Avoid These Interview Pitfalls

After all your hard work perfecting your resume and writing an on the mark cover letter the last thing you want to do is bungle the interview.  Here are ten common interview pitfalls. Be aware of them and you won’t fall in!

Not Dressing the part

Remember you are making a strong impression on your interviewer before a single word comes out of your mouth. Even if the job or workplace is on the casual side that doesn’t mean you come into the interview wearing jeans and a sweatshirt.  Come in looking like a professional. Whether the interview is formal or casual, here are a few tips from the balance careers


Coming late

Plan your route the day before your interview and check expected traffic conditions the morning of so you can plan to arrive fifteen minutes early.  That way if there are any unforeseen problems you’ve given yourself some buffer time. If something does come up that makes it impossible for you to arrive on time get in touch with someone at the location and let them know.


Forgetting your phone is the enemy

As soon as you arrive at the interview turn your phone off. If it rings, if you play with it, if you are distracted by it, you are letting the interviewer know exactly where your priorities lie.


Ignoring your homework

Prior to the interview you should have researched the company in detail, read their website, perused all their social media sites. Have a fact or statistic about the company in your pocket to bring out when the opportunity arises.


Being dishonest

Ignore the impulse to embellish your skills and experiences. First off, honesty is always the best policy. Second if you are not caught in the lie during the interview (a few probing questions is all it will take) it will come back to haunt you should you get the job.


Failing to listen

No matter how nervous or distracted you may feel, it imperative you give the interviewer your full attention. You do not want them to have to repeat what they’re saying.


Jumping ahead

There is a time to talk about benefits and salary, but that is not at the beginning or  middle of the interview


Not tooting your own horn

You don’t want to sound overly confident in an interview (or appear overly nervous) but you do want to convey your strong attributes. Be able to explain how your experiences and strengths will benefit the company. Make sure they understand you believe yourself the best person for this job and why before you leave the interview.


An inability to answer standard interview questions

Tell me about yourself. Where do you see yourself in five years? What are your greatest strengths/weaknesses? There are standard questions you will hear at every interview. Be prepared to answer them. Here’s a list of the 27 most common interview questions and answers from Inc.


Not asking for the job

Of course you want the job, you came to the interview dressed for success and prepared with all the right answers but the last thing you need to do is ask for it. That doesn’t mean ending with, Will you please give me this job? Rather summarize your discussion, ask if there’s anything else they need, and express your interest in the position again. Here are ten examples from US News