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Change Your Resume for a Great 2009 – Part I

Change Your Resume for a Great 2009 – Part I

resume

    2009 will be a time of change.  Included in those changes for many will be a job change.  In tight economic times, job search skills become even more important.  You need to stand out from the crowd.

    There are two ways to stand out.  You will stand out if you do things that make you look ridiculous, and you will stand out by doing things that make you look remarkable.  Ridiculous or remarkable: both cause you to stand out, but one gets you the job and one doesn’t.

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    Naturally then, you hope to be seen as remarkable.  That means you need to create a remarkable resume; remarkable, but not ridiculous.  This three-part series will help you prepare a remarkable resume.

    1. Understand the goal of your resume

    The goal of your resume is simple – to get an interview. Your resume will not get you the job, only the interview.  Remembering that goal will help shape how you write your resume.  You are not trying to get everything across.  You are not trying to tell them every reason they should hire you.  You are trying to get across enough information to get the interview – and that’s all.

    2. Customize your resume for your job target.

    In other words don’t use the same resume for each and every job. Employers can easily tell when you use a blanket resume that is the same for each and every job.  Instead you need to use a resume targeted directly for the job you are aiming for. This may mean completely different resumes for each job. For others it may mean a separate resume for each categories of job; for example one resume for all “cook” positions that you apply for.

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    3. Understand that your resume will only be scanned initially.

    Your resume needs to catch attention quickly.  Just like a newspaper aims to catch your attention with stories “above the fold”, the top half of the first page will make or break you. If you are not careful, your resume could be filled under “G – for garbage” before the potential employer even starts to read it.  Make sure the information on the first half of your resume looks good and instantly shows what you can bring to the employer.

    4. Your resume is an ad.  You must stress the benefits you will bring to the employer.

    Just as in good advertising, your resume must stress the benefits. The places you have worked and things you have studied are your “features”. You need to use your features (experiences) to show how they will allow you to benefit your potential employer.

    5. Focus on the employers needs, not on your own.

    In order to understand the employers needs you need to learn as much as you can about the job you are applying for.  Start with the job posting itself.  This job posting will include a job description and job specifications.  Make sure your resume clearly connects your skills to the job specifications.

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    You can go the extra mile by finding someone who works with your potential employer and talk to them about the needs of the company. Use your personal network to make these kinds of contacts.  Any extra information can be used to further customize your resume to the employers needs.

    6. Ask yourself: “What about me makes me the perfect candidate?”

    Asking yourself this question can help you understand how to present yourself on your resume.  The answer to this question is what you want to get across first.  The better you know the employer, the better you will be able to know why you are the perfect candidate for that job.

    7. Put name and full contact information first

    Perhaps it is obvious, but the first thing you need to put on your resume, at the very top, is your name and full contact information.  It is amazing how many resumes have very little, or even incomplete, contact information.  You want to be prepared for any way that the potential employer may want to contact you – remember your goal is simply to get the interview.  Include your mailing address, phone numbers, and email address.

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    8. Use a professional email address and voice mail service.

    Be sure your email address is professional looking. Ideally use an email address that includes your name.  It is amazing how many resumes use an email address that includes a nickname as their contact information.  Email addresses such as “skiergirl” or “skaterboy” or even “successguru” don’t sound professional to someone making hiring decisions.

    Also, ensure that any voice mail service you use on these phone numbers includes a professional greeting.  And don’t use a phone number where someone else will be taking messages for you.  Be sure that either you will answer the phone, or it will go to voice mail.  You don’t want to risk someone missing the message or sending across the wrong signal to a potential employer.

    9. Lead with a summary paragraph.

    Following your name and contact information you want to lead with a summary paragraph.  The summary paragraph is where you should present some of the key benefits that will show the employer why you are the perfect candidate for the job. This paragraph should only be about three or four lines long and should be in a formal third-person tone.

    10. Know the 3 Types of Resumes.

    There are three general types of resumes.  The first is chronological.  A chronological resume presents your work and educational experience in chronological order with the most recent first.  A second type is a functional resume which groups your experience based on job categories.  Finally you can use a combined style.  A combined style generally uses functions as the overarching pattern, but follows a clear chronological order within the functions.  For most people with a variety of work experiences, the combined approach will be the best. It will provide the most opportunity to customize your resume for your employer.

    Hopefully these ten points will help you get started on writing a remarkable resume that will help you get the interview you desire.  Part II will continue to help you with what to include on your resume and where to put it.

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    Last Updated on January 15, 2021

    7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

    7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

    The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

    Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

    Posture

    First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

    • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
    • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
    • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
    • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

    All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

    Facial Expressions

    Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

    • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
    • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
    • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

    If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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    1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

    A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

    The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

    This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

    2. Relax Your Face

    New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

    The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

    To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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    3. Improve Your Eye Contact

    Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

    The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

    To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

    3. Smile More

    There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

    Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

    4. Hand Gestures

    Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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    It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

    5. Enhance Your Handshake

    In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

    “Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

    It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

    6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

    As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

    Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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    Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

    Final Takeaways

    Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

    If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

    More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

    Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

    Reference

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