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Change Your Resume for a Great 2009 – Part I

Change Your Resume for a Great 2009 – Part I

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    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 April 11, 2019

    How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

    How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

    Possessing strong communication skills will help you in every phase of your life. This is especially true in the workplace.

    I have personally worked with several leaders who were masters of communication. A few were wonderful speakers who could tell a great story and get everyone in the room engaged. Those of us in attendance would walk away feeling inspired and eager to help with what came next. Others were very skilled at sharing a clear direction and job expectations.

    I knew exactly what was expected of me and how to achieve my goals. This was the foundation of an energized and vibrant role I was in. What I have found is strong communication skills are incredibly helpful and sometimes critical in how well we perform at work.

    Here we will take a look at how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

    How Communication Skills Help Your Success

    Strong communication skills pave the way for success in many ways. Let’s look at a few of the big ones.

    Create a Positive Experience

    Here are two examples of how well developed communication skills helps create a positive experience:

    When I first moved to the city I now live in, I began a job search. Prior to my first live interview, I was told an address to go to. Upon arriving at the address provided, I drove around and around attempting to find the location. After 15 minutes of circling and looking for the address, I finally grabbed a parking spot and set out on foot.

    What I discovered was the address was actually down an alley and only had the number over the door. No sign for the actual company. The person that gave me those very unclear directions provided a bad experience for me.

    Had they communicated the directions to get there in a clear manner, my experience would have been much better. Instead the entire experience started off poorly and colored the entire meeting.

    As a recruiter, I frequently provide potential candidates with information about a job I’m speaking to them about. In order to do this, I also provide a picture of the overall company, the group they might be joining, and how their role fits in and impacts the entire company.

    Time and time again I have been told by candidates that I have provided the clearest picture of a company and role they have ever heard. They have a positive experience when I clearly communicate to them. Even when the position does not work out for them, often times they will want to stay in touch with me due to the open communication and beneficial experience they had during the interviewing process.

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    Strong communication skills will provide a positive experience in virtually any interaction you have with someone.

    Help Leadership Skills

    It’s certainly a skill all its own to be able to lead others.

    Being a mentor and guiding others towards success is a major hallmark of great leaders. Another characteristic of effective leaders is the ability to communicate clearly.

    As I referenced above, having a leader who can plainly articulate the company’s mission and direction goes a really long way towards being the Captain of the boat that others want to follow. It’s like saying “here’s our destination and this is how we are going to get there” in a way that everyone can get on board with.

    Another critical component of everyone helping to sail the boat in the right direction is knowing what your portion is all about. How are you helping the boat move towards its destination in the manner than is consistent with the leaders’ vision?

    If you have a boss or a manager that can show you what it takes for not only you to be successful, but also how your performance helps the company’s success then you’ve got a winner. A boss with superior communication skills.

    Build Better Teams

    Most of us work in teams of some sort or another. During the course of my career, I have led teams up to 80 and also been an individual contributor.

    In my individual contributor roles, I have been part of a larger team. Even if you are in business for yourself, you have to interact with others in one manner or another.

    If you have strong communication skills, it helps to build better teams. This is true whether you are in an IT department with 100 other fellow programmers or if you own your own business and have customers or vendors you communicate with.

    When you showcase your robust ability to communicate well with others while interacting with them, you are building a better team.

    Now let’s jump in to how to improve communication skills to help you pave the way for your workplace success.

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    How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

    There are many tips, tricks, and techniques to improve communication skills. I don’t want to overwhelm you with too much information, so let’s focus on the things that will provide the biggest return on your time investment.

    Most of these tips will be fairly easy to become aware of but will take time and effort to implement. So let’s go!

    1. Listen

    Ever heard the saying you have two ears and one mouth for a reason? If you haven’t, then here’s the reason:

    Being a good listener is half the equation to being a good communicator.

    People who have the ability to really listen to someone can then actually answer questions in a meaningful way. If you don’t make the effort to actively listen, then you are really doing yourself and the other person a disservice in the communication department.

    Know that person who is chomping at the bit to open his or her mouth the second you stop talking? Don’t be that person. They haven’t listened to at least 1/2 of what you’ve said. Therefore the words that spill out of their mouth are going to be about 1/2 relevant to what you just said.

    Listen to someone completely and be comfortable with short periods of silence. Work on your listening skills first and foremost.

    2. Know Your Audience

    Knowing your audience is another critical component to having strong communication skills. The way you interact with your manager should be different than how you interact with your kids. This isn’t to say you need to be a different person with everyone you interact with. Far from it.

    Here is a good way to think about it:

    Imagine using your the same choice of words and body language you use with your spouse while interacting with your boss. That puts things in a graphic light!

    You want to ensure you are using the type of communication most relevant to your audience.

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    3. Minimize

    I have lunch with a business associate about 3 times a year. We’ve been talking for several years now about putting a business deal together.

    He is one of those people that simply overwhelms others with a lot of words. Sometimes when I ask him a question, I get buried beneath such an avalanche of words that I’m more confused than when I asked the question. Needless to say this is most likely a large portion of why we never put the deal together.

    Don’t be like my lunch business associate. The goal of talking to or communicating with someone is to share actual information. The goal is not to confuse someone, it’s to provide clarity in many cases.

    State what needs to be stated as succinctly as possible. That doesn’t mean you can’t have some pleasant conversation about the weather too.

    The point is to not create such an onslaught of words and information that the other person walks away more confused than when they started.

    4. Over Communicate

    So this probably sounds completely counter intuitive to what I just wrote about minimizing your communication. It seems like it might be but it’s not.

    What I mean by over communicating is ensuring that the other person understands the important parts of what you are sharing with them. This can be done simply yet effectively. Here’s a good example:

    Most companies have open enrollment for benefits for the employees in the fall. The company I work for has open enrollment from November 1 to 15. The benefits department will send out a communication to all employees around October 1st, letting them know open enrollment is right around the corner and any major changes that year. There’s also a phone number and email for people to contact them with any questions.

    Two weeks later, we all get a follow up email with basically the same information. We get a 3rd communication the week before open enrollment and another one 1 day before it starts.

    Finally we get 2 emails during enrollment reminding us when open enrollment ends.

    There’s minimal information, it’s more of a reminder. This is effective over communication.

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    5. Body Language

    The final critical component to how to improve communication skills for workplace success is body language. This is something most of us have heard about before but, a reminder is probably a good idea.

    When I am in a meeting with someone I am comfortable with, I tend to kind of slouch down in my chair and cross my arms. When I catch myself doing this, I sit up straight and uncross my arms. I remember that crossing arms can many times be interpreted as a sign of disagreement or conflict.

    In general, the best rule of thumb is to work towards having open body language whenever possible at work. This means relaxing your posture, not crossing your arms, and looking people in the eye when speaking with them.

    When you are speaking in front of others, stand up straight and speak in a clear voice. This will convey confidence in your words.

    Conclusion

    Possessing strong communication skills will help you in many facets of your life and most certainly in the workplace.

    Good communication helps create better teams, positive experiences with those we interact with, and are critical for leadership.

    There are numerous tactics and techniques to be used to improve communication skills. Here we’ve reviewed how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

    Now go communicate your way to success.

    More Resources About Effective Communication

    Featured photo credit: HIVAN ARVIZU via unsplash.com

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