Tuesday, April 29, 2008


by Darlene Zambruski, ResumeEdge.com Managing Editor, CPRW, SME

It’s no secret that an increasing number of men have opted to be stay-at-home moms, while even the most energetic career women sometimes have to leave the workforce because of family needs.

Even if years separate you from the last job and the new career goal, there are tricks to turning a potential negative into an asset – it’s just a matter of knowing what to do.

1. Never explain in a resume that you have been unemployed for a number of years.

Opening a resume with a negative immediately places you at a disadvantage to other candidates applying for the same position. Instead, you should focus on your skills and qualifications as they relate to the job opening. That’s really all a hiring manager wants to see.

2. Personal data regarding your hiatus should not be included in the document.

All too often, candidates feel they must be completely up-front in a resume, or somehow explain their absence from the workforce. Therefore, they include comments like: “Being a stay-at-home mom with Johnny was one of the most rewarding periods of my life.” (That may well be, but a hiring manager will wonder if that person will be effective and professional in a business environment.) or “A serious disease and subsequent operation took me out of the work force. However, now I feel quite well and am able to meet all work-related challenges.” (Most hiring managers would worry about hiring a candidate who was so seriously ill, and that person’s effect on the company’s health insurance premiums.)

3. Use a functional format that stresses skills, rather than a reverse-chronological format that stresses an unbroken history of employment.

Think of a resume as a marketing tool with you as the product. Showcase the positive (skills, qualifications, recent education in the chosen field), while downplaying the negative (employment gaps).

4. List any Volunteer work or Community Service that is relevant to your new career goal.

If you have organized numerous charitable functions, raised funds, directed a group of volunteers, or interfaced with the media about community-related events, these are all transferable skills.

5. Showcase only that Education and Training which is current to the career sought.

This is particularly true for someone in Information Technology. IT has changed so rapidly over the years that showcasing coursework or degrees attained even 10 years ago will date your document, and be certain to hurt your candidacy. Instead, current training – as it applies to the new career – should be accentuated.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


by Darlene Zambruski, ResumeEdge.com Managing Editor, CPRW, SME

As recently as five years ago, many trade and vocational positions (eg: auto mechanics, beauticians, plumbers, etc.) did not require that an applicant produce a resume with relevant professional and vocational history. The interested party simply approached the individual in charge of hiring and asked for a job. In today’s tight employment market, with many of the local operations being absorbed by corporate-run chains or franchises, a resume is an absolute must. And like all resumes, the content must be tailored to the appropriate audience and contain relevant candidate skills.

1. For candidates who are High School Graduates

High school vocational classes such as typing, data entry, word processing, auto mechanics, and the like should be stressed on the resume, in particular if there is no accompanying professional experience. A detailed listing of the coursework can be provided, and if the final grade was stellar, this should also be included. In many positions open to high school graduates, hiring managers want to know about expertise in computer software (Word and Excel lead the list) or speed with 10-key.

Additionally, if a candidate has excelled in English or math during high school, this should clearly be stated in the resume as these skills are required for administrative assistants and in other entry-level positions. The key is to match the employer-listed qualifications (math skills, writing skills) to what was learned in high school.

2. Trade School Graduates

If the trade school attended is a leader in the field and recognized for producing outstanding graduates, then the name of the school should be stated in the Qualifications Summary (eg: Recent graduate of the Bates-Fowler Beauty School in Hollywood, California. . .). This provides immediate and relevant information to the hiring manager, while substantially enhancing an applicant’s candidacy.

Next, a listing of all relevant certifications and coursework (with hours completed) should be provided. If the candidate was a recipient of an academic scholarship or received an award for outstanding coursework, this should be appropriately showcased.

Again, the key is to tailor what was learned in trade or vocational school to what the employer is seeking in terms of qualifications and skills.

3. Emphasizing Technical Certifications

This data is crucial to a hiring manager and can be showcased in two ways.

A. If the certification has an accompanying icon or logo (eg: a Microsoft or Oracle certification), then that image should be placed in the header of the resume where the candidate’s name and other contact information is provided. This provides visually-arresting and immediate data to the hiring manager. Within the resume, the date the certification was received and the granting institution should be provided.

B. If there are numerous certifications, then a listing should be showcased within a special section directly beneath the opening summary. The date the certification was received and the granting institution should be provided in this section.

4. Using Temporary (Contract) Jobs to Downplay a Spotty Employment History:

In modern resumes, hiring managers generally prefer a reverse-chronological format with the most recent job presented first, followed by the next most recent, etc., so that they can track job history and spot any gaps in employment. In today’s job market, however, the reality is that many workers are making do with contract jobs until a permanent position comes along.

To downplay numerous jobs of short duration, it’s always wise to list the temp agency as the employer along with the total dates of employment. The actual place of employment should be listed after the job title and followed by the exact dates the candidate was at that location.

For example:

JOHN JONES EMPLOYMENT AGENCY, Boise, Idaho 1999 – 2003
Administrative Assistant, Fred Ware Industries (2002-2003)
Data Entry Clerk, Trent Howard, Inc. (2001-2002)
Receptionist, Phillips Tools (1999-2000)

The above accomplishes two things:

A. It shows consistency of employment with the agency. Hiring managers are aware that the economy is producing more and more temporary/contract workers, rather than permanent employees. The above listing shows that the worker did well enough with the agency and the contract employers to be sent on numerous positions – therefore, the worker must have performed well.

B. If the contract jobs were of increasing responsibility, this will clearly be shown in the titles held – receptionist to data entry clerk to administrative assistant. Hiring managers take note of this upward progression, even if it were done on a contract basis.

5. Breaking into a Male-Dominated Trade for Female Trade Professionals

In today’s workplace, a woman’s place is everywhere as long as she has the skills and qualifications to meet the demands of the job.

In building the resume for a traditionally male-dominated field, it’s important for the female candidate to showcase the following:

A. Certifications or licensure required for the position – always include dates of attainment and the granting institution. If the final grade was stellar, include that as an inducement to the hiring manager. All academic scholarships and honors should also be listed.

B. Physical qualifications: Some male-dominated jobs require lifting loads of 50 lbs. or more in addition to the general duties. It’s important for a female candidate to state in the opening summary that she can meet the physical demands of the job. Additional physical information can be given regarding the candidate being a non-smoker, non-drinker, and free of substance abuse.

C. Willingness to engage in business-related travel and ability to relocate. In many male-dominated fields, hiring managers may still feel that a female candidate will be tied to a certain area because of family concerns. If the candidate does not have these restrictions, they should be noted in the opening summary of the resume.

Additionally, the overall tone of the resume should be as businesslike as possible, and should market whatever capabilities the female candidate has that can get the job done.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


by Darlene Zambruski, ResumeEdge.com Managing Editor, CPRW, SME

Because a cover letter is your first chance to make a lasting impression with a hiring manager it must be professional. To accomplish this:

1. Always use the same heading for your cover letter that you have used in your resume.

2. Whenever possible, use the hiring manager’s name. This personalizes the document and shows attention to detail.

3. Include in your opening paragraph what job you’re interested in and a specific reason as to why you feel qualified for this position.

4. Include in the body of the letter specific experience, skills or accomplishments from your past that dovetail with the requirements of the new job. This data should be bulleted, rather than presented in a solid block of text. The human eye is drawn to bulleted areas, and they provide the data in an easy-to-read format so that the hiring manager can digest the information from one sentence before moving on to the others. Examples of bulleted areas follow:

As my enclosed résumé indicates, my background includes more than two decades of service at US Flight with significant experience in:

· Aircraft accident investigation as a member of the US Flight disaster team.
· Security checkpoints where I handled countless calls for assistance.
· Training the Ground Security team to protect and promote public safety.

In addition to the above skills, I can also offer your firm:

· More than 30 years of experience in the airline industry.
· Expertise in dealing with government agencies, including the FAA where I facilitated communications to
reduce company fines.
· Reduced absenteeism and occupational injuries, standards I maintained at US Flight where I achieved the best employee safety record of all US Flight cities.

5. If the letter is being addressed to a specific hiring manager, close your letter proactively indicating that you will be contacting the hiring manager’s office within the next week to see if you might set up a time to meet.

Sending Your Cover Letter by “Snail” Mail

With today’s technology, most resumes and cover letters are sent as attachments via email. However, if you have reason to send your cover letter and resume by “snail” mail, the documents should be printed on good bond paper (20 lbs) with a watermark. Choose a color that evokes professionalism – the best choices are white or cream, though a light gray can also be considered.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The Professional Touch: Enhancing Your Candidacy with Courses & Seminars

by Darlene Zambruski, ResumeEdge.com Managing Editor, CPRW, SME

In many professions such as Accounting, Medicine, Nursing, and Law, professionals are required to maintain skills through continuing education and seminars. By providing this information to a hiring manager, you’ll be stating unequivocally that you are prepared for the demands of the current industry, and that you meet all legal and licensing requirements.

A Word About Courses and Seminars for Candidates Who Lack College Degrees

In this education-focused world, candidates without college degrees are often in a panic about what to put in the Education section of their resumes. High school diplomas don’t seem like enough (and usually aren’t). To overcome this, specialized training, in the form of courses and seminars, can go a long way to enhancing candidacy. This is especially true if the field is in the trades (i.e. construction, auto repair, etc.), but it is also relevant to white collar positions, such as administrative assistants or office managers. In those jobs, computer skills learned during evening/community college courses or at seminars are acceptable to hiring managers.

Positioning your Training for Maximum Impact

If your industry requires continuing education to maintain licensing, then mentioning your adherence to this should be included in the Qualifications Section of your resume. For example:

“Currently enrolled in accounting coursework to maintain CPA certification through June 2005.”


If you are transitioning from one career to another, then training can be an acceptable substitute for lack of professional experience. In this case, industry-specific training should be added to the Qualifications Summary or immediately after it in a special section.


Never combine Education and Training if they are not related. Never place Training at the end of your resume or in the Education section of your resume if it’s directly related to your current job search and can enhance your candidacy.


How much detail should I provide in listing my training?

Training should always include the date, sponsoring agency, location, name of course or seminar, and whether certification or licensure was granted. Training that is especially important to your job search may include a brief description of the coursework to give the hiring manager a better indication of what was actually learned or accomplished.

How far back should I go in my training and coursework as an IT professional?

No more than 10 years as the Information Technology field is constantly evolving. Any training that led to certification through companies such as Microsoft or Oracle should be showcased if the data is germane to your current job search.

Should I include my online coursework, or will hiring managers dismiss this kind of non-traditional training?

It would depend upon the scope of the training and the sponsoring agency. If you’re taking online coursework sponsored by Microsoft or Oracle, hiring managers would easily accept this as valid. If your training is sponsored by a company with little to no name recognition, then it’s wise to include details, including course hours, level of expertise (beginner, advanced, expert), and any other information that will give the hiring manager a clear idea of what you’ve learned.

I received a lot of my training overseas, should I include it in a U.S. Resume?

If it’s relevant to your current job search. However, make certain to indicate what the U.S. equivalent of your foreign coursework would be to provide an accurate picture of your training to hiring managers.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Professional Touch: Effective Networking Using Professional/Academic Affiliations

by Darlene Zambruski, ResumeEdge.com Managing Editor, CPRW, SME

Because resumes are sent electronically or by regular mail, it’s not often that you can use your networking savvy until – or unless – you’re called in for an interview. However, by listing memberships in professional and academic societies, your resume is a silent partner in networking your skills to hiring managers who are also members of these groups. Additionally, affiliations quickly and effortlessly indicate your professional industry or academic status.

When to Emphasize Professional Affiliations

Mention membership in Professional Affiliations within the Qualifications Summary when:

1. You’ve held a leadership position within the organization (eg: President, VP, Secretary, Treasurer)

2. The organization is recognized as the leader in your specific industry (eg: AMA – American Medical Association – for a physician; SPHR for human resource professionals; The Writers Guild for authors)

3. Membership is required in your career field.

A Word About Maximizing Your Professional Affiliation Data

If you are in possession of the hiring manager’s name and background (through research on company websites), it’s a good idea to research professional membership files (eg: college alumni associations) to see if that person is affiliated with the organization to which you belong. If so, make mention of your membership in your cover letter. Networking in this manner may give you an edge in being granted an interview.

When to Emphasize Academic Affiliations

1. If you are a recent college graduate

2. If you have little to no professional experience

In the above scenarios, showcasing academic affiliations, especially honor societies, will impress upon a hiring manager your dedication to the chosen field and your potential as an employee.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. My only memberships are with the PTA and similar organizations since I’ve spent the last few years raising my children. Should I include this information on my resume?

If you held leadership positions within these organizations that would indicate to a hiring manager your potential for a management role. Even if you did not hold such a position, if you served on committees, that would indicate your teamwork capabilities and commitment to your community. This information should be included.

2. I’ve been out of college for nearly 20 years. Do I still include alumni membership information on my resume?

It never hurts to include this information as the HR professional viewing your resume may very well be an alumnus of the same school. That data, alone, may very well capture the hiring manager’s interest so that added attention is granted the information on your resume.

3. What is preferred by hiring managers – national associations or local chapters?

It would depend upon your role in each. If you are simply a member of a national association, but are president of a local chapter, the leadership position should be emphasized.

4. One of the professional associations to which I belong is fairly new and not widely recognized, should I include it on my resume?

If it enhances your candidacy, and if you provide the hiring manager with additional data regarding its importance. For example:

Member, Culinary Specialists Guild, founded in 2002 to promote the culinary profession and to provide beginning chefs with worthwhile information to master the craft.