Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Professional Touch: Enhancing Your Candidacy with Honors & Awards

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

In a competitive job market many candidates find themselves lost in the shuffle, especially when other applicants have similar professional and academic histories.

One way to make certain that you get noticed is to showcase, within the first half of your resume, your Professional and/or Academic Honors and Awards.

You can emphasize industry or academic recognition of your work by:

1. Including it in your Qualifications Summary
2. Presenting it in a special “Awards and Honors” section
3. Placing it in your “Career Accomplishments” section beneath the subheading of “Awards and Honors.” You can further subdivide it by indicating whether it is Professional Recognition or School-Related.

The idea is to provide hiring managers with specific and well-organized data


Although mention of your Awards and Honors can enhance your candidacy for a position, its impact will be significantly strengthened by providing the hiring manager with specific details. These include:

1. Dates you received the award or honor
2. Significance of award (eg: is it given to everyone in your office/school or are you one of a select few?)
3. Purpose of award – (eg: an academic or sports scholarship; one given to top journalism student at the school; recognition for being the #1 salesperson in a territory, etc.)
4. Scope of the award – is it national, regional, or local?


Honors & Awards: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

· I’ve won many awards during my IT career, but I’m now transitioning to financial services where my experience is nil. Do I still mention my IT awards? If so, where?

Because past achievement is so often indicative of future performance, mention of your repeated recognition in the IT field will indicate your degree of capability to a hiring manager. This can be very important for someone with little to no experience in a new industry. Although it’s not necessary to list all of your IT awards up front, listing your most stellar and current IT accomplishment in the Qualifications Summary provides the hiring manager with a glimpse of your potential. If your transition to the new field is accompanied by stellar academic work, that can also be used to enhance your candidacy. For example:

Currently Enrolled in the Honors Banking & Finance Program

at the American Banking Institute
Bachelor of Arts in Business & Management with an Accounting Major, GPA 4.0
Additional Coursework in Accounting at New York State College of Business

Articulate, results-oriented professional with an academic base in accounting, banking, and finance, augmented by comprehensive knowledge of information systems and significant business experience. Background includes receiving the IT Professional 2001 Award for an information systems improvement that increased growth at Trent Industries 28% over a two-year period. Possesses strong attention to detail, excellent organization/time management, and proven capabilities in problem-solving. Self-starter with a background of assuming responsibility to get the job done accurately and within tight time constraints.

· Should I include my employment awards in a resume that’s being sent for admission to business school?

Yes. Business school resumes are no different than resumes submitted to employers. School admissions directors need to know if candidates for their programs are committed to the educational process and if they will be assets to the school. Industry-specific awards that indicate excellence in the field only enhance an applicant’s candidacy.
· Rather than honors or awards, I have only performance evaluations that I consider quite good. Is it acceptable for me to use them in a resume?

Any data that enhances your candidacy is acceptable. To showcase your performance evaluation data, you may want to list it in a special section and include direct quotes from satisfied clients or management.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


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

The best way to overcome reverse age discrimination (eg: you’re considered too young for a major position, rather than too old), is to deliver a flawlessly crafted, exceptionally professional resume that details your relevant skills and qualifications, while showcasing your accomplishments.

The best format for an up-and-coming young executive is a reverse-chronological format (your most recent position detailed first, followed by the next most recent, etc.) within an executive-style template.

What is an executive-style template?

It’s a format that delivers a powerful marketing message about your unique talents and qualifications – and it does all of this in less than seven seconds.


The executive format generally begins with a tag line, which is the position title you want and one for which you must be qualified. Following that is a line listing your unique skills. Next, a brief summary paragraph provides a snapshot of you as a candidate. Within the paragraph should be your most stellar and recent accomplishment (as it relates to your current job search) and it must be quantified with dollar figures or percentages and time periods.

An example for a young banker:


Mergers & Acquisitions ~ Wealth Management ~ Investment Strategies ~ Marketing Plans

Results-driven, multilingual professional with a solid industry background for such notable firms as Bear, Stearns & Co. Inc. and Morgan Stanley Dean Witter. Consistently works 15+ hour days, while thriving in fast-paced environments. Recent achievement includes retaining $20 million in funds by assisting in wealth management for corporate executives nationwide while at Bear, Stearns & Co. Inc. Continues to foster business connections with executives in Mexico and Portugal. Fluent in English, Spanish, and Portuguese.

The above is succinct, powerful, and professional. It emphases employment history, major companies worked for, and a stellar achievement.

One last note: Unless your academic history is germane to your professional career (eg: you’re in a career transition and studying for the new field), it’s best not to unduly showcase this information. It will label you as a student or an entry-level candidate rather than a seasoned professional.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


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

Generally speaking, positions in the non-profit sector require the same qualifications as do other job openings. That is, related professional experience, academic degrees, and availability to relocate or to travel – to name a few.

However, there are a few areas of expertise that are unique to non-profit. By showcasing your past work history in regards to these areas, you’ll be substantially enhancing your candidacy.

1. GRANT WRITING: Securing funds through grants is one of the paramount duties of a non-profit concern. Although most directors will want someone already skilled in this endeavor, if you have a graduate degree in English, and have researched successful grant proposals, you may want to create some sample grant proposals which you can submit with your resume. By doing this, you may be considered for a support role within the organization.

2. FUND RAISING: An equally important aspect of the non-profit sector. Here, people skills and networking are at a premium. If you are articulate, self-composed, and easily interact with people, mention those skills in your resume – and then support those claims with details from your employment history even if it’s not from a related fund-raising endeavor.

For example: If you’ve been an outstanding sales representative and have won numerous awards, your past performance will enhance your candidacy.

Also, if you have volunteered for community events or have assisted political candidates to reach their goals, showcase this information in the opening summary of your resume.

3. FAMILIARITY WITH 501(c)(3) ACCOUNTING PRACTICES: 501(c)(3) refers to the tax-exempt status for non-profit organizations. Accountants or bookkeepers who are knowledgeable of this are sought out by the non-profit sector.

However, even if you don’t have experience in these accounting practices, by familiarizing yourself with the requirements – or by taking related courses in the subject – you will be advancing your candidacy over others without similar knowledge.

In addition to following the above guidelines, it’s also wise to thoroughly research the organization’s website to determine their non-profit “culture”. Are they conservative? Or are they on the cutting edge and considered hip? Knowing, in advance, the way the organization is structured and the types of individuals that operate it will provide key information for the format and structure of your resume, so that it’s effective and gets noticed.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008


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

In today’s competitive job market applicants are now competing against hundreds of others with similar qualifications. No longer can you simply state Education and Professional Experience and hope to get an interview. Hiring managers have neither the time - nor the inclination - to search for an applicant’s skills as they relate to that particular opening. It is now the responsibility of the job seeker to showcase relevant skills for each resume submission.


1. Use online resources to determine job requirements within the targeted industry: Search online job sites such as HotJobs or online versions of newspapers such as the Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, New York Times for employment openings. Within these postings will be the job requirements. Each requirement that matches your qualifications should be included in the opening summary of the resume. This provides immediate and relevant data to a hiring manager. It tells them that you are a serious contender for the position, because you have the skills and background to do the job.

2. Prioritize data within the resume that meets the requirements stated within the job opening: For example, if the opening is for an IT professional, then all relevant computer skills (including years of experience and certifications) should be presented at the beginning of the resume, preferably showcased in a separate section immediately following the Qualifications Summary. Don’t hope that hiring managers will search for this data – they won’t.

3. Determine what’s most important to the employer – educational background or professional experience – and list it in that order: The most important section should follow the opening summary. However, if the posting does not specify that experience is required, and the only experience in the field is of an academic nature, then Education should always be placed before non-related Professional Experience. The key is to place relevant information first.

4. Pull out industry jargon (also known as keywords) from the job posting: For example, a posting for a CPA (Certified Public Accountant) would include key words such as GAAP, tax audits, IRS, reconciliations, financial statements, etc. When a candidate’s experience matches those keywords, then they should be included in the opening summary of the resume. (eg: “Additional skills in GAAP, tax audits, other IRS-related matters, reconciliations, and financial statements.”) Failure to provide keywords, especially when submitting to large corporations that use scanning software to search for this industry jargon, will result in the resume being dismissed.

5. Use the appropriate formatting and tone as it relates to the targeted job: A sales professional, for example, may use a more stylish format and perhaps a more casual approach in wording, if appropriate to the targeted industry. If that industry were pharmaceuticals or educational book publishing, a conservative approach would be employed. The entertainment field or high fashion would warrant a more stylish/casual approach.

6. Include ONLY what is relevant to the targeted position: If the candidate has numerous degrees in different fields (i.e. Biology, Marketing, Art History), but is seeking a position as a Biologist, only that degree should be listed. Resumes do not contain an exhaustive listing of all academic pursuits or jobs worked. They should only contain what is essential as it relates to the targeted position.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008


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

With each passing year, the global marketplace becomes a smaller, more interrelated community. With increasing frequency job postings are listing foreign language skills as desirable or required in a candidate. Because of this shift in focus from all-American (eg: English speaking only) to international, language skills should be showcased. This can be accomplished using these methods:

1. List language skills in the Qualifications Summary at the beginning of your resume.

2. Include Language Skills in a separate, special section.

3. Provide additional information regarding special schooling in English (for overseas students) and any certifications granted that indicate proficiency.

When NOT to Include Language Skills on a Resume

Never include data on a resume that indicates “familiarity with” or “knowledge of” a language. If you are not fluent or conversant in a language, then your skill level regarding it does little to enhance your candidacy. An additional note: It’s not necessary to write: “Fluent in oral and written...” Fluency in a language assumes you can write, read, and speak it.


· I am multilingual, but have a varying degree of skill in these languages. What is the best way of presenting this on my resume?

There are two options. You can write:

Fluent in English, Spanish, and French; conversant in Portuguese, Thai, and Chinese.

Or you may be even more specific writing:


English - Fluent, certified through US Language Institute, 2003

Spanish - Fluent, certified through US Language Institute, 2003

Portuguese - Intermediate; currently enrolled in advanced classes

Thai - Advanced; will take certification test Summer 2003

Chinese - Intermediate; currently enrolled in advanced classes

· I am a native English-speaker, but also fluent in Chinese, and have a Chinese name. Because of my name, should I even indicate that I know the Chinese language (I’m afraid a US company will think I’m not fluent in English)?

Rather than exclude an obvious skill, write something like this:

Bilingual, with fluency in English (native-speaker) and Chinese.

· I know 15 languages, and numerous dialects, should I list them all?

If the companies to which you are applying have international divisions where these languages and dialects are spoken, then certainly list them. Generally speaking, the only languages/dialects you might not include would be those that are not widely used in international business.


Showcasing Language Skills for a Foreign Applicant in the Qualifications Summary:


Marketing & Sales Background ~ Client Relations ~ Bilingual, English & Japanese

Conscientious, results-oriented professional with a solid business background in promoting products, providing superior customer service, recruiting and managing teams, and researching competitors to determine market strategy. Currently seeking admission into an MBA program with an emphasis on marketing to gain additional knowledge for career success. Academic achievements include A.U.A. certification in English, 2002.

Emphasizing Language Skills in a Special Section:


- Fluent in English, Russian (native tongue), and Hungarian.
- Demonstrated excellence as an interpreter in verbal and written translations.
- Interpreted conference lectures on business issues from English and Hungarian into Russian for audiences of up to 1,000 attendees.
- Translated business documents from English and Hungarian into Russian and back.
- Certificate in Hungarian Language, UK Language Institute, 2001
- TOEFL scores include a CBT 260, which is equivalent to a PBT 620.