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  1. Looking for work sucks. The part that sucks the most; applying. The thing that sucks the most in applying? THE RESUME! Resumes suck. You have to write about yourself which; unless you have lots of training, are blessed with the skill, or are a narcissist... , feels awkward at best and impossible at worst. You have to condense YEARS of experiences to a single page... and precious space is wasted with just your name and contact information! If you learned how to do a resume 5 years ago (or more!) the things you learned are outdated! Advice varies from source to source - do this, not that; make it colorful, stick to black and white; fancy vs plain; AHHHHHHH! No worries, I am here to muddy the waters even more! (#sarcastic I kid, I kid!) Resume Writing (Part 1) I am going to share the advice I give my clients when I do career mentoring and consulting. Why should you care? I have 5 years of experience mentoring people transitioning between careers, handling a few thousand clients in that time. So far, no one ever called and told me I was wrong... so that should be good enough! In all seriousness, I am just one person - you should take anything I write with a grain of salt. Do your research, consult other resources, and find what feels right for you. In the end, that is what this is about. Getting YOU to show up on paper so that a COMPANY wants YOU. Resume vs CV Quick clarification: What is the difference between a Resume and a CV? In the United States your resume is a single page document that highlights what you believe are your most pertinent and meaningful skills or experiences in relation to the job you are applying for. A CV (short for Curriculum Vitae; latin phrase meaning "course of my life) is a document that outlines damn near EVERY skill and experience relevant to any job or career. My shortest CV is 5 pages long. I like to explain it as the Resume is the thing you use to get the organization interested in you solving their problems; the CV is the thing that shows them the toolbox you have to solve their problems. The organization (company) is looking for the right person who is going to solve their problems. If they are asking for resumes and you want to work for them, you gotta be ready to play the game! What about the Interview? We are not going to talk about the interview in this blog - all you need to know is that anything you put down on paper you should be ready to talk about. So don't lie, it will just bite you in the bum later. Resume Basics: One Page - recruiters spend an average of six seconds looking at a resume. No novels! GRAMMAR and SPELLING - get it right, Highlight the MOST impactful items - cut the fluff Quantify as much as possible ex. "Supervisor of Accounts Receivable" should be "Supervisor of 15 member Accounts Receivable Team" "third person" - no "I," "me," or "my" ex: "I directed XX projects" should be "Directed xx projects or "I was supervisor for my office of 10 employees" should be "Supervisor for 10 person office." Context of the experience - city, states, country (if not same as job), and for how long No Jargon - even within the same career field, jargon can can cover up your skill or make you look unprofessional. Name Drop and Title Drop like you are on Instagram - You WANT to brag on a Resume. You WANT to catch their eye. The Resume and the Job should Match - if it doesn't match, why would the company be interested? Google your Name - Recruiters (80% of them) will do an internet search on the names of the potential candidates. What will they find when they do? One Page - The resume is a brief (aka, short, concise, quick) look at your relevant skills and experiences. You have 6 seconds to create enough interest that the recruiter wants to find out more. Depending on the job post, there might be HUNDREDS of applicants. You have one quick look, so make it count and don't send anything more than one page. I would also suggest that you send the document as a PDF. Everyone using a computer can open a PDF, and the PDF locks in the formatting / look of your resume. This prevents your sharp looking modern layout from becoming an indecipherable scramble. Oh, and name the thing FIRSTNAME_LASTNAME_RESUME or similar so it's easy to find and easy for the receiver to identify. Grammar and Spelling - Nothing undermines your resume claiming you have "attentionn to dettail" and "Strived four excellencents" by using poor grammar and misspellings... Take the time to get it right. If you are not sure, use some of the free online tools to check (e.g. the Hemingway App or Grammarly). Then ask a human to read it. Then read it again, just to be sure. Demonstrate Impact / Quantify as much as Possible - What did you do, how did you do it, how well did it work? You are trying to show that you can handle the job and the challenges it presents. Businesses run on metrics (basically measurable goals) so if you talk in metrics, this can help them see your worth in a language they understand. It also makes your claims verifiable. They can ask you questions about it, they could check if they really wanted to. Most importantly, it separates you from the 400 other candidates that said "Supervised Swing Shift." What can you quantify? Just about anything. Imagine you figured out a way to save 15 minutes on a daily task at your last job. 15 minutes a day, 260 working days a year (on average for office workers) is 65 HOURS a year saved. That is a week and a half of work time saved. That is a big impact. "Redesigned daily workflow process to save 65 man hours per year." 'Shaved 2 days from employee onboarding process, decreased new employee training time by 25% while maintaining required skill levels of new recruits." Maybe even "Employee of the Month 4 times in the last 2 years." It doesn't have to be HUGE if you can quantify it. Third Person - You have limited space, so cutting out pronouns frees up those precious characters. It can also help declutter your resume. It ties back into "One Page" and 6 second look; the impact needs to pop out. Also, recruiters know you are talking about you... if you were talking about others, why would it be on YOUR resume? It time for you to focus on YOU - you want them to hire YOU, right? So focus on your impact and drop the pronouns. Context - Where did you do these things? When did you learn the skill? How long have you been a member of that organization? If I am reading a resume and I can't answer these questions with what's in front of me, the resume fails to do its job. This is the crib notes of your work history. Everything is laid out in a way that makes it easy to digest. It should be self contained - no extra research required to understand whats in it and why I should care. No Jargon - Jargon means both shorthand for certain items or processes AND acronyms. You might think "worked swing shift" is universal, but do you want to bet your job on it? It is really easy to fall into the trap of using "industry standard" phrases - its industry STANDARD, right? Well, no. If you are trying to move outside of the industry, you have to generalize. Assume the person knows nothing about your industry or job. If a 10 year old couldn't figure it out, it's too much jargon. One exception to this rule; if the job posting SPECIFICALLY notes desired technical skills or processes (Information Technology is heavy on this, as is health care) and you have those skills, LIST THEM! Does it say "Skills in AJAX, SQL, C++ highly desirable"? Yah, you should list those highly desirable skills exactly as mentioned. Name, Title and Award Drop - I find the hardest part of resume writing is trying to make myself the focus. This is especially difficult when you consider that very rarely do you accomplish anything without a team of some sort supporting you. Yet, you have to remember that the company isn't hiring the team, its hiring YOU. If you can't tell them why you where a strong part of the team, then maybe the team is better off without you? If you worked regularly with the CEO or the Senior Executive, say so. It can help show you know how to interact with higher ups and or valuable clients. Where you recognized for outstanding customer service? Did you receive incentive awards? Win best sales person of the month? Did you climb from back room stocking associate to shift supervisor in a year? TELL THEM! You WANT to brag on a Resume. You WANT to catch their eye. The Resume and the Job should Match - This is basically the Custom vs Generic Resumes debate. You should have a generic resume at the ready at all times. When ever you have the time (even if it is only a few minutes) you should ALWAYS customize your resume to the particular job you are applying for. Why should anyone care about your resume if the information isn't relevant? How do you look on paper if you are spending most of the page highlighting things that are not relevant to the position in question? I have spent HOURS on single resumes for a single job posting. Why? I want that call for the interview, don't you? Google your Name - I guarantee you that if your resume makes it past the first round and gets a second look, your name is going into Google (because who uses Bing?) and they will click on a few links. 80% of recruiters admit they do. The other 20% are lying... So Google your name and see what pops up. I had a client where he had the same name as a man that was arrested for child abuse from the SAME STATE. We figured this out and actually addressed this issue on his cover letter. "If you were to conduct an internet search on my name, please be aware that there is another individual having the same name as I who is far more likely to be on the top of your search results. Please visit my linked in page (hyperlink) where I have links to verified articles and background information for your consideration." Suddenly, he started getting interviews... (I wonder why!) Step Up Your Game! Resumes are hard. I work on them professional, so I have a bucket of tricks to make it easier, but in the end, there are not shortcuts for a quality product. You have to make the time to make it work. if you can't find the time to make YOUR resume right, why should an employer think you are going to give it your all at work? Even when it's a "sure thing," or you "know the hiring manager," do you really want to have your first impression with a new company be a half-assed project? These are just the basics, so use the power of the internet and look for other resources to guide you. There are blogs for specific industries, tips for specific positions, and more. Leverage articles on Monster.com, Forbes, Linked In, etc. Look at resume templates (dozens of them) and pick the right one for your situation. Be proud of your resume. If you are proud of it, you did it right.
  2. I love writing. Writing is a definite passion of mine. I have a few publications I am quite proud of, ranging from “Letters to the Editor” in my college newspaper to a full e-book. My niche is generally in the realm of military veterans and their transition into civilian life; resumes, work, life, benefits, and so on. I am also a career, benefits, and life coach which leads me to do a lot of research and writing for my clients. I am now proud to be a writer on dadshideout.com’s new blog, “The Good, The Dad, and The Ugly,” so all my experience is finally being put to good use! With having typed hundreds of thousands of words (Have I typed a million words?) for business and pleasure, I have a pretty well established writing technique. I figured I would run through some of the things I do and use so you might be able to pick up and integrate something to make your writing easier! This first post will be about equipment - the physical stuff I hold or use when writing. I will explore software, environment, and other aspects in later posts. I want to stress that this is MY stuff that I like. You should not go and buy anything because I say so! You might not like my style or techniques. Still, it can be useful, as you can see if I have good ideas and then you can try them out to see what works best for you! So, on to writing equipment! The Old School When you want to talk equipment, any craftsman or artist worth their salt is gonna tell you - start with the basics, start with the foundations, start with the time-proven! In this case, we are talking good old fashioned “pen and paper.” I have two types of notebooks - the “carry with you anywhere” pocket version and the “writing at a table” size version. You also need a pen (or pencil). The trick with these is you need to train yourself to carry the pocket version like your wallet, keys, and cell phone. You need to have it with you when an idea strikes. I am certain that I will not remember my random “good ideas” and by writing them down I have a chance of developing them later. The table size version is for those time when I get tired of digital work or if using a digital device is not an option. Watching a show with the wife, going to one of my kids' friends birthday parties… It should be large enough for some serious writing or to make thought webs, sketches, and so on. For a writing implement, I prefer a pen. They are more durable in my pocket and less likely to be “useless” when I need them. I could spend an hour or more walking up and down the pen aisles at the local craft store, admiring and testing pens, looking for the perfect fell on paper, the perfect fit in my hand. Sometimes, though, you go with your tried and true. From my time as a combat civil engineer, I became partial to “write anywhere” pens, specifically Fisher Brand; pocket version and normal size. They write at any angle, and back when I was doing field work they are paired beautifully with the “Rite in the Rain” brand Notebooks I used. Honestly, I have considered having a “Rite in the Rain” Notebook and Fisher Pen in my shower! What, I get the best ideas in the shower, don’t you? I also use Bic pens (cheap, plentiful, easy to write with, no worries if they get lost of “borrowed”), so I am not a total pen snob! My buddy likes the thick lead mechanical pencils - whatever floats your boat! Notebooks are like pens, there are hundreds of types and you need to find what feels best to you. For the pocket version, I find that quality matters. With it being in a pocket and getting shuffled about day after day a cheap notebook is gonna disintegrate on you. Then again, when I started I used the bargain bin small spiral bound notebook with 30-50 pages. I happen to like “Moleskine” brand 3.5 x 5.5 Inch Ruled notebooks. There are plenty of other similar styles too. I have used these super thin notebooks by TWONE - they only have 30 sheets, but don’t take up any room at all. That makes them easy to carry around all the time. I have a tall single fold wallet and these will fit almost completely inside. For my “table size” version I go simple - 8x10.5 spiral bound notebook. These take far less of a beating, so I don’t spend much time or thought on these. I went with the tried and true once again. I go with a spiral bound 100-page notebook. It got me through high school, it got me through college, and I did all my research papers with these things, so why change what works? I like the larger size when I am bringing a backpack, a case or when working at home. I prefer the spiral style so I can fold it completely if I need the space, or if I am writing on my lap while on the couch! The New School I love my Microsoft Surface 3. It is my primary tool for whenever I am working on a writing project, to include “The Good, the Dad, and The Ugly.” While the keyboard on my desktop is a little more comfortable for long sessions of writing, the Surface 3 holds the role as the “inspiration” and “first draft” tool. Once I tap out those first few hundred (or thousand) words, I take the data to my desktop for edits and polishing. Why start on the Surface? I love the portability of it, I can run the same software between the Surface and my desktop, and most importantly, the keyboard cover. The keyboard cover? Yes, the keyboard cover. The feel of the keys as you depress them and the staccato clicks as you type are delightful. The damn thing is 5mm thick but it more enjoyable to type on them most laptops I have owned! It is enjoyable to work on, and that is important. If it isn’t enjoyable, you won’t do it or long if you have a choice… The software interchangeability is nice, allowing me to work on the same software that I use on the desktop. This makes the workflow more streamlined; I don't have to spend time copy and pasting between systems and such. I transfer data between Surface and Desktop with a 64gb thumb-drive. I tried to use Microsoft OneDrive, but I found that taking the thumb-drive between computers worked better for me than making sure everything was synced up. If I am in a rush, I grab the thumb-drive; no need to turn on a computer, log on to the internet, and then sync. I use the thumb drive as a removable hard drive - save and load from it. If you are going to do work between multiple digital platforms, as I do, getting a system in place for transferring and tracking files is critical. Finally, the portability of the Surface makes the interchangeability useful. It is about the same size as a tablet. I have a case on mine to increase its durability - still comes in about half an inch thick. Battery life is great - way better than my laptop. I get 4-6 hours of full video playback off a full charge, and I can type for 8 plus hours on reasonable brightness. The Surface 3 charges using a micro USB, so I can use the same charger as my phone if I need to. I can boot it up really fast - sub 20 seconds - which means I can turn it off completely to save battery. All this adds up to a relatively powerful, very portable, enjoyable to use writing tool. You could also use a tablet with a Bluetooth keyboard or a regular laptop. I used my laptop previously, but I have found being able to bring the Surface with me to more places is more useful than being able to do more varied tasks on the laptop. When the workflow progresses beyond words and basic editing, I step up my game to something more robust. The Workhorse When all is said and done, I have way more equipment than I need. You could do everything on the Surface 3 and call it a day - I have and do from time to time. Still, when I am handling multiple projects, research, or online learning/teaching I need my dual monitor desktop. I became spoiled by multiple monitor setups during my time in the Air Force working as a Geo-spacial Engineer. The ability to put the main program on one screen and source material on the second was a godsend. No more alt-tabbing or manually clicking between views. When writing, I find the same is true - dual monitors allow more information to be up at the same time and reduce time spent flipping through windows. The desktop also has the power to do full editing of audio, video, and much more. It has sufficient storage to keep everything centralized, but I have a backup drive… just in case! The best seat in my house (other than my recliner!) is my office desk chair which makes long sessions far more comfortable. I also have a keyboard I love and a speaker setup that allows me to play background music to keep my mind from getting too distracted by outside noise. Always Evolving I have been using this equipment setup for about the last year and a half. Before I purchased the Surface 3 (second hand, I might add. Save your money where you can, right, dads?) I used a laptop from college. It was a 2013 model but it did everything I needed for writing, and it could even run a second monitor! When I used the laptop my setup was two things; paper notebooks and the laptop. Now that I have a more workspace, the current setup rewards me with better overall results by splitting the laptop into two different machines better suited for particular purposes. The Surface fills the portability and “drafting” niche while the desktop fills the editing and finishing niche. I am sure over time my equipment will change again. I know that I need to add in a camera to my equipment, as taking my own high-quality images for use on the blogs is something I would like to do. Right now I get by using my cell phone, but that will only go so far. Still, why spend money on perfect, when good enough will do? So there you have it. The equipment I use to get the words from my head to your eyes. I will be following this up with the software I use and then the process I use to bring it all together. If you have equipment that you use when writing and would like to chime in, comment below! I would love to hear what you use to get those words on the page; I might even borrow some of your good ideas!
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