Ready to write your resume?

Call to Action: Ready to Write your Resume? Let’s Get Started!

By Giana / August 1, 2016

  Writing a resume can be hard. Preparation will make your resume writing easier. Follow these five steps to get started. You’ll have a job-winning resume before you know it! The resume writing process can be intimidating, for sure. It’s enough to cause anyone, whether entry level or executive, to break a sweat just thinking about it. If you’re dreading the process of writing your resume, keep one thing in mind: preparation is the key to making this easier. Follow these preparation tips, and you’ll survive your first resume draft and launch your job search like a pro.  

1. Gather your notes

Before you begin to write — or even brainstorm — gather your notes and records. Whether you have a career that’s decades long or you are starting at square one, getting your notes together is a great starting point. Collect your education information, including your GPA, graduation dates, and any academic awards you’ve won. Make a list the names and addresses of your former employers and any written record of your special accomplishments.

2. Brainstorm

Do yourself a favor and don’t immediately launch into writing formal lines of text. Instead, take some time to jot down your former jobs, your professional achievements, your non-work activities, and anything that you consider a special skill. These items will form the backbone of your resume. But for now, don’t worry about formatting and organizing them. Just write them down.

3. Set up your document

After your brainstorming session, open a new document and create four subheadings. Title your subheadings “summary,” “skills,” “work experience,” and “education.”, At the top of the page, type your professional name and add your contact information. You can change the format and layout of this information later. But for now, just writing it down will make you feel as though you’re truly on your way!

4. Start writing your resume!

Now it’s time to do the real work. Start populating your subheadings with the details of your career and personal profile. Keep your notes close by and be sure to include all of the achievements and skills that will capture an employer’s attention. Again, you don’t have to dot every I and cross every T just yet. At this point, simply formulate your thoughts and get them onto the page.

5. Proof, revise, and finalize

Before your resume is fully finished and ready to submit, go through several rounds of editing and proofreading. But once you reach this stage of the process, the finish line is just around the corner. For help with any stage of the process, from formatting to editing to final presentation details, explore the resume creation tools available on LiveCareer.  
Learn how to use your cover letter to explain your employment gaps.

How to Address Employment Gaps in Your Cover Letter

By Giana / July 28, 2016

[caption id="attachment_1061" align="aligncenter" width="1920"] Learn how to use your cover letter to explain your employment gaps.[/caption]   Use your cover letter to explain the employment gaps in your work history and allay any concerns your potential employers may have about your readiness for the job. If you’ve been in the workforce for a while, chances are you’ve probably experienced at least one employment gap in your work history. Legitimate events may have kept you out of the workforce for some time. You may have been laid off, experienced an illness, taken care of a family member, traveled, or changed careers. If you have gaps in your employment history, your potential employers might have some questions about these gaps. Their skepticism is reasonable. Most employers would rather avoid candidates who seem to be "job hoppers" or who have a history of job loss due to poor performance. If you’ve spent some time on the sidelines, they’ll want to know why. Use your cover letter to address the employment gaps that may show up in your resume. Here’s how.

Express your employment dates in years.

In your “work experience” section of your resume, list the start and end years only, not the months or days. This will spark fewer concerns that you’ll need to explain away.

Mention non-family-related gaps directly.

In your cover letter, directly address that gaps that you’re comfortable discussing. For example, if you left your job to start a business, but it never got off the ground, share this proudly. A bold move like this showcases your willingness to take risks and try new things. The same applies to overseas volunteering, artistic endeavors, and other career side-trips that might showcase your strengths as an employee.

Keep family-related gaps to yourself.

While you may openly address your professional gaps in employment, it’s best to keep your personal gaps to yourself. For example, if you left the workforce to raise your children, you don’t have to share this with anyone. In fact, the law protects you from employers who ask during an interview. In cases such as these, keep the conversation focused on your qualifications and skill sets.

Highlight your mid-life career shifts.

If your employment gaps took place when you decided to switch career paths, build your cover letter around this narrative. Explain the reasons behind your decision. Outline the details of your journey from one field to the next. If your new career involved any kind of study or training that took the place of full-time work, state this clearly. Again, be proud of the risks you’ve taken and the accomplishments you achieved by leaving the workplace for a while.

If you really were fired, be careful.

If you did leave the workforce for a while due to performance or unreliability, tread carefully. In this case, it’s best to refrain from mentioning your employment gap in your letter (and in your interview) until you’re directly asked about it. When that happens, be ready to shed a positive, diplomatic light on the incident and explain what you learned during the process. For more on how to explain your work history to potential employers, rely on the resume building tools and guidelines from LiveCareer.
Active job seekers, fear not!

4 Most Valuable Resume Tips for Active Job Seekers

By Giana / July 25, 2016

Active job seekers might face a slight disadvantage in the marketplace. Overcome the obstacles in your path by keeping these tips in mind.   A recent study conducted by Future Workplace revealed a strong employer bias towards passive candidates, or candidates who are currently employed. About 80% of the HR professionals who responded to the study believe that passive candidates are more likely to perform effectively in their new roles. This may or may not be an accurate assessment, nor may it be a fair one, but there are three distinct reasons why employers tend to make this claim. First, they believe employed candidates hold more current experience. They also feel that the skill sets of an employed candidate are likely to hold more value in the marketplace. And finally, they seem to believe that employed candidates take their careers more seriously than those who are currently without a job. Ironically, candidates who are unemployed, active job seekers are likely to work harder and show more loyalty after they’re brought on board. The perception that employed candidates are more favorable certainly stacks the deck against candidates who aren’t currently working. Fortunately, there are things you can do to mitigate this perception if you fall into the unemployed job seeker category. Boost your resume and deflect any negative perceptions with these tips.

Include your current projects on your resume — whatever they may be

Job searching is a full-time job in and of itself. Active job seekers know that it’s incredibly important to have projects or activities in the works. Consider working part-time, taking freelance jobs, or volunteering. Use this opportunity for professional development, or to pursue interests that you may not have had time for before. Try writing code through an open source community, starting a blog about a cause you are passionate about, or helping out at a local non-profit.  Make your resume gap disappear by listing your recent activities and accomplishments.

Learn so you can earn

Counteract any concern about your current skills by gaining new ones. Take courses at a local community college, or sign up for a class at an adult learning center. Choose courses that are relevant to your career field, or choose an area that you would like to move into. This is an ideal time to update any certifications you need for your field. Add these courses and certifications to your resume. If you haven’t completed your certificate or course, list the intended completion date.

Emphasize the benefits that active candidates bring to the table

Perceptions aside, remember that as an unemployed jobseeker, you bring several potential benefits to prospective employers. First of all, you’re highly motivated to work! Second, you’ve got skills that employers are looking for. Be open to being flexible. Find a way to highlight your willingness to accept a wider range of responsibilities on your resume or in your cover letter.

Keep up your search

Regardless of the perception that passive candidates make better employees, you have one advantage over them: Passive candidates are not actively looking for work. Therefore it is more difficult for employers to find these passive candidates. You, on the other hand, don’t have this problem. Keep up the good work in your networking efforts. Follow up on leads, stay flexible, and keep applying to open positions. You’ll land that job before you know it! For more on how to overcome the difficulties of the marketplace as an active job seeker, check out the resume creation tools and job search resources available on LiveCareer.
A resume for graduate school is an important document

How to Write a Resume for Graduate School

By Giana / July 21, 2016

  You may need to submit a resume with your application. Understand that your resume for graduate school differs from the one you use to apply for jobs. So, you need a resume for graduate school. Where do you start? While you sort out of your undergraduate transcript, standardized test results, and personal statement, think about things to include in your grad school resume. Don’t make the mistake of sending the resume you have on file — specifically, the document you use to apply for jobs. Recognize that your grad school admissions resume will differ from your professional resume in a few key ways. Keep these four instructions in mind as you craft your resume for graduate school. Good luck!

Forget structuring rules (almost)

A professional resume will typically be divided into standard universal categories, including “education,” “work experience,” and “special skills.” But for your graduate school resume, you can toss these categories out and structure your resume with more freedom. You may decide to include a section that highlights the courses you’ve taught in the past. You can include a section for your recent publications. You can list your academic awards and accomplishments in one section then include your community service activities in another. Don’t feel bound to any specific subheadings; use only the ones that can help you make your case. Consider your area of study while you do so.

Avoid redundancy

Though you have the freedom to choose your own subheadings, try not to repeat information that will appear elsewhere in your application. For example, don’t simply list and describe your courses and grades; your readers can find this information in your transcripts. Your resume represents an opportunity. Use every line to show off your talents and unique attributes.

Your resume for graduate school can be longer

A standard professional resume should be limited to one page (unless you’re at the executive level). Your resume for graduate school, however, can be a full two pages. Take all the space you need, within reason.

Language matters

Regardless of the academic program you choose to pursue, all graduate admissions committees like to see evidence of strong writing skill. You need to present your case and describe your academic readiness in clear, concise terms, using a high language register that will assure your readers that you are ready for the rigors of higher level inquiry. Don’t blow smoke or use fifty-cent words inappropriately (your readers will see right through that). But do make it clear that you understand rhetorical principles and you know how to present and support complex arguments. It goes without saying, but poor grammar, typos, text speak, and teenage slang will hurt your chances. Remember that this is a resume for graduate school; therefore, it’s a valuable document. Treat it as such. Your graduate school resume will support your application package by rounding out a complete picture of who you are, what you’ve done in the past, and where you hope to take your studies and your career in the future. Don’t miss a chance to shine. For more on how to leverage your resume to your advantage, use the resources and guidelines available on Livecareer.