Recommended Reading
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    The Art Of War
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About this Blog

Debra Wheatman, President of Careers Done Write, provides expert insight to the job search process that puts your career in gear with tips for interviewing, networking, job search strategies and how to create a winning résumé and cover letter.

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Resume and advice blog from Debra Wheatman


Exceptions to Resume Rules

You know the rules, let’s discuss the exceptions. Resume standards are based on what has proven to be effective in the job market over recent years. However, there are exceptions to many of the resume rules. The following are the top five resume rules with exceptions.

Omit articles on resumes.

It is common to omit articles (a, an, the) on resumes to facilitate a quick read. However, there are times when the article is needed for the sentence to be clear.  The trick is to determine when the article is necessary for the clarity of the point you are making or if you are simply accustomed to including the article.  An example, when it is necessary, would be if the article is part of a company name, team name, product, or publication title. Another example is: “Sold products to middle market companies in New York, Kansas City, St. Louis, and the Southeast.”  Without “the”, the line would not be clear because Southeast is a region mixed in a list of cities.

Don’t include an objective statement.

It is standard practice to omit objective statements and opt for a profile statement that extols the top ways the candidate meets the needs of the hiring employer. Because objectives focus on the needs of the candidate (and not the employer), objective statements are considered outmoded. The only exception is specific situations in which a recruiter or hiring employer instructs the candidate to list the target position name at the top of the resume.

Keep your resume short.

In general, the advice is to create a resume that shares a candidate’s relevant history as succinctly as possible. For most candidates, that is a two-page resume covering ten to fifteen years of work history.  There are two general exceptions to this rule. The first is when a hiring employer asks the candidate to show their entire work history. The other exception is for scientific or academic CVs in which the norm is for candidates to show extensive lists of patents, publications, research, posters, and presentations. Some academic or scientific CVs are ten or more pages in length.

Never include hobbies on a resume.

This is a rule not often broken. The exceptions are if the hobbies or personal achievements support the candidate’s career, such as a life-long bowler with numerous championships applying for a position within the bowling industry. The other exception is if the personal achievement or hobby is exceptional and supports your brand, such as a three-time marathon finisher, former NBA player, or the winner of a prestigious art contest or something similar. An interesting hobby can be an icebreaker, but you will need to choose wisely.

The bottom line is that although standards are important and apply to the majority of situations, there are times when it is appropriate to break the rules. Did you see any rules above that you should break to support your job search? Remember that every job search is unique. If you are unsure about the resume strategy that is right for you, contact me. I would be happy to help you.


Branding Strategies for the Unemployed

It is easier to get a job when you have a job. This is true in most cases.  Naturally, the demand for a candidate increases when they are considered valued or sought-after by other companies.  In Hollywood, the idea is to work on hot projects, associate with other in-demand players, and stay in the media.  It is not too different for the average job-searcher.  Take five and study these strategies for the unemployed.  If you are employed, these strategies are beneficial to you as well.

Work on Hot Projects 

There is no shame in unemployment.  Corporate lay-offs are common, and there are times when an individual must leave a job for personal reasons.  The key is to stay active during your unemployment period.  Aim for “hot projects” that will enable you to continue to build your professional skills and network.  This could include leadership roles in community or charity organizations, teaching at a local or online college, consulting work and temporary assignments.  The adage, “a rolling stone gathers no moss,” applies here.  Meaning, if you keep busy doing relevant, meaningful work, you will increase your attractiveness as a job candidate.

Associate with Other In-Demand Players

Be mindful of how you spend your time and with whom you associate.  Seek other motivated professionals with common goals.  Successful people will inspire you to elevate your game.  Also, as you are seen with successful people, you will enjoy the benefits of the association.  In other words, you may be included in functions and discussions that lead to job opportunities.  Don’t underestimate the impact networking will have on your job search.

Stay in the Media

Celebrities may head to the Ivy when they want to be spotted by TMZ and their agents know how to leak news that generates media buzz.  The average job seeker is not seeking their 60 seconds on TMZ.  However, a wise careerist knows the value of LinkedIn, Twitter, and various blogs.   Update your profiles so it is rich with key words (search terms) that will enable employers and recruiters to find you.  Post interesting news, post links to career-related articles, and take time to “like” others’ posts.  Social media is an excellent way to stay relevant and ‘on the radar’ for those seeking professionals like you. 

The Bottom Line

If you are unemployed, you may face a slight disadvantage to employed job seekers.  However, you will benefit from the above strategies.  With diligence and wise choices, you can decrease the length of your unemployment and land a position that will keep you happy and productive.


How to Present a Multi-Faceted Professional Brand

Most resume and job search experts agree that your resume should be focused on your current career goal.  Many advisors will explain the importance of building and presenting a consistent brand.  How do you focus on a current goal and construct a consistent brand when you have multiple career goals?   That can be a challenge, but it is possible. Also, you can create a powerful branding campaign.

Define Your Career Goals

Consider your skills, knowledge, and work history.  What do you want to do next? What do you do well?  If you hit a wall when defining your career goals, consider working with a career coach.  A coach can help you through simple exercises and discussions to get to know yourself better and help you define what you might find most fulfilling.

Narrow Your Goals

Many candidates will have a list, sometimes a long list, of interesting occupations.  The next step is narrowing that list to attainable and available jobs.  Study job postings and carefully read the job requirements.  Also, review the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for the forecast of open jobs in future years. Focusing on what is attainable and available will help you devise a winning job search strategy.  Narrowing your goals to three or two career paths is ideal.

Write a Set of Resumes

Create a customized resume for each career path.  You can use the job postings as inspiration to determine which of your skills and accomplishments are most relevant to that particular career path.   Your resume is an extension of your brand.  Within your brand, you can highlight particular elements of your brand that match the needs of particular employers.  In other words, you will have a set of two or three branded resumes, each one emphasizing particular elements of your brand.  These customized resumes will increase your marketability while staying true to your overall brand.

LinkedIn Profile Update

As you know, you have just one personal LinkedIn profile.  How can you customize your message for three career goals in one profile?   The answer is: You can’t.   Your LinkedIn profile is a combination of your skills, expertise, and accomplishments that relate to your multiple career goals.  Starting with a more broad or comprehensive headline, you could showcase an overarching theme or hit the two or three top keywords. Here are two examples: “Attorney with extensive litigation and R&D experience” or “Photography * Creative Direction * Website Development.”   In the “Summary” and “Skills & Endorsements” section of, you have ample space to share top skills and achievements from each area.  Also, consider featuring common attributes that are beneficial in all of your target jobs, such as problem solving, relationship building, or team management. You will also want to highlight specific examples that support your skills.

Each of us has many skills and potentially many career paths.  Using the above techniques, you can be tightly targeted when necessary (i.e., resumes and cover letters) and showcase your variety of talents and knowledge when you are communicating with a broader audience (i.e.,, your blog, or Twitter).  It is smart to think carefully in all of your communications, so you are transmitting a carefully-crafted, consistent brand message.