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Via The Ladders : How to explain multiple gap years on a resume

Life happens. We become stay-at-home parents. Sometimes we have to take time off to care for a sick family member. Maybe we just wanted to take some time off to travel the world.

Whatever the situation may be, it can be intimidating to explain to a potential employer why you have multiple “gap years” in your resume.

If you have lost hope that you won’t get your dream job due to your gap in employment, fear not. According to a study conducted by ResumeGo, applicants who could explain their gap of three or more years to the hiring manager received about 60% more interviews. Employers want to know why you took time off, whether it was voluntary or not.

So, what is the “correct” way to answer exactly why you took all that time off? Everyone’s answer will vary due to the reason why you took off and what you did while you were unemployed.

This article will help you decide what is the best answer for your situation and how you should carefully craft your answer.

Do I even mention my gap year?

There is no point in mentioning the gap year if you have been employed since you took the time off. Highlight your most recent work experience, especially if it was a higher-level job. You do not need to list every single job you have had in your life, especially if it was a job you had many years ago at the start of your career.

If you had a gap between one of your first jobs and your second, there is no need to include that. Your entry-level job a decade ago won’t be relevant to the more advanced job you are applying to now, so just take it off the resume. There is no need to list a gap year if you don’t have to.

Always tell the truth

When asked by the hiring manager why you took time off, it is always best to be truthful. Lying will only come back to haunt you in the future, so it is best to always be honest in your answer and on your resume.

While there are ways to make the gap less noticeable (for example, putting just the years you were employed as opposed to month and the year), you must list it or mention it. It’s always best to be open and forthcoming with your answers.

In an article for Monster.com, Nicole Williams, a career expert and author of Girl on Top: Your Guide to Turning Dating Rules into Career Success, says: “Unemployment happens. . . Being honest about your situation gives the employer a sense of your integrity and confidence — two characteristics every employer is looking for.”

If you were laid off

If you were fired due to a lack of ability to perform, it may be tough to explain that to the employer. However, if you were laid off due to company downsizing, it would be helpful to provide information regarding why they downsized.

Be sure to mention your strengths during your time at the company and if you have any references that could back up your ability to perform well.

If you took time off to help a sick family member or became a stay-at-home parent

We are all human. As a result of that, we sometimes need to take a hiatus from our corporate jobs to care for the family. Luckily, we live in a time where time off for parental leave has become widely accepted (and paid for by many companies.) Most employers are understanding of these life occurrences. Being honest about this gap will most likely be respected. Be sure to mention though that this period of time has ended and you are excited to get back to working (hopefully for their company.)

Always list the positives

No matter the reason you took time off, always end the conversation on a positive note. For example, if you wanted to travel the world for a year, note how that has made you a more cultured, well-rounded individual (and if international relations is one of the aspects of the job you are applying for, even better!)

If possible, try to relate what you learned and your experience back to the job you want. Are there any aspects of your time off that would relate back to the company and benefit them in any way?

Although getting back into the workforce after taking a gap can be nerve-wracking, it is always important to be forthright and positive.

Always focus on your contributions rather than your gaps and highlight your strengths for the position you are interviewing for. If you follow these steps, you will be back in the workforce in no time.

Via Ladders : Ladders 2020 Resume Guide – The best-selling resume advice you need for 2020

Hi Readers,

The 2020 update for my best-selling Ladders Resume Guide is now available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle versions. I’ve included a brief excerpt below.

This updated version is designed to make your resume writing go smoothly. In about 90 minutes, I provide the basics on how to create a professional two-page resume, share templates to help you do so quickly, and provide specific step-by-step advice on writing bullet points and a professional summary that will make you stand out.

Ladders Resume Guide is based on the millions of $100K+ to $500K professionals we’ve helped over the past 17 years, and the success of their millions of applications with our employers. I provide you with the tools, tactics, and tricks you need to transform your past experience into an effective resume. I review the right format for structuring your past jobs into a job history, and tackle the best wording and phrases for your past achievements.

Here’s that excerpt I promised you…

“Your resume is a professional advertisement”

Your resume is an advertisement. The product it is selling is your work effort over the next few years. For the typical member at Ladders, where incomes range from $100,000 to $500,000 per year, that can represent millions of dollars of value. A product with this large a price tag merits a good advertisement.

If you’ve sold a house or a car, you know how a well-written ad can generate a lot of phone calls and interest. It’s the same for resumes, but in this case a resume is a professional advertisement, seeking to inform and attract buyers of professional talent. To reach and entice them, you’ll showcase your professional qualities, features, and performance.

A resume is not a personal, or personals, advertisement – it’s not a place to preen or cleverly display how much of a catch you are. It is not a social advertisement indicating your social or marital status, or seeking to ensure your inclusion in the social “Who’s Who” of your city.

It is an advertisement, not a Product Manual of You. It is not an exhaustive transcript of your past work experience or schooling, and definitely not a first-person bio or autobiography. You want to steer away from thinking that a resume is a precise or complete history of all your past work experiences, a catalog of prior responsibilities, or an inventory of your past staffing levels and budget authorities.

Like any good ad, a resume provides your contact info (it’s surprising how many professionals goof this up with casual or non-professional email addresses). It shows others have worked with the product before by highlighting the brand names in your past. It serves as a discussion starter for interviews. And it provides a basis for references that will come later in the process.

Unfortunately, a resume is also a place for you to make disqualifying mistakes or exaggerated claims that will come back to bite you later. Typos, simple professional mistakes, or untruthful data, can torpedo your chances.

If you write “Fluent Spanish and Chinese”, but meant fluent Spanish and a smattering of Chinese, it can trip you up in interviews. If you list ‘SQL’, ‘Excel’, ‘Mailchimp’ or other software, but can’t answer the basics about them, it will call into question your competence and your integrity.

If your resume is too many pages long, has strange formatting, or has an unprofessional filename, you’ll raise eyebrows.

“Targeted toward your future boss”

Perhaps the biggest mental hurdle in writing your resume is getting over the fact that a resume’s target is not you, and that a resume is not about pleasing you, or even being the way you’d like to think of yourself most.

In fact, there’s a certain extent to which the resume does not reflect the man or woman you are. When you think about yourself as a full-fledged human being, you don’t only consider your professional achievements, but also your family, friends, religious affiliation, college ties, hobbies, and other attachments, motivations, and cares.

Because these other areas of your life tend not to have a written document – kids, thankfully, don’t require a resume before jumping on you, and we don’t have to hand over a two-pager to gain admittance to our churches or synagogues – we tend to overestimate the extent to which our resume should reflect ‘the whole person’, and ‘everything about who I am.’ It’s often our only chance to sum it all up!

As a result, a successful resume may be even a little bit disappointing for you, personally. Because it is the single most common written document we have about ourselves, it’s relentless focus on just one, narrow, cold, and business-focused aspect of your humanity can leave you dissatisfied.

Other times, you may find your focus drifting toward audiences that are more important in your thoughts than they are in reality. A resume is not a good place to settle scores, puff up one’s non-professional achievements, or engage your inner professor. You should not use the scarce space on your resume to justify your past decisions to your colleagues, address an admissions committee in your head, or seek the approval of your peers. It’s purpose is not to explain your job to a general audience, your daughter’s 5th grade class, or college friends who went into other fields.

A resume is targeted at the specific people who can grant you an interview for a job, so that it can persuade them to actually do so.

Via CNN : The best skills to have on your resume

Writing a good resume is a tricky balancing act.

You want to impress recruiters by highlighting your skills and experiences, but you don’t want to overwhelm them with too much information either.

The key to striking the right balance and making your resume stand out is to include skills that are tailored to the position you’re applying for.

“A resume is a foot in the door,” Vicki Salemi, a career expert at Monster, told CNN Business. A well-tailored resume that highlights skills that are most important for the role and that you can back up with specific accomplishments or experiences will intrigue a recruiter and help get you through the door.

Here are other tips for an eye-catching resume:

Determine which skills to emphasize

The most effective way to tailor your resume for a specific role is to identify the top skills listed in the job description and highlight them on your own resume. Also, make sure to mirror the language used in the job description. This should help get your resume past the electronic screening that many companies put resumes through to scan for keywords before a recruiter looks at them.

Typically companies will list the most important skills and responsibilities needed for the job first so focus your resume on those.

Companies are “basically providing you with a cheat sheet,” said Salemi.

Of course, only highlight the skills that you actually possess and do not lie. “Lies catch up with you,” warned Amanda Augustine, career advice expert for TopResume.

If the job description is vague, reach out to people at the company or to those who work in the industry and ask them to elaborate on the skills that would be necessary for the role. Or find similar job descriptions and take note of the keywords that routinely pop up.

Maintain a balance between hard and soft skills

Make sure to have a combination of both hard and soft skills on your resume.

Soft skills are the set of behaviors and personality traits that you use everyday, like collaboration and problem-solving, while hard skills tend to be function-specific and technical like computer programming. Both sets of skills are important. As much as employers want to hire someone qualified for the role, they also want to know whether you’ll be a good cultural fit.

“When interviewing candidates with nearly identical resumes, interviewers will most likely pick the candidate that fits better with the group,” said Salemi.

Keep the skills section of your resume limited to between six and eight skills, said Steve Arneson, author of “What Your Boss Really Wants from You.” You don’t want to overwhelm a recruiter. If you want to include more, weave your non-technical skills into your professional history.

Back skills up with evidence

Don’t just submit a resume with a list of skills and job titles. You also have to substantiate them with concrete examples.

When you’re describing a previous role, include any relevant accomplishments. “The best way to do this is to quantify or tell a story,” Augustine said.

For example, if you’re stating that you’re an effective salesperson, you should include whether you won salesperson of the month or that you expanded your territory by a certain percentage.

You should also introduce each skill with an active verb — such as “analyzed,” “organized,” “delivered,” “created” and “developed” — to keep the recruiter’s attention.

Develop the skills you’re lacking

Don’t get discouraged if you’re lacking certain skills that are key for the positions you’re applying to. Instead, work on developing them.

For example, if you’re applying for a position at a hospital, try to get free online demos for key software skills like patient scheduling. Also take online courses on websites like LinkedIn Learning or Coursera.

Hard skills are easier to learn, but even soft skills can be developed over time. You just need to find an effective way to learn them and get that across in your resume.

Via Forbes : Five Executive Resume Writing Strategies For 2020

Picture this: You’ve decided that next year is the year you will launch your job search campaign. Perhaps you have been postponing the journey, or you’re just planning to explore and see what job opportunities are out there.

Whatever your motivator, there are a few things you need to do first, including defining your next-level career target. Once you’ve clearly defined your new path, you can develop an executive resume that will disrupt the executive recruiting market in 2020.

That said, whether you decide to find a professional executive resume writer or go at it alone, you’ll still need to do more than simply dust off your resume. As a professional resume writer myself, I’ve seen that the executive resume writing strategy that will help you net those coveted interviews with top companies in 2020 is the application of value-based marketing. With that, it’s important that you offer value in alignment with what your future employer is forecasting to weather for the next decade (not just today, and not just tomorrow). Think long-term change.

Below are five of my tips to help you win in the new year.

1. The 4.0 Executive Resume

No matter what industry you are in, the company you will work for is looking toward revolutionizing the way they do business, drive products to market, tap revenue potential, reach new markets, etc. That evolutionary business agenda is most likely harnessed to achieving interconnectivity and automation through use of big data, internet of things, blockchain, machine learning and artificial intelligence.

The value your resume must highlight: Answer the question, “How have I been a part of tapping the power of digital data to change the way my company functions?”

2. The Agile Resume

When I first began my career in the resume writing and coaching industry 15 years ago, the buzz was ”targeted resumes.” This meant that the resume was focused and aimed at a job title. While that is still the case on many occasions, what will make the most significant difference is creating an agile resume.

What does that mean?

Don’t misunderstand; it is not a jack-of-all-trades resume. What I am introducing is a resume that, yes, has a target (e.g., CEO or chief financial officer), but it highlights capabilities that span beyond the traditional accountabilities of that role.

Why? Things in the business world are changing at an increasingly faster rate. Businesses are swiftly responding to the market shifts in a charged political period, and innovation now demands reinvention — not only of the products and services offered, but also of the companies themselves. Innovation demands reimaging internally and externally.

Value your resume must highlight: When you write your executive resume from an agile perspective, share how you changed the role and collaborated with other C-suite leaders on innovative projects that employers might not expect to see on your resume.

3. The Value-Creation Resume

Longevity in a role doesn’t necessarily mean you are the corporate executive a company is seeking. “CEOs who have ‘been there, done that’ don’t necessarily create more shareholder value,” according to a report by SpencerStuart.

In the past, I might have written “Six-time CEO” on a client’s executive resume. Today, I ask, “What value did you deliver in each role?” If we can only hit a home run with four of those positions, then we will start with those experiences.

Value your resume must highlight: Instead of leading with your job titles as evidence that you have done the job before and therefore can do it again, pin down three or four game-changing decisions and strategic plans that showcase your ability to thrive as a leader during challenging times. It doesn’t mean that you cannot list achievements that were part of your mandate, but that you must lead with surprising triumphs versus what you were expected to deliver.

4. The Multicultural Resume

In 2020, executive resumes need to accentuate leadership of multigenerational workforces — more than ever before. How are you connecting with a diverse workforce and creating the type of culture that would retain them?

Value your resume must highlight: Share achievements that showcase your ability to mentor, connect with and promote diverse leaders. This is critical to enabling brand relevancy, and brand relevancy is brand equity.

5. The Cross-Generational Resume

With millennials comprising much of the U.S. workforce and senior employees retiring later in life, your executive resume must include value in driving the organizational shift to remain responsive to the needs of a dynamic, multigenerational workforce.

Value your resume must highlight: What you are seeking here is an opportunity to showcase that — beyond corporate governance tied to return on investment, organic and inorganic growth — you have played a vital role as a partner to human resources officers. Highlight how you’ve helped create an organization that will remain competitive for the long haul on the shoulders of a multigenerational workforce that is part of that competitive edge.

The bottom line is that the resume that will soar in a pile of executive resumes in 2020 is a marketing dossier that ignites curiosity, brandishes thought leadership and promotes a rare-breed, future-focused executive. Share your story in a personal, engaging manner. And remember: Qualifications, experience and achievements with metrics are still important. However, what will position you as a sought-after leader is your ability to ”circa 2020” and beyond.

Via Tech Republic : How to use technology to get your resume noticed first

With online recruitment trending upward, experts offer tips for making sure companies see your resume before the other applicants.

One of the biggest gripes HR professionals have is advertising online for jobs, only to get lukewarm results, then hiring someone who isn’t the ideal choice—only to discover there were other applicants.

One of the biggest gripes candidates have? Not being able to get their application noticed.

It’s fair to say technology has both a positive and a negative impact on the job application process.

Online recruitment is trending upward over the next five years as employers look for new ways to interact with candidates, according to Appcast, a programmatic job advertising company that helps optimize job ad spend.

Revenue for the online recruitment industry is projected to grow at an annualized rate of 7.3%, to $11 billion by 2023, Appcast said, citing IBISWorld research.

The availability of qualified talent is the biggest pressure on HR professionals, said Mary Hassan, HR leader at AG Mednet, an electronic data collection service focused on increasing data quality in clinical trials.

With an unemployment rate in the US of 3.6% overall and 1.3% in technology roles, said Hassan, “HR professionals need to employ every tool available to hire competitively.”

The pros and cons of technology in a job search

While technology has increased the speed, ease, and efficiency of applying to a job posting, this can produce an overflow of candidates— but not necessarily ones who are qualified, she said. Then, recruiters have to spend a lot of time sifting through and screening large numbers of candidates.

Application tracking systems (ATSs), especially those emerging with AI embedded, are game-changing, Hassan said, as they have “eliminated significant amounts of administrative time and effort.”

The right technology increases the reach of job postings by expanding the sourcing geographically at a low cost, she said. “The use of web-based interviewing tools allows for [the] screening of remote candidates effectively, without the cost and time associated with travel for onsite interviews prior to a face-to-face screen.”

It creates a better candidate experience, too, because “these tools allow for ease of response to each candidate at every stage, thus, communicating professionally and quickly with candidates.”

In 2018, 55% of applications were submitted via a mobile device, noted Leah Daniels, senior vice president of strategy at Appcast. This year, it’s trending to be over 60%, she said, “but mobile devices make the process very arduous and painful, and in this environment, with a low unemployment rate, candidates have a very low tolerance for a 15-page application.”

Mobile devices are often used to speed up the application process and also because some candidates don’t have access to a desktop. This is less than ideal because the ability to access information and fill out an application from a mobile device is sometimes impossible, Daniels said. “For example, asking candidates to write a cover letter in Word and upload it [from a mobile phone] is somewhat comical.”

As a result, the percentage of people finishing an application is much lower on a mobile device than on a desktop, she said. “As a candidate, applying on a desktop increases your chances of getting through the process and therefore, looked at.”

Losing the human factor

In discussions Hassan has had with candidates about the hiring process, she has gleaned “that in some ways, it is far less human than it should be” as ATSs have become more widely used.

The systems can end up focusing more on “facts and hard skills,” and far less on “the cultural fit and soft skills that have become increasingly more important in today’s workforce,” she said.

Daniels said algorithms factor into the process a lot less than candidates think. “A lot of recruiters don’t trust them or like them,” she said. “It’s better to spend less time agonizing over the right words in your cover letter. It’s more important to get [your resume] to the top of the stack. It’s all about speed.”

Hassan said she has gotten positive feedback from applicants who say the process at AG Mednet is “refreshing,” compared to other experiences they have had where they “feel like they got lost in the black hole of the candidate pool.”

“As a smaller company in a very specific technology niche, we have been able to keep a fairly high level of personal touch in our hiring process.”

Tips for job applicants

If you want to beat the system, so to speak, make sure you apply from a laptop or desktop, said Daniels. And time is of the essence. “A candidate who is going to be hired will typically apply within the first three days of a job being posted,” she said.

Also, you cannot get hired for a job if you are candidate #687, so look beyond the first page of jobs being advertised, she stresses.

“Job boards serve up ads, so if you’re looking for a customer service position in Topeka, Kansas, and type in certain keywords, you’ll get a number of hits, or job postings shown,” Daniels explains. Many candidates will spend too much time and energy looking at each job posting on the first page, then going to Glassdoor to see how the company is ranked, then going back and applying, she says.

That is wasted effort because a recruiter who has 30 open jobs on their plate isn’t going to go through 600 applications for each job, Daniels says. “They simply don’t have the time.”

For example, “on average, SAP gets 825 candidates across the entire set of jobs they have,” she says. “The reality is they’re not looking at all 825 resumes.” The jobs that show up on the first page of results on a job site are “oversampled,” she said. “So you need to be first—or you need to walk away.”

Regardless of the site, if the job doesn’t say that it’s a brand new posting, “skip it and go to pages four and five—which don’t have competition,” she said.

Although psychologically, you might think the ones on the first page are a better fit, “in actuality, it has to do with who pays the most money.” Location and keywords are also factors.

Being first may help your chances, but so does taking the time to proofread your cover letter and resume, advised Hassan. That may be old-school advice, “but it’s very, very relevant in today’s environment where candidates can quickly reply to a posting electronically.”

Far too often, she says, candidates forget to change wording in a cover letter they are repurposing from another job response, or they use abbreviations or lack of capitalization in emails and letters, as if they were texting a friend.

Also, “do the research to make sure your resume is search engine optimized,” Hassan said. Resumes that are customized to include specific skills or other key words highlighted in the job posting are far more effective.

Last, but not least, don’t discount the power of networking. “Use social media sites to research who you may know at a company you are applying to, or other ways to network, such as seeking out a fellow graduate from your college, or a sorority or fraternity.”