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Do I Really Need A Cover Letter?

One question that I am often asked is, “Do I really need a cover letter?” The question stems from the assumption that a cover letter isn’t going to be read, or that a resume covers all of the necessary information. The short answer to the question is: Yes, you need one.Cover Letter

Why Do I Need A Cover Letter?

Obviously, the follow-up question is: “Why?” Your resume clearly outlines your work history, highlights your relevant experience, and demonstrates the value you can bring to a potential employer. So, what more could a hiring manager want? What makes that additional document so important? Well, first of all, it shows that you are serious about wanting the job. It lets a hiring manager know that you want the job badly enough to write a letter that might not even be read. It demonstrates that you understand the importance of professionalism.

Part of making a good first impression is following established rules of etiquette, even if those rules seem antiquated. Submitting a cover letter with your resume is part of following those rules. So, it is necessary because it is expected. It also lets you connect with the hiring manager in a way that goes beyond the cut-and-dry format of your resume. It lets you present yourself as an actual human being, not just a “job candidate.”

You can use your cover letter to reiterate why you are an ideal candidate for the job. It gives you a chance to explain gaps in your employment, or make connections between your job history and your target job that might not be obvious. Ultimately, it can help set you apart from all of the other job candidates.

Cover Letter Best Practices

In order to make the most of your cover letter, there are some best practices to follow. First, make sure your cover letter is not too long. The ideal length depends on the job you are seeking, but always keep it under a page. If you are submitting it via email, send it as the body of the email, not as an attachment (attachment letters won’t be read). Don’t use a generic letter to apply to several jobs–customize it for each job posting. Personalize it when you can by including the name of the hiring manager. If you don’t have this information, call to get it unless the posting specifically says not to call.

If you need help creating an effective cover letter, let us help! Our resume packages all include a cover letter, or you can purchase one separately.

Military to Civilian Resume Writing: How to Overcome the Biggest Challenges

Creating an effective military to civilian resume is filled with a host of unique challenges. We can help. Here are some tips to help make sure your military to civilian resume will help you get a new job.military to civilian resume

Military to Civilian Resumes Need to Use Civilian Language

The military essentially has its own language. The same is true of civilian employers. So, if you want your resume to impress a civilian hiring manager, it needs to be written in a way that makes sense to them. Start by spelling out all acronyms (or, leaving them out altogether if possible). Try to think back to your days before joining the military. Remember all of the words and phrases that seemed confusing when you first joined? Leave them out of your resume.

Show Your Value

When you describe your experience, think about it in terms of the value you provided. There are some things that are valuable both in the military and civilian world. For instance, did you find a way to increase efficiency and cut costs? If so, make sure to highlight that because those are things that are valuable to civilian employers. Did you improve the effectiveness of a process or procedure? That’s valuable too. While the specific details of what you did might not translate well into civilian terms, the underlying value often does. So, make sure the focus is on that underlying value.

Find Common Ground

Military personnel, in general, often have a wealth of soft skills that are highly desirable to civilian companies. Strong work ethic, leadership skills, attention to detail, and the ability to work well under pressure are all valuable traits. The trick is to show these on your resume rather than just listing them. Adding soft skills to a skills list or core competencies section is not recommended, but demonstrating them is. In your experience section, give clear examples of how you used these skills in your daily activities.

Resume writing can be overwhelming for anyone, and it can be especially daunting when trying to shift from a military career to a civilian one. At Loud Resumes, we have experience creating effective military to civilian resumes. We would love to help you make the transition as smooth as possible. We offer a 10% discount to all those who have served in the military (use discount code: Military2018). If you are a disabled/recently separated vet, contact us for an additional discount.

The Secret to Targeting Your Resume

At Loud Resumes, we create resumes that help you get more interviews and job offers, but how do we achieve that?

Targeting Your ResumeWe specifically target every part of your resume to the job you are seeking. Targeting your resume, along with making sure that your experience is value-based, and there are no grammatical errors or typos on your resume, results in you getting more interviews and offers. It sounds simple enough, but the process of targeting your resume is actually fairly complex. Here’s a breakdown of what the process looks like:

1. Targeting Your Resume by Analyzing the Job Posting

Before even thinking about starting the resume writing process, we analyze the job posting. We scour it for keywords and evaluate what is most important to this employer. What are they looking for in their ideal employee? Which skills and experience will impress them the most? What are their company values?

2. Evaluating Your Experience

After carefully analyzing the job posting to determine what the ideal candidate for this job looks like, we then evaluate your experience. We look at your job history to identify the experience that most closely matches what the company wants. We also note any education or special training that you have that will impress a hiring manager.

Once we have made our initial evaluation, we create a list of questions for you to answer to help us match your experience as closely as possible to the job posting. We also ask questions to help you identify any underlying value in things you have done in your previous positions. This step is crucial. We aren’t interested in just re-wording your previous resume for you, our goal is to elevate you to ideal candidate status for the job you are most interested in. This takes time and effort, but it is always worth it.

3. The Summary Statement

After gathering all of the preliminary information, it’s time to begin targeting your resume. The first thing a hiring manager sees at the top of your resume is the summary statement. This is the place to introduce yourself and highlight your most relevant skills and experience. The goal is to convince them in one short paragraph that you are someone they want to get to know better. We don’t use “fluff” or “filler,” but instead we focus on concrete “selling points” that make you stand out.

4. Core Competencies

The core competencies section gives the opportunity to list keywords found directly in the job posting. This helps your resume get through ATS scans and it makes it easy for a hiring manager to see that you have the key points they are looking for. We don’t just throw a list of keywords randomly onto your resume, but instead, target them to the position. This goes beyond just using the right words, we also focus on listing them in the most effective order possible.

5. Targeting Your Resume Experience

In the pre-writing process, we evaluated your experience and identified all of the value that you brought to your previous employers. Now it is time to show that experience in a way that positions you as an ideal candidate. Based on the job posting, we decide what order to list the bullet points under each position you have held. This allows us to make sure that a hiring manager sees the experience that is most important and impressive. It highlights the qualifications you have for this new position and shows your value as an employee.

Along with highlighting the most sought-after experience that you have, we also minimize anything that could hinder your chances of being interviewed. We eliminate as many reasons as possible for a hiring manager NOT to interview or hire you.

6. Education and Professional Development

This section of your resume might seem pretty straight-forward, and compared to some of the other sections, it is. But, sometimes it can be targeted towards a specific job posting. We take the time to clearly present your relevant credentials and training.

7. Technology Skills

Sometimes there are technical skills that are particularly sought after in the job posting. We make sure that, if you have those skills, they are clearly seen on your resume. We also make sure that irrelevant skills are removed. There is no need to take up valuable space on your resume with information that won’t help you get the job.

8. Professional Affiliations

Professional groups that you belong to can also help increase your appeal to a hiring manager, so we list your relevant affiliations next. Sometimes we include details about your specific activities in these groups if they bring added value that could help you get the job.

9. Volunteerism

Including a section on your resume to describe your volunteer activities is not always necessary, but if space allows, it can be valuable. If you have volunteer experience that is specifically related to the job you are seeking, then it is a good idea to include it. Unrelated volunteer experience can also be included to show the type of person you are.

10. Proofreading and Editing

The final step to create your resume is editing and proofreading. We go back and read what we have written, comparing it to the target job posting. When we read your resume, we should see a picture of that ideal candidate we described when we analyzed the job posting. We make sure that everything is targeted as closely as possible. This also gives us the opportunity to check for any grammatical or typing errors so that your resume is error-free.

Targeting Your ResumeThe final product is a resume that presents you as an ideal candidate for the exact job that the hiring manager is trying to fill. This makes you memorable and desirable. It makes the hiring manager want to meet you. This is how we get our clients more interviews and job offers. Your resume is more than just a history of your work experience, it is a chance for you to make a first impression on a hiring manager who is looking for someone just like you. Targeting your resume makes all the difference. Let us help you target your resume!

Why is it So Hard to Write a Resume?

Writing a resume doesn’t sound that hard. After all, you know your job better than anyone. You know how valuable you have been as an employee. You are confident in your skills and abilities. So, why is it so hard to write a resume?writing a resume

Bragging Doesn’t Always Come Naturally.

Even though you know you have always done a good job and been a valuable employee, it can be hard to convey that in your resume. Bragging has a negative connotation, so many people are reluctant to “brag” about themselves. It can help to not think of it as bragging. You aren’t trying to show how great you are while making other people feel bad about themselves. That attitude is generally at the heart of bragging, which is why the negative connotation exists. But, when describing your positive qualities on your resume, your goal isn’t to put others down. So, in this case, this type of “bragging” isn’t a bad thing. You are simply trying to show a hiring manager the value that you have brought to previous employers to demonstrate the value you can bring to a new company or organization. Don’t be afraid to clearly show your value.

Describing Work Experience Seems Boring.

You might feel like your job was not very exciting. It might seem hard to describe it in a way that anyone else would care about. Keep in mind that whatever your job duties were, someone was paying you to do them. This means that what you were doing was valuable to them. Describe your job duties in terms of the value it brought to the company. Did you work as a cashier? In doing so, you were building valuable customer relationships. Did you work in the IT department? Your job helped keep critical systems up and running so that the business could keep functioning. Were you a nurse? You provided quality patient care. Think about your job in terms of the value you brought and describe it in those terms. When you do this, your job (whatever it may have been) is no longer boring, but important.

When thinking about the value you brought, also think about the details of what you did. Adding details that help you show what you did in concrete terms makes your experience more interesting and more impressive. Don’t be vague. Ask yourself, “How much?” “How many?” “How often?” and write about your experience in those terms.

Writing Isn’t Easy.

Writing doesn’t come easy for everyone. Grammar rules are confusing. Spelling is hard (even with spellcheck!) and you feel like everything you write sounds terrible. If the only thing keeping you from being confident in writing a resume is your lack of writing abilities, ask for help. Have a friend or family member proofread your resume for you. This can help minimize the problems with the mechanics of your writing.

Does writing your own resume still sound like a difficult and daunting task? Let us help. Our professional resume writers know how to highlight your value as an employee and we have the writing prowess to make you sound like the perfect candidate. We have a resume package that is perfect for your needs.

How to Make A Career Shift

You’re in a career that just isn’t for you and you’re looking for a change, but you don’t know where to begin. Sound familiar?

 

Making a Career ShiftShifting careers can be tricky business. Where do you begin looking? How do you find jobs you’re qualified for in a new field or industry? Can any of the skills and experience you gained in previous positions help you in a new career? Trying to find answers to all of those questions can be overwhelming. But, don’t worry, here’s a guide to help you move forward.

Identify transferable skills…

First, begin by assessing your transferable skills. How do you identify your transferable skills? Start by looking at your job experience. Make a list of the duties and responsibilities that you have had in each job you have held. Now ask yourself what value each of these things brought to your employer. Why were you being paid to do these things? What did they accomplish for the company or organization you worked for? For example, working as a cashier seems pretty mundane, but the value a cashier provides to their employer is in the form of customer loyalty, revenue from repeat business, and minimal revenue loss from accurately charging customers and making change. So, what skills are needed to provide this value? Customer loyalty and revenue from repeat business come from providing good customer service, and minimizing revenue loss comes from being detail-oriented, honest, and having basic math skills. When you break down your previous work experience in this way, you can start to see the underlying skills that were used. Many of those skills can be valuable in other positions as well.

Use that list of skills to help find jobs you qualify for…

After you have identified your valuable skills, make a list of careers you are interested in. Then take a look at internet job boards and find some job descriptions of positions that you might be interested in. For your first search, don’t worry too much about location, just find descriptions of jobs you think you would enjoy. After finding a couple, look at the skills and qualifications needed for these positions and compare this with the list of skills that you made earlier to determine if you are qualified. If you can give clear examples of at least 75% of the skills required in the job description, and you meet any specific qualifications listed (education, certifications, etc.) then you can apply for the job. If you don’t meet the qualifications, determine what you need to get those qualifications and then decide if it is something you want to pursue. It might mean returning to school or pursuing certifications. If this is your dream job, then taking those steps could be worth it. If you don’t have the necessary experience for those jobs you found, go back to your list of careers you are interested in and choose another area. Look for jobs in this new area and follow the same steps as before. Continue in this way until you find jobs that you are qualified for.

If there is a significant gap between the experience you have and the types of jobs you want, you may have to find some middle ground. What lower-level jobs could help you gain experience towards the career you want? Keep in mind that you may need to take an entry-level position in your new industry to start on your new career path, but if it leads you to your dream job, it is well worth it.

Are you ready to create a resume to help you make your career shift? We’re here to help!

How to Create an Effective Resume

As a professional resume writer, I hear all the time from clients that, “I’ll start my job search as soon as I have my resume written.” That sounds like a great way to do things, right? I mean, you need to have a resume in order to apply for jobs when you find them, so it seems logical to write the resume before beginning the job search. But, how do you write a resume that says, “Hire me, I am the perfect fit for the position at your company!” if you don’t know what position or company you are aiming for? What ultimately ends up happening in this situation is that you end up with a generic resume that doesn’t really stand out to anyone. Then, you wonder why you’re never getting called back for any interviews, and you quickly get discouraged in your job search, wondering why no one is impressed with you.

Job Search

So, should you not even bother thinking about your resume until after you have found positions that you are interested in? Not exactly. It is a good idea to create a generic resume before beginning your job search. Why? Because it helps you identify your skills and interests and can help guide your job search. But, that generic resume should not be the one you actually send out after you find the position you want.

After Your Job Search, Identify Your Strengths

After you find a position, go back to that generic resume and tailor it to the specific job posting. How do you do that? First, go through the job posting and making a list of keywords that describe the job duties and requirements of the position. Then make a list of specific experience that you have related to each of those duties and requirements. While you might not have specific experience related to every single keyword on your list, it is important to make sure that you have experience in more than half of them. If you demonstrate your qualifications, then it will be hard to convince a hiring manager that you are actually qualified for the job.

Leave Off Details That Are Not Relevant

Now go back to your generic resume. Begin with the Experience section. For each job in that section, make sure that the duties/responsibilities that most closely match the keywords on your list are the first bullet points listed. If you have several bullet points that describe duties or responsibilities that are not on your keyword list, consider leaving many of them off — hiring managers are most interested in how you can meet the specific role that you are applying for, and having a lot of information on your resume that does not relate to the position can be seen as a waste of their time.

Quantify Your Experience

After adding bullet points related to the job posting wherever possible in your Experience section, take another look at these bullet points. For each bullet point, try to answer the questions, “How many?” “How much?” “How often?” to quantify your experience. Also ask yourself, “how did this benefit the company? What value did I bring to the company?” Answering these questions will help you write bullet points that show how valuable you are as an employee, giving hiring managers a reason to invest in you.

Highlight Your Qualifications in Your Career Summary

The Experience section of your resume is your opportunity to show that you have the experience the hiring manager is looking for, but it is not the only part of your resume that needs to be tailored to the specific job position. The Career Summary at the top of your resume is also a great place to highlight your value. From the job posting, what appears to be most important to this company? Which skills and experience do they stress most? Those things should be included in your Career Summary section. Directly below your Career Summary, include a Core Competency section using words from your keyword list. This helps applicant tracking systems see that you have the necessary experience for the job.

If you take the time to tweak your resume specifically for each job position you are interested in, it shows hiring managers that you are serious about wanting THIS job. Hiring managers don’t want someone who is applying to everything under the sun. They want someone who is excited about their company. Show that you truly want this job. This will help you get the interviews and job offer you are hoping for.

Want help creating a resume that will get you more interviews? Let us help! Find the perfect resume package to meet your needs.

What Went Wrong on Izetta’s Resume?

Izetta had 15 years of experience as a chief executive officer in the healthcare field, which should have made it easy for her to get the interview for the position, but her resume landed in the trash instead. What went wrong? Isn’t it enough to have the right experience in the right field? Having the right experience is critical, but that experience doesn’t do you much good unless you clearly show the hiring manager your experience and the VALUE you can bring to the company. Izetta listed her experience and briefly described some of her job duties in her last position, but she failed to show the true benefits of the work she had done in the past. Just showing up for work every day and performing your basic job duties isn’t enough to convince anyone that you would be a valuable asset to their team. When a company hires an employee, they are making an investment (there is a salary that the employee will earn, in addition to the time and money spent on hiring and training), and before making a hiring decision, they want to have some idea of what they can expect from the employee in terms of return-on-investment (ROI). The best way to gauge the expected ROI is by looking at the contributions the employee has made in previous positions.

So, what can you do to help a hiring manager see you as a wise investment? Make sure that your value and contributions show up clearly on your resume. Begin by asking questions like this: How did the last company you worked for benefit from having you as an employee? What contributions did you make? Did you increase profits? Did you save money? Did you improve day-to-day operations? (If so, how did you do it and what impact did it have?) Be as specific as possible. It’s not enough just to say, “I saved the company money.” Try to quantify your contributions whenever possible by describing how you improved things and by how much. For example, a statement such as, “Improved employee retention” does not show as much value as, “Implemented an employee incentive program, increasing employee retention by 5%.” The first statement implies that you benefitted the company in some way, while the second statement shows that you are able to identify areas of need, take action to address that need, and the results are a measurable improvement.

Izetta’s biggest problem on her resume was her lack of quantifiable accomplishments or contributions, but her resume fell short overall because it was not an executive-level resume. It did nothing to show her professionalism or the level of seniority that is expected from someone applying for a C-level executive position. If you want to be taken seriously as an executive (or, at any level, really) your resume needs to be professional.

Our professional resume writers know how to ask questions to help you identify contributions you have made and quantify them so that they have the most impact. Order your resume package today so that you don’t face the same problems that Izetta did!

What Went Wrong on Astroth Varnham’s Resume?

Poor Astroth! His resume is saying all kinds of awful things about him and it lands his resume in the trash without a chance for an interview. Fortunately, there are things that can be done to fix the problems with Astroth’s resume. First of all, his job hopping makes him look like a poor job candidate, and while there’s nothing we can do to change his job history, we can minimize how noticeable it is by removing the months from the dates listed. By listing only the years, it is no longer obvious that he went sat unemployed for months at a time, or that he only stayed with some of those jobs for a few months. By making this small change, his resume no longer screams, “I’m not a loyal employee! Don’t hire me!”

Next, it is imperative to highlight any experience that he has related to the job for which he is applying, starting by removing unrelated job duties (like operating a jet bridge…a hiring manager looking for a customer service rep doesn’t care whether or not he knows how to operate a jet bridge). Providing more details about the duties he has had that are related to customer service would also help his resume say, “I have the experience you’re looking for!” rather than, “I’m completely unqualified for this position!”

Finally, if Astroth has any relevant computer skills, then they should be clearly listed, but if basic knowledge of Microsoft Office is the extent of his technology experience, then it is better to leave it off completely because, in this day and age, it is assumed that everyone has basic knowledge of Office.

What is your resume saying about you? A professionally written resume can help you avoid situations like Astroth’s. Let us help, find the package that’s perfect for your needs.