Which resume format should I use? Functional? Chronological? Something else?

Most job candidates are best served by a chronological format. However, sometimes there’s something important you did a long time ago that you want to list first. In that case, you might use a hybrid format, where you write a simple list of your positions and dates before going into your job detail. This way the reader knows you’re not hiding anything but you can organize facts creatively. – Brenda Bernstein

I’ve seen a lot of career professionals talk about the ATS. Can you explain what it is?

Applicant Tracking Software (ATS) are computerized systems that companies use to evaluate job candidates. They are not always the best judge, but as job seekers we need to deal with them. You must make sure your resume is compatible with ATS and that the software can read everything properly. This does not mean you can’t have any formatting in your resume. Read articles about ATS to learn more! – Brenda Bernstein

Should I put my education at the top or bottom of my resume?

If you graduated and received a degree recently, you probably will want to put your education at the top. If it’s been 10 years or more, you probably want it at the bottom. You always want to think about what the most important thing is for an employer to know. If it’s your education, put it first. Otherwise don’t! – Brenda Bernstein

Is there anything in particular I need to do different with my resume to prepare for the job market after COVID-19 subsides?

More than ever, keyword optimization will be essential to get an interview. Use a tool like JobScan or hire a resume writer who has the tools to ensure your resume is formatted properly and is approximately an 80% match for the job. – Brenda Bernstein

Any good tips for going around the applicant tracking software? Or should I?

The best route around ATS systems is to use your networks. If a company knows and wants you, they will change the job description so your resume will pass their ATS requirements! Another common scenario is that the company ignores any ATS match issues because they have decided to hire you. Example: One of my clients got a job that required a college degree even though she didn’t have one! – Brenda Bernstein

What exactly is a job target on my resume and why do I need one? I just need a job!

Your job target determines every word on your resume, from the Summary statement to the competencies and accomplishment bullets. Your target determines what is relevant to include, and what is not. It determines the keywords needed to score highly in ATS systems. With no target, you are throwing spaghetti at a wall and hoping it sticks. If you’re not sure where you want to head, coaching can help! – Brenda Bernstein

When I try to describe all the tasks I performed at my previous jobs, my resume is 4 pages long. What do I do?

It’s a common misconception that you need to list all your past job tasks. Instead, focus on the accomplishments that you achieved while performing those tasks. Also, when you mention tasks, prioritize the ones that you will be asked to do in your next job. Look at the job description to guide you in what is important and what can be left out of this resume. – Brenda Bernstein

Continuing education on a resume: Is it important? If so, how do I list it?

Continuing education is important if it proves skills that will be useful for your next job. If you received a certification, list it in a Certifications section. Otherwise, list it in your Education section. You can start the Education section with any advanced degrees, then your college degree. Then (if you have room) write a subheading “Continuing Education” and put additional items there. – Brenda Bernstein

I just read some advice to “weave your personality into your resume.” How would I do that?

You can absolutely spice up your resume with personality! A tasteful image in your header is one way. Taglines are another. I had a client who was a VP of HR who called himself a VEEP of Peeps. But his resume did not have that phrase anywhere. I advised him to put it in! For another client, we wrote the tagline, “Inspiring Teams to Performance when the Game is On the Line.” You do you! – Brenda Bernstein

I’ve noticed we have skill quizzes available on LinkedIn. What good are they to my job search?

Recruiters and hiring managers are increasingly searching for people who have passed certain skills quizzes. If you do work that relies on your ability to use specific software and are claiming proficiency in it, you need to see if there is a skills test available so you can PROVE your skill. You have to score 70% to pass. If you fail, no one will know. You can try again in 3 months. – Brenda Bernstein

Now that we have 220 characters for LinkedIn headlines, how should we best use this space?

I recommend using the 220 characters for a combination of your most important keywords for SEO and a tagline that sells your strengths. Keywords may include your job title(s), abbreviation(s) of your job title, industry, and sought-after skills. A tagline is an opportunity to convey your unique selling proposition — what you offer a company that others don’t. Make those characters count! – Brenda Bernstein

How can I make sure my cover letter is interesting enough to capture the attention of a recruiter or hiring manager?

To capture the attention of a hiring manager, write a different cover letter for each job you apply for. Convey to the company that you understand their needs. Explain how the company’s mission and values align with your own. Then provide examples of your accomplishments that speak as specifically as possible to the main qualifications needed for the position. – Brenda Bernstein

What is the best way to include a cover letter with my resume when I’m applying for a job online? Should it be a separate document or the first page of my resume?

Cover letters should be a separate document unless otherwise specified – or you risk having your resume rejected. Assuming you know the specific position you’re applying for, write your letter to that company and targeted to that position. Generic cover letters will not help you. If no cover letter is requested, do not include one. Following instructions is paramount. – Brenda Bernstein

How can I stand out and be memorable in my interview?

For better or worse, you will stand out by NOT making some common interview mistakes. Dress professionally, arrive on time, and be nice to the receptionist. Prepare, prepare, prepare – meaning research the company, know the background of your interviewers, and read the company website top to bottom. Answer questions directly and concisely. And write a thank you note! – Brenda Bernstein

How much should I disclose about an old DUI (more than twenty years) to a prospective employer?

Honesty is always the best policy when it comes to past legal infractions. If you had one DUI 20+ years ago and none since, an employer will probably not be concerned, especially if it happened when you were young and less responsible. However, if you don’t disclose the DUI and it comes up in their background check, they will be very concerned about your integrity. – Brenda Bernstein

Should I submit a resignation letter? What should it say?

Yes absolutely! A resignation letter should include the amount of notice that you are giving (often 2 weeks’), your intended last day of employment, and an appreciation of the opportunities you have had while working at your current company. Do NOT include your reason for leaving or any details about your next position. Keep it short and to the point! – Brenda Bernstein

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