Trying to grab an employer’s attention in today’s world is daunting for most job seekers that’s why Gina Meier says she likes job candidates that make their resumes visually appealing.
“I don’t necessarily mean pretty, but I mean something that’s sort of easy to read and gives me your professional background,” said the PCMA Director of Human Resources, who shared her expertise in the PCMA Gulf States Chapter on-line program, Fireside Chat: Building a Resume & LinkedIn Profile That Gets Results, last week.
“I prefer to know where you got the skills, where you got the experience,” said Meier countering the current trend of listing your attributes, then skill sets before listing work experience. “So I think a little bit of old school is better — to list you know what you did in each job and the experience you got.”
Meier and emcee Amy Brown, Gulf States Chapter President, guided the discussion through resume design, cover letter content, LinkedIn design as well as taking questions throughout the talk.
“A resume that really caught my eye,” Meier talked of a recent resume she saw. “She (the applicant) did have kind of on the right-hand side all of her work experience, her duties, the usual things that go on a resume and on the left-hand side in a smaller column she actually put some of the behaviors – like leadership skills, communication skills, some of the behaviors that she actually learned or had exposure to in those jobs. I thought that was actually a nice touch because it spoke to kind of the technical skills and her duties but then also spoke to some of the things you learned along the way that are transferable across all positions.”
Both Meier and Brown stressed that no matter how you construct your resume, it better be clean of misspellings. If you are not detailed about your own resume, how thorough would you be on the job?
“Be clear and concise … no typos,” Meier stressed. “Proofread. Proofread even if you’ve looked at it 100 times. Have someone else look at it. If an individual can’t provide me with a resume that’s written properly with no grammatical and spelling errors, I’m not moving on with that individual.”
As for the cover letter, Meier feels like this is an area to let your personality come through or to make mention of something not covered in your resume. It is also an opportunity to bring together the skills your resume pinpoints to the job that you’re seeking.
“When you’re looking at that job posting and they (the company) are talking about skill sets, and you know your resume is really highlighting the work that you did, it’s not a bad idea to maybe relate (in the cover letter) some of the skill sets that you have that transfer to the job that they’re looking for and just making that connection for them,” Meier said.
For the younger audience just getting into the workforce and not having an array of experience to fill a resume, Meier says it is really important to align your volunteerism, courses you’ve taken or certifications and make sure to highlight those as they apply to the job that is being sought.
Also, social media has become an area where some human resource personnel and hiring companies will search to see an applicant’s posts and their public persona and make a judgement to hire based on that assessment.
Most all hirers will check out an applicant’s LinkedIn page. One question asked, ‘How do you define your LinkedIn so that it’s not just a replica of your resume?’
“This is the part where again you get to sell kind of your personality,” Meier explained. “It’s a window into the kind of who you are and what else you’re made up of besides your work experience. Even though it is a professional profile, I think it’s a great opportunity for you to express yourself. So, I would recommend you take the time to complete your profile.
“There are many, many pieces and parts to a profile (on LinkedIn),” she continued. “Invest the time and make sure that it’s complete. There are a lot of things you can add information too. Making sure you have a great photo (professional headshot) that does showcase you in your best professional light.”
Brown also emphasized the importance of taking advantage of the endorsements and recommendations area of LinkedIn. She said don’t be afraid to ask others for those recommendations. “Recommendations, whether it was volunteer things or job related, all of that to me is really where the standout pieces are on LinkedIn that you don’t get on a resume,” Brown said.
Virtual interviews were also discussed in the session and Meier said from her perspective she would like to see people be calm and attentive.
“Everyone is different, but for me, I would like people to be at ease. I don’t want you to assume you have the job and I don’t want you to be overly familiar,” Meier said. “But I do want you to relax and focus more on the conversation that we’re having and not worry so much about if you’re sitting up straight or if your clothes are straight.”
As part of the program, attendees were encouraged to post on one or more of the Gulf States Chapter social media platforms in order to be in the running for a free resume assessment from a professional in the meetings industry. One winner for February was selected during the event. Another winner will be selected in March.