When Kyle recently launched Resumoxie, I was so proud but not a bit surprised. She has always had a crazy talent for spinning our friends' resumes into gold, and she has now taken that passion and turned it into a career.
Kyle agreed to let me highlight her for this Q+A post, and if you are currently in the workplace (or think you'll enter or re-enter it at some point), I hope you'll enjoy reading her two cents on building your strongest resume.
(Spoiler alert ... giveaway below!)
|Kyle and me, ADPi pref tea circa 2003|
Q: Why is it important to have a strong resume these days?
A strong, up-to-date resume is critical in today’s fast-paced and competitive job market. Thanks to social media and sophisticated networking, recruiting happens around the clock, meaning that companies are looking at you, even if you aren’t looking at them. (And right off the bat, it’s important to clarify that I’m actually talking about the e-version of your credentials – we haven’t even gotten to the hard-copy resume yet!)
But regardless of whether your job search starts as the result of being recruited or because you submitted a formal application, your resume should serve as the foundation for your professional document suite. Cover letters, LinkedIn profiles, references, and the like should all be in sync – visually and in regards to content.
Q: What do you owe the success of Resumoxie to? What makes Resumoxie stand out?
Resumoxie has totally taken off, and from the wonderful feedback I’ve received, I have to say it’s because of the hyper-personalized approach I take with my clients. Resumes are an art (not a science) and no two have to be alike. The same goes for my clients – a resume for a college freshman looking for his first internship should look really different from that of a mom re-entering the workforce, or an aspiring Executive with decades of experience, and so on. I’ve been known to spend up to an hour getting to know my clients on the phone, and by the end of Resumoxie’s highly collaborative process, we’re friends. Some folks even call me before they call their husbands or moms to let them know they landed an interview or job, ha!
Q: What sort of shifts have you seen in the world of resumes?
I’ve been working on resumes for more than a decade, and there sure have been some changes! That said, there are still best practices and standards that remain rock solid, and I love working with Resumoxie clients to determine where they should land on all the variables.
The biggest change I’ve noticed is the “one page rule,” which isn’t a rule anymore. It’s definitely a very-nice-to-have element if it fits with your content, but if you’ve earned a second page, by all means use it! Keep in mind that information is relayed more concisely now than ever before, so you still want to be really tight with your content.
Another change I see is the increasing expectation that resumes be customized for every job you apply for. This isn’t a new tactic necessarily, but I would say that it’s officially moved into the land of must-do’s. I often ask my Resumoxie clients to send along a position they’re interested in as a way to make sure we’re incorporating keywords and common language, which you also want to reinforce throughout your cover letter.
Lastly, there’s more creative freedom in resumes now. To be clear: you still want to look polished and professional, and variances from the traditional models and format can go against you in some industries and cases. But thoughtful usage of color can totally fly now, as can interesting font pairings, and there are some fun things Resumoxie can do to help show your personal moxie, which is also increasingly considered by employers beyond the fact that you can simply do the job.
Q: Talk to me about cover letters -- are they important, and if so, what information should be included?
The cover letter is a game-changing asset if you can do it right. I do a ton of these for clients – either helping them get a base template that they can tweak, or doing multiple versions for specific positions or industries.
Just like your resume, cover letters should be customized for the specific job. That said, there are some basics that should appear in every version you write:
· The exact name of the position as well as the company.
· How you learned about the job. Don’t hesitate to name drop if applicable!
· Why you’re a great fit for the job. Be specific and don’t just regurgitate your resume. Take a look at the job description itself and use similar wording – they’re already telling you exactly what they’re looking for, so give it right back to them.
· Proof points, backed up with numbers. This is an almost universal area of improvement for every cover letter and resume I see – stop simply telling them what you did, and start telling them why it mattered.
· Your willingness to learn, especially if you’re just starting out, breaking into a new industry, or jumping up in title. You want to be confident, but not cocky.
· Your attached resume. Duh. (But people actually forget to include it!)
· Your appreciation for their time and consideration of your candidacy.
As you draft, keep in mind that cover letters are not always read first anymore. They need to function both as a lead into a resume AND as a wrap-up after a resume. And, while there absolutely is some flexibility on resume length, your cover letter should not exceed one page.
Q: How is social media playing a part in employment practices and networking these days? What are leading sites?
Social media sure has a way of shaking things up, and LinkedIn is no exception. I advise all my clients in active job hunts to have a thoughtful and strategic presence on the site, and it’s still a good idea for any professional regardless of whether or not you’re actively looking.
Important: your profile should not just be an online version of your resume. In fact, assuming you’re customizing your resume for every job application – as you should be – a resume approach to your LinkedIn profile can confuse the reader if it’s not saying the same thing. So I like to recommend short narratives for people on LinkedIn, which automatically differentiates the asset from a (likely) bulleted resume. Think of LinkedIn as a short or long way to show a little personality, demonstrate your writing skills, or call attention to specific achievements.
We’re also beginning to see folks incorporate search engine optimization techniques to their LinkedIn profiles, knowing that recruiters are heavily relying on the network to locate candidates proactively. I think that’s pretty exciting stuff, as did my web marketing buddy in Hong Kong, who I spent an hour-plus talking to about this not too long ago. I will geek out with you all day on this one!
Q: We all know that Elle Woods would say "pink, scented paper." But in your opinion, what traits bring a resume to the top of a stack?
She sure would, bless her heart. I’ll give Elle points for creativity, but most of us should be using tactics that are a bit more traditionally accepted. (I would have just loved to have Elle as a Resumoxie client!)
The top tip for initially standing out is a crisp document design with an emphasis on readability. Chances are that your reviewer will be combing through hundreds of resumes – probably on a screen at first (and sometimes exclusively) – so you want to make it scanable and easy on the eyes. Think lots of white space and no less than a 10pt. font size.
Once you’re clean and polished, you can definitely have a little fun with your layout – working with clients on a killer document design that conveys their personal brand is one of my favorite Resumoxie services! I have a great time with clients going over their desired visual presence, what font styles allude to the qualities they want to convey, and how the structure of the document can draw the eye toward or away from certain areas. It’s amazing what you can do without even touching the content. (Though that’s important too!)
Q: So what’s new or next for Resumoxie?
A lot! I just added several packages and even a discount bundle deal to my site – all based on the requests, trends and needs I’m seeing in real time from my clients. But of course folks can always ask for a custom quote too, as I’ve been known to draft professional bios, edit admissions essays, write web content, and more!
Now, for the giveaway -- Kyle is willing to give away a Signature Overhaul ($300 value) for one reader who likes the Resumoxie LinkedIn and/or Facebook pages. Just leave a separate comment here for each "like" you give! The giveaway will run through this Thursday at midnight with the winner announced Friday. Thanks sweet Kyle for letting me share this on the blog!