In September of 2014, Legz was quoted in SELF magazine! Read the fully submitted article below, or click on the link below to view the article itself!
SM: What is the most important element of a resume? What's the first thing your/an employer's eyes are drawn to?
Legz: The first thing a resume has to have is Visual Appeal. In today’s graphically enhanced society, why are we still sending out the same, black and white, template-based resumes? Think of your resume as a representation of you, and as your tool for making a first impression. A recruiter is more likely to be enticed by a visually appealing document than one that is difficult to read, difficult to follow, and (let’s face it) boring. Capture their attention as soon as their eye hits the page, and entice them to read further. Make your document “POP” from the stacks of mundane to review. Recruiters can spot formatting and grammatical mistakes as soon as their eye hits the page. No matter how many times you proofread, you must make sure your resume is 100% error free. A recruiter will equate the lack of attention to detail on your resume with a lack of attention in your performance. This is not a place for mistakes, so check it thoroughly! Once you’ve captured their attention, the first place a recruiter’s eyes will go is the top center section of your document. This is the area they will determine what it is you do, and what it is you do well.
SM: What is the most annoying thing you see on a resume? What do you consider a waste of time when reading?
Legz: Nearly every resume I review contains the word, “Objective”. This is outdated terminology that imbeds an immediate negative connotation in your document. Why? Because the very word “Objective” screams, “What I want to GAIN from you”, rather than “What I can PROVIDE to you”. I immediately advise all my clients to remove this verbiage from their resume and replace it with something such as, “Professional Overview”, or “Career Summary”, followed by a couple of statements summarizing who they are and what they bring to the table. Since this is the first place a recruiter looks, it should be the section that conveys quickly what it is you can provide to them should they choose to hire you.
SM: When graduating college, you're told to add lines like "Objective" or "Hobbies." How important are elements like that to employers?
Legz: Well, since you already know my sentiments for the word “Objective”, I’ll admit the word “Hobbies” and I don’t mix well either! Let’s face it, not everyone is as entertained to hear about us, as US! Recruiters don’t care if you play soccer on the weekends unless you are applying for a position as a soccer coach. The only time you should include any personal information on your resume is when it directly pertains to the position you seek. I do, however, suggest including volunteer experience as this conveys your willingness to participate in the betterment of your community.
SM: What format would you recommend someone use for their resume? What's the easiest format for you to read/digest information from?
Legz: If I had one piece of advice I could offer my clients, I would advise them of this: Stop thinking in terms of “formatting” and “templates” when it comes to their resumes. Think of your resume as a road map. When you are lost and pick up a map, you can appreciate the ability to navigate to your destination by the visual clarity of it, and by utilizing the “keys” to steer you in the right direction. When a recruiter initially views your document, they are lost. They are using your resume in the same manner one would use a map to navigate themselves to the right candidate. As long as your resume is easy to follow, with clear direction, the recruiter will find their way to you. After interviewing numerous HR Recruiters and having worked as a recruiter myself, the thing I hear most often is that they want a document they can follow with ease. “DeZign” your resume in a way that is easy to follow. Additionally, consider your career field and develop a document that is appropriate to it. If you are applying to a university that has been schooling for several hundred years, choose a bit more conservative color and style for your document. If you are a seasoned executive, you are not going to produce the same visually appealing document that a graphic artist candidate might produce. DeZign your document in a way that is appropriate for your career field.
SM: If you've been working at the same company for ages, how can you play up your experience and make it seem current?
Legz: In any situation you want to showcase your skills in the best light possible. The key to a good resume is to provide a list of things you have learned, things you do well, and things you have achieved. The mistake so many applicants make is listing their previous job responsibilities. They forget that recruiters are already familiar with these positions. That is why they are hired to fill them, so they are not interested in hearing the job description all over again. They want to know about YOU. Any time you stay focused on this, your resume will naturally keep your experience current. It will all fall into place!
SM: If you've been at one company for ages and have been promoted several times, how should you communicate that on your resume?
Legz: What I don’t recommend is listing job promotions as separate job experiences. When you do, you run the risk of giving a “job hopper” appearance. My suggestion is to group the dates of the promotions under the same employer, which shows both your tenure and your progression up the corporate ladder.
SM: The one-page rule: Should you always stick to that?
Legz: This is the question I am asked most often and it perplexes me each time I hear it. I’m not sure where that “rule” came from, but there are no “rules” in resume writing. (Note: Federal government resumes are the only resumes with specific submission requirements, and you should always check with each company you apply to for any additional submission requirements to be accepted by their company’s Applicant Tracking System.) With today’s technology, the simple PDF document still works wonders. You can format a document however you like and still convert it nicely to a PDF. I believe the one-page rule was brought about in an effort to think of your resume as a marketing flyer, and in many ways it is. Do recruiters often prefer a resume to be one page? Some do, but most will tell you that it is not the length of the document but the content they have to sift through. The only time the length is viewed negatively is when the document is full of “fluff” and the additional pages contain wasteful information (i.e. information that isn’t relevant to the position they seek to fill). Unfortunately, a fear of writing more than one page has developed in the overall population, but you need not be afraid. Remember, in resume writing, THERE ARE NO RULES! There is no law, no handbook, and no regulatory requirements. The worst thing you can do is minimize the font of your relevant information in order to remain on a single sheet of paper. Just think of your resume as a high-level overview of your career and save the details for the interview. By doing so, the final page length of your resume will be appropriate for your skill level.
SM: What words should you absolutely never include in your resume?
Legz: Never use the word, “I”. Resumes should never be written in first person. Another phrase that should be omitted is, “References Available By Request”! These words scream, “I’m not with the times and I don’t know anything about current resume writing trends!” Every recruiter I talk to finds these words a complete waste of space, if not a nuisance.
SM: Should you be submitting the same resume to every job?
Legz: This is another question I am often asked, and my advice to my clients is this: If you have worked in corporate America for the past 15 years spending half your time in human resources and the other half in marketing, you will want to have two separate resumes for both career fields IF YOU ARE PLANNING TO PURSUE A JOB IN EITHER OF THOSE FIELDS. Generally speaking, if written correctly, your resume will cover a number of open positions in a specific field. It is only when you change fields that you need to shift the overall focus and direction of your resume, minor company-specific “tweaks” not withstanding. On one occasion, I received a request to revise the resume of a military member serving in Iraq. When I provided his free assessment, I told him I was unclear as to what he needed from me, since his resume appeared to be in great shape. His resume spoke to his extensive experience in both special operations and security forces. His response was that he no longer wished to continue working in special operations and security forces. He wanted to pursue a career in project management fieldwork instead. We were able to take his existing information and place the emphasis on his experiences that related to project management, rather than special operations. The result of this is his successful and current employment in his chosen field of project management. When writing your resume, always keep the focus on what it is you want to do, then find correlating areas in your work history that support that role. If you are changing fields, change resumes. Otherwise, you should be fine having just a single version of your resume.
SM: In this digital world, how do you feel about linking out to portfolios, projects, photos, or a designed resume? Is it worth someone putting that effort in?
Legz: Absolutely worth it! Hey, I love “DeZigned” resumes! In fact, I strongly encourage my clients to add a bit of personality to their resume. After all, a resume is a representation of YOU! Each one of us is unique so let that personality shine through in your document. Adding a bit of color or changing the font is fine, however, I do not recommend making your resume so flashy that it may overwhelm the intended viewer.
As for networking and posting samples of your previous work online, social media is being used now more than ever. It provides the average job seeker access to contacts that were previously unavailable. Conversely, those contacts now have direct access to you, so give them a reason to want more. Online social networking is a great way to get your foot in the door, if used properly. My advice to anyone utilizing social media to make professional connections is to be patient, consistent, and genuine when reaching out and connecting with others.
Leslie Berner is a published author, professional resume writer, and the founder/owner of Legz Resume DeZign Studio in Charlottesville, VA providing custom resume revision and career networking services at affordable prices . Backed by over 20 years experience in resume writing and recruiting, Leslie keeps a finger on the pulse of today’s hottest trends to provide you with a “leg up” on the job competition! Her use of non-traditional fonts and addition of color to original, template-free resume deZigns are a highly successful combination that GETS YOU NOTICED! (Article by Author Tammy Petry: "Why You Should ReDeZign Your Resume: Royal Advice from Author and Reigning Resume Queen Leslie Berner").
Leslie is available for hire to instruct on the art of resume writing for company training, lectures, seminars, and job coaching. More resume writing tips can be found in her book, “Resumes Have Rules? Setting the confuZed job seeker straight while hauling resume writing into the 21st century” and can be purchased on Amazon.com for only $2.99. Get your copy here: Resumes Have Rules? Free resume reviews and a 100% client satisfaction rate to date!