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Red Letter Resumes is a professional resume writing service provider. We specialize in resume writing, cover letter writing, and LinkedIn profile creation and enhancement. We offer service packages that are tailored for years of career experience and also for technical, engineering, and IT resumes.
When something comes up in threes, close attention needs to be paid. It is no longer a coincidence or a fluke, it's a pervading concept. On three different recent occasions, someone has told us they stay off of LinkedIn because "they aren't job searching." What other reason could they ever possibly need it for?
Red Letter Roundup:5 Articles to Focus Your Career Perception
Personal branding is more than a buzzword. It is your way of controlling your perception and setting the tone for how you want to be seen. That is why you should care about it!
For those of you new to the concept or veterans looking to tweak your existing brand, we’ve rounded up some excellent reading to help you fine tune this increasingly important tool in a career arsenal.
Recently I wrote about how your resume is never enough to get you hired for a job you really want. To use a sports analogy, you can't win a game in the first quarter, but you can definitely lose one, and the same thing is true with a resume: A great resume won't ensure you get hired, but a poor resume can definitely ensure you won't get hired.
Are You Leaving Perks on the Table?Negotiation Involves More Than Money If You Want the Best Offer Possible
Have you ever asked for more when it came to a job offer?
Sure you've calculated your paycheck and potential cash earnings, but have you ever taken a stab at upgrading other parts of your compensation package?
It is easy to focus on that direct deposit fattening your bank account, but there are other perks that make work life easier and save you from dipping into that bank account later. If you haven't negotiated any benefits outside of your salary, you are missing out on some very valuable additions to your overall package.
Before you say "yes" to that next job offer, these are the perks you'll want at the top of your negotiation hit list.
1. Vacation Time
A refreshed employee is more productive yet vacation time seems to be lacking in many initial offers. Asking for more personal or vacation days is typically an easy request to get passed, especially when there isn't wiggle room for salary or other financial bonuses.
2. Tuition or Professional Development Reimbursement
Companies want you to be on top of your game so sponsoring you for classes or degrees that enhance your skillset only benefit them. Find out if they are willing to pay for it or have money set aside for professional development. Many larger organizations have an allocated budget but it is on you to inquire. Take advantage of this perk and raise your worth without reaching into your own pocket.
3. Flexible Schedule
More and more businesses are embracing the concept of flexible scheduling. From telecommuting and work from home days to hitting the office from 7 am to 3 pm rather than the typical 9 to 5; the one size fits all method is slowly shifting.
The demands of certain industries wouldn't make this a feasible ask, but if all you need is your cell phone and computer, make your case. Productivity is what matters so be ready to explain your reasoning. Discussing it up front, even if it doesn't kick in until after your probation period ends, will set you up for the balance that works for you.
4. Travel/Commute Stipend
Parking, gas or other transportation costs can add up fast. Find out if there are any company sponsored discounts or reimbursements for the cost of your commute especially if you work in bigger cities. These fees can eat into your bottom line and need to be factored into your offer evaluation from the start.
Ask for what really matters to you and always be prepared for the possibility of hearing a "no". Only you know what truly matters to you and what is a deal breaker. Be smart and take a look at the entirety of your offer before making any decisions but remember, if you don't ask, you won't get.
Red Letter RoundupCover Letters: What You Need to Know Right Now to Make Yours Stand Out
Cover letters make people tense. They're not sure what to include, who to address it to, how long it should be, and writer's block sets in.
While some may think they've gone out of fashion, they end up in your personnel file forever and can sometimes be the tiebreaker when it comes to deciding which candidates land interviews. A form letter won't get it done!
Your cover letter should be personal and tell something that your resume doesn't.
So let's get off the cover letter struggle bus once and for all!
This month we've rounded up five of the best articles we could find about writing the perfect cover letter every time. You'll find some great samples as well as insight so that you'll no longer feel completely overwhelmed when it's your turn to write one.
Your Resume Should Be One Page, and That Is a Good Thing
Resumes have a lot of rules. To some people, it feels like too many. I was reminded of this recently while taking a live call as an expert on Ryan Foland's radio show, Get Notified. The caller was a self-identified millennial job seeker who had a bone to pick about the one-page requirement for resumes. She felt with millennials becoming the majority in the workforce, old guidelines should no longer apply. A single page resume, from her perspective, could not contain all her peers had to offer. That viewpoint inspired me to share my feelings on the topic since I know a lot of people worry about this particular resume tenet.
When it comes to resume length, it is typically determined by your amount of experience in your field. The basic recommendation goes like this: if you have less than 10 years of experience, a one-page resume is your maximum. No discussion! If you have over 10 years of experience, you should stick to a two-page limit. The caveat is that every item that goes onto that second page better add massivevalue because if the first page doesn’t sell you, no one will ever read that far! If that isn’t reason enough to get on board with the one sheet concept, here are three more.
1. Attention spans are short.
Some experts may say that in the digital age the length of your resume doesn't really matter. I'd say that's rubbish; people’s attention spans are less than a gnat’s these days. People are in information overload. That makes delivering all the goods in one page a necessity. If somebody really wants to know more, which is the true purpose of the resume, they can look you up on LinkedIn or give you a call. We live in a society of scrollers and skimmers that want news in bite-size chunks. Your resume is no exception.
2. You’ll land more interviews.
HR needs you to be succinct. They review hundreds of resumes for each opening, which requires them to identify core points quickly. If they are buried in a lengthy resume they can't do their job efficiently and it often leads to your resume landing in the trash. Six seconds is long enough to make an impression, but it's not long enough to read a biography. A resume that is concise and cleanly laid out will always outperform its opposite.
3. It forces you to get focused.
When space is a hot commodity, you can't rattle on with long-winded prose or paragraphs. You have to get real specific real fast; every item you put on that resume needs to be valuable. There is no room for anything else. It forces your hand, which for most people is the only way you can get them to cut the BS. By leaving duties, and other excess filler on the cutting room floor, you automatically cut to your best stuff. Your unique brand becomes crystal clear which creates a much more persuasive and compelling resume. By default, this rule forces you to write a stronger resume. How can you be mad at that?
Millennials that think this is a rule to rebel against, I challenge you to do the opposite. Be so bold as to embrace the single page and make it exceptional. Be the generation that knows their value, what it means to employers, and how to pitch it to them in a way that makes you stand out rather than get lost in a sea of sameness.
Embrace the simplicity of focusing solely on your distinctive talents and you’ll never worry about the length of your resume again.
Break up With Your Bad Career Habits: 10 Damaging Behaviors That Are Slowing Down Your Success
Settling into a not so great for your career habit can happen without any warning. You go about your Monday through Friday routine and get lost in the minutia of the day. You have your rituals, your calendars, your status meetings, and before you know it, another month has scrolled by. Sometimes the monotonous rut of the daily grind can keep you from acting in a way that serves your bigger picture and bad practices are formed. In an effort to help you weed out those parts of your work life, here is a list of 10 damaging career habits that you need to call it quits with, permanently.
1. Not protecting your goals
Not everyone comes from the place of "follow your dreams". Some people’s beliefs about success, money, and work are limiting and therefore, they will either bad mouth your ambition or try to talk you out of it. Keep their repressive opinions far away from your dreams. When you share your goals with these types of people, you inadvertently invite naysayers into your journey. For that reason, it is important you only share your aims with people that will be supportive. Holding goals close to the vest will keep you focused on moving toward the prize rather than drowning in everyone else’s doubts.
2. Waiting for a title to be a leader
Leadership skills aren't exclusive to those that hold supervisory titles. Don’t live in the land of ‘responsible for’ and only cling to what’s in your job description. If you want to be seen as someone who gets things done and has the support of their peers, take initiative and lead when you see the opportunity. Speak up when you have a smart idea or if you see something just isn’t working as it should. Don’t simply be a button pusher; become an active part in getting to positive solutions rather than waiting for someone else to step up. It won’t go unnoticed.
3. A bad attitude
Everybody knows someone at work that just has nothing positive to say about ANYTHING. Every project is a chore, every client is an idiot, and every day is a debacle. Their reputation precedes them and it isn't favorable. Don’t be the Negative Nancy of your office. You’ll find, no matter how good you are, your career will stall because no one wants to work with you. Restrict your venting and complaining to outside the office walls. Better yet, if you hate your job that much, think about making a change!
4. Workaholics anonymous
Loving your work is great; spending too much time in the office, however, may eventually lead you to the discovery that work is all you have. Make sure you aren’t neglecting the rest of your life in the pursuit of your career goals. Take care of your health, relationships, and outside interests as well. Goals are wonderful, but it is good to have them for things other than your work. Work-life balance, anyone?
5. Lacking self-awareness
If we could impart one piece of wisdom to every person that reads this article it is this: Get to know yourself. We're not talking about superficial likes and dislikes but real insight into what makes you tick. It is important in all facets of your life but particularly in finding true career happiness. Identify what your real top skills are, what you love and hate about your work, what actually motivates you, etc. When you know these things you can pick jobs that are a genuine fit and set yourself up for success.
6. The blame game
Even with the best of intentions, people make mistakes. You will inevitably screw something up. What will matter and what you will be remembered for, is how you handled it. Stop blaming everyone else for their part in YOUR mistakes. Take accountability. It won’t be fun and there may be consequences, but owning your part in what when wrong will earn you respect and free you from a lot of sleepless nights.
7. Poor follow-thru
Follow-thru seems like something you shouldn’t have to tell someone; sadly it is! Do what you say you will do. Plan your time accordingly, set calendar reminders, find an accountability partner; whatever it takes for you to get it done. Missing deadlines, forgetting to send clients materials, and neglecting to call a coworker back all result in you looking like a flake at best, useless at worst.
8. Not using LinkedIn because you aren’t looking for a job
If you aren’t on LinkedIn, what are you waiting for? This is no longer an optional part of your career branding. You need to have a profile, whether you are job searching or not, and you need to keep it up-to-date. It is a perfect way to join industry peer groups, follow influencers in your field, and stay on top of what your professional circle is up to. LinkedIn is not your resume 2.0; it is your digital calling card that provides access to a vast network of resources, knowledge, and people.
9. Being interested, but not committed
Change is often incremental but it will never happen if you don’t start taking the steps. Most people are interested in changing, but not committed. There is a huge difference. Being interested sounds like this…I’d like to; I wish I was; I would love to try; I’ll look into it. None of these add up to a plan. If you are committed to doing something, you map it out and take action. It all boils down to how much you really want it. Get off the fence.
10. Treating your resume as an afterthought
Resumes that are written or updated at the 11th hour never get results. It stresses you out and leads to less than stellar examples of your value. Your resume needs to be updated every year! Set a #ResumeDay on your calendar and stop leaving this important marketing tool to scattered memories of accomplishments and late-night job searching manic behavior.
No one is without flaws or weaknesses but identifying them and taking steps to do better can make a significant impact. Bad habits can be broken. You’ve worked hard to get to where you are, use this list to help you adjust your course as needed and keep your career moving in the right direction.
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Red Letter RoundupLinkedIn: How to Amp up Your Profile
LinkedIn can be a massive asset to your career IF you use it wisely. Too many people treat it like a dumping ground for their work history. It is much more than that. LinkedIn does what your resume can't: It introduces the person behind the accomplishments. There is more to your story than a list of duties, and LinkedIn offers you a great platform to tell it. Don't squander the opportunity.
This month’s roundup will help you understand how LinkedIn fits into the bigger picture of your career branding and how to convey your message in an impactful way.
Remember in school when you'd be handed a reading assignment and it was jam packed with single-spaced blocks of tiny text and the idea of getting through it left you feeling downright overwhelmed? Just reading the first paragraph you could feel your eye straining and your head getting heavy. That feeling of being crushed by the information in front of you is what happens when there isn't enough white space. Ask anyone in HR and they will tell you they avoid that feeling by tossing out resumes that look like biographies rather than curated highlight reels. Keep in mind, they are your audience and you need to create a document that gives them what they need, QUICKLY!
White space, or negative space, is the area around or between the focus of a composition. If you are thinking it is a term out of an art class, you would be right, but its presence in your resume is paramount for one specific reason:
It makes your resume easier to read!
White space gives the eye a place to rest between ideas. It gives your information room to breathe. It separates sections and guides the reader’s eye to points YOU deem as important. The space saves readers time and frustration and actually makes them more comfortable. Above all else, white space allows a resume to be skimmable and, when you only have about 6 seconds to make an impression with HR, that makes it essential for success.
A document without white space is not skimmable. Period: End of story.
When a resume has substantial white space, all the key points of your document jump off the page. Your accomplishments can stand out in their bullet points, your contact information is easily found; if someone is scanning for a specific point like what type of degree you have or if you worked at a certain job title, a balanced layout allows his or her eyes to skip around and find those details with ease. That is the type of thing HR likes. If they can grab all the facts they need in a quick glance, they're much more likely to move you into a YES pile.
So how do you create this all important spacing?
Choose a font that is easy to read and avoid single-spaced paragraphs. Keep an eye on your margins (like making sure you have some)! Consistently put in breaks between sections and make use of headings and bullet points to draw attention to the most compelling reasons why you are the right person for the job. Resumes and careers are like snowflakes so each one is a bit different. That means there are no hard and fast rules to white space but keeping these concepts in mind will help you craft something that is much more reader-friendly going forward.
Not sure if your resume has enough white space? Take our free 6-Second Test to see if your resume has what it takes to land you that coveted interview. You may be surprised. Stop wasting time and chances with a resume you aren’t sure about and find out today!
Red Letter RoundupJob Search: 5 Articles to Shake Up Your Strategy
Job searching these days requires many levels of participation on your part. Not only do you have to have your resume and references ready to go, you also have to lean into technology. An application through a job board just isn't enough anymore. We've dedicated this roundup to critical insights that will have you navigating the ever-evolving waters of recruitment with ease.
This month’s article will keep your job search focused, authentic, and firing on all cylinders!
1. Being true to yourself during a job search will ensure you land a job you'll be happy doing. This piece outlines what you need to keep in mind to keep your real needs front and center. (Undercover Recruiter)