Best Foot Forward - Professional Resume Writer and Editor
Professional writer and editor specializing in resume writing services. We will help you choose the best resume format to improve your job search. Also offers business and academic writing and editing services. Blog by Natalie Joan.
It's one thing to promise top-notch, best in Canada service. It's another to prove it. Best Foot Forward is pleased to announce that Senior Editor and Managing Director Natalie MacLellan has received two resume writing Awards of Excellence from Career Professionals of Canada.
Natalie took top honours in the categories of Outstanding Resume - Creative, and Outstanding Resume - Career Change. She was also nominated in the category of Outstanding Resume - Executive.
This follows on last year's results, where Natalie was nominated in three categories: Executive, Career Change, and New Graduate.
Career Professionals of Canada’s Awards of Excellence program recognizes members of the career development community for their outstanding performance and contributions.
LinkedIn is one of the top tools for jobseekers to help you build your network, connect with recruiters and hiring managers you do not yet know, boost your online presence, and stay top of mind with the people you know — and people you want to know.
Whether you are new to LinkedIn or a long-time member looking to make better use of the service, we can help you make the most of your LinkedIn profile.
Join Best Foot Forward in a 30-day challenge to improve your profile and your engagement with the platform. We will give you 60 possible LinkedIn daily actions to choose from. You will complete one activity each day, taking 30 days of consistent action in five different areas:
• Improving Your LinkedIn Profile
• Connecting With Contacts, Companies, Recruiters, and Hiring Managers
• Creating Content (Status Updates and LinkedIn Publishing)
• Getting Involved in Groups
• Giving and Getting Endorsements and Recommendations
Beginning May 1*, we will focus on one area each week. In addition, I also have a number of miscellaneous assignments I will throw out each week, which will be especially helpful to people more experienced with the platform.
You can choose your activity based on the amount of time you have available. Some actions will take five minutes or less — others may take 15 minutes or more. Some of these are “timed” actions (“Spend 20 minutes researching possible LinkedIn Groups to join”) or you will be completing a specific task (“Send connection requests to two former coworkers”).
There are three ways to conduct the challenge. Your strategy is entirely up to you.
• Complete one action item each day for 30 days straight
• Take action for six days each week (no Sundays) for five weeks
• Take action for five days each week (no weekends) for six weeks
To sign up, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit my Facebook page at www.facebook.com/BestFootForwardResumes/ to contact me through a post of private message. I will add you to a private Facebook group where participants will interact, share updates and success stories, and support each other through the process. I will also provide tracking sheets so each participant can track their progress.
Don’t miss your chance to work with a certified career professional to improve your LinkedIn profile, grow your network, and improve your online job search and career development efforts - for free!
When finished, we can review progress including growth in the number and quality of connections and recommendations. I will have small prizes to award both effort and results.
* Participants may join after May 1 and catch up with the group by completing more than one task per day.
Originally published oncmfmag.caon February 9, 2017.
Time and time again, clients confirm my belief that cover letter writing is perhaps the least enjoyed job search activity. While many debate the usefulness of the cover letter, let me make one point very clear: the most commonly made mistake in resume submissions is not including a copy of your cover letter.
Now, if you are emailing your resume, the cover letter can be included in the body of the email, or attached as a separate document. I prefer the latter, with a brief email note to say you are writing to apply to Job X and your application is attached. Omitting a cover letter from your job application can appear unprofessional to your potential employer; having a well-written, personalized cover letter allows the employer to get an insight into who you are, how you communicate, and how you present yourself as a professional.
Here are some great tips on composing a winning cover letter to accompany your resume:
Start by addressing the letter to the appropriate person. Don’t make the mistake of not taking the time to address their cover letter to the appropriate person, such as the recruiter or the hiring manager. If the job description does not include a person as a contact, look it up. Go to LinkedIn or the company website to find the HR Manager, Team Leader, or another appropriate contact. Or, take a hint from the text and address the letter to the team listed as the contact. Using generic lines, such as “To whom it may concern” just demonstrates you haven’t taken the time to do any research.Know the goal of your cover letter, then express it clearly and concisely. Above all else, highlight the qualifications that make you a perfect candidate for the job. If you don’t address the requirements the employer has listed in the job posting, you have wasted everyone’s time. Customize the letter, which includes indicating the job title in the cover letter. Generic statements, or statements indicating that you are interested in any open position with the company, come across as unprofessional and unprepared.Include specific examples from past experience to demonstrate your qualifications and the kind of benefit you can bring. If they ask for communication skills, you can’t just say you have them and move to the next item on the list. Prove it. “Demonstrated excellent communication skills writing and presenting client reports on behalf of ABC Corp.” You do want to briefly address why you want to work with the company, but the reality is they are more interested in knowing why they would want you working for them.Whenever possible, close the cover letter by indicating to your potential employer when and how you intend to follow up on your application. “I will call/email your office/HR department next week to follow-up.” This confirms your interest in the position, and your professional etiquette. (Note, you must follow up when and how you indicated on the cover letter.) In some situations, particularly some government departments or large institutions, following up is difficult. Try to find a number online, but if not, close with a line that keenly indicates your interest, restates your contact details, and invites them to contact you. “I look forward to meeting with you to further discuss how my qualifications can meet your needs. I can be reached at (613) 455-5555 or by email at email@example.com, and hope to hear from you soon.”You knew I was going to say it… Proofread. Again. And then again. Errors and misspellings leave a poor impression on the reader.
Do you love or hate the process of cover letter writing? Job seekers interested in a free review of their resume and cover letter can send their documents to firstname.lastname@example.org. I will provide a complimentary review along with a quote for having the documents professionally rewritten.
Originally published oncmfmag.caon January 17, 2017.
After critiquing dozens of résumés following the National Transition Exchange last week in Ottawa, I have noticed some trends. There are six common mistakes I saw military job seekers making over and over – mistakes that may prevent them from getting the interview that will lead to their dream job. These are:
1. Jargon.Well, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. It is also the number one concern of military clients when they contact me: they just don’t know how to talk about their military career without using a lot of military-specific words.
However, if you want a hiring manager to understand your experience, you must translate it first. It really is like another language. Think of equivalencies. Focus on leadership and discipline with words like mentoring, efficiency, and workload planning. Replace platoon or squad with “team,” and job titles like tank crewmember, with “heavy equipment operator.” Also, do your best to avoid acronyms. Even if you write them out the first time, overuse makes for difficult reading.
2. Lack of Focus.If you can’t figure out what kind of job you want, how do you expect a prospective employer to know where to put you? While it is no longer recommended to include an ‘Objective’ on your résumé (I promise to blog about this another day), you can use a ‘Summary of Qualifications’ or ‘Profile’ section to outline what you offer to a potential employer. This section should be tweaked for every application, so it speaks directly to the job requirements.
3. Writing Your Career Obituary.Too many of the résumés I critiqued were what I call obituary résumés. They list job duties, tasks, and responsibilities, practically cut and paste from a job description. It is such a lost opportunity.
You need to remember that employers want to hire employees who can produce results, and that past performance is the best indicator of future success. Don’t talk about what you were responsible for. Tell them what you accomplished. Use numbers or concrete project examples to quantify your results. Clarify the scope of your responsibilities and accomplishments, with actual dollar amounts (estimates are fine if you can qualify them), percentages of savings, number of employees, and dollar values of equipment managed.
4. Not Standing Apart from the Crowd.Don’t rely on résumé templates if you want to maximize your chances of catching a hiring authority’s attention. One size does not fit all when it comes to creating a document that best showcases your skills. Any HR coordinator, any recruiter can immediately recognize a résumé created with Microsoft Word’s “wizard” feature. You need to be able to lead with your strengths. Recent graduates might want to start with the “Education” section instead of “Experience.” If you are making a major career switch, you might want to highlight volunteer work first. Cookie-cutter résumés do not generate job-winning interviews.
5. Giving Too Much Information.A two-page résumé is more than adequate for 90 percent of the population. Three pages are forgivable if you are a senior candidate applying for a job with a long list of requirements. Even then, any experience more than 15 years old can be heavily summarized, sometimes even omitted.
Remember why you are writing a resume in the first place: you want to get the employer’s attention during that critical 20-30 second first look. You want them to want to know more and call you in for an interview. You want to do that in a concise, visually appealing way.
6. Typos: Spelling Errors. Excessive Capitalization. Incorrect Verb Tenses. Etc.Everyone talks about typos and spelling. Proofread, proofread, and then proofread again. Then get a friend to do it for you.
Spell check is good. Grammarly is even better. But you know what spell check doesn’t always pick up? When you use different verb tenses in each sentence. Or when you capitalize every important word in a sentence.
You might need to review your basic grammar. Don’t worry; you don’t need to take a course. Google can help. Use capital letters on actual job or department titles, but not general references. Director of Transportation vs. transport staff. Course titles should be capitalized (“History of Western Civilization”), but general areas of expertise (“assisted with Marketing and Sales functions”) should not.
Does your resume include one or more of these errors? Will it stand up to a critique? Job seekers interested in a free resume review can send their résumé to email@example.com, as an e-mail attachment.
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