13 Ways Your Resume Can Say ‘I’m Unprofessional’

Hiring pros share the faux pas they find in real resumes, including wacky e-mail addresses, defunct phone numbers and cookie-cutter templates.
Original Post By Lisa Vaas, The Ladders

No offense, thebigcheese@domain.com, but if nobody has told you yet, we’re telling you now: That e-mail address is not making you look particularly professional.
Unprofessional e-mail addresses are just one way of sending hiring managers the wrong message. If you want to be taken seriously when you apply for jobs, you need to put some polish on your resume, your cover letter and everything contained therein. Hiring professionals repeatedly run across these red flags that scream “unprofessional.” A number of recruiters and HR managers shared with The Ladders common errors from their own professional experiences.
1. Random/cute/shared e-mail accounts

E-mail accounts are free. There’s no reason not to sign up for your own. Yet many mid-career professionals share an e-mail account with a significant other or the entire family, generating addresses such as dickandjane@domain.com or thesmiths@domain.com..Also stay away from cutesy addresses. After all, butterfliesaremyfriend2010@domain.com, you can always share your admiration of Lepidoptera with colleagues after you’ve been hired. Ditto for offensive, flirtatious or sexual e-mail addresses.
Think we’re exaggerating? These are actual e-mail accounts cited by Jillian Zavitz, who’s responsible for hiring as the programs manager for TalktoCanada.com, an online English language-training course based in Canada. (We’ve changed the domain names to protect the innocent.)
Instead, adopt an address that incorporates the name you use professionally on your resume and cover letter.

2. Failure to proofread

Deidre Pannazzo, executive director at Inspired Resumes, said it’s “amazing” how many people submit resumes that contain “numerous typos and misspellings.” Even better than spell check, she said, is to have a friend review the document for you.
“Make sure your dates are consistent, and that you don’t confuse your story with overlapping time lines,” she said. (For an in-depth look at how to tackle proofreading your resume, click here.)

3. Bikini pictures

Resume experts advise against attaching pictures or any image files to a resume. They can “choke” an applicant tracking system (ATS), the software that automatically scans and parses resumes. (Click here for an in-depth look at how your resume is handled by technology after you press submit.) In addition, hiring professionals warn against giving anyone a reason to prejudge and form a negative opinion based on your appearance. Indeed, some HR departments will immediately discard resumes with photos to avoid any possible accusations of discrimination on this basis.
But still applicants send photos. Most troublesome of all, said Zavitz, are the beach shots. “(No) pictures where you are in a bikini at the beach (real story, and it wasn’t a flattering picture either) or at a New Year’s party with your friends (obviously drunk). Not cool.”
Career Advice from The Ladders
• Apply and Network in One Step
• In a Google World, Prepare to Be Investigated
• The 24-Step Modern Resume
• Resume Numbers Game

4. Unprofessional voicemail

If your resume is strong enough to convince the recruiter or hiring manager to reach for the telephone, be sure what he finds at the other end of the line represents you in the best light – that means your voicemail or whoever might answer the phone.
Marlane Perry, managing director of the Executive Search Division of Magill Associates, said she is unimpressed when a phone number on a resume leads her to an unprofessional recorded voicemail or a conversation with a third party who can’t be trusted to take a message. “If you don’t trust your roommates to answer the phone and take a decent message, then only list your cell phone,” she said.

5. Lazy words, ‛etc.’

Perry said that use of “etc.” on a resume is a sign of laziness: The job seeker obviously “can’t even take the time to list out all of [his] duties.” She has seen the error on both junior- and executive-level resumes. Another no-no is saying “same as above” anywhere on a resume. “If you had similar job functions at your last two jobs, summarize the responsibilities and then bullet out some of your accomplishments,” she suggested.

6. Cookie-cutter resumes

Samantha Goldberg is a celebrity event designer and TV personality who’s always looking for employees for administrative duties or to help plan an event. She said she often reviews resumes and cover letters that aren’t even vaguely customized for her business.
“It’s more like ‛Mad Libs’ — they just fill in our name as they send them off!” she said. “Just once, I would love to have them describe me on the cover letter instead of saying that they respect my career status and have been following my career.”
On many occasions, Goldberg said, she specifically lists a prerequisite of at least three years’ experience with planning events that does not include friends, family or applicants’ own weddings. “They obviously don’t read my prerequisites and send an e-mail stating that even though they haven’t orchestrated events for anyone they have always been told they should be in the industry if I would just give them a chance.”

7. Everything but the kitchen sink

“I don’t care, nor have time, to read about your life story,” Zavitz said. “If you can’t whittle your resume down to a page or two at max, I will not read it. If it’s not related [to the job or your work history], don’t include it.”

8-13 ad infinitum…

Larry Lambeth, president of Employment Screening Services Inc., which helps companies review job applicants, offered a laundry list of professional gaffes he’s seen on resumes and job applications:
• Listing a spouse as a reference
• Not spelling out the name of an employer or school (“LSU” instead of “Louisiana State University” or “ZDE” instead of “Ziff Davis Enterprise”)
• Not providing a city or state for an employer or school
• Omitting the area code from a phone number for a reference or employer
• Providing only a first name for a supervisor or reference
• Including phone numbers that are no longer in service for references or employers

Lisa Vaas covers resume writing techniques and the technology behind the job search for The Ladders.

We’re Wired For Stories: Telling And Selling

Brian Bieler, The Sales Operator offers this advice: If you want to sell more, tell more tales. A good sales story stimulates the mind and engages people to conversation. If you are selling and people are not tuned to what you are saying, it’s almost impossible to move them to action. Executives and world-class sellers tell stories to get people involved.
Stories are not more important than features and benefits; they help emphasize points and create feelings. Combining data and left-brain logic with emotional right-brain stories is a powerful and professional way to make dramatic sales points. Executives, politicians and professionals tell stories to start people thinking and make important points.
What sells people is how they see benefits working for them. Storytelling engages people in their own minds, emotions and imagery. Although decisions are largely formed with logic, data and information, decisions are mostly made with right-brain subjective emotions. Storytelling is a strategic sophisticated sales tool. We know that people are going to forget data and information but are unlikely to forget a good story.

10 Steps to Successful Teams – By Renie McClay

Review by Gary Summy
Director of Sales Development
Trane Commercial Systems

I read 10 Steps to Successful Teams (ASTD Press, 2009), which addresses this exact topic. Author Renie McClay brings a lot of practical sales and account team experience to this book, having been in various sales, sales management, sales effectiveness, and training roles throughout her career. Here are her 10 steps:

Step 1: Form the team. The team makeup is perhaps the process’ single most important step. If the team doesn’t possess the right skills and drive to accomplish the goals, the team will be painful and often unsuccessful. The right leader can either help or hinder the process.

Step 2: Clarify roles. If team member roles are not clear, one of two things will happen. The team will be either inefficient because time is wasted on duplicity of effort for given tasks or ineffective because crucial tasks won’t be done at all. It’s critical upfront to clarify who is responsible for what.

Step 3: Encourage communication. Healthy, effective communication builds trust. Giving positive, constructive feedback helps keep things on track and eliminates errors. Managing conflict assists a team to focus on the goal rather than interpersonal or interdepartmental dynamics that can slow down things and deteriorate the team’s morale.

Step 4: Build strong relationships. People getting to know each other will be one of the most important parts of building team morale. Your team is not a collection of robots, and engaging on both the business and personal level builds trust and commitment. Build those solid relationships and an environment of trust so people can focus on the work to be done.

Step 5: Follow processes and track progress. Building processes and tracking progress helps teams take advantage of efficiencies and replicate success. It also helps to keep stakeholders informed and the entire team current on tasks, results and what needs to happen next.

Step 6: Assess the team. Ideally everyone needs to be aware of his strengths, then support fellow team members’ development areas. No one possesses every skill and all knowledge, so self-awareness coupled with strong leader assessment is helpful to ensure progress, growth and success.

Step 7: Develop creativity and innovation. Teams can accomplish tasks, but it is energizing to develop creative solutions. Creativity and innovation may save time and money internally and deliver differentiated value to the account. Teams can be innovative about the end-product or how the team operates. A mix of left- and right-brain thinking is very powerful in the team environment.

Step 8: Create effective virtual teams. Working remotely and participating virtually on a team is often challenging and part of any team’s reality. Connecting without personal contact can make it harder to build trust and learn to rely on team members. Leveraging media and technology and working at the people skills can help smooth this out.

Step 9: Solve problems. All teams face problems. Perhaps a team’s single most important quality is to see how the team works through them. Following steps one to eight puts you in a position to identify and solve the real problems and not just symptoms.

Step 10: Reward and celebrate. Many teams do not celebrate victories. Many organizations do not properly reward team successes. There are ways to reward teams that do not cost much and even some that cost nothing.

The book includes tips for all the roles on team. While there is a lot of content out there on leading teams, and that is certainly an element of McClay’s book, her focus is on the entire team. All the team members, not just the leader, have responsibility for a smooth-running, productive team. McClay writes, “Make sure you are part of the solution, not part of the problem.” She consistently offers ideas and suggestions that ensure that common sense is top of mind for everyone on the team. She reminds us, “A team is often a place where people develop a reputation. Make your reputation as someone who can be relied on to get tasks done—completely and on time.” There is an assessment chapter I recommend to all. One self-assessment exists for team members and one for team leaders. The chapter helps show strengths and improvement areas. This is a good exercise for new or established teams. (You can see this for yourself at http://tinyurl.com/ykyqeew.)

For many employees, delivering value requires working effectively with others in multiple team environments. This book will help position your team – or any team – to ensure that timelines are met, objectives are achieved and value is delivered.

Self-Assessment: Whats Your Unique Selling Proposition?

From: Sales HQ

What you have to impress on prospective customers is the added value they can expect when they establish a relationship with you. It may be a single specific feature so unique to your company that it can stand alone as a persuasive reason to deal with you. But the odds on finding and isolating that single 24-carat nugget of information that makes you so special are pretty small. More than likely it’s a combination of less spectacular reasons that when added up give you a definite perceived advantage over your competition.

Seven Tips to Make the Perfect Presentation -The Brooks Group

A successful sales presentation should provide your prospect with precisely the information that’s required to make a decision about whether your offering will solve the problems they’re trying to address. Here are a handful of ways you can do that:

  1. Limit your presentation to the problems your prospect is actually facing. If your product solves a problem that your prospect doesn’t have, don’t bring it up. Instead, focus your time on the pain points you uncovered during the Probe Step.
  2. Ask feedback questions. Questions like “Is this on target?” or “Does this make sense?” can help direct your presentation as you move forward. Be careful not to overuse them, though. When you ask, be willing to adjust to your prospect’s expressed desires as you proceed. If you uncover an unexpected objection, stop your presentation and begin asking questions to learn more about it.
  3. Speak slowly and in “bite-sized” pieces. Don’t overwhelm your prospect. This is especially true if you’re introducing something new. It’s easy to notice when somebody else is talking too much, but it’s much more difficult to recognize it in ourselves. By slowing down, you’ll be able to pay more attention to the critical signals your prospect will be giving about his or her willingness to buy.
  4. Present only to truly qualified prospects. We go into a lot of depth in our IMPACT Selling programs about what a “truly qualified” prospect is. As a sales professional, you’ll need to be certain that you’re investing your time wisely. That means only presenting to prospects who will be in a position to really buy from you.
  5. Practice. You’re right; it’s a basic tip. But it’s probably the best piece of advice we can give. Run through your presentation with someone who can give you honest feedback. Even if it’s a presentation you’ve given hundreds of times, is there a way you can improve it? Practice the changes before risking them with a real, live prospect.
  6. Focus on your audience. Your attention should be on your prospect, not the product or yourself. Pay attention to your prospect’s nonverbal cues. Look for buying signals. It’s easy to get distracted from what matters most in your presentation: your audience.
  7. If you don’t know something, admit it. It’s better to admit that you aren’t sure about something than to try to “fake it.” If you’re asked about something, and don’t know the answer, just say you’ll get an answer. People appreciate honesty.

In short, your presentation is your best chance to “Wow” your prospect. Use these tips to make the perfect presentation.

Keys to Researching Your Next Employer

Original Post: By Beth Braccio Hering, CareerBuilder Writer

“I know right away when a candidate doesn’t know the current news about our company,” says Chris Brabec, director of leadership talent acquisition for Western Union. “If you don’t know the CEO is retiring, or if a company made a big acquisition recently, that’s not a good sign. If a candidate can’t tell me what the company does (or thinks Western Union still does telegrams), that’s another sign she hasn’t done her homework.”
In a job market where applicants frequently cast a wide net with the hope that anybody will respond, job seekers sometimes cut corners by not thoroughly checking out potential employers. But failure to know about the place you claim you want to work at can make you seem unprepared and disinterested — and cost you a job offer.

Here, experts weigh in on things you should learn before seeking employment and how to find that information.
What to know
“Companies have told us that one of the things they use to weed out candidates is that the student didn’t know anything about the company,” says John M. Thompson, executive director of career services at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas.
Among the things Thompson encourages his students to find out are:

• What does the company do?
• What are its products?
• What is the company’s mission?
• Where are its offices?
• How big is the company in terms of employees/revenue?
• How is it positioned in its industry?

“Everyone, but particularly for more senior-level roles, should know our stock price,” says Yolanda Bush, director of human resources for Western Union. “Research the company’s leadership team and the company’s efforts around corporate social responsibility. This will help candidates position themselves to discuss how their skills and experience will help us succeed in the marketplace.”
Julie Rulis, a senior recruiter for Western Union’s talent acquisition team, agrees with her colleague’s advice and adds, “If you are doing an interview at a company, find out if it’s in the Fortune 500 and where it is on that list. Even better: Find out where it was a year ago, and if it’s different, maybe ask why. It shows you’ve done your homework. A job candidate should know our products and services beyond just the basics. With all the tools available nowadays, there’s no excuse not to know.”
How to play detective
The “tools” Rulis is referring to are all the different ways a job seeker can find information. Abby M. Locke, master résumé writer and personal brand strategist for Premier Writing Solutions in Seattle, offers these suggestions:

• Review the company’s website.
• Read press releases.
• Pay attention to industry publications.
• Use Google alerts to stay on top of current company news.
• Do an informational interview with past or current employees.
• Talk to a representative at a career fair or trade show.
• Follow key decision-makers on Twitter.
• Use LinkedIn groups and other online social media tools.

Online directories such as Bloomberg and Standard & Poor’s also give information on many businesses. For additional help in finding appropriate databases, job seekers may want to consult their local library or the college career center of their alma mater.
Show what you know
Finally, while you don’t need to be a walking fact book, be ready to incorporate your knowledge of the company into correspondence and conversation when opportunities arise.
“I ask job candidates questions like what they know about the company beyond what’s on the website, how they feel they fit in with our overall values and corporate culture, or what they found out about the company in their research that they didn’t know before,” Rulis says. “This is a great opportunity to show off your preparation — talk about our competitors or the fact that you read that we’re entering an entirely new business segment.”
Get to know your potential employers, and chances are they will want to get to know you.

Curious About Your Chosen Path?

MSN.com: Careerpath.com invites you to: Have fun and discover what your favorite colors and other attributes say about you and your job.

Recommended Career Test Series


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