Resume Secrets (Webinar Review)

On February 22, 2024, Jack Molisani presented Resume Secrets That Might Surprise You, the first of the three-part Employment Readiness Series offered by the STC Ohio Chapter. Jack is an STC fellow, president of ProSpring Technical Staffing, and the executive director of The LavaCon Conference on Content Strategy and TechComm Management. He is also the author of Be the Captain of Your Career: A New Approach to Career Planning and Advancement, which reached number five on Amazon’s career and resume best sellers list.

The key takeaway of the webinar is that a resume is not a summary of your skills and professional experience, but rather a tool that shows the employer how your skills and experience match what they are seeking in a candidate for that position. Your resume should be as long as it needs to be to convince them that you are a good fit for the job. So, make sure that you show them you have want they want on the first page. Both Jack and Kevin Meglic, Lead Recruiter at ProSpring, as well as webinar participants who are or have been hiring managers, confirmed that recruiters and hiring managers skim resumes quickly and often reject candidates based on a lack of relevant keywords. To avoid rejection, Jack recommended including keywords and phrases mentioned in the job description near the top of your resume, especially in a summary section.

Other key points to crafting a compelling resume included:

  • Focus on what you can do for the employer, not just what you have done in the past.
  • Focus on achievements and quantifiable results. Instead of simply listing your responsibilities, use action verbs to describe your accomplishments and quantify them, such as “reduced translation costs by 20%.”
  • Proofread your resume carefully and avoid typos and grammatical errors. Read your resume aloud to catch errors that your eyes might miss. In addition, ask someone to proof your resume for you.
  • Tailor your resume to each specific job application.
  • Keep a clean format with correct punctuation (watch those dashes and hyphens!)
  • Use bullet points and white space to make your resume easy to read.
  • Use clear and concise language.

Jack recommended using your networking skills to find out what the hiring manager is looking for before you craft and submit your resume. Some ways to do this include mining LinkedIn for profiles of others who have that title now (or held it in the past) in that organization and research their education, experience, and skills. Taking it a step further would be to leverage your network to talk to someone at the organization and ask what the hiring manager is seeking in a candidate for that job.

When asked by one of the webinar attendees about how to handle ageism in the hiring process, Jack acknowledged it is important to be aware of age discrimination, but to also realize that ageism is not always the reason a person is not considered for a job. Sometimes, the employer’s budget might only allow for a junior-level candidate. One of the ways to deal with ageism, he said, was to include no more than 10 years of experience on your resume, even if you have more, because most employers are not interested in what you did beyond that timeframe. You can state “Additional Work History” at the end if you want.

As a bonus, Jack noted the most common error he sees in technical writer resumes, which involves the three types of hyphens:

  • Hyphen –
  • En Dash –
  • Em Dash —

 

A hyphen is used to hyphenate words, such as mother-in-law.

An En dash is used to show date ranges, such as 5–7.

An Em dash is used to set up subordinate clauses, as in: My mother—who lives in Paris—arrives Monday.

 

Most people’s resumes, Jack said, have a mix of hyphens and En dashes in the resume date ranges. Most likely, such a resume will not be rejected; however, he did say that if he has 10 applicants who are all qualified and five of them have perfectly punctuated date ranges and five have a mix of hyphens and En dashes, he will interview the five with the perfect ranges first. Why? Because the correct use of the punctuation shows they have attention to detail, they know how to use the authoring tool, and they can proofread.

 

The next webinar in the Employment Readiness Series is Get That Interview: How to Beat the Dreaded Application Tracking System and will be presented by the STC Ohio Chapter in April.

By Sue Kern