Monday, April 28, 2014

Your Email Etiquette Speaks Volumes About You

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic /
I've learned a lot about people over the years, having dealt with literally hundreds upon hundreds of resume clients. Each virtual interaction with a client over email provides telling insights about his or her prospects in real life.  Using email is no science; nor is it an art. But how one communicates over email is a window to the person's ability to express him or herself, which becomes very apparent after five or six emails.

Nowadays, we use email to communicate because our daily lives are too busy to take the time to telephone or meet each other face-to-face (Imagine if you had to meet all of the people you email in one day, whether in person or via Skype!).  Many internet businesses such as ours do not have an office where a secretary or clerk ushers you in and provides you with tea or coffee.  We would have to charge clients much more than we do as resume drafters to account for the amount of time spent meeting and interviewing in person. Therefore, we try to keep our expenses low by emailing back and forth with our clients. We also "interview" or get to know our clients via email because we believe people think more conceptually when they have to write, which helps us in the resume-drafting process.

Emails are the new "telephone." The way you write is the way you're "heard." There are hundreds of different types of email personalities, but in the working world, I would say that there are three types, each of which sheds insight into his or her likelihood of communicating successfully in the working world.

1. The monosyllabic writer.

This person uses emails like texting and keeps the answers to a bare minimum.  S/he doesn't type out words like, "you," "thanks," and the like, instead opting for "u" and "tx."  This person may be young, but also naive.  Those abbreviations may work in text messages, but not in emails.  In this case, the writer is showing that "s/he's too busy to write," or too distracted to concentrate.  The downside of this approach to emails is that the writer, many times, doesn't know the identity of the person to whom s/he is communicating, and such a cavalier way of expressing oneself in an email could be seen as a negative.

2.  The void-filling writer

This person can't concentrate.  S/he can't keep a coherent thought. Instead of answering a question directly, s/he dances around an issue, never alighting anywhere near what can be interpreted as an adequate response. Perhaps this is a person who wants to be a writer, or someone who thinks s/he's being witty. But it's not usually the case. My guess is that the person doesn't know the answer sought, or cannot articulate his or her thoughts in a coherent way. This type of short writing is very annoying, and is a barometer of how likely one will be perceived in the job interview.

3. Just the facts writer

You knew where this was going, right? The optimum email correspondent writes emails in a clear manner, giving the reader the information s/he needs to know. His or her punctuation is fine and the answers show an ability to express oneself clearly. This email correspondent knows that time is of the essence and that the reader probably doesn't have lots of it, so conveying ones thoughts are essential to being understood. S/he needn't sound too formal, although sounding friendly helps.

Mind you, if you know your audience it makes it much easier to take shortcuts. However, emails are not texts, so if you have to use email to convey information, do so in as practical a manner as possible. Try to keep a level of professionalism in your emails, showing that you are an asset, an aider and abettor, helping the reader by providing the information s/he needs to get things done.  You'll be rewarded for taking that extra effort to be direct, friendly, and economical in your response.

Emails can make the difference in how someone perceives you.  If I'm truly in a hurry, I'll apologize in advance by asking the reader to "excuse my tone," because writing quick email messages can give a different impression than is intended. When conveying information to a prospective employer, take the time to communicate "correctly" and succinctly. Your efforts will be noticed, giving the reader a favorable impression of you as a person.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Enjoying the Quiet

It's Spring.  Give your thoughts time to bloom.
It's the day after Easter and it's pretty quiet around here. We had a particularly difficult winter here in New England, and our bodies and nerves were tested throughout the Granite State, where, tacitly, it is considered innapropriate to complain about the weather.  Here, men smoke their cigarettes outside in 20 degree weather, in shorts and tank tops, and only wimps (like me) wear ear muffs.  Even I didn't wear gloves most of the winter.  In New Hampshire, the people are hearty and love nature, so that topography which surrounds us is to be admired, not reviled.  But this past winter, honestly, the cold would not go away, and the snow bade its farewell only a week ago, three weeks after the calendar's herald of Spring.

We always enjoy getting new resume clients, so I'm going to count my blessings if we don't get emails this week.  It's my humble opinion that now is not the time to hunt for work.  It's time to bask in being alive, to renew oneself, along with Spring, to thaw out and think about one's future.  Think about what you want in life.  Ponder it on a spiritual level. Instead of thinking, "what job should I apply for," ask yourself, "What do I want the universe to give me?" It's never good to be desperate about your future.  As sure as you breathe, the universe will guide you down the right path. And when the universe does give you some clues, and you have an idea of where you want to go next, we'll be here to help you put it all down on paper.

There are hundreds of sites that can give you advice about your resume, your job hunt, interviews, and how to get the right gig.  We're just one of them.  However, rather than barrage the reader with opinions and lessons learned about resumes [on our heretofore infrequent basis], we hope to communicate more with you--about less. The mind is a wonderful thing to use, but sometimes ours aren't here just to discuss resumes ad nauseum. So welcome to our [new-ish] blog about resumes and whatever else we want to talk about.

Friday, September 20, 2013

How to Get Hired When You're Overqualified.

This is a dilemma that many baby boomers have in a tight employment market that finds them unsuitable for hire, through no fault of their own. They helped a company make millions, but now are costing it money because they can command a higher salary because of their commitment and loyalty to their employers.  But smart and experienced people need to eat, too.  So what do you do when it was you who was doing the hiring, the managing, the training, and the organizing,and now, you're out of a job? 

What about you, right? You're not chopped liver, right?

Put those feelings aside. Be humble.  Be gracious.

Then BEG.

Beg for that job!  Show prospective employers what you've done, but then  tell them, "I just want to be a worker-bee! I don't want the responsibility! And this is where and how my skills can be of help to you!" 

Of course, I'm writing this tongue-in-cheek, but there's some truth to my comment about begging.
People need to feel loved and needed.  If you've done your research, you know into which companies you might fit.

What? You haven't done your research?

Well, no wonder you're having a hard time finding work.

You must do the research to know if you'll be a good fit.  Here's a suggestion worth implementing:  follow a business on Twitter. Ask questions: not simple ones, but in-depth questions that show you know about or are interested in learning about the company. Tweet the company questions about when it will be hiring, and what jobs will be available. Introduce yourself. Ask if you can DM them., e.g., communicate in the Direct Message mode on Twitter.

Do you see what you've done?  You've already found someone who is a contact.  The company has to publicly respond, because it's good for business.  You don't need to embarrass the company, but HR will see that the public nature of your communication will reflect upon others' perception of their business, so they will be on their best behavior.

You find that contact, and ask to whom you can write a letter explaining how much you would love to work at their company.  Let them know:  you're a go-getter, but you're not after anyone's position.  You want a job where you know you'll be happy.

No, you don't have to beg for a job. But you can certainly beg for attention.  So, start doing your research, get that resume re-write, and get that job!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Your Resume can "Sing" Without Distracting Bells and Whistles

Many job applicants think that a gimmick or two will increase the changes that their resume will stand out from the crowd. Don't you believe it! Most of the time, "bells and whistles" will just put your resume into the circular filing basket sooner rather than later. According to Resumes for Dummies, 3rd Edition, what the resume reader wants to see is a resume that is:

Carefully constructed to compete, compel, and capture attention,
Too skills-rich to overlook,
Targeted to the job, showing you can and will do the work.

The resume reader, who may or may not be the ultimate employer, only spends from 30 seconds to 1 1/2 minutes reading each resume. Therefore the resume must be to the point, thorough, and targeted toward the specific job you are seeking. Even before the reader gets the resume, it may have been given an initial screening by a computer, looking for specific "key words" relating to the specific job description of the position for which you are applying.  

If you really need to show off your creativity, attach a portfolio (but only if you're an artist or in advertising). Remember, this is a very tough job market right now, and competition is fierce! In order for you to get that all-important interview, your resume must speak loudly and clearly about your value as a potential employee. It must emphasize what has happened in your work life, what actions you took to make those things happen, and what supportive personal characteristics you brought to your prior jobs, including how you contributed to solving problems in the workplace.

Your resume will be your last, most powerful advocate. Even after your interview, it will play a large part in the final evaluation of your application.  Your resume must "tell," not "show." How you write it is essential, but how you present it is crucial, too.  Even without its bells and whistles, you can still sing on key!

Thursday, May 23, 2013 Receives Complaints-Free Award from the BBB.

Being boastful is not heralded as a good trait for individuals; yet, for a business, it's essential. The trick is to announce the accomplishment with humility, so that one does not appear to be full of oneself.

Well, please accept our humble gratefulness for getting recognized by the New Hampshire Better Business Bureau for achieving Perfect Record Status for three consecutive years (and from 2005-2008, too). The BBB of New Hampshire has awarded our company (among 50+ others amongst 5000 businesses throughout our small state) with special recognition for being BBB complaint-free for three years in a row. Locally, we're known as "Paper-Pushers Resume Drafting Service," or "Paper-Pushers" []. Our website address, however, is ""

What did we do to deserve the recognition?  We did our job. Nothing more. Nothing less.
We engender trust in our customers by explaining our process to them so they know exactly what to expect from us. We also do it in writing (It's the lawyer in Ginny). People are very busy, and don't have time to digest information over the telephone while they're driving, combing their hair, putting on lipstick, walking with a stroller, shopping at the supermarket, etc. But they can return to the emails we send them and feel 100% sure in what we promise. Putting everything in writing for our clients also makes our company live up to its promises.

Have we had dissatisfied clients? Not many, but, yes, we have had some! They are the ones who have helped our business the most! We have learned from every single "mistake" we've made, and have changed our procedures and our explanations to avoid making the same mistakes in the future. After a major kerfuffle with one client, Ginny took the business offline for us to regroup. We had not had a break in 10 years (yes, we even do resumes on our so-called vacations). We really like to serve people, knowing that we're helping them live better lives, through better incomes and other satisfactions, through the jobs our resumes help them to receive.

What is important to note is that even those "dissatisfied" clients with whom we have parted ways didn't report us to the BBB. They know that we stand 100% behind the quality of our service. Sometimes, however, people take advantage of us and try to get a benefit for free; at other times, some people expect something different from what we have put in writing.

We have had only one complaint to the BBB in the 10+ years we've been in business. A young man, from South Dakota, who emailed us effusively that he loved the resume, changed his mind, after his friend told him that he didn't like it. Of course, he wanted his money back. However, he did not get it back; we had copies of his line-by-line acceptance of his resumes content before we charged him.
But of course, he did not get it back, especially with our email copies of his glowing reports during the process.

This isn't about the law. Our business is about putting in 100% to help our clients "win the future," as it were. You have to bear with us, sometimes, as we are a small company. But we stand by our business and our deadlines, and we expect our customers to do the same. We at do our best to live up to the image of being Better Business Bureau Certified (and BBB complaints-free).

How's that for humility and boasting at the same time?  OK. We're boasting here, because this information is already on our website. ;-)

Monday, May 20, 2013

Your Resume is Not an Apology for Living.

Resumes 101

The byline, "Resumes 101," isn't meant to be catty. It's just a reminder to stick with the basics. It's very easy to get lost in the quagmire of how to package yourself on
a planet of 7 billion humans.  How can a paper with words on it do justice to you and your experience, as an employee, a family member, someone with likes and dislikes?


We hear your silent scream. 

So, rather than add to your anxiety by telling you the new trends in resume drafting, and whether you should or should not have an objective in the heading, we want you to do the following:



Remember:  you can do this.

How? By remembering who you are as an individual.  

A funny thing happens on the way to looking for work. What, you ask? 


You are living!  And living encompasses a lot.  Every morning you wake up, look for food to eat, clean your body, and clothe yourself to stay warm.  Do you need a resume to explain that? No. And whether you were working or not while waking up every day to bathe, eat, etc., you are living! That's the first thing to remember.  Your resume did not start with the first job you had. Your resume started the minute you were born.

Now, we are not going to walk the reader of your resume through the stages of growth you experienced: being born, becoming a toddler, learning how to walk, attending school, dropping out of school returning to school, et cetera.

However, the resume reader is entitled to see the big picture.  The resume conveys just that: the big picture of your life. The trick is in making the eyes of another human being (or computer) scan that picture and say, "I wanna meet that person!" 

Don’t worry about the latest “bells and whistles” in resumes; don't worry about the job market. A good, honest, solid resume that is up-to-date is what you need. There is no life problem that a proper resume and cover letter cannot solve.  But your resume is not a Hollywood, picture perfect story that you create on paper or video. It's your honest life, explained on paper.

Don't freak out about your resume.  Look in the mirror and say, "You can do this!" Do you know why you can say that? Because you have already done it! The resume just chronicles your work life on paper.
There's nothing you've done or not done that can't be explained. You are telling an employer that you can help them along their life journey because you have a background that could increase their success.

What are you best at? Did you find jobs in which to exercise your gifts? Are you looking for a job now that will allow you to be of service?" That's what your resume should say.


There is no shame in living.

Let your resume reflect that fact.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

What You Don't Know Will Hurt Your Resume. Get Back to "School."


We’ve all been there: you don’t have a job, and your resume is all around the world and getting nowhere because it reads like everybody else’s. You have a high school diploma. Or you almost finished junior college. Or you may have an Associates Degree, a Bachelors, or even a Masters. But nothing is biting, and you’re getting very discouraged. How do you get your resume to stand out, get past a computer screening, be read by an actual Human Resources professional, and get to the all-important interview? You know how to “Dress for Success” when going to a job interview, but your problem is getting your resume noticed so that you can be chosen for that interview. Without scolding you the way your mother or father might (or a grandparent, whose opinion really counts), there is a chance that you just don’t know enough.

Resume readers spend only an average of 30 seconds for a first resume reading, and there are certain things that they look for: what you did in your last job, your achievements, strengths, and qualifications. If any of that information catches their eye, they will read your highlights and career objective (or summary), glance at your earlier employment, and look at your education. If all goes well, your resume will be put into a “to be considered” pile, the first “short list.” Your cover letter may not be read until the second “round” of resume readings.

We have become a Continuing Education Society, and your competitors who are getting to the interview stages and obtaining jobs in this rough - though slowly improving - economy may be much more current in your field than you. They may have taken more initiative to learn more. While you’re doing all you can to network, peruse the newspapers, and search the Web, ask yourself: Am I really doing enough? Would going back to school help? Chances are, the answer would be yes. Learn a new skill or increase your knowledge about a skill that you already have. If you don’t have a high school diploma, or a GED, well, “by golly, get one (that’s your grandma speaking)!” If you left school before you got your college degree, return to college. There are many local colleges and universities, as well as correspondence and on-line classes that can round out your resume to show that you aren’t a boob who sits around playing video games. Check out some of these free online classes on YouTube. 

Most colleges and universities, public, private, and for-profit, offer on-line courses and degrees,  Take some courses to keep current in  your field. If you've not finished your degree, do it, and do it NOW! If you don't have a high school diploma, get your GED NOW! Even if you have an Associates, Bachelors, Masters, and even Doctorate, if you've been out of work for awhile, get some additional training or certification. You can even do some volunteer work in your field to show that you are keeping abreast of what is happening.
There are hundreds of courses available on campuses, as well as on line, that you can take to become more knowledgeable, more current in your field, and better equipped to reenter the job market.and in a way that may save your resume from dustbin oblivion. 

Returning to school will force you to better master your computer, which is essential.. Most of us don’t really know all that our computers can do. Become an expert on your computer. That additional knowledge could be just what you need to get hired, and eventually, promoted.  Computer classes are available at adult schools and online at the University of Phoenix, on Kaplan online, and at other locations.  If you feel you're too old to go back to school, most Senior Citizens programs have computers, often with individual instruction. But you are never too old. When I returned to my second year of college 23 years after dropping out and having  6 children, many of my professors were younger than I. So it's never too late to go back to school and continue your learning. Being shy is also not an excuse.  Online classes rarely require face-to-face interactions, and are an excellent way to brush up your skills and learning. Listed below are some websites that might give you a head start (I searched randomly, and no one has offered me any income or other remuneration for posting his or her website here):
+ Test your typing skills:
+ Test your English (British):
+ Test your math skills:
+ Test your wordpower:

Some sites require payment, but they test you in subjects in which most employers expect you to have some knowledge, if you’re seeking an office job (bookkeeping, payroll, etc.)
Get free downloads of software to learn the basics:
Become accredited to beef up your resume:
Take any number of courses online at
Go to an online “school” to learn any number of subjects:

Computer classes are available at adult schools and online at the University of Phoenix (one of the institutions at which my daughter has taught), on Kaplan online, and at other locations.  If you feel you're too old to go back to school, most Senior Citizens programs have computers, often with individual instruction. But you are never too old. When I returned to my second year of college 23 years dropping out and having  6 children, many of my professors were younger than I. So you're never too told to go back to school and continue your learning. Being shy is also not an excuse.  Online classes rarely require face-to-face interactions, and are an excellent way to brush up your skills and learning. Listed below are some websites that might give you a head start (I searched randomly, and no one has offered me any income or other remuneration for posting his or her website here):

Don't think of any of these types of learning as second rate. I received an external Masters degree from a California state university (there was no internet then, and I had to work and couldn't attend regular classes), and it was accepted at UCLA, where I got my PhD. One of my daughters teaches on-line courses for campuses throughout Southern California, and has done so for many years. Particularly now, in this “recession” economy, you need everything possible going for you. Increasing your educational qualifications shows that you are serious about your career, have the discipline to seek more knowledge, and are thus likely to be a very good employee. And will position that information so that it will be noticed early!

So don't despair! Returning to school may be just the ticket to your new job! Go back to school, volunteer, and get your resume updated to meet today's standards. Affordable-Resumes will be rooting for you all the way, and will make sure that your newly revised resume will knock 'em dead!