The Curse of the Objective Statement on Resumes

warning don't use objective on resumeEveryone knows that the amount of time that your resume will be judged is getting shorter and shorter.  From the generous 60 seconds 10 years ago to the strict 10-30 seconds of the modern era, the amount of time you have to impact the HR recruiter or hiring manager keeps getting shorter.  However, do you know the sure-fire way to get screened out in only 2 seconds?

The Dreaded Objective

The moment that someone adds an Objective statement to the resume it is a kiss of death.  It doesn’t matter if the Objective is too specific or too vague; either way, the Objective limits possibilities and makes sure that the reader will only consider your resume from one point of view.

Getting Too Specific

For some job seekers, they list a very specific Objective at the top of their resume. For example:

“Objective: to gain a business-to-business sales position with a dynamic medical device company.”

This may seem like a good idea, but in fact, it is limiting.  If the exact job title doesn’t match this Objective, HR will cut the candidate because they are given the impression that the applicant would not be open to other positions.

Worse, many job seekers get lazy and won’t adjust the Objective.  For example, I recently posted a job opening for a resume writer at my company.  Ironically, I saw a number of really bad resumes.  Of these, the very worst were the ones that didn’t bother to change that Objective, especially when they were coming from a different industry.  One Objective literally read: “To host my own talk show in radio or television.”  Obviously, this has nothing to do with my job posting.  In fact, it is insulting that the job seeker couldn’t be bothered to even address my job in any way.

Bottom line: beware of the specific Objective statement.  It can box you in more than you realize.

Being Too Vague

A vague job description does nothing but takes up unnecessary space on a resume.  These generic statements tend to all sound the same:

“Objective: to gain a challenging and rewarding position with a stable company with plenty of opportunity for growth.”

Well, who doesn’t want that?  The same could be said for any job seeker.  This does nothing to impress a hiring manager or recruiter.

Another problem with the vague Objective is that there are no active key words in it.  Resumes are screened first and foremost by the key words within the job description or job posting.  Anything that doesn’t relate to either the requirements or responsibilities is eating up valuable real estate.

The Nature of Sin

Finally, the biggest problem with an Objective is that is completely self-serving.  The truth is that companies don’t really care about what you want; they care about their own needs.  When you write your resume to match the employer’s needs, you get a better response.

For example, if I am hiring a salesperson, I care about her track record of success.  If I am hiring an executive assistant, I care about his proficiency in Microsoft Office.  If I am hiring an accountant, I want him to be able to do math.

Always consider the employer’s needs when writing your resume.  How can you help this company? Can you make them money, save them money or solve problems?  If you prove that you can do one of those three things, the employers will take notice.

Summaries Instead of Objectives

Instead of the hated Objective, try writing a Summary instead.  This is 3-4 sentences about your best features – remembering, of course, to relate it back to their needs and use matching key words.  At the top of the resume, do include the title of your target job.  That lets the company know exactly where your interest lies:

“DRIVEN SALES PROFESSIONAL

“Highly successful sales professional with talents and experience in regulated industries, major account management, enterprise sales and capital expense purchases.  A collaborative sales expert, with the ability to help customers determine the best products for their technical, budgetary and company needs.  A specialist in building long-term customer relationships based on technical expertise, availability and pro-active customer service.”

Now that is a salesman that I want to call!

How to Close an Old LinkedIn Account

When I start working with clients on their LinkedIn presence, many of them have an old account that they started years ago.  However, they don’t know how to get rid of the old account.  Believe it or not, it is extremely easy to do this – once you know how.

 1.       Log into the old account

You do need to have the email address associated with the old account. If you have forgotten your password, you can click on the “Forgot Password?” prompt to reset it.

 2.       Go to the Privacy & Settings pageget to LinkedIn account settings

To get here, hover over your profile picture on the very far right and top of the LinkedIn page.  This opens a new drop-down menu.  Click on the Privacy & Settings tab.  You may have to reenter your password, as this is the secure backstage area of your account.

 3.       Look for the “Account” tab on the bottom of the page

At the left and bottom half of the page are four additional tabs with all kinds of controls: Profile, Communication, Groups and Account. When you click on the Account tab, an additional menu opens just to the right of the tabs.

 4.       Click on the “Close Your AccountHow to Close your Linkedin account

From here, you do get a confirmation before you kill the account completely.  When this is closed, you will lose all the contacts, recommendations, etc. associated with this account.

 5.       Add the email address to your main LinkedIn account

After 48 hours, you can add the email address from the closed account to your main LinkedIn account. You can have multiple emails associated with your account, which is a good idea.  That way, everything is in one central space instead of creating multiple accounts all over the place.

 

Agency Spotlight: The Ekström Agency

Ekstrom logoA relative newcomer to the domestic staffing industry, the Ekstrom Agency was founded by Nils Ekstrom in June 2013.  Thanks to his 25 years of experience in the service industry, he has studied hospitality across disciplines including domestic service, restaurant operations, and cruise lines.  Nils has had the honor of serving in both large and small estates and have managed staffs including maids, chauffeurs, chefs/cooks, day workers, houseman, nannies, personal assistants and butlers.

 “The reason I built Ekström was to bring this work ethic and integrity to an industry that needed change,” states Nils.  “Change in the way that talent is being hired, change in how clients needed to become better educated about what is required in order to run their homes efficiently, and change in how the employee/employer relationships are built and sustained.” 

 

  1. How long have you been in business? 

We just started operations in June 2013.

 

  1. What makes your agency unique? 

We treat and promote talent, not domestic help.  We believe that by attracting the right talent and then spending time in person with the family, we increase the chances of a healthy and long term working relationship.  In addition, we have a specialty in working with Chinese clients who are purchasing homes and investment properties in the Tri State Area and require specialty talent support.

 

  1. What types of positions do you place? 

Chefs, House Managers, Estate Mangers, Housekeepers, Nannies, Equestrian Management, Personal Assistants, Couples & Butlers.  We also maintain a strong group of bi and tri-lingual talent (Spanish, French, Portuguese & Chinese). 

  1. What is your ideal candidate? 

An experienced individual with a high degree of integrity and work ethic.  We do thorough background investigations and require the utmost in confidentiality and work ethic.

  1. Do you place across the country or locally?  If so where:

We concentrate in NYC and the Tri-State area but also do placements in Florida including both Palm Beach and Miami.

  1. Do you look for any special training or certifications, such as college degrees, private service schools, etc? 

While we do look for certain certifications especially with our chefs and nannies, we are open to those who have experience equal to a degree or other certification.  We find that nothing really beats good old fashioned hands-on experience and elbow grease.

  1. Where do you announce your open jobs? 

We promote through partnerships with other agencies, conferences, referrals from our existing talent pool and colleagues. We are also very active on social media.

  1. How should a candidate apply for a job? 

Do you want an online application, resume or both?  We start with an online resume and then move to a formal application and then video interview.

  1. Do you belong to any professional associations?

DEMA, NYC Personal Assistants

  1. How can people contact you?

http://naekstrom.com or at (347) 410 1862

 

Special discount for DEMA members

Special sale for DEMA membersThe 2013 DEMA convention in Orlando was another great success, with definite strides to improve the industry across many levels.  As we get back to our offices and estates, it is important to keep up the momentum from the conference.

 As a special bonus to DEMA members, we are offering 10% off all resume packages purchased before December 31, 2013.  If you are considering sprucing up your resume before the final hiring push of the year, now is the ideal time to get it done.

To find out more, please email donna@personaltouchcareerservices.com to arrange a 15 minute free consultation to discuss your resume and job search techniques.

A Recruiter’s Take on Resumes

resume_jpeg_w300h200Recently, I spoke with Christopher Baker, owner of Christopher Baker Staffing, about some of the latest trends in resumes for private service professionals, specifically Estate Managers, Household Managers, Personal Assistants and Butlers.  As most people know, this unique industry requires some unique features on the resumes – usually factors that you would never see on a traditional business resume.

 Reasons for Leaving

“I think everyone should have two versions of their resume,” stated Chris.  “One that’s of normal length, and one that is longer and includes the reasons for leaving a former employer.  This really helps agencies, so that we don’t have to scramble through an application while on the phone with a potential employer.  They always want to know why someone left, and it helps the recruiter to have that available right on the resume.”

 The reasons for leaving don’t have to dominate the resume.  “Even something as simple as one sentence in italics at the end of the bulleted duties – and yes, I like the bulleted format – that’s all you need to put,” said Chris.

 The Full Professional Experience

In the business world, it is common to limit the professional experience on a resume to 10 – 15 years.  However, private service requires a more in-depth view of the work experience.  In fact, since many household management professionals enter into the industry as a second career, knowing the previous background is especially important.

 I will see a resume of someone with 8 to 10 years’ experience as a household manager, but then you know that they are 50 years old.  People have whole other careers before private service, and our employers want to know about it,” stated Chris.

 Pictures

In corporate environments, pictures on resumes would be inappropriate.  However, in private service, they are the standard.  Several years ago, the standard was to dress in a full suit for the resume picture to give an impression of professionalism.  Yet, according to Mr. Baker, the standards have shifted.

 “I realize that pictures can be a delicate issue, but they are a standard practice in the industry,” said Chris.  “A suit can be ok, but it works better if the candidate looks really approachable. For men, that may be a button up shirt and jacket, but no tie.  Women, well, they shouldn’t look like the men.  So no stuffy business suit, but no too casual either.  You want to look comfortable with yourself, pleasant and alert. “

 Computer Skills

One of the biggest changes in private service in the past few years is the rise of computer skills.  More and more employers are demanding excellent use of Microsoft Office, QuickBooks, iPads, smart phones – not to mention custom software for household systems, such as Smart Home technology.

 “On the resume, people really need to list all the computer programs they know, and how well.  Don’t leave it to be assumed – if you don’t tell us what you can do, we can’t promote you properly to the employers,” stated Chris.

 Do You Have Principals or Principles?

“It’s my number one pet peeve,” sighed Chris. “It seems like 99% of the candidates confuse ‘principal’ and ‘principle’…”

 Here’s a trick I learned in school: the principal is a “Prince of a Pal” – ending the word with ‘-pal’ is the designation for a person.

 The Letter of Introduction

“My top candidates are the ones that write a phenomenal letter of introduction,” emphasized Chris. “Even better, they should write it themselves.  This is your opportunity to give me a real writing sample – one that I do forward on to the employers.  You can get a framework or template for your letter, but ultimately, the candidate needs to write that letter.  It’s like creating a beautiful frame for your resume.”

 Formats

By and large, most agencies want to receive your resume as a Word document.  Practically every agency will transfer your information into their own template, or at least remove your contact information.  If it is sent as a PDF or has lots of complex formatting, this makes it difficult for the agency to present you.

 More about Christopher Baker Staffing

Christopher Baker, owner of Christopher Baker Staffing, has spent the last 13 years in the private service staffing business, first as a national recruiter and account executive for the nation’s foremost retained search firm specializing in private service for high net-worth families and their offices.  Since 2004, Chris has led his own Los Angeles-based company, Christopher Baker Staffing.  Christopher Baker Staffing enjoys a reputation of providing personalized and discreet staffing on a contingency basis for clients throughout the country.

Visit them at:

www.christopherbakerstaffing.com

 

What goes in an awesome letter of recommendation

positive job search tipsOne of the more important tools of your job search portfolio is the Letter of Recommendation.  It is important to capture not only the facts about when and where you worked, but to give the reader a real sense of what you did in the previous job.  Plus, when you ask your contacts for a letter, it lets them know that you are looking for a position – a valuable networking tool.

 Unfortunately, many people may be willing to give you a letter of recommendation, but they don’t know what to write. As a result, they either write a very poor letter – or procrastinate and never get it done.

 To escape those traps, here’s some tips for recommendations that matter:

 First Paragraph – Establish the job

This is the facts of the position – dates, title, company and location.  This doesn’t have to be a boring repetition; in fact, you can start with the accolades right away:

“I am happy to recommend John Smith’s work for our company.  John worked as our Accounting Manager from 2005 through 2010.  Under his pro-active management, we always had accurate reports within tight deadlines…

 

Body Paragraphs – Details of what you did

Once the introduction is done, the recommendation needs to cover more specifics about not only your duties, but the significant outcomes or quality of your work.  Letters of recommendation are more valuable when they include specific details about the job:

“John not only managed all of our financial reports, but also led a team of five accountants and clerks. As a leader, John made sure that all team members were receiving the continuing education and development to handle our rapidly-growing company.  Thanks to his forward-thinking tactics, our billing turn-around significantly improved our cash flow for the company…

 Personal Paragraph – A bit about you

Recommendations are not just about duties and accomplishments.  They should reflect something about your personality or working style:

“John is highly-detail oriented, making sure that everything is accurate as well as easy to understand.  With his pleasant nature, John was able to stay cool, calm and collected, even under stressful situations…

 Closing – Would they hire you again?

The final paragraph is the strongest recommendation language.  It should definitely include a phrase about willingness to hire you again:

“In conclusion, I can whole-heartedly recommend John Smith for any position.  He was an extremely valuable member of our management team, and I would happily hire him again.

 Further follow-up

Some employers will verify letters of recommendation.  Make sure that your reference knows this, and includes his contact information in the letter:

“Please feel free to contact me at 303-555-5555 or fakeemail@email.com if you have any questions.”

Deadly resume mistakes: Every part of your resume matters

 

resume mistakes

What’s hiding in your resume?

When it comes to resumes, most people know to look out for the deadly spelling and grammar errors.  But did you know there are other factors that can be just as terminal?  Take a moment to see if your resume is carrying a hidden job search killer…

 Strange Resume Names

Ideally, the document name for your resume should be your full name, plus title and maybe even a date so you can keep track of the current version.  However, too many applicants will use a secret code that they develop to manage their updates. 

 For example, instead of “Schmoe, Joe Manager Resume 2013.doc” or “Joe_Schmoe_Resume_2013.doc” HR receives “Resume v2.081213”.  Considering that Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS, also known as online applications) are advanced enough to upload your Word document, you want it to be a search-friendly document.  This way, if you document gets separated from your main file, there is at least hope of finding it again.

 When emailed as an attachment, the name game gets even more important.  Managers and recruiters can get nervous about email attachments from people they don’t know.  If the document name is a mix of letters and numbers, they are less likely to open it for fear of a virus.

 Hidden Agendas?

I recently received a resume which was titled “FT Resume”.  In this case, it was the candidate’s initials; however, the connotation I interpreted was “Full Time Resume” – I had to read it twice to make sure what she meant.

 What was even worse was my next assumption: if she is naming her resume for “Full Time” work, does that mean she also has a “Part Time Resume” out there too?  If that’s the case, a recruiter may doubt the dedication to a full time job.

 Missing Contact Information

There is a lot of debate on the internet as to whether you need your full address on your resume.  In my opinion, it depends.  For entry level or support positions, employers are more likely to interview candidates who are physically closer to their location.  As we move up into middle and upper management, commuting time matters less.

 But there are some things that must be included: your email address and your phone number.  And yes, I have seen resumes recently that didn’t have a phone number on them.

Out-of-Date Email Addresses

Most people have heard that your email address needs to be professional, ideally based on your name.  But did you know that the service provider you choose can be just as deadly?

For example, if your email address is still AOL, this tells the HR department and the hiring manager that your internet skills are dated.

Updating to a Google gmail account shows at least the possibility that you have access to more modern online tools, such as Google Docs and other cloud computing environments.

Does your resume tell your story?

Domestic staff resumes are more formalIn a world that has become driven by key words, relevant experience and short attention spans, it is easy to lose sight of the fact that resumes are actually telling a story.  In this case, it is the story of your professional career.  When your resume can convey you story, you greatly improve your chances of landing an interview.

This doesn’t mean that we are going to write in a long narrative, or include a novella just to get your foot in the door.  Instead, the story within your resume is the turns and twists your career path may have taken, and why they led to where you are today.

The Complex Path

I was recently working with an executive on his resume.  I quickly noticed that there was a pattern to his work history: every one to two years, he changed his job.  A typical recruiter may assume that he was a job hopper.  In truth, he was part of an established corporate succession plan that groomed him for more senior management positions as he completed critical components in each rotation.

When we re-designed his resume, we added in a summary of the leadership program into the overall company description, with the individual jobs falling underneath.  Now instead of a job hopper, he looked like he was successfully climbing the corporate ladder – a highly desirable trait for senior management positions.

Career Transitions

Telling your story is also critical when doing a career change.  In this case, the challenge is convincing the recruiter not only that you have the skills to do the job, but the passion to make it in a new industry.  One case where we frequently see this scenario is the transition into private service.

One way to show relevance in the new industry is to focus on transferable skills.  It increases the key word count while allowing us to include important life skills.  However, just loading up key words will only get so far.

Whenever work passion comes into play, the resume must have a strong personal profile or summary.  It needs the short paragraph to explain why the candidate wants to make the change.  In some cases, it may be a life-long dream.  For others, it is the satisfaction in anticipating someone else’s needs.  For another, it is knowing that they can deal with any contingency that may arise, all with a cool and calm demeanor.

The point?  When the recruiters and the employers understand your passion, they are more likely to grant you the interview.  Smart employers hire for the fit and train for the skill; part of any fit is a passion for the job.

I once helped a new college graduate with her career transition.  Previously, she worked in IT, but went back to school to gain a degree in marketing.  Following graduation, she had a series of interviews with a marketing company for a Marketing Coordinator position.  She was not the most qualified candidate; in fact, she was missing some of the software applications critical for the job.  However, we worked with her passion statement and coached her to speak about that passion in the job interview.  In the end, she got the job – and before her first day, the company paid to send her to an InDesign class.  And mind you, this was in January 2009 – at the height of the Recession.

Final note – Key Words still matter

In our search engine-driven world, key words still do matter as a major factor in any resume.  While important, that doesn’t mean that need to be arranged in a boring manner.  It is possible to tell your story while still capturing the right phrases to survive the screening process – it just takes some finesse and strategy.

Review: “Be the Ultimate Assistant” Workshop

men and Vickie Sokol evansOn June 8 and 9, 2013, I attended the “Be the Ultimate Assistant” workshop hosted by Bonnie Low-Kramen and Vickie Sokol Evans at the Ritz-Carlton in Dallas, Texas. (See below for their full credentials.) The weekend workshop drew about 20 people from diverse locations, such as California, Colorado and Washington State.  Attendees varied from Executive Assistants, Personal Assistants and professionals who bridged the gap between the two roles.

It is important to note that Bonnie does contact each one of the students prior to the workshop to gauge not only their experience, but also their desired learning goals.  In this way, each workshop is tailored to meet the needs of the audience.  For this class, many of the students indicated that they struggle with the soft skills that make successful business relationships with their employers or principals.

When working closely with an employer, building a mutually beneficial professional relationship is critical.  Throughout the weekend, Bonnie shared many tools on how to build this type of trust and respect, while addressing such issues as conflict, communication and boundaries. Other assistants shared their experiences as well, which added to the conversation.  In future workshops, I hope that some role playing scenarios will be included to really practice this vital aspect of any top Assistant.

One of the underlying themes of the weekend was the importance of team work, especially in office environments.  From pulling out the talents of other team members to mentoring junior employees, the sharing of information is what makes each individual stronger, and creates a team that is more than the sum of its parts. For solo Personal Assistants, resources such as professional organizations were encouraged to make up for the lack of team environments.

As for tactical tools, The Accomplished Traveler provided a presentation on luxury travel.  For many of the students, this was eye-opening about the options, possibilities and unique problem-solving required for many High Net Worth (HNW) individuals.  Touring the Ritz-Carlton provided additional insight.

Personally, one of the things I look for in any workshop is the technical tools I gain.  Vickie Sokol-Evan’s “Tips in Minutes” for Microsoft Office was extremely impressive and helpful. Considering most of the students were already pretty advanced in these programs, even they learned tons of short cuts, formatting options and ways to streamline their productivity with better results.  The portion on social media privacy combined with MS Outlook was eye-opening; I consider myself pretty adept at the privacy issues, but I learned a lot of tactics and uncomfortable truths that I never suspected.

Bonnie provided tools for managing schedules, itineraries, inventories and other critical information that all top assistants should strive to maintain.  Additional materials provided made sure that the attendees would have more resources beyond the classroom.  The only real problem was that we ran out of time on Sunday to cover absolutely everything on the syllabus.

Overall, the “Be the Ultimate Assistant” workshop provided a solid launching point for anyone striving to be either a Personal Assistant or Executive Personal Assistant.  As Bonnie Low-Kramen and Vickie Sokol Evans continue to teach their classes, I am sure the content will continue to improve and evolve.

ABOUT THE INSTRUCTORS:

Bonnie Low-Kramen spent 25 years as the Personal Assistant to celebrity couple and Oscar winner Olympia Dukakis and Louis Zorich. Motivated by the lack of resources for assistants, she co-founded New York Celebrity Assistants (NYCA), a professional networking organization for assistants. Bonnie wrote the book on the subject – Be the Ultimate Assistant, A celebrity assistant’s secrets to working with any high-powered employer which is now a best-seller and her articles have been published around the world. Bonnie’s work with actress Olympia Dukakis included the Academy Award win for the film Moonstruck, the 1988 presidential campaign of Michael Dukakis, and travel around the world to places such as Sydney, London, Alaska and Prague. Because she has rarely chosen to do anything the easy way in her career, Bonnie is now passionately committed to effecting positive change in the American workplace – one assistant and one employer at a time. Visit her website: http://www.bonnielowkramen.com/

Vickie Sokol Evans is the founder and President of RedCape, a highly-regarded technology training company focused on real world technology skills needed for small businesses, executives and their assistants, as well as any business user who wants to maximize the technology at their fingertips. Bestselling author of the series for both PC & Mac, Vickie is a Microsoft Certified Trainer and a Microsoft Office Master Instructor with over 15 years of classroom training experience, specializing in the productivity platform, such as Microsoft Office, OneNote, SharePoint, and Lync and includes Microsoft’s latest cloud offering, Office 365. Formerly a business/data analyst with Microsoft, she travels the globe delivering live Jerry Maguire-inspired “Tips in Minutes” keynote presentations to a variety of audiences; teaching engaging instructor-led courses; and facilitating Microsoft Experience Center events for many of Microsoft’s largest customers. Visit her website: http://www.redcapeco.com

Educator Spotlight: Charles MacPherson Butler Academy

charles macpherson butler academyLocated in Toronto, Canada, the Charles MacPherson Butler Academy has been preparing individuals for private service careers since 2009.  Started by Charles MacPherson, an experienced international butler and author of “The Butler Speaks: A Guide to Stylish Entertaining, Etiquette and the Art of Good Housekeeping” (Random House, 2013), the school focuses on a mix of technical skills and management concepts to prepare students for such jobs as Estate Managers, Household Managers, Personal Assistants and Major Domos in addition to traditional Butler roles.

One of the truly unique aspects of the school is their approach to placement after graduation.  In addition to being exposed to placement options through Charles MacPherson Associate’s placement division, they also present their graduates to other agencies for consideration.  Graduates benefit from Charles’ reputation in the industry for producing quality candidates, especially those seeking to transfer into the industry from another profession.

In this month’s Educator Spotlight, Charles tells us more about his Academy..

1. How long have you been in business?

Our school has been open & certified since 2009.

2. In a nutshell, what do you teach?

Our specialty is both Household Management and Butlering Skills for the 21st century.

3. What makes your training unique?

When you visit our website you will see from the videos that we have a “household management laboratory,” This allows us to be hands on while we teach our students.

4. How long are the courses?

The current program is one month for your full certification, but you can take classes for one day, one week or whatever is your personal interest.

5. How frequently are the programs run?

Currently three times per year: Winter, Spring and Fall

6. Do you have an online or correspondence courses?

We do not at this time. We strongly feel you need to learn with our teachers hands-on.

7. What are the requirements to attend your school?

You must have graduated high-school or complete and high-school equivalent test.

8. Who is your ideal student?

Great question!  Ideally someone with both hospitality experience and management skill set.

9. Do you offer placement assistance to your graduates?  What is your placement rate?

Yes, we proudly offer placement and we currently run a 98% placement with our graduates.

10. Do you belong to any professional associations?

DEMA (Domestic Estate Managers Association)

11. Are you accredited?  If so, with what entity…

We are accredited with PCC (Private Career Colleges), which Is governed by the Ministry of Education for Canada.

12. How much does your program cost?

The one month program is $7,500 (Canadian) for the materials and classes.  Boarding an additional expense, which is not furnished by the school.

13. Are financial aid, scholarships or payment plans available?

Not at this time.

14. How can people contact you?

The best is either by telephone 416.369.1146 or our website www.charlesmacpherson.com

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