resume help

9 Resume Myths that Piss Me Off

Me when I hear some of the advice people are getting about resume writing.

Me when I hear some of the advice people are getting about resume writing.

There is a lot of misinformation floating around regarding what is acceptable in resumes and what isn’t. What frustrates me most is that there are people out there sharing this “advice” as fact, and other people, out of fear, are taking that advice seriously.

Last week, I was chatting with my friend’s colleague and we got on the subject of resumes. Here’s what she said:

“I need to update my resume because I know you’re only supposed to use 3 bullet points per job now.”


WRONG.

But, it isn’t this person’s fault. There’s bad advice EVERYWHERE. I hear of from friends, clients, and even online.

And I’m hear to put a stop to it.

I am a reliable source. 

  • I’m a Certified Resume Strategist with the Career Professionals of Canada. 

  • I’ve had samples of my resumes evaluated in 2019 by fellow Certified Resume Writers this who called my work “exceptionally strong”.

  • I also review hundreds of resumes per year as a hiring manager.

If you can’t trust my advice... who can you trust?

(As you can see, the title wasn’t an exaggeration... I really am pissed... yay emotions!)


Now for the helpful part...


The Myths:

1. Your Resume has to be One Page

Unless you’re applying to a job that specifically asks, then no, there is no rule about page count. The goal is to show the hiring manager that you will be good at all the things they need you to be good at. For most of you, that’s going to take more than one page.

If they don’t ask for a specific page count, here’s my suggestion: write a two page resume, unless you are a student or new grad (one page should suffice for you), or you are an executive and/or have 15+ years experience (you could afford three pages).


2. Limit Bullet Points to 3 per Job

There is no limit on bullet points per job. It’s all about prioritizing how you use your space. Typically, your most relevant jobs will use more bullet points than less relevant ones. 

*I’ll often include 6-8 bullet points for the most recent job and then 2-3 for older ones.

My advice is to use as much space as you need to show them exactly what you did, as long as it’s relevant to what they’ll want you to be able to do for them.


3. Your Current Job should be Written Exclusively in Present Tense

Yes, when you’re describing the job duties which you currently do on a daily or yearly basis, you should use present tense. But if you’re writing about accomplishments in that same role (which you should be), then those should be written in past tense (because you already accomplished them).


4. You Only Need One Resume

It’s true, you only need one Master Resume, but you should have several slightly different versions for each job you’re applying to. You should be carefully looking at each job posting, identifying what they need you to do in that role, and then tweaking your resume to highlight those skills.

Also, if you have any branding tools involved in your resume (headlines, values, career highlights, key skills) you should be altering those based on the job you’re apply to as well.



5. Its All About Keyword Matching

Using keywords is important but do not obsess over it. I had a client once who’s old resume was filled with nonsensical phrases that had nothing to do with his actual experience. He was proud he had scored an 86% on Jobscan (God, I hate Jobscan), but was confused why he hadn’t gotten a callback for a job in 3 years.

Remember this... easily comprehensible resumes are important and honest resumes are even more important. 

Also, if you overuse keywords, automated scanners are going to dismiss you for “keyword stuffing”.



6. You Need a Pretty, Modern-Looking Resume in 2019

I honestly wish this one were true. There are so many beautiful resume templates out there but sadly, we have the dreaded Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to compete with.

Most ATS scanners aren’t sophisticated enough to pick up on things like multiple columns, graphics, or even creative headings. Sadly, the truth is, a simple resume format is the most effective. Sorry, buddy.



7. Bullet Points Should Only Be One Line

WRITE THIS DOWN —> A good bullet point needs: at least one action verb, specific/quantifiable detail on what YOU did, and a tangible result of this action. 

If you can fit that in one line, great. If it takes two, that’s fine as well. If it takes three... it better be a very important accomplishment, otherwise, try writing it more concisely. 

Most bullet points I write are two lines.



8. If I Practice for Interviews, I Will Come Off as Rehearsed and Not Genuine

Sorry, I know this one’s not resume related but it makes me so mad so I’m including it.

This one’s wrong for three reasons:

  1. You don’t have the exact questions they’re going to ask so there’s no way to practice word-for-word. 

  2. You’re just practicing the skill of responding to questions so that you can formulate a nice cohesive interview answer.

  3. Contrary to this theory, the more you practice, the more natural you start to sound. Unless you want those oh-so-natural long-awkward pauses and non-nonsensical repetitive answers to be what they remember you for. I’ve interviewed hundreds of people and it’s easy to tell who has practiced and who hasn’t.

I know practicing seems scary (which is the real reason people don’t do it), but you should be a lot more scared of going into an interview without any practice.



9. You have 6-10 Seconds to Catch Someone’s Eye with Your Resume

I’m not debunking this one, so much as telling you that it’s pretty much true

This is why branding, and an easy-to-read layout are critical. 


Need help updating your resume and launching your career to the next level? HIT ME UP!




Starting My Own Business: 10-Months In!

Greg Balloons

Dear Mom... and whoever else decides to read this blog <3

Ten months ago today, I launched Greg Langstaff - Resume Writer & Interview Coach! Believe it or not, I'm still standing :) 

Since January 8th, I have served 43 clients (plus five currently in process) and I owe a great deal of that success to all of you who supported me. Thank you to anyone who passed my name onto some who needed help, or shared my promotional content online, or simply asked me how the business was going. Without you, I am but a lonely man posting memes on his Facebook page.

For all those following along the journey, here's how the first ten months have gone :)

The Money

I don’t think enough people share the cold hard numbers when they talk about their businesses, but like a good resume, I want to show you my specific and measurable accomplishments.

My initial goal was to make a modest $1,000 this year. I went onto hit that in February so I set a new goal of $5,000. I've honestly stopped keeping track of how much money I've made exactly (I guess I'll have to figure that out before tax season), but I can tell you that I'm somewhere north of $6,000. 


The Commitment

At the six month-mark (after some eye-opening spring travelling with Ariana), I decided that I liked running this business enough that it was time to commit. Here's a quick summary of what committing looks like for me: 


July: I registered as a Sole Proprietor with the Government of Ontario. 

August: I applied for and was accepted to the Futurpreneur Mentorship program for young entrepreneurs. I now have a great mentor who is helping me expand my business. 

September: Record-high month in revenue generation at roughly $1,200. 

October: I became a card-carrying member of the Career Professionals of Canada. 

November: I am studying for my Certified Resume Strategist designation which I hope to have by the end of this year. 


Lessons Learned

The first ten months have definitely dropped some knowledge into my lap. I've done my best to categorize those lessons for you. 


Marketing: You can get it for free, and you can pay for it too. 

I've had great success in posting useful content in my social media just to generate awareness in my business and tossing out the occasional sales pitch. To be honest, the content generation does get challenging, and I've been guilty of disappearing for weeks on end. It's a lot of work and I also worry about over-saturating my newsfeed and wearing out my welcome. 

I'm also starting to dabble in paid marketing (this is where it's great to have an experienced mentor). I’ve done a bit of Facebook and now I’m messing around with Google Ads a bit, which has proven to be fairly successful so far.


Service Excellence: I’ve also found that the best way to find new clients is to do a damn good job with the ones you have! About 20% of my clients have been referred by other satisfied clients. That's not a bad ROI for just doing your job with a smile... also it's nice to genuinely help people, but that’s not as measurable ;) 


People are Amazing: There are a lot of really great people out there. I'm so lucky to get to spend a hour on the phone with each of my clients, hearing all about their incredible lives. I have learned so much about so many different professions that I would have never learned if I hadn't started this business. Talking to people has been my absolute favourite part. 


What's Next?

Here's a quick taste of some upcoming initiatives for my business.

Certification: As mentioned above, I'm currently studying to become a Certified Resume Strategist. Just reading the textbook as already validated a lot of my earlier work and given me more confidence in my ability to help my clients. 

More Succinct Marketing Plan: Some of you may have heard that I recently moved in with my beloved, Ariana. And you may know that she is a digital marketing professional. So between Ariana and my mentor, I feel great about the direction my marketing strategy is heading in. 

Video Course: I've been talking about this for a long time now, but I swear I'm going to do it!


Thanks for reading! If you're thinking about starting a business or you recently started one and you want to talk, hit me up!


Lessons Learned from a 150-page Resume Textbook

Canadian Resume Strategist Textbook Cover

I recently became a member of the Career Professionals of Canada organization and as a new member, I am eligible to pursue my Certified Resume Strategists designation.

The first step in pursuing this designation is reading a 150-page textbook on writing great resumes. I’m almost done reading the book and I wanted to share some useful tidbits that I picked up along the way.

 

1. Think of your Resume as a Marketing Tool. In marketing, the object is to identify the potential buyer’s needs and cater your messaging towards them. For resume writers, that means carefully researching the target company, industry, and job duties in order to highlight the most relevant skills and accomplishments on the resume.

The book differentiates this from using the resume as a sales tool, wherein you might be tempted to just list all the best things about yourself regardless of what the employer needs.


2. Build your Resume around your Unique Value Proposition. Decide what makes you uniquely qualified for the position to which you are applying (i.e. Pilot Project Specialist, Software Solutions Sales Expert, Progressive Team-Builder, Innovative Problem-Solver) and use that as sort of a thesis statement which you back up throughout the resume.

Implementing this would mean using a headline or summary statement at the top of your resume such as “Safety-Focused Warehouse Manager” and following up with accomplishments like “Designed and implemented enhanced safety protocol company-wide; resulting in a 125% decrease in workplace injuries.”


3. Under work experience, emphasize accomplishments over job duties. Use SMART statements (Specific, Measurable, Action-Oriented, Results-Oriented, Time-Bound) to highlight things you accomplished in previous roles, rather than simply listing job duties.

Bad example: “Entered customer profile information in database”

Good example: “Generated 50-75 customer profiles per week using the ABC Software company database, utilized by account management team to increase customer retention by 15% in 2017”

4. Some random, yet specific tips. The tips above are very conceptual. Here are some very specific tips for you from the textbook.

  • Objective statements are out of style (“I would like to acquire employment at blah, blah, blah”) and that space can be used more effectively with a headline (example in point 2).

  • There is no set rule about page limit but lengthy resumes (over two pages) can be off-putting to recruiters unless you have a great reason to take up so much space.

  • Leave plenty of white space on your resume. An overly busy resume is tough to read and could reduce recruiter interest.

  • Avoid photos, logos, and graphics. Unless you are a creative professional or a model, just stick with good-old reliable “words”.

There were lots of other interesting tips and guidelines in the textbook, but I know my audience and that is probably enough information for this instalment.

If you need any help with your resume, I’m getting pretty darn good at writing them, so please reach out!

Thanks for reading!