Lindsay Olson

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What Goes Into a Good PR Portfolio? - on PRNewser


My latest post is published on PRNewser. Candidates frequently ask me about what they should include in their portfolios to present during an interview. I asked three HR Managers from different PR agencies to share what they like to see.

Read what Andra Brigmohan (Veritas Communications), Sara Walker (Saxum PR), and Lori Hedrick (Marcus Thomas

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) have to say in the full post on PRNewser - What Goes Into a Good PR Portfolio?


Top 10 Things to Leave Off Your Resume

Craig Fisher (twitter: @fishdogs) on his Career Branding for Social Animals blog shared the results of his informal LinkedIN query to recruiters and hiring managers about the  top things to leave off the resume. You can read the post with the top 10 list or check out the Wordle image he put together that tells it all.

Craigs' top 10 things to leave off your resume.

10. Religious or Political affiliations
9. Toastmasters
8. Hobbies
7. Photos
5. Compensation
4. Family info (marital status, children, pets)
3. References available upon request
2. Anything not relevant to the position for which you are applying
1. Objective

What you think?

Image credit: Wordle @fishdogs


Candidate question: When should you follow up on your job application?

I asked the Twitter community a couple days ago for their job search and career questions. The response was overwhelming! I will be selecting several reader's questions over the next few weeks to answer on the blog. If you have a job search question you would like to see here, please submit it here. Your name and contact information will NOT be posted.


If a job posting doesn't specify that they will contact you, how long is a sufficient amount of time to wait before checking on the status of your resume?


Waiting one week to follow up from a resume submission is good rule if you have emailed it to a general email address or human resources department. Far too often candidates complain their resume goes to the "black hole." If you′re lucky, you might get an automated response from a job advertisement.

It's important to remember, some ads generated hundreds of responses a day and many companies have tools to automate the entry of resumes into their applicant tracking systems. They may not be looking at every resume individually. The hiring manager may not even be involved at this stage and instead she is relying on the human resources department to pre-qualify and pre-screen candidates.

The best way to make sure your resume gains the attention it deserves for the position is tweak it to fit the job description. Think about what keywords someone might use to search a database to fill an open requisition. Your goal is to be on that short-list.

If you know someone within the company you are applying, it′s always better to have an internal recommendation. If your contact can walk your resume into the hiring manager or the HR department directly, your chances getting an interview improve greatly. Ask your contact to let you know when your resume has been received and follow up directly with the hiring contact in a day or two on the phone if possible or by email.

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In both cases, your follow-up should be concise, yet reiterate your interest in the position, and highlight your accomplishments and qualifications that make you a good fit for the open position. Don′t assume the company knows who you are or remembers what position you applied for. As wonderful it as it would be to hear a yes or no, don′t take it personally if you don′t hear back.

Photo credit: Mdezemery [Flickr]

Make sure your career progression is not mistaken for job hopping

Le jump des People of Marseille / Gens du Sud!

Photo credit: Elvire.R

If you have been with the same company for most of your career, make sure your promotions don't look like job hops on your resume.

This sounds nit picky, I know, but I see it all the time and it's worth an explanation. Let's say you have worked for the same PR agency for the past eight years. You started as a Senior Account Executive and you're now a Vice President. Naturally, you want to show your career progression. You have probably worked with a variety of clients in different capacities throughout the years and have assumed increasing responsibility. So, you want to list it but it ends up looking something like this:

11/2007-present          XYZ Communications            Boston, MA
Vice President
(Add experience here)

10/2006-11/2007        XYZ Communications            Boston, MA
Account Director
(Add experience here)

1/2005-10/2006          XYZ Communications            Boston, MA
Account Manager
(Add experience here )

and so on....

The problem with listing promotions like this is that at first glance it looks jumpy, and if your resume is being scanned by a lazy eye in less than five seconds, the warning sirens scream "job hopper" and so it goes to the "out" pile. The reviewer didn't even notice each of the listed positions were with the same company.

The quick, simple fix to this: Start your experience with the date you start to present, add the company and the city. Underneath list each position with the dates, responsibilities, and accomplishments. Don't list the same company more than once. Unless, of course, you left and came back at a later period of time.

It should look something like this:

2/2000 - present          XYZ Communications            Boston, MA

Vice President
November 2007 - present
(Add experience here)

Account Director
October 2006-November 2007
(Add experience here)

Account Manager
January 2005-October 2006
(add experience here )

and so on....

This is part three of a series about what not to put on your resume.

Part 1: 5 things you should never put on your resume

Part 2: Top things you should never put on your resume by readers


Interesting links: November 20-26

Interesting links for the long weekend reading... Happy Thanksgiving and enjoy!




Top things to never put on your resume by readers


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Photo credit: Matias Dutto

Yesterday I listed five things to never put on your resume. By no means was it an exhaustive list. Paul Copcutt, former recruiter and blogger at Reflections of a Square Peg, left some great comments worth sharing.

Here are Paul's five things to never put on a resume:

  • Silly, Funny (usually just to you), or offensive e-mail addresses. Gmail is free and generic - use it!
  • An objective (still seen on far too many resumes) - by all means have something to give off a resume but make it a value proposition. Think: What you can do for the employer - not what you want from them? Jennifer Schooley chimed in here as well stating it's obvious by receiving the resume you are looking for a job, so don't waste the space.
  • No phone number! Yes believe it - when I was in recruitment I did a quick survey once and found over 15% of resumes had no contact phone number. Huh???!!
  • Reasons why you left - rarely seen now, but it does happen. Do not eliminate yourself before the interview. Save it for a face to face, or at least a telephone conversation.
  • Photos. In recruitment we used to have a "˜rogues′ gallery of photos that were attached to resumes. Again, save it for the interview or web interview. Or make sure any photo is professionally taken for bios and on-line profiles like LinkedIn.

Another great tip from Martin Buckland:

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  • Leave responsibilities out. Build each bullet around STAR: Situation, Task, Action, Result. Tell a short story, max 3 lines, about each accomplishment. These can also serve as a platform for the interviewer to position his questions.

Bill Green added "GPA - leave it off. If you have a 3.8, you have just publicly said you not as smart as someone with a 4.0."

Jacob Share at JobMob also pointed me to his top 10 unusual resume mistakes. He puts out some of the most useful content in the world of job search out there. If you don't read Jacob's blog, it's a good addition to your daily feeds.

Thank you all for your insight! I'd love to hear any other ideas you would add in the comments.

This part two of a three-part series about what to never put on your resume.

Part 1: 5 things to never put on your resume

Part 3: Make sure your career progression is not mistaken for job hopping


5 things you should never put on your resume


Lusting to be Lost

Photo credit: Mike Dumlao

Job searching can be a lonely, frustrating place. It's time consuming and it rarely comes without rejection. In most cases, your years of hard work are represented on one or two pages and evaluated by someone who has probably never worked in your position. And it's that step that determines if you are in the "in" interview pile or the "out" pile.

Those two pages of finely tuned words ARE you, until you have the chance to let your personality shine through in the interview. Here are my top five things to avoid putting on your resume.

  1. Giving personal data. Your resume should be a business representation of you. Avoid listing your marital status, age, family data, hobbies, etc. You should have hobbies and a life outside of work, but it's not necessary to include them on your resume UNLESS the hobby or information is relevant to the job itself. Your prospective employer will find this all out anyways on your Facebook or Myspace page (so make sure it's representative of what you want them to know). Your age, sexual preference, martial status or family information (children, ages, etc.) are irrelevant. The unfortunate truth is that hiring managers may base their decisions on whether or not to interview and hire you based on the information you provide, discriminatory or not. Don't let them make that judgment.
  2. Listing every job since adolescence. The Starbucks Barista job that got you through college isn't for the resume. If it's not relevant to your current job search, drop it. Think: Did this job prepare me to be a PR pro? If not, don't list it. That goes for internships too. If you have more than five years experience your internships are no longer relevant.
  3. Going more than two pages. This is a tough one, especially for candidates with lots of experience. You may have the temptation of wanting to list all of your relevant experience, but nobody reads more than two pages. So don't give in, no matter how much experience you have. Find a way to cut it down. A good way to start is by focusing on accomplishments for each position rather than a long list of responsibilities.
  4. Personal pronouns. Writing your resume in the first person detracts from your accomplishments. It adds unnecessary work and wastes space. The same goes for referring to yourself in the third person. Examples: "I pitched business and trade publications such as..." or "Jane has 15 years of experience..."
  5. Providing references or stating "references upon request." You need references, but not on your resume. You don't want your valued references being called before you have a chance to let them know. If a company requires references, it will ask you for them when you are seriously being considered for the position. Listing "references upon request" at the bottom of your resume is a given and wastes valuable space.

What would you add to the list?

This is part one of a three-part series about what to never put on your resume.
Part 2: Top things you should never put on your resume by readers
Part 3:
Make sure your career progress is not mistaken for job hopping

Related articles

CNN - Resumes from Hell
New York Times - Resume Writing 101


Creative Resumes Gone Wrong

I recently posted some examples of creative resumes that I loved. If you have the talent or you hire a creative hand, it's definitely a way to stand out from the crowd. But trying to be creative like this poor fellow could be disastrous!

Here is an example of a creative resume idea gone wrong (yes, I took the person's name off) passed along to me by a friend who works in a PR agency. The candidate sent this 8-page Powerpoint presentation as his response from the agency's job posting.

Lessons learned

  • A creative resume needs to maintain professionalism and credibility.
  • Knowledge of design features is very different than knowing how to use them well!

Creative resumes

Franceso Mugnai recently posted the 20 most creative resumes on his blog. Here are some of my favorites.

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Personally, I love the idea of resume and portfolio design, but it's still unconventional for most industries and certainly risky if people find the design distasteful. If one chooses to show off their creativity (or hire a pro to do it), it's important to remember the resume still needs substance. It needs to identify your skills, accomplishments, work history and education. A good resume design only won't get you the interview, but your experiences and previous successes will and you must be able to demonstrate those on one or two pages max (and not all of the resumes above accomplish this).

What do you think? How creative do you get with your resume?


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