Time for a Career revamp?

“If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.”

– Milton Berle

As we continue to feel the effects of the pandemic into 2021, the ripple effect from the first series of lockdowns has forced change on some people while shifting priorities for others. With the ‘second wave’ playing out around the world more people are having to look at the impact the pandemic is having on their careers, and industries.

For those that have decided to seek out new opportunities, now is the chance to update your resume and cover letter, rethink your LinkedIn profile and start networking in a way that opens new doors.

Updating your resume and optimizing your LinkedIn profile to meet the platform’s best practices doesn’t need to be difficult or time-consuming, here’s where to start.

Resumes & Cover Letters

It’s not always the candidate with the best qualifications or work experience that lands the role. It’s the person who marketed themselves the best. When revamping your resume keep the following in mind.

Your resume is a chance for you to showcase your personal brand. Including a summary or branding statement helps create a focused message that aligns with your ‘brand’, showcases your unique value, and helps differentiate you from other candidates.

Keep your resume relevant. Industries and processes change over time, consider removing old or irrelevant work experience that doesn’t align with your future goals or desired career.

Include your custom LinkedIn URL. Why? LinkedIn is part of your overall professional presence and for many industry professionals, the most important social media platform for networking and job searches. 

The visual design of your resume and cover letter should reflect your personal brand as well as your target industry. Colour and layout play an important role in how employers perceive you. Creating a unique visual resume will help your resume stand out while still being you.

You want your resume to tell your story. This is your opportunity to explain why you are so valuable in a way that grabs the reader’s attention, making you more memorable. Use storytelling techniques throughout your resume to highlight your biggest accomplishments. The goal is to create a connection with the reader so they want to learn more about you.

LinkedIn Profile

LinkedIn is the social media platform of choice for industry professionals, recruiters, and businesses looking for talent. Optimizing your profile can help you leverage the networking potential of LinkedIn and improve your job search. Make sure you’re ticking the following LinkedIn best practices boxes.

Make sure you have an up to date and professional profile photo. It creates a positive first impression of your profile. Include a cover image that’s both eye-catching and reflects your personal brand.

Customize your LinkedIn URL, www.linkedin.com/in/yournamehere. This allows you to use it across different platforms to market yourself.

Make sure all your relevant contact information has been filled out. People won’t contact you if they can’t easily do so.

Put some thought into your headline. Avoid just putting your job title down. Use your headline to help make a positive impression and explain what exactly it is you do and offer. It’s also a chance for you to include keywords that help your profile appear in LinkedIn searches.

Use the about section of your profile to share your story. Remember to write in the first person. Adding skills to your profile also shows recruiters what your core competencies are, make sure to highlight your strongest skillsets.

When adding your experience, don’t just copy in what it says on your resume. While your resume is more concise and targeted to the position you want. Your LinkedIn profile can and should include a more complete picture of your overall work experience.

Take time to add in your accomplishments. This is where you can add noteworthy information about yourself outside of your employment history.

Need a helping hand putting it all together? Check out our design and copywriting programs for resume and LinkedIn upgrading at www.brieffin.com/personal-brand/.

Is your business using social media’s full potential?

At Brieffin we use our expertise to unlock everything social media has to offer your business or personal brand. We use our experience in content creation, strategy and planning, and social media management to help build consistency and deliver marketing success. Let’s talk.

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Your Professional Profile: Social Media

Do not hide your light for fear of what others may think of you. Let it shine and be a reflection of what is possible.

Kristi Bowman

We’ve talked before about how LinkedIn can be an important asset when it comes to the job application. But LinkedIn isn’t the only social media profile that can help or hurt your chances of landing the job you want.

While LinkedIn is the most-utilized social media website for recruiters to use during the hiring process, it’s far from the only one. 92% of companies are using social media profiles to help with hiring decisions, but 66% use Facebook and 54% use Twitter. Certainly, others use Instagram as well.

Maybe you’ve heard it before: you want to be sure to clean up anything that you wouldn’t want a future employer to see. Whether that’s removing certain photos from your college days, or deleting shared posts or memes that don’t reflect your very best. At the very least, make sure your profile is on private if you aren’t able to go through and remove everything.

Afterwards, try logging out of your account and taking a look as if you were a stranger. What image are you presenting? What message are you sending?

However, just as social media can work against you, it can also work for you. If you have a public or semi-public profile that showcases your personality or passions or professional image, consider keeping it available for future employers to see. It’s a way for them to get a look into who you are, before they even bring you in for an interview.

If you feel the message you’re sending is a positive one, there’s no reason to hide it away. In fact, perhaps the hiring manager – or CEO – will find something on your profile that they relate to. Or really intrigues them. Or maybe, they love your creativity. This could actually give you a leg up on the competition.

As with many things in life, it’s about finding the right balance. We have to be aware of the things we post online, because as many of us have heard – “The internet is forever.” Being conscious of our social media habits is a way of looking after ourselves and making sure nothing from our past inhibits our future.

And once you’ve struck that balance, remember to multiply it by the number of social media profiles you have. It’s not enough to have a stellar LinkedIn profile, though this is probably the most important one from a career perspective. But sharing that same, coherent message across different platforms, you present the most consistent version of who you are. And consistency is a highly sought-after trait.

Does any of this sound familiar? It should – because we are talking about personal brands (again)!

Your personal brand is how you can share your uniqueness with the world, in a professional, consistent manner. In a way that showcases your distinct experiences, skills, talents, and dreams. Across multiple platforms. All tied together with great content and design… and a pretty bow on top.

When you’re ready to get started, we’re here.

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Resume Writing Best Practices

Feel the fear and do it anyway.

Susan Jeffers

Ask anyone what the most important asset to the job search is, and most would say one answer: the resume. This short document summarizes the applicant’s skills, experience, background, qualifications, and education to a hiring manager. It also includes important contact information which is used to contact the applicant.

In the sea of job applications received for any given position, your resume is an opportunity to set yourself apart from the others.

You may have heard the oft-quoted statistic that hiring managers only spend six seconds looking at each resume. However, newer studies suggest that only 17% of hiring managers spend less than 30 seconds, while 68% spend less than 2 minutes reviewing each resume. Nevertheless, your time to make an impact is limited, so it’s important to ensure your resume establishes yourself as a strong candidate in a timely manner.

When it comes to writing your resume, standard advice has changed over the years. No longer are the templated, rigid resumes suggested for every position in every industry. As multimedia portfolios and LinkedIn profiles have entered the mix, it’s easier for a prospective employer to get a holistic look at any given job applicant through more mediums than just the resume.

However, resumes continue to be a crucial aspect of any job application, and here are several tips to keep in mind when writing yours.

Keep it short and sweet

In general, resumes are suggested to be no more than one page long. Remember – most hiring managers are spending less than 2 minutes reading your resume. If it’s too long, they might not even make it to the second page. Being able to condense all your information into one page also shows that you’re able to make decisions about hierarchy of information importance.

There may be some exceptions – if you are applying to a very high-level job and have many years of relevant experience, two pages may be more acceptable. But in general, one page is considered to be best practice across most industries.

Decide what’s really important

This goes hand-in-hand with the previous point, but on the flip side as well. Don’t include everything that’s ever happened to you, even if it keeps your resume under one page. For example, I used to be a waitress at the American pancake restaurant IHOP. While I value the experience gained and lessons learned, it’s not very relevant to the positions I’m interested in at this point in my life. However, if I ever find myself interested in the food service industry again, it might be something I would include. Be discerning about your experience and the desired position.

Show the numbers

Any time you can discuss results you achieved in your previous positions, it speaks to your previous success and suggests what you can contribute to your new company. Any time you can include numbers, statistics, or facts, it quantifies those achievements. Instead of generic statements, include specifics such as these: “Closed support queue tickets within target timeframe 100% of the time,” or “Implemented new travel management tracking software, saving $15,000 in overhead costs during initial 6 months.”

Fit the industry

When you’re applying for a creative role, such as an art director or copywriter, it’s generally acceptable to let your resume show a bit of personality. Using strategic pops of color or infographics would not seem out of place; in fact, it might be an advantage for the hiring manager to see how your creativity fits in with the company. However, if you’re applying for a more corporate job, it’s probably a better idea to use a very structured, buttoned-up format for your resume. You don’t want to stand out in a bad way!

Proofread

Just like we mentioned in a previous article about cover letters, it’s of the utmost importance to proofread. There’s nothing worse than sending off your resume – which you’ve worked so hard on, and are so proud of – to your dream job… and then finding a typo or grammatical error afterward.

There’s really no way to undo it, and all you can do is hope that the hiring manager doesn’t notice it. But the unfortunate reality is that many are looking for any reason to disqualify an applicant from the application pool, and spelling errors are an easy way to narrow it down. After finishing your resume, come back to it the next day with a fresh set of eyes. Have a friend or family member read it, too.

Include contact information

You should always include your first and last name on your resume – of course – because how else will they know it’s yours? You should also include your phone number with area code (and country code if applicable), full mailing address, and email address.

Many employers will make initial contact via email, so you want to make sure you have a “professional” email listed. If your everyday email is something like dance_gurl12345@gmail.com, you might think about using a different email address. Better yet, use an email provider like Gmail to create a brand new, professional email address. Ideally, it should be some variation of your name with minimal numbers.

Format appropriately

You want your resume to be visually appealing and organized in a sensible way. It should flow well from top to bottom. However, that’s not the only formatting you should think about. When including your resume file to attach to an online job application or email, you’ll want to make sure you’ve saved in an appropriate, efficient manner as well.

Saving your resume as a .PDF is a great way to make sure you don’t lost the integrity of the document when your file is being viewed on different computers or operating systems. Additionally, make sure you give the file a professional name, because the hiring manager will see it. John_Smith_Resume.pdf is a good example.

Resumes can be a complicated topic, but these tips should help to put you on the right track! Remember, at Brieffin we specialize in professional resume and portfolio design, so reach out to us if you need a hand getting started.

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Cover Letter Do’s and Dont’s

It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.

Confucius

Maybe you’ve got your resume or CV all ready to go. It’s formatted, polished, and optimized to a T. 

Unfortunately, that’s not the only thing you need to be successful in your job search.

Yes, here we are talking about the dreaded cover letter. Just the name alone can be enough to send shivers down any job-seeker’s spine. For some reason, it seems easy to distill all the relevant information about our skills and experience into a set of clear and palatable bullet points. The resume is done. It covers all the most important stuff, like our basic contact information and work experience. Though we may need to tweak it, making small changes when applying for different jobs, it’s more or less ready to go.

But writing a letter… that somehow has the perfect balance of new information, while re-hashing the most relevant points from our resume without being redundant, and without it reading like it was written by a robot whose sole purpose is applying for the desired position… now, this is a real challenge.

At Brieffin, we specialize in professional brand-building – from portfolios, to resumes, and everything in between. And yes, that includes cover letters. Today, we wanted to share a few of our favorite tips for cover-letter writing – what to do, and what not to do.

Cover letter DON’T: Use a template

Google search “cover letters” and you’ll get no shortage of results. But many of them will be templates. Just stay away from them. While it might not hurt to read a few samples to get an idea of formatting, it’s almost always obvious when someone uses a template. Plus, using a template always carries an additional risk – you might accidentally leave in some of the pre-set information instead of replacing it with your own. 

Cover letter DON’T: Use the same cover letter for each job

Your cover letter should be so specific that it wouldn’t fit if you sent it to another company. That means you should focus on the details of the job you’re applying for, and tailor your letter for the company and job description. That means you’re going to have to do your research and write a different cover letter for each job. And this isn’t a lot of fun, but it’s imperative to the cause. Also, like we talked about before, using completely different cover letters helps keep you from making mistakes by forgetting to replace one company name for another. 

Cover letter DON’T: Write your autobiography

Just like a resume, cover letters should generally be limited to one page. This includes the heading and salutation, which can often take up one-fourth of the page or more. When you get into the body of the letter, don’t immediately launch into your life story. While you want to put your best foot forward and include all the necessary information, a shorter, more concise cover letter is less likely to exhaust a hiring manager just by looking at it. Focusing on the most relevant details makes each one more salient.

Cover letter DO: Let your personality shine through

Your cover letter is the only opportunity you get to be “you” in your whole job application. And what you can offer to a job or a career is so much more than the sum of all your skills and work history. Your potential employer is – or should be – keeping that in mind as well when making hiring decisions. They want to know how you’ll fit into their current company culture and who you are as a person. The only way you’re going to set yourself apart from every other applicant is with your cover letter. Let your personality shine through.

Cover letter DO: Focus on what you can offer

While you want your personality to become apparent, remember that the cover letter isn’t really about you. It’s about what you can offer to the company; why you’re the best fit for the job in a sea of other applicants. It’s okay to talk about yourself, but make sure it all relates back to the desired position. 

Cover letter DO: Proofread

There’s nothing worse than sending off your resume and cover letter – which you’ve worked so hard on, and are so proud of – to your dream job… and then finding a typo or grammatical error afterward. There’s really no way to undo it, and all you can do is hope that the hiring manager doesn’t notice it. But the unfortunate reality is that many are looking for any reason to disqualify an applicant from the application pool, and spelling errors are an easy way to narrow it down. After finishing your cover letter – and resume, for that matter – close it and come back to it the next day with a fresh set of eyes. Have a friend or family member read it, too. This will ensure that your cover letter is working for you, not against you.

While cover-letter-writing may not be anyone’s favorite activity, especially while dealing with the stress of the job search, we at Brieffin want to you know what we’re here for you. With our consulting services, you can feel confident that your professional image is coherent, working together in harmony to offer the best of yourself.

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