How To Create a Compelling Resume: Interview with Karleen Harp
Today in my networking challenge I am interviewing Karleen Harp. Karleen is a Professional Resume Writer and is better known as the Resume Smith. She specializes in helping early to mid-career professionals cross the bridge between their now and their future. And I am so excited to get all of her resume tips today, thanks so much for being here Karleen!


How to Create a Compelling Resume & Cover Letter

1) How can we make our resumes unique instead of boring and cookie cutter?

First, never use a resume template that comes with your word processor. You want a clean and unique design that will draw the reader’s eyes to the key points that you want to demonstrate. The most important part of your resume is the top half of page one. So make sure your top selling points are up there. Second, know what your personal brand is and you need to sell it. Do this by describing not just what your previous job responsibilities were but it’s how well you did at it.
And the way that you do that is specific accomplishment statement. Many job seekers have a hard time remembering and don’t know their business impact. A good resource is to go back to your previous performance review. And that’s how you become different. You need to show things that no else can claim because you did them. And that’s your accomplishment!

2) How many pages should your resume be?

A lot of people say your resume should be one page, but that’s not necessarily true. The key is you don’t have unnecessary information in your resume.

3) Do you recommend using different resume for each job you apply to?

It depends if you are applying for a job in different job category. Make sure you are focusing your resume on what’s really important on that particular job.

4) What are your tips for cover letters?  Do they even get read?

That’s an interesting dilemma. The truth is they don’t always read, but you need to do it anyway. The reason why you need to do it is because some of them get read. And if you are applying to a company where the hiring manager or the recruiter wants that information about you, you don’t want to rule yourself out because you are lazy.
It is your why; why did I choose this career, why do I want to work for your company, and why should you hire me. That’s the important thing that a cover letter should cover.

5) What makes a candidate standout from the other?

They have the ability to articulate what they can do for the company. A resume should be easy to read. Most of the recruiters right now are using applicant tracking system so they’re not looking at every resume they’re going to be using keyword searches instead. Keywords are really important if you are applying on an ATS. My recommendation for job seeker is to avoid applying online at all costs and use networking to get a personal referral instead. Even if they say you need to apply to ATS, someone is going pulling your information out of the ATS if you have that personal referral to the company.

6) How can we use keywords in our LinkedIn profiles to get in more recruiter’s search results?  Any other LinkedIn tips for job searchers?

LinkedIn is like a large networking room. It just so happens that it is located in your computer instead of a conference center or something. When you go to a networking room, you are not going to only talk to people that you already know. You’re going to be walking up to people giving them a handshake and saying, “Hi, I’m Anna! Tell me about yourself”. The same rule applies to LinkedIn.
You want to purchase a page and group discussion, answer questions to show your knowledge and subject expertise for your target job. Having those conversations on Linkedin can give you that handshake then send someone a connection.

7) So is it okay that our LinkedIn profile is a lot longer than our resume would be?

Every field has value, every field is keyword searchable, so it’s fine. It’s important that you’re not including more information than it’s really needed. It’s not about the length.

8 ) How do you recommend that job searchers ensure that they have online images that are positive instead of negative?

The key to stay positive and don’t complain, don’t be a negative nancy. Never make comments about your job, your boss, how bored you are at work, how frustrated you are that you’ve been in a job market for a year and they won’t hire you yet.
Posting a positive comment even if you don’t really feel it, it puts a positive thought in your head as well. Be active. Wherever you have sites that you want to show at the top of Google, that’s where you must have the most activity. Continue Googling yourself to see what’s showing up on page one.

9) What are some common mistakes that you see job seekers making right now?

The generic resume is one of them. Being negative is another. But honestly, the biggest one is giving up. Buying into the idea that you’re not worth it, you don’t have enough to offer. Letting that frustration, that is natural, affect your psyche because that will be requested in your interviews and interactions with employers.
What I recommend is that job seekers should go back re-read their resumes, re-read their old performance reviews, look at all the great things that they have done. Remind yourself that you matter and you made a difference to your employers and you will make the difference for the next one just because it hasn’t happened yet it doesn’t mean it isn’t going to soon.

10) This question I ask at the end of all of my interviews, what do you wish you would have known when you were a young professional woman just starting out in her career?

Be patient. It’s easy to think I have finished my degree and I have so much to offer. Yes, you might be really bright and have a lot to offer but it’s the beginning of your career and you have a lot to learn. Be patient and recognize that this thing will happen. I don’t mean to sit back and wait. Just because you are not selected for that promotion then that’s the sign that it will never happen and you should leave that company.
That is a really important big decision and it’s important to get some feedback from someone that you consider a mentor who knows what’s going in the professional world. Find out what are the things that you need to develop.

Hi, I'm Anna!

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