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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

How to Identify Your Transferrable Skills

How to Identify Your Transferrable Skills Rachel Zupek, Writer

This "finding a career" thing is tricky business.
You go to college and major in one thing -- but find yourself in a job opposite from what you spent four years studying. Or, you land a job that's exactly in line with your college major -- but discover it's not what you had in mind. Or even still, you score a gig doing what you love and are content for many years -- until you get bored and want to make a switch.
So what happens to the experience you've gained from your current job and those before it? What about the hours, years and dollars spent studying this vocation in school? Do you really have to start at square one if you decide to drastically switch careers?
Not at all. Your experience turns into transferable skills; you just have to learn to recognize and sell them to employers.
Need help? Here's everything you need to know about identifying, applying and marketing your transferable skills.
What are transferable skills?
Transferable skills are talents you've acquired that can help an employer but that aren't immediately relevant to the job you seek, says Kevin Donlin, résumé writer and creator of Experiences like volunteer work, hobbies, sports, previous jobs, college coursework or even life happenings can lead you to find these skills.
Any skill is transferable; the trick is showing employers how it applies and is useful to them.
Identify transferable skills
With so much experience – in work and otherwise – the thought of sifting through it to recognize your applicable skills might sound scary. But, it's not as hard as you think.
Asking yourself questions like, "What are my three favorite accomplishments?" or "What activities make me the happiest?" will help you find your transferable skills easily, says Dawn Clare, a career and life coach.
"Evaluate your whole life, not just professional experiences," she says. "The point is to determine skill strengths. Use a framework of school, job, personal and organizational activities to determine your relevant accomplishments."
Start with the job you seek and identify the three most important abilities you'll need to do that job well, Donlin says. Then look over your experience and describe what you've done before in terms of what you want to do next. The best way to do this is through customized résumés and cover letters.
Apply transferable skills to your résumé
We've told you before and we'll tell you again: You have to create a résumé and cover letter specific to each job you apply for.
"Many times résumés fall short because one résumé applying for a variety of positions loses HR interest and job opportunities," says Jamie Yasko-Mangum, a self-image and training consultant and owner of Successful Style & Image Inc.
Organize your résumé by skill area or accomplishments rather than chronologically or functionally. Categorize all applicable skills, highlights and experiences and group them in categories such as "professional highlights," "skills summary" and "professional experience" and place them at the top of your résumé, Yasko-Mangum says.
"This will not pigeonhole you into a closed career option," she says, but will "showcase all your abilities for many career options."
For example, Andrew Best had six years of experience in customer service, but wanted to transition into sales. Donlin, the professional résumé writer, helped Best rework his résumé by including a profile at the top that showcased his transferable skills.
"We talked about the sales-related things Andrew did in customer service, like convincing customers to try new services, which we described in sales language like up-selling and cross-selling," Donlin says. "We talked about how he had ranked at or near the top for training and productivity, because sales are a competitive sport."
Shel Horowitz, marketing consultant and founder of, remembers Carol, who had been out of the work force for 10 years as a homemaker. With an extensive volunteer history that Horowitz emphasized in her résumé, Carol landed a job as a director of a human service agency – a position she held for 12 years.
"I stressed her administrative, fundraising and public contact skills," Horowitz says. He put a summary of her background in volunteering at the top of the résumé, followed by specific experiences to showcase her skills.
Sell your skills to an employer
Most marketable skills can be grouped into broad categories and broken down further based on the job you're applying for. For example, communication is a general skill area, which can be broken down into such skills as speaking effectively, writing concisely or negotiation.
"You must do all the thinking for the person reading your résumé," Donlin says. "Never expect anyone to figure out your relevant skills or how valuable they are."
To add credibility, Donlin suggests adding a quote to your résumé from past managers or clients to emphasize your transferable skills. For example, John, a client of Donlin's, made the transition from retail management to real-estate sales. His résumé included a quote from a real-estate agent praising John's character and sales skills, both of which are necessary in real estate.
"A third party endorsement of you is many times more credible and interesting than anything you could say about yourself," Donlin says.
Examples of applicable skills
Still need help selling your skills? Here are three examples of career transitions and how our experts suggest you could apply your transferable skills.
Server to entry-level marketing
Transferable skills: Communication, client retention, sales and marketing, multitasking.
How to sell it: "During peak periods, I had to prioritize and handle multiple orders, market menu items, answer questions quickly, communicate clearly, up sell additional selections and ensure repeat business. My daily tip totals provided highly efficient feedback, as they were based on personal productivity and customer satisfaction."
Nanny to human resources specialist
Transferable skills: Human relations, teaching, development, time management, patience.
How to sell it: "As a former caregiver to five children, I learned to identify with each child and learn his/her individual strengths, weaknesses and interests. I've also learned the importance of good time management, which would be an essential skill in the human resource department."
College student to software engineering
Transferable skills: Computer science degree, team player, work ethic, trainable.
How to sell it: "I have a strong background in computer science, with both a degree and extensive training in the field. An accomplished team player, I've worked with a database management group at XYZ University, created an online multimedia store and used CGI scripts written in C+++ to track customer satisfaction."
Rachel Zupek is a writer and blogger for She researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues.
Last Updated: 06/06/2008 - 3:17 PM

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Job Search How to Write a Cover Letter

How to Write a Cover Letter

Once you've written a top notch resume, it should always be accompanied by a top notch cover letter. The cover letter is the Yin to the resumes Yang. It allows the reader a glimpse into what makes you right for the job. The objective is to capture the reader in order to encourage them to look at your resume.
Before you sit down to write the content of the cover letter, use our Cover Letter Template to get you started. This is an easy solution to any formatting issues or any questions regarding the structure of your letter.
Next, let's begin with some dos and don'ts of writing a cover letter:


  • Always address your letter to the intended recipient. This shows you are paying attention to detail and not using a generic cover letter to send to several people.
  • Send the original to the prospective employer. This again, will show that you are writing a different letter for different positions.
  • Use simple language and sentence structure. Don't overcomplicate your letter by using confusing words. Be clear and concise.
  • Keep your letter brief. Your letter should be a summary of what makes you right for the job. This is your opportunity to persuade the reader to look further.
  • Avoid negativity. Always stay positive as to your level of expertise. This will convey confidence.
  • Answer the question "why should I hire you?" in the letter. Don't leave the person wondering what you have to offer. Clearly state the reasons you're right for the job.


  • Don't use a salutation that implies gender when replying to an ad that doesn't specify a name. It's never a good idea to assume you know who will be reading your cover letter.
  • Don't repeat your resume. The employer can simply look at your resume if they want a chronological list of what you've done in the past. Grab the reader by answering questions he or she might have and encourage them to look to your resume for more information.
  • Don't be passive. Waiting for them to contact you could leave you waiting forever. Take a proactive approach. Tell the reader you will contact them to discuss a time to meet, but don't forget to do it. The standard is 3 business days after you send your resume and cover letter.
  • Don't leave mistakes. Typos are the quickest way to leave a poor impression on a potential employer. Be sure to edit your letter thoroughly before sending it out.
  • Don't use flashy stationery. You want the person to remain focused on your content, not the sparkly over-embellished border your paper has.
  • Don't forget to sign it. Using blue ink is the standard for signing a cover letter. Be sure to give the letter your autograph before sending it on.
Now that you're ready to begin writing, here's what you should include:


The top left hand corner of your letter should be formatted the following way:
  • Your name
  • Street number
  • City, State, Zip code
Skip two lines then continue with the following:
  • Recipient name
  • Recipient title
  • Company name
  • Street number
  • City, State, Zip code
Skip two more lines to being your greeting. Your greeting should always begin with "Dear" and then the recipient's full name.
Now you're ready for the body. I will break down each paragraph by the information that each should contain.

Paragraph 1:

  • Explain to the reader why you are writing to them. This should grab the reader and make them want to read on.

Paragraph 2 and 3:

  • Specify your qualifications for the position. Feel free to use bullet points to highlight your skills or accomplishments. It's perfectly acceptable to use the next 2 paragraphs to explain why you're right for the job, however, suggests you not exceed 4 paragraphs total.

Paragraph 4:

  • Direct the employer to your enclosed resume but try to refrain from overused phrases like "my resume is enclosed here within". Follow with your availability for an interview. Next, explain when you will be contacting them to discuss, thank them for their time and give your contact information: phone number and email.


End your letter with one of these standard closings:
  • Regards,
  • Sincerely,
  • Sincerely yours,
  • Yours sincerely,
Skip four lines, print, and sign.


Emailing a cover letter is slightly different in structure. You will want to make an emailed cover letter shorter.
Begin by utilizing the subject line. A simple "Resume Submission" will do.
You need not fuss with the headings on an emailed cover letter, however, be sure to include the recipient's full name in the greeting and don't forget your closing and contact information.
Then, create the body using the same fundamentals as with a paper cover letter, however, suggests it be no longer than 150 words.
Be sure to adhere to spacing and leave out any emoticons or fancy font you might be tempted to use as this will distract the reader and make you seem unprofessional.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

What are Resume Keywords?

The following article was written by Kate Lorenz who is the Editor as noted.  As I have a resume writing service as part of Jeanne Armonk Enterprises, I continue to research the job market and key articles at employment sites such as Career Builder.  The articles that I find extremely helpful I will continue to share/post here from the Career Builder site.  This article is very helpful in zeroing in on keywords that help a resume to stand out from the rest.

For more articles on resume writing please visit

What are Resume Keywords? Kate Lorenz, Editor

What's all this talk about keywords? We're told they're essential to a job search -- we should use them in our resume and cover letters and use them when searching for job openings. But what are they really, and how do you know you're using the right ones?Keywords are specific words or phrases that job seekers use to search for jobs and employers use to find the right candidates. Keywords are used as search criteria in the same way you do research on the Internet. The more keywords you use, the more closely the job will match what you're really looking for.For example, if you type the word "retail" into a search engine, you'll get literally thousands of job descriptions. But if you type the phrase "merchandising manager," you're going to get fewer and more useful results.Get keyed up.Most job postings are loaded with industry- and position-specific buzzwords. Take your cues straight from the source and include those same words in your resume. To find more keywords, research industry trends and visit professional association Web sites to uncover current buzzwords -- especially those used by the hiring company or industry leaders.Don't get lost in translation.Most companies use applicant tracking software, which scans resumes for keywords relating to skills, training, degrees, job titles and experience. Make sure your resume gets through the gatekeeper -- present your qualifications as if the reader is comparing the words on the resume to a list of desired qualifications.Remember the magic words.Here are some specific examples of popular keywords. Make sure to also use keywords that are specific to your industry.
Strategic planning
Performance and productivity improvement
Organizational design
Infrastructure development
New media
Change management
Competitive market
Product positioning
Investor and board relations
Oral and written communications
Problem-solving and decision-making
Project management
Customer retention
Business development
Corporate vision
Long-range planning
Cost reduction Kate Lorenz is the article and advice editor for She researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues.
Last Updated: 28/02/2008 - 8:35 AM

Thursday, April 2, 2009

How to Get Your Resume Looked At by Employers

The following is an article written by Jason Ferrara who is the vice president of corportate marketing at  I found this article extremely interesting for those seeking employment to understand what employers are seeking when reviewing applicant resumes.

Are Employers Looking at Your Resume?

5 ways to make it stand out
Jason Ferrara, vice president of corporate marketing for

With a record 12.5 million people unemployed in today's labor market, it's apparent that now, more than ever before, the people looking for employment must work even harder to ensure that they stand out to employers through their applications.
Nearly 25 percent of human resource managers said on average, they receive more than 75 résumés for each open position and 42 percent receive more than 50 résumés per position, according to a nationwide survey released in March 2009 by The majority of these managers say that at least half of those résumés are from unqualified candidates.
With that type of pressure and competition, the question becomes, how will you stand out among the masses? The answer is simple: through your résumé.
If crafted effectively, your résumé is perhaps the most valuable marketing tool you've got. After all, in a matter of seconds, its contents can make or break your chances of landing an interview. Thirty-eight percent of human resource managers say they spend one to two minutes reviewing a new application, while 17 percent spend less than one minute, according to the survey.
5 tips to make your résumé stand outNow that you know you have approximately 60 seconds to impress an employer, you had better make sure that your résumé is the best possible representation of you and your achievements.
Here are five tips to help you produce an effective résumé:

1. Include a career summary at the top of your résuméYou only have a matter of seconds -- a minute if you're lucky -- to impress a human resource or hiring manager with your résumé. Don't make him search for the important material. Including a career summary at the top will give managers an immediate snapshot of your skills and accomplishments.
2. Keep it up-to-dateNo matter the state of the economy, you should always have a recent résumé and portfolio on hand. Fifty percent of the 8,038 employees surveyed by said their résumés aren't up to date. Any time your responsibilities increase or you accomplish something significant, update your résumé with that information. You never know when you'll need to produce a current résumé.
3. Incorporate keywordsTracking systems are becoming increasingly popular to screen and weed out unqualified candidates. In fact, 51 percent of human resource managers report using them in the hiring process. To avoid the discard pile, integrate keywords from the job posting into your résumé. Doing so will heighten your chances of showing up near the top of the employer's ranking of the most relevant candidates.
4. Use a functional résuméAlmost every major industry is experiencing mass layoffs. That being said, many job seekers are looking for work in new industries and professions where they might not have much experience. Listing your experience by skill categories rather than chronologically shows employers the proficiencies you possess rather than those you lack.
5. Include all relevant experienceWhether you're expanding your job search to a new industry or you're a new college graduate, you might not have the necessary experience to land that job you want. Make sure you're including all pertinent experience on your résumé. Volunteer work, leadership roles or community involvement are all areas most employers consider to be relevant experience.
Now what?Now that you've incorporated these five tips into your résumé, the worst thing you can do is send a generic copy out to the masses while you sit on your couch and pray for a response.
Be proactive with your résumé and take advantage of the tools available to you. On job boards like, for example, you can use resources like cbResume, cbResumeDirect and Resume Upgrade, all of which can increase your visibility to employers. Additionally, you should utilize social networking sites to host your application materials, as well as target your résumé to the company where you're applying.
Taking advantage of all the resources at your disposal will help ensure that your résumé stands out among the masses.
Jason Ferrara is the vice president of corporate marketing for

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Wilkesboro, NC, United States
My interest with writing began by composing poems about nature in my childhood. I also co-wrote a play in my 4th grade class when I lived in New Rochelle, NY. It generated enough positive feedback that my class put on the play in the school auditorium. I was fortunate to have a lead part. After my high school graduation, I entered the working world. For over 30 years I have been steadily gaining writing, editing and digital publishing skills. I began by composing letters and emails to company clients. I contributed to articles written for The Commuters Register based in Windsor, CT. Since 2009, I have added social media, digital publishing and blogging here in Wilkesboro, NC. Since 2010, I write ad copy for the listing descriptions for each of my 3 Internet shops open at In 2012, I entered a poem about my dog Red in the World Poetry Contest. The poem was chosen for publication. I have written articles for the Winston-Salem Frugal Living Examiner and Hub Pages. In 2012, I acquired The Wilkes Gazette digital newspaper that was renamed the Wilkes County Gazette in 2014. I write under both my own name and my pen name, Jeanne Armonk.

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