Five Focus Career Resume Fixes

The system that we use at IowaWORKS-Southern Iowa to create resumes is called Focus Career.  We’ve covered the steps to create a resume in this program, but once the program is finished, there are still several cosmetic repairs that are necessary to complete a resume that should be submitted to employers.  So let’s focus on fixing what Focus Career often doesn’t –

 1. Runaway Caps Lock

Consistency of appearance is an important tip on resumes.  If you are telling the employer you pay attention to detail, you don’t want to then provide a resume with inconsistent details.  Don’t leave things in all caps.  It doesn’t look professional, especially when some things are and some things aren’t in caps.  There’s a quick trick to this, on the Home Row of the Microsoft Word Ribbon is a Change Case button.  Highlight the text you want to change and change to appropriate capitalization.

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2. Header Troubles

The header is the most basic part of a resume, but it’s also the most important to get right because you won’t get a job if the employer doesn’t reach you.  Let’s look at a standard resume header from Focus Career, and then fix it –

  • Pick ONE phone number, the one that is best to reach you. Don’t make an employer choose the number they have to use.
  • Delete the word describing the phone after the number.
  • Delete the last four numbers of your zip code. They’re unnecessary and oftentimes just a string of zeroes.
  • Format the text away from capital letters like we just talked about.

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3. A Summary That Sells

The summary that the computer generates for you is from information you’ve given the system, which means it’s information that is ALREADY ON YOUR RESUME.  Don’t use the summary that the system writes; prepare a resume like we already talked about in this post.

4. Your Job Description vs. The Wizard

The best aspect of Focus Career may be The Wizard, which helps generate lengthy job descriptions by completing a short questionnaire.  However your resume could be using two job descriptions, one created by you during your registration and one created by The Wizard when polishing.  Make sure the two are compatible.  The Wizard uses third-person, past-tense phrases like “Washed dishes”; never “I wash dishes”.  You don’t want employers thinking two people wrote your resume, so make it sound consistent from one voice to the next.

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Check out the example above.  The first sentence is what was typed into the registration, briefly giving a required job description.  The next sentences are the Wizard’s prepared notes.  In this situation, the best course would be to delete the first bullet point, because the information in that sentence is already covered by the wizard.  You can also change the sentence to fit the Wizard format.

5. Duplicated/Exaggerated Skill Set

The skills section at the bottom of the Focus Career Resume is there for online application systems to find extra keywords.  This can be good, but if you’re going to use the section make sure to consider that you want a human to read it.  Delete duplicate skills, skills that are unnecessary to list, or any that the computer assigned you by mistake.

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From the example above: Delete cash handling and leave cashier because cash handling is assumed of a cashier, and delete both office skills highlighted because they aren’t specific.

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Focus Career: Finishing The Resume

We blogged previously about how to use the Wizard to build your Work History. With that blog we wanted to focus on how to build the bulk of your resume, your employment experience.  But that’s just the start of the customizable options in the Focus Career screens, so let’s talk about the other tabs in our Focus Career Resume Builder to create a complete resume in about an hour!

So we’re starting off by logging into an account on IowaJobs.org and clicking “Update Resume”.  If you’ve already zoomed through a resume to get to the job searching, you’ll need to click on View/Update in the top corner.  The first page after your Work Experience is detailing Contact Information. Ordinarily this information is going to already be in our system in CAPITAL LETTERS. This doesn’t look professional so change it to lower-case. List one phone number that works and a professional email address. If you don’t have a professional email address, use one you have but make sure not to send out a resume with an email address that is unprofessional.

The next page will detail your Education.  This one can cause some troubles because of the required information.  You’ll notice there are six questions that have to be answered: School Status and Education Level are pretty self-explanatory after you click on the arrow and get some suggestions.  The Degree you’ll want to list will be your most recently earned degree.  This may be a High School Diploma, an Associate’s Degree, a Bachelor’s Degree, or any other subject.  Major goes in the second box, for High School grads I suggest “General Studies”, but use whatever.  I’d recommend deleting this on the finished resume, because high school grads don’t have majors.  Then type in the name of your school you got this degree from.  If you’re partially through a program, don’t include that in this section, as you only want completed programs.  Then answer the country and state you received this.  You also must list if you have a Driver’s License and what type of license it is.  On this page you can also list additional Licenses/Certifications if you know the name, month/year they were given, and the licensing organization.  For instance an NCRC Certificate could be one listed; any additional languages you speak with English, and any extra job skills you want to add.

 

The next section asks you for a Resume Summary. I’m going to refer you back to our post on Resume Summaries as the standard method. Do not use the resume summary the computer generates for you, because despite being an excellent program for building out a resume, the system lacks the ability to create an exceptional summary.

The next section is Options. I usually recommend people pass through this section without additional information because the system will ask you to put in all information, which runs the risk of making things inconsistent between the way you write and the way the computer writes.

After Options comes Profile. In this section you can answer the questions with a red star to the best of your ability. This information is not for employers.

One more tab to cover before our resume is ready for review and that’s the Preferences tab. You should want to make your resume searchable so that you can get information about jobs that best fit you. Write in any number for preferred wage, though keep in mind that you won’t get information about jobs that you price yourself out of. You have to answer the work week and shift availability question, remember that the more open your options the more information you’re going to get in your search. Finally check the Search By Zip Code button and pick “Choice 1”, then select the distance you’re willing to travel for work. Lastly enter the zip code for the city you live in, answer if you’re willing to relocate for a job, and click Save and Continue.

That’ll take you to the completed Focus Career Resume, which will also need some changes, but we’ll get to that soon.

Focus Career: Using the Wizard

The longest part of writing any resume is the summary of your job skills.  Writing down all of the things that you may have done at every job you’ve ever had can be a time consuming process.  Focus Career, the resume builder available through IowaJobs.org, has a way to make this considerably easier.  It is a great program to build out a “Master Resume”, which is a complete resume of every job you’ve had and everything you’ve done at those jobs.

The first thing you’ll have to do is enter information about the job.  Watch your spelling and capitalization here and there’s no obligation to enter wages so don’t.

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After that the system will take the word you entered for your job title and try to place it into a generic job category so that it can build out your job description for you.  Find one that best fits from the suggestions or find another job title from the list of categories underneath.

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The system then builds out a list of questions for you based upon the generic job title to see if it fits the job you had.  If you’re answering “Never” to many of the questions, you can go backwards and select a different job from the list of categories.

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The system will only allow you to show 12 skills under each job position on your resume, so you may have to pick which you want the most on your resume.

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Finally it’ll give you a completed page for each job.  You can read through the job description.  It also brings in the job description you typed into your IowaJobs registration, so check to make sure that it makes sense with what you entered.

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Once you’ve finished, go on to other jobs.  Remember that Focus Career is great for building a Master Resume, you will want to tune each resume for the job you’re applying for.