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Seattle, WA 98116

(206) 201-2181

Tandem Powered offers a full suite of Professional Resume Writing, Career Development, and HR / Business Consulting services.

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Tandem Powered's blog is dedicated to empowering readers by highlighting best practices in the arena of resume writing, career development, and organizational effectiveness, as well as by providing readers with an insider's view of the corporate hiring process.

Leaving Experience Off of a Resume and LinkedIn

Kent Nolen

One of my main goals with Tandem Powered is to provide people with credible, honest, and actionable advice based directly on my extensive experience working on both sides of the table. So, I've formalized this Q&A series and – as I always have – welcome your questions. Don't hesitate to get in touch; you may just find your question addressed right here in the Tandem Powered blog.

Q. Do I have to list out all my work experience on my resume or can I just keep the relevant experience, and then list the rest of my experience on LinkedIn?  

A. You should never feel like you need to include all of your experience on either your resume or LinkedIn. Being strategic about which experiences to include is smart. Here are some things to keep mind when deciding whether or not to include certain experience on your resume or LinkedIn.

  • Your resume should provide readers with your most recent and relevant experience. It is a best practice to include about 10 years of professional experience on a resume (perhaps more on LinkedIn).

  • It can be wise to not include overlapping experience or side jobs, especially if those roles are not directly related to your desired position. Streamlining your professional experience, when possible, is generally a smart move.

  • Consider the transferable nature of the skills required to perform a position that you deem irrelevant. Many of my clients are surprised to learn that positions they felt should be left off of a resume were actually quite relevant when framed strategically.

  • If you eliminate positions, you may create the appearance of an employment gap. And a gap may be more problematic than speaking to the position you are choosing to leave off.

Why You Shouldn't Over Talk

Kent Nolen

I work with a lot of high-level professionals, from senior leaders through the C-suite. Regardless of the position, these high-level roles are never simple in scope. No senior leader or executive is ever responsible for just one minor, very straightforward part of the enterprise. This fact can make it very challenging for high-level professionals to concisely communicate the scope of their roles on a resume.

Given that, it is not surprising to me when I start working with an executive who has a three or four-page resume that includes a laundry list of responsibilities. What is surprising is that these very same executives will almost always emphatically agree to a concise new resume. They’ll often respond with some version of: 

“I don’t have time myself to read anything more than two pages and I certainly don’t need to be told what a VP of Operations does…I’m the one hiring for the position.” 

Think about that. People don’t want to read long resumes and they feel slightly put off at the idea of someone going into too much detail about the role they are hiring for. Yet their own resume is a litany of responsibilities and a detailed explanation of each role.

How can these two things be true?

Many people – despite their own feelings about reading resumes and personal experience with hiring – believe that readers want to know everything about their experience. That belief is fortified by a fear that not providing lots of details will be perceived as a lack of qualifications. But that is just not the case. Additionally, it is very challenging to view one’s own experience objectively, which makes it really difficult to thoughtfully curate experience and achievements on a resume.

Here’s a quick example. A CTO I recently worked with shared an exhaustive list of responsibilities associated with his role. The list could easily be summed up as “managing the entire enterprise IT function.” So that – with a brief outline of the scope of the business for context – is all we listed as an overview of the position. I learned shortly after wrapping up the project that he had several interviews immediately after sending this resume out and that people specifically commented on how much they appreciated his concise resume. 

So, in the spirit of concision, let me summarize this post into one sentence.

Trust your readers and create the concise resume that you would want to read.

You’ll be surprised at how effective it will be.

The Most Dreaded Interview Question

Kent Nolen

One of my main goals with Tandem Powered is to provide people with credible, honest, and actionable advice based directly on my extensive experience working on both sides of the table. So I've formalized this Q&A series and – as I always have – welcome your questions. Don't hesitate to get in touch; you may just find your question addressed right here in the Tandem Powered blog.

Q: I recently had an interview that I felt went well. The only problem is that I was asked the dreaded "what are your biggest weaknesses?" question and I was not prepared. Of course, I have weaknesses, but I drew a complete blank when it came to talking about them in a professional setting. What's the best way to approach this question?

A: First off, let's talk about why this question even exists. Despite how it may feel at times, interviewers are not looking for you to self disclose information that will disqualify you. They are also not expecting that you don't have any weaknesses, which would be crazy. Leaders in healthy work environments know all too well that we are all human; that each of us has unique abilities in addition to things that we are working on.

Essentially, this question exists to see how you handle answering this question: How effective you are at addressing uncomfortable information. I think that knowing the intent of the question makes it much less challenging.

So, what do you do when you are asked this question? It's best to acknowledge the fact that an important part of professional development is being aware of limitations and areas that might need some attention. So, simply respond succinctly about what you are doing to develop professionally. It's ultimately a positive thing. Outside of that, though, remain laser-focused on your strengths and the value that you bring.

Comprehensive Career Management

Kent Nolen

I am the first to say that powerful job search documents are only a part of a successful career management plan. That is why I place so much emphasis on the entire process; I want clients to walk away with a success orientation and the kind of bolstered confidence that can change their career trajectory. Projects are about a lot more than a new resume, and that’s why I love what I do.

Starting in 2019, full service clients will walk away from their projects with the guide, Beyond an Outstanding Resume. The guide outlines 12 tactics for comprehensively managing your career.

The suggestions in Beyond an Outstanding Resume serve as guideposts to point clients in the right direction, helping them to comprehensively navigate their path to achieving the ultimate professional goal: Career Fulfillment – not merely “looking for a job” when necessary.

Your Relationship with Change and Growth

Kent Nolen

Happy New Year!

I am often asked for my “best” career advice. People want to know what will help them succeed in their job, the interview, their annual review, etc.

This comes up a lot. Especially at the start of a new year.

Of course, my responses change depending on the topic and the employment environment at any given time, but right now I’m seeing a lot of missteps when it comes to one thing:

Change and Growth Orientation

Increasingly, top employers are looking for agility and action. They are most interested in job candidates who can demonstrate a track record of action (via an outstanding resume and stellar interviewing skills) and who are actively taking steps to become better and better at what they do.

Simply put, employers want to know that you have fresh ideas and are currently engaged in growing your career and knowledge base.

When I am consulting to help a company with a high-level hire, this is an area that will often separate the “good” candidates from the “excellent” candidates.

Ask yourself:

  • Am I aware of current cutting-edge practices in my field?

  • Can I demonstrate my domain expertise and am I prepared to speak to the aspects of my field that have my attention right now?

  • Am I able to communicate a passion and a distinct point of view regarding where my field is heading.

Remember, the demand for organizations to rapidly evolve demands that they have talent who can lead that change. So, hiring someone who knows where any given domain is headed isn’t just a nice to have; it is critical to a company’s success. Be that person.

Welcome to 2019. Remember, if you need help with the next steps in your career, change starts here at Tandem Powered!

How to Deal with Overlapping Jobs on a Resume

Kent Nolen

As startup companies grow and established companies continue to look for ways to cut costs and maximize productivity, it is common for employees to hold multiple roles at once. This increasingly common reality can make it very challenging to effectively capture your experience on a resume or LinkedIn.

Here is an example: I recently worked with a client who joined a startup as an HR Manager. Within a year, she was tasked with leading the PR team, but she continued to serve as HR Manager. To further complicate things, she was essentially pulled out of both roles for a period of time to support a round of fundraising. Essentially, this client had 3 different roles that she wanted to honor on her resume but was completely stumped by how to accomplish that.

I’ll tell you what I told her.

When it comes right down to it, you only ever really hold one position at a time. Yes, that position may evolve, new responsibilities may be added, and you may be pulled away to support special projects, but you don’t technically have multiple jobs. Just the one (complex) job.

With that resolved, you still need to find a way to honor the complexity of the role and shifting scope without complicating things. Here are two quick tips:

  1. If, for example, you started as an HR Manager and your role was expanded (but your title didn’t change), then your title is still HR Manager. Use a brief position overview to communicate the scope of your role. Also, consider listing your added responsibilities as an achievement.

  2. When you are pulled out of your current position to participate in a special project, that is a great accomplishment to list under your title. It isn’t, however, a new position that should be listed separately. 

A best practice when developing your resume or LinkedIn is to keep things simple and easy for readers to grasp. You can always provide greater detail during the interview, which you are more likely to get because your resume was so clear and compelling.   

Happy Holidays and Thanks

Kent Nolen

I find a great deal of fulfillment every day in working with best-in-class companies and talented, hard-working individuals who are striving to build fulfilling careers and lives. I find joy in learning about the work my clients do, often quietly, to make things better for their organizations, their customers, and – most importantly – themselves and their families.

Again this year, as I celebrate the holidays and toast the new year, I will be thinking about how grateful I am to work with such incredible people and how fulfilled I am in helping people make positive steps forward in their career. 

Thank you and happy holidays!

Here are three questions to consider as you reflect and prepare for the year ahead:

  1. What did I like/dislike about my career in 2018?

  2. Do I have a vision for what I want my career to look like in 2019?

  3. Have I outlined steps and actions to make progress toward that vision?

Do I Need to Send a Cover Letter with my Resume?

Kent Nolen

There is one question that I get from almost every person I work with.

“Do I need to send a cover letter with my resume?”

I’ve written about cover letters more times than I can count, but there are clearly factors – likely misinformation on the web and outlier hiring practices being promoted as standard practice – that are confusing readers and prompting this question. So, let me definitively answer it (again): Unless a job posting specifically requests that you not send a cover letter (a very rare occurrence), a cover letter is both expected and important. Here’s why:

Protocol – I know from my experience “on the other side of the table” – both as an HR professional and the current consulting I do with business clients – that the cover letter is (in most cases) still a key part of the candidate selection process. 

Perspective – Many clients share that they wish hiring managers knew more about them than what is just on the resume. The good news is that hiring managers want to know more too, and the cover letter is designed to provide that additional perspective. Take advantage of the opportunity to share more about yourself – your skills, your passion, your interest in the specific role – and help decision makers understand what differentiates you from other candidates.

Process – Selecting job candidates is typically a multi-stage process of whittling down qualified applicants. Throughout those conversations and series of decisions, information you provide in a cover letter can make all the difference. Simply put, the cover letter will become meaningful in different ways as your application makes it through the multi-stage selection process.

When applying for a position, don’t eschew standard practices or pass up the opportunity to share more about why you are an ideal candidate. Send a cover letter.  

Why Tandem Powered is Right for You

Kent Nolen

Ready to move forward in 2019? Change starts here!

There are a lot of factors to consider when selecting a professional resume writer and career development professional. Below, you’ll learn a bit about my philosophy & approach, and you’ll gain insight into what differentiates Tandem Powered. I hope I have the chance to partner with you. Don't hesitate to click the button below to get in touch and learn more.

Why change, and why with Tandem Powered….

1. Because you are your best investment.

Career development services are not a gadget that will be obsolete in a year or two. Rather, career development is a solid investment – perhaps the best investment you can make – because it’s an investment in yourself and in your future. You’ll walk away from our time together with a new understanding of your professional strengths, a clear grasp of the value you represent, and tools that will serve you for a lifetime.

2. Because you need help organizing your life / work story.

If you’re like many people, you’ve let your career development languish. Many of my clients come to me with no idea of how to begin to organize their job history and the way they present themselves. My process gets things in order and leaves you in good shape to continue the momentum. 

3. Because you care about your professional and personal growth. 

So does Tandem. I am the first to say that powerful job search documents are a small part of a successful career management plan. That is why I place so much emphasis on the entire process; I want you to walk away with a success orientation and the kind of bolstered confidence that can change your career trajectory. This is about a lot more than a new resume, and that’s why I love what I do. New for 2019: Full Service clients will walk away from their projects with my guide, Beyond an Outstanding Resume. The guide outlines 12 tactics for comprehensively managing your career.

4. Because you understand the value of a deep process. 

I want you to be able to bring all of you, and so I bring all of me. I draw on my entire skills portfolio – education, professional certifications, extensive experience, and a background working with hundreds of professionals across almost every conceivable field – to provide the deepest and most enriching process possible. Get ready; we’ll get right down to the very details that will make you shine.

5. Because you want to see yourself in a new light. 

I am passionate about empowering you to see yourself and your career in the best light possible by directing your focus to your unique accomplishments and the value you represent. Just imagine the possibilities when you have a new success “language” that makes it easy for you to clearly speak to your past and, more importantly, your potential impact.

6. Because you value the best tools and tips.

As someone with deep experience in Business, Human Resources, and Career Development, I pride myself on staying current in my field and employing cutting-edge and best-in-class tactics on every project. I'm an expert on both sides of the table, and I enthusiastically bring that mastery.

7. Because you are welcome here. Always.

Tandem Powered is committed to the #OpenToAll campaign. No matter your race, color, national or ethnic origin, age, veteran status, religion, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, or any other characteristic, you are wholeheartedly welcome here. I know – from my experience in work and life – that our differences as humans do in fact make our work places and communities stronger.

Let's make 2019 our best year yet!

Click on the green box below to receive Tandem's Tips and Special Offers. I'll also send you answers to the seven most common resume questions I receive.