Looking for work can be a time-consuming and frustrating affair. There is a lot of information to keep track up, starting with one’s resume and then expanding into emails, interview notes, and a list of the jobs one has applied for so that if a call comes in weeks down the road, there is a way to quickly recall which position it is in regards to. In addition, the dynamics of work and what employers look for in a resume has changed quite a lot in the last decade. Some employers reject any resume over a page long, most people look for work along more than one career path, and so on.
What this blog entry will focus on are the Top Ten features one should look for in a modern resume publishing and career support application.
1. Easy Entry
Usually updating your resume means opening up a word processor and entering your information. This obviously works, but it’s laborious because it requires many clicks and gestures to enter each piece of information. This is because you’re working within an application meant to create formatted text, not geared to rapid entry of structured data.
Other resume-building apps you find online are better at inputting structured data because they are based on forms. But if you want a different resume the best you can hope for is to make a copy of one and then go in and add or remove things. And then if you want to add something to both copies, you are forced to go back and edit both documents independently.
Abstretta takes a completely different approach: it works more like a Content Management System, such as WordPress. You enter your experience, qualifications, publications, degrees and so on once and then associate them with your resume designs. So your data is always the same and you can mix and match it as many ways as you like for the jobs you are applying for - without having to duplicate work or go through additional complex editing operations.
2. Easy Editing
One of the most onerous tasks with designing your resume is the layout. As often as not, resumes have complex formatting that need to be accurately copy-and-pasted around the document as you add or update entries in your resume. Since people don’t update their resumes very often, it can be months or even years between the times you last edited your resume, so when you open it back up to make changes it looks foreign and all the layout and stylistic peculiarities need to be re-learned.
Abstretta decouples what’s in your resume from how it appears on the page. Think of it like when you buy a car - first you decide what you want in it, which engine and transmission, which kinds of seats and audio system - and then you think about what color paint you want. In Abstretta you construct your resume without concerning yourself with formatting - just enter data into a web form. Once that is finished, then you pick the template you want to use to render the resume.
And since Abstretta’s template system is dynamic, you can even change the template at the moment you send a resume to someone. A massive time-savings over conventional editing.
3. Multiple Personas
These days everyone wears many hats. When looking for work you can find yourself pursuing multiple career paths. Maybe as a manager and also as an individual contributor. Maybe in multiple industries. Maybe all of these variations and still more.
Not only does this “split focus” require multiple resumes, but you also want to keep the positions you apply to for each persona separate. If for no other reason than to make it easier to keep track of events as they transpire.
Abstretta lets you create multiple personas, each with their own resume configurations and associated resume publishing data. So for instance say you have one career path as a manager and you also dabble as a freelance graphic artist. In your “manager” profile you could set your name to be “J. Paddington Smith III”, but in your freelance artist profile you could sit it to “Jim ‘Smitty’ Smith”, giving you more control over how you present yourself to potential employers.
4. Cover Letters
You can’t send a resume without a cover letter. What usually happens is you end up with dozens of little files or notes or snippets floating around your devices of cover letters you have sent in the past so you can re-use them. Yet when it comes time to send a resume, often you’re stuck with a dilemma. Which device did I leave it on? What did I call the file or note? Did I even save it? If not, who did I email it to?
Then once you find the snippet or file or note, you have to carefully copy-and-paste it into your email app. It must be done carefully because you do not want to leave fragments from the last time you sent the cover letter. Such as the name of someone from some other company.
Abstretta has cover letters built in. Not just cover letters, but cover letter templates which can be re-used and even modified at send time. You can also set a global default cover letter which gets loaded in the resume sending form. In addition, you can set a default cover letter for each persona. This allows you to set the motif of your different career paths at an even more detailed level. The cover letter you would use for a “manager” persona probably will not be the same as one you use for a “freelance artist” persona.
5. Rapid Response
Once your resume is finally in front of someone who can offer you a position you want to remove any barriers to them contacting you. Most resumes are static documents, but in Abstretta they are live. So there is a contact form built into the resume. The person viewing your resume does not need to launch their email app, copy/paste your email address, and then send - they can just type a message right there while viewing your resume. When a hiring manager uses the built-in contact form the message shows up in your Abstretta Messages, as well as being delivered to your email inbox.
Most of the time when you send someone a resume it’s like chucking a bottle into the ocean. You know eventually someone will get it, but who or when is a mystery. As is if the recipient will act upon the message you put inside.
With Abstretta, a record is kept of every resume sent and received and of every time the resume is viewed or printed. From this, you can track as your resume moves through a company’s HR department. You can also tell when people at the company have stopped looking at your resume, or when they start again.
There are plenty of online resume systems out there on the market. But they tend to focus mostly on publishing a formatted document. This requires that the user has to find other means to manage and organize their job-search activity. And then the user has to integrate all those other tools and notes and folders full of stuff with whatever online system they are using to actually publish their resume and get it into someone’s hands for review.
By contrast, Abstretta is a complete career support application. Everything you need from cover letters to resume publishing to sending out a list of references to being told that someone is looking at your resume is included in one application. Ultimately this provides a more useful and more seamless experience for the job-seeker. The user can leave Abstretta on the shelf when not looking for work, and then quickly have access to a complete suite of tools again when it’s needed.
- themuse.com: "How to Get and Stay Organized During Your Job Search"
A good write-up on all the machinations needed when you do not have an all-in-one App
Career opportunities do not always arise when you are sitting at home in front of your computer. They can happen anywhere at any time. Someone you meet at the airport, browsing the news while at a coffee shop. Having your resume stored on your desktop computer does not help you much in these situations. Laptops are mobile, of course, but it is not always convenient to be using a laptop when opportunity knocks. The next best option is to save an exported version of your resume on a cloud service. But that means you need to incorporate a workflow to move your resume to the cloud every time you do an update.
With Abstretta’s mobile-web interface, your resume is always with you right on your phone. With a few taps you can send a customized resume to a new contact in response to anything that comes up where ever you are. Since it’s a mobile-web interface it functions just like a native app without having to install anything.
When one is heavily engaged in looking for work a hefty number of resumes will be sent out. When fortune smiles and you get a phone call or email in response it can be weeks, or even months, after the resume was sent in. Odds are you have little if any recollection of which job you applied for. This becomes even more confusing when you do have multiple career paths as you need to not only remember which job you had applied for, but which career context it was applied for under.
Abstretta has a construct called an “Opportunity”. This couples a resume, the user profile it belongs to, the contact the resume was sent to, and a copy-and-pasted description of the job description your resume was sent in response to. So now instead just a list of resumes and people you sent them to, you have a listing of the actual jobs you have applied to. Makes sense, right? A resume does not exist in a vacuum. It only converts into an action when it’s sent to someone in response to a job opening.
In addition, Abstretta’s “Opportunities” also have a handy note-taking area. So while you’re on the phone with a hiring manager you can take notes right in the platform. Consider a situation where you send in your resume and do a first round interview. All signs look positive - but weeks go by and you don’t hear about a second interview, so you assume they hired someone else. Then lo and behold, you get a call for that second interview. What was the job again? Who did I talk to before? What did we talk about? All that context is saved in the Opportunity.
10. Other Data
Looking for a job entails more than just sending out a resume. As you make you way through the process you will also be asked for references, or more details on course-work you took, or possible even some testimonials if you are looking for freelance work.
A good Career Support system will anticipate this need and have some kind of feature built in so you can keep all your career-related data on the platform, instead of scattered around umpteen devices and cloud services.
Abstretta handles this with a feature called Scribbles. These are little scraps of text which can be public or private. “Public” in this case means that you can send someone a secret link to the Scribble so they can see it online. “Private” means it is something for your eyes only - perhaps some information you cut-and-paste into emails frequently. Abstretta’s Scribbles support Markdown as well as plain text which enables you to send well-formatted information to prospective hirers.