Education Career Services

July 1, 2010

Worth your Weight in Gold

By Jenna Rew

Saying you achieved something wonderful and have an incredible ability to do something profound is entirely worthless unless you can back it up.  Lots of people lie on their resumes, which is why hiring managers are looking, now more than ever, to see that you can prove the claims you make.

If all you can do is give a percent or a situation, but you can’t say a percent of what or what happened later, then nothing and no one can help you. Your resume might boast those percents or situations and catch a hiring manager’s attention. Be assured, they WILL ask about them. Don’t be left speechless. You will appear to be making things up, even if you are telling the complete truth.

According to the Professional Resume Writers Association, the level of credibility and believability between “telling” versus “showing” is 7% to 93% respectively. Think about those figures for a second and KNOW the power of numbers and showing.

This is why I cannot stress enough, KEEP YOUR RECORDS. Document the accomplishments you make, include the initial problem or situation, what you did and what the result was. Look for numbers to quantify your claims. If you don’t know, ask. Worst case scenario: your employer will tell you he can’t give you that number and you attempt to look it up yourself or give your best estimate. Even one quantifiable thing can be better than an entire resume filled with fluffy daily duties.

Hiring managers know the general responsibilities of the positions they are looking to fill. The last thing they want to see is position after position listing the same things over and over again. Value comes from adding something to the company. You want to be worth your weight in gold, not part of the dime-a-dozen crowd.

I recently reviewed several resumes where individuals offered years of experience but didn’t list anything worth chatting about. It was all run-of-the-mill daily responsibilities nobody cares about. Upon digging deeper, I found some had significant achievements to brag about but were selling themselves short.

The time to be modest is NOT when you are trying to find a job. Your employer is not going to spend a significant amount of time trying to pry the information out of you. Either you give it up or you get passed over.

Don’t let yourself be one of those people who may look good on paper, but when it comes down to it, is no greater than the other half-dozen people sitting in the corporate waiting room. Record your accomplishments and wear them proudly on your sleeve.

Great submission Jenna,

dhuffman

June 1, 2010

Resume Language: Grammar, Consistency, and Point of View

Although the rules of grammar, such as parallel sentence structure, consistency, and punctuation, do apply, the statements we create for resumes are somewhat fragments in bullet or paragraph form simply because we eliminate the pronouns (he/she, you, we).  However, this doesn’t mean correct grammar in any other sense of the word should be absent.  Above all things (along with accuracy), grammar adds to the professionalism of any document. 

What would you be more inclined to read—a document filled with glaring errors or a document that reads smoothly?  Keep in mind that people who read resumes on a daily basis, such as human resources professionals, hiring managers, and executives, probably see a whirlwind of poorly-written documents one right after the other.  And although applicants may not be writers by profession, they are expected to know and apply basic rules.  Otherwise, that resume is at risk of automatically going into the “no” pile.

When creating a resume, always keep your target readers in mind.  Are these people going to be able to read this without tripping over ideas or punctuation?  Are they going to understand what I meant to say there?  Because resume writing differs from most other types of writing, we need to make sure it is clear and concise (without being overwhelmingly choppy).  For instance:

Option 1
                * Responsible for the automation department and a $100M budget; led 45 personnel in system testing and verification; managed relationships with vendors.

Option 2
                * Oversaw automation department, controlling $100M budget, leading 45-person team in system testing and verification, and managing vendor relationships.

They both say the exact same thing, but Option 2 lets the reader flow with the sentence as opposed to stopping at every semicolon and also connects ideas/responsibilities in one sentence.  The use of the comma after “department” and before “controlling” connects the second part of the sentence to the main idea, which is overseeing the automation department. 

According to the Professional Association of Resume Writers (PARW), the use of either third-person or first-person is fine as long as it is consistent throughout the document.  Why eliminate these words?  Again, it enables the reader to flow with the document as opposed to feeling like they are reading a biography or letter.  Since they are more concerned about the value they can get from the applicant, they need something they can skim through.  Being consistent is important because the omission of pronouns can confuse the reader if it suddenly switches from first- to third-person.   Using Option 1 from above: “[I was/he was] responsible for the automation department and a $100M budget; [I/he] led 45 personnel in system testing and verification; [I/he] managed vendor relationships.”  Although they both work in this instance, it does not always.  As an example:

First-person: [I am a]Senior Executive offering world-class experience in sales, business development, partnership building, and operations leadership.  [I] Create strategies to reach target consumers while expanding profitability through product development improvements. 

Third-person: [He is a] Senior Executive offering world-class experience in sales, business development, partnership building, and operations leadership.  [He] Creates strategies to reach target consumers while expanding profitability though product development improvements.

Generally, the third-person approach is more commonly used and has its advantages in terms of easier readability for your target audience.  Consistency in all areas of your resume is vital, including spelling, capitalization, punctuation, spacing, and font, because you don’t want to confuse readers.  The only questions you want them to ask are, Could you provide me with more information? or When are you available for an interview?

Sigmarie Soto, CPRW
Head Writer – Career Services International

May 18, 2010

Interview over? What now?

Do thank you notes yield job offers? No, but they help by giving you another chance to sell yourself and show proper social skills at the same time.

Any form of communication with a possible employer can be your marketing tool. With this in mind, use your best sales skills, but don’t be too pushy. Stress that since learning more about the company and the position, you realize what a good fit you are and, having thought about this, you want to add some past achievements (or educational accomplishments) relevant to the job. Reemphasize your skills, mention any information you forgot during the original interview that will be impressive to the employer.

Keep in mind this is a thank you letter; that is the excuse for writing. It can be typed in a business letter format or handwritten using a pre-printed thank you note or professional looking stationary.  The letter should express your appreciation for the opportunity to interview and learn more about the position.

Some things you might want to include are:

* The day of your interview and the job for which you applied.
* Your continued interest in the position and the company.
* Your skills and qualifications and how you will contribute to the organization.

Be creative, the letter must be unique, not generic. It has to be flawless.

Write this letter as soon as possible after the interview. The employer should receive it within 48 hours, maximum. Obviously, the fastest way is to send it to him or her by email if you have their address. Don’t stop there; send a hard copy via regular mail as a follow up. That way you can be certain they receive some form of courtesy and, it will show you pay extra attention to details.

To further assist you, take a look at five tips helping you write your thank-you note:

1. Have a friend proofread your letters for misspellings and grammar errors.
2. Keep it short. All you need is a few sentences
3. Thank everyone who interviewed you. If you met with more than one person at a company, send a letter to each and vary the content.
4. Reiterate your interest in, and qualifications for the job.
5. Include the best way to reach you, even if you think the interviewer knows it. Sign off by asking about the next step.

Placing yourself above the competition takes diligence and action. Employers want you to be the perfect fit… do you think its fun to interview people? Take it from me (I’ve interviewed hundreds), I dislike the whole process and truly hope the next person walking through the front door is the person for the job… and that person could be you!

dhuffman

April 14, 2010

The yellow brick road to an entry-level job

Recent UCF graduate, Fernanda Barros, has this to say about the search…

What do you do when you hit the most vulnerable point in your life and somebody says “You are graduating in a tough economy, where nobody is hiring and the competition is tremendous”? These dreaded words seem to be a common thread amongst college graduations, leaving new graduates wondering about their future.

“How to find a job after college” and “college grad job hunter” are just a couple of the 130-million website options you get when typing college grad plus job into a search engine like Google. Every year thousands of college graduates trade their alma mater jersey for a business suit. They walk the stage, shake the hands of important people they never met, and listen to a motivating speech about life choices.

While the ceremony only lasts a couple of hours, many of them are wondering the same thing; how long until I find a job after college? Can the economy affect my chances of getting hired? How do I make my four years of hard work pay off?

According to Money magazine, it generally takes three to nine months for a college graduate to land their first job.  Experts on the subject say there are many steps to the process of entry-level job seeking; three stand out like a sore thumb and should be taken seriously.

Number one: Networking. Turn that baby shower and going away party into a chance to meet people that can give you that boost needed to find that perfect job. Challenge yourself by making new connections in multiple places even if it makes you uncomfortable (especially if it makes you uncomfortable). New connections mean new possibilities.

Number two: the interview. According to experts, the interview is where new graduates lose their battle with a potential employer.  Since the foul economy has left many with a bitter taste in their mouths, just landing an interview is a huge step, being prepared is imperative. Getting to know the company’s market, products, and goals prior to the interview will give you that extra something that your competition might be lacking.

Number three: have a goal. Well, a reachable goal. That’s one thing all experts agree on. Having a reachable goal makes knowing what you want and going for it easier.  Fight any senses of depression and keep tweaking, do not lose hope if you don’t get a call back… because you’ll be lucky to get three calls for every 100 resumes sent out!

Graduate, set a goal, network, and do not run screaming if you don’t get hired on your first interview. Understand finding a full time job is a journey, not a road trip.  Perhaps one day soon you will come to recognize the difference in the two. Until then, best wishes and remain positive.

Thanks Fernanda Barros for your insight

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPCC, CPRW
Owner, Author, Publisher
Career Services International, www.careersi.com
Education Career Services, www.educationcs.com
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/dannyhuffman
Creator, The Huffman Report, www.westorlandonews.com

March 23, 2010

The Power of Non-Profit Achievements

You’re a full-time student with little time for even part-time employment…how do you start building your résumé to get a solid launch upon graduation?  Non-Profit Organizations may be your answer.

Achievements with a non-profit group are very compelling on a cover letter and résumé.  It stands out, it says something about who you are, and it will likely prompt an interview.  

Like any other position (be it an intern, extern, or part-time opportunity), make sure you build achievements and not just “experience.”  In other words, this is a perfect time to develop the knowledge, skills, and abilities, all of which are the foundation of a long and successful career.  If you’re interested in business management, get involved with the administrative side of the organization: planning, fund raising, strategizing…quantifiable contributions that can be documented.

No doubt about it, DOCUMENT your Performance, Action, and Result (PAR) as employers want to see YOUR contributions and immediate impact.  For instance, if you built a spreadsheet while working as an intern or at an non-profit organization which streamlined procedures, document what you did and, when applicable, the results… such as how many labor hours were decreased due to your spreadsheet.

Things to consider when you are choosing a non-profit group, make sure the group:

a) resonates with you, and
b) resonates with future employers.

The Society to Promote Body-Piercings simply won’t do, but PAWS, MADD, homeless shelters, food banks… causes that benefit society not just special interest groups add bling too your résumé.  But be careful: Non-profit groups need volunteers and will let you work whatever hours you can; keep control of your schedule and prioritize your studies with volunteering or you may find your time monopolized.

The added benefit of networking is also at play here.  When you meet fellow professionals, get their contact information and keep in touch… you never know who the person volunteering next to you may be or will soon be.

Submission by Rob Swanson, certified professional writer at Career Services International / Education Career Services

March 15, 2010

Prepare for Success

Getting ready to graduate, thinking about transitioning into a new career, or simply searching for a job due to circumstances beyond your control?  No matter the cause, during a career search, it’s critical to maintain a positive mental attitude.  During a recession and high unemployment, keeping the right mind-set is not an easy task. 

As a certified career coach, I ask my client to remain confident, optimistic, and possess the attitude that no matte what, you can and WILL overcome obstacles.  Again, not an easy task but much depends upon the foundation… in other words, preparation.

Robert Ringer, author of the best selling novel Winning Through Intimidation, states a positive mental attitude is developed “by being good at what you do, by being prepared, by understanding the realities of what it takes to succeed, and by having self-discipline to base your action on those realties.”  Therefore, a positive mental attitude achieved through preparation will yield confidence which will increase success.

Reality: The purpose of a career search is to receive offers for employment, which directly correlates on how you perform during interviews (okay, the resume and cover letter must first get the call for an interview).  With this in mind, confidence comes from being well prepared.  Even if you do not get the position, the optimistic foundation that comes from preparation helps you learn from mistakes in a positive way when preparing for the next interview. 

Begging the question: How does one prepare?  Follow the following…

            1. Take the time necessary to conduct in-depth research about the company, position, and your interviewer.
            2. Know about industry trends and how you can capitalize on them (and how your knowledge, skills, abilities, and education will add value to industry trends)
            3. Anticipate what the company wants to know about you.  Obviously they want you to elaborate on your experience, but don’t just tell them, actually show them how you can repeat that success for them.  Investigate what they might need and determine, prior to the interview, how you can fulfill those needs.
            4. Consider using a third party (no, not the animal house kind of party) such as a career services department professional or a Certified Professional Career Coach to help identify your weaknesses, develop your strengths, and guide you along the path to success.

Ultimately, the first step to securing success comes from YOUR attitude.  In this effort, you must maintain a positive mental attitude throughout your career search by being prepared!

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPCC, CPRW
Owner, Author, Publisher
Career Services International
Education Career Services
dhuffman@careersi.com
www.linkedin.com/in/dannyhuffman

March 8, 2010

Résumés of a Different Stripe

Professional documents are not a one-size fit all proposition.  Depending on the goal, distribution strategy, and intended reader, you will require different résumés.  Let’s look at three:

Broadcast Résumé
If your strategy is to tap into the unadvertised job market (getting to a hiring manager before they post a position), you need a streamlined, value-centric résumé promoting yourself as the solution to a problem.  The goal is to get an interview or a call that can be transformed into an interview.  Very effective as a strategy, you aren’t competing with thousands of applicants, BUT it is a numbers game and you’ll need to broadcast mail hundreds, if not thousands, of résumés to get a good response.  Requires a financial investment of stamps, paper, envelopes, and probably professional writing, but ultimately, this is the most cost effective option.

Recruiter Résumé
Because the recruiter is putting your résumé in the hands of the employer, the goal is different.  While the above Broadcast Résumé leans heavily on the “Wow” factor, the recruiter résumé is heavy in detail.  The hiring manager is a captive audience with some degree of confidence that the recruiter isn’t wasting his time.  The Broadcast Résumé gets 12 seconds or so to make an impression; here, the recruiter is making that first impression.  Recruiter Résumés can be two or three pages long with no concerns about masking obstacles like age.  This option is VERY EXPENSIVE.  The recruiter may tell you “the hiring company pays my fee,” but the company is taking the 20% fee out of YOUR salary (up to $20,000!).  You keep paying for years because your raises will be based off the impacted salary, not what they would have paid you.  The recruiter’s goal is to make a fee, not find you a job; to do so they’ll place their easiest-fit client, not necessarily their best: “Hmmm, seems a bit old,” “You’re right, let me show you this other candidate.”

Job Posting Response Résumé
Applying for jobs online requires a customized résumé heavy on specific key words.  Key words are important to all résumés but here they have to be cherry picked from the posting and liberally used in the résumé.  Your résumé’s first goal is to make it through the screening software.  From there, a person will read yours and the thousand other applicant’s résumés, so it needs to be specific but unique.  Delivering value with tight content is as important here as in the Marketing Résumé.  And like the Broadcast Résumé, this is a numbers game; few applicants seem to know this, though, thinking applying to specific jobs is effective.  Instead, it takes many time-consuming tries (you should be customizing the résumé each time) and results in massive lost-wages.

Each of these résumés should be written professionally and we’re not advocating dismissing any of these strategies.  Being in the career management business for many years, if you would like to discuss strategies, please give us a shout.

Until then, never stop…

The above post was submitted by Robert Swanson, certified writer and manager at Education Career Services.

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPCC, CPRW
Owner, Author, Publisher
Career Services International
Education Career Services
dhuffman@careersi.com
www.linkedin.com/in/dannyhuffman
407-206-5883 (direct line)
866-794-3337 ext 110

March 4, 2010

Social Media Overrunning YOUR World?

Yesterday I spoke to a Data Storage Sales Executive seeking transition from Environmental Services back to Open Storage Sales. One of the questions during our conversation regarded the prevalence and rapid growth of the Social Media stage.  Given my knack to know more and deliver the goods to an eager (and hungry) following, I did my own diligence on the matter. The statistics may surprise you.

Needless to say, if you thought social/media networking made an impact over the past few years, hold on while I recap the deal from the Career Management Alliance (specifically from AIRS Sourcing Report, February 2010).  On this note…

* Facebook has been in business six years in February, and has 400,000,000 members (if the zeros got in the way, the number is 400 million—wonder how long it will be until the number of people in Facebook is a greater percentage than the worlds population)
* 50% of Facebook users log on daily
* 65 million Facebook users access the site with mobile devices (I am still trying to figure out how to take a picture on my phone much less text…)
* LinkedIn has 11 million users across Europe
* India is the fastest growing country using LinkedIn, with more than 3 million users
* LinkedIn is offered in 4 different languages, while Facebook is offered in 70 languages
* Twitter has 75 million profiles
* In December 2009, 17% of Twitter users tweeted,

The next time you think about career networking, think about the power of the social/media world.  Then again, one thing I want to make clear, do NOT rely solely on this medium for career support.  As I closed out the conversation this morning, I made it clear an objective approach to material development and an assertive approach to spreading the word of value should be considered. 

In the submissions to come, we will continue reviewing multiple avenues guiding YOUR career success.  In the interim, let me know of any challenges you would like examined.

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPCC, CPRW
Owner, Author, Publisher
Career Services International
Education Career Services
dhuffman@careersi.com
www.linkedin.com/in/dannyhuffman
407-206-5883 (direct line)
866-794-3337 ext 110

March 1, 2010

Competency Based Resume

Thinking about a career transition?  Want to change industries?  Think your job title “boxes you in?”  Or do you just want to try something new professionally?  If any of these sounds like you, then you should consider a not-so-run-of-the-mill resume to match your new attitude.

What exactly does that mean?  It means that you should re-think the “job title, company name, location, dates worked” model and go for a competency based resume.  This resume format takes the focus off your job titles and puts it on your skills, abilities and accomplishments.  It also helps the companies and industries you’re interested in to really look at what you bring to the table and how you’ve positively impacted your previous employers.

This may be appear to be a formidable challenge, but getting there is relatively easy.  Go ahead and look at your current, basic resume, no matter the format.  Look at those descriptions you’ve put in your experience section and ramp them up.  Forget the “responsibilities included” and “duties” statements.  Go for numbers, amounts, percents—in other words, if you improved a process at your company, then take it to the next step and describe the impact.  Did it improve sales by a certain percent?  Reduce costs?  Earn money?  If so, those amounts need to be included.  Now you’re speaking a language the employers want to hear.  

If the above paragraph doesn’t convince you, this should.  Employers are telling us they’re getting literally HUNDREDS of resumes PER JOB ANNOUNCEMENT.  That means that you have to make that one-page resume count as if it were a first interview.  You simply must be action/result oriented to get noticed.

Once you get your information ramped up, look at the job descriptions of the field in which you’re interested.  What are the common, global skill sets?  Is it teamwork? Financial Knowledge?  Operations Management?  Once you’ve identified those common skill sets, pick the top two or three that apply to you and then those become your major categories on your resume.  Then take those bullet statements that you’ve already worked on and start plugging them in. 

Bullet statements that can’t stand on their own merit need more work.  The end result just might surprise and reinvigorate you.  You’ve now taken yourself out of the proverbial box and are really putting your skills out there.

Obviously, you need a section on the resume that lists your job titles, company name and the like, but that can go at the bottom of the document and have less emphasis than your skills.  Field test both versions of your resume and see which one gets the most hits. 

For some more help with competency based resumes, check your local book store and the internet where you’ll find many samples that will help you with layout issues, content and structure or consider reviewing what Education Career Services and Career Services International offers by way of a complete career management manual as well as specific career topics and services.

Good luck!

Thank you Angelina, your insight is most welcome and will benefit many of our readers.  We look forward to more of your work.  No doubt your students are blessed to have such a valuable source of information at their front door.

Danny

February 1, 2010

What to Leave Out besides the Kitchen Sink….

By Kimberly Sarmiento

As I was reviewing a friend’s career documents recently, it occurred to me that some people wrote their resume for their first job and simply did nothing but update it with every new position.  After a few career transitions, the document was in need of serious trimming!

We put a great deal of emphasis on what should go into your resume – quantifiable achievements, top-line contributions, and cost-saving initiatives for example.  However, we also need to focus on what can come out. 

Collegiate Achievements: Unless you are a recent graduate, there is no need to point out that you lettered in varsity sports, was the captain of the chess team, or served as president of Gamma Beta Kappa.  In fact, even if you are a recent graduate, you can leave those things off your resume unless you can attach an accomplishment with them.

GPAs and Dates: As much as like to infuse figures into career documents, there are a few numbers we can leave out.  Once again, unless you graduated in the last couple of years, the employer doesn’t need to know your GPA or if you graduated with honors.  We also recommend you leave off the date you obtained your degree.  This gives an automatic cue as to your age which can tell your potential employer you are either too old or too young for consideration.

Lists of Duties/Responsibilities: These laundry lists tell the employer nothing about what you have done or what you can do for a company.  Whenever possible, take one of your responsibilities and pair it up with an accomplishment.  But also remember that some things are implicit in your job title.  We expect a Senior Support Specialist to provide support.  You don’t have long to make an impression (30 second at most!) so don’t waste time telling the reader what they can figure out on their own.

References: It is not longer necessary to provide a list of references in your resume or make the statement that references are available upon request.  Hiring authorities expect you can provide them with references.  Prepare a sheet to leave behind during an interview, but don’t worry about in your introductory documents.

Salary Information: Even if a job add requests salary information, it is best not to provide this in your resume or cover letter.  Salary should always be addressed during an interview.

Personal Information/Photos: It was once in vogue to supply a potential employer with a professional photo on your resume along with information about your interest and personal life.  Today, the law protects you from having to reveal this sort of information and it would be best not to open yourself up to unintentional discrimination right from the start with a bad picture or a hobby the hiring executive finds dangerous.

Remember when you craft your resume and cover letter that optimizing space and words is as much about removing needless information as it is about including top accomplishments.  To make an impact, you must make every word count!

Thank you Kimberly; as always, your insight is greatly appreciated.

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPCC, CPRW
Owner, Author, Publisher
Career Services International
Education Career Services
dhuffman@careersi.com
www.linkedin.com/in/dannyhuffman
407-206-5883 (direct line)
866-794-3337 ext 110

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