Archive for the ‘Resumes’ Category
Want To Change Careers? Be Prepared.
Wednesday, January 9th, 2013
This post was written at the request of a friend of mine, a hiring manager in an advertising agency. On a regular basis, she hears from candidates who want to transition into the industry, but have no knowledge, background, or experience that makes them look employable or relevant.
She suggests that anyone considering a career change first do their homework. They need to understand exactly how their skills could transfer to another type of job. Then, she recommends that they illustrate these abilities – but in the language of their target industry.
I couldn’t agree with her more. The people I’ve seen successfully transition don’t just know what they want;, more importantly, they can effectively explain it on a resume and in an interview! Of course, this takes a lot of work on the candidate’s part. You’ll need to determine what relevant transferable skills you possess, combine them with the requirements of your new target job/industry, and confidently illustrate why you are a fit.
Doing this work isn’t anyone’s idea of fun, but it’s absolutely necessary when it comes to switching careers. Otherwise, the employer not only won’t know what you’re qualified to do, but they also won’t be convinced that you are seriously interested in working in their industry. They may even think that you’re just blasting your resume out to everyone and will take any job that’s offered to you. Even if that is the case, it would be more effective if you took a leap of faith and put all of your efforts into positioning yourself as a candidate for a specific type of job function or industry.
The specific hiring manager I spoke with actually tries to help unfocused candidates when she can. However, my guess is that she’s an exception. Most hiring managers, like recruiters, are extremely busy. Despite their best intentions, they probably won’t be able to help you position yourself (plus, it’s not their job). Of course, these are the types of people you should seek out for informational interviews so you can learn how to present yourself as a possible candidate. The application process is not the time to try and do this.
The time and energy you spend on research is an investment in your career. It will pay off for years to come!
Picture Credit: At Work
Are Companies Waiting to Hire Until After the Election?
Tuesday, September 4th, 2012
This question was recently posted on LinkedIn. Some say yes – companies want to see what changes will come as a result of whichever administration is in office. Others say no – that politics don’t affect the job market, at least in the short-term.
I say – IT DOESN’T MATTER. Anyone who holds off on job searching because companies “might” not hire until November is doing themselves a disservice. Same with those who don’t look during the summer (everyone’s on vacation, right?) or in December (because people are off for the holidays, of course).
My point here is if you wait until the perfect time to reach out to prospective employers, you’ll never find an opportunity! In fact, some of those “slow” times are ideal for contacting decision makers. People ARE still at work, but there’s not as much to do. If that’s when your resume comes in – and it’s one of the only ones sent that day – it’s more likely to be read than at another time. So, how can maximize your job search efforts during slow months?
1) Send a highly targeted cover letter. During a slow period, a screener may have the time to read your cover letter more thoroughly. Take this opportunity to really sell them on why you’re a fit for their organization.
2) Directly call the hiring manager. If you can find out the name of the person who would likely be doing the hiring, call them directly. It can often be as simple as dialing an organization’s main number and asking for them by name. However, be ready with your “pitch” so you’re prepared to speak if you are put through.
3) Schedule informational interviews. Most people are happy to meet with someone for an informational interview, but the reality of it is that everyone is very busy. Even with the best of intentions, it can be a challenge to carve out time from their schedules. Use this slow period as an opportunity for conducting career and company research.
Picture credit: Flag, by Robert Linder, linder6580
Where Should I Put “Education” On My Resume?
Thursday, May 10th, 2012
There isn’t a single answer, but there are a few guidelines depending on where you’re at in your career. As a rule of thumb, work experience overtakes education after a few years. An exception to this is if you’re changing careers and your educational experience is more relevant than your professional background. Though the placement of education on a resume should be decided on a case-by-case basis, the information below will help you choose what makes sense for you:
Near the top: After the heading and summary/profile, the education section is the first thing the reader will see. Recent college graduates and people with less than two years work experience will lead with this section in most cases.
Near the bottom: At the very bottom, or above volunteer work, additional qualifications, etc, the education section is one of the last pieces a reader will see. If the job seeker’s education is unrelated to their career goals, they’ve been in the workforce for awhile, or they don’t have a degree (yet have other types of professional education), it usually makes sense to have this section near the end.
As far as other sections – volunteer experience, professional membership, language abilities, etc. – you’ll want to make sure the reader sees the most relevant information first. In general, this means ordering the sections on your resume from those that are most in line with your career goals to the least.
Should YOUR Resume Be One Page?
Saturday, April 7th, 2012
The “one page” question is one of the most common things people ask me about. It’s not a hard and fast rule, and I end up writing two to three page resumes for many of my clients. However, there is a group that should ALMOST always have a resume that’s just one page long – college students/recent graduates.
If you worked through college, participated in extra-curricular activities, and got good grades, you may think there’s no way you could fit everything onto one page. You’d be right – and you’d have to be very selective about what you keep on. Most CEOs could fill a book detailing their background, yet their resumes don’t often go past three pages. Clearly, they’re not including everything, and the same applies to recent graduates. In addition, employers expect to see one page resumes from recent college graduates. Their professional experience simply doesn’t warrant more.
So, what do you keep in and what do you leave out?
IN: Classes that are highly-specific to your target job; volunteer activities within your target industry; internships; work experience.
OUT: Your high school diploma/graduation date; coursework not related to your job goals; any activities you quit after a short period of time.
Of course, there are always exceptions, including recent graduates who went back to school later in life. Consider your background, target job (and level), and years of professional experience to help you determine your resume’s length.
Tailor Your Resume In Less Than 10 Minutes
Thursday, March 22nd, 2012
While it’s a good idea to customize your resume to fit each position, most people avoid doing so because it sounds like such a mammoth undertaking.
Fortunately, your resume can be altered in as little as 10 minutes – assuming you already have a solid foundation. Follow the tricks below to find out how:
1) Change the heading: Include the job title near the top so the employer knows exactly which position you want. You can then switch this out with something more aligned with your next job target (i.e. marketing coordinator vs. marketing analyst).
2) Include a keyword box: This can take different forms, but “areas of expertise” is one common heading for this area. If the jobs for which you’re applying are in the same “family” you may not need to change much. Still, it doesn’t hurt to review and see if there are any important hard skills required – that you also possess, of course – that should be highlighted.
3) Reorder your information: Always lead with the information most relevant to the job. If you’ve supervised two interns in your career, and “supervisory experience” is important for the position, this information should be placed further up on the resume. If you’re applying for a more junior role and don’t want to appear overqualified, this information can be placed further down, where it’ll be less obvious. The key is to make the reader really see the most important information!
One caveat: these tips won’t apply if you’re targeting two very different job functions (for example, going after accounting and marketing positions). In cases like this, it’s recommended that you have a separate resume foundation for each.
Camouflaging Gaps In Your Resume
Monday, January 30th, 2012
A reader recently wrote me to ask this question: How can I camouflage gaps in my resume?
My answer may surprise you. I don’t believe you need to hide anything. Misrepresenting your employment can lead to termination. Instead, be prepared to explain each gap and how you used the downtime constructively. Did you take a class, travel, or tackle a project in your home? Spin it in a positive light but don’t fudge your employment dates.
Two more readers posed equally perplexing questions:
- Does overselling yourself in an interview hurt or help in the long run?
- How often should I follow up if a recruiter stops responding to me?
Get my answers to both of these questions in my new article, “Your Questions and My Opinions: Ready, Set, Go” posted in the Market My Career resource library. While you’re there, browse our other articles on networking, social media, interviewing and more!
Have a question you’d like answered? Respond to this post or send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Fax of the Job Search
Thursday, January 26th, 2012
Despite the overwhelming use of e-mail, most offices still have fax machines. There is a HUGE opportunity here for job seekers. In an almost-too-good-to-be-true situation, you can almost guarantee your resume will be read by someone, AND passed on to the decision maker (or their support staff).
Here’s why. People apply online the majority of the time, and mail their resumes when they really want to stand out. Very few send faxes, which means that it’s more likely that anyone receiving it will actually read through your documents. In fact, one HR employee actually told me he reads EVERY faxed resume.
The second part of this situation is even better. If you address someone by name on the cover sheet, the odds are very good your resume will be placed in their inbox. This means they’ll at least glance at it while sorting through the mail. With hundreds (or even thousands!) of emails coming in daily, do you think the same can be said of resume attachments?
Here’s how you can make this strategy work for you:
1) Find out the name and title of the hiring manager (try asking a networking contact or investigating on LinkedIn).
2) Find out the fax number of the department by asking a contact or calling the company’s main number.
3) Send your resume and cover letter WITH a cover sheet.
4) Follow up a few days later.
Though faxing your resume is a great strategy for standing out, it’s not a magic bullet. Use this tool, but keep cultivating your contacts and following up with decision makers. Your persistence WILL pay off!