Resume Tips

Career Advice for Students

The job market is so super competitive right now that unless you leave college with some meaningful experience, you don’t stand a chance of getting hired. However, the elusive internships are few and far between so what to do?   Here are some suggestions for you if you can’t find an internship:   Start your own business! Figure out how to do something related to your ultimate career goal on a shoestring. Find like-minded students to help you out. Pool resources, time, skills and see what you can get going. Don’t put money into it (or borrow money from your parents). See if you can bootstrap yourself into something with no commitment but time and energy.   Volunteer your time at non-profits that can give you some transferrable skills.   Be a consultant – become a subject matter expert on something that fellow students need to know. Read everything you can about the subject. Give talks to groups of students and convince them to consult with you privately – the fee will be to write a glowing testimonial about your expertise that you can put on your resume and social media profiles.   Start a club that has something to do with your ultimate career goal. Recruit members, set up meetings, events etc. This is a great resume building activity.   Find a mentor. Network with people at least 20 years older than you! Make friends with people who have already “made it” in the industry in which you seek to work. Your alumni directory is a great resource. Find out when the 20 year reunions are taking place at your college and find a way to interact with the attendees – maybe you can […]

The Benefits of Doing Good

When we think about volunteering our time to help others, we really shouldn’t be thinking of ourselves, yet we gain undeniable benefits that go beyond the personal gratification we get from our deeds.   Don’t get me wrong, personal gratification is a biggie and maybe our prime motive, however here are the other benefits we gain – especially if we are out of work:   1)            Better mental health – Studies have shown that by focusing outwards on helping others and not dwelling on our own problems can stave off depression and negative thinking. (http://huff.to/19RBCTM) 2)            Socialization of any kind is a benefit when we would otherwise be doing nothing. 3)            Networking comes in many forms and maybe some of our fellow volunteers, recipients of our help or organizations that coordinate the volunteers could be potential sources for job leads. 4)            Volunteering boosts our resume – a period of unpaid employment is better than a period of unemployment (and makes us look good too) 5)            We may learn new skills and gain new experiences that help our job search. 6)            If we choose a cause that we are passionate about we will experience job satisfaction like never before. 7)            We can use volunteerism as a way to explore different kinds of work without risk – for instance, if we have always worked behind a desk but wondered if we would be happier working in a more physical job, we can volunteer at something that is more physical to give it a try. 8)            If we are working in a job in which we are unhappy, volunteering can give us an outlet that makes our paid employment more bearable – we stop being defined by our […]

Resume Writing for Dummies

Don’t worry, I’m not insulting the resume writer! All too often, we write our resumes in a way designed to dazzle the reader with our in depth knowledge of our job and industry. However we forget that, more often than not, the first screener of our resume is not the hiring manager but a recruiter who is a “dummy” when it comes to the technical intricacies of our particular job. As a “dummy” I have read many resumes that have left me totally baffled as to what the candidate actually did in his or her prior jobs. I don’t understand the jargon, abbreviations, industry buzzwords or phrases. I’ve spoken to corporate in-house recruiters who have confessed to me that they haven’t got a clue about the technicalities of the job for which they are seeking candidates. They are more interested in seeing how the person works, and will leave the technical screening for the second interview with the hiring manager. Recruiters usually conduct “behavioral” interviews which is Human Resource-speak for interviews that find what kind of person the candidate is – how they work and how they respond to different working environments and management styles. Studies have shown that past behavior is a pretty good predictor of future job performance. Does your resume let the recruiter know how you successfully overcame the challenges of your past jobs? So, write your resume as if it is going to be read by a “dummy”. Have a friend or family member that knows nothing about your industry read the resume. Did they get an idea of what you did at your prior jobs, or did it sound like gobbledygook to them? Take a leaf from best selling non-fiction […]

How to get your resume noticed

I once got a resume that was printed on fluorescent pink paper.  It certainly stood out.  But not in a good way 🙁 .  To be fair to the candidate, they had probably been told to make sure their resume was noticed.  This piece of advice is so universal that it sends job seekers in their thousands to resume writing services in order to make their resume absolutely perfect. It’s not a bad idea to have a perfect resume, but that is not what gets it noticed.  A recruiter or hiring manager has to have a reason to read and consider a resume.  The most common reason is that the resume has been given to them by someone they know.  Even a less than perfect resume has a better chance of success if it is from a connection rather than an anonymous job posting. In other words, what I am saying is the resume is less important that the method of delivery.  Any job seeker should be concentrating more on networking and less on rewriting their resume a hundred times to make it perfect. If you don’t believe me, just ask around and find out how people got their jobs, and see how many people used their network – even if indirectly to get the job they are in.  This is particularly true of jobs obtained in the last 5 years. Fortunately, networking opportunities are much greater now than before thanks to social media.  Using LinkedIn and Facebook to network with people that can pass your resume on to the right person at the company they work for is a great way to get your resume noticed. Contact Career Selections if you would like to […]

Don’t be afraid to sell!

In a highly competitive job market we have to address what is deemed by some to be a dirty word – “sales”. The images we conjure up when we think of sales are often negative: The pushy sales associate, the annoying telemarketer, the blow-hard Salesman. However, if we are to be successful at job interviews and in furthering our careers we really need to use some sales techniques to promote ourselves. So, how are we going to re-package “sales” and incorporate it into our modus operandi? Firstly, let me point out that the negative stereotypes are all examples of bad sales techniques. We don’t buy from people who are pushy, bullying or annoying. Well, at least we might be bullied into buying once, but they won’t ever get our repeat business. The problem is that when someone is highly skilled at sales we don’t even recognize what they are doing as selling! Therefore the only sales techniques we recognize are the bad ones. The first thing that makes a good sales person effective is that they listen. Understanding the needs of your customer is the first rule of being successful at selling. When applying for jobs, we often only look at the position in terms of what it will give us. Our first question should be – “what does the employer need?” The second question is then obvious: “How do my qualifications, experience and working style fit their need?” These questions should inform how we approach writing our resume, crafting our cover letter and conducting our interview. Instead of dazzling our potential employer with all of our accomplishments and great qualities we should focus on what they specifically need from us. We can use their […]

Advice on updating your resume

In this volatile economy, we need to keep our resumes dusted off and updated at all times. A resume is a work in progress, and needs to be edited as your work situation changes. I’ve seen a few “updated” resumes lately, where the candidates have recently left jobs and have changed the job dates to reflect that fact. So it is obvious that they are no longer describing current positions but past positions. So why didn’t they also change their job descriptions to the past tense? In one case the opening verb in the bullet points was changed to the past tense, but they didn’t go through and change the rest of the verbs to match, so each bullet point read something like: “Prepared and distribute travel and expense reports”. Obviously, the mistakes were not intended and the resume was proofread well in its original format. I’ve even seen resumes where candidates describe jobs from years ago in the present tense. So my advice is to proofread your updated resume as carefully as you proofread the original. Your spell check will not catch mistakes in grammar and tense but you can be sure that a hiring manager will. If you find it difficult to proof your own work ask a friend to read it through, or read it out loud to yourself. I know from my own experience that when you start tinkering with an original document it is very easy to let inconsistencies slip in.