When you are looking for a job things can get tough. You have lots of free time on your hands and that can mean either boredom or opportunity. Take this time to learn the skills that can get you in the right place to land your next job. Nowadays this doesn’t necessarily mean going back to school.
With the infinite knowledge available out there in the world wide web you can be just a few clicks away from learning everything you need to know. Sites like http://www.saylor.org/ provide open source text books on anything from art history and accounting to neurophysiology and thermodynamics.
If reading a text book seems like it may be too dry and stirs up too many bad memories of paper airplanes and spitballs you can also try a site like http://www.codecademy.com/#!/exercises/0 which actually provides an interactive online learning environment. This can be an excellent tool for learning to code in just about any programing language or simply for staving off boredom.
So, no matter if it is just brushing up on the old standbys or learning that new skill, the internet can provide you with just about everything you need for free.
You might have heard folks say when they are carrying things that they could use an extra pair of hands. Well it’s much the same when you are writing a resume and you are overloaded…except what will help this time is an extra set of eyes.
Here at Night and Day Resume we are committed to quality control, but we realize that we are only human, so every resume that comes through goes to our writers and then back to me for a final review. I know this may sound like overkill, but when we give free in person resume reviews to folks we meet at career fairs we might point out a small spelling or punctuation error, they say “aw, I looked this thing over like 10 times and missed it”. It happens all the time and it’s just part of being human.
Go a bit deeper into the mystery of why folks can’t put their finger on why their resume isn’t working for them and you will see it is usually emotion that connects them to the job they had in high school where they met their sweetheart…26 years ago. Sorry Charlie, time to let go. You have got your wife to hold onto in that case and hopefully she won’t leave you if you take the job at Mickey D’s off your resume.
The certification class you took to tape ankles in college isn’t something you need on your resume now that your software engineer career has spanned a decade. It was a fun time on the sidelines in college, but off the resume it goes.
We take the emotion out of cleaning up your resume and it’s something we get a pat on the back for all the time. Here’s what BG from North Carolina said about his experience: “After more than ten years in recruiting I finally realized that my resume had morphed into something I was not happy with. I found new meaning in the story about the cobblers children not having shoes. The guidance Night and Day Resume (Wayne and Michael) provided me with proved insightful. They were direct, professional, and tactful in showing me where I had gone wrong.”
Think about your resume and truly scrutinize it’s content. The hiring managers and gatekeepers you are sending it to are. If you are not sure why you might not be getting the interviews you think you should, please, send your resume along for a free, no obligation review. You will be in good company as we have reviewed resumes from 7 countries and 48 states in the US. C’mon West Virginia and South Dakota….we know you are out there!
We speak a lot about efficiency of resumes and interviewing tips and what to put on your Linkin profile, but have you ever thought about how your day can be more efficient?
I recently came across an article in the Wall Street Journal that discussed standing in meetings as something that’s the next greatest thing. I heard about this at a client company of mine back in the 90’s more than 15 years ago and it seemed radical then and seems a bit extreme now. It’s great to force folks to be efficient, but how about thinking efficiently for the entire day, not just in a 20 minute meeting.
People who know me will not see me as the most efficient person in the world, but I do juggle a lot and seem to keep everyone happy. Here is the number one suggestion. Pay attention to what you are doing at the time you are doing it. This doesn’t mean have tunnel vision because if you are a true multi-tasker you have to switch directions on a dime, but when you are on a call…really focus on that call so you can digest what it’s all about. If you are emailing someone try to direct your attention to the email and not what’s going on around you. Have you ever started an email, gone back to it, sent it and realized…yikes, I forgot something in it, or it just didn’t make sense? I have…and this is why I’ve adopted a new focus strategy.
This focus strategy also has me giving myself mid day milestones. I don’t say I need to speak with xx amount of people by the end of the day, I say I want this to happen before lunch. This is why I usually write my blogs during lunch while the rest of the team is out to lunch. I tell them it will be ready for discussion by the time they get back. This allows me to focus, uninterrupted, and gives me a clear deadline.
If you are sending out resumes or calling client companies or looking to re-focus your work strategy, break your day up in sections. Here is what we do…first of the morning email and new client contact by 9:30. New business/clear goal results before lunch. Back from lunch responses and settling back in by 1:30 and knock it out of the park with hitting your overall daily goals by the end of the day.
If you are working from home or out of work you will need to adjust your times because some people get to work much earlier than the standard 9am. If you hit the office at 6 I’m hoping you are more than settled in by 9:30! Of course a reward system like a coffee break or walk will give you the incentive you need to hit your goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself.
A solid focused effort each day should get you to your goals and if not…adjust your goals for the short term and work up to loftier goals.
So if you are reading this you are probably pretty tech savvy or you have a Linked In profile or at least have heard of Linkedin. If you haven’t, I’ll just simplify it and say it’s like a professional person’s Facebook.
But much like Facebook went from being for college kids to chat and connect about classes and socializing, now anyone who wants to connect with family and friends to stalk their every move can and has a profile (yes, I’m being overly dramatic…we know facebook is just to share pictures and business ideas.) Linkedin is becoming much the same.
It is definitely a great tool to keep in touch with past co-workers and network, but it’s fast becoming the tool of choice for many recruiters. Why is this a big deal? Well just like the binge drinking photos of you out with friends on the weekend, your Linkedin profile should be considered something that prospective employers will be viewing.
Much like a resume, if your Linkedin profile looks messy and convoluted then folks looking to hire you might just pass you by.
So make sure your titles are descriptive, your headline is inviting and you are open to connect with folks who could benefit from your connection today, and you might benefit tomorrow. Also, don’t forget to include some contact information!
Connect with us on social media for some exciting news early next month!
We had a great time meeting folks in Melville, NY this week at a career fair and it’s always an inspiration to see folks plugging away, keeping their chins up in a difficult economy. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying we should all commiserate. The economy is turning around nicely, but just not fast enough for some people.
To those who have been pounding the streets for some months, or maybe since 2010 without employment please don’t give up. Companies are hiring and we are there to help your resume, which is the first step in the right direction.
Your resume needs 3 components. It needs truth, compassion and appeal.
If you are speaking the truth on your resume you can hold your head high and tell a clean story. If you tell a truthful story you can tell it with conviction and compassion. If you show your true self in your resume and you deliver a passionate message make sure the message is getting through with visual appeal.
You can control all three of these components, but you might not have the knowledge of how to deliver visual appeal. Here are some helpful hints. Keep the formatting clean by lining things up. You would be surprised how many resumes I see where things just aren’t lined up. Keep all the components of the resume similar. We make all our section headings bold and all caps. Double check your resume to make sure yours are similarly formatted. Of course the content must make sense. Organize your thoughts in a way that you tell a story about each role and then make some bulleted highlights for each role.
Every resume is different, but like a book, has similar features. Just don’t let your story end up in the fiction section.
By now everyone is in full swing and back into work mode for the new year. On the staffing front things are moving quickly, but there is always one thing you should slow down and do…that’s your homework.
As a candidate you can get calls out of the blue from a resume you might have submitted months ago, but if you do a bit of homework each time you submit your resume this will help out for the out of the blue call. I know the nay-sayers are going to disagree with me. You want me to check out every single company I send my resume to when I send it in? To this I say…Absolutely!
If the role is a good enough fit for you to take the time and apply then why shouldn’t you be prepared for the conversations that you hope to have with the company? I’m not saying spend 30 minutes on each company, but 5 minutes of homework for each resume submitted could be just what you needed to push you over the edge on that call.
When you go to meet with them face to face you will surely want to do more background work on the history of the company and the direction they are heading in. If you do this homework it might lead you to some knowledge that could be a huge plus. Maybe you find out that they let people work from home or they have flexible work hours. Could be they have a great tuition reimbursement plan that lets you get that advanced degree, or even helps out with 401k match for your future retirement.
Companies do their due diligence on you, so do some homework on companies. It could just pay off!
I love the American Idol TV show. It makes me feel good that people who are talented, looking for guidance and a shot at a singing career have a platform, or quite literally a stage, to showcase their voices.
For years I have use American Idol as a way to describe how NOT to portray yourself as an appropriate candidate for a job and here is why.
Other blogs, sites and career coaches say you need to stand out from the crowd and not get lost. I say absolutely not! With more than 20 years as a hiring manager and recruiter and having been to many career fairs, job fairs and having spoken to and interviewed hundreds and hundreds of candidates, what stands out is normalcy.
On American Idol if you do a round off onto the stage, wear a glitzy hat, a fig leaf or walk in as a robot that will definitely get the attention of the judges, but not always good attention. (Read: the world is laughing at you, not with you). If you actually sang well then you wouldn’t have to try to stand out, but it’s a singing competition so at some point you are going to have to sing.
Candidates whose resume stands out are eventually going to have to interview, so don’t oversell yourself and don’t try to stand out. Everyone is going “out there”, so be normal! I‘m not saying be mundane or be average, but normal. This means no pictures on your resume and no sob stories in your cover letter.
The art of writing a resume can be daunting. The task of listening to folks critique your resume can be exhausting!
So I’m a weekend warrior when it comes to fixing things at my home. I’m handy, but I always like to get a second opinion if I’m tackling my task is the proper way. So I’m at one of the big box stores buying grout to re-grout my bathtub tiles and I asked a guy…is this the right stuff to use. In short he said, no, you need to take all of the grout out and totally do it this way. He basically wanted me to quit work for a week and take this up as my only responsibility and that just can’t happen, so I thanked him for his advice but proceeded to do what I knew I could handle in the weekend. The next day I went back to purchase the grout needed and asked another guy the same exact question. In short, he said…”what you’ve got in your hand will work just fine”. Thank you grout gods!
There are some hard and fast rules about absolute do’s and dont’s with resumes, but a resume is one of these things that most everyone seems to have an opinion on. If you take one persons advice you could end up changing things in a way that really just won’t work for you.
If your resume is so far off what is making you comfortable then don’t change it. Here are some actual situations clients have told me they have received as criticism on their resumes:
“Don’t put our GPA on your resume…you are just bragging.” No she isn’t. This young lady worked hard for her 3.87 GPA. And only having graduated 2 years ago. Keep it on! You just came across a jealous recruiter.
“Your font is too big.” 12 points is too big? Not in most people’s book. Much less than 10 pts is too small and 12 points is pretty standard. It fit nicely on 2 pages with 12 pts. Bad suggestion!
“With the time you took off you should do a functional resume”. Functional resume…Never!!! It only brings up questions of age and job gaps. I say face it head on! If a company thinks you have too many years of experience for them then you don’t want to work for them anyway. This person actually had taken a couple years off to care for a sick parent and get her parent’s affairs and estate in order. I suggested put that on the resume and let employers know the truth.
So who do you listen to?
The short answer is…yourself! But of course, if you need a second, unbiased and professional opinion, feel free to use our FREE Resume review service.
Primary time comes every four years, never fails. I have gotten used to the never-ending barrage of political commercials and fliers from every candidate under the sun, being a long time resident of New Hampshire.
It is overwhelming… One politician says, “vote for me because I like this,” and another says, “don’t vote for that person because he doesn’t believe this way”.
You have to look beyond what is on the surface and look to the character of the candidates. This is the same with resumes.
People offer differing opinions on the details like what bullets or font to use, or appropriate sized margins. But in the end, when a decision maker or gatekeeper looks at your resume, what shows through is your character and integrity.
I look for the same qualities in a job candidate’s resume as I do when considering a Political candidate, such as those running in the New Hampshire state primary. Does their resume show a clear message? Is it concise and easy to understand? A resume shouldn’t dance around issues and use lots of fluff words. Odd formatting is also something to avoid. Sure, it will make you stand out, but standing out isn’t always a good thing. (Insert political joke here…we couldn’t agree if we should go with Herman Cain or Howard Dean, but hopefully you are smiling with us). The person reading the resume will either loose interest or see through the effort to gain attention and this will have the opposite effect.
Try to evoke the great political leaders of the past with your resume. Try to “be the change you wish to see in your resume” and “ask not what your resume can do for you but what you can do for your resume”.
OK, you get the point by now and we are happy political season is over for some months here in New Hampshire!
Best for a successful 2012!
Brandon Schofield Co-Founder – Night and Day Resume
When I speak to clients that use a resume template they usually understand why my suggestions will make their resume better, but they don’t understand why the resume template that they used failed them so badly.
The short answer is, a resume template is a guideline, but many people use it as a hard and fast rule.
If I tell you to go west from Virginia Beach and tell you to meet me in San Francisco, I can guarantee that if you follow a GPS, it is going to at some point ask you to take a road that goes North or South and not West. If you take my directions to go West as a hard and fast rule, then you are going to have to break that rule to get where you are going.
Resume templates are much the same. They are trying to guide you in the right direction, but you need to understand when you might need to change directions to make your resume what it truly needs to be, and that is an honest reflection of your educational, professional and personal experience.
If you use a template you also want to consider that applicant tracking systems might not parse the header and footer, which usually contains your contact information, so do away with headers and footers. If you really want your contact info on all pages then take the extra minute and cut and paste it onto each page.