Tag Archive | "Resume"

Conquering Career Fairs

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Career fairs, though they’ve dwindled in proportion to the number of jobs, offer good opportunities to learn more about an industry, make some new friends and contacts, and maybe even get your foot in the door of a choice firm.

First, take some preparatory steps:

1. Do your homework. What industries will be represented? What skills are they looking for in an employee? What positions are open? If you’re interested in breaking into one specific field, get a handle on which relevant firms will be in attendance and tailor your resume to their needs. If your interest is more general, research companies that might be of interest, and tailor several resumes. Never go in cold; you won’t be able to fudge a conversation with a company rep when you haven’t a clue about the company itself.

2. Resumes. Tailor them to whichever firm you’re interested in. Once you’ve done your homework, you’ll know which skills to play up and which to bypass.

3. Draft a list of specific questions, so as not to waste the employer’s time. This will convey your courtesy and focus – two highly marketable traits. Additionally, ready some answers to general questions employers will expect you to answer. Think along the lines of:

  • “So, tell me about yourself.”
  • “What can you contribute to our company?”
  • “What makes you interested in this job?”

4. Dress nicely. Except perhaps for Major League franchises, no one wants to hire an adult in a baseball hat. Business attire is the way to go — clean and sharp. Try to look more like a professional than a college student. Leave the backpack at home and replace it with a portfolio, or even a briefcase, if you have one. Stock it with notepaper, pens, resumes, business cards and, if need be, work samples.

Once at the fair, employ all the stuff you’re supposed to employ in an interview. Be direct, give a good handshake and proffer a polished resume and cover letter. Sell yourself. Take notes on every conversation for future reference, and to keep all the representatives in order. In other words, do everything you can to stand out in the mind of the employer. This includes following up afterwards. Be sure to ask for contact information during the talk, and send a note to thank the employer for his/her time and to restate your interest in the job.

Resumes that Work Harder than You Do

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The resume must be carefully crafted to appeal to a specific audience, which may mean you will need to create several different versions.

Two Types of Resumes

Two common styles of resumes are reverse-chronological and functional.

  • Reverse-Chronological: In this resume, the job history is spelled out from the most recent job backward. Titles and organizations are emphasized, and duties and accomplishments within those jobs described. This format’s advantages are its emphasis on continuity and career growth. This style is best used when your career direction is clear and the job target is directly in line with your work history.
  • Functional: This format highlights major job function areas stressing skills and accomplishments, and allows you to organize them in an order that most supports your work objectives and job targets. Actual titles and work history are in a subordinate section. Try a functional resume format if you are changing occupations or launching your first job search without any direct experience in the field. In a functional resume you should feature three to four skill sets listed under separate headings. In each set describe skills and accomplishments.

Standard Categories on Your Resumes

Functional Resume Headings:

  • Administration
  • Public Relations
  • Communications
  • Environment
  • Community Affairs
  • Financial Analysis
  • Marketing
  • Strategic Planning/Management
  • Conflict Management
  • Health Care
  • Nutrition
  • Writing and Editing
  • Consulting
  • Journalism
  • Research
  • Organizational Development
  • Name, Address, Telephone and Email: This information is usually centered at the top of the page. The exception is if you give a school address and home address. In this case, center the name and put your addresses in the upper left and right corners.
  • Objective (recommended, but optional): Stating an objective on your resume entails giving a clear description of a particular title or occupational field that you want to pursue and the type of organization for which you would like to work. It can be a powerful tool to attract an employer’s attention. Do not include an objective if your resume is going to be stored online in a database such as Monster.com or in a college’s internal recruiting system.
  • Education: List your university degree(s), or expected degrees, and dates in reverse chronological order. Next, list your areas of concentration, academic honors, and any specific course work that may be of special interest to employers. Remember to include the city and state and year of graduation.
  • Work Experience: This section is usually the most important to an employer and should incorporate all experience; paid, unpaid, volunteer and extracurricular may be included. This is your chance to highlight the accomplishments you have achieved and the corresponding skills you can offer an employer. The detailing of functions performed and goals achieved is best accomplished by using action verbs. Electronic versions of your resume should be sent in Text-Only format. In this type of resume format you want to stress nouns that indicate departments, computer applications and any specialized areas of knowledge. Many companies use databases from which they retrieve resumes by searching key words such as “accounting,” “C++” and “financial analysis.”
  • Awards and Honors: These may be included in the education section; however, a separate category is a good way to outline academic or other scholarships, fellowships or prizes should you have many to list.
  • Technology: Technical skills that relate to your education and work can be listed in this section, (e.g., Lotus Notes, Microsoft Office, SPSS, reading blueprints and CAD/CAM).
  • Languages: If you are proficient in any foreign languages, list them in a separate category.
  • Publications (optional): This is your chance to highlight any research and writing. List publications by title, journal and date.
  • Extracurricular and Community Activities: Affiliations with well-known organizations often make a positive impression with potential employers. Leadership positions, initiation of new programs, athletic achievements, organization of student groups or unusual accomplishments can be listed.
  • Interests: If you have interests, sports, hobbies or activities that you think might make you more attractive or unique to employers, highlight them here. Resumes often look the same, but your interests can make you stand out.
  • “References Available Upon Request”: Do not include this tagline. It is assumed you will provide references.
  • Exclude: Height, weight, health, marital status, date of birth and references to religious or political groups.

A Dozen Tips for Writing Your Resume

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1. Don’t be vague, and be sure to customize your resume for each employer. The inability to do this online accounts for some of the low return rate for online applications. Anytime you try to do a one-size-fits-all approach (by agency, computer, or just passing a resume around an organization courtesy of a friend), you lose the all-important opportunity to craft the resume to fit a particular position.

2. Don’t be long-winded. Be pithy and keep it to one or two pages unless you want a job in academia, research or the arts.

3. Don’t confuse a resume and a curriculum vitae. The latter is for employers who will want to know all about what you’ve studied, taught, written, researched, exhibited. Resume readers want a quick summary of what you’ve done with just enough detail to let them know the depth of your skills. The rest they’ll find out in the interview. If you drown them in verbiage, you’ll never get to the interview.

4. Students and recent grads should highlight their studies. Put your education up top and include relevant courses.

5. Find out which skills the employer is seeking and be sure to showcase them. If you’re short on actual job experience, include a Highlights or Skills Summary section to editorialize about yourself a little.

6. Be clear about what you want. If you intend to be both a full-time student and a full-time employee, for instance, this might be a turnoff for some employers. You don’t want to waster their time — or yours.

7. Use verb phrases, not sentences. You’re not writing a school essay or an editorial for the local paper, so don’t fret about having complete sentences. Phrases such as these will work well for the purposes of a resume: “Conceived campaign for student elections,” “Created online student newspaper,” “Initiated weekly meetings for minority students.”

8. Use dates to show when you did things. Refrain from vague references such as “one year”.

9. Never overlook spelling errors or typos. That’s a one-way trip to the circular file. Check and recheck. Typos and spelling errors usually occur when you try to do something at the last minute, so always leave enough time.

10. Have an Experience section. For new grads without much work experience, this is preferable to having a section titled “Employment,” because you can include internships, class projects and independent study under the former, but not the latter.

11. Tailor the objective to a given position or leave it out altogether. Objectives are helpful when you’re trying to show the relationship between your skills and a particular position, but they merely annoy when they say inane things like “a challenging position suited to my education and skills.”

12. Don’t be a poet. Poets don’t write resumes; they write and rewrite poems and enter contests. It’s unlikely that flowery writing will serve you well on your resume.