Anyone Can Write a Resume (Sorry – Time to Rant)

A past client called me this week. She had hired me to write her resume 10 years ago and now wanted an update. We discussed her work history for the past 10 years, what her current goals were, and how resume writing strategies had changed over the past decade. Then I gave her a quote on the resume face-lift she needed. She was speechless! She just couldn't understand how my prices could have gone up in 10 years.

Considering that I had started writing resumes professionally 11 years ago, I'm surprised she couldn't grasp that my knowledge and expertise had grown to warrant the price increase – not to mention that prices for everything else have increased in 10 years. The resumes I write today are better and more powerful for my clients than the ones I wrote as a "newbie." But when a person has something fixed in their mind, they usually aren't open to other possibilities. How human nature resists change!

Anyway, my past client said she'd work on her resume herself, just adding verbiage to the one I had created for her in 2000. That's fine, but my amazement grew when she said, "After all, anyone can write a resume." Goodness, I'm totally baffled when people don't appreciate the study, practice and dedication that go into becoming a professional resume writer. No, not just anyone can do it, no more than "just anyone" can build a profitable business, fly an airplane, speak Chinese or transplant a kidney. Skills are learned. It takes time to become proficient in any occupation, including resume writing.

Job seekers in job search mode for any number of weeks know what I'm talking about. If "just anyone" could do it, there wouldn't be unemployment! Job seekers must prove their skills and abilities to land a job. Savvy job seekers know that a professional resume can open doors for them and get them interviews. And that's the way it should be. Professional resume writing is a profession – those who use the service will usually agree. The service exists to help those wanting a way to stand out among their competition – to move closer to their next job – to give them an edge in the job search game.

Thanks for listening to my rant. I feel a lot better getting this off my chest!

Wishing you career success in 2010,

Meg

The Art of Being Gracious: Much Needed in Today’s Job Search

"Being gracious in life will carry you far," espoused Ted Kooser, a Pulitzer Prize winner who served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004 – 2006. When my son graduated from college in 2004, I had the honor of listening to this wise man deliver the keynote address at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Speaking to the graduates, he assured them that his words would be brief and forgave them in advance if they didn't remember much of his speech. Attracted to the speaking manner of this 35-year-career insurance man turned poet, I hurriedly reached for a scrap of paper to scribble a few notes. I felt that I was about to hear a great speech, and I did.

Kooser shared with the graduates a gem of wisdom that all job seekers would be well advised to follow. He said that when these young people left with their diploma in hand, they needed only one other thing to enter the world – a box of blank thank you notes. Yes, they needed thank you notes to acknowledge their graduation gifts, but much more than that, they would need thank you notes throughout life's journey, especially throughout their careers.

While in a job search, expressing your thanks is critical. Besides demonstrating good manners, it can keep your name and face in the forefront. Of course, the most obvious time to send a formal thank you is following a job interview – even a not-so-good interview. But there are other times when a thank you is not only good manners, but also an important career strategy:

  • You receive a referral from a networking contact / colleague / business associate – send a thank you note to show your appreciation, or sending a token thank you gift is even better.
  • You ask a colleague / peer / VIP for assistance or advice – send a thank you with a brief follow-up as to how the advice helped you.
  • You work with a recruiter who refers you to an interview with an employer – send a thank you note that will help keep your name on the recruiter's desk.
  • You get a rejection letter from an employer – send a thank you letter thanking him again for the opportunity to interview, and let him know that you would still like to work for him someday.
  • You land the job – send a thank you to each of your references no matter how many times they were or were not contacted by your prospective employers.
  • You land the job – send a thank you note to each networking contact with whom you connected throughout your job search, even if you've already thanked them in some way.
  • You land the job – send a thank you letter to your new employer reiterating the terms of your new position. This confirmation may serve you well in the future.

One debate around thank you letters centers on email vs. direct mail. I equate direct-mailed letters and cards with being gracious; email with being perfunctory. You decide how much regard you want your message to express. Make it personal and you'll make it memorable.

I'm sure you can think of more times when saying "thank you" is a good idea. I'd love to receive your comments. In conclusion, I just want to say, "Thank you," for reading my blog!

P. S. Within the past four months my son was one of nine candidates hired out of 300 applicants. Having been laid off for 10 months, he really needed this job. I wonder if his thank you note – that he hand carried to HR following his interview - had any influence in his being hired. Hmmm…

Wishing you much career success in 2010!

Meg

SPECIAL NOTE: I am honored to be a member of the Career Collective, a group of career experts who will each month share their advice and tips to enhance the management of your career. Please link to their blog posts below. Your comments are invited and appreciated. And follow our hashtag #careercollective on Twitter:

Career-Collective-original-small@MartinBuckland, Elite Resumes,  Career Trends and Transition 2010

@heathermundell, life@work, Kaizen and the Art of Your Job Search

@barbarasafani, Career Solvers, Looking Into the 2010 Careers Crystal Ball

@resumeservice, Resume Writing Blog, The Resume and Your Social Media Job Search Campaign

@kat_hansen, Quintessential Resumes and Cover Letters Tips Blog, New Year: Time to Assess Yourself and Your Career

@keppie_careers, Keppie Careers, Help for job seekers in a rut

@heatherhuhman, HeatherHuhman.com, Job seekers: 5 tips for making the most of 2010

@DawnBugni, The Write Solution, Ya, but

@ErinKennedyCPRW, Professional Resume Services, Advice to Job Seekers in 2010–learn Yoga?

@Chandlee, The Emerging Professional Blog, Starfish, JobAngels, and Making a Difference

@ValueIntoWords, Career Trend, Is Your Job Search Strategy a Snore?

@debrawheatman, Resumes Done Write, Making the most of a new year

@walterakana, Threshold Consulting, Starting anew – tips for truly managing your career

@careersherpa, Hannah Morgan: Career Sherpa, The Year of the Tiger

@WorkWithIllness, WorkingWithIllness.com, Dogs Can Do It, Can You?

@JobHuntOrg, Job-Hunt.org, Lifelong Learning for Career Security

@AndyInNaples, Career Success, What Are You Getting Better At? Make This the Year You Become the Best You Can Be!

@GLHoffman, What Would Dad Say, A Flash of the Blindly Obvious

@GayleHoward, The Executive Brand Blog, How are those New Year's Resolutions Panning Out?

Jump-start Your 2010 Job Search with 7 New Year’s Resolutions

It's that time again – the end of one year and the beginning of another. Many make New Year's Resolutions fully intending to keep them, but seldom do. Whether it's to lose weight, save more money, be nicer to in-laws, spend more time with your kids — speaking your intention is only the initial step to success. Creating a plan and then working it will bring you much closer.

This is particularly true when it comes to your job search. If you've been out of work or laid off for any amount of time, overwhelm and apathy may have set in. Yes, it's difficult – very difficult – to keep going. Rejection is the most painful emotion to feel, even when you try so hard not to take it personally. Now, more than ever, you need a job search buddy to keep you motivated and moving forward.

Hopefully, you took some time off during the holidays to focus on YOU and your self-care. You'll need every ounce of this renewable energy as you renew your job search in January.

To help boost your job search as we enter 2010, I've made a list of recommended New Year's Resolutions. Not in any particular order, each offers its own importance to assist you.

  • I will make it easy for recruiters to find me.Recruiters work for their client companies – not you – and few appreciate your seeking them. However, when they need qualified candidates, they want them NOW. So, facilitate their need by maintaining high visibility on the Internet. Many recruiters claim that LinkedIn is the first place they look – how findable are you there? Yes, your resume needs to be posted, but do you also participate in discussion groups related to your field?
  • I will spend no more than two hours per day in front of my computer. Get out of the house! Undoubtedly, you've heard that the majority of new jobs are gotten through networking. But beyond that, you must keep your social skills fresh while building and maintaining professional relationships. It's amazing how one's perspective can improve just by interacting with fellow human beings.
  • I will give before taking. While networking, offer your help to fellow job seekers. Volunteer at food pantries or church. Just the act of giving will make you feel valued again. This will enhance your self-confidence and get you going again in the job market.
  • I will devote at least one hour per day to self-care.Keep your mind smart and your boday toned with exercise. Reward yourself for any job search success, no matter how small, by reading a chapter in that novel you're enjoying or watching a TV program that lets you briefly escape. Better yet, read your kids a story or have a late candlelight dinner at home with your partner (after the kids are in bed).
  • I will invest time (and money) into perfecting my resume. Your resume must be PERFECT to stand out above your competition. Does yours do that? Does your resume brand you according the position you seek? A professionally written resume can get your foot in the door. Can't afford it? Just look at what percentage of your first year's income it will be to hire a professional resume writer. How can you NOT afford it?
  • I will get support to stay motivated in my job search. You need a job search partner with no vested interest in the outcome of your job search. Yes, a career coach can help, not only with keeping you motivated, but also providing job search resources, tips, and strategies. Slash your job search time when you invest in a career coach.
  • I will get over my Internet phobias. Hard to believe that in the 21st century there are still job seekers with no home email accounts, let alone LinkedIn, Twitter, or blogging savvy. But there are! If employed, PLEASE don't use your work email for job search purposes. This is so wrong on so many levels. Get up to speed on critical Internet applications (job search and others) – employers will assess your value to them accordingly.

While writing these resolutions, I see that there are so many more that could be added. What are your comments? What do you consider to be the most important New Year's Resolutions for job seekers?

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Wishing You Job Search Success and a Happy New Year!

Meg

 

 

The Gift Every Laid Off Job Seeker Needs

If you use the Internet for any reason these days (like a job search?), you can’t help but notice all the advice swirling around on how to capitalize on this holiday season for your job search.

Sure, you can find all kinds of networking events to attend – professional and personal; some employers may still be hiring this year and you don’t want to miss out, so submit that resume now; stay up-to-date on your LinkedIn discussions and professional Tweets; research new industries that may get government grants in 2010 and will need to hire, so be ready – and on and on. Getting dizzy? I know I am just watching these info clouds race by – and as a career coach, I’ve been spouting off some these things myself!

But let’s get real. What’s most important right now?

Of course, paying the bills and putting food on the table take priority. Hopefully, you’re still able to do that. Some traditional, seasonal temporary jobs are still available (e.g., UPS) if you hurry. But if you are getting by – however weak you’re safety net is – I suggest taking a break from full time job search this month.

“Whoa! What’s wrong with her?” I can hear you all say. Pleeeez, I’m not advocating total irresponsibility here, just taking a break. If you’ve been laid off for any period of time, you are fully aware of how all the money matters pile up. Either you’re staying on top of it now or you’re not. A one-month job search break is probably not going to make a big difference. So stop worrying, OK?

Instead of busting your chops on your job search during this traditional month of giving, devote the time to self-care – give to yourself!

I recommend spending this month renewing your energy and your spirit. Get reacquainted with who you are as a person. Discover what it is about life that you love. Engage in the activities that will help you like yourself better, build your self-confidence, and strengthen your resolve to attack this job search process again in January – full steam ahead!

Mindful of cost, here’s a brief self-care list to get you started. But don’t just use mine – make your own. Self-care is only meaningful if done on your terms – do stretch a little, please:

  1. Read that book you’ve wanted to open, but just couldn’t find the time. Use your public library instead of a bookstore to find it.
  2. Call a friend and set a date to meet for coffee. Promise yourself you won’t mention your job search (good or bad) at any time while you’re together.
  3. Schedule time with your partner to play – you fill in the “how.” Again, no job search talk allowed. Give all your attention to him/her unconditionally.
  4. Find a new place to walk your dog or jog – even if you have to drive a few miles to get there. The new sights and sounds will open your mind to nature’s gifts to you.
  5. Listen – really listen – to your children as they share their life stories. See them in a new light as real people, not just as your kids. Amazing people, aren’t they?
  6. Start a journal of your thoughts, feelings, hopes, and dreams. No, this isn’t corny. Once on paper things take on a new perspective. You don’t have to share this with anyone.
  7. Sing songs in the shower or car – who cares if someone hears you? Belt them out!
  8. Seek out opportunities for belly laughs – those uncontrollable, hard-to-breathe, tears-in-the-eyes kind. They are so soul cleansing and make you feel truly alive.
  9. Befriend someone less fortunate than you. Give something small to make them feel appreciated. Yes, believe it or not, there are people worse off than you. (Even a canned item to the food pantry can uplift you in the spirit of giving.)
  10. Attend the worship services of your choice and enjoy being part of a community that shares its spirituality.
  11. Invite a gathering of friends to celebrate the holidays with you – potluck style and no gifts.

I hope my list helps you get going. Just remember, your goal is to enrich yourself by giving non-materially to you as well as to others. If you really can’t let go of your job search for the entire month, try doing so for a couple of weeks. Believe me, the shift in your focus will do wonders for healing your mojo, rebuilding your self-esteem, and getting you motivated for tackling the new year’s challenges, whatever they may be.

SPECIAL NOTE: I am honored to be a member of the Career Collective, a group of career experts who will each month share their advice and tips to enhance the management of your career. Please link to their blog posts below. And follow our hashtag #careercollective on Twitter:

Career-Collective (3)

 

 

@MartinBuckland, Elite Resumes, "Season’s Greetings and your Job Search”

@GayleHoward, The Executive Brand, It's Christmas: And a ho-ho-ho-hum?" 

@KCCareerCoach, Career Chaos, “The Gift Every Laid Off Job Seeker Needs"

@resumeservice, Resume Writing Blog,Holiday Resume Sparkle: Outshine the New Year Job-Search Mob

@heathermundell, life@work, “Have a Holly Jolly Job Search”

@sweetcareers,Sweet Careers, “Holiday Job Search Tips for College Students 2009″

@careersherpa, Hannah Morgan: Career Sherpa, “Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Kwanzaa Cheers”

@careerealism, CAREEREALISM.com, “Holiday Tip for Job Seekers: 4 Ways to Impress Others with Your Professionalism”

@heatherhuhman, HeatherHuhman.com, “4 Tips for Making the Most of Holiday Job Hunting”

@LaurieBerenson, Sterling Career Concepts, Three Resolutions to Take It Up a Notch”

@KatCareerGal, Quintessential Resumes and Cover Letters Tips Blog, “Avoiding the Holiday Blues in Your Job Search”

@WorkWithIllness, WorkingWithillness.com, Avoid this Minefield: No Holiday Here!”

@DawnBugni, “The Write Solution Could that sound really be opportunity? During the Holidays?”

@andyinnaples, “Shift Your Focus to the Highest Impact Job Search Activities During the Holidays to Leverage Your Time”

@erinkennedycprw, Professional Resume Services, How to keep up the Job Hunt during the Holidays”

@keppie_careers, Keppie Careers, “Four tips for effective networking follow-up for the holidays and the rest of the year”

@ValueIntoWords, Career Trend, “Navigating the Mistle Toe of Job Search”

@GLHoffman, What Would Dad Say, “Merry Christmas! Can I Buy You Coffee to Talk About Me?”

@BarbaraSafani, Career Solvers, “Holiday Networking Can Facilitate New Year Opportunities”

@expatcoachmegan, Career By Choice Blog, “Expat Networking: Holidays Are a Great Time to Nurture and Grow Your Network”

@chandlee, The Emerging Professional Blog, “Footprints & Associations: Job Search Tips for the Holidays”

@JobHuntOrg, Job-Hunt.org, "(Holiday) Party Your Way to a New Job"

TOP 5 INTERNET JOB SEARCH TIPS FOR THE 21ST CENTURY

Gone are the newspaper classified ads – so we go to the Internet to look for jobs. How you use the Internet will impact your success in landing your next position. While a new medium for many job seekers, the Internet should not scare you. Many reputable businesses operate online. As you conduct your job search, it’s important to remember that you are CEO of Me, Inc. and responsible for your own success. The job search process is a lot like marketing and sales – your resume is your marketing brochure representing your brand and your job interview is your sales presentation. You are your own product. And job search success depends on how well you connect with everyone..  
 Connect

  1. Create an eye-catching, professional LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com) profile with industry specific keywords to boost your findings in the search engines. Invite people to join your network. Post your resume on this website.
  2. Join industry/role specific LinkedIn groups as well as general LinkedIn networking groups in your city. Build your visibility inside these groups by participating in discussions and posting your own questions. Showcase your expertise and make yourself a “go-to” person.
  3. Start your own blog where you demonstrate your expertise and share good resources with others in your industry. Develop a blog theme and stick to it. Again, make your blog keyword rich for find-ability purposes.
  4. Learn how to use Twitter (www.twitter.com) professionally. Set up an account and post several times a day. Ensure your tweets show up on your blog and LinkedIn profile. Cross-promotion enhances online visibility. Tweets need to be about 80% career-related and 20% personal to show your human side – beware of your digital dirt!
  5. Apply for jobs on the job boards, but also make a list of jobs that have recently closed for applications. In six weeks, send your resume to these companies along with a cover letter commenting that you appreciate that this position has already closed, you hope the new hire is working out, but if not, here’s your resume to review. Track the responses your get.

BONUS TIP: When looking online for professional career services (resume writing, career coaching, etc.), “shop” no more than three businesses at one time – too many will just confuse you. Request free phone consultations and references – your comfort and others’ satisfaction should figure highly into your decision of choice, more so than the final cost. Cheaper is usually not better. Ask yourself, “Who will help me the most for what I need?”

Now, go make connections! Get that job you want!

HOLDING A GRUDGE AGAINST YOUR PAST EMPLOYER?

If you have a grudge against your former employer, you’re just being human. Of course, you want to blame someone for being laid off – it wasn’t your fault, right? Maybe – maybe not.

While you may not be fully responsible for your job loss, you may own a piece of it. If so, it’s important to accept whatever you could have done differently and change your behavior before you move on to your next position. What part of your layoff could you possibly own? Most layoffs are decided after management rate employees for certain factors: productivity, interpersonal relations with boss and co-workers, job knowledge and skills, job apathy vs. creativity – and a few other things probably beyond your control. Any of these resonate with you?

Whenever a person does the same job for a few years, it’s easy to start approaching it in a routine way. Apathy can replace creativity and productivity can suffer. The boss who hired you may leave and his replacement is someone whom you find difficult to get along with. If you don’t keep training and learning, your job can outgrow you – not something you want to happen, but what have you done to prevent it?

Before you launch your next job search, do an honest self-assessment. Choose which behavior(s) you want to change – and then do it! If you don’t change now, you will probably repeat your negative ways and possibly set yourself up to be laid off again. Yes, I said laid off again – if you blatantly mess up, you could even be fired instead.

When it comes to that grudge you hold against your past employer for laying you off, is your desire for revenge really valid? And even if you still feel it is, you need give it up and stop living in the past. Put all your energy into fine-tuning and improving your work attitude and skills so you are more than ready when opportunity puts itself in your way. The past doesn’t matter anymore. Focus on the present with an eye to the future to move forward self-confidently with a positive attitude.

FIND YOUR “JOY BUDDY” FOR JOB SEARCH MOTIVATION

Do you struggle with finding your creativity when exploring new career possibilities? Some of my career coaching clients do. They let the overwhelm of money worries, coupled with the facts and fears brought on by high unemployment rates, get in their way of productive introspection and career clarification.

As a dog lover living with three rescued canines (I only get rescued dogs – but that's for another post), I regularly watch Cesar Milan's "Dog Whisperer" TV show. One of his frequent lessons is to explain that dogs live in the present, not the past or the future. We can all benefit from living in the present. Instead of dwelling on the past (why was I laid off?) or fearing the future (I'll be living on the street with a tin cup in a year), job seekers can help themselves more by focusing on the present.

"Present" questions to ask yourself:

  • What are my core values and why are they important to my career?
  • What makes me want to get up in the morning and go to work?
  • What job skills am I good at AND love to use?

If you let your emotions, or fears of the past or future, cripple your creativity, you will freeze your ability to act. And you have to act to change your job situation for the better!

I found an inspirational article that I recommend to anyone trapped by their worries: "How to squash worry and grab more happiness out of life in tough times". Please read it and discover things you can do today to get your job search back on track once you make room for creativity to flourish again. And while you're at it, find a "joy buddy" – dogs make great "joy buddies," by the way.

FINDING YOUR “MOJO” AFTER A LAYOFF

JobActionDay2009Logo (2)

NOTE: Job Action Day was initiated by Quintessential Careers. Look for other career-related blogs that display the above logo. Hope you enjoy my contribution.

Wonder where your MOJO went?

It seems like every day I pick up my phone to hear a job seeker cry, “Help! I feel so lost. The layoff crushed my self-esteem and I can’t find the energy to start looking for a new job. What can I do?” My first response is “Breathe!” Then, “Please tell me your story.”

Usually the layoff was not your fault. However, knowing that fact may not provide comfort if your identity is tied up in your career. Please try to remember that the layoff wasn’t personal – chances are you were doing a good job. The company just needed to cut back. To conduct an empowered job search, begin by accumulating baby-step wins to enhance your self-esteem. Don’t try to recover your “mojo” in one giant leap.

With unemployment hovering around 10%, we tend to forget that 90% of the country is still employed. Furthermore, the “10%” includes all occupations in all industries. Experienced workers with college degrees enjoy a lower unemployment rate. Many of us are looking at the glass as 10% empty instead of 90-95% full!

Panic and self-doubt can dominate a job search when fed by the media. So tune out and turn off the news! Beware of all the advice you get from well-meaning friends and family. Don’t let yourself be influenced by matters beyond your control. Yes, I said, “control.” There are still ways to control your job search and career.

Begin by taking inventory of your skills, talents, knowledge, interests, experience – and toss in a healthy dose of values, those things that are must-haves in your life. Do online and off line research to find the fields that ARE hiring. Determine how your “best stuff” can be a match for open job opportunities. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Actually, it’s a lot of work – which is why you need to make looking for a job a full time job in itself. Scheduling job search tasks in a daily planner can help you stay on track – make appointments with yourself and keep them.

Surprisingly, the most difficult task is the research. (You thought I was going to say networking, didn’t you? Gotcha!) Research is where many job seekers get stuck. They try to stay with what they are familiar with instead of branching out. For example, if you’ve been part of the corporate scene all of your life, have you even considered exploring federal government work? Take a spin around www.usajobs.gov and see if anything there catches your eye. At last glance, this site had over 32,000 government jobs posted on it. Don’t let the government application process discourage you. It’s somewhat different from the process you’re familiar with, but it is doable.

As part of your research, try to find someone to talk to who is actually doing (or has done) what interests you. It helps to get the scoop first hand. LinkedIn, where you should already have a robust profile, is a good place to make these connections. (Did you know that this web site is where recruiters go first when looking for candidates?) LinkedIn is also best web site for online networking. (Yes, networking IS a critical part of the job search success equation.)

Finding “anything, just anything” isn’t the best solution to getting reemployed. While you may need to take on a temporary position for a little while, hold out for the permanent job that will challenge your mind and feed your soul. Yes, it’s a jungle out there, but it’s still possible to land on your feet when you trust your instincts and know you deserve the best.

Now, go get your MOJO back!

SPECIAL NOTE: I am honored to be a member of the Career Collective, a group of career experts who will each month share their advice and tips to enhance the management of your career. Please link to their blog posts below. And follow our hashtag #careercollective on Twitter:

Debra Wheatman: Plan B from outer space; or what do you have in case your first plan doesn't work out

Heather Mundell: Green Jobs – What They Are and How to Find Them

Erin Kennedy: Cutting Edge Job Search Blueprint

Gayle Howard: The Enlightened Jobseeker

Grace Kutney, Securing Your Career While Navigating the Winds of Change

Hannah Morgan: Career Sherpa Why Our Job Search Advice is the Same but Different

Heather R. Huhman: Take Action: 10 Steps for Landing an Entry-Level Job

Laurie Berenson: Making lemonade out of lemons: Turn unemployment into entrepreneurship

Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter: You Can Thrive In, Not Just Survive, an Economic Slogging

Rosalind Joffe: Preparedness: It's Not Just for Boyscouts

Rosa E. Vargas: Are You Evolving Into The In-Demand Professional of Tomorrow?

Dawn Bugni: Your network IS your net worth

Miriam Salpeter: Optimize your job hunt for today's economy

Barbara Safani: Where the Jobs Are: 2009 and Beyond

GL Hoffman: The Life of An Entrepreneur: Is It for You?

Katharine Hansen: Job Action Day 09: His Resume Savvy Helped New Career Rise from Layoff Ashes