Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Truth You Need to Know but May Not Want to Hear

Anyone who is in the current job market will agree it is not the job market it used to be. It is harder to find a job and there is a totally different way to do so. It is taking longer to find a job than in previous years. The internet and the social networks have also added new dimensions to the job search process. There is one more truth of the job market that you need to know but may not want to hear. That truth is that your next job will not be your last; you will be on the job market again. You didn’t ask that the market change in this way – it just did. You have to know that the market has changed in this way and you have to adapt.

People who have heard me speak know I use analogies, comparisons to things, to make my point visual and easier to understand. My analogy for the truth that your next job is not your last is the evolution of the home telephone.

For those who are from the Baby Boomer and Echo Boomer generations, we are familiar with a home phone that was hard-wired to the house. A telephone service person had to come to install or replace the phone since it required wiring expertise. If you ripped the phone from the wall, you left a hole and a mess with loose hanging wires.

Today the phones have modular plugs that make it easy to cleanly remove the phone and plug it into another modular phone outlet. The relationship between the employer and the employee has changed in the same way.

The Old Way

Baby Boomers and earlier generations plugged into a company and worked at the company for many years. Although that may not be the only company they worked for, employees gave loyalty to the company and expected loyalty and longevity in return. The employee felt assured of keeping the job in exchange for good performance and hard work.

Hiring managers of those days looked down on anyone who changed jobs frequently. These people were called job hoppers and were not valued. The thought of hiring managers was that once the company hired and trained the job hopping employee, the employee would leave. The company would not benefit from the expense of the orientation and training the company invested in the employee.

The New Way

Fast forward to today. Regardless of how well you perform and how long you have been with the company, companies are cutting employees, as talented, as hardworking, and as loyal as you. Today you need to be more like the modular phone. When you plug into a company, plug in and perform well and at the right time, their decision or yours, unplug cleanly and move on. Know that there is no shame in being unemployed.

To be successful in this new market there are things that you need to do to succeed.

1) Know how to navigate in the new job market. Be good at finding that next job. If you are struggling now, get help to learn how to do it better.

2) Once you are employed there are actions you need to take to be ready for the next time. (I will write an article on this topic in the near future.)

3) Share this information with friends and family who are not familiar with the changes to the job market. Help them understand the major transformations that occurred to create the job market as it is today.

Whether you want to hear it or not, the job market has changed and your next job will not be your last. Everyone will be on the job market again. Adapt by learning to do it right.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Resume Tune Up

Resume Tune Up
Like your car, it is always wise to review your resume to see if it can be tuned up for better performance. Let’s look at a checklist for the various parts of the resume and make sure they are in peak performance.

Letterhead

The name / address section is called letterhead because it is the letterhead for your stationery. This same letterhead should be used at the top of your cover letter, your reference list, and all career correspondences to give you a professional look. Here are a few points to check about your letterhead.

1. Your name should be in a larger font than the rest of the header

2. Your entire letterhead should not be the smallest font on the page or squeezed up at the top making it look like an afterthought. You want the reader to see and remember your name

3. You do not need to preface your e-mail address with “email:” The format will indicate that.

4. Simplify things for the letterhead and for the hiring manger by listing only one phone number.

5. Have a professional and individual (versus a family or couple) e-mail address. Using your college mascot name in the e-mail address indicates your school spirit but is not professional.

Top Third of the 1st Page

The top third of the first page of the resume is the most important. The typical reader of a resume will spend only seconds looking at your resume before deciding what to do with it - read on or discard. You want to be sure your most important skills, abilities, and accomplishments are at least mentioned in this section. Therefore, the combination resume format is recommended over the old chronological format. (See the link at the bottom of this article for an example of the combination resume format.)

1. A career summary section is more powerful and unique than an objectives statement. The typical objective is so vague that anyone could write the same statement, where as a career summary statement is uniquely you.

2. Use of category headers will help the reader understand how this section is formatted.

3. Do not use blocks of text in this section. Points should be concise. Use bullet points where possible.

Career History

A combination resume is recommended because it provides the important points in the most important section of the resume and the career history most recruiters and hiring managers like to see.

1. If you have worked several positions for the same company, be sure the formatting clearly indicates it. The start and end date at the company should be placed on the line with the company name and position start and end dates can be placed on the line with the position.

2. Under each position and in paragraph format, use no more than 5 lines to provide the job description. This description should define the role for anyone who serves in that position.

3. Under each position use bullets to list the accomplishments you had in the position; i.e. what you brought to the job.

a. Quantify your accomplishments as much as possible; ex. Saved the company 120K

b. Sort your accomplishments in priority order. This is important for two reasons 1) in case the reader stops reading them, they have read the most important accomplishments first 2) when you go to trim your resume to make room for your new accomplishments, you can trim from the bottom.

4. Put the results first. We have been told to put power verbs up front and to be consistent with tense. We have also been told to answer interview questions in the format situation / task, actions, and results. In the accomplishment section, put the results first. Here is an example of an accomplishment statement before and after applying this principle.

Before:

Automated system installation process for a saving of $120,000 for a rollout schedule of 120 systems.

After:

Saved $120K by automating the system installation process for a rollout of 120 systems

5. Be 100% consistent with formatting. Start at the bottom and read up checking everything including the spacing around the dash in your dates, fonts, commas, capitalizations, etc.

6. If you are changing careers and not all previous positions are relevant to the job you are seeking, consider using Relevant Experience and Other Experience groupings of your job history.

7. Spell out acronyms with the first use. This not only helps the person reviewing your resume but also increases your chances of getting picked up in a keyword search.

Cut the Extras

There are sections on the old resume format that are no longer needed. These should be excluded from the new resume format.

1. References Available Upon Request.

2. Hobbies and Interests

3. Non relevant certificates

The File Name

People use all kinds of file names for attaching resumes. In one case a person used a name that was not her name, the position, nor the word “resume”. It is still a mystery how the person came up with the name.

1. The name should include your name and preferably the position you seek. Do not name the file Resume.doc

2. Minimize using any other items in your file name such as the date or version. Store old resumes in another folder on your PC and rename them instead of renaming your current version.

Running your resume through this tune-up checklist may help increase your performance.

For a sample of a combination resume format that can be used for any industry go to: http://technicaljobsearch.com/resumes/combination.shtml

Monday, July 6, 2009

Metro ATL area: As Powerful as the Book of Lists....

What is as powerful as the Book of Lists yet smaller than a magazine, connects you with more people who are employed yet only $10 (plus shipping)?

It's The Atlanta Business Chronicle (ABC) Book of Organizations. Unlike the Book of Lists, the Book of Organizations was included as an insert in an April edition of the ABC. The Book of Organizations compiles almost 100% of the industry and interest networking groups in the Metro ATL area. Since networking is how over 85% of people find their next job, the Book of Organizations gives you a wide variety of networking opportunities to try.

For a copy of the Book of Organization, contact Quentin Wright in the ABC Circulation Dept. at 404-249-1010 or qwright@bizjournals.com.

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Judi Adams
RightChanges "The Affordable Job Search Coach "
www.RightChanges.BIZ
http://RightChangesJobSearchCoach.blogspot.com