Tag Archive | "resume"

Busted: Holiday Job Hunting Myths

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In the film, “Kramer versus Kramer,” Dustin Hoffman plays a desperate man.  Once a well-paid executive, he loses his job simultaneous to his wife’s unexpected filing for divorce and suit for custody of their only child.   She’ll get custody if he doesn’t prove that he can support his kid; he needs to earn a paycheck, and soon.  Smack in the middle of the holiday season, he discovers an opening in a large, reputable firm and attempts to apply for the position. Initially, he’s rebuffed by the company’s reps. They advise him that it’s Christmastime, when no firm hires and no firm grants interviews.

Driven and adamant, Hoffman’s character crashes the office party at the firm in question.  He delivers his resume and portfolio, telling the execs that his application for employment is good for 24 hours only; that they must “take it or leave it.”  Stunned by his nerve and impressed with his credentials, the employers offer him the job on the spot!

While we’re not suggesting that you crash a potential employer’s Christmas, Chanukah, or New Year’s Eve fete, we’ve offered this memorable scene from the film for a reason.  It illustrates the myth that too many job seekers labor beneath, the myth that employers do not and will not increase the size of their workforce during the weeks between Thanksgiving and the first of the following year.

Job hopefuls have bought into this myth for too long.  They’ve been told that companies are bogged down with end-of-year reconciliation and reporting of finances; they’ve been told that projects often wind down before the end of the year.  Although some of this information may be true, it is not true of every company, every department, and every job category/function.

Much like the human race, the job market is continually evolving.  Many of the hard and fast rules that once served as guidelines no longer hold true.  What is true, however, is that employers are often under the gun, at the end of the year, to fill their job requisitions (openings for positions via qualified candidates).

When the New Year kicks in, it often does so with new budgetary constraints — constraints that can impact the hiring process.  The job requisitions that were open before December 31, 2011, for example, may be closed come January 1, 2012.  Managers rush to fill those positions, because if they don’t, their departments will be understaffed and less productive in the coming year.

“Make hay while the sun shines” goes the old adage.  The sun is not shining upon this economy, by any means.  Why, then, reduce your chances of seeking gainful employment by buying into outdated, invalid myths about holiday hiring practices?   You can bet dollars to donuts that job hopefuls who are not clued into the truth will not be applying for jobs this holiday season.

So, get the jump on them.

Ensure that your resume and cover letter are compelling and truthful; ensure that they marry all the elements that employers currently demand with your specific skills and accomplishments.  And then, submit your career documents for those positions with which you are well suited.  Happy holidays, and happy job hunting!

Ch-ch-changes in Career Strategies

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David Bowie montage

Has it crossed your mind to wonder why contemporary legends David Bowie and Madonna are still holding their own quite nicely against their much younger, hipper musical counterparts?  Hint: both the Thin White Duke and the Material Girl are savvy business people as well as artists.  To retain their competitive edge in an industry whose consumers have an insatiable appetite for what is new and different, they have continually reinvented themselves.  Both have taken serious risks in keeping their material and stage personas if not completely fresh, then at least a bit out of the mainstream, using approaches that keep audiences coming back for more.   Thirty-five years after his glam-rock Scary Spiders from Mars days, Bowie is still a crafty, talented songwriter and a consummate performer with a very respectable following.  For her part, Madonna recently came off a tour touted to be the highest grossing ever by a single artist.  Not bad for a rocker in his ’60’s and a punk ballerina past the half-century mark.


What Bowie, Madonna, and others like them who thrive beyond the lifecycle of the typical entertainer understand is that each of them is not merely a performer but a brand.  Performers are usually renowned for a particular talent and that talent is customarily associated with a particular niche or genre within the entertainment industry.  One-dimensional in nature, they usually fall out of favor with the public as tastes change and audiences become enamored of newer, fresher performers – usually younger and perceived as more physically attractive as well.


Brands, on the other hand, are often multi-dimensional – encompassing multiple products appealing to diverse consumers and markets.  By introducing new products, they continually reinvent themselves, expand their market base, and appeal to new generations of consumers.  And therefore, brands have a level of permanency that individuals can rarely hope to achieve.  Consider such household names as Disney, Johnson & Johnson, Sony, Verizon, and Apple.  Although each gained notoriety for a particular product, they are all currently major enterprises with products and markets transcending the bounds of country, language, culture, and race.


If the music industry were a shriveling job market in which Bowie and Madonna scrambled for jobs, both artists would be employing and cultivating their unique brands to advance their careers.  And, so should you.


Now, if you’re wondering whether or not you already have a unique personal brand, answer the following question:  if a prospective employer “googled” your name, what would he or she discover?  If your answer is “nothing of significance,” “very little,” or “something embarrassing,” then you are among the 90+% of people who – whether or not currently employed – find themselves adrift in the churning seas of our current economic downturn without a lifeboat.  You need to begin developing your personal brand without delay.


So, what is a personal brand and how do you create it?  Your personal brand is simply a combination of your talent(s), style, and values; essentially, the composite of who you are as an employee, potential employee, or business partner.  For purposes of this article, I am going to assume that you already know these things.  Should you need to discover yourself, you will need to do a thorough, searching assessment of your talents and perhaps solicit the input of a career counselor, coach, or other objective party.


Again, assuming that you know what you have to offer in the workplace, the primary hurdle for most people is building market exposure for their unique personal brand.  Fortunately, the Internet provides many helpful tools to assist you in reaching your target audience.  Your message, however, must be created by you or a professional with whom you may work to craft it.


Components of your personal branding strategy will or may include – in no particular order – your resume and cover letter, email address, business card, portfolio, profiles on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, appearance, article marketing efforts, and blog or Website:


Use your resume and cover letter to create, via use of appropriate keywords and articulation of accomplishments, the best expression of you and what you have to offer a prospective employer.


If appropriate to your career, develop a portfolio – Web-based, print, or CD – providing more ample opportunity to display your talents or detail your achievements.


Create a professional email address and business card (yes, even if you are unemployed, you can and should create a card to distribute to networking contacts and prospective employers).


Use LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter as sites on which to create and publish professional profiles that will serve to advertise you and your talents to readers.


Writing and publication of articles on various articles boards (such as, EzineArticles or ArticlesBase) and/or on your own blog/Website will serve to build your authority as an expert in your particular field.


Finally, your wardrobe and personal appearance speak volumes about you.  Professional dress and bearing, in situations in which you are interviewing or networking, will go a long way in advancing your personal brand and prospects for achievement of career objectives.


So, as you see, there’s no need to don a silver jumpsuit or transform religious iconography into jewelry in order to stand out from the crowd of job seekers; just be cutting edge.  Use technology and simple personal branding strategies to your advantage in increasing your relevancy, and by inference, your value to prospective employers.

Seven Deadly Resume Sins

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Too often, an initial review of your resume by a prospective employer is more about uncovering liabilities and eliminating you from consideration than it is about identifying why you might be a highly qualified candidate for the particular opening.


For that reason, your resume should be constructed in a way that eliminates mention (if possible), camouflages, or mitigates the impact of such liabilities.  Let us consider some of the major liabilities of prospective job candidates and what might be done to minimize their effects.




If you are a seasoned employee, references to your age, including graduation dates and an employment history that extends beyond fifteen to twenty years, allow the individual reviewing your resume to establish a clear sense of your age (at least to the extent of calculating a minimum age).  While age discrimination is illegal, most employers view more youthful applicants as being more desirable for a variety of reasons.  Don’t give the prospective employer the opportunity to use your age against you.   Provide only enough information about yourself in your resume to interest the prospective employer in you and your qualifications.  Leave the remainder for discussion at the interview.


Current Unemployment


Current unemployment, no matter what the duration, is almost always viewed negatively by a prospective employer – the longer the period of unemployment, the greater the liability to the job candidate.  If you have been unemployed for more than a brief period of time, the potential employer can view your marketability as suspect, making the assumption that companies are unwilling to hire you for whatever reason.  Since most people (employers included) are influenced by the thinking of others, a job candidate unemployed for a prolonged period of time is viewed the same way as a house that has been on the market for an extended period – “there must be a problem.”  Avoid, if possible, putting a terminal date on your most recent employment, or prepare an alternative style resume that does not display so prominently your dates of employment.


Gaps in Employment


If your resume displays significant gaps between previous jobs, then your marketability and potential value come into question.  Either you are taking extended vacations between jobs or are having difficulties in finding new opportunities.  Neither of these scenarios enhances your image as a job candidate.  If you are displaying month and year dates on your resume, you may want to consider eliminating the months and using only the year dates.


Lack of Educational Credentials, Certifications, or Licenses


Depending upon the field you are targeting, you may be required to hold certain credentials.   If you do not possess these qualifications, you prospects for securing an interview for an available opening will be severely hampered.  If, nonetheless, you have done the job before or believe that you are in some other way qualified for the position, prepare a resume in a style that accentuates your experiences and qualifications.  If the issue is lack of a degree, a listing of professional development courses, seminars, and programs that you have completed may bolster your educational credentials.


Lack of Career Progression


Longevity within a company, highlighted by attainment of positions of increasing responsibility, is indicative of focus and drive on the part of the job candidate. Conversely, prolonged existence in a particular position depicts you as non-ambitious and/or ill qualified for promotion.  Often, candidates who have been with an organization for an extended period have, indeed, taken on more responsibility with no corresponding change in job title.  If that is the case, the increases in responsibility need to be incorporated into the resume to provide the prospective employer a more accurate picture of the candidate.


Too Many Employers


Although it is certainly possible that one might have valid reasons for changing jobs rapidly (employers going out of business, etc.), listing a number of employers within a short span of time on your resume is another reason why someone reviewing your resume might discard it, rather than contacting you to setup an interview.  Many employers perceive job-hoppers as individuals lacking the skills or emotional and psychological stability necessary to maintain employment.  If your resume lists a number of short-term employments, consider eliminating some of them.  Even if some gaps remain, the overall impression created by your resume will be more positive.


Incorrect Spelling, Grammar, and/or Punctuation


A single word misspelled on your resume can signify disaster for you.  We once had a client who, in rushing to prepare his own resume, intended to type the word “warehouse.”  The copy he handed to the potential employer actually read “whorehouse!”     Similarly, infractions of grammatical rules and improper punctuation, including capitalization and run-on sentences, can mean the difference between job interviews and a phone that does not ring.  Of all the potential liabilities, this is the easiest to correct.  Make sure you carefully review your resume and any other documents you send to employers.  A perfect resume dramatically enhances your potential for job-hunting success.

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