Tag Archive | "resumes"

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!


The Black Cloud

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We all know someone who claims to have been born under a black cloud.  Bemoaning a universe out to get him, he yammers on about misfortunes great and small, including his aching back and the hair he was served along with his dinner.  What he fails to mention — indeed, what he fails to see — is that he’d lifted a fifty-pound carton in a manner designed to put him in traction, and chose to chow down in a notorious greasy spoon.  Such individuals are not cursed by unseen forces. They are self-destructive; they set themselves up for failure.  They do it in every aspect of their lives, including interviews.


Here are some of the behaviors they exhibit that give employers reasons not to hire them:


 1.     Lighting up cigarettes.


2.     Displaying tattoos or body piercing, even those that are allegedly “discreet.”


 3.     Reeking of last’s night garlic-laden dinner.


 4.     Cracking chewing gum; blowing bubbles.


 5.     Biting their nails or engaging in other disgusting behaviors.


 6.     Peering at their cell phones to read incoming text messages.


 7.     Dressing inappropriately and/or sporting unsuitable hairstyles.


 8.     Asking, “Waz up?” instead of politely saying, “Thank you for seeing me today” at the onset of the interview.


 9.     Failing to shake hands with the employer.  Crushing the employer’s hand in a death grip.


10.    Failing to articulate their skills and accomplishments properly in response to direct questions.


11.    Focusing on salary, benefits, and paid holidays instead of the attributes the employee requires.


12.    Saying, “This places reminds me of the dump I just left,” and/or other rude comments, including those painting former employers as the Devil’s spawn.


13.    Failing to arrive on time (too early or too late) and being cavalier about it, as if the employer’s time is worthless.


14.    Calling the interviewer “Honey” or “Sweetie.”


15.    Having typos on their resumes.


16.    Saying, “I don’t know what that means on my resume; my friend wrote it for me.”


17.    Forgetting to bring multiple copies of their resumes, in the event that more than one manager conducts the interview.


18.    Failing to familiarize themselves with the company’s mission and product/service line.


19.    Inserting religion, politics, American Idol, or any other unrelated topic into a discussion that should revolve solely around the company’s needs, the demands of the position, and the assets the job candidate can bring to the table.


20.    Interrupting the interviewer.


21.    Failing to maintain eye contact.


If any or all of these gaffes sound like scenes from a situation comedy, let us assure you that they are real.  The “Waz up?” line, for instance, was pulled recently on the owner of a local restaurant that I patronize regularly (and it’s not a fast food franchise).  Seeking to hire an assistant manager, the owner had advertised the job opening. After suffering through a number of wisecracking, lackadaisical candidates, he hired an older woman with a slight disability.  The lady was not only experienced, she’d arrived neatly dressed, well prepared, and with a demeanor that was professional and enthusiastic.


Professional, prepared, and enthusiastic are the characteristics of candidates that secure jobs, not discourtesy, sloppiness, or ignorance. 


Seven Deadly Resume Sins

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resume-writing

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.

 

Age

 

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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