The Newest in Resume Advice

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As most of you know, my goal in writing this blog is to keep our students (and anyone else that is interested) as informed as possible about how to find their path AND do an effective job search. Doing an effective job search first means writing an effective resume. The resume lands you the job interview.

In reading a recent article (link below) by Bill Murphy, Jr. who interviewed Scott Bacon a recruiter for Google, we find that some things that were acceptable on a resume just a few years ago….are NOT acceptable now. All of what he recommends can be followed, whether you are applying with a huge company like Google or a small local company.

During the interview Bacon told Murphy that in a large company like Google your resume can be placed in the “No” pile simply because the reviewer doesn’t care for the way you have formatted your resume. Bad formatting means bad overall appearance.  Make sure your finished resume looks good and flows consistently, is not too crowded looking and the right skills and abilities stand out.

Bacon considers objectives to be “old school.” I have been telling our students for a couple of years now that “Objectives” are not necessary, in fact they take up space. What is said in most objective statements can be easily said in your cover letter. But keep in mind that objectives tend to let the employer know what you are looking for when in fact your focus needs to be, “what can I do for the employer.”

Be relevant – When you list experiences that have nothing to do with the job you are applying for…it is a huge turn off.

As us Career Services staff have shared for years now, you need to tailor each resume you send to the specific position you are applying for.  You need to list accomplishments more than you list responsibilities, and don’t use buzzwords unless they are words that are actually in the job description of the job you are applying for.

Bacon recommends that you make the effort to ask the recruiter at the company, to give you advice on how to make it through the application process for the company. Do read Murphy’s article at the link below for more detail.

http://www.inc.com/bill-murphy-jr/10-boneheaded-resume-mistakes-that-guarantee-you-wont-get-the-job.html

Informational Interviews – What are they and how do I go about it?

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What is an informational Interview? An informational interview is a meeting that you have set up (phone or in person), with the purpose of learning about a specific industry. “You will conduct your informational interview with someone who works in the world (industry) that you want to work in next. The person you interview will have industry-specific knowledge that you will need to know to focus your efforts.” You will have questions prepared that help you decide if this is indeed the industry you want to work in. Your questions might help you decide to get a college degree in a certain area to help you prepare for the work world, or the answers to your questions may help you see clearly how you can get to where you want to go.

When you call to arrange for this meeting you will ask for 20 minutes of the persons time (appeals to the individual since it is less than a half hour that you are asking for). Check in with the person you are meeting with at the 20 minute mark and ask permission to continue. This shows respect for the persons time. Often an informational interview will last anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour, because generally people like to talk about their work.

To start out the interview, thank the person by name for meeting with you and then introduce yourself and give them an idea of what your focus is and the purpose of the meeting, i.e. “I have done some career exploration and I have narrowed my choices down. I need to know more about this industry that you work in, so that I can make decisions about my future.”

Here are some questions you might ask:
Can you give me an idea of what is going on in the industry right now?
How did you get your start in this industry?
What skill sets are important for someone looking to enter this industry?
What kind of person succeeds in this industry?
Do you have any advice for me as I continue my research?
Can you connect me with other people who might help?
Is it ok to stay in touch via email?
Thank the person for his/her time and promise to keep in touch.

A word of warning. You never want to ask this person for a job…that is not your purpose here. For one thing, usually this person does not have the power to hire you. This person is willing to help you by providing you with information, but this person is not likely to be in a position where they can hire you. An informational interview is just what it says, an interview that provides you with information.

You will bring a notebook or paper with which to write notes on. In the back of that you can have a resume just in case you are asked for one. Do not offer your resume. You are carrying it along just in case the person asks you for a copy. Even then, you must make it clear that you are not trying to hit on them for a job, but that you are there to gain knowledge. These meetings sometimes lead to something, sometimes not. Be prepared for anything from a 20 minute discussion to a three hour meeting that includes a plant/facility tour!

When I am working with a student who has done some career exploration and has narrowed down his/her choices to 3-5 careers, I often recommend the informational interview. Hey, it worked for my son.

Source: The Human Search Engine, by Chris Czarnik and Christopher Jossart

Is “Do What You Love” Bad Career Advice?

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Since the 1970’s, we have been hearing, “Follow your passion!” or “Do what you love and the money will follow.” Author, Cal Newport has put a whole new spin on the career/passion belief that we have been bombarded with for so many years.

In his book, “So Good They Can’t Ignore You” Cal recommends that we ask ourselves, “What can I offer the world?” He advises that we “get very good at a skill” which creates what he calls, “career capital.” Career Capital = rare and valuable skills that are offered to show that you are “so good they can’t ignore you.”

We are to choose a program or a major that we will enjoy studying, one that we can get so interested in that we lose all track of time. Then we develop what we have learned and we add experiences to that, and we continue to do what we do very well until we are indeed, “so good they can’t ignore us!” As we develop our skills we create the “passion” for what we do, and that is where the passion comes in.

Not only does his argument for changing the way we think about this make perfect sense, he also gives us steps, (and the back up for those steps), that could help us be successful in our career and/or help us start a business if that is our choice. His book also guides you though the importance of “serious study” and “deliberate practice,” and how those contribute to success.

I am always amazed at how much we can change our thinking by having new information. Reading Cal Newport’s book and then the following two articles have changed how I think about following my passion.

http://www.edherzog.com/do-what-you-love/

and

http://www.forbes.com/sites/laurashin/2013/05/22/7-steps-to-developing-career-capital-and-achieving-success/