Saturday, July 30, 2011

Forget The Web, Post Grad - How To Network Face-to-Face

As a post grad, usually the first place you go to job search is the Internet. With Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter,, Craiglist, and many other networking and job search websites, it is a great place to begin. Yet, most new graduates forget about other networking and job search opportunities that don't involve a computer. Any employer would say that they get a better read on an applicant and more importantly, remember an applicant that greets them face-to-face rather than sending in a generic email application. Here are some tips on networking and job searching in the real world:

1. Find job fairs in your area. Job fairs often come to colleges or even local stores and businesses. For example, Meijer held a job fair for their new location last year. Job fairs at local colleges and universities are the best way to meet potential employers in a professional setting, hand out resumes and business cards, and get a feel for jobs in your area. Some even hold specific job fairs for different fields or events for college students that anyone can attend.

2. Bring business cards and resumes every where you go. You never know when you might meet someone that can get your foot in the door. Being prepared is an excellent way to show how qualified you are for a job.

3. Instead of simply applying for jobs via email or on a website, visit the place you want to apply for. Even if they tell you they only take applicants online, perhaps you can leave your resume or talk to the person who does the hiring for the job you desire. It will put you apart from the hundreds of applicants who simply send in their online application.

4. Find professional networking events and professional groups for the job field you want to jump into. Connecting with people in the field you want to work in is a great way to find jobs, meet new people, hand out business cards, and learn. Win, win, win! Simply do a search for 'networking events' in your area or 'professional groups' in your area and field of work and you may be surprised at what you find.

Remember that job searching and networking online are great ways to find jobs and keep in touch with your professional contacts, but never forget that speaking face-to-face is a great way to get remembered and get that dream job!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Declining a Promotion Gracefully

You’ve been working diligently and your manager and others at work have taken notice; as a result, you’re being offered a promotion. There’s just one problem: you wish to stay in your current position and want to decline the promotion. The challenge is how to decline gracefully without jeopardizing your reputation with your boss and management. You also don’t want to negatively affect future career opportunities within the organization or leave others with the impression that you’re disloyal, not a team player, or that you lack ambition.

It is perfectly acceptable to turn down a promotion, but the goal is to do so professionally and tactfully. The following advice can help.

  • Consider your manager’s perspective and why you were chosen for the promotion. Doing so can help you make a decision and frame a response that includes alternative solutions, like picking up extra responsibilities or recommending someone else.
  • Carefully weigh the pros and cons to the promotion before making a final decision. For example, if a promotion means undesirable hours but the alternative is staying in a current position that may be at risk in a projected downsizing, you might want to accept the promotion.
  • Recognize that it is an honor to be considered for a promotion and express your appreciation accordingly.
  • Provide a reasonable explanation for your decision. Maybe you feel you’re more valuable in your current position, in which case, give examples of how you are contributing value. Or, perhaps you’re passionate about your current work and want to continue gaining more experience doing something you love.
  • Share your career goals with your manager; if you have a plan that includes a future promotion, articulate this as well.

By following these tips and factoring in your specific situation, you should be able to decline a promotion in a professional manner—without burning any bridges.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

How to Leverage your Military Contacts During your Transition

The career transition from being in the military to working in the civilian workforce can be challenging. Use all the tools available to you to make the transition as smooth as possible. One very valuable tool is networking. No matter the size of the base where you work, the military can be as intertwined as a small town and the opportunities for networking are abundant.

I had a situation where one of my clients – a retired Air Force veteran – worked for a company. Her husband was recruited by the same company. They have since hired two other military members they worked with previously and are still recruiting to fill more open positions. This is an example of leveraging your networking contacts at its finest! Here are some ideas to help you achieve the same success.

People you have worked for or worked with
These contacts are often the most obvious choice. Former supervisors and co-workers know your work ethic, know your skills, and are very familiar with your abilities. Keep in regular contact with all your former supervisors and as many co-workers as possible, even after they leave the military. Make sure to let them know when you are ready to make the transition. Don’t forget to touch base with your supervisors and co-workers who are still in the military. They may have contacts they know that can help you network your way into a job.

People who have worked for you
Don’t forget to talk with the people whom you have supervised when you are separating from the military. These people know your leadership style, your skills, and know first-hand what you are capable of achieving. Spread the word among your team that you are looking for a job and be clear as to the type of position you are seeking.

Military contractors you have interacted with
This opens your list of contacts considerably. I can recount many examples of military service members who separated from the military and went to work for the contracting company they used to coordinate with during their military career. You are already familiar with the company’s product, their goals, and how to interact with their customers. Leverage these contacts and the biggest change in your career might just be who signs your paychecks.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Feel Free to Make your Own Choices, but Take Responsibility for Them

It is great that we live in a free country, where we are free – for the most part – to live our lives the way we choose. However, I find it disturbing how many times people are not willing to hold themselves accountable for the choices they make.

I have been a member of a networking group that meets on Saturdays for the last 6 years. The group has met on Saturdays for longer than I have been a member. As much as I wish these meetings were on a weekday, I knew when I joined the group that if I wanted to attend meetings, I would have to give up one Saturday a month. Recently, a new member has been very vocally and passionately lobbying to change the meeting day because of a conflict with her religious beliefs.

I respect this new member’s religious beliefs and understand her frustration. However, I feel as though the meeting times were very clearly stated when she joined, and now she expects the entire group to change in order to accommodate the choices that she has made. This is the perfect example of not taking responsibility for the choices you have made.

In order to be successful, and ultimately happy and fulfilled, you must acknowledge and accept that your life is your responsibility. You are in charge. No matter how much you try to blame others for the events that take place in your life, each choice you make will either positively or negatively impact that life. Of course, there are things that happen to us that are out of our control. However, we can still control how we react to them. Here are some tips to take charge of your own destiny:

• Change the tune of the voice in your head. Do you find yourself constantly blaming others or making excuses for yourself? Own up to your mistakes and learn from them. Look inside and see how you could have handled a negative situation differently.

• Listen to what you say to others. Do you blame your parents, your social status or your boss’ leadership style for your failures? What role did you play in creating a bad situation, missing a deadline or producing work that was not up to standards? How can you change to ensure it does not happen again for the same reasons?

• Change your patterns. Listen to that voice in your head and how you talk to others. Take control of the excuses and stop blaming other people or events. When you start to take accountability, you realize that you really have more control than you originally thought was possible.

• Don’t get defensive. Accept constructive criticism with an open mind. Evaluate other people’s opinions and objectively identify if you can change your approach to improve your future outcome. The only way to truly improve and get better is to accept feedback and make positive changes. You will not always agree with the feedback you receive. However, take the time to analyze the feedback and see if it will help you grow; don’t just dismiss it outright.

Stuck in a Career Rut? Get Curious.

My wife and I recently hosted four adults and three children in our home. Having no kids ourselves, the pitter-patter of three little pairs of feet was both an exhilarating and stress-inducing experience.

Knowing that we would have a one-and-a-half year old in our house, we did our best to "childproof:" we picked up all loose objects that would fit in a little one's mouth and removed all small obstacles that could interfere with his wobbly but zestful gait. After a quick inspection the night before, we felt confident that we created a safe environment.

We were wrong.

It wasn't long after the children had arrived that their youngest was getting into drawers, pulling on window-blinds, and finding every chink in the armor that was our "danger-proof" house. It was humbling, and my wife and I were kept on our toes. But for every time that I had to leave my seat to take out of George's (name changed) hands something that would hurt him or hurt one of our belongings, I was struck by something that I found fascinating...

...his curiosity.

George explored his surroundings with an inspiring level of zeal and interest. What's this? What's in here? What does this do? What would happen if I thew this? What would happen if I pulled this? His actions were pure curiosity: he wanted to discover. What a powerful perspective to possess!

In our career lives-whether we are looking for work or still employed at the same company for decades-our capacity for curiosity can change our attitudes, performance, and success. Use the questions below to create strong, leading answers for yourself.

How does my current situation make me feel truly engaged?

What about my current professional life do I find interesting?

How am I demonstrating success through what I am doing right now?

What about me is keeping me from the professional success that I desire?

What personal qualities will I tap into to create to the professional life that I want?

Leave it to a child to remind us all the powerful revelations that come from simply being curious about ourselves and our surroundings. My challenge to you is to look at your life through a child's eyes and get curious about everything. See what you discover about yourself and your environment. Act on that curiosity and your desire to create a life of your choosing.

Open some drawers. Throw some things. Pull on some blinds. See what happens. And, most of all, enjoy.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Tips For Creating a Great Post Grad Cover Letter

Some potential employers require a cover letter, while others do not. As a post grad, you enter the tricky world of applying for jobs and don't always know what to do or what the potential employer wants. Creating a cover letter that wows them is one way to stand out. If the employer requires one, then you must send one in. If you don't send a cover letter, it shows the employer that you don't follow directions and is the number one way to get your resume from their desk to the trash. Even if the employer doesn't require a cover letter, sending one in is a great way to showcase your talents. Here are some tips on creating a cover letter that will impress anyone:

1. Be specific for each job you apply to. Do a little research to find out what this employer may want in an employee and what the job entails. Then evolve your cover letter to show your interest in the company. Share why you want to work for them, what qualities you have that they desperately need, and tailor it to the company. Take out any generic sirs or madams and make sure you put the company name and the name of who you're sending it to at the top.

2. Don't just copy and paste or blind copy one cover letter and resume to a bunch of job ads. Taking a generic cover letter from the Internet is a way to essentially give up the job to someone else that took the time to write a personalized, rockin' cover letter.

3. Keep it short and sweet. Give your best examples of work and qualities that qualify you for the job. Express your interest in the company and the job quickly. Potential employers simply don't have the time to read pages of cover letters and resumes. Keeping it short and to the point will get it read.

4. Follow instructions! Often potential employers may want you to answer specific questions in a cover letter when applying. Be sure to answer these questions in a short and passionate way. For example, they may ask your top three skills. A great answer would be relevant to the job, share your passion, and be to the point.

5. Be professional and spell check! Spelling or grammatical errors will get your cover letter tossed no matter what job you're applying to. Be sure the document is well formatted and easy to read too.

6. Don't forget to give your contact information at the end of the cover letter! If they have no way to contact you, you surely won't get the interview.

Whether it is the daunting task of writing your first cover letter or you've written a hundred, keep these six things in mind and you'll write an amazing cover letter sure to wow any potential employer.

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Employer’s View of Entrepreneurial Experience

If you’ve acquired entrepreneurial work experience and are, or will be, pursuing employment, it helps to be aware of how employers may view entrepreneurial experience. Although every employer and hiring manager is different, following are some positive views and common objections employers may share regarding entrepreneurial experience.

The Positives

Many employers see great value in job candidates who have entrepreneurial experience. In general, entrepreneurs are viewed as hard working, highly motivated, independent, and/or creative thinkers. They are often considered visionaries, leaders, and problem solvers who are not afraid to take risks. Since entrepreneurs frequently have to manage a broad range of responsibilities, they are often thought of as generalists who are likely to have developed a multitude of practical business skills.

The Negatives

There are employers who can be leery of hiring entrepreneurs. Typically, they have questions like the following: Can an entrepreneur work successfully in a more structured organizational environment? Does this person have specialized skills necessary for the position being pursued? Can an entrepreneur work well on a team? Will he or she be able to successfully adapt to the company culture and navigate the corporate politics?

Position Your Skills Well

In any interview, your goal is to convey your existing work experience in ways that address the needs of the employer. This may be more challenging for entrepreneurs who must translate a wide range of responsibilities into specific functional and soft skills valued by employers. Also prepare to explain why you’re interested in transitioning from entrepreneur to employee. Keep in mind that some employers might want an explanation for why an entrepreneurial endeavor ended and what lessons you learned from it.

By selling your unique entrepreneurial experience and skills and anticipating and preparing for common employer objections, you may end up having an edge over other candidates.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Step Out of your Comfort Zone. Three Steps to Opening your Possibilities.

I was talking with a longtime friend yesterday. She is taking courses that will prepare her for a whole new career. She said to me, “It’s not really my typical type of thing, but I decided to step out of my comfort zone and try something new.” I am really proud of her and excited for her new chapter.

Talking with my friend, I started thinking about how many people are stuck in their same routine and their same thought processes because they are unwilling to step out of their own comfort zone. Do you want to get out there, grow, experience new things and open your possibilities? If so, here are three steps you can take to become more comfortable with change.

Stop Worrying What Other People Think.
If you don't step out of your comfort zone and face your fears, the number of situations that make you uncomfortable will keep growing. (Theo Pistorius)

Fear of what others will think is one of the biggest barriers for many people. Think about the most lovable, magnetic people you have ever met in your life. Chances are those people are not meek and agreeable. They are usually the people who act silly, are willing to speak their mind, or are adventurous and willing to make mistakes.

Stop trying to please others. Stop being concerned with what others think. Don’t worry about being laughed at, laugh along with them. Do something you normally would not do without fear of being judged. You may just be surprised at how people will react.

Face your Fears
It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare, it is because we do not dare that they are difficult. (Seneca)

I am not referring to those big fears like fear of flying or fear of heights. However, how many subtle fears are holding you back every day? Fear of being laughed at, fear of failure, or fear of not being the best. Ask yourself, are you taking unnecessary precautions every day to avoid what you perceive to be a negative outcome? Are these precautions really necessary or are they holding you back?

It is a good thing to be prepared and proactive. But don’t spend your life – and the majority of your time – trying to avoid things that will probably never happen. Deal with your discomfort and allow yourself to fail once in a while. Find the positive in every situation and failures turn into learning experiences.

Learn to Deal with Failure
It is a mistake to suppose that people succeed through success; they often succeed through failures. (Author Unknown)

I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work. (Thomas Edison)

You probably know by now, things will not always go your way. It is the way you deal with these negatives that define how willing you are to step out of your comfort zone. The world is constantly changing, things will go right and they will often go wrong. Some amazing things have happened to me in the face of a failure or a negative situation, primarily due to my attitude toward the situation. When you become obsessed with trying to ensure a certain outcome, you forget to focus on the every day joy of living.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Truth about Lying on your Resume

Whether you are currently looking for a job or not, unless you live under a rock you know the economy has taken its toll on the job market. It is very tough out there and very competitive. With the unemployment rate still above 9%, many job seekers are taking the approach that desperate times call for desperate measures.

A recent survey conducted by TalentWise, a background screening firm, asked 2,026 adults if they thought it was acceptable to embellish or lie on a resume. Of the adults they spoke to 45% of the adults aged 18-34 years old said it was okay, 27% of people 55 and older said they would embellish the truth on a resume and 34% of respondents overall said they found it okay to lie on a resume.

Truth be told, these numbers are probably lower than the actual facts. Several years ago, more than 60% of hiring managers told the Society for Human Resource Management they found untruths on applicant resumes. The most popular methods of embellishment are dates of employment, job titles and responsibilities, accomplishments and level of education.

Desperate job seekers may decide to do whatever it takes to get their resume noticed and get a job interview. However, before you consider stretching the truth – or even outright lying – on your resume, stop and consider the consequences. Here are some of the potential outcomes of this dishonest approach to job hunting:

• You may be discovered in the pre-screening phase. There are new tools being marketed to companies that enable them to do a preliminary background check of resumes submitted. You would then be “blacklisted” in their company hiring database.

• Your lie may not hold up under the pressure of the interview. Remember, the resume is just step one. Once your resume gets you noticed, you then have to go into the interview and support the resume with details. It is much easier to lie on paper than to someone’s face.

• You may be hired, only to be fired after it is discovered that you lied on your resume. This recently happened to a colleague of mine. They started a new job and inherited a problem employee. It was discovered that this employee left a job off their application and was let go for lying. Problem solved!

• You may not be discovered at all. However, do you really want to build a relationship based on a foundation of lies? Can you live with the knowledge that you got that job, not on your true qualifications, but based on a fantasy version of yourself?

Acting with Empowerment: Advice for the Voluntarily (or Involuntarily) Relocated

I know exactly how they feel, I thought to myself.

I was sitting at a table of "trailing spouses": those who relocated to support their husband's or wife's career (in this context, a medical career). There was wide range of emotions emanating from where we sat: confusion resulting from being in a new country, excitement stemming from the new opportunities that a change in geographic scenery brings, anger from being pulled away-albeit willingly-from a stable atmosphere to one with limited opportunities.

As I looked at the faces of my companions, I smiled inside. I, myself, had experienced many of their emotions when I moved to be with my spouse. Excitement could quickly give way to unhappiness, wonder to anger.

Transitions like this are common, whether you are a trailing spouse, a college graduate relocating for a new position (or relocating back home while still in the search process), a worker who finds himself moving after losing a job, or any other reason that results in a voluntary (or involuntary) uprooting. Those who find themselves in the middle of this transition while also being in transition with their careers can feel discouraged, victimized, depressed, and very unhappy. The most prevalent emotion, I believe, in this circumstance is desperation: a stomach-sinking "what am I going to do now?" feeling.

My general message to anyone in the midst of this is a heartfelt: "you're going to be okay." But that's not to imply sitting on one's thumbs; follow these tips to make the transition smoother:

Assess your situation: Everyone's situation is different and what may be good for you may not be good for someone else relocating, and vice versa. Is finding a nice place to live the priority, or is finding a job? Do you have children whose needs must be tended to? Are there recurring negative feelings surrounding the move? I recommend those experiencing a move to take care of their basic level needs first before moving to the more advanced ones. A job could be in either of these categories; do what's best for you.

Connect with the community: Strong relationships can make a move much more palatable. I encouraged those at my table to start volunteering and networking as soon as possible. They will not only feel more a part of the community but they can leverage those relationships into employment if they act diplomatically and intentionally.

Stay connected to your field: Continue to remain a member of professional associations and other networking groups that relate to your field, and if you're not a member join. It shows commitment to your field and you can remain vigilant of future openings through these professional connections.

Don't act out of desperation: If finding a position is a high priority, there's a tendency to accept anything that comes around, even to "get a foot in the door." I don't recommend this approach: it could contribute to even stronger feelings of unhappiness and limit you from opportunities in your field. However, if you're not able to find a position in your field, look for one in a related field or one that will allow you the flexibility to continue your search, such as a temp job or a part-time job. Focus not on the desperation of your situation but the opportunities that you are creating for yourself.

I gave away many copies of my business card that night and did not stop talking to my tablemates until they left assured that there was someone on their side and that they could contact me for assistance. Relocating is hard, but having to find a new job at the same time can be very stressful. Approaching your circumstances with a positive attitude and a sense of empowerment will put you in a position to maintain your career success.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Make the Most of Your Summer Job

A summer job is a great way to earn money and spend time productively while applying to colleges or looking for a permanent job in your career of interest. Following are some considerations and actions you can take to get the most out of your summer work experience.

Work Experience is Helpful

Most employers view work experience positively—even experience unrelated to the job you might be pursuing. Be sure to leverage your summer work experience and associated accomplishments on college and/or job applications. On a personal level, if you’re diligent, work experience can lead to a strong work ethic and a sense of fiscal responsibility.

Make Contacts and Secure a Reference

No matter what type of job you have, you should always strive to make contacts and build positive working relationships with your manager, co-workers, customers, and even vendors, if appropriate. Remember, any contact has the potential of leading to a future job opportunity. One goal to keep in mind before you leave is to secure a professional reference from your manager or other person(s) of influence at the company.

Go Above and Beyond

Summer jobs are a way to form good work habits and a reputation for going above and beyond what is expected of you. Use this time wisely; for example, volunteer to take on additional tasks, work extra hours, or share ideas to improve a process. This is also an excellent time to build or enhance skills, like teamwork, communication, and customer service.

If you attain a summer job and view it for what it is—a great learning opportunity that enables you to build valuable work experience—you could be well on your way to finding and securing the job of your dreams.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Creating A Post Grad Budget

I think we often take for granted all of the things our parents do for us from birth until we become adults. Especially the financial stress of raising a kid. Even throughout college, your parents may have paid for your schooling, housing, food, and all the other things you needed and couldn't quite afford yet. Even if you have been on your own financially for a while, keeping a budget and learning some new money tips never hurts. Here is some advice for a newly post grad out on their own financially:

1. Make use of all the great websites and apps that are offered these days to keep track of your finances. A great one is You can link your bank accounts and keep track of all your expenses. You can even set goals and create budgets and get yourself set up with savings accounts and credit cards based on your needs.

2. An age-old trick is to start using cash. Having the cash in your hands makes you think harder about what you're purchasing. When you actually have to fork over the cash for something instead of just swiping a "magic card", you may think twice about buying something frivolous.

3. If you don't like using websites or apps to keep track of your budget, use a simple pad of paper and a pen. Write down all your expenses. For example, car payments, student loans, cell phone bill, chiropractor appointments, etc. Writing down bills you pay each month may make you realize things you can give up each month to save some money. Then write down the money you make each month and see if you can save the difference!

4. Get a credit card but use wisely. You need a good credit score to buy big ticket items, such as a new car. Use your credit card for emergencies or big items and be sure you pay it all back on time. Keep track of your credit score and make sure it stays where you want it.

5. Save your money whenever you can. Pack your lunch instead of eating out, find free entertainment, find cheaper cell phone plans, etc. You never know when you will need that extra cash, especially now when you're just starting out. The more money you save from your first real job, the better you're off in the future.

6. Lastly, retirement may seem far away and the last thing you should be thinking about, but start planning now. The more you save, the earlier you can quit working when you're older. Start a 401(k) at your job or make yourself a retirement plan. Years from now you'll be glad you were financially responsible from the start.

Four Barriers to a Successful Military-to-civilian Transition

Whether you have served four years or 24 years, the process of transitioning out of the military can be stressful. I am a believer that the more you prepare for potential problems, the more successfully you can overcome them if they arise. I have worked with thousands of veterans transition out of the military. During that time I have identified the following four common themes that seem to cause them the most trouble.

Lack of Focus
I hear many veterans describe themselves as a “Jack of all Trades, Master of None.” Veterans are often asked to wear many hats in the military. One of the biggest challenges they face is a lack of focus in their job search. You can’t define your marketable skills and research the job market if you don’t know what your target will be. Refer back to this blog post for additional assistance with focusing your search.

Faulty Marketing
One of the biggest barriers to successful transition is failure to translate military skills and job titles. I learned recently that only 1% of the population has served in the military. When you factor in spouses and family members, that leaves more than 90% of the population that has no idea what it is like to serve in the military. No matter how qualified you may be, if the person reading your resume does not understand your skills and accomplishments, they will move on to the next candidate. Some resources to help you translate your skills are available in this earlier blog post.

Fear and Uncertainty
I have met veterans who have told me stories of being deployed in foreign countries where their lives were in danger on a regular basis. These same – very brave – veterans have been reduced to an unsure, nervous wreck at the prospect of leaving the military. Keep in mind, a transition is a learning process. Take advantage of all the resources, information and experts available to you. You will learn from doing and you will make mistakes along the way. Just make adjustments and get yourself back in the game.

The Reality of Civilian Life
Some military veterans face challenges with adjusting to life as a civilian worker. The work ethic of your new civilian co-workers is often not standardized, and may differ from the standards you are used to in the military. There is no clear-cut rank structure in the civilian world, everyone is simply a Mr. or Ms. I discussed these challenges in detail in this earlier blog.

Statistics show that many veterans do not stick with the first job they take right out of the military. I know a retired Air Force Chief who went through 4 jobs within the first three years before he finally landed with one he really liked. Once again, this is a learning process that you will have to learn to adjust and adapt to as you gain more information. Stay flexible and open-minded throughout the process.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Why Isn’t Your Phone Ringing? Tips to Generate More Activity with Your Resume.

Have you been sending out your resume and are getting frustrated because the phone isn’t ringing? I recently had the opportunity to ask hiring managers what makes them decide not to call a candidate for an interview. You will not get call-backs for every resume you send out. However, if you pay attention to the following problem areas, your phone will ring much more often.

One thing that human resources managers feel very strongly about is that you must tailor each resume to the job and the company to which you are applying. This doesn’t mean re-writing your resume each time you apply for a job. It simply means tailoring your resume to meet the needs of the company and the job for which you are applying.

Complete some preliminary research on the company before you send your resume. Find out what their priorities are, who their customer is, and how they can benefit from your skills. It is a proven fact that you will be more successful with 10 focused and targeted resumes than 100 generic resumes.

This is a major source of frustration to hiring managers. If you don’t have 75 to 80% of the required qualifications for the job, then applying is a waste of yours and the hiring manager’s time. Remember, there is a difference between required and desired qualifications. Spend your time and energy applying for jobs where you meet much of the required qualifications.

The purpose of a resume is to entice the hiring manager to pick up the phone and call you for an interview. If you have a resume that is not pleasing to the eye, they will move on to the next person very quickly. Studies show that you get between 10 and 25 seconds of attention for your resume. Here are some tips to make your resume more visually appealing:
• The resume should not be crowded, too little or too much white space will turn people off.
• Spacing should be consistent throughout the document. If you indent your bullet points, indent them all the same.
• Use bullet points. Using paragraphs instead of bullet points makes the reader think you are asking them to read a novel about you.
• Bold key areas such as your name, headings, job titles, and degrees to bring attention to your resume.
• Ensure your resume is organized and easy to follow.

Remember, a resume is not a history of your career. Avoid using job description language such as “Responsible for . . .” or “Duties included. . .” Instead, use action words, accomplishments, and results-oriented statements. Every line of your resume should demonstrate the benefits a company will receive if they hire you.

Nothing will get your resume passed over faster than typos or misspelled words. Your resume should be a glowing example of the type of work you do. Typos or misspelled words tell an employer you lack attention to detail and perform sloppy work. These are not exactly the best qualities for a potential employee. Remember, spellchecker is not perfect. Read your resume, read it again backwards, and have someone you trust read it a third time before you even consider sending it to potential employers.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Flashing Lights and Career Realities

I'm positive that the state trooper saw me a good seven seconds before I saw him. Speeding (literally) up to the Twin Cities, I verbally articulated the first word that came into my head: crap. I was caught. No way around it. I immediately slowed down and nervously glanced in my rearview mirror to see if he would take advantage of the oh-so-convenient turnaround to pursue me.

The car slowed down and crossed the median into my lane of traffic. My heart sank.

To my surprise, I recovered in seconds. I resigned myself to my fate. I imagined the lights behind my car and the calm way I would pull over. Putting my car in park, I would pull out my driver's license and place my hands high on the steering wheel so so that they could be seen. I would roll my window down and respectfully answer any questions the officer had before receiving a ticket. Wishing the officer a good day, I would continue on to my destination at a more appropriate speed. The images in my head became more visceral as the car approached mine...

Only to pass me.

You might think that I let out a sigh or a *whew!*...but I didn't. I was at peace with it. There was nothing to comment upon.

There was a time when I would have experienced a wide range of emotions in the same situation: anger, shame, frustration, victimization, sadness, etc. What made this time different was my ability to quickly come to terms with something I couldn't change and make choices from a productive frame of mind. In this situation, I chose to be peaceful. I could have been angry, but what purpose would that have served?

During your career trajectory you're bound to encounter problems both foreseen and unforeseen: a layoff, a job rejection, a bad economy, or an awful interview. Coming to terms with the reality of your situation and settling into a tranquil place will enable you to recovery quickly and expend your energy on actions that will move you forward. Follow these steps to move into productivity:

1. Set a timer for 10 minutes. Consider this time your 10-Minute Pity Party. Cry. Yell. Stew. But once the timer is up, you're done.

2. Shake off the pity and take some deep breaths. Let's get introspective. Reflect on these questions:

  • How am I portraying the real me in this situation?

  • What advice would someone I look up to as a role model of productive behavior give me right now?

  • What will I take from this situation to make me happier?

3. Create three realistic, actionable tasks (with due dates) based upon your answers to the above questions that will leave you feeling productive and proud.

It's unrealistic to think that the above will be magic formula to cure a bruised sense of self after a career setback. Practice the steps above and don't move forward until you feel you ready to do so. Challenge yourself to cope with the muck and move to the good of the situation to manifest and keep a sensational state of mind.

Don't make me send the police after you.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Advancing to a Second Interview

If you’re moving on to a second interview, congratulations! Most likely, you’ve piqued the interest of the interviewer(s) and established that you meet the overall qualifications for the position. But don’t relax just yet; a second interview typically requires you to provide more specific, detailed responses and examples that illustrate why you are the right candidate for the job.

A second interview can last several hours and, in some cases, a full day. It is important that you stay engaged and enthusiastic throughout the process. Be prepared to face several interviewers, either in a panel-style interview or one-on-one. Interviewers will most likely try to identify valuable traits and unique skills and knowledge that differentiate you from other candidates. You may also have the opportunity to meet future team members and those you could be interacting with regularly on the job. Other possible activities and topics include department/facility tours, a detailed salary/benefits discussion, and meeting over a meal with company representatives to showcase your social and communication skills in a group setting.

Just as with a first interview, you need to be fully prepared for a second interview. Here are some steps you can follow to prepare yourself.

  • Ask for an agenda in advance, including names and titles of those you will meet.
  • Do research in advance. If possible, ask someone within the company to share insight on the people you’ll be interviewing with or do an Internet search for professional profiles on sites like LinkedIn.
  • Continue researching the company and industry; stay abreast of its products/services, competitors, customers, sales/financial data, and current news and events. Use the information to ask informed questions and discuss relevant matters.
  • Formulate answers to possible interview questions. For example, be ready with examples of how you applied your knowledge, skills, and experience in problem-solving situations or to accomplish a goal(s).
  • Be prepared to emphasize or clarify points that came up in the first interview.
  • If you haven’t already been asked, be prepared to discuss your salary and benefit expectations.