There’s a lot of competition out there when you are looking for a job. Sometimes you might think you need a gimmick, something to get the attention of the employer and make you stand out from the crowd. A recent WSJ article, “In Tough Job Market, Applicants Try Resume Gimmicks” has some doozies. After all, if the average number of applicants for one job opening is well over three hundred, you have to try something to get their attention, right?
One guy tried taping his resume to a pillow. It didn’t ship well, but they were able to figure out his contact information and he made it to the interview, but he did not get the job with the company. Another did impress people with the pizza he sent along with his thank you letter after the interview, but that only lasted three months because that was the only time he really delivered on the job (see what I did there? Rimshot)
Bobby Gormsen is the senior recruiting manager at Etsy, a very creative place to work. He’s seen potholder resumes, embroidered cover letters, and applications in corked bottles.
“I’m sort of immune to this stuff,” said Mr. Gormsen. The candidates “get points for creativity, but it only tells one side of the story. We have a set of hard skills an applicant has to meet”—ranging from years of experience to relevant software languages—in order to be considered. No amount of creativity can compensate if those are missing, he said.
It seems obvious that a gimmick is recognized as an attention-getter that doesn’t promise quality. A well-written resume would. The hard skills and experience history that employers look for are clearly shown on a good resume. Expertly written resumes have skillful use of keywords that get you past the robot search engines and on the desk to be read by a person. They don’t need gimmicks, but they do need to be clear and professional.
Professional Resume Services include a number of A La Carte Services in our offerings. This gives you the flexibility to select the service you need without paying for the service you don’t want. You can be creative in putting together the package that gets you the best resume possible and forget about the gimmicks.
You know when your car needs a tune up. The engine stops running smoothly, there’s a few sputters and jerks when you take off, and the cloud of exhaust doesn’t look good. If you just keep moving, the problem doesn’t go away — it gradually gets worse and eventually you aren’t going anywhere. Your car needs that tune up or there will be permanent damage.
Your career can be the same way. You gradually become aware that something isn’t “right” but you aren’t sure what it is. You keep plugging away at your job and things start to sputter. Eventually you realize that you aren’t going anywhere. What should you do before there’s permanent damage to your future?
One logical thing to do is give your career a tune up; looking at the overall picture of your job history and current position, checking your skills to see if they are current, evaluating the things that need to change and figuring out how to change them. You could do this yourself with research and advice from experts. Of course, you’d be trying to figure out which experts to heed and what to research, but it can be done.
People who have expertise with engines can easily do their own tune ups because they know what to prioritize. Career tune ups can be challenging because most of us don’t know which one of the little issues is the most important in the long run. This is where investing in the right coaching services can make the difference between a career that goes nowhere and one that takes off. So, how do you pick the right coach?
It’s a lot like picking the right mechanic. You look for experience, certifications, and happy customers. You might try them out by having a small job done and see how you fit with their personality because that will matter to you over time. The credentials aren’t just pieces of paper; they represent completion of strict standards that can be verified. Career coaches work the same way.
We offer Coaching Services in three different packages and an a la carte selection that pretty much guarantees you will find help for your career. Just like the professional mechanics, we have listed the credentials so you can verify them and be confident you are getting help from the best. Your career will get the tune up it needs, attention to the places you need help in and the help will be there. Pretty soon your career will be humming smoothly and you will take off!
It isn’t summer yet, but it soon will be time for the teenage job market to open up for high schoolers looking to start their working careers. Even though these first jobs will probably not become careers, there are a lot of ways the first job does shape the habits and expectations you have about the working world. Some of the standards have always been there: Getting to work on time, not goofing off on the job, doing what you are hired to do, and being trustworthy have always been part of the picture.
But today’s teens are already networking and have a social media presence long before they start thinking about earning a paycheck. Because they are so familiar with digital interactions, and because they are immature, the idea that what they say and do online will affect their future is hard to grasp. It isn’t uncommon for someone to suggest their child work in a friend’s business and find out that their kids’ online activities were unacceptable for the position’s standards. How embarrassing is that?
If you have made an effort to continually ask questions like “Can social networking get you fired?” and listen to your child’s answers, you begin to see what their perspective of online activities is. Pointing out the realities, cases where that behavior did cost a job, furthers the discussion. Start talking about how important online branding is and what it is. Challenge them to do their own research and prove you wrong when you say that employers will look them up online.
This can go a lot of directions every time you have the conversation. Cyber-bullying, sexting, and all the rest of it are hopefully going to come up so you can hear what your teen has to say and tell them what you’ve learned. Online behavior didn’t used to be on the “getting your teen ready to have a job” list, but these days it is probably up in the top priorities.
Every once in a while someone asks, “Do I always need a resume?” The reason they wonder is because there are many other ways that your information gets to potential employers. Between online profiles, electronic applications, and your personal website, there could be a point when resumes are no longer required, right?
Most of the time a resume is going to be the only way you stand out from the crowd to a potential employer. Many times you will be asked to bring a copy of your resume to an interview because that paper resume is going to be passed around in hiring discussions. Your resume is your chance to customize your sales pitch to the specific job description and give an impression that goes beyond the template of electronic data input. It’s true that there will be an occasional exception. When NOT to use a resume is a matter of knowing exactly why that resume is not needed.
A resume will not be needed if the company specifically tells you they don’t want one. Or, maybe you won’t need a resume if you are working for someone who knows you very well.
But here’s the reason it’s good to have a resume, even if a potential employer doesn’t want one: Your resume has all your information condensed into one place. This comes in handy when you are filling out the forms they are using instead of a resume. It’s just a lot easier to have your work history and dates written down instead of trying to accurately recall your hiring date for the job you had five years ago. I think you will always need a resume when you come in for an interview, even if you don’t give it to anyone.
That may sound like a dumb question, but it really is one designed to make you think. A job gives you a paycheck to be able to do things like buy groceries, pay bills, and support your child’s activities. That is not a bad reason to have a job. In fact, I’d say it is the only reason to have a job. If you need money, get a job. Right?
But a career is different.
Two people can be working side by side at the same task in the same workplace and one will have a job while the other has a career. One is focused on the paycheck, the other is focused on the future. If you are taking the time to improve your skills, paying attention to more than your job description, and getting ready for the next opportunity, then you have a career.
Improve your skills by learning to do things that intimidate you a little bit. Read more. Write more. Take some classes or tutorials about using software that might be helpful. Learn to do your job and be open to learning how to do any other jobs around you.
Pay attention to more than your job description by noticing how things happen. What’s involved with getting the product to the shelves or the service to the customer? How is this business managed? What other businesses feed into it or support it? Expanding your perspective opens your eyes to networking possibilities and possible career paths.
Get ready for the next opportunity by keeping your resume up to date and looking for ways to stay current with the job market. Seek out an executive resume writer to help bring your resume current. The Job Search Resources page has a lot of ideas here. It may say “Job” in the title, but it says “Career” in the result. The difference between a job and a career is the attitude you have about your long-range plans.
You hear the word “networking” in a positive light most of the time, but think about it: Who are you networking with? If every conversation is gossip or complaining, then it has an effect on the way you think and act. In addition to how it affects you, there’s an effect on how your employer or potential employer perceives your character. It’s true; your online lifestyle can ruin a career opportunity.
But the opposite is also true; the way you interact on social media can create and enhance a career opportunity. One way to do this is by curating who you follow on Twitter. I don’t mean you can’t follow your favorite celebrity, but think about the type of information you are taking in. If you are reading blogs that you find beneficial for your career field, see if the blogger has a Twitter feed and get small chunks of inspiration throughout the day. You could even develop a relationship with that person as you interact.
You’d be surprised at how many online mentoring moments take place when there’s a two-way conversation about more serious topics than who got drunk at the party. Basically, the internet is a tool, and the way you use that tool reveals what you are interested in knowing more about. That’s why a lot of employers are so interested in the online brand of their employees, and it’s not going to change. The type of person you are online is how you might be in a stressful situation at work, and they know it.
If you are not sure who would be good to follow on Twitter, I have a suggestion: the Savvy Intern at YouTern recently came out with their Top 50 Twitter Accounts Job Seekers MUST Follow (2014). I know that this is a good list not because I’m on it but because I follow some of them myself.
One of the uncomfortable parts of a job search is discussion of salary. Most of us don’t really like negotiations over salary and fear that putting our current wage on paper might doom us to repeat it. For the most part, you really don’t need to put salary history on your resume. At the same time, if a job posting asks you to include salary history or requirements when applying, they will be looking for that information when you apply.
Employers have various reasons for requesting salary information. They may want to screen out those who expect more than they are willing to offer or find someone who is qualified and willing to take the least amount of compensation. They certainly want to know you will follow instructions. You could comply with a request for salary history in several ways:
- attach a salary history to your resume on a separate page
- include it in your cover letter
- use a salary range rather than the specific amounts
It should go without saying that your salary history should be accurate. You will be jeopardizing your career when they check with former employers and discover the truth. At the same time, if you think you were underpaid, there’s no reason to avoid saying so if it can be said diplomatically.
Salary requirements can be handled with statements that show your flexibility and willingness to negotiate the overall compensation package including benefits. Here, too, a range can be helpful as long as it is within reasonable limits. Tools like a salary calculator help you figure out what the range for your expectations should be. Salary may not be on your resume, but it is definitely on everybody’s mind, and you need to be prepared to discuss it.