I read a lot of blogs. A lot. I want to read even more, but it gets overwhelming when I see my Google Reader overflowing with unread blog posts. So, I got to thinking that if I did it for “research” it would actually be job related. Yes, I am justifying my blog reading addiction. But who cares.

I’m not a professional reviewer obviously, so I am just going to give my thoughts on the blog and how it helped me, or how it might help you. Some will be career related and some not, because let’s face it, not every thing I read is career related. Gasp!

You never know… my next review might be YOUR BLOG!

So, without further ado, I give you….

PHC Consulting, the “Sales Recruiter” by Peggy McKee

http://www.phcconsulting.com/WordPress/

Peggy is a medical sales recruiter. You might remember hearing about her when I interviewed her a couple of months ago for a post I wrote. Peggy writes her blog as if she is talking to you directly. She has a “no bull” attitude and will tell you like it is. If she doesn’t like your resume, you will be the first to know. If she thinks you are not dressing up to snuff, better heed her advice, go home and change. If you don’t have what it takes for the job, she’ll let you know.

Her blog is packed with interesting things. Lots to “see and do” there. Aside from posting regularly about all things a recruiter wants to see and know about you, the candidate, she periodically adds interesting short YouTube videos. I love one she did with a stack of resumes and her take on them.

Though Peggy is incredibly busy with her recruiting career, I love how she takes the time to sit down and write about different things that can help you in your job search. You can tell she truly cares about what happens to job seekers.

I will continue to read Peggy’s blog for my own continuing education. I’ve learned some things from her myself (she hates paragraphs-no matter how small-on resumes, she only likes bullets) that even if I disagree with her (I do-on that point) it won’t stop me from looking forward to her newest blog post.

Keep ’em coming, Peggy!

http://www.phcconsulting.com/WordPress/

Wow. In a matter of a week, we lost four icons. To lose two in one day was even stranger. I was on Twitter each time I found out who had passed. It isn’t that I am on Twitter all that much. The kick of it is the news spread so far and wide and fast, that I heard it on Twitter first, then saw it on MSN.

I am amazed at the impact and the reach Twitter and other social network sites have on our society and even, our politics and the politics of other nations— so much so, that the State Department asked Twitter to NOT do a scheduled maintenance so that the lines of communication would stay open for Iranian citizens protesting the Iran election. Seriously.

As a rule, I stay away from news channels on TV. I don’t need to hear every death, every fight, every politician slamming each other, or worse, getting caught with their pants down, as it seems to be the norm lately (for Pete’s sake, keep it in your pants or get a divorce!).  Now it seems I can’t keep it away from me. Twitter is inundated with news. I admit, sometimes I am grateful for it. I probably wouldn’t even have known that any of the 4 had died as quickly as I did if it wasn’t talked about and “retweeted” repeatedly.

The upside to all of this is that Twitter, Facebook and all the others can work for us as well. Promoting your book, product or business? “Tweet it”. Looking for work? Post it on Facebook. With the power of viral marketing you can reach thousands of people in an instant. Talk about amazement. Gone are the days of spending hundreds of dollars on paper, ink, and stamps to get your message out. Now you can do it in a single tweet.

Keywords are an essential piece to a well-written resume. Why? Because they are the words that describe what you do. They also let the reader know immediately whether or not you are a potential candidate for them.

Keywords are “buzz” words or industry specific jargon that communicates a message about your qualifications, accomplishments, credentials or responsibilities. They are action-driven and demonstrate your value to the company.

Each keyword has a message attached to it. For example:  Operations Leadership message is– process performance improvements, operational compliance, cost reductions, safety implementation, etc. They help tell the story in conjunction with action verbs (created, developed, launched, delivered…) to pack more of a punch and keep the reader interested.

With companies receiving thousands of resumes per job opening, they have come to rely on keyword-searchable databases to weed out candidates that don’t fit the position and save the candidates that do. These machines are programmed with certain keywords and receive “hits” for resumes that match the data. Keywords are also being used on job boards and professional networks like LinkedIn.  Hiring managers can go to LinkedIn and type in “Pharmaceutical Sales Representative” and if you have those words in your resume, you become a match.

Keywords can be used throughout the resume. You can add them to your career summary at the top, or in your job description, and within your accomplishments to bring out your strengths. Here is an example of keywords within a career summary. I added bold so you could tell which ones they are:

“Dynamic executive leadership career of diverse organizations with a rich mix of finance, operations, internal/external processes, sales and business development. Intimate knowledge of financial processes, accounting practices, operating results and profitability. Expert in executing team-driven process improvements to increase revenue growth, operational efficiency, and overall profitability.”

See how keywords are peppered all through there? This resume will be able to stand up against company keyword machines.

Take a close look at your resume and make sure it is keyword-saturated. If you need help with keywords, go to Amazon and buy a book of keywords. Definitely worth the money.

Are you daydreaming of pina coladas on a sandy white beach, but know you will never get there? Are you watching your friends take vacation and wonder when you get to? Do you have weeks of vacation days saved up but haven’t taken any?  Whether you are a self-proclaimed work-aholic or feel guilty about taking time off, DON’T!

Many employers think the fear of taking a vacation is unfounded. “People need vacations” says Mark Needham of Jones, Jones & Associates, a PR firm in the Midwest. “There are certain people who just won’t take vacations and I tell them they need to for their own sanity. The only time you shouldn’t is the first 100 days of a new job. They are crucial in terms of establishing yourself within the company and getting in sync with your coworkers” he says. “You can’t gain momentum if you are not there”.

The should-I or shouldn’t-I answers lie in your own heart. If you know you consistently pull your weight and handle a great deal of responsibility, then go. “However, if you are in the bottom 20% of performers, you are at risk any time you take a vacation” says Mr. Needham. Still, he says, few people get fired for taking a few days of which they are entitled to by company policy. “If you’re going to get fired, you’re going to get fired, so you might as well take your days off and enjoy yourself“.

Hmmm. OK then, I am booking my flight to sunny paradise right now…

Writing a resume for yourself can be challenging, at best. That is why most people these days hire a professional to do it. It’s much easier for the professional because they aren’t you! It’s hard for people to figure out what information should stay or go. How many pages? What about this job or that job? What about if I went to several colleges? What if I didn’t graduate from college? Should I omit that job in ’03 because it was only a few months? How do I put this accomplishment into words? Functional? Chronological? I’m terrible at writing, what am I going to do?

It’s hard enough suddenly finding yourself unemployed, but now the task of writing a resume? Forget it!

Take a deep breath and relax, dear reader. Here is a brief synopsis that will help even the “worst writer in the world” overcome writer’s block and put the pen to paper. Keep in mind though that this really is ‘brief’ and you will probably want to discuss any finer points with a Certified Professional Resume Writer.

1.  When starting your resume, the first thing you need to do is put yourself in the mind of the reader. What do they want to see? What do they really want to hear? Are you in sales? Then it’s numbers. Operations? Then it’s process improvements or cost cuts. Business Development? New opportunities, revenue pipelines, partnerships and so on. Always keep your reader in mind. They want to know what you have done– and can you do it for them?

2. After you add your contact information, you need to determine your job objective. What is it that you really want to do? You need to have a clear understanding of your focus. You know what you have been doing, or what you are good at, but what do you really want to do? What is your brand? If you are uncertain, you need to dig deep within and explore your skills, core competencies and what inspires you. Fill your career summary with keyword action phrases and value-added snippets of what you do best. Summarize. Be bold and confident (not cocky) in your language.

3. Getting to the meat of the resume= your work history. It does not have to be a career obituary, “Here lies Erin. I did this, this, and this every day, all day. I did this all with boring bullet point after bullet point, and ended each job without a bang. Hire me?” You can talk about what you did at your job without putting the reader to sleep. Mix it up a bit.

You might add a mini-paragraph after the job title, as your narrative (what you were brought in to do). You don’t want your mini-paragraph to be too long, because the reader may skip right over it. Keep it brief and to the point. Follow it up with your accomplishments, or deliverables, in an action verb, bulleted format.

Show enthusiasm in your tone when writing about your accomplishments. Get the reader excited, create a story! Paint a picture of what was going on in the company when you were there. Were you brought in to clean up a neglected department? Had to put in new processes where none had been in years? Created synergy among a previously hostile union/management environment? That’s a lot of work and it should show on the resume. Bring it out and show it on the resume. Keep it interesting.

4. Education & Professional Development. If you are out of college, you don’t need to add your high school. Personally, unless you are IN college, I never put high school on a resume and sometimes even then I won’t.  Why? If you have a college degree it is a given you went to high school.

What if you went to several colleges? Add the one you graduated from and omit the rest, unless they were for more specialized courses. I’ve seen some resumes with 5 different colleges, no real majors and only a semester here or there. You don’t need to add those. It looks like you were/are wishy washy and can’t stay focused.

Add your professional development and training courses. They add credibility to your resume and show that you are always eager to learn and/or improve.

5.  Miscellaneous. Volunteering is a great thing– especially when it relates to your job or future job. Add it. Hobbies, interests, height, weight and zodiac sign? Omit it.

DO NOT add any political and religious affiliations.

As for your format, I would stick to a reverse chronological style. This is the most popular choice by recruiters and hiring managers. I also create a chrono/functional hybrid style depending on the clients situation.

These are some ideas to help you in the writing process.  Once you start writing, you may not be able to stop! Be confident, have fun and just do it.

There are die hards out there who still insist the best way to get a job is the old fashion way– newspaper ads and word-of-mouth. While I agree on the word-of-mouth (a.k.a. networking) point, let’s face it, the reality of finding a “career” through a newspaper ad is slim.

So, if you are still unfamiliar with social marketing/networking and online branding/profiles, I will give you the 101 basics on how to get started online with fast results.

1. I know I sound like a broken record here, but join LinkedIn. LinkedIn will open doors for you that you never thought possible. Originally started as a professional networking tool, LinkedIn is now being used by employers to seek out job seekers! How do they do this? They type in the keywords of candidate characteristics in the search box. If their words match up with the keywords on your profile, guess what?  You have officially become a contender. You can also research companies online, network with employees that WORK at that company and look for current job openings. Utilize LinkedIn as much as you can. You will be amazed at the results you get.

2. Join Twitter. If you are an entrepreneur, have a small business of some sort or are a job seeker, Twitter is a wonderful way to connect fast with all sorts of people. You build your network by following others who in return, follow you. It sounds strange at first until you get going. I created my profile in November, but didn’t see the value of Twitter until the following January when I started really connecting with colleagues and job seekers, plus all sorts of other interesting folks. You can spread the word that you are job searching. The bigger your “follower” list is, the more people will know this and keep their eyes and ears open for you. I just read a great post about a college grad who got a job within just a couple of weeks of joining Twitter. Read it. Then join Twitter.

3. Facebook is a great way to connect with lots of people and get a little more personal with them. With the option of adding pictures, videos, quizzes and applications, you let the other person see more into your personal life–if you want them to. Many companies have their own Facebook pages that you can research.  Again, another great networking tool.

4. Another one I think everyone should do is to set up a Google profile. It is a basic profile with facts about you on Google. You will be able to control, or at least add to, what people see when the ‘Google’ you. Put up a professional picture and add a little bio. It adds to your online presence.

There are also Naymz, Plaxo, Ning, Ecademy, and many, many more.

As with anything, there are a few rules to keep in mind when doing your online networking. NEVER ever say anything you wouldn’t want a perspective employer to know. Remember that hiring managers ARE GOOGLING YOU and an unsavory post on any of your networking sites may come back to haunt you. And PLEASE do not post any pictures that you wouldn’t want your Grandmother (or an employer) to see. Be smart. Keep it professional.

I was listening to a client recently tell me how she is in this job that she hates. The boss is horrible to her and she now has ulcers, which she (and her doctor) suspect comes from the job stress. She doesn’t want to quit because she is afraid of not being able to find another comparable job.

Even in this tough economic climate we’ve been faced with this past year, there are times when you have to JUST SAY NO and walk away from a job.

Speaking from an experience back in my early 20’s, I can tell you why…

Recently laid off from my pharmaceutical sales job, I found an ad in the paper with the words “Sales Representatives Needed” screaming out at me. Not that I even liked sales. I didn’t, but at the time, I didn’t know what else I would be good at, so I stayed with it.

I arrive at the meeting place, a hotel lobby, around 6:00am and met the DM and two other reps. They start talking about what entrance they thought they’d be able to get in through. A small warning bell went off in my head, “Why can’t we just use the front door?” I ask naively. They all sort of looked at each other and chuckled…”new kid”. “They don’t let us in the front door, they don’t like ‘solicitors’ so we find our own way in” chuckle, chuckle, wink, wink.

We get on the road and head over to this company that manufactures chemicals. The DM insisted we sneak in through the back door that says,’Authorized Personnel Only’. I didn’t like this one bit. First, OK, I am a very polite person… I like to be invited places, not sneaking in to a place–especially potential clients. The only time I ever tried to “sneak” in anywhere was a Def Leppard concert when I was a teen–and even then, my good manners told me it wasn’t the right thing to do. But I digress.

 So, short of skin tight black spandex from head to toe, I felt like I was on Mission Impossible (hear the theme song in your head?) creeping through the side entrance and hiding behind boxes until we could “come out” of our hiding spot. Seriously. Keep in mind that I am in a skirt, pantyhose, high heels, and a brand-spanking new white blouse. I didn’t think that I would be slinking around oily plant floors when I dressed for my new job that morning. That is how unethical these people were. Slinkers. My new word.

Now I am thoroughly embarrassed, hating these slinkers, and wanting to leave, but with no ride and not really knowing where I was, I was stuck–and with them for the entire day.

We try to act as if we belong as we brazenly come out from our hiding spots and waltz along the shop floor.

Until we are stopped by the shop superintendent, who didn’t want to hear what we were trying to sell, utterly disgusted that we snuck in, and marched us out the front door. I was very happy and nodded to everything he said, giving him my very best, ‘this is my first and last day of this awful job and I’m chalking this up as a terrible experience, sorry to bother you’ look.

This went on with 4 other “prospects” who all kicked us out. I was SO happy when that day was over.

I have never quit a job without another one lined up. In fact, I’ve never NOT worked since I was 15 years old. But in that instant, I knew I was never coming back. I had been listening to my instincts tell me from the minute I got there that it was all wrong, it wasn’t the job for me, that I would be miserable there. For once, I didn’t stick it out. I didn’t say, “OK, see you all tomorrow!”. I left.

It was the best feeling in the world and I was so grateful to not have to go back.

So, my point is this:  if you go to a job that makes your skin crawl, that goes against everything you believe in, or you are getting treated poorly, LEAVE.

I am the first to think, “desperate times calls for any ole’ job’, but there are lots of other jobs out there that are less painful and cause much less stress. Think of your mental and physical health if you are going to a place of work that you despise. It’s not good for you. I am a firm believer in the mind+body connection. If you are miserable, your health will start to deteriorate and THEN how are you supposed to work?

Have you heard me talk about the C.A.R method? If you are a client of mine, you have. It’s a method I use in every single resume. It is, to me, the single most important factor when writing about your accomplishments.

OK, so what does C.A.R. stand for and what does it mean for you?

C.A.R. stands for:   Challenge   Action   Results

When consulting with clients and proceeding with the data mining process, I always ask them about their C.A.R. stories. What were the stories behind their accomplishments? What was going on in the company before they took on the issue? Give the reader some background, not a novel, just a hint of what the environment was like.

So ask yourself, what was the Challenge I faced when either a) I joined the company or B) I took on the new situation or C) I was promoted?  Briefly discuss the Challenge. Again, it doesn’t have to be super lengthy. You  just want to get your message across.

For the Action portion, this is where you can talk about what you did to resolve or change the situation. What action or steps did you take? For some jobs, it might be quite detailed, but I wouldn’t advise talking about every single thing. Summarize as best as you can. Remember, HR people have lots of resumes to review and not a lot of time.

For the Results portion of C.A.R., talk about the results. What was the percentage of production increase? How much did you increase sales or people productivity? Use numbers and percentages whenever possible.

These are the things that stand out and make you more employable as employers want PROOF of what you are capable of doing… it shows them what you can also do for them as well.

C.A.R. is the easiest way to pull out your accomplishments if you are having a hard time thinking of what you did/do. 

 

Good luck!

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