Wednesday, July 27, 2011

How Do I Tell Someone Their Resume Is Terrible? Easy, I Do It Every Day!

As you may know, I’m a big fan of Alison Green’s blog “Ask A Manager.” She addresses many of the questions I also receive frequently in a manner that is not only clear, but well-written and insightful. That being said, I couldn’t help but laugh out loud when I read the title of a recent post, “How do I tell someone that his resume is terrible?” I mean, I’m a career counselor for undergraduates, this is a question I tackle on a daily basis! Now truthfully, this post is more about if you should pass on a poorly written, sloppy resume, and whether it will harm your reputation, but it got me thinking about how I manage to tear apart students’ resume on daily basis - with a smile on my face. Granted, resumes are hard. Getting everything you want to say, in a clear concise manner, onto one page is rough. A thirty page paper on microfinance in Indonesia is nothing compared to the agonizing edits inherent in resume writing. So, like any aspiring-to-be-good educator, I begin with telling students what they did right.

I love the way you followed the resume packet’s directions.
You’ve done a fantastic job explaining your accomplishments as a hostess at Applebee’s.
It’s neat that you can ride a bike with no hands.

Then, I break the news to them:

While riding a bike with no hands is a very interesting skill, I’m not sure it should be featured so prominently given the limited amount of space we have to work with.

That’s when we dive into the nitty gritty. Move this, rewrite this, highlight this, take this out, shrink your margins, decrease your font, take off your GPA, add your minor … the list goes on. Fact of the matter is, the students that come in to see me have asked for this. They’re in my office because they want to know the honest truth, and what to do about it. Resume critiques, like most less than stellar feedback, can be challenging – but so is the job search.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

LinkedIn Etiquette: On Soliciting Help

This post is the first of a series I'm hereby calling "LinkedIn Etiquette". Partially motivated by love of LinkedIn, and partially motivated by some of the truly horrifying and unprofessional habits I've witnessed among LinkedIn users, I hope someone finds this helpful.

Things that are a good idea to do when soliciting help from others on LinkedIn:
  • Reaching out to specific folks on LinkedIn and explaining why you reached out to them and what you are hoping to gain from your interaction
  • Asking for advice and industry/company specific information
  • Including examples of the type of personalized questions you will ask this person
  • Sending thank you notes
Things that are NOT a good idea to do when soliciting help from others on LinkedIn:
  • Sending mass e-mails
  • Including broad and/or generic statements such as "I'm looking for a job in Boston," or "I'd love to talk with you about finding a job in Boston," without any additionally details
  • Asking for a job 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

How Starting a Blog is A Lot Like the Job Search

Having been on the job market twice now during the last year (and trust me, the first go-around took awhile), I've noticed some similarities between the job search and my own newbie blogging endeavors.  In no particular order, here are my thoughts on the subject: 

At first, you rely on your inner circle
Asking for people to follow you is sort of like asking people to help you with your job search.  It's a little uncomfortable, and you sort of wonder if you're just being a pain in their you know what.  So naturally, you start with your loved ones first.  It's no surprise that my current (8) followers are comprised of my mother, grandmother, boyfriend, best friends, and their respective significant others.  And the fact that your best friend reports that her boyfriend really likes your blog (thanks Chandra!) is just as awesome as the fact that he's more than happy to introduce you to a colleague or tell you what it's like to be a [fill in the blank]. 

Networking is still the name of the game 
During your job search you try every method of announcing your on the job search.  You update the headline on your LinkedIn profile, you incorporate the words "job" and "seeker" into your twitter bio, and your gchat status links to your resume (okay, maybe not that last one).  Same thing goes for your blog.  And, yes, in this case I really did link my gchat status to my blog.  And, yes, I still have only 8 followers.

You spend way too much time thinking about how you come across to others
How many times did you edit that four sentence bio that appears just under your name?  And how many times did you tweak your resume?  Sending out job applications just seems to take way too much time and effort, as does crafting blog posts, tweets, and returning to the internal debate over whether you should or should not post your blog on Facebook.

It becomes a total chore
Enough said.

You delight in the small successes
A phone interview? A re-tweet? The weekly e-mail from your mom confirming that she still loves your writing and thinks your blog is truly profound?  All are worth celebrating!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Wow, I Must Be Really Good At What I Do!

All day I advise students on the job search.  So, I took my own good advice and secured an awesome, super exciting new job. Ahem, new job!  Have no fear, I'm not abandoning my mission of making career services sexy.  In fact, I'm bringing my mission to a larger student population.  I've truly learned so much over the past year and have been so fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with so many fantastic students and colleagues, but this was an opportunity I just couldn't pass up.  So here's to new opportunities - and to staying put for awhile :)