No Resume Jargon!

Read this great article on Yahoo Jobs (Liz Ryan) the other day about resumes, and thought I’d share. Be creative with your resumes, don’t just use the same old jargon that everyone else is using!

“The 2009 job market is very different from job markets of the past. If you haven’t job-hunted in a while, the changes in the landscape can throw you for a loop.

One of the biggest changes is the shift in what constitutes a strong resume. Years ago, we could dig into the Resume Boilerplate grab-bag and pull out a phrase to fill out a sentence or bullet point on our resume. Everybody used the same boilerplate phrases, so we knew we couldn’t go wrong choosing one of them — or many — to throw into your resume.

Things have changed. Stodgy boilerplate phrases in your resume today mark you as uncreative and “vocabulary challenged.” You can make your resume more compelling and human-sounding by rooting out and replacing the boring corporate-speak phrases that litter it, and replacing them with human language — things that people like you or me would actually say.

Here are the worst 10 boilerplate phrases — the ones to seek out and destroy in your resume as soon as possible:

  • Results-oriented professional
  • Cross-functional teams
  • More than [x] years of progressively responsible experience
  • Superior (or excellent) communication skills
  • Strong work ethic
  • Met or exceeded expectations
  • Proven track record of success
  • Works well with all levels of staff
  • Team player
  • Bottom-line orientation

You can do better. What about adding a human voice to your resume? Here’s an example:

“I’m a Marketing Researcher who’s driven by curiosity about why people buy what they do. At XYZ Industries, I used consumer surveys and online-forum analysis to uncover the reasons why consumers chose our competitors over us; our sales grew twenty percent over the next six months as a result. I’m equally at home on sales calls or analyzing data in seclusion, and up to speed on traditional and new-millennium research tools and approaches. I’m fanatical about understanding our marketplace better every day, week and month — and have helped my employers’ brands grow dramatically as a result.”

You don’t have to write resumes that sound like robots wrote them. A human-voiced resume is the new black — try it!”

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What Does Career Success Mean To You?

Interesting question, and there is no one correct answer. I’ve been asking family, friends, and complete strangers what their feelings are about “career success.” I’ll be posting them in this post as I receive them. Feel free to add your opinion too! Enjoy!

  • “I think career success is either your happy with what your doing and making a good living, or doing something honorable with your life. You don’t have to be making lot’s of money to be successful in your career. I think being happy with what your doing is the most important.” (Christian H.) 
     
  • “Specifically, it is when you are the unquestionable master of your own time, are making more than $1000 an hour, and are consistently lionized in prominent international publications worldwide for your acumen, insights, and accomplishments. More generally, it means doing enough to attain immortality.” (Nishant K.)
     
  • “When going to work isn’t work, but that satisfies some passion. When you can look back and see that you’ve left things better than they were. Just enough $ to keep body & soul together. Oh, and a yacht…a big, biiig, yaaaacht (said in Eartha Kitt’s purr).” (Treven C., Director of Operations, Squaretrade.com)
     
  • “I think career success is doing something you enjoy and that you are well respected for. ” (David P., Immigration Attorney)
  • “I remember reading a quote when I was in young about how you shouldn’t get a job that requires a new wardrobe. While new clothes are sometimes a necessity for a new job, I think the spirit of that quote is saying that you shouldn’t have to change who you fundamentally are for your job. If you love counting, then accounting might be a great career for you. If you like to work with your hands, then get a job in manufacturing (and don’t take a job in accounting just because it pays more!). Career success means doing what I enjoy and what comes naturally, which for me includes training and instructional design. The days fly by because my work is interesting, and I respect those around me who have chosen a similar profession. Success means having enough money to live for today and plan for tomorrow. It also means having time enough time away from work so that I am refreshed and ready to come back every day for more.” (Kim C., Training Supervisor, Biotech)

Communication Tip

One tip that will help you survive in the corporate jungle is to listen a lot and speak with people professionally in case you have any questions, concerns, or issues. Additionally, you must learn to gauge when to escalate an issue to your boss, or if speaking with the person directly is a better option. 

Example: Person A listens to music while they’re working. Instead of using headphones, they turn the volume very low and assume it doesn’t bother their co-workers. Rather that ask Person A to use headphones, Person B goes to Person A’s boss to complain about the noise.

If this has been an issue before, this might be a good option. If not, a better solution would be for Person B to speak with Person A directly (in private) to ask if they would please use headphones. Person A will respect Person B for their professionalism. Many office relationships have been damaged by what has been called the “tattletale syndrome” or passive-aggressive behavior. How would you feel if one of your co-workers went to your boss first as opposed to speaking with you directly? Not good, right?

Bosses usually have a lot of work on their agenda and may prefer you try and work out smaller issues you have with co-workers on your own. If you’re comfortable doing so, it’s perfectly acceptable to ask someone to speak with you directly first before speaking with your boss. 

Tips to Get Your Resume Noticed!

I wish I could take credit for this great article about how to get your resume noticed, but alas, the story is from Yahoo HotJobs author Tory Johnson:

“Gone are the days of simply mailing your resume, receiving a call, shaking hands at the interview, and agreeing on a start date for that new job. The Internet has taken over the recruiting landscape, and everyone is required to submit a resume online. While that brings greater efficiency to the process for employers, it can be awfully maddening for job seekers. But it doesn’t have to be that way if you know how to navigate the system.Consider these 12 tips before pressing “submit” to send your resume:

1. Search job boards and the websites of employers that appeal to you. Print out the job postings that you’re interested in pursuing before you apply.

2. Use a highlighter to mark the keywords and industry language used to describe the requirements and responsibilities.

3. Compare those words and phrases to the language that appears in your current resume.

4. Figure out how and where to add the most relevant keywords to your resume, assuming you have the specific knowledge, skills, and experience. Applicant tracking systems will search for keyword matches — the more matches, the better, which often determines if a recruiter opts to view your resume.

5. Once you’re confident that your resume reflects a strong match, go ahead and submit that targeted resume online.

6. If the system requests a cover letter, write a short one that expresses why you’re a strong match and why you’d like to join the organization. This is a chance to tout your research on the role.

7. Never submit a generic, one-size-fits-all resume or cover letter. If you really want the position, you’ll customize all documents for each job.

8. Once you apply, get to work to find an internal referral to make a personal introduction. Here’s how:

  • Make a list of 50 people you know and ask each one if they know someone who works (or has worked) at that employer.
  • Attend job fairs to meet face-to-face with employers and other professionals.
  • Create a free profile and become active on LinkedIn.com or Facebook.com, which boast a combined 60 million users. Surely you can find someone who knows someone to make that connection.
  • Create a free Twitter.com account and “follow” friends and post requests for help. (You can follow me at Twitter.com/ToryJohnson where I post job leads and where fellow followers can help with contacts.)
  • Join an association in your field and network with like-minded peers.
  • Connect with your high school and college alumni groups. Old pals could be new connectors.
  • Talk to your unlikely network. For example, look at the class list of the parents of your kids’ friends. Anytime my kids hear about a friend’s mom or dad who’s lost a job, they tell them to call me. Even though we don’t know each other, we have a common connection that can sometimes lead to a contact.

9. Follow up with a call or email to the recruiter responsible for filling the position. Never say, “Did you get my resume?” Instead be ready to reiterate your strong qualifications and interest in the role. You’ll have just a brief moment to sell yourself, so rehearse before making the call or sending the email.

10. Don’t know the name of the right person? Cold-call the company and ask an operator to put you through. If that doesn’t work, do a Web search on the term “recruiter” or “HR director” along with the name of your employer of choice. The results may reveal the name you’re trying to find. LinkedIn is another resource to find the correct name.

11. Stay top of mind. Every recruiter is different, which makes this a challenge. Some say you’re welcome to follow up weekly. Others say every other week is enough. And then there are some who’ll tell you to never call. Find the right balance so you’re politely persistent without crossing over to a pest.

12. Ask directly for advice on how and when to follow up. A simple question, “What’s the best way to keep in touch?” will give you the details you need to stay ahead of the pack.

NOTE: Tory Johnson is the CEO of Women For Hire and the Workplace Contributor on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” Connect with her at womenforhire.com.
The opinions expressed in this column are solely the author’s.”

Time Saver Tip!

Time Saver Tip: Checking your email and voicemail throughout the day can be a definite time waster. The solution? To keep your sanity, and your project deadlines intact, check your email once in the morning, once around noon, and once before you leave for the day. If you’re expecting a critical phone call, by all means answer the phone, otherwise, let the call go to voicemail and call the person back when you have time.

Randy Pausch Lecture: Time Management

Top 10 Questions You Should Never Ask in a Job Interview

I recently came across this great article by Liz Ryan on Yahoo Hotjobs, so thought I’d share with you as she has some great advice for what NOT to ask during a job interview. Let’s assume this would be either a phone interview or in-person interview: 

“You know enough to bring a list of questions to a job interview. When the interviewer asks you, “So, do you have any questions for me?” the last thing? You want to say is “No.” But that could be the best option if you’re at a loss for words, because some interview questions are better left unasked.Here are 10 highly unsuitable interview questions that should never make an appearance, unless you don’t want the job:

1. “What does your company do?”
This was a reasonable interview question in 1950 or in 1980, before the Internet existed. Today, it’s your job to research any company you’re interviewing with before setting foot in the door. We need to show up for a job interview knowing what the employer does, who its competitors are, and which of its accomplishments (or challenges) have made the news lately.

2. “Are you going to do a background check?”
It is amazing how many job candidates ask this question, which provokes alarm on the part of the interviewer, instead of the more general, “Can you please tell me a little about your selection process, from this point on?” Lots of people have credit issues that cause them worry during a job search, or aren’t sure how solid their references from a previous job might be. If you’re invited for a second interview, you can broach any sensitive topics from your past then. Asking “Will you do a background check?” makes you look like a person with something to hide.

3. “When will I be eligible for a raise?”
Companies fear underpaying people almost as much as they fear overpaying them, because a person who’s underpaid vis-a-vis his counterparts in the job market is a person with one eye on the career sites. Instead of asking about your first raise before you’ve got the job, you can ask (at a second interview) “Does your organization do a conventional one-year performance and salary review?”

4. “Do you have any other jobs available?”
job search requires quick thinking about straight talk, and if a job is far below your abilities, you’re better off saying so than beating around the bush with this question. You don’t have to take yourself out of the running; you can say, “The job sounds interesting, but frankly I was earning 30% more and supervising people in my last job. Could you help me understand the career path for this role?” That’s the cue for the interviewer, if he or she is on the ball, to highlight another job opening that might exist.

5. “How soon can I transfer to another position?”
You’re broadcasting “I’m outta here at the first chance” when you ask this question. If you like the job, take the job. If it’s not for you, wait for the right opportunity. Almost every employer will keep you in your seat for at least one year before approving an internal transfer, so a job-search bait-and-switch probably won’t work out the way you’d hoped.

6. “Can you tell me about bus lines to your facility?”
Get online and research this yourself. It’s not your employer’s problem to figure out how you get to work.

7. “Do you have smoking breaks?”
If you’re working in retail or in a call center, you could ask about breaks. Everyone else, keep mum; if your need to smoke intrudes so much on your work life that you feel the need to ask about it, ask your best friend or significant other for smoking-cessation help as a new-job present. Lots of companies don’t permit smoking anywhere on the premises, and some don’t like to hire smokers at all. Why give an employer a reason to turn you down?

8. “Is my medical condition covered under your insurance?”
This is a bad question on two counts. You don’t want to tell a perfect stranger about your medical issues, especially one who’s deciding whether or not to hire you. Ask to see a copy of the company’s benefits booklet when an offer has been extended. This is also a bad question from a judgment standpoint; no department managers and only a tiny percentage of HR people could be expected to know on a condition-by-condition basis what’s covered under the health plan. Anyway, your pre-existing condition won’t be covered under most corporate plans for at least a year.

9. “Do you do a drug test?”
If you have a philosophical objection to drug tests, wait until they ask you to take a drug test and tell them about your objection. Otherwise, your question sounds like, “I’d fail a drug test,” so don’t ask.

10. “If you hire me, can I wait until more than three weeks from now to start the job?”
Employers expect you to give two weeks’ notice. If you’re not working, they’d love to see you more quickly. If you ask for tons of time off before you start working — unless you have a very good reason — the employer may think, “How serious is this candidate about working?” In any case, a start-date extension is something to request after you’ve got the offer in hand, not before.”