January 31, 2009

1 Thing You Can Do Today to Improve Your Résumé

I know there are a lot lists saying "10 things you must have on your résumé," etc. But I find in this time-starved environment, that we don't really have time to focus on all of these. Sometimes, it is just a little easier to focus on one thing a day or per week. That way, you don't get overwhelmed by the process. As if there's not enough to worry about already.

So, if you could only do one thing this week to improve your résumé, I would recommend that it be this:

Make Your Résumé More Reader Friendly:
  1. Remove Any "References" From Your Résumé. This includes the line, "References available upon request." This will give you more room to beef up your accomplishments. These days, references are listed on a separate sheet and submitted only when specifically asked.
  2. Boost the Reader-Friendliness of Your Résumé. No recruiter wants to read your résumé with a magnifying glass. Therefore, make sure you are using a font size between 10 - 12 points. If you go any larger than 12 points, you risk the perception that you lack experience and need to use "filler tactics" to appear credible. The only exception to the font size rule is your name. Make your name as big as possible without sacrificing too much space. Somewhere between 14 - 18 points (depending on the font) should suffice. Also, having your name be more prominent conveys confidence.
  3. Balance the White Space. Most word processing programs default to a margin size of 1.25 inches. This is usually problematic during the résumé-writing process, because you are trying to fit in as much experience as possible onto as few pages as possible. My recommendation is to reduce the margins to between 0.5 - 1.o inch on all sides. Again, any larger and you risk the "filler tactics" perception.
  4. Use Bullet Points. I won't belabor this point, as you've probably heard it before. Yet, every once in a while, I'll see a résumé come through with paragraph style. Submitting your résumé in paragraph style is one of the most sure-fire ways to get it thrown in the trash. Enough said.
Spending 30 - 60 minutes improving the readability of your résumé can translate to more job offers. And in this economy, who wouldn't want that. One last thing...when you are done finessing your résumé, send it to your friends or family using different e-mail reader programs (i.e. Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo!, etc.). This assures that all of your changes and improvements will be transferred correctly when you e-mail your résumé to recruiters/employers. Until next time, happy hunting!

January 29, 2009

Are You Thinking About Working at Home? Companies Hiring Now!

Ah, the life. Never get out of your pajamas while you rake in the dough! I can't tell you how many questions I get through my coaching about potential work-at-home opportunities. The reality is that some of them are just scammers trying to get your information or money. There are, however, some truly legitimate companies out there with real needs and positions. 

According to Yahoo! HotJobs, there are companies currently looking for help from remote workers. Here are the top 10 companies hiring right now:
  1. Alpine Access
  2. HireMyMom.com
  3. Sylvan Online
  4. National Shopping Service
  5. oDesk
  6. Working Solutions
  7. Language Lab
  8. 1-800-FLOWERS
  9. Aetna
  10. Elance
To learn more about these companies and the positions they are hiring for, read the full article here

January 27, 2009

If You're Thinking About Freelancing or Entrepreneurship...

Here is a wonderful video excerpt from The New York Times Small Business Summit featuring Stonyfield Farms CEO Gary Hirshberg. In this video Mr. Hirshberg provides his 4 essential pieces for success. The video is targeted at existing entrepreneurs, but the advice is worth hearing if you are thinking about striking out on your own in any capacity (now or in the future). To view the video, click here.

January 26, 2009

Need to Find a Job in Less Time?

Given that yesterday's post was all about figuring out the average time it will take you to find a job. I thought it only fitting to you give you a great article on how to speed up that process. It comes to us from the WSJ.

There is some sage advice in this article that I hope significantly helps those who are unemployed, and also those who are getting ready to hit the work force. Enjoy!

Speeding Up the Process for Finding a New Position If you find yourself suddenly unemployed or if you were laid off months ago, it's probably no surprise to hear that it could be several months before you're gainfully employed again. According to employment experts, these days it can take six months to find a job after a layoff. Here's how to manage an extended job search. Read the rest of the article here.

How Long Will It Take You to Find a Job in Today's Market?

If you're one of the unemployed (or underemployed), then, you're probably wondering how long it will take you to find a job. There is an industry formula that provides a ball park on the average job search. It goes as follows:

It will take the average job seeker 1 month for every $10K of income they want to earn.

So in other words, if you are shooting for a $50,000 job, it will take you roughly five months to gain employment at that salary level. This, of course, does not assume that the job is a perfect fit and that it meets all your other employment criteria. Also, keep in mind that there may be a margin of error of +/- one month depending on your local market, job position saturation, etc.

What if you don't have however many months you come up with available to wait? You might look at contract or freelance work in the meantime. Not only will this give you some income, but it will open new networks and give you additional references for your résumé. More on this soon!

January 23, 2009

Are We in a Recession or Depression?: The Economy Clarified

Are we in a recession or depression? Do you feel like you still don't understand everything that is going on in today's economy? With melancholy stories about foreclosures, bank closures, job losses and more hitting our news waves every day, it leaves one's head spinning and begging the question, "What caused this?"

If you'd like to get a grasp on this question, here are two shows that are absolutely superb in clarifying the situation in an easy to understand way. Both shows are broadcasts from This American Life.

The Giant Pool of Money. A special program about the housing crisis produced in a special collaboration with NPR News. We explain it all to you. What does the housing crisis have to do with the turmoil on Wall Street? Why did banks make half-million dollar loans to people without jobs or income? And why is everyone talking so much about the 1930s? It all comes back to the Giant Pool of Money. Listen to this program here.

Another Frightening Show About the Economy. Alex Blumberg and NPR's Adam Davidson—the two guys who reported our "Giant Pool of Money" episode—are back, in collaboration with the Planet Money podcast. They'll explain what happened to banks in the last quarter of 2008, including what regulators could've done to prevent this financial crisis from happening in the first place. Listen to this program here.

January 21, 2009

1 Thing You Can Do Today to Improve Your Résumé

If you could only do one thing this week to improve your résumé, I would recommend that it be the following:

Make Sure Your "Objective Statement" Speaks to WIIFM. In a CareerBuilder.com survey, 71% of employers wanted a résumé that felt tailored to the open position. The Objective Statement is one of the easiest ways to do that - as long as it is WIIFM focused. Now, if you have no idea what WIIFM is, then you should read this post. Otherwise, here's an "Objective Statement" I recently read that really stood out. You can use it as a guide to help construct yours.

"Objective: To provide strong analytical skills and proven management experience to your company in the capacity of Financial Analyst."

What I like about this statement is that it is short, to-the-point, and clearly provides the hiring manager with an idea of what benefits this person can bring to the table. Remember, it is all about conveying WIIFM.

January 19, 2009

Important Career Lessons from a Banking Industry CEO Survivor

We've all heard the stories about the state of banking industry, and how many brand-name banks met (or are continuing to meet) their demise. However, even in the midst of one the greatest banking debacles of all time, there are important lessons to be learned. This time the lessons come from the C.E.O of JPMorganChase, Jamie Dimon.

Some in the media have showered praise on the dynamic Dimon for his straight-talking management style that guided the company relatively unscathed through last year’s financial crisis. All of us could learn a few things from his style and wisdom to help our career, leadership success and potential employability.

You can access the article here. Enjoy!

January 16, 2009

Get Your Résumé Critiqued for FREE!

One of my passions is helping students and adults improve their job hunt chances by coaching them on their résumé and interviewing skills. Having spent over 15 years working for Fortune 500 companies and recruiting both college students and professionals, I've learned a lot about what works and what doesn't. In fact, I travel the country speaking on this topic. Now, I want to share this knowledge with you!

In an effort to help our readers get the best opportunities possible, I have decided to take real life résumés and offer feedback to make them even more spectacular! So, every month we'll be featuring one résumé submitted by you, our readers. The selected résumé will receive critiques on aesthetics & style as well as content. All personal information (i.e. your name, address, numbers, etc.) will be obscured for security purposes.

If you are interested in submitting your résumé, here's what you need to do:

1.) Make sure your résumé is in a Word format.

2.) Send your Word formatted résumé via e-mail using the link below my picture on the left hand side. It's the one that says, "
Get Your Résumé Reviewed FREE"

3.) Put the words "Résumé Review" is in the subject line, or my spam controllers may trash your résumé.

I'll pick one résumé each month that can offer the most amount of learning for our readers, as well as for the original author. I apologize in advance, but I will not be able to provide critiques for every résumé submitted. The critiques will be posted the first week of every month starting in February. I really hope you find this program helpful in your job quests.

January 14, 2009

Time for a Résumé Overhaul?

In our last post, we talked about a light at the end of the unemployment tunnel, and we gave you information on 13 companies that are hiring people right now. However, this list means nothing if you don't have a résumé that effectively translates your work experience into some "WIIFM" for the employer. "What is WIIFM," you ask? It is the critical question that every employer asks when scanning for potential candidates: "What's In It For Me?"

The WIIFM Check - Try this little litmus test to see if you have successfully conveyed how you can bring value to an employer on your résumé.
  1. Give your current résumé or C.V. to 3 of your most honest friends or relatives.
  2. Give them 10 seconds (Yes, I said seconds!) to review the résumé. Don't cheat! Give them only 10 seconds.
  3. After they have reviewed your résumé ask the following questions:
- What 3 things did you take away from my résumé?
- Was it easy to read?
- Would you hire me based on what you saw?

If the responses to the questions above are not what you had hoped, maybe it's time to overhaul your résumé. In upcoming posts, we'll discuss some ways to make your résumé stand out from the overwhelming stack on most H.R. managers' desks. Until next time, happy hunting!!

January 12, 2009

A Light at the End of the Unemployment Tunnel?

With approximately 13.5% of the U.S. labor force either unemployed (7.2%) or underemployed (6.3%), it is an understatement to say that times are a little tough. Several dear friends of mine have either lost their jobs in this tumultuous time or are getting ready to graduate with fears of their employment prospects. Add to this the workers that fear possibly losing their jobs and the picture ain't too pretty.

However, before we sink into the doldrums of economic distress, let's focus on some positive news. Even in this economy, there are companies that are still aggressively hiring. The key is to 1.) know who they are and 2.) have a top-notch résumé.

Here is the key to the first item: 13 Companies Hiring This Year

Later this week, we'll feature tips and tricks to get your résumé up to snuff. We'll also feature companies on the hiring list and talk in more detail about what they're looking for. Until next time, happy hunting!

January 9, 2009

Welcome to the Best Year of Your Life!

Happy New Year! You made it through the holiday indulgences, and it's time to get back on track emotionally, mentally and physically. Well, we're going to be there for you each step of the way. In fact, we don't just want you to recover to your old state of mind, we want you to prepare yourself for the BEST YEAR OF YOUR LIFE!!!

Too many times our resolutions take us right back to the status quo. Think about it. We gain a few pounds during the holidays, and most often we resolve to lose those pounds in the new year. How often do we resolve to get in the best shape of our lives? Instead, we have the perspective that this is just another year. Same as last year. Same as next year...but it's not. If this isn't going to be your best year ever, then when will it be?

So I challenge you to make this the best year of YOUR life. In fact, when you wake up tomorrow morning, I want you to say the following words:

"This is the best day in the best year of my life."

I guarantee it will be difficult to have a bad morning when you wake up with that frame of mind. Just try it. It won't hurt. And if it feels good, do it again the next morning, and the next and the next. Before you know it, you'll be on your way to creating the best year ever.