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Tom Denham: April 2011 Archives

Your resume is one of the most important parts of the job search because it is often the first impression a potential employer has of you. However, with most employers being overwhelmed by resumes, sometimes in the hundreds. Yyou have between 15-30 seconds to capture the recruiter's attention. There are many different ways to construct your resume, but there are some general rules you should follow to avoid blowing this aspect of your job search. By staying away from these common mistakes, your resume will more likely be read by a prospective employer.

Remember the resume does not get you the job. The purpose of the resume is to have it read by someone who can give you an interview. The interview gets you the job. These are my top 10 fastest ways to land your resume in the employer's trash can:

1. Too Long
Keep it concise, taking into account that the top half of your resume is the most critical. It should be one page for every ten years of experience, but leave space between your experiences for easier reading; you don't want it to appear crammed. You can expect to write at least two drafts. If you are having problems fitting it onto one page, then contact a professional career counselor for help.

2. Too Poorly Organized
Chose your categories carefully. If there is no logical order or arrangement, it will be hard to follow and difficult to read. List your education first unless you have been out of school for many years. Center the heading at the top in size 14 font, list dates on the right side, and "frame" it with .5" margins. Don't list references; save them for a separate page to submit to employers upon their request.

3. Too Poorly Typed or Printed
One of the best ways to blow your resume is to use one of those computerized cookie cutter resume writing programs. A one size fits all program will not properly align or center your resume, giving it a very unprofessional look. Don't forget to laser print it with standard size fonts between 10-12 and traditional fonts such as Arial or Times New Roman in Microsoft Word.

4. Too Poorly Written
Building a resume takes time and careful preparation. At all costs, you should avoid salary expectations, verbose language, poor grammar, spelling errors, typos, overuse of same adjectives or verbs, as well as unclear proper names or acronyms. Stay away from poor sentence structure such as phrases beginning with: "Responsible for..." or "Worked at...". Omit articles like "a" and "the."

5. Too Unclear of a Career Objective
If the reader might have trouble figuring out what you want, then you need a one line objective. Be sure that it is not too long or too general, and it more clearly defines your focus to the particular company.

6. Too Incomplete Description of Experiences
Qualify and quantify what you offer. "Last semester I did an internship" is not specific enough in your description of your various experiences. Instead, use action verbs to highlight your accomplishments such as edited, organized, reviewed, designed, coordinated, developed etc.

7. Too Much Irrelevant Personal Information
You do not need to include everything about you on the resume, only the important information for the job or particular employer that will get you the interview. Be sure you focus on your internships and relevant experience. Avoid including personal information such as your height, weight, marital status, date of birth, religion, race, national origin, or photos etc.

8. Too Slick
Don't print your resume on exotic or colored paper or use fancy typesetting, binders or photographs. Stick with conventional 25% bonded off-white resume paper available at any office store.

9. Too Poorly Presented
Too many resumes arrive on an employer's desk unrequested and with little or no apparent connections to the organization. Be sure to craft a well tailored cover letter to avoid this mistake. When you send it, use a large envelope so that when it arrives, it will sit flat on a recruiter's desk without any creases.

10. Too Boastful
The resume is about you, but it is for someone else's eyes. Be honest and keep it employer centered. Never lie, "pad" or stretch the truth about your job duties and accomplishments. Be prepared to back up all items on the resume in an interview. Employers will often follow up and check your sources for accuracy. If you are hired and a company finds out about your inaccuracies on your resume, you will most likely be fired immediately. Don't blow it.

© Copyright, Dr. Thomas J. Denham, Careers In Transition LLC - - Friday, April 29, 2011

What's new about the new economy? Technology has changed the rules. We are overloaded by information. The new digital age is faster and leaner and demands an unending need for speed. Put simply, we are information rich and knowledge poor. The new way of doing things requires not only technical mastery but also "soft skills" including integrative ability, reliability, dedication, determination and interpersonal relations. Here is how to stay ahead:

1. Be Mentored - Pick someone who will teach you the tricks carefully. Take time to learn the culture of the company since each organization is unique and different. Keep an open mind and don't form too many opinions too early on. Once you have learned the rules you will understand how to get things done.

2. Be Motivated - Present yourself as an energetic and enthusiastic professional. Demonstrate your self-confidence and go to work each day ready to tackle the challenges ahead. Learn to think and act for yourself with a sense of purpose. Can you generate results?

3. Be Self-managed - Manage your own career by building your experience as quickly as you can. Your ability to manage your time efficiently will allow you to wear more hats, including balancing your work and outside commitments. Take advantage of company or external training programs. Whether you are going into a full-blown graduate program or merely participating in a seminar to improve your management skills, you will need to reinvest continually in yourself.

4. Be Current - Keeping up with trends, skills and technical proficiencies will help you build a better resume each year. The role of knowledge is even more valuable today than it use to be, and companies expect you to stay current rather than spend valuable time training you.

5. Be Short-term & Long-term Focused - In the new economy, you might not be in your current role for long. Consider the skills and experience you can develop and then bring to another position within the firm or perhaps another company. Determine what you want to accomplish in the next year as well as three to five years from now. A career that is chosen today is not necessarily one that is chosen for life.

6. Be a Communicator - Your ability to speak clearly and articulately in front of small and large groups is key to your success in the new economy. Also, can you get your message across by writing concisely? Companies desire strong oral and written communication skills for effective presentation to clients, employees and the Board of Directors.

7. Be a Team Player - Most projects in the new economy are being accomplished with teams. Your ability to get along with different types of people in a work group and achieve a common goal will be rewarded.

8. Be Fast or Be Last - Recruiters want new hires that can hit the ground running. Employers want workers to be able to show initiative in assessing situations, identifying options and implementing solutions to problems. Do you have the flexibility and creativity to think outside the box or do you need to be told what to do? You will need to think and act quickly so you don't get left behind in the digital divide.

9. Be Entrepreneurial - Innovative leaders are rewarded; followers are not. Learn to take calculated risks and be prepared to participate. Stay organized and take ownership of your responsibilities with a "can do" spirit. See yourself as a Project Manager with the attitude, "If it's going to be, it's up to me."

10. Be Education + Experience Oriented - Firms seek new hires that demonstrate a balance between academics and relevant work. Employers want degrees because it shows a level of dedication and commitment. Companies also want you to come to the table "job ready" with transferable skills, practical internships and related experience.

Copyright 2011, Dr. Thomas J. Denham, Careers In Transition LLC - Friday, April 8, 2011

An individual will be more prepared to take on the demands of an actual job search only after they have completed the first two stages of the career development process: self-assessment and career exploration. Here are my top ten tips for a successful job search campaign.

1. Clarify your short-term and long-term goals. Be honest and specific as possible with your career priorities and commit them to writing. Perhaps you urgently need a new job right now, but also think about where you would like your career to be in three to five years.

2. Establish a careful job search action plan. Design a record keeping system. Will you need to relocate to secure your next opportunity? Set a pace that works for you by breaking down large tasks into smaller more manageable weekly assignments.

3. Devote time and develop a time frame. Depending on your situation finding a job can take on average three to nine months. You will get out of this project exactly what you put into it, therefore, commit a set number of hours each week for accomplishing specific tasks on your list. Also consider how much money you are willing to spend on travel and other career expenses.

4. Get help. Job searching can be a lonely process. Partnering up with a mentor, coach or career counselor can help you stay organized and focused. Don't go it alone!

5. Research your target markets. Develop your prospect list of possible employers that interest you. Identify the top three to five skills your potential companies seek.

6. Decide which methods to use. Networking remains the number one job search technique. However, you should not ignore other methods including a targeted direct mail campaign, your college career center, the classifieds, employment agencies, headhunters, career fairs, job search clubs, NYS Department of Labor job listings, internships, volunteering, and Internet resources. The more techniques you utilize the better.

7. Be well armed. Sharpen your resume and cover letter. Remind your reference of your job pursuits. Set up a account. Polish your phone skills. Prepare for the most neglected part of the search: the interview.

8. Be positive and enthusiastic. Try not to feel overwhelmed or frustrated with all you need to do. Your search is more like a marathon than a sprint. A good attitude can help you remain confident about achieving your goals over the long haul.

9. Evaluate your progress. Along the way, make sure your plan is flexible and reassess how you are doing and what activities are effective. Do you need more training, education or experience? Do you need to modify, redirect or revise your job targets and goals?

10. Be sure to follow up. Contact your leads and request a meeting or interview after a reasonable amount of time. Stay politely persistent with employers. Write a tailored thank you note after the interview.

Keep Climbing,
Dr. Tom

Copyright 2011, Dr. Thomas J. Denham, Careers In Transition LLC - Friday, April 1, 2011

Dr. Thomas J. Denham

Dr. Tom Denham is the founder of Careers In Transition LLC, a private practice which focuses on career counseling for individuals and consulting services for institutional clients. Dr. Tom has over twenty years of career services experience at Siena and Union Colleges as well as Harvard, St. Lawrence and Boston Universities.

Dr. Tom founded Northeast Public Radio's award winning talk show, The Career Forum and speaks extensively on career management issues. He earned his bachelors from St. Lawrence University, his masters from Boston University and his doctorate from Nova Southeastern University.

He has climbed over 180 mountains including the Adirondack 46, Oregon's Mt. Hood and The Grand Teton. In 2009, he survived a huge crevasse fall on Mt. Rainier by ice climbing his way out. Tom lives where he grew up in Albany where he would rather be ice and rock climbing and raising his 11 year old daughter, Rachel.

Dr. Tom Denham has been a professional career counselor for over 20 years. He helps people explore their options with career testing, make job changes and write resumes and prepare for interviews.

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