New to the job market? Changing careers? If you are not sure about how to best present yourself to potential employers, you've come to the right place.
Through online discussions and advice, speaking engagements and workshops, I offer my support as you begin your job search. Please submit questions by clicking on the "Comments" link below. I look forward to hearing from you. - Irene

Thursday, May 31, 2007

How Do I Write a Resume Without Real Work Experience?

Ah, the age old question. We all find ourselves asking this question at some point early in our working careers.

If you are feeling unprepared and overwhelmed at the thought of writing your first resume, don’t despair. Believe me, you are definitely not alone. The easiest way to do this is to take it one step at a time. Let’s just focus on the first step here, for the moment. Don’t focus yet on what type of job you’d like to get. Focus on what you’ve done so far.

If you are a student, this means focusing on past activities. In a Word document or on a sheet of paper, first list out each year – 1st grade, 2nd grade…and so on up until the end of high school or college, depending on where you are now. Now, for each year, think about what you did that year and write it down. Don’t worry, you won’t be sending this list off to potential employers. This list is for your use only and is a great first step to writing your first resume. Be sure to include sports you played, musical instruments, projects and project teams, special awards and achievements, etc. You may want to ask your parents to help you fill in some of the details you can’t easily remember.

If you are an adult, maybe a parent, looking to return to the workforce after a lengthy time away, writing a resume can be just as challenging as for someone doing it for this very first time. The first step is not so different than what is written above for students. The only difference is that, rather than focusing what you did during your youth, you will examine the many projects and activities you’ve taken on during your time away from the job market over the past few years. Did you coordinate events with your church, coach your child’s sports team, volunteer with a local non-profit organization? Think in the broadest terms and include everything you can think of on your list. Don’t exclude anything. This is only the first step; the content will be refined later.

Once you have completed this list of activities and accomplishments, you will be ready for the next step toward creating your first resume. You may surprise yourself with how much skill and experience you actually do have to include.

Stay tuned for information on the next step or feel free to click on ‘comment’ below to ask for further information.

Now, get busy with that list!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Spelling errors may cost you that dream job. Double-check your resume!

Remember when your teacher told you how important it was that you check - and double-check - your work? Well, it turns out that this advice was incredibly wise. When we write too quickly and are in a rush to finish something, it is easy to make mistakes. The trouble is that this very often sends a message to the reader. The reader gets the sense that we don't care enough about our work to spend the time to check it.

When we are talking about a resume, there are no excuses for spelling errors. The resume is not written on the spot or under a tight deadline, like a test or a class assignment might be. There is plenty of time to check it over and ask others to check it as well.

I recently read an article on this topic in the Central Valley Business Times. Here is an excerpt:

Ever wonder why you never got that job interview? Could be your resume was tossed as soon as the hiring manager saw the first typo. The adage "it's not what you say, but how you say it" holds particular weight when it comes to resumes, a recent survey shows.

Eighty-four percent of executives polled said it takes just one or two typographical errors in a resume to remove a candidate from consideration for a job opening; 47 percent said a single typo could be the deciding factor.

Executives were asked, "How many typos in a resume does it take for you to decide not to consider a job candidate for a position with your company?"

Nearly half (47 percent) said it takes just a single typo to toss the resume. Another 37 percent said the resume headed to the rejection pile after two typos.

Only 7 percent would forgive three typos and just 6 percent had no problem with four or more typos.

"Resumes often are a job seeker's first contact with prospective employers," says Diane Domeyer, executive director of OfficeTeam, the company that paid for the survey. "Candidates who submit application materials with typographical or grammatical errors may be seen as lacking professionalism and attention to detail, and thus spoil their chances for an interview or further consideration."

To echo the survey results detailed above, I can tell you that I have absolutely passed over resumes which contained spelling and grammatical errors. Remember, take the time to get it right. It would be a shame to have your resume tossed in the pile of rejected resumes because it seemed sloppily done.

A good spell-check program and an extra set of eyes reading it over are your two best friends. Be sure to use them to your advantage.