Resume & Career Advice

April 11, 2011

Natural Disasters and Armed Conflicts: Effects on US Economy and Overall Employment

The Libyan War & Its Effects on US

What effects are we to expect with the current US armed conflicts?

Less than three months into 2011, a couple of major world events shocked the world. First, one of the most powerful earthquakes the world has ever seen hit Japan, bringing tsunamis 10-meters high and causing over $100 billion in damages. About a week later, western forces executed the biggest assault on an Arab regime since Iraq in 2003. While both events happened continents away, their effects on the US are not negligible.

As we have seen in a relatively smaller scale in the form of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 ($125 billion in damages), we know that a natural disaster could deal tremendous damage to a country. With the shortage of food, death and displacement of people and the damage to natural resources and infrastructure, the disaster’s effect on Japan cannot be understated. Across the world, even the United States is feeling the grunt of the tragedy. For one, Japan’s goods trade with the US adds up to almost $200 billion a year (2010) — including the thousands of cars and electronics we buy from them, and the billions of dollars worth of agricultural products we sell to them every day.

On the other hand, the armed conflict in the African country is already costing Americans: gasoline prices have reached four dollars per gallon in some cities. The unrest might be happening thousands of miles away from us, but we are feeling it in our pockets. While Libya is nowhere among our top sources for oil, it is still the world’s 18th largest oil producer — 10th, if you consider the total proven reserves. Whether or not Libya takes a large share in the world’s oil production pie, the loss of its contribution means reduced supply and the greater competition for reduced supply means higher oil prices.

While much of turmoil is happening elsewhere, we are not unaffected in our country. The extra dollars that an American spends on gasoline means a lot. The lack of Hondas an American car salesman could sell means a lot. The loss of a buyer of the corn that an American farmer produces means a lot. The laying off of an American factory worker because of halted productions in Japan means a lot. Natural disasters and armed conflicts, wherever they occur in the world, mean a lot to us.

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April 4, 2011

Drafting the Summary of Qualifications in Your Résumé

Summary of Qualifications

Can your resume’s summary of qualifications catch the attention of a potential employer?

So you’re already hyped up to create a résumé draft. You’ve already listed the names of the companies that you worked in, prepared job descriptions and list of accomplishments in every position you have handled and information about your education and some professional development activities you’ve had. However, in the process, you realize that you’re having difficulty with the summary of qualifications. According to an informal, unscientific yet practical survey employing random sample of 100 job seekers, the most difficult part of writing a résumé is the summary of qualifications.

The difficulty in drafting a summary of qualifications in a résumé is commonly not because of the lack of qualification but the lack of knowledge to discriminate the qualifications that matters for the specific job target. As all professional résumé writers would say, as much as possible be specific with the direction of your résumé. Having the knowledge of what position or at least field or industry you want to apply for. In drafting a summary of qualifications, answer the following:

1. What similar and valuable experience can I offer to the company?
2. What are my strengths that the company would benefit from?
3. What are my accomplishments in my past that is worth mentioning?

Funny, but true though, I.T. professionals tend to have the longest summary of qualifications. In fact, some can even produce a 100-page summary of qualifications because they either do not want to let go of some of their qualifications or they do not know which qualifications are relevant. Only choose relevant information. Below is an example of a badly written summary of qualifications.

Summary of Qualifications:
I am an intelligent sales professional with two years of professional experience in sales and am looking for a position in sales that can help me grow professionally in an environment that appreciates talent. My qualifications include proficiency in Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint and ability to handle pressure. I am athletic and member of the varsity team. I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in linguistics. I have been also recognized for excellence in organizing corporate parties.

If you’re current summary of qualifications reads similar to the example, either draft a new one or seek professional help.

March 28, 2011

How to Determine a Good Job Offer

Determining a Good Job Offer

Are your hopes high with the job offer?

A few months ago, Sam submitted copies of his résumé to several random companies he could think. He believes that just as long as he has the skills, experience and similar specializations of the professional the company is looking, the job would be good. Sam even posted his résumé to an online employment database to get his application to a wider number of recruiters, headhunters and possible employers. Sam is a good example of how many people find employment. Sam was successful enough to have been offered jobs from three different companies. Unfortunately, Sam is also of those who are not very keen in what makes a good job offer.

There are many aspects of a job offer that need to be reviewed before responding to it. The most obvious is the financial aspect of the job. How much is the salary or wage? This is undeniable the key consideration by most people. In this light, there are many questions that must be objectively answered. There are questions like: Is the offer salary competitive enough in the type of profession or field? Does the salary/wage offer make you feel insulted or pleased? If deciding on multiple offers— which job offer offers higher pay?

Another important consideration which people often overlook is the job description. Are you capable of the demands and challenges of the position? Is the job too demanding? One very important consideration is the organization. In determining a good job offer, one should not be limited to the job description and the salary alone. It is very crucial for people to look into the organization— the stability of the organization/company, its credibility and how it treats its employees. Do they provide good benefits? Furthermore, location and proximity of home to work should also be a paramount determinant. This will affect additional expense, which should affect perception towards the salary. If the job offer requires to relocation, ask yourself whether you want to and if it is worth it.

Nobody can point out which job offer is best for an individual— this is because there are emotions and preferences that are part of the decision making. However, in determining a good job offer, one must stay as objective as possible.

March 21, 2011

What You Should Know About Character References

Character Reference Letter

What’s there to know about character references?

You should know by now not to put “References Available Upon Request” in your resume.What you should do instead is write down your references on a separate sheet of paper, which you can hand out to prospective employers if and when they ask. But that’s not all there is to it.

More often than not, hiring managers would specifically ask you for work references—in which case, your list should include former supervisors, managers, colleagues, business acquaintances, or clients (if you own a business). For fresh graduates, your character references could be your teachers, professors, or academic advisors. Also, you may want to consider members from an organization you belong to, or someone of good standing in your neighborhood or community. Anyone who isn’t a member of your family would do. And although it should be a given, considering that more than one in four people falsify their references, it seems prudent advice to list real people with their actual job titles!

The important thing is for your references to be able—and willing—to put in a good word for you. They should be able to attest to your qualities, skills or abilities, whether you’re punctual, diligent, or an expert in spreadsheets. As such, make sure that you contact them beforehand, and ask permission to include them in your list of references. Don’t forget to ask them how they prefer to be contacted—through email, phone, or snail mail.

Sometimes, your references, especially the busy ones, might find it too time-consuming to write a character reference letter (as they sometimes might be asked to do), or they might not be sure what to say when someone calls them. You could offer a draft of what you would want them to say, or even just a list of your achievements to refresh their memories.

Finally, make sure that you maintain the accuracy of the information on your list of references. In fact, even if you’re not applying for a job (yet), it doesn’t hurt to keep yourself updated about your professional contacts. After all, with LinkedIn, Facebook, and other social networking sites, it takes little more than a click to connect with them. Just make sure it’s not a fake account!

March 14, 2011

Does Resume Submission (to Job Databases) Really Work?

Resume Submission

Is there any advantage with submitting your resume to job databases?

Because times are tough and competition in landing jobs are tougher today, job seekers are looking for alternative ways to get their résumés to as much employers as possible— the internet is the most powerful tool in making this happen. Prospective employers and job seekers have now capitalized on the internet technology in announcing job openings and in hopefully landing jobs. The proof of this is only keying in ‘jobs’ in any browser and hundreds of job databases appears on the result. Many of these job databases require job seekers to post their résumés so that possible employers will have access to these applicants. Does this work? Yes.

Although it is true that not many online applicants, particularly those who have submitted their résumés to job databases, are successful enough to have landed jobs or have been contacted by interested employers, many could attest that they have secured a job because of this system. There are credible databases that pass submitted résumés to companies. One consideration of this assertion is that ‘job databases’ are businesses that provide service to job seekers and employers.

The discouraging assumption that résumé submission to job databases does not work comes from the fact that there are too many applicants and only very little employers and/or number of vacant jobs. Also, most of the submitted résumés are not strong enough to be noticed by employers. These types of résumés may have not the correct format. It is very important to understand that electronic résumé submission requires specific format— the scannable format, which uses keywords are intended to match jobs in the databases.

In order to land jobs employing the method of submitting résumés to job databases the format of the résumés must be correct. It is a good career investment to ask for professional help if you are not capable of this.

March 7, 2011

Video Resume: A Job Search Advantage

Video Resume

Should we start using video resumes in our job search?

A video resume is a video, with length usually ranging from one to three minutes, where a jobseeker sells himself to potential employers. It has been catching on lately, as evidenced by many job and career sites allowing users to upload their video resumes. However, do video resumes actually help more than they hurt your chances at getting a job?

For one—at least for now—a video resume has the advantage of making one stand out. In a sea of text resumes floating around, video resumes are a haven of uniqueness, a respite for employers from the monotony of black and white. The important thing, then, is to make sure that your video resume makes you stand out for the right reasons.

Too often, a jobseeker would appear either artificial or awkward. Sometimes, video resumes would seem gimmicky or unprofessional. However, when properly made, a video resume shows employers what Arial on white background cannot: creativity and imagination.

Also, video resumes can effectively highlight your skills more than italics or bold typeface. You can write about your excellent communication and presentation skills or your command of the latest technology in your paper resume, but in your video resume, you can show them. It is no longer a formulaic description; it is the skill in action.

Ultimately, a video resume is an innovative supplement to your paper resume to give you an advantage in your job search. After all, a hiring manager would more likely watch an interesting video than read through mounds of paper resumes. The key word, of course, is “interesting.” Also keep in mind that a poorly made video resume could just as well ruin your chances, perhaps even more than a bland resume would. If you do it well however, a video resume could be your ticket to being a 36pt font size in a page of 12s.

February 28, 2011

How to Start Writing a Résumé from Scratch

Resume Writing From Scratch

Does it take you this much to build a resume from scratch?

Sam, not his real name, was a top sales and marketing executive in a high performing financial services company. He was delivering sales way above the majority of his colleagues. He was on top of his game when all of a sudden the financial crisis happened. The company was dissolved and the next thing he knew, he was out looking for a job. Being the sales and marketing professional that he is, selling himself through a resume shouldn’t be a problem— however, it was. Sam never made a résumé his entire life. Believe it or not, many people, even those with years of professional experience, do not own a résumé. Sam found out that writing a résumé from scratch is a difficult task.

One of the most important matters to remember when writing a resume is the target industry or position. In order to draft an effective résumé, the résumé writer should be able to use industry or field-specific jargons that would increase the probability of the prospective employers’ recognition of the applicant’s capability or compatibility to the position or at least the industry/field. Another important consideration should be assessment of professional strengths and skills. These core strengths should imply that the applicant has the qualifications best fit for the position.

Perhaps the most important and essential part of writing a résumé from scratch is the listing down of the two most common parts of a résumé— education and professional experience. List down the names of the companies, inclusive dates of employment, and relevant job descriptions including accomplishments achieved during the term of employment. This must be written chronologically. Not all employment experience though should be expounded in the résumé. Only relevant employment or work experiences with similar tasks must have longer job descriptions.

Résumé writing can be very difficult, even for marketing experts like Sam. Remember, it is never a sign of professional weakness to ask professional help when drafting a resume, especially drafting résumé from scratch.

February 21, 2011

How to Level Up Your Job Search

Job Search

What does it take to level up a job search?

Writing a resume is a big part of the job hunting experience, but it is, by no means, the only part. There are other things that need to be done before you land your dream job—and it’s not just sending your resume to thirty companies and hoping for the best.

1. Contact your references. Now, this should be a given, but it is often overlooked. When an interviewer asks you for your references, you should be prepared with their details, and your references should know that you’re listing them as such.

2. Update your profiles. If you are like most jobseekers today, you have a LinkedIn account and membership in more than a few job search engines. If you don’t, then you’re missing out on a lot. Your networks could be the key to getting the job you want.

3. Create your own website. It neither takes nor costs much to put up your own site. It brings tremendous benefits in showing your prospective employers how you’re keeping abreast with technological advancements. Plus, it’s a venue to show off your skills, talents, and achievements that do not make the precious real estate that your resume is.

4. Research about the companies you’re interested in. You’ll never know when you’ll get a call—which is basically an impromptu interview. Of course, it’s better to research about the company before applying, but particularly in job boards, where employers can view your resume without your knowledge, it would be beneficial to know a little bit about the companies that are currently hiring.

5. Practice the interview. You may not be scheduled for one yet, but instead of cramming for an interview that is scheduled the following day, practice your pitch beforehand. Ensure that you know the overused buzzwords from the industry keywords.

Just because you’ve written an excellent resume does not guarantee that you’ll get the job. Follow these tips and level up your job search in no time.

February 14, 2011

Modern Resumes: Old Practices That Need to Be Left Behind

Resume Strategies: Now and Then

How have job search strategies evolved from traditional to contemporary resumes?

The term “old school” is often viewed in high regard—whether in sports, music or fashion. It mostly allows the older generation to reminisce in fond admiration of the old days, and the younger ones to marvel at the past. This, however, does not work too well in resume writing.

For one, old school resume writing involves buying the best quality paper you can find, and using your Smith Corona typewriter—okay, electronic typewriter—to create your resume. Good luck finding one nowadays. Still, letters typed over whiteout is not the only way your resume would look outdated.

1. Resume writing tips from the 90s allow for the word “Resume” in the beginning, and “References Available Upon Request” in the end. It cannot be stressed enough that people should NOT do that anymore. Everyone knows it’s a resume. Everyone knows your references are available upon request.

2. As late as 2004, some professional resume writers advised job hunters to include street address and fax number as essential to resumes. This is no longer the case. With the current emphasis on privacy, your city and state would suffice. On the other hand, fax machines are so outdated that you might as well just send your resume via pigeons.

3. Further, unless you want hiring managers to envision you as wearing a suit of armor, make sure you include your email address. These days, it’s almost as essential as your name.

4. Contrary to traditional resume rules, abbreviations are okay. Just make sure your audience knows what you’re talking about. To be sure, spell it out the first time you introduce it, then, use abbreviations thereafter. If, for example, you keep on writing “Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer,” it not only wastes space, you would also sound like a toddler who just learned a new word.

There’s nothing wrong with being traditional, but you’d want to stand out from the rest of the applicants in a more flattering manner than to appear like you’re from ancient history.

 

February 7, 2011

Why Health Care Jobs are Most Promising for 2011

Health Care Jobs for 2011

Health Care industry in 2011

Health care jobs are most promising for 2011. According to US News, all of the health care jobs on their list from 2010 are still on their list for this year, in fact with a couple of additions. The health care jobs that are in top careers for 2011 are: Athletic trainer, Dental hygienist, Lab technician, Massage therapist, Occupational therapist, Optometrist, Physician assistant, Physical therapist, Physical therapist assistant, Radiologic technologist, Registered nurse, School psychologist, and Veterinarian.

This 2011, the health care industry can only be expected to grow. New patterns of living also demand new patterns or frequency of certain types of health care services. For instance, Al Lee of PayScale.com observes that “As baby boomers continue to get older, health care needs continue to grow.” This is supported by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, which claim that this trend will increase the demand for home health aides and physical therapists due to the aging population. Similarly, the increasing trend of working at home will also increase the need for home health aides and personal care aides.

The numbers also prove the claims. According to the US BLS, nurses’ jobs will increase by 582,000 or 22% until the 2018; similarly, 460,900 jobs are expected to open up for home health aides; while 378,500 personal and home care aide jobs are up for grabs. An interesting increase is expected or dental hygienists, for which 237,000 more jobs are expected to open up until 2018, marking a 36% growth rate.

And when it comes to salaries, the figures remain competitive for health care jobs as well. For instance, physician assistants earn a median salary of $85,000 while physical therapists’ median salaries are pegged at $70,000; and registered nurses generally earn between $44,000 and $93,000 every year. With the increase in demand for such services, there can only be increase in these numbers as well.

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