Resume & Career Advice

May 16, 2011

Establishing Professional Online Identity

Employment: Professional Online Identity

Can your professional online identity get you hired?

The internet is a very powerful tool for communication, commerce and even for marketing oneself for employment. However, one must be aware that internet is both professionally constructive and destructive depending on how a person uses the internet and whether or not he or she practices discretion and moral ethics in his or her online activities. The modern day practice of Human Resource executives, who are tasked with doing background check as part of the recruitment process, includes checking an applicant’s online identity. When applying, one should keep in mind that the internet may make or break future employment. There are many ways to establish a professional online identity that would serve as a good reference to a person’s character, professionally and personally. These are:

1. Discretion and prudent use of networking sites. Popular networking sites such as myspace, multiply, twitter, friendster and facebook have become so prevalent that almost all people with internet access have at least account on at least one of the mentioned sites. These sites are very much trendy and fun, however, self-restriction and prudence must be practice in posting photos, blogs and comments. Photos wherein an applicant is drunk or nude and comments that are racist and insensitive are not the way to establish professional identity online.

2. One good practice is to join professional forums where one can air professional opinions and polite exchange of thoughts and ideas. Presence of these will imply that the person is intelligent. Another similar approach is development of an intelligent, prudent blog or contributing to online publications.

3. Make an online portfolio or a web-based resume that can be easily searched by employers and that can easily be referred to when hiring and recruitment are urgent. The trick is to develop as professional looking web-based resume that uses language excellently and that could market personal and professional strengths.

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 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.

December 20, 2010

Why You Need an Updated Resume to Start the Year Right

Updated Resume for the New Year

Have you already updated your resume in case you need to submit one this new year?

For many people, a new year represents a fresh start: a new look, new gadgets, new relationships, new attitudes. Many companies also follow this lead and take the opportunity to reexamine their goals, restate their objectives, reorganize their structure or reevaluate their workforce.

In line with these, it is not uncommon for hiring managers to revisit their files to look at the people who applied but were not hired. Who knows? These people could fill positions that have since been opened. Perhaps they could bring more value to the company, or they could replace people who left or plan to leave. The good news is that one of those people could be you.

With the escalating reliance of companies on online resume databases, it is prudent for a jobseeker to update their resumes. Ask yourself: What have I done since I last submitted or updated my resume? What certifications have I received or projects completed since then? Aside from what is currently in my resume, what other skill have I gained or improved on that would be valuable to employers? Write them down before you forget the impressive details.

Now, the assumption in answering these questions would be that you actually achieved something after you last edited your resume. If this isn’t the case, all the more would you need to update it. Your objective, if you have one in your resume, is expected to change after a period of inactivity. After six months of not getting that “supervisory position in an established organization that would utilize [your] skills,” now what? Sticking to a formula that isn’t getting results doesn’t seem to be the best way to go.

Also, even if you do not have an online resume (and I recommend that you make one) you should update yours, if only to prepare for the steady increase in job opportunities that a revitalizing (or revitalized, depending on whom you ask) economy presents. The bottom line is we’re definitely better than we were during the recession, and this could mean, among other things, more jobs and more applicants. Get a head start by improving your resume or seeking the advice of a professional resume writer.

Complete the “new you” today by updating your resume to start the year right!

November 1, 2010

Resume Writing: Targeted vs. General Resumes

Targeted vs. General Resume Writing

Should you a write a targeted or a general resume?

Job applications can be likened to marketing. As an applicant, you try to sell your skills to potential customers – the employers. But, before you get the chance to “sales talk” with these customers, you first need to present a product catalogue – your resume.

Resume writing has evolved dramatically over the years. Gone are the days when applicants tend to have those same generic-looking resume that overly state their past experiences. Employers now prefer simpler resumes that speak about the specific qualities and competencies of applicants. These resumes are regarded as “targeted”.

A targeted resume has numerous advantages as compared to generic ones. First, it highlights those competencies that are highly relevant to the job specification. In this time of specialized job responsibilities, highlighting these competencies increase an applicant’s chance of getting a feedback from an employer for the reason that they help hiring managers to easily sort out qualified candidates from those who are not. On the other hand, a general resume can be cluttered with too much and at times irrelevant information, there is a tendency for hiring managers to miss out the information they need. Moreover, a targeted resume can speak about an applicant’s seriousness towards the job he or she is applying for since it shows the effort of tailor fitting the resume just for that specific position. A generic resume, on the other hand, might give an impression that the applicant might just be trying out his or her luck about that certain job opening.

Just like in marketing in which a product needs to be in focus, a targeted resume helps an applicant to position himself for the job and showcases his unique selling points to prospective employers.

October 20, 2010

Should You Hire a Professional Resume Writer?

Professional Resumes

Is your resume really “professionally” written?

In a vast online world where do-it-yourself instructions and how-to information abound, one would easily be able to look for step-by-step explanations on how to do certain things—perhaps, even everything—from playing the acoustic guitar to using a Microsoft Zune portable media player.  You need to change the batteries on your iPhone?  A quick Google search will yield numerous video demonstrations.  Your pecan pie not coming out the way you want it to?  Yahoo! Answers will have a host of suggestions for you.

It is therefore not surprising that people often decide to write something as simple as a resume without asking for help from professionals.  Besides, you might not even think you need help in writing a resume, and should you require any assistance, there is always the internet.

However, what people fail to realize is the value of professional assistance.  You could study all the steps about rewiring the lights in your home—and you could even end up doing a good enough job—but will you take the chance?  If you have any doubt in your skill in electrical installation, the best thing to do is to ask for help from a professional.  An electrician rewires homes for a living.  It is what he does.  You can trust him with your lights.

It is the same for resumes.  A professional resume writer creates resumes for a living.  If your current resume is not getting you the interviews you think you deserve, then it is time to seek professional advice.  A professional resume writer can make your resume play to your strengths.  He knows what employers want and will get you that interview.

In the end, you can go ahead and incorporate the advice that you got from the web and create your own resume.  You could even end up creating a good enough resume, and you might get a call from your potential employer.  But will you take the chance?  If you have any doubt in your skill in resume writing, the best thing to do is to ask for help from a professional resume writer.  After all, it is what he does.  You can trust him with your resume.

September 28, 2010

Resume vs. CV

The Difference Between Resume and CV

Should you submit a resume or a CV?

Both the resume and the curriculum vitae (CV) are important marketing tools. They are documents containing the most vital information about a person related to his education and job experience needed for employment search. While most people use resume and CV synonymously in the workplace, this two are different. Knowing their differences is important especially in making sure what to use and when to use what.

A curriculum vitae is more thorough than a resume. Resumes are ideally made up of one to two pages only, as employers do not usually have the time to study lengthy documents. Only the information applicable to the job one is applying for should be included in the resume – contact information, relevant education and job experience. In short, a resume is a summary of all your skills and experience needed for the job.

On the other hand, a curriculum vitae is a much more detailed document. As what its name suggests, the CV highlights your educational and academic experiences. It contains not only your past jobs but the special trainings you have undergone, your awards and merits, your affiliations, organizational memberships and scholarly publications you have written, if there are any. You can also put some of your views about your past jobs in your CV, how they have contributed to your personal and professional development.

Employers would just usually ask for a resume but naturally a CV is needed if the work you are applying is more academically or research-inclined. In some countries a CV is needed when applying for academic or research positions or in applying for scholarship grants. The bottom line is, needless of what your potential employer may ask from you, you should write your resume or your CV well to ensure you of getting the job you want.

August 16, 2010

Five Things You Should Never Include In Your Resume

In Resume Writing, Less Could Mean More

What points should you leave out so that your resume gets noticed?

Writing a resume would seem pretty straightforward: Who you are, what school you went to, what you’ve done.  Still, there are certain details that would seem like a bed in the living room if they appeared in your resume.  Here is a quick list to distinguish the clothes cabinets from the couches.

1.    Your resume is your marketing tool, and just like any other tool, it can function without the word “Tool” inscribed on it.  Your potential employers know that it is a resume.  You don’t have to put the word “Resume” on top.  Would you want your F-150 with “This is a truck” painted on its doors?  I thought so.

2.    In writing a resume, avoid including information that is too personal.  Details such as your date of birth, marital status, religious or political affiliation, race or ethnic group, and number of children are better left out.  Putting your Social Security number is also a bad idea, while your vital statistics–including your height, weight, and health information–are not too vital when applying for that management job.  The bottom line is, whether or not discrimination still exists, those just don’t belong in your resume.  Further, unless you’re applying for a modeling, movie or TV gig, your resume should not include your picture.  In fact, even in those cases, it would be better to put your photos in a separate portfolio.

3.    While it might be interesting to know that you’ve once caught a White Sturgeon while on vacation or that you can play Flight of the Bumblebee in your spare time, don’t let your hobbies occupy the precious real estate that your resume is.  They’re better suited for small talk during the interview

4.    Salary information is another thing that is best discussed during or after the job interview.  This includes your previous and preferred salary.  Instead of placing salary information on your resume, you can talk about it in person, where you can use it as a bargaining chip.  By the way, detailing in your resume why you quit your previous jobs is also a no-no.

5.    Lastly, it is no longer required to insert the address and phone numbers of your references in your resume.  However, neither is there a need to put “References available upon request” at the bottom.  It’s taken for granted that you will provide your references if and when the hiring manager asks for them.  You may, however, want to print your references on a separate sheet of paper, so that you can easily hand it out when asked.

In the end, the clincher in determining what to put in resumes can be summed up in one word: relevance.

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