Since my first blog post on April 6th I have applied for 14 jobs, had 1 phone interview, received 3 emails from the Integer Group notifying me that the positions I applied for have been filled, and had one in-person interview which led to a job offer at Macy’s. I am working part-time at Macy’s Park Meadows while I continue to look for the perfect full-time position for me.
During this time, I applied the advice presented in earlier blog posts to my job search:
To track my progress I created an Excel spreadsheet.
To prepare for my phone interview I had my resume and the job posting on hand, had questions ready to ask, and spoke with enthusiasm.
I changed my resume font from Times New Roman to Garamond
To better my odds at getting noticed I asked three experts to review my resume and edited it and my LinkedIn profile according to their feedback.
There is ample advice available on Pinterest, LinkedIn, and in the library; and while the advice may be conflicting, it is worth consideration. If you feel stuck in you job search, try something new. Searching for a job is hard work, but you can make the process work for you by continuing to evaluate what you want and what you have to offer. If I have learned anything from researching and writing about the process of a job search it is to be persistent and keep an open mind.
I submitted a sample resume to three different experts – a writing advisor in MSU Denver’s Writing Center, a career counselor in the Career Center at MSU Denver, and a human resources manager. Some feedback was consistent among all three experts, while some advice was different. At the risk of looking bad, I am making my resume and the critiques of the experts available to you. I hope you find my experience beneficial in your resume revisions.
First, I took my sample resume to the MSU Denver writing center. The writing advisor focussed his critique on two specific issues: tense and organization. He advised me to use past tense in describing the duties and performance in previous positions and to only use present tense to describe the current job experience. He pointed out where to make these changes and said, “small details are important on a resume. Correct your tenses throughout and be consistent.”
His second piece of advice was to move the Education section between the Professional Experience and Volunteer Experience sections, unless applying for a position in an academic environment.
Next, the counselor at the career center advised shortening the resume to one page. She noticed that the resume has narrow margins, a good strategy to fitting more text on the page. She suggested a smaller font in order to reduce the length of the resume. She advised eliminating information that doesn’t directly relate to the job I am applying for and suggested to remove duplicate items in the Qualifications section and the Summary of Qualifications section, for example: “works well with others” and “strong commitment to team environment” conveys the same idea.
Finally, the human resources manager reviewed the resume. She didn’t comment on the use of past/present tense, or other mistakes like spelling, punctuation, and grammar. Instead, she looked at the resume and asked the question she says every hiring manager has on their mind when looking for potential candidates: what does she/he have to offer us? She told me the dates of volunteer experience and GPA are irrelevant. Target your resume to the position. “If it’s obvious you sent a generic resume with no regard for the position, you won’t even be considered.”
With the advice of three experts, I will revise my resume and post the outcome in tomorrow’s final post.
P.S. Not a single one of the experts mentioned a problem with the Times new Roman font – I wonder if they didn’t hear the news?
I have a phone interview on Thursday, so I turned to my favorite research library, Pinterest, to read what others have to say about the subject.
Cosmopolitan Magazine’s, Molly Triffen, writes advice about sex, makeup, and finding a job. In her article, 16 Tips for Owning a Phone Interview, she advises readers to turn on the radio to start preparing. “Whether it’s Cosmo on Sirius XM, NPR, or the Red Sox game, notice the words and tone the hosts use to create a mental picture for listeners.” Since I lack confidence in the sound of my voice and rusty interview skills, listening to the radio sounds like a great idea. If writers become better writers by reading, then why wouldn’t speakers become better speakers by imitating the professionals?
Entrepreneur.com Senior Writer, Kim Lachance, posts a beautiful infographic about the art of phone conversations. This infographic is geared towards salespeople, but since a phone interview is essentially a self-promoting sales pitch, her advice applies. Smiling during the phone call is mentioned three times in her infographic because smiling has a positive effect on your attitude and the sound of your voice. It instills confidence in the speaker and builds trust with the receiver. The infographic advises to keep a copy of your resume and talking points on hand. Don’t read from a script, rather refer to one to avoid rambling and appearing unprepared.
My advice to you (and myself) — practice. If this is the conversation that will get your foot in the door, it is worth the extra effort of practice. Practice 5 times with 3 different people (at a minimum) and then one more time an hour before the call. This will make you sound less scripted when the nerves kick in because your body’s muscle memory will take over.
Speaking of practice, practice your 30 second “elevator speech” – which I haven’t written yet, it is your answer to the most common phone interview question, “tell me about yourself.”
Next, research the company. I am (of course) following them on LinkedIn and familiar with their website. So now I will research the kind of work the department does.
Compare my resume and cover letter with the position description. What specific experience, one or two things, do I want to mention during the phone interview? How does it apply to the job I will be doing?
Below is a list of job requirements and my relevant experience:
Job Requirement: The position involves considerable interaction with staff within the group.
My experience: I work well with others. I can take the lead in organizing and motivating others, delegating work according to the strengths and weakness of individuals on a team. Team player able to take, or let loose of, the reigns and work collaboratively.
Job Requirement: interest in working with American Indian tribes is preferred.
My Experience: Multicultural courses in immigration, marketing, and education. Experience with a diverse urban population in an academic setting.
Job Requirement: Experience with the preparation of grant applications and reports.
My Experience: IRB protocol, Grant Recipient, marketing proposals and plans, academic and business writer, and writing tutor.
Job Activity: Conducts meeting planning and coordination, including invitation clearances, correspondence, meeting logistics, travel-related arrangements, communication with meeting participants, on-site support functions and preparation of meeting packets, table tents, badges and other meeting materials.
My Experience: I did this as a team captain at the Landmark Education Forum for Teens, Young Adults, and a Family Seminar. I planned and led training meetings and introductions for interested families. Also at RE/MAX I was the logistics coordinator for monthly new agent meetings and the Balloon Pilot scheduler. Pet Projekt and Red Ribbon Week at Walnut Hills Elementary.
Wish me luck as I write my elevator speech, listen to NPR, and practice smiling.
I check into LinkedIn daily. There isn’t a lot going on, but I make a point to read and “Like” at least one post every morning. It is an easy task. There is no shortage of interesting and useful bloggers on Linkedin. As I said in my last post, Liz Ryan is my favorite InFluencer. She publishes a new post about twice a week. Another easy “Like” is to follow companies in your industry that you respect. Following a company like The Integer Group means I am informed about marketing trends and research. Consumer research is invaluable no matter your industry, so check them out and give them a thumbs up for me.
I currently follow over 60 companies including NCSL and Karsh Hagan Advertising Agency who actively use LinkedIn to promote opportunities within the company. If I apply for a company that I am not currently following, I immediately add them to my list. I find this is a good way to connect with my future co-workers and investigate the company culture and persona.
Instead of searching for jobs on Monster.com, I check out the career pages of the companies I am interested in. I am much more interested in where I work and who I work for than finding a particular job title. This method has led me to about 5 new job listings a week, but up until this week I had no way to verify my progress.
This week I created a Microsoft Excel document (inspired by this one I found on Career Geek) to track my application status. This document tracks information like: where I found the job, the company and position I applied for, the resume file I applied with (because I have 3 different resumes according to job type), the salary offered (if listed), a link to the job listing, the date I applied, and who to contact. I also track (or will hopefully track soon) the response to my resume, the interview stage, interview information, and job offers which will be flooding in soon.
I will report my progress in my last post before graduation.
Today’s news alerted me to a new rule about resumes: don’t use Times New Roman font. Why? Bloomberg Business reported that Times New Roman is the equivalent of showing up to an interview in sweatpants. Tried and true, supposedly, is no longer true. The article, linked above, suggests fonts for the type of job you are applying for such as Garamond and Helvetica; and fonts to avoid. What the article doesn’t tell us is that the so called “rules” keep changing because there is as many opinions about resumes as there are Human Resource managers (or robots) reviewing them.
Most of us know, and struggle with, the one page rule. But have you ever asked why? The reason behind the one page rule is that hiring managers have short attention spans. The Office of Career Services at MSU Denver and the CU Denver Career Center have documents and advisors that say the one page resume is best. I have recently heard that the “rules” are changing and that the one pager is following in the footsteps of good old Times New Roman.
If you want to stand out in a sea of one page resumes in Times New Roman font, add a little pizazz to your resume.The majority of people I’ve spoken to about the subject (graduates, classmates, and co-workers) say the cover letter is your opportunity to show your personality, not your resume. My favorite InFluencer, Liz Ryan, advises the opposite approach. Her advice is to write a “Human-Voiced Resume.” She suggests job seekers to defy the non-creative approach by using the word “I” in their resume. “You’re writing about yourself, so it’s perfectly appropriate to use the word “I” a few times.” In another post, she gives the advice I so desperately wanted to read: your resume should represent who you are, not just what you’ve done. If you are a creative person, like me, your personality is your biggest selling point. Show, don’t tell, how creative you are by sending a unique resume that tells your story. Creative people can tackle any problem by thinking inside, outside, and around the box – a skill every employer is looking for.
Do you customize your resume to the job and company you are applying with? Customizing your resume each time you apply could leave you with a folder that is out of control. My suggestion is to customize your resume by job type. For me this looks like a folder for my Administrative resume, Academic resume, and Marketing resume. Each resume is customized according to what the position requires which leaves me more time to customize my cover letter with the company and specific position in mind.
Please leave your feedback and share your job search results, rules, and recommendations with me.
Time to change out of my sweats and into my highly fashionable and creative fonts.
I love Pinterest. If only I could get paid to pin.
Most of the Pins on my Careers board comes from blogs about how to land the perfect job. As you can imagine, job blogs are a dime a dozen and not all blogs are created equal. So how does one weed through all those pins to find the golden nuggets in the hay stack?
Here is how I weed through the pins:
If I click on a picture and the link is broken, delete it. Pictures are cool, but they are worthless if they don’t lead to something better.
When it comes to the job market, timing is important. I delete pins that link to articles/posts over one year old. Material becomes outdated quicker now than ever before thanks to ever changing and evolving technology and market trends.
Does the pin link to common sense advice or does it offer something new? There is no need to save five pins that lead to five sources that say the same thing.
Know your sources. I pin articles from trade magazines and journals, company websites, and popular bloggers.
Pinterest is exploding with interview advice. Here are the most popular pieces of advice on my Pinterest board:
Research the company before the interview. Research allows you to ask intelligent questions, get a feel for the company culture, and present yourself as the kind of employee the company invests in. **Adding in my 2 cents worth of advice…in addition to researching the company, research the industry. One of my favorite go to blogs is Shopper Culture by The Integer Group. The blog not only reports industry trends, but shares marketing research that is valuable for marketers, business professionals, and job seekers alike.
Turn your cell phone OFF. Not silent, not vibrate, off.
Rehearse your interview answers. You don’t want to sound scripted, but rehearsing ahead of time can help you avoid nervous tics and quirks such as saying “um,” drawing out your answer, and nervous fidgeting. I urge you to check out PopSugar’s 10 Things Interviewers Really Mean with These Ten Questions. This article is not the typical “here is what to say at a job interview” advice, instead it explains what interview questions are meant to discover.
One of the things I have learned about myself over the past four years is that I love to conduct, and read about, research studies. I prefer to do what I call “creative research,” which usually involves Pinterest. I love absorbing information, creating an opinion about it, and having the ability to conduct my own study about anything I am curious about.
So I ask myself, how would you conduct your job search if it was a research opportunity?
In my case, this means asking a few key questions. Where am I and where am I going? Where do I see myself in five years and what are the steps I could take to get there? What am I an expert at and what would I like to be an expert at? What is my #1 accomplishment in life that applies to what I want to achieve?
The questions may be different for you. Maybe you are clear about where you want to be and how to get there. Your research question might be to uncover what is in your way or what skills you need to develop to advance. The goals and questions in research are infinite in scope, they are also flexible. Revisable.
This blog is my research into my career. Thanks for joining me.