Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick.
Don't lose faith. Steve Jobs

Suzan Hirsch

Practical Coaching
Powerful Results

Acing the Job Market: The Resume (Click open/close)

Keeping your resume current has never been more important in this challenging job market, but how many of us fail to follow the advice? Suddenly, we need to change jobs. With little resume writing experience, we ask ourselves, Where do I even begin? Fear, uncertainty and panic set in, but we must begin writing our employment story making sure that every detail highlights our skills and talents.

The real question is not where do I begin, but how do I get my resume to reach the top of that huge applicant pile? Hundreds of resumes are submitted for each job opening, some from people who send to every job posting and are not qualified, some who fit the job description perfectly and some who are reaching above or below their current abilities. How will your resume stack up to the competition?

The purpose of a resume is quite simply to win a job interview. Yes, you need to sell yourself to the prospective employer and offer a compelling biographical account of your work life. This does not mean including every job you have held since you were in high school! More importantly, the content should show tangible successes and results. Wait until the interview to show off your enthusiasm, energy and team spirit.

Most prospective employers are given a stack of resumes to review and spend less than 10 seconds with each! A resume needs to be readable at first glance and command enough attention to be put through to the next round. Resumes should rarely be longer than two pages, and for those new to the work force, one page in length. The font needs to be easy to read, bullet points should be short, and your best assets should shine. On the first pass, it is quicker for a resume reader to cull the stack and rule out candidates. With that in mind, do not include your grade point average unless you have a 4.0, nor anything that would be best explained in an interview but on paper makes you look less than desirable. You may be the perfect candidate, but if your resume ends up on the floor there will be no explaining.

To give your resume the extra edge, give specifics -- too much market speak makes it sound like everyone elses cookie cutter resume. Include how many, how often, how much as frequently as possible. Examples are: increased sales by 25%, or supervised 15 employees, or the company grew from $1.2 million to 3 million, or your class of 25 elementary students raised their standard scores by 10%. Be specific and let your resume speak to your accomplishments.

Even in this lousy job market, your resume can get you an interview that leads to your next job. So give your resume a thorough going over and make sure every word on that page is working hard for you.

Acing the Job Market: Where do I send My Resume? (Click open/close)

In the not too distant past, a job search meant opening up the morning paper and mailing off a neatly typed resume. So much more needs to be done in this wild new employment world. Job hunting is now a second career and seekers need to upgrade their job search tactics to a whole new level. The resume is written and is perfect without spelling or grammatical errors, is succinct and to the point and it highlights marketable skills and talents. It should reach the top of that huge applicant pile but where should it go?

Most people begin their search online with big box employment sites like Monster, Career Builder and Craigslist but keep searching and find lesser known sites like Simply Hired. There are many specialty websites like Beyond Credentials for new college graduates and Opportunity Knocks and Idealist for nonprofit positions. Be sure to check out for the latest in government hiring.

After looking in all the usual places and telling a few friends, there is yet more to be done. Our circle of friends and acquaintances has grown dramatically so Facebook and Linkedin are great places to post your resume and announce to the world that you are in transition. An annual survey by Jobvite found that the percentage of recruiters who plan to hire through social media rose to 89% in 2011 and 87% of those hiring online plan to use LinkedIn. Don't underestimate the value of social media in your job search. Grow your networks and don't be shy about saying you are looking for a new position.

It is important to balance internet searching with deliberate efforts to connect face to face with people. There are many, many networking events in your community. They could be sponsored by any number of organizations including BNI, Networking for Professionals or check out Net Mixer. Often, events are listed in your local paper. Talk to as many people as you can at these meetings, getting to know what companies and professions they represent.

Make sure you are comfortable with your "elevator speech" and are ready with briefs answers to the questions, what do you do or what kind of job are you looking for. The answer should be direct and highlight your skills and ambitions. Have ready a business card with your contact information or a resume business card thatprovides maximum information. Finally, if you don't know specifically what you kind of job you want, ask for informational interviews to help you learn about an occupation from someone with firsthand knowledge. Your next chapter includes scheduling, then winning interviews for positions you have discovered following the steps that have been outlined. Once you've been hired, your employment seeking career ends and your talented encores begin. It's only a matter of time. Go shine.

Acing the Job Market: Winning the Interview (Click open/close)

An interview has been scheduled, youve put together a professional looking ensemble and done your research so you think you are ready for the big day. But wait a minute, have you ever considered the purpose of an interview? Most people will tell you that an interview is the time for you to show your skills and talents to a prospective employer. While that is true, the purpose for you is to get a job offer. Its that simple!

The interviewers are not professionally trained, he or she has another job within the company and talks to prospective employees when needed. They often are looking for why not to hire you so be careful and precise in your answers. Bring strong, positive energy from the start to the end of the interview, even when you hear things you may not like. When you receive an offer, you can get clarification or more information to help you decide. Butif you dont get an offer, you will not get that chance. And you can always turn down an offer!

Prepare answers to the following questions and practice aloud:
  1. Tell me about yourselfnothing personal but specific examples of why you are right for them
  2. Strengths and weaknessesa weakness that you have turned into a strength
  3. Where do you see yourself in 5 yearswith the company, learning and growing not moving up
  4. What have you liked and disliked at previous jobsremember all companies have the same issues

Finally, like any sale, the closing is extremely important. Most people will say thank you for your time and I hope to hear from you soon. That is completely forgettable! Instead, in your own words, tell them again, specifically why you are right for the position and that you want the job and what are the next steps. It is surprising how few people say this, even though it may be impliedsay itI want this job.

We all know how difficult it is to put into practice each item in this article and that is what I do as a career coach. I prepare you for acing the job market.

Let me help you win the job!

What clients are saying about Suzan:
"Suzan has bottomless emphathy. She was very easy to talk to during a difficult career transition. ... more

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