A few years ago I worked at Mature Worker Connection, a job placement service for people 50+. I learned many things during that time, some were part of my personal learning curve, (which I incorporated into the book “On Becoming a Lemonade Maker”), and some were of course related to job search strategies.
Why is this Lemonade Maker thinking of resume writing and job search how-to’s at this time?
In my last job with Missouri Vein Care, I was hired on to be the Front Office person and two weeks into starting, my boss was having me create some of the graphic design pieces which had been floating around in his head for a few years, and no one apparently had successfully been able to create them to his satisfaction… until then at least!
Fast forward a little, and we were looking for a new Receptionist, so I could focus solely on the graphic design for the four locations. (Just so you know, we found an amazing candidate!)
We received resumes from several people interested in the position, and if I didn’t have my previous experience of working with a job placement service to be able to intervene, many of the resumes would have ended up in the “no” pile”, instead of the “maybe” pile awaiting an in-person interview, and I’ll explain that in a little bit.
When I worked at Mature Worker Connection, it wasn’t uncommon to see poorly written resumes from even high level managers and CEOs!
Why? Well apart from not knowing how to write a good resume, many people have been taught that they shouldn’t toot their own horn! (…also some of the norms for resume writing from a few years ago are now dated.) So, for many people it’s very difficult to write about something so personal as our work history, in an objective and even dynamic way.
The resumes which landed in the “no” pile were the ones which had no or very little related education, experience, or transferable skills. The way many of the resumes were written, it was very difficult to see what were the skills; some were too basic to even serve their purpose, and were even working against some people.
Please don’t assume that an “entry level job” means you can hand in a poorly prepared resume, and the employer will be overjoyed to hire you! Many people coming into entry level jobs do get promoted; if your resume is well written, looks polished, then you show potential right at the start!
On the other end of the spectrum, we received a few resumes which were very well written, even to the point of making the person look over-qualified for the job. We looked at all of them, searching for the “it” factors our boss was looking for, and we highlighted the skills/experiences that seemed to show these factors.
Try to remember, there will be other people trying to get the job, and even if you’re a 9 on 10 or possibly a 10 on 10 for all the required/desired skills/ experiences, many times there are a few people on the same level as you!
Don’t despair… someone will get the job! Even if you’re the second choice, keep positive, for who knows, the person picked for the job may not end up working out, or they might receive an alternate offer they prefer! (This has happened to me in the past, and I ended up being the happy one to get the job!)
What did I learn about Resume Writing
and the job search process that I can pass on?
Here are a few points which I think speak to many types of jobs, and not just to a Front Office position:
- SPELLING/GRAMMAR MISTAKES! In an age where we have spell-check, having mistakes on a resume makes a person look sloppy. Period. If you can’t take the time to proof-read your resume, what makes an employer think you’ll take the time to do your work correctly? In medical environments, being sloppy with even simple date entry can make a world of difference!
- Visiting an employer’s business not being appropriately dressed: Think about the job you say you wish to have, and come dressed accordingly! If you’re just going through the motions to put in X amount of applications, with no intention of actually getting a job, then by all means, show up in flip-flops etc. If you show up inappropriately dressed, we’ll assume you’re not really serious about getting a job!
- Visiting an employer’s business not having a resume in hand: Yes, this happened, and the young woman in question seemed offended that I would ask for her resume, and that we weren’t hiring on the spot! She was shocked that the resumes would be forwarded to the owner of the company to look over! If you’re applying at fast food places it’s fine to walk in and expect to fill out an application; however, if you’re looking for an office job, your resume not only shows us your previous work experience, but it’s also your little demonstration of your ability to work competently on the computer. (Resumes which made their creator look incompetent on the computer is what landed many in the “no” pile, since it was obvious that the candidate had beginner level experience in Microsoft Word, and it was doubtful they’d be able to master the intricate scheduling and charting software we use in our medical practice.)
- Attitude: be positive and upbeat! If you want the job, please look interested, but don’t overdo it with fake-ness. Yes, we’ve seen both ends of the spectrum. The person we chose is very genuine and down-to-earth. When employers speak of a corporate culture, it can be difficult to know ahead of time what theirs is, but looking like you have the energy to match the job is a good idea, however overdoing it could work against you too!
- The “Objective” at the top of the resume: This has been replaced with your 30 second elevator speech about what you bring to a company, e,g. “Retail sales professional, with 15 years in ladies apparel, consistent top performer, up-selling to not only add to bottom line sales, but to create a total look for satisfied customers.” A few sentences are more than enough; keep it brief, but do try to write a little paragraph to sell yourself. There are many wonderful examples on the Internet – this is a great way to set the stage, and to whet a future employer’s appetite! By continuing to put an “Objective” in a resume, you are branding yourself as someone who is possibly behind the times in newer office practices. Why would you want to give that impression?
- Do look up a company’s website, to learn at least a little of what they do, so when you have either a first phone interview or a face to face interview, you can sound a little knowledgeable, as you will be able to show how your previous experience transfers to the new employer.
- Do try to tailor your resume to the industry and the job you are going for. This can be as simple as using vocabulary more specific to the job you’re looking for, and not the job/industry you came from! Try to remember that certain terms are used differently from industry to industry, and if you’re switching to a different type of environment, your resume can become a hindrance, not a tool, as people will struggle to figure out if your skills/experiences are transferable. Some employers won’t even be bothered to take the time to see if you might be a good fit, because you’re not showing that you have the energy/interest to learn about them or to figure out how you’ll be able to be a good match. They don’t want to do your work for you!
- Your resume needs to be more than a laundry list of duties you performed! Employers want to see that you’ve brought something extra to the job, so please include your accomplishments! Did you get promoted three times in two years, and in each position you increased sales/ re-organized processes to cut down on time per task/ trained staff/ saved the company money… you did? Great! By how much? Think in terms of percentages, dollars or time saved. Numbers speak to a potential employer very powerfully, since your future performance can be envisioned based on past performance.
These 8 points will help a number of people to go from being “not a possibility” to maybe getting the job! I wish you well in your search!
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#On Becoming a Lemonade Maker, #Tamara Kulish, #job search, #employment, #unemployment, #resume