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Dec 23

Top 10 Tips for Your 2010 Résumé

Posted in Career Article, Tips & Tricks at 3:42 pm

“Out with the old, in with the new,” isn’t that what they always say? The same thing applies to your résumé. Chances are you applied for hundreds of jobs in 2009, only to be ignored or rejected. That means that something has to change.
Last year, 25 percent of employers said that on average, they received more than 75 résumés for each open position; 42 percent received more than 50 résumés. In addition, 38 percent of employers last year said they spent one to two minutes reviewing a new résumé and 17 percent spent less than one minute, according to a survey by CareerBuilder.
“Human resources managers serve on the front lines of a company’s recruitment efforts and are often the gatekeepers of the interview process. Because they can receive a large volume of applications, you may only have a matter of seconds to make a lasting impression,” says Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources for CareerBuilder. “You should always have a current résumé and portfolio ready to go, because you never know what the next day will bring, whether it’s a weak or healthy economy.”

You want employers to see you differently this year. Here are 10 ways to get your résumé noticed in 2010:
1. Start from scratch
A new year means a new résumé. Even though it might not sound like fun to rewrite your whole résumé (it probably won’t be), give it a try. Obviously, if you didn’t get any bites last year, something was a little off with your current résumé. Rearrange some sections, try a different format and use a different font. Just switch things up a little bit and see what happens.

2. Use a different format
Many job seekers don’t realize that there are different formats to use when writing a résumé. The most common form is chronological, which lists each job you’ve had in reverse sequential order, so you start with your most recent job. This form doesn’t work for all people, though. For example, if you’ve done a lot of job hopping in recent years or if you haven’t had a job in a long time, a functional résumé is a better option.
A functional résumé focuses on your skills versus your work experience. For this, you would list a pertinent skill for the job to which you’re applying, followed by a list of accomplishments that demonstrate that skill. If you don’t have relevant skills or a strong work history, you could use a combination résumé, which combines elements of both a functional and a chronological format.
For a combination résumé, you should list your applicable skills and the accomplishments that demonstrate each one. Below that, you’ll list your work history, starting with your most current job and working backward, but you won’t list your job description. Doing this allows you the chance to play up your skills while proving your solid work history.

3. Ditch the empty words and vague phrases
Many job seekers fall prey to a common mistake that irks most employers: using cliché keywords. In a 2009 CareerBuilder survey, employers cited these common phrases as overused and often ignored by hiring managers:
• People person: 39 percent
• Go-getter: 38 percent
• Team player: 33 percent
• Hard-working: 29 percent
• Multitasker: 28 percent
• Self-starter: 27 percent
• Results- or goal-oriented: 22 percent

These words are just empty fillers that don’t say anything about your achievements. For an accountant position, for example, keywords might include “accounts payable” or “month-end reporting” — words that actually say something about what you can do. Look over your résumé and find where you have listed generic qualities about yourself and replace them with keywords that match the job to which you are applying.

4. Make your achievements stand out
Many job seekers list their job duties on their résumés, but not their accomplishments. Although your past duties are important, employers care more about your ability to produce results. Try separating your daily functions from your achievements by first listing your job duties in a paragraph format, and then incorporating a bulleted area below that is titled “key accomplishments” to list your successes.

5. Quantify your accomplishments
Applicants often don’t know the difference between quantifying results and just stating a job responsibility. A job responsibility is something that you do on a daily basis; a quantified achievement is the result of that responsibility. By quantifying results, you show employers what you can actually do for them. So, if your current résumé is a block of words and you don’t have one number in there, whether it’s dollars, percentages or comparative numbers, you need to make some revisions.

6. Include a summary or objective
Including a summary on your résumé is one of those steps that many job seekers forget to take — and if they do remember, they usually include the wrong information. Employers want to know if you’re a good fit for their organization, so writing something like, “To gain experience in X industry,” doesn’t say much about you or what you can do for the employer. Your career summary should portray your experience and emphasize how it will help the prospective employer. It should be specific and include explicit industry-related functions, quantifiable achievements or your areas of expertise.

7. Fill in the gaps
Most people will tell you to wait to explain any gaps in your work history until you get to the interview. But there’s a good chance that you won’t get that opportunity if there are gaps in the first place. If, for example, you were laid off at the beginning of 2008 and are still unemployed, try using the functional résumé format we explained earlier. Or, if you feel comfortable doing so, explain what you were doing during lapses between jobs. The employer will know you aren’t trying to hide a sketchy past.

8. Keep it simple
How many times do we have to tell you? Do not, by any means, format your résumé with crazy fonts or colors or print it on fluorescent paper. Find an uncommon, yet attractive and simple layout to catch the employer’s eye, instead of his wastebasket.

9. Double-check for the basics
Silly as it sounds, many people get so caught up in formatting and proofreading that they don’t check for the most basic information, such as an e-mail address, phone number and permanent address. Double-check that your résumé has this information — none of your hard work will pay off if no one can get ahold of you.

10. Check for consistency
Take a look over last year’s résumé and make sure there are no inconsistencies. If you decide to include periods at the end of your sentences, for example, make sure they are at the end of each one. If you chose to list your job duties, followed by an accomplishment in that duty, make sure you do so throughout your résumé. Use consistent fonts, sizes, bullets and other formatting options. Employers will notice your attention to detail and assume your work quality is of the same standard.

Dec 23

Finding Jobs Now: Silver Lining for Older Workers

Posted in Career Article, Tips & Tricks at 1:49 pm

Out of Work Baby Boomers Show a Refusal to Give Up
The job crisis has hit baby boomers hard: more than 5 million people over 45 are out of work – more than doubling in the past year. And it takes this age group longer to find a new job: more than six months for 44 percent of them.
No doubt the job market is challenging for everyone right now, but what I’m most impressed with among boomers is a refusal to give up. Statistics show discouraged workers throwing in the towel on their search in every age group except this one. There’s no official explanation, except perhaps because boomers can’t give up. There’s a mortgage and college tuition to pay. There’s that dwindling retirement savings. Some younger people may opt to go back to school fulltime and crash on mom’s couch. But for boomers, instead of saying, “Nobody’s hiring” or “I can’t find work”, they say, “I must find work and I will.”
In the last few weeks I’ve talked to many people 50 and over who’ve done just that, and I’ve compiled some of the lessons they shared.

Explore options based on your current (and often evolving) interests.
Don’t assume you have to do what you’ve always done. Unemployment offers you the chance to move in a new direction. Take stock of your lifestyle and interests, which have likely shifted over the years even though your job during that time had always remained the same. Have your personal passions changed? Can you spot a career opportunity that’s connected to your future dreams instead of to your previous responsibilities?

Check with the Career One Step in your area.
Even though there’s often lots of red tape connected to government assistance, you should make a visit to the state-run unemployment office in your area to inquire about the educational benefits and financial assistance you may be eligible for. Find the location near you at CareerOneStop.org. Many counselors have the inside scoop on dynamic programs that could be right for you.

Research resources specifically for workers 45 and over.
Civic Ventures Encore Careers provides grants to community colleges that develop training programs specifically for people 50 and over who are looking to switch or advance their careers. Career Voyages, run by the government, provides links to community colleges and training programs throughout the country where you can research and inquire about opportunities in your desired field.
AARP has online content and resources specifically for older workers. Experience Corps engages people over 55 in serving their communities. The Serve America Act offers incentives for those 55 and over to volunteer. Many local community groups—churches, the YMCA and other non-profits—offer programs to mature workers, so network in your area to discover what may be available.

Embrace social media.
Job searching can be very isolating. To combat that feeling of being alone and to connect with new people who can often help you get hired it’s essential to tap into the power of online social networking sites. The best way for learning and development specialist Jennifer Turner to shake the depression and snap out of her funk caused by a pink slip was to become active online. LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter were foreign to her at first, but all offer simple tutorials on how to get started. These are the ideal forums to meet new people, connect with old colleagues, learn about job openings, share articles and ideas with like-minded people in your field, and more. A referral from someone you meet online is often the difference of landing the interview—or the position.

Sometimes it’s ok to focus on the place, not the position.
For some workers, location is everything. For others, the benefits at one employer matter most. If this sounds like you, focus less on getting your dream job, and study the openings that are relevant to your skills and experience. Don’t apply to every job at the company; be selective where you think you have the best shot.
Be humble.

Always do your best even if you believe the position is below your skill level.
After being a stay-at-home mom for 10 years, Caterina Ramsey got her foot in the door as a part-time cafeteria monitor—a far cry from the job in a school’s front office that she really wanted. But it was a chance to be where she wanted to be and offered her the opportunity to prove her worth and ability, which caught the eye of a decision maker who opted to promote her to the position she was best suited for as an administrative assistant. Demonstrating a strong work ethic and dedication can get you where you want to be.

Finally, go for it.
So many people over 50 who’ve lost their jobs tell me they feel old and slow—or they worry about being perceived that way by younger colleagues. Those concerns can inhibit anyone who’s looking for work. You have to believe in yourself—and be convinced that you have great value to offer an employer—before you can convince someone else to believe in you.
One California woman, Jan Alpert, lost her job in real estate and contemplated returning to school for fresh training, but she worried about how she’d fare with students half her age. Then came her first assignment – and as she wrote it, she realized she had so many life experiences to draw from, and she aced it. But she almost allowed the self-doubt to keep her from enrolling. Now she’s got a thriving business (24hourangels.com) where she’s making nearly the same money as in her former job lost at the start of the recession. Nobody can fire her, and she’s in a position to hire other people. Pure satisfaction!