JOB HUNTING ADVICE FOR A NEW YEAR

by Doris Appelbaum

Are You a Recent College Graduate?

There are a number of ways a new graduate can promote him/herself. Focus on your grade point average if it is higher than 3.0 Indicate whether or not you personally financed your own education. Employers like to hire students who were willing to sacrifice to get an education Name your courses, particularly those in the areas you wish to pursue Start doing volunteer work to "beef up" your resume and learn new things Network with all the people you know – especially those in your field Research job sites on the Internet to see what employers want

Have You Been Laid Off/Downsized?

The Number One lesson for anyone going through a layoff is this: don’t worry about losing face. Getting laid off reflects THE COMPANY’S financial concerns, not YOUR capabilities. Let go of your embarrassment and focus on getting the best deal you can from the company you are leaving. The tips below should be helpful.

Don`t get nasty. Don`t make it easy for the company to ignore your concerns. Hold your temper. Don`t be afraid to ask. People get outplacement assistance, health benefits, even use of an office - simply because they asked. Ask for time to think it over. Don’t assume that your company’s first offer is its best.

Start Networking: Schedule coffee breaks with colleagues inside your company and lunches with people outside, and look to those people for contacts, ideas, advice, and support. Remember: It is not the end of the world. Many people actually go on to bigger and BETTER prospects. Ask your friends and colleagues if they’ve ever been terminated. Attend Job Forum or 40+ Meetings with others in similar positions. You can thrive, not just survive, a termination.

Learn Important Lessons
A conscientious student once wrote about a pop quiz. He had breezed through the questions, until he read the last one: "What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school?" He had seen the cleaning woman several times. She was tall, dark-haired and in her 50s, but her name? He handed in his paper, leaving the last question blank. Just before class ended, one student asked if the last question would count toward the quiz grade. "Absolutely," said the instructor. "In your careers, you will meet many people. All are significant. They deserve your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say 'hello'." He has never forgotten that lesson. Her name was Dorothy.

How to Handle Delicate Situations
Your objective is to write your resume in a reasonably straightforward way, without having to call attention to aspects of your background that might not impress an employer. Some aspects of your background, however, may put you in a negative light - for example, longs gaps of unemployment, no college degree.

Below are some common problems and a suggestion or two for approaching them:

You have held the same job for years. It is the only job of significance that you have ever held. Divide the job into several areas of responsibility. Treat each area as if it were a separate job. For each major aspect of your responsibility, write a general statement of responsibilities or duties followed by several points that indicate your accomplishments. Not one of the specific jobs described on your resume are directly related to the position for which you are applying. Use a functional or combination resume built around those skills and attributes that you want to highlight. Perhaps you used those skills in an organization or in volunteer activities.

The most recent jobs in your work history bear little relation to one another. Again, use a combination resume focusing on the skills that you demonstrated and the experience that you gained from those jobs. Key those descriptions to the job for which you are applying.

Avoid Resume Bloopers

The following are recent resume bloopers submitted to a major agency:

"Professionally watered 22,500 office plants." (counting ability)
"I'll need $30K to start, full medical, three weeks of vacation, stock options and ideally a European sedan." (proactive)
"I have eight arms and eight legs with excellent interpersonal skills." (multi-tasker)
"I need just enough money to have pizza every night." (budgeting)
"I have never had a single blemish held against me and my IQ is off the charts." (humility)
"I am quick at typing, about 25 words per minute, 35 with caffeinated coffee." (coffee drinker)
"I'm submitting my resume to spite my lack of C++ and HTML experience." (computer illiterate)
"I have unsuccessfully raised a dog." (people-person)
I am extremely loyal to my present firm, so please don’t let them know of my availability. (loyalty)
Birth Date: October 2, 1052. (senior citizen)
Strong on interpersonal relationships, typing, filing and reproduction. (flexible skills)
Please don’t misconstrue my 14 jobs as ‘job-hopping’. I have never quit a job. (not a quitter)
I shared an office with two heavy smokers and the plant manager’s dog. It was best for my lungs and my sanity to resign. (health conscious)

Tailor Cover Letters

Most job hunters know that a resume should always be accompanied by a cover letter. In many situations, the cover letter is as important as the resume itself, if not more so. It is your first chance to make a good impression. If it is well-focused, the cover letter enables you to direct the employer’s attention to those aspects of your resume that will "push the right buttons". A well-researched cover letter allows you to demonstrate your knowledge about the company to whom you are writing and its industry. This is impossible in a resume. The cover letter also provides an opportunity to explain aspects of your background that might otherwise portray you as being "unqualified".

If your cover letter is to accomplish these objectives, you can’t just rattle off a few lines that basically say, "Enclosed is my resume." Writing an effective letter takes effort, thought, and time. Think about what you want the letter to accomplish. Focus on two or three key points in the resume. Demonstrate your knowledge of the company. Mention a newspaper article or advertisement, if appropriate. Whenever you can, use someone’s name to make the connection between you and the person to whom you are writing. It can be someone you know professionally or personally. But, be sure to get permission to use the person’s name. For example, "Robert Roy suggested that I write to you. He felt that you may need someone in your company with my background and qualifications." Follow a standard business format, with proper headings, single-space typing, and block paragraphs. Use high quality paper which matches the resume.



Doris Appelbaum is President of Appelbaum's Resume Professionals, Inc. She is an internationally known career consultant, resume writer, speaker, and trainer. Doris can be reached at (414) 352-5994 - 1-800-619-9777 - dorisa@appelbaumresumes.com - (414) 352-7495 (fax). Visit her website . Fax resume for FREE critique.