What’s Up With Resume Wizards

Are they a valuable tool or something to be avoided?  The answer probably depends on who you ask and what your needs are.

Resume wizards work really well for individuals who have never written a resume before.  The value is that the wizard shows how to develop the resume and what information to include.  However, for many individuals, the wizard resume will not showcase your skills/qualifications in the best possible light.  But, if the wizards are standard in Microsoft Word and other word processing programs doesn’t that mean that’s the right way to do a resume?

In my opinion, no.  I used to work as a recruiter for a staffing agency, and I reviewed a lot of resumes.  The resumes done with wizards especially those from Microsoft Word are obvious.  Anyone who works with resumes on a regular basis can spot them immediately.  When students bring in resumes developed with wizards, I always look at them and say “oh, you used a wizard”.  What used to run through my mind as I reviewed wizard resumes from college graduates was that the individual didn’t ask for help on the resume.  As a recruiter, I interfaced with college career centers regularly, so I knew help was available to students on most college campuses.  Career Centers are not likely to approve a resume wizard from a student.  What crossed my mind next was this individual has earned a college degree and should be able to produce a better document.  Remembering that your resume is a critical piece of job search documentation, it should be a demonstration of your highest quality work.

Consistency is extremely important in resumes.  Some wizards use different sizes or fonts throughout the resume.  Most wizards don’t allow you to move sections around because the wizard has a pre-determined order for them.  Each resume is unique to the individual it’s created for because the resume needs to sell this individual for his/her career/field.  Some will list their education first while others will list their experience first.  Some will have long lists of technologies while others list a large amount of community service or volunteer activities.  The key to having an effective resume is to identify the field of interest and then target your strongest selling points relative to that field.  These qualifications are what you want to emphasize throughout the resume.  The Career Services Center at Bellevue University is here to assist Bellevue University students and alumni with their resumes.  Contact us for assistance.

Posted on September 16th, 2014 by

Our Summer Hire

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There are two student worker positions in the Career Services Center. Students in these positions are responsible for handling the administrative functions of the Center. We quite often find ourselves in the position of hiring new students for these positions as students move on to jobs and positions in their career fields.

After interviewing students, usually there is a clear and obvious best candidate for the position. For our summer hire earlier this year, not so much. We narrowed it to two, but the last two . . . were extremely close.

For me, there were two deciding factors that went into the hiring decision:

  1. The answer to the question: Why do you want to work in the Career Services Center? All of the candidates answered this question by listing the many ways in which working in the Career Services Center is an advantage for them. The candidate we hired did this as well, but he also added what he could bring to our area by using his customer service skills to make a good impression on students.

I liked that.

  1. He said “Thanks!” When Colleen and I held the final two applications in our hands trying to decide whom to hire, I remembered that only one candidate had sent us a thank you note. It was the same candidate that mentioned his customer services skills and ability to make a good impression.

So, we called him and hired him.

When you’re interviewing for a job, details like this make a difference . . . an important one. Among the other actions we suggest you take during the interview process (see Strategies for Effective Interviewing handout or video on the Bellevue University Career Services webpage), make an effort to tell an employer about the value you can bring to their organization and remember to thank them properly for their time.

As you can see, these actions have the potential to go a long way.

Back to School Time

The month of August ushers in the back to school season.  Students of all ages anxiously await their first day and spend fair amounts of time and money preparing for it.  Emotions run the gambit from excitement about new teachers and courses to apprehension about the challenges to come.  This year brings many new challenges to my oldest child.  She’s excited about them, but at the same time nervous about the added responsibility she faces.

As a Career Coach, I started to think about how the emotions and feelings about back to school time are similar to those felt by new graduates and job seekers.  They are excited about new possibilities and opportunities to come, but anxious about how long it will take to find the right position and the challenges involved with the job search.

I would encourage everyone to keep a positive attitude and look forward to meeting the challenges ahead—not an easy task but one that is most likely to help you succeed, either in finding that “dream” job or in succeeding in the classroom.

Posted on August 26th, 2014 by

Keeping Track of Your Job Search

One useful tool for your job search toolbox is a job search log. A job search log keeps track of the details of search including companies to which you’ve applied, dates, positions, and contacts within companies. You can use it to track you activity and actions, as well as your progress in the interviewing process and HR recruiter/hiring manager contact information.

Handwritten Database

Keeping a job search log, allows you to keep track of the positions you’ve applied for and the companies you’ve applied to. It helps you to identify where you are in your job search and how you’re progressing. Keeping one log over the course of your career will help you see  advancement and expansion in your job interests and aspirations.

You can use a template or form that has already been created, or create your own. By creating your own (using a table in word processing software, a spreadsheet, or a database), you have the ability to customize your job search log to suit your needs and the information that you want to track. Consider including a free-form notes section in your log to record comments and reflections you have regarding each position.

Some parts of a job search log to consider are:

  • Date
  • Position
  • Company
  • Company Website
  • Company Social Media/LinkedIn Addresses
  • Submission documents (formal application, resume, cover letter, references, letters of recommendation, work samples, thank you note)
  • HR Recruiter/Hiring Manager Contact Information
  • Interviewer’s Contact Information (Do to the proliferation of group interviews, you may need several fields for this information.)
  • Networking Contacts Within the Organization
  • Moving Forward or Declined
  • Feedback from Interviewer
  • Comments

These are just a few ideas for information you may want to retain. Of course, not all of these details are required. Pick the ones most useful to you.

One of the best ways to use a job search log is as a learning tool. Take time to reflect on each aspect of your job search whenever you look for new opportunities. Identify what you learn about organizations, about your field/industry, and about your growth as a professional. Record your thoughts in the comments or notes section of your log. In time, you’ll have specialized information documenting the journey of your career.

 

 

Networking is Still Your Best Bet

In the current job market a lot of people think if they apply for enough jobs online eventually one of them will pan out.  The problem is you can actually overuse the online databases with little to show for it.  Hiring managers will sometimes receive hundreds of resumes for a single opening through those databases.  Wading through all of them is overwhelming at best.

Networking is still considered one of the best ways to find a new job.  I recommend you still apply for jobs you are truly interested in online but find ways to network with representatives of those companies.  Ask for introductions to the appropriate people.  Seek them out on LinkedIn and request informational interviews.  Use your networking skills to get your foot in the door.  It will make a difference.

Posted on August 12th, 2014 by