Free advice!! Career, resume, and more

It was so much fun getting to know a few of you and providing this free opportunity! I want to extend my offer to another four (4) individuals that would like to receive FREE job hunting assistance with the free career package (during the month of May). More information below from my last post offering this!

As you may know, I’ve just added an exciting package deal to my list of services. I am still offering free basic resume edits! And now I’d like to provide four (4) people job hunting assistance by providing a FREE career package to each of them! Why? Because I want you to succeed and I find it fun, simple as that!

What does this mean exactly? I’d like to provide some basic edits to your current resume, discuss what type of job you are searching for and help you find a few possible options you can apply for! Let’s work together and find your next career, whether you are looking for a long or short term position.

Interested? Send me an email at successencourager@gmail.com with:

  • Why you would like to be provided this free service
  • The type of job you are looking for
  • Your current resume
  • A brief description of your past job experience
  • Up to three locations you would like to work in (city, state, etc)
  • Please note – I can only offer this to people located and searching in the United States (my skills are limited to knowledge of US job searches for now, but that may expand in the future!)

I will provide this service to four people for FREE! If you choose to purchase services in the future or share my blog with others, then wonderful, but if not, I will still enjoy this opportunity to provide my professional services! Questions? Just ask!

If you or anyone you know may be interested in any other services please see the price list or contact me and I’m always happy to answer general career questions free of charge! (Limited time only offer!)

I look forward to hearing from you!

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Find your next career – Free advice

Are you thinking of a job change, needing to find your first job or looking to change careers? Would you like FREE career consulting? Then please read on!

A career doesn’t have to be a lifetime commitment. Your next job search could end up with a career you keep until you retire or it could be a step toward your next career choice! Each employment opportunity is a chance to gain experience.

Even if you leave an office job, working primarily indoors to  begin an outdoor landscaping career, you have skills that transfer. Maybe you gained advanced customer service skills at your past job(s) or can assist with scheduling, or maybe you discovered time management skills to help you create a more efficient process to complete your new projects!

Some of my previous posts focus on resumes, discovering your strengths and weaknesses, practicing interview questions and more, so please check those out. Even with all of that information it can still be difficult to change careers or find a job in a competitive market. You may decide to start your own business, but if you need or want to find work immediately or gain more experience, I’d like to help!

I’ve just added an exciting package deal to my list of services. I am still offering free basic resume edits! And now I’d like to provide four (4) people job hunting assistance by providing a FREE career package to each of them (thru April 30th)! Why? Because I want you to succeed and I find it fun, simple as that!

What does this mean exactly? I’d like to provide some basic edits to your current resume, discuss what type of job you are searching for and help you find a few possible options you can apply for! Let’s work together and find your next career, whether you are looking for a long or short term position.

Interested? Send me an email at successencourager@gmail.com with:

  • Why you would like to be provided this free service
  • The type of job you are looking for
  • Your current resume
  • A brief description of your past job experience
  • Up to three locations you would like to work in (city, state, etc)
  • Please note – I can only offer this to people located and searching in the United States (my skills are limited to knowledge of US job searches for now, but that may expand in the future!)

I will provide this service to four people for FREE! If you choose to purchase services in the future or share my blog with others, then wonderful, but if not, I will still enjoy this opportunity to provide my professional services! Questions? Just ask!

If you or anyone you know may be interested in any other services please see the price list or contact me and I’m always happy to answer general career questions free of charge!

I look forward to hearing from you!

 

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More than just skills are required

An interaction last week reminded me of the importance of personality shining through rather than just skills listed in sequence on a resume. I assisted with an interview for a temporary worker for an employee that was going to be off for a couple of weeks. The resumes for two prospective hires looked similar, well written, good experience, etc. The two interviews could not have been more opposite though!

The first was energetic, saying good morning to everyone she saw as she checked in for the interview, and presented herself in a very confident manner. The second was quiet and almost rude to the person she checked in with, she did not look anyone in the eye as she barely answered questions and she did not allow any personality to shine through at all.

This is what reminded me of how important being confident in your skills, sharing some of your unique personality and showing every employee, throughout the company, the same common courtesy you show the actual interviewers. A lot of employers ask the receptionist, security, maintenance, etc. how the interviewee interacted with them.

It should be common practice to be well-groomed, no sunglasses inside, no gum chewing, don’t bring friends or family (or strangers for that matter) with you, be polite, etc. With that said, I have listed a few more tips below that I hope help you relax and feel confident when preparing for an interview.

  •  If you check in with a receptionist or front office support person, get their name. When you are introduced to the interviewer, turn to the person you checked in with, call them by name and thank them. Also, include their name in the thank you letter you send as a follow up to the interviewer(s), especially if they are extra helpful with something again don’t make up something, but just be perceptive
  • Speak to everyone you encounter; saying hello, good morning or good afternoon, etc. Be yourself. Don’t force interactions, but be polite to those you meet or see even if briefly
  • Know your resume and the job descriptions; highlight your skills required for the position – study your own resume…sounds simple, but try to focus on the skills you have that relate to specific requirements the prospective job requires. If one requirement is multitasking or handling a busy front desk give examples from past experience that relates to that. For example ‘while at my previous employer (or current position) I supported a department of ten and have formulated a system for prioritizing deadlines…’
  • Don’t be too serious, be respectful, but also allow some of your unique personality to show through. Incorporate personal hobbies or a personality trait in an answer. For a simple example if you have an antique coin collection that you have had for years, maybe it was passed down through your family, you could say that collection has helped you learn to pay attention to detail, research, etc.
  • Practice interview questions with a friend or even with yourself; review average interview questions and be prepared to answer. Even if you are asked ‘if you were a cereal what kind would you be and why?’…Yes, I had that asked to me once. Seriously. My answer? “Granola, I realize it’s not a standard cereal like corn flakes, but I’m unique, not standard either, I like to try and be healthy, but I’m not always, and I think granola is a little bit of a nature lover and so am I.”….the man said it was better the last person’s answer of ‘Apple Jacks…because I like apples’ (insert a giggle here)….I think that is a unique question, you can’t really be prepared in advance to answer it, but be ready to share a little about yourself!

Have you had a unique question? Any tips you’d like to share? I’d love to hear from you!

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Side jobs – finding your perfect fit

Side jobs, part-time work, freelancing and start-ups are popular ways to earn extra money these days. They don’t just supplement income while working full-time; it’s becoming more and more common to use one or more of these opportunities as full-time income. This can either work out to be a career of juggling different jobs for ever or to gain experience for a certain career you wish to move in to. Some people love the variety it allows while others want to move on to something more stable and focused.

Whether, working a variety of side jobs, freelancing or part-time opportunities all allow a form of working for yourself and gaining experience. This can allow for future advancement at a particular job, focus on your own business start-up or allow you to explore different jobs until you gain experience and find something you want to do permanently. As you can see this flexible career lifestyle can offer a lot of paths to explore.

There are so many opportunities to make extra money or start a variety career lifestyle. You can read about many on any given day through a simple internet search. Some are very focused and require specific training; fitness coach, teaching Spanish, legal consultant, etc. But others are a bit more adaptable; personal shopper, event planner, freelance writer (with so many different topics out there to write about), pet sitter, etc.

I’m not saying the more adaptable options are easier or take less to do, I’m simply saying the skills to do them may already be known. A pet sitter might be a good choice for someone who has always been around animals, etc. While being a legal consultant requires more formal training and/or experience.

Before trying to force yourself into one or several of the available opportunities ask yourself what experience you already have, what you enjoy doing and what you could charge for.

Of course time is a huge factor. Do you have certain hours you are available due to a full time job, family responsibilities, classes, etc. Once that is determined you start to explore opportunities available during those hours; you may not be able to mow after a certain hour, but you could write a blog post or post a webinar about a topic you are experienced in no matter what time it is.

Here are a few questions and comments to consider when determining what side job (part-time, etc.) opportunity may be right for you and your current lifestyle –

  • What do you enjoy? Explore this, write it down, focus on how to make it a business or service to offer. Do you like photography? If you do and have a digital camera, can you offer your services as a second photographer at a wedding, corporate events, local bands that can’t afford someone that photographs full time, senior photos or high school sporting events, etc.? Be creative and be observant; what niche can your talent and passion fill? Don’t completely re-invent the wheel, just focus on a particular aspect that you can make better.
  • Do you want/need work outside the home or work from home? Answering this question allows you to explore jobs like mowing, pet walking, wedding/event planner and/or officiant, personal shopper or driver, etc. outside the home or writing, virtual assistant, web designer or content writer, online tutor, survey taker, jewelry or craft maker (selling online), etc. for working at home.
  • Do you enjoy helping people solve a problem, working with the public and communicate effectively? Do you enjoy working alone, creating more so than working face to face? Do you have internet and online work capabilities? Obviously, this answer gives much insight into what opportunities you will enjoy more than others.
  • What services are in demand in your area that will pay you to provide that service need? If you live in a neighborhood with large yards there may be an opportunity for mowing or landscaping that obviously is not in demand at an apartment complex. But if your passion is gardening and you want to work in that field but live in an area that doesn’t seem to have a need, be creative. Can you offer your services of plant watering, container gardening, cooking classes for container gardeners, etc.?
  • How much will it cost for you to offer this side job or start a business and how much should you charge? If it’s a part time job and they provide all that you need, how much does it pay? You will want to make sure it’s worth your time either by earning extra money or it provides an opportunity for you to gain experience.
  • How will you get work? You can search for part time work online through career sites or asking in person at area businesses. If you have skills to offer through side jobs or self employment, there are man sites out there to post your services on for free, you can search that particular talent/skill and see what third parties offer help finding that type of work , you can create flyers and hang them in busy places such as libraries, laundry services, public post boards, get business cards made and hand them out at any given opportunity, make yard signs and ask friends to display them in their yards for you, make or order decals for your vehicle with a web page and/or phone number as well as hats and tee shirts or other apparel, you can also advertise via social media sites and word of mouth.

There are other questions to ask yourself, but once you have focused and answered the few above you can start to search for opportunities to make money! Don’t over think it though, be adventurous and start exploring!

Do you have any tips to add? Please share them. Do you have any questions? Please ask them!

Thanks for reading, I hope this has inspired you to explore your options and to be creative.

To be trustworthy or not to be trustworthy

Of course it’s important to be trustworthy. BUT don’t use that term on a resume.

There are many personality traits we all value and obviously have, but you must choose your words wisely when writing your resume. Including the obvious can actually hinder your chances of a thorough review of your resume. Especially, more recently with numerous resumes being received for open positions employers can be more and more selective when handpicking their top choices. One way they narrow down the count is by ignoring ‘the obvious’. You have a short window (usually just a quick scan by the employer, of your resume in 30 seconds or less) to stand out and find yourself on the interview call list.

Don’t use that limited time frame with obvious generic words, instead define why you are unique…brag about actual accomplishments, be specific…use examples of how you are trustworthy (show don’t tell), instead of telling a prospective employer you are.  Let your resume reflect your actions…your accomplishments…by sharing results. For example instead of ‘team-player’ you could write a short blurb about how you led a team and solved a problem, finished a project before the due date, coordinated a committee, etc.

Below are a few words and phrases to avoid on your resume:

  • Go-to person
  • Results driven
  • Team player
  • Hard worker
  • Strategic thinker
  • Dynamic
  • Self-motivated
  • Self-starter
  • Detail-oriented
  • Highly qualified
  • Trustworthy
  • Results focused
  • Energetic
  • Think outside of the box
  • Confident
  • Professional
  • Successful
  • People Person
  • Familiar with
  • Reliable
  • Problem Solver

Keywords/phrases to include on your resume:

  • Achieved
  • Improved
  • Completed
  • Developed
  • Analyzed
  • Justified
  • Counseled
  • Facilitated
  • Implemented
  • Trained
  • Mentored
  • Managed
  • Created
  • Resolved
  • Volunteered
  • Increased/Decreased
  • Negotiated
  • Generated
  • Revenue/Profits
  • Under budget

Do you have any tips, past experience, keywords to use or avoid? Please share them!

Questions? Please ask them!!!

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Finding your resume balance

Too much or too little…finding that perfect balance for your resume.

It’s sometimes tough to balance necessary information with multiple jobs on a resume. You don’t want to lie or hide anything, but you don’t want to focus on irrelevant experience and skills when you have relevant material to cover that relates to the position you are applying for. So how do you find that balance?

I have discussed this with other hiring managers and employers. The answer is not a short one, but I hope to clarify a few general ‘rules’ in this post.

During positions I held that gave me an opportunity to be on a hiring committee or volunteer selection committee I focused on how applicants matched their skills and experience with the duties listed for the position. Confirming they actually read the entire post and identified their related skills. As a writer of open position duties, I tried to be specific, yet open to related skills; writing such statements as ‘office experience or equivalent education/training’, etc.

The committees typically focused on seeing a personality showing through on a written, typo-free, well-organized resume while scanning for keywords in the applicants employment history that matched the open position. We focused on achievement, paying close attention to those that stated an accomplishment in the highlight of each position they had held. Showing professionalism, even if their employment history was short or listed more than one job in a year. We asked ourselves if that position helped them gain experience, did they accomplish a goal or solve an issue and did they word it in a way that confirmed they were ready to make a commitment with our company. We would form questions we wanted to ask the applicant quickly, which was always a good sign.

Someone once wrote they had developed a team to focus on outreach with donors that had never contributed funds or volunteers for their fundraising. This was an interesting and confident statement. As the committee read that, we wanted to know the details, how did they reach out to them, what was the anticipated goal, did they achieve it, etc. We needed to meet this person!

With most employers giving a resume a 20 to 30 second look over, you want to highlight your skills and experience most relevant to the position you are applying for. Most managers say they understand not putting jobs that lasted less than six months onto a resume, unless it’s extremely relevant. If the short term employment provided an opportunity for you to solve a problem, learn a new process or skill, etc. then include it.

Remember, any employment lapse needs to be explained either in your cover letter or during the interview process. If you leave off a few short term jobs, you should be prepared to answer why. Were they unrelated to the job you’re applying for? Were you not given the tools to learn the job properly and you decided to find a better one? Were they longer than ten to 15 years ago?

Most of us have had jobs unrelated to current career choice or focus. Right out of high school I cleaned houses and offices for living. Although, I did not gain any writing or professional assistant type experience, I did gain customer service and a stronger work ethic. So I incorporated those skills onto my resume for my ‘early career’ job search. As time went on and as I gained more work experience in my related field I left that position off my resume.

I have also had a couple of jobs that I felt did not give me the right tools to succeed. The tools (computer, programs, etc.) were outdated, duties were not clearly defined and the working environment was unprofessional once I actually started working there. I decided to start looking for other opportunities and quit once I found the right one. I eventually left those off my resume too, but discussed them during any interviews I accepted. I simply stated the truth and found that the hiring manager and/or hiring committee actually commended my ability to recognize the mismatch with myself and the position. I explained the indifference in a professional way, never badmouthing the company or department, but simply stating the recognition of not being a good fit.

I’ve also had gaps in employment history. I was laid off from a job and it took me over six months to find a new one. Another time I had a stressful position I eventually quit after almost three years for a different job at a different company and that company decided to not fill the position after all…it took me almost five months to find another job. During the first gap I helped my husband grow a contracting business. I processed invoices, did some advertising, and helped answer phones, etc. That was relevant experience and I have included that as an explanation to the several month employment gap.

The second employment gap I was actually grateful for not feeling stressed to find ‘just any job’. My husband’s business was going ‘well’ (better than it had been) and I focused on a few small freelance projects and we got through the months with some budget cuts and without extreme debt or stress. I used that time to focus on what I wanted, research writing, I volunteered, wrote some business blog posts, and spent time with my ailing mother.  Once I started seriously applying for positions, I looked at my resume and knew a gap of several months might not look the greatest to potential employers. I reviewed how my time had been spent and actually realized the freelance opportunities and volunteering  provided added experience and skills that I included in my cover letter. In the near future I will share how volunteering can help you gain experience, and make great connections for future jobs and references!

Remember applying for a job is a ‘project’. Review the job and your experience/skills carefully to best match yourself with the right job. You want to be happy at what you do and succeed by meeting the goals of the position/company. I keep at least two forms of my resume updated; one business focused and one writing focused. Over the 20 plus years I have been working I have gained experience in both fields.

Key points when job searching and developing your resume’s employment history section:

  • Keep the resume content honest and relevant
  • Research the position requirements, skills needed and company; focusing your resume and cover letter content to highlight your experience and why you are the best match for the position!
  • If you have several positions lasting less than six months review them and highlight the most relevant and be prepared to discuss gaps in your cover letter and/or the interview
  • Review all of your experience and job titles (positions) before applying. Focus on what skills overlap with requirements (customer service skills can really expand into several requirements including receptionist, assistant, sales, public transport, almost any job where you will deal with the public or even other employees.)
  • Complete a self-evaluation; what type of job are you looking for, what benefits do you want/need, can you further your education or begin a degree while working (do they have tuition assistance, support, etc.), acknowledge some ‘deal breakers’ (yes, you can be picky and require certain request and decline other requests), etc.
  • Hone in on applicable positions that will help you accomplish long term goals while matching some skills and experience; not all positions have to be viewed as permanent…they can lead to larger, long term career goals
  • Utilize your cover letter as your own personal career and education history and mention at least one highlight from the company you are applying for

Finally, if you have had contract or employment through temporary services It’s best to list the services and highlight the positions that are relevant (yes that word again!). And remember education, training, workshops, certificate completions, etc. are worthwhile topics to include as experience and skills.

Questions or want to share your personal experience tips? Comment below or email me at dana@danabuchanan.com. Thank you so much for reading!

 

 

Resumes – Time to brag

Resumes are important for career changes, finding a new or different job, and to personally see what skills and experience you have all on one convenient form. Even if you are starting a business and not currently applying for jobs, it’s important to have your skills and experience on a resume to easily access your work history and knowledge you have gained and earned. This will help prove why you will succeed at the business you want to start or expand (especially if you request funding).

Typically, an employer spends about 20 to 30 seconds skimming through a resume. Obviously, it’s important to grab their attention quickly. Business investors and loan officers may skim through sections of a business plan, but will pay close attention to your skills and experience to ensure it’s a solid investment/loan.

For those seeking work outside the self-employment realm, you should update your resume for every job you apply for; using each job description as your outline to match your skills with the skills required. Even if you are applying for a job that is almost exactly what you are currently doing you should add any new skills you have learned and connect that information with the requirements of the particular position you’re applying for. This is not a time to be modest; be proud of yourself and share that with the employer!

Here are some key points that can be used to ensure enough information is provided without getting too wordy. You want to make your 20 to 30 second review highlight your most valuable skills that match the job requirements.

The basic outline of a resume includes: The Objective (optional), Skill Highlight, Work History, Training, and References:

Your objective is what catches an employer’s eye first, I realize some hiring managers say this section could be deleted. I like to use it to not just focus on my objective, but to focus on what I can provide to a potential employer. You can have a general focus as long as it relates to the type of work you are applying for or you can make it specific to the company and type of position you are seeking. For example “Seeking a position with a company that will encourage me to utilize the skills I have learned over the past several years and offer an opportunity for additional learning in (insert your category info here).” – that is a simple example, but you get the idea…it’s a direct statement, YOUR statement, to sum up what you are looking for and how you help the company/department to advance. Be specific, but keep it to two or three sentences. Or of course you can leave out the Objective entirely.

Under your objective highlight your skills such as equipment you are trained to use, computer programs, databases, web research, safety skills/training (CPR, OSHA), etc.

A basic web search will provide you with thousands of tips and resume templates!

Basic resume outline and tips:

  • Center your contact details at the top of your resume. Include your name, address (at least city and state), phone number and email address
  • After your objective (optional) and/or skill highlight, list your career history, starting with the most recent (there are also options to do a task focused resume). Include  job title, employer company name, and dates employed by month and  year. Under that information outline your key responsibilities, skills and accomplishments. Use the past ten years of employment (up to 15 years). If you had a break in employment mention that and why at the end of your resume or in your cover letter. Were you going to school, starting a family, did you move, were you taking care of a loved one, starting a business, traveling, etc.? Did you gain any new skills during that time? Did you gain experience and skills through volunteering? List them if you did.
  • After your employment history list your education, training, awards and/or community volunteering, organization memberships, etc. if there is room. This is also an optional section. If you have achievements relevant to the position you are applying for then list them.
  • Finally, list your references; their name, email, phone number, organization/company they are with, and years known, or state References are available upon request. Contact all references to ensure they are available and their contact information is correct.
  • Keep it simple and easy to read. Include some bullets and a basic font. Don’t add color or bold attention grabbers this can be distracting and some employers dismiss resumes formatted like this entirely. (And NO, don’t use scented or textured paper!)
  • It should be no more than two pages, so highlight only the relevant skills for the current position you are applying for. Ask a friend or someone to proofread it.
  • Never exaggerate on a resume! Leaving out a job that didn’t work out is not lying, but you need to be prepared to explain that gap during the interview. Be honest, be yourself and highlight only what you confidently know and will discuss at the interview.

Finally, but a key first impression, is the cover letter, the intro to your resume. This is your chance to introduce yourself so be confident and professional. Brag a little and confidently highlight why you fit the job description and should be considered for the position. Describe at least one of your accompaniments that relates to the position. It can be a volunteer opportunity you organized or helped accomplish, a spreadsheet you created to be more efficient, a money saving technique you came up, a training manual you developed, a new procedure that saved time and money for the company, a project you succeeded at with a team or alone, etc. Throughout the letter (and resume) use action words such as  developed, completed, improved, created, trained, resolved, etc.

Research the company and include at least one key point about them in your letter, this key point can be their mission statement and relating to a particular section of it, incorporating a recent announcement by the company or milestone they achieved, a record sales year, etc. This shows that you are familiar with the company and/or what they do.

Always end your cover letter with “thank you for your time and consideration” or similar appreciative statement. And end with ‘Sincerely, Respectfully, or Best regards followed by your first and last name.

Additional information – Most libraries and community education programs offered through colleges and local school districts provide resume assistance, computer program training and refresher courses, etc. If you have been out of the workforce or need more experience with certain programs before applying for jobs, explore your local options!

Do you have any tips you’d like to share or have questions? Comment or visit www.danabuchanan.com or email me at successencourager@gmail.com

Like the information you read here and in other posts? Please share it!

 

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