By Mary Carden, CPRW
In the third and final installment of this series, I will review the trickiest circumstances to talk about in your cover letter: risky situations. Although it might feel like sharing these circumstances could start your job search on the wrong foot, that’s not necessarily the case. Here are strategies to address potential “red flag” scenarios without hurting your chances of landing an interview.
By Mary Carden, CPRW
In the second installment of my cover letter series, I’m going to dig into more complicated circumstances that affect your fitness for your target job. If you read through the required qualifications in a job ad and notice some potential issues, this post is for you.
As 3.8 million college students enter the workforce this year, entry-level professionals are launching their careers during one of the most challenging job markets in recent history. As of early June, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics says the unemployment rate is now at 13.3%.
Tens of millions of (skilled, experienced) Americans are out of work right now so it’s ridiculously hard for new grads with little relevant work history under their belts to compete for open jobs. The last time college students walked off the graduation stage into such a tough job market was during the Great Recession of 2008, when unemployment peaked at 10%.
Some of my more challenging clients are the people who’ve been denied jobs because they don’t fit the profile of a perfect job candidate. Extended employment gaps, a negative background check or credit report, physical limitations, and being considered too old, too overqualified, or too expensive are all very real challenges to securing gainful employment.
I have been a resume writer for nearly a decade and, over the years, I’ve talked with thousands of people who find themselves in all kinds of career conundrums.
Nine times out of 10, my clients have an urgent need for a resume and we work quickly to create a document that enables them to begin applying for jobs as soon as possible. It’s actually quite rare that I work with someone who says, “I want an updated resume, just in case.” I’d like to challenge you to be that proactive professional.Read more
When I was growing up, my mother used to tell me, “If you do what others won’t, you will have what others don’t.”
She didn’t coin the phrase. It’s one of those motivational phrases that’s been around awhile. It’s a reminder that if you spend a little more time, or focus your energy more, or do the unpleasant work no one really wants to do, you’ll prosper.
Every time I write a resume, I tailor it for the type of job my client is seeking. This strategy, proven to work effectively with both human eyeballs and Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), looks like this: I study job ads provided by my client, identify common themes, create a list of keywords and skills based on those job ads, and write the resume accordingly. This resume—assuming the client applies for jobs similar to the job ads that he or she provided up front—will perform very well with an ATS.
If you’ve worked with me to write your new resume, you know I’ll ask you to send me a few job ads at the outset of our engagement to help inform the process of drafting your new resume. I use these job ads to help me understand your goals, of course, but I’m also using them to identify keywords that will help your resume rank with applicant tracking systems (ATS) as well as to help frame your experience in a way that positions you for the type of job you want next. Many resumes suffer from being an overly-detailed, obituary-style reporting of everything you’ve ever done, professionally speaking. Instead, your resume should be a relatively short, very strong persuasive argument about what you’re positioned to do next. To write a great resume, we rely heavily on job ads that represent your desired next step.
So where do you find these job ads? For years, I have recommended Indeed.com and linkedin.com/jobs/. In the last couple of years, Glassdoor.com has become an increasingly fantastic resource for job seekers and my new favorite website to share with my clients. That’s why I was excited to read that Reviews.com recently released its “Best Job Sites for 2017” report.
When I talk to people as I write their resumes, I listen to their stories. Some are stories of success and some are tales of regret.
I hear, “It’s always held me back that I never finished my undergraduate degree.” Or, “I can’t ask for a raise because I don’t have all my certifications.”
But I also hear, “My last promotion came only after I got PMP certified.” And, “The best thing I ever did was go back to school for my MBA.”
When you are ringing in next New Year’s Eve, will you be celebrating a recent success story or rehashing old regrets about the arc of your career? Will you be sitting in the same cubicle, wondering where another year has gone or will you be enjoying an increased salary, more respect from colleagues, and possibly a brand new job or new career, the kind you’ve always wanted?
Now is the time to launch the changes that will help you further your dreams. Let’s take it step by step.
Step One: Set Your Sights
You wouldn’t start an important road trip without a specific destination. The people I see succeed know what they want. It’s not a hazy picture. It’s a clear and realistic goal.
Many people believe a resume is just something you put together after you’ve been fired. They think it’s something you use to find a new job.
Well, that’s certainly true, but a resume can do way more than convince people to interview you! Based on feedback I get from my clients, here are 12 benefits enjoyed by people who have a current resume in hand—said another way, reasons why everyone needs a resume.
1. A Resume Builds Self Assurance
The most common perk that clients report back to me goes something like this: “I feel so much more confident now that I’ve seen what I look like on paper,” or “I didn’t know how effective I’ve been in my industry.” So, yes, a fresh resume always gives you a new perspective on yourself. Most people don’t have a realistic picture of what they bring to their company or their field.Read more
If you are serious about scoring a new job, updating your resume is the first step. But I’m usually surprised how many job seekers aren’t sure what to do next.
Do you just start emailing your resume to listings on job boards? Send it out to some recruiters? Carry it with you to job fairs? Well, yes, yes, and yes.
But even before getting your new resume into circulation, it’s smart to ask yourself what kind of job you really want.
I’ve compiled this list of questions to make it easy for you to get a handle on your job search, to save you time and frustration, and to improve your chances to find the a job that fits you perfectly.