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%.
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.
My client Karen is a following spouse with a career of her own. Her husband Bruce has a great job but his company moves him every three years. So, Karen needs to update her resume before every relocation.
I learned from Karen and from other clients who were relocating that the remote job search isn’t always easy. HR people usually want to meet you in real life. Your schedule for meetings may not be as flexible as those of the local applicants. You may not have many contacts or a strong network in the area. And you may not know anything about what it’s like to live in this new place.
But the long-distance job hunt doesn’t have to be scary or unproductive. Here’s the advice I give people planning to look for work prior to moving.Read more
Congratulations! Your hard work and perseverance paid off. You got the job you wanted. Now what?
First, it’s time to celebrate. Pat yourself on the back and share the news with your closest friends and confidants.
Take a few days for yourself, a small vacation. You deserve it. Use the time to catch up on what you love to do, the things you haven’t been able to indulge in while job searching.
Tie Up Loose Ends
Now’s the time to write a courteous thank you note to the hiring person or your new boss, saying how pleased you are with the offer, and how much you look forward to your new duties. This is especially appropriate if you don’t start for a couple of weeks.
Now’s also a good time to touch base with HR and any contacts at your new company. Ask if there’s anything you need to do before your actual start date, such as taking tests or gathering personal paperwork.Read more
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.
If you take care of the little things, the big things become manageable.” — Heloise
Congratulations on your new job. If you’re not nervous on your first day, you’re not normal. To ease the jitters, it helps to know you’re prepared. Besides studying up on the company website and enjoying a few last unstructured days, spend some time collecting the nitty-gritty stuff to take to work on day one.
Cash in your wallet. Some of us run around with just a debit or credit card for expenses. But what if the vending machine asks for quarters? Do you really want to be borrowing money from co-workers you met two hours ago? If your new office mate offers to take you to lunch, leaving the cash tip is an appreciative gesture. How about bus fare or parking money?