Albert Einstein's genius extended in many directions, including how to write. Einstein gave this advice: "If you are out to describe the truth, leave elegance to to the tailor."
In my writing, I try to use language that is plain and direct. Too often, I read resumes that are cluttered with details that are not relevant to hiring managers. In many cases, clients use jargon that will only be understood by their current employer, the job they want to leave. How can you avoid this problem? Read what you write through the eyes of you intended audience. For resumes, that means recruiters and hiring managers. Use language that speaks to what they need and understand. Simple and clear wins the day.
Nothing hurts worse than being rejected, and it happens all the time during a job search. Nicolle Pelletiere of Good Morning America reports on Amanda Mester, a job seeker who edited a poorly written rejection letter and sent it back to the employer. Mester says that she wanted the company to follow proper grammar rules. She also posted her message on Twitter, where some commentators said she was jeopardizing her career. I wouldn’t go that far. Some employers might see this action as an indicator of a bad attitude. Others might see it as a sign of an employee with good communications skills, attention to detail, and a sense of humor.
My problem with what Mester did is that she is looking backward. Her response to the company and tweet did nothing to move her career forward. I advise clients to give rejection letters the time they are worth: none. Getting hired is a numbers game. It takes time, positive energy, and much patience. Use your time to network and apply for new opportunities. Look back only to look forward.
My clients frequently worry that their computer skills are lacking. In most cases, they don’t need to worry. Here’s an easy test. If you’re seeking a job similar to your most recent jobs, you probably have the right kind of computer skills. You might not have used the same software, but you performed a similar function. As a second test, collect 10 job posts for the kind of positions you to want pursue. Check the computer and software skills that employers require. If they seek experience in a program you don’t know, research that software. In many cases, you have used something similar.
Think of computer skills as your tool box – what tools do you need to know to do your job? Once you have a good answer to that question, you can decide if you need to pursue training. Community colleges often offer reasonably priced computer classes. The Internet offers several online training services, some of which are free. If you need to brush up your skills find the option that works best for you. Don’t let a lack of computer skills be an excuse not to pursue your job search.
This is one of the nastiest questions that can come up in a job interview. Mille Montejo of the National Resume Writers Association linked to a great post from Donna Svei’s blog Avid Careerist. If you’ve ever been fired, I urge you to read this post and take what it says to heart. I thank Donna and Mille for sharing this advice.
As I often put it to my clients: Only look back when it helps you look forward
In recent months several clients have asked me what they should do when an interviewer asks to be “walked” through a resume. There are two ways to address this request. The worst strategy is to start with your current job and go backward. This takes you away from recent experience or education that qualifies you for the position you are seeking. It is better to move from least recent to most recent experiences. The strongest type of response would not end with your current job or most recent degree. Instead, you would show how you are prepared to do the job you are interviewing for. Walk the interviewer into a place where she will want to offer you a job.
One of my clients is an at-home parent, we’ll call her Betty. She was returning to work after spending 8 years raising a child and working part-time. Betty obtained work with several companies, but nothing fit. She worked part-time in a project management position and liked the company. But her supervisor told her over a year ago that she would probably never be hired by the company. Betty never finished her undergraduate degree, which most jobs at this company require.
Then no turned to yes. Betty emailed me today to say that the company she thought would never hire her full time has made an offer, a very nice offer. What changed? Betty kept doing her job well. Upper level managers saw her skill and dedication, and they rewarded her by making an exception. She will be the only manager in her department without a college degree.
There is no one way to find a job. Companies with rigid policies sometimes change those policies or make exceptions. What happened to Betty is very much the exception, not the rule. But it’s important to be ready to take advantage of such opportunities. I wish Betty nothing but success, and I cheer her company for having the strength to make an exception for an exceptional person.