Resumes for Students

Students, and parents, need to get past the idea that it’s still easy for kids to get a quick summer job at McDonald’s or run around the neighborhood mowing lawns. Times have changed.

Labor laws are so cumbersome and difficult to monitor that some businesses simply don’t hire kids under eighteen anymore. Neighbors don’t want the liability of kids working around their homes with or without power equipment, and they don’t want to give access to anyone when they aren’t home. This isn’t without merit. Home owner’s insurance might not cover them if they get hurt. That’s a lot of risk. Where does this leave kids who want and/or need to work?

First, you–the student–must accept the fact you have a great deal of competition. Your competition may be willing to cut their hair, wear a tie, and work on weekends, even when it means missing a great party. The nature of the working world is that employers call the shots. There are more workers than jobs. Even adults with many years of experience and advanced degrees are working longer hours for less money. If you want to work, you have to be willing to do what’s asked regarding appearance and job duties. You’ll also need to accept the fact you won’t start out making what you think you deserve.

Second, you need a good resume that points out what you have to offer. Resumes for students create a challenge, but it’s possible to develop a resume at any age. Include clubs and student activities, special awards, short-term jobs, volunteer projects, special interests or summer workshops. All of these things help build a profile of a person an employer wants to hire when you look for your first job.

Third, talk to adults you know about providing references. Tell people you know that you are looking for a job. Ask for references from anyone you’ve worked for, or with, who can testify about your ability, skills, and responsible behavior. If you can’t think of anyone, volunteer for a project at a church or school. You will need a reference or two that aren’t family. It is a bit of a dilemma, but you can find ways to build references.

Send in your questions. If you have questions, other kids do too.

Is your resume out of date?

Resume styles change, just like technology and educational requirements. In a job market where hundreds of people apply for every opportunity, you want to look your very best. Here are five tips to help your resume get to the top of the stack.

Most people have an email address, which should be included with the address and phone number. That said, the email address needs to be professional and use your name. Try not to get msmith4985. Try other combinations of your name and initials. Definitely do not use crazymary@whatever.com.

Many people are also on LinkedIn and have professional profiles and recommendations on other sites too. This type of website address may be included if you are a professional. There are several reason to not include it too, but you can be quite sure most employers check social media and find it anyway.  It may be wise to fine-tune your social media sites before embarking on a job search.

On the other hand, if you have a Facebook or MySpace personal website, don’t put it on your resume. If it’s got some really “interesting” information, you can try to clean it up. Just be aware that many things don’t go away and can be found in online searches. Over sixty-percent of employers check social media sites when hiring and admit to being influenced by what they find. You may not like it, but that’s what happens. You decide what’s more important, total freedom on social media or a paycheck.

Every resume should be tailored for a specific position. The changes may be minor, but the resume must fit the job. Don’t let canned job titles and incorrect terminology for the industry get your resume discarded.

Sell yourself with a professional summary, not an objective. Today, companies want to know what you can do for them. They have no interest in hearing what you want.

Make achievements stand out. Use bullet points, active verbs, and results to describe your experience. Be specific about achievements, such as “improved sales of widgets 25% in 2009.”  Every job has something that can be quantified. Think about what was on your last review. How is your job performance rated? A secretary might say “improved production 20% by reorganizing the file system.”

Keep your resume easy to read. Don’t try to cram twenty years of experience into a single page resume. You can’t do it. On the other hand, don’t stretch a year of experience out beyond reason. Old guidelines say keep it to one page. That won’t always work for long careers and technical/professional resumes, but that’s not a license to write a book. An easy-to-read, well-organized resume is the top priority now. Avoid lengthy paragraphs of text that take a lot of time to read. Recruiters and managers are unlikely to spend the time. You have about 90 seconds to get their attention. Scary, isn’t it?

Interview Tips for Older Workers

Today, I’m adding a couple of quick interview tips to help you get through that rough re-enty when you’ve been out of the job market.

Interview Tips

Older workers, who are going back to work, may not know that many interview questions that used to be routine are now illegal. This also applies to job applicants of any age. Don’t volunteer information about family, age, or health.

If those questions come up, it can be awkward because you know you probably won’t get the job if you tell the interviewer his questions are illegal. There are several ways to handle it. You may nicely respond that you prefer not to discuss information that’s unrelated to the job. If you are not comfortable doing that, use a friendly, positive tone and say, “I’m sure I won’t have any problem meeting your expectations”, or “I’m totally prepared to devote my time to my job.” Above all, don’t volunteer information on these topics.

Resume Distribution Services

Don’t blast resumes to hundreds of companies that may not have an opening for someone with your skills. I’m sure there may be a success story someplace from someone doing that, but there are a lot more failures. The automated screening systems accept specific types of documents and formats, along with information completed by the applicant or someone acting on their behalf. Any system or service offering to distribute your resume for a low cost is not investing the time to complete individual applications. They don’t even care whether your resume gets to the companies. This type of thing seems to be dead. Still, sometimes old scams resurface. Don’t fall for it.

Posting Your Resume Online

If you want to post your resume on Indeed or Monster, that’s fine. Just be sure you take care to be sure you set all the privacy controls. It’s dangerous to have too much personal information visible. It’s not only a safety risk, it’s a risk for identity theft. Proceed with caution or get help from someone who knows how to manage those postings.

Six No-No’s During A Holiday Job Search

Keep up your job search over the holidays. Although you may be busy and want to forget the problems for a while, so does everyone else. Take advantage of the holiday season and keep actively looking for the right position. Be willing to schedule an interview the day before or the day after a holiday. Be available and demonstrate that your job search still has priority. If you are there, while someone else is out of town, you may end up on the short list in a hurry.  While this is the season to be jolly, there are some things you should not do.

  1. Don’t wear the Santa socks and a reindeer tie to the interview. Save the humor to entertain others after you are hired and know whether this company is a fit for your brand of humor.
  2. Don’t talk come to an interview obviously suffering from last night’s party.  If you can’t function at your peak, don’t party before an interview.
  3. Don’t bring gifts or food to an interview. Your heart may be in the right place, but those things may be against company policy.  Drop the food gifts on your friends, family, veterinarian, beautician, barber, doctor, and others.
  4. Don’t serve liquor, if you arrange a networking party during the holidays. You won’t have to worry about everyone getting home safe (there’s liability for hosts in some states). You also won’t have to worry about anyone misbehaving from over indulging.
  5. Don’t be late due to traffic or weather. Promptness demonstrates your ability to plan and control your schedule. Check the weather reports and allow enough time. If you are early, you can review your notes or take a few moments to visit the restroom and relax a bit. Of course, you don’t have control over flight cancellations or delays, but you do control your personal schedule and transportation.
  6. Don’t decorate your resume for the holidays. It will stand out, but not in the way you intend. Save your creative talents to help decorate at home.

Now, enjoy your holidays and keep looking for that perfect job. You could end up with a lot more reasons to celebrate!

Do video and high-tech resumes work?

It seems that the only people who say high-tech resumes with videos, slide shows, and dancing elephants work are the people who produce them.  Of course, there are exceptions for people in specific industries where those things are common.  You know who you are. For the rest of the world, these techniques can spell disaster.

There are strict standards in most HR departments. One big issue is age. Nothing can reveal age as quickly as a photo. All HR departments and hiring managers guard against possible discrimination challenges for race, age, obesity, physical disability, and more. In some cases, an interviewee is automatically disqualified for voluntarily providing that type of information. This is a good example of why you need to be aware of the laws and understand that you may not help yourself by divulging additional information.

What do you think happens when the video shows a person with black skin, white hair, too many pounds, or children screaming in the background? All can be factors in discrimination.  It’s even worse if you happen to be the person who lost your hair at 25 or who has an MBA and looks twelve-years-old. Don’t stack the deck against yourself people. In many professions, you will have one or more phone interviews before an on-site interview. The missing hair and the youthful look will be a lot less important by the time the search has narrowed the list to the last few candidates and you are among the top prospects.

Business owners also need to be cognizant of the risks of these new resumes. Don’t accept them without talking to your attorney or an HR professional. Too much information up front can cost a hefty price later. There are job seekers out there who look for opportunities to sue unsuspecting employers.

Another point to consider is the time it takes to review video and multi-media resumes, along with the potential for incompatible formats. There are hundreds of applicants for every job. If your resume takes extra time, it’s likely to get bypassed, instead of getting extra attention. If the resume goes to a small business that uses a Mac and you send a resume in an incompatible PC format, it will never be seen. If you must show off your skills, don’t include personal video of yourself. If you must display your accomplishments in slide shows, include the information on your written resume too.

Because so many employers run searches to check out prospective employees on Google and social media sites, I don’t recommend posting non-professional photos of yourself. You can’t hide all of the information that’s out there if you’re active in social media, which is a good reason not to have party photos or anything questionable online. Everyone knows you have a personal life and photos of you hiking with your dog or camping are fine.

I realize everyone expects a photo of a business owner, but business owners usually aren’t searching for a job. Photos really do add that personal touch that makes you seem more accessible. Still, if you are searching for a job, think like the employer. You can look human without giving away information that’s illegal for them to obtain before hiring, and worse, information that may get you disqualified simply because you revealed too much too soon.