1. Make it clear what you're offering the employer. A recruiter or HR person shouldn't have to read more than the first line to know exactly what type of job you would do at their company.
2. Don't overwhelm the reader with all your skills. Keep the resume focused and tailored for the job at hand. If you're applying for a customer service job, don't emphasize your accounting skills.
3. Define your niche. If you have a specialization to offer, you may be able to edge out your competition.
4. Play it straight. Including political affiliations, information about your personal life, hobbies, pictures, quotations, and other non-essentials is more likely to work against you than for you.
5. Keep it short. It doesn't need to be less than one page if you genuinely have more than one page worth of relevant content. If you have less than 10 years of work experience, one page should suffice (notable exceptions are for jobs in academia, science & research, and highly technical fields).
Today's New York Times Opinion page carried an inspiring story about the remarkable success of a transitional jobs program run by Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO), a New York organization that specializes in helping former criminal offenders return to work. A study published last month by the US Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families found a reduction in recidivism by up to 26%. What's more, this program greatly contributes to the public good, and helps parolees and those on probation gain valuable work and life skills.
Forbes has run two sister articles on "The Happiest Jobs in America" and "The Unhappiest Jobs in America" in the past week, with data coming from a recent, year-long CareerBliss survey. Results are ranked on a 5-point scale and include factors such as working environment, compensation, rewards, and growth opportunities.
But I'm going to say - at least from my experience - these lists are way off base. I'd love to see some other surveys conducted by other companies during the same time frame.
As a courtesy, I'm also listing below the 10 happiest and 10 unhappiest jobs as reported by this survey, because I couldn't find the actual list on the CareerBliss website, and Forbes has the lists in a format that requires the reader to manually click through dozens of stock photographs of people at work.
What do you think? Do you agree with these happy/unhappy lists?
Here's a breakdown on the 10 happiest jobs:
Software Quality Assurance Engineer (4.24 / 5)
Executive Chef (4.15 / 5)
Property Manager (4.15 / 5)
Bank Teller (4.14 / 5)
Warehouse Manager (4.13 / 5)
Administrative Assistant (4.11 / 5)
Customer Service Representative (4.06 / 5)
Accountant (4.05 / 5)
Systems Engineer (4.01 / 5)
Construction Manager (4.01 / 5)
And here are the 10 unhappiest jobs:
Security Officer (3.51 / 5)
Registered Nurse (3.55 / 5)
Teacher (3.59 / 5)
Sales Engineer (3.64 / 5)
Product Manager (3.65 / 5)
Program Manager (3.65 / 5)
Marketing Manager (3.67 / 5)
Director of Sales (3.68 / 5)
Marketing Director (3.69 / 5)
Maintenance Supervisor (3.69 / 5)
Real talk - if you've been unemployed for months and months and months, it's time to start looking outside of yourself for some guidance and some brutally honest insight as to why you cannot find a job. Here are 10 things you can actually do right now to start seeing some action.
1) Sometimes it's just a simple oversight - I can't even count how many times someone has complained to me about not getting calls for interviews only to find that their phone number on their resume is incorrect. Another killer: typos on your resume. Everyone believes they have thoroughly checked their resume for mistakes, but if you don't know the difference between "there" and "their" and "they're" - you're not going to know you're doing it wrong. Seek out the "obvious" flaws.
2) But it could also be the case that you're not up to date on the technological skills required to compete - taking a class or joining a group to improve your skillset can be key, and can also help build your own confidence.
3) Read. Even if you're not much of a reader. If you're really not into reading, get audiobooks. I recommend a few books here if you don't know where to start. Visit your local library or spend some time in your local bookstore.
4) Talking to family and friends often does not yield much of a result because a person's inner circle generally sees the best in you, and also can't understand why you're having such a hard time. The people who love you also just don't want to hurt you, and may hold back out of concern for your ego. Talk to someone objective - a single session with a career coach can go a long way and help jumpstart a stalled job search.
5) Clean yourself up. Do you know someone who doesn't seem to know that he has bad B.O. or disgustingly yellow teeth? Seriously - give yourself a mini-makeover. Change your habits, try new hygiene products (switch your deodorant, get some white strips!), invest in a new outfit (even if it's a new used outfit from a thrift store), iron all of your clothes even if you think you look fine. At the very least, you'll feel like you look polished and professional.
6) Switch up your resume - if you can't afford a professional resume writer, ask a friend for some help. Offer to cook your friend dinner or look over her resume in exchange.
7) Stay busy. I can't over-emphasize how important this is. Strategic volunteering can be your best friend. It can help fill gaps on your resume and expand your network.
8) Speaking of expanding your network - expand your network. Build your LinkedIn. Reach out to former coworkers and classmates. Conduct informational interviews.
9) Stay positive. I know it sounds cheesy (and almost impossible if you've been out of work for a long time), but nobody wants to hire Debbie Downer and nobody wants to hear about what a hard life you have. Employers hire people who they feel will contribute to the workplace - in terms of work ethic, skills and knowledge, AND attitude.
10) Consider changing your objective (and I don't mean the "objective" on your resume - I mean your actual objective). First, let's just say that your objective cannot simply be "to get a job". That's what every job seeker wants. Maybe it's time to reevaluate the types of jobs you're targeting. Are you shooting too high and applying for jobs that you're not qualified to do? Are you selling yourself short and applying for jobs you are way overqualified to do (more on this later)? Are you looking for a job in a dying industry? Sometimes you need to make a career change because jobs are changing.
In taking a further look into the Top 100 Workplaces in the Philadelphia area, the soft perks made a big difference in employees' perception of the overall working environment. It's not just the incentive and anniversary vacations, ziplining and go-karting outings,
on-site daycare services, and free ice cream -- a lot of what employees recognize are the lifestyle benefits - paid paternity leave, the option to telecommute, tuition reimbursement, and on-site daycare were cited as top perks.
This weekend, the Philadelphia papers published their annual survey of top-rated area employers. Rankings are broken down into large, mid-size, and small companies are results are based on employee responses to questions on a WorkplaceDynamics questionnaire.
The top 3 large companies are all non-profits - KenCrest, SPIN, and Health Partners, Inc, as are 2 of the top 3 mid-size companies, but none of the top 10 small companies (non-profit Treatment Research Institute comes in at #11).
This is an excellent list to mine if you're contemplating a career change or job transition. Getting some insight into how companies treat their employees can help give you some ideas about the values you prioritize when evaluating your employer.
A few days ago, NPR had a story echoing what we've been seeing in the employment industry: new jobs are being created, old jobs are returning, companies are hiring, and people are finally starting to feel it - even if just a little bit.
While the economy is still nowhere near excitingly high bubble-like numbers, it's been improving steadily and is much less of an employee-saturated environment. The most recent Pew poll reflects a 10% rise in economic optimism from last month and a majority of respondents saying they feel the economy is already or will soon be recovering.
The most recent BLS report says:Nonfarm payroll employment rose by 227,000 in February, and the unemployment rate was unchanged at 8.3 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Employment rose in professional and businesses services, health care and social assistance, leisure and hospitality, manufacturing, and mining.
Things are considerably less bright depending on where you live. While Chester County (PA) held a 5.4% unemployment rate in December 2011, Salem (NJ) and Philadelphia (PA) counties saw unemployment rates of 10.7% and 10.1% respectively, in that same timeframe.
Even still, unemployment for the entire Philadelphia/Camden/Wilmington statistical area has improved over the previous year. And a recent Bloomberg BusinessWeek article states that "Manufacturing in the Philadelphia region expanded in March at the fastest pace in almost a year as factory employment picked up." Philly.com reports that now is the time for teens and students to start looking for summer jobs, and provides some excellent resources to help get started.
While the major financial institutions (HSBC, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Citigroup, UBS, Credit Suisse, JPMorgan, Deutsche Bank, Royal Bank of Scotland, and Nomura) have already cut tens of thousands of jobs this year, all is not dim on Wall Street. Some of the smaller investment companies are taking advantage of the abundance of talented job seekers in the financial world.
In a fins.com interview, Cantor Fitzgerald Chief Executive Shawn Matthews discusses what the firm is seeking in applicants for the 200+ positions they plan to fill in 2012.
Marsh & McLennan Companies has been hiring through the economic downturn. Los Angeles-based Houlihan Lokey is hiring, too. PNC Financial Services Group is also planning on hiring more than 250 new employees in North Carolina alone.
Even when you're comfortable in your current job, it's a good idea to make notes about your existing responsibilities and key achievements on an electronic copy of your resume. It's so easy to forget the details as you continue to grow in your career - by keeping notes as you go along, you can avoid the hassle of hunting down that info when you need it most! Having your work history ready at hand when it's time to start looking for a new job can be very useful, but having a record of your successes can also be a great negotiating tool when you're up for your next performance evaluation or asking for a raise.
Some things to keep track of include special projects you work on, process improvements you suggest, internal controls you introduce, awards you win, rankings compared to other personnel at your level, increases in profitability or sales you contribute to, business relationships you develop or repair, committees you serve on, lawsuits you help avoid, training materials you create, and so on.
Tony Schwartz wrote a great blog post titled "The Magic of Doing One Thing at a Time" for The Harvard Business Review and I wanted to share it because it's right in line with advice I often give job seekers:
Stop talking about how you're so good at multi-tasking!
There's a lot to be said for efficiently doing an excellent job of one thing through completion and then moving on to do an excellent job of the next thing. Schwartz cites a New York Times article with lots of great hard research stats on exactly how multi-tasking slows down overall time required to complete the multiple tasks and causes the tasker to make more mistakes. Schwartz also brings up the point that frequent multi-tasking can wear down workers' overall energy and result in employee burnout.
Most successful employers know this and are looking for employees who can handle prioritizing multiple concurrent responsibilities.
The ability to quickly assess what needs to be done when is really valuable - and seemingly increasingly rare in an ever more wired world. What many employers are seeking in candidates is exactly that mix of discipline, analytical thinking, and foresight to develop and execute a plan for managing all those tasks.
While you certainly shouldn't go out on job interviews telling employers how you can only do one thing, a better thing to talk about is being great at time management, doing quality work, completing tasks on schedule, and adapting to unexpected business needs.
Doesn't that sound a lot better than saying you're a multi-tasker?
I'm a certified career coach based in Philadelphia. I started my own practice to help people land their dream jobs and achieve their individual definitions of success.
I also keep this blog with my musings on changes in the employment landscape, advice for job seekers, links to other career-related articles, and anything else that catches my interest.