Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Create a Resume with Personality

Resume templates are easy to use and easy to find on the internet but templates are known for boring  recruiters and hiring managers. If your resume looks the same as everyone else’s resume it will not stand out from the crowd.  Your resume needs to be the right amount of required skills and personality. This is the challenging part. “Personality” does not mean including hobbies or your favorite color. Nor does it mean using fancy fonts, colors, or images. You want your resume to reflect your work ethic, soft skills, and passion for your chosen career.

Recruiters and hiring managers suggest that resumes can stand out from the competition without sacrificing the professional look and feel. Here are a few tips to help accomplish this goal, starting from the top:

1.  Connect with Me: Make sure your contact information is thorough and complete. Use your full name, address, city, state, and zip code. Include one phone number with the number most likely to be answered and make sure you have your voicemail set up with a professional message. It is also suggested that you include a professional email address, one that uses your first and last name, if possible, and is not a work email address.  If you have a LinkedIn account, place your LinkedIn URL next to your email address but make sure your LinkedIn profile is complete and not just a “cut and paste” of your resume.

2. Engage! Create an engaging summary of qualifications to grab the employer’s attention and create a strong first impression. Employers initially skim resumes, only spending 10 – 20 seconds per resume, so the top half of the page is the most important. This is your chance to introduce your knowledge of your industry and the specific job to which you are applying. It is here that you can show your strengths and diversity of experience. Elaborate on areas you have worked on that are relevant to the job description. Visit the resume library to see some examples of an engaging summary!

3. Highlight Results: In your employment section, you will want to use bullet points to highlight your accomplishments and the results of your actions. This area can include metrics, quantified achievements, and specific skills required for the job. Here’s an example:

·       Created a searchable database to log departmental reports, decreasing time spent locating reports and eliminating use of paper copies resulting in a monthly savings of more than $1K. 

Your employment section should go back 10 years or to high school, whichever comes first. You will include all of your work history within this time frame, even the jobs that are not in the field to which you are applying. An employer evaluates this particular section for relevant skills and knowledge and to see a complete work history without any obvious holes in your timeline.

4. Beyond Paid Experience: If you do not have recent work experience or are new to the world of work you can include a volunteer section, relevant coursework and projects from your education, and highlight industry certifications. Your volunteer section would be formatted the same way as your employment section, specifying the organization, your role, and the dates. Volunteerism can also show employers that you are a well-rounded individual involved in community activities. Another great way to show personality!

5.  In Conclusion:  You can close your resume simply with the last job entry or with professional memberships or training that is relevant to the job. It is suggested not to include “References Available Upon Request”. Employers assume you will be able to provide references. You will want your references typed up on a separate document and you will typically provide references on the application and/or in an interview.

Spending some time to personalize your resume by reviewing the job description, company profile, and even the company’s LinkedIn page can show the employer the depth of interest you have for the job. Use the resume resources available on the WGU Career & Professional Development website to create an eye-catching document and before you hit the “send” button, let our professional staff review your resume and guide you through any additional ways to make your resume stand out from the crowd. We can help you to create a polished, professional document that showcases your personality while still presenting a resume that employers seek.   

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Career Planning: Your Career on Purpose

Career planning in its simplest form is leading your own career based on your values and goals as opposed to simply falling into a career or allowing people or circumstances to dictate what career you choose. The definition of planning is “the act or process of making plans for something.” You have to actively engage in building a plan in order to see that plan become successful. Many people will put together their resume, start applying to positions on a job board and simply sit back and wait. However, as the definition suggests, there is “a process” or “action” involved in making sure that you are planning for long term career success. If you do not take the time to plan your career, you may end up taking a job that will have you searching again within a very short period of time.

Here are a few steps to help in assessing your current career situation and put a career plan into place.
  1. Self assessment - This will take some time and reflection. You want to identify and prioritize your interests, skills, personality, and values and understand the influence your attitudes, feelings, and beliefs can have on making successful career decisions.  You will also want to consider the impact of your career choice on your lifestyle preferences.
  2.  Occupational and industry researchUsing your self-assessment results as your guide, take time to learn about a variety of occupations and industries including job duties, employment outlooks, salaries, and educational and training requirements associated with each. You will then want to synthesize the information to identify a potential career goal.
  3. Short term and long-term goals – Once you have determined a career goal, consider setting SMART short term and long term goals to assist in facilitating your career preparation and future success. Goal setting can help keep you focused, strengthen your commitment to your career goal, and help you overcome challenges along the way.
  4.  Getting the job. Once you have established a clear career goal, you will want to put a job search plan, including strategies for the published and unpublished job market, into place. You will want to create appropriate, well developed, visually attractive applications and marketing materials. In addition, you will want to research employers to identify potential opportunities and prepare for interviews.

You may find the MyCareer Plan document helpful in creating your own career plan. Remember that a career plan is not a static plan; it is ever changing and dynamic. Once you have the foundation in place (values, interests, skills, qualifications), you will find that as you learn more about yourself, try out new things and talk to different people, your plan will adjust accordingly. The key is to follow the process and make any necessary course corrections to stay on track for the life that you have identified as satisfying and fulfilling.

For more information about creating a career plan or to request an appointment with a career specialist, please contact us.