Realistic #Networking Advice

By Erica Tew, CPRW

What is networking?

It is introducing yourself to people, forming relationships, and maintaining these relationships through effective communication.

Communication is about making decisions. You decide who you want to approach and how you want to do so.  Factors that can influence these decisions depend on what you know about the other party, their preferred method of communication, and the level of your relationship with that person.

When job seekers ignore these factors and abruptly ask strangers for jobs, or to find jobs for them, they are usually frustrated with the lack of success. This is because the strategy is only focused for the benefit of one person, the job seeker.

Why is networking so difficult?

I think it is because we place extra pressure on ourselves when job seeking. Networking becomes another burdensome task, like writing your resume or blocking away three hours of your day to fill out an online job application. Yet we all know networking does not have to be one of those things. If the terminology is causing you stress, drop it and focus on meeting other real people.

To put networking in perspective, think of your circle: your friends, family, and colleagues. Who, within these circles, actively networks? Your 8 year old niece who leverages social prowess and gets invited to Susan’s sleepover party. Your grandmother who raises funds for her church by hosting events and bake sales, managing to get donations from even the tightest of purses. Fred, the guy you hike with on Saturdays, who just landed a new client to get promoted. Your friend from high school who dropped out of college and now runs a successful online business. Networking is actively done by many parties who may never directly label their actions as “networking.”

How do you network?

Reach out to people you already know- family, friends, colleagues, etc. Provide some basics. When people say, “I need a job, any job,” the sentiment is understandable, but it makes the search so broad and open ended it feels insurmountable. Focusing on a specific job will not only help your own search, but it will help narrow down the focus for your friends who may scout around for you.

Explain what types of skills you have and try not to overuse the word “job.” Although you are looking for work, be open to advice and introductions. This is the development of your career for the long term, not only as a means for your next position. Effective networking continues as you regain employment.

Typically, people are more receptive when you ask for their opinion (as long as you ask politely and make sure they have the time to do so). To illustrate this, compare the two statements below:

  1. “Hi, I’m looking for a job. Can you alert me when there are openings at your company?”
  2. “Hi Mark, Hope you are doing well. I was wondering if I could get a few minutes of your time. I’m currently looking for a position in customer service, and was wondering if you had any advice about starting in the field. …”

Which message would you prefer? Although the first would be easy for a friend, it may be a lot of extra work for a stranger. The second is much more personalized and starts with a conversation, making this option more inviting. When you reach out to contacts, especially those you may not know very well yet, try to personalize the message and not ask too much too soon.

Long-Term Success

As you network, focus on creating lasting relationships. Make your contact attempts without holding high expectations. Don’t take it personally if someone doesn’t respond. Be open to any advice or feedback from your network. Learning one new thing can have the potential to dramatically improve your job search.

Additionally, actively listening is key to a successful relationship and develops more personalized bonds between people. When meeting new people, listen more than you share. This information will gauge your perceptions about how the contact prefers to communicate and if there is a possibility of a mutually-beneficial relationship.

The strategies in networking assist in a job search because the more people that know you well and trust you, the faster you will get responses back regarding feedback, advice, referrals, or job openings. Networking is not about what others can do for you, but about the quality of the relationships you develop.

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3 Ways to De-Clutter Your Job Search

When you’re looking for a new job, you probably have a lot of different events and priorities going on.  You’re following up with employers, filling out applications, going to interviews, cold contacting, networking, and in between all of this – fulfilling family obligations who think you may have “free time” to help with any variety of situations.

How do you manage all of this?  Getting organized: you will be in better control of your time, resources, and energy.

1. Create an email address just for job search. This will allow you to properly follow up with employers, and you won’t miss a message because it was buried under junk mail. Get into the habit of even checking your Spam folder, because sometimes employer contacts get accidentally mistakenly filtered through there.

  • You can register for a free email account from many sources including MSN/Live accounts, Yahoo, or Google.  Google is the most dominant but there is heavier advertising in your inbox with these accounts as opposed to Live or Yahoo.  Find one you are comfortable with and choose a professional username such as “firstname_lastinitial@youremail.com.”
  • If your name isn’t available, avoid using the year you were born or zip code. This could provide either too much personal information or be an easy indicator for age.  If your original username option isn’t available, add in parts of your middle name or include your target industry/job title, such as “JohnTSmith@youremail.com” or “Erin_SalesRep@youremail.com.”

2. Schedule your day. This will help you keep a balance of personal and professional activities.  Treat job searching like a full time job, and put in around 8 hours a day towards your search.  This can include working on your resume, meeting with a career advisor, networking, filling out applications, following up, and researching employers.  Remember to keep a balance: if you start working 12 or 13 hours a day towards your job search, you could get stressed out and may not get at least 6 hours of sleep which is required for better cognitive functioning. Getting a good night’s rest and visiting with friends or family can re-energize you and may improve your efforts and contacts with employers throughout the rest of the week.

Below is a sample schedule to visualize the balance of professional and personal activities.  Note that the weekends are slim, with Sunday excluded.  If you treat your job search like a full time job, you can keep bigger activities for later in the week, and enjoy your weekends.  Just don’t forget to check your email in case an employer responds to you and requests a follow up.

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
Follow-up meeting with XYZ Builders: 10AM Coffee with Jen: 9AM Application and Resume to ABC Co. Review ACME Corp research. Application and Resume to Retail Co. Follow up via email with employers
Resume Critique at Job Center: 1PM Networking Club: 10-11:30AM Phone call with referral contact. Interview at ACME Corp: 1-? Research employers. 1-4PM FREE
Research employers. 1:30-3:30PM Work on cover letters for ABC Co. and Retail Co. Babysit nephew: 5-9PM. Send thank you emails. Dinner with Greg and Lori: 8PM FREE
  • Google calendars, Microsoft Outlook or Excel, a day planner, an app on your smartphone, or a regular calendar can all be useful tools for organizing your daily schedule.  Using a calendar that is connected to your email account has many benefits that make scheduling much easier: if you have travel plans, Google can sync your inbox content with your calendar and search features.  Whichever one you choose, stick with it.
  • For the schedule to work well you need to consistently use it. This will eventually allow you to chart your progress and you can see how much you accomplished over the past weeks. Use this as an evaluation tool. If you notice you haven’t gotten an interview call, see if you can modify your resume or have someone review your application materials to see how you can improve the contact efforts.

3. Storage: save emails or hard copies for later reference.  When you apply to a job, save the job description and announcement. When you have an interview with the company, these materials will be useful to review.  Also, if you find yourself applying to multiple jobs and an employer calls you, you want to know the company and job you applied for immediately to make a positive impression.

  • Hard Copies: When saving hard copies, organize job announcements by company.  If you are targeting different jobs, you can create separate folders based on occupation.  Alphabetizing is quick for an easy reference. Using file folders or accordion folders can make storing the documents more convenient.  If you customized a resume or cover letter specifically to that job, it may not hurt to place copies of those materials in the folder as well.  When you’re called in for an interview, you can review your contact with the company up until that point, and make copies of your customized resume to provide at the interview.The main goal is to not have cluttered piles of papers at your work station.  if you have a desk with your laptop or PC on it, it may be easier to focus if your desk is clear and you can reference your other materials when needed.  Seeing all the piles or your desk may get your materials disorganized, and could potentially add to any stress which would not be optimal when filling out your next application.
  • Electronic files: When using your professional email account, you can save your contacts and messages to folders within your inbox.  Right-clicking on your inbox or seeing a “+” sign by your folders can lead you to an option similar to “Create New…” Under this option, you can select “Folder,” and within each folder, you can make sub-folders.

For example, in the picture below, you will see folders with sub-folders, organized by Job and Company.

jobfolders

Keep in mind, these directions will be slightly different from provider to provider.  If you have any difficulty, consult your email providers FAQs or Help options.  Typing a question into a Google search can also refer you to helpful forums where experienced users help others resolve issues and provide tips.

Creating a separate email, scheduling your days for professional and personal activities, and organizing your storage system for employer contacts will make your job search more efficient. When you have balance in your schedule, you perform at your best. When you are in work mode, your job search email account and organized contact system will optimize your time spent on job search activities. You won’t need to hunt around for a particular file or resume, because the email won’t be buried under unrelated forwarded messages, nor will you have to search through piles on your desk and add on any stress. If you have any questions on these tips, feel free to message me or comment below.

If you have more organizational tips that have helped you in your search, please share!

Turn Cold Contacting into Lukewarm Contacting

Aside from an interview, cold contacting for job opportunities is one of the most nerve racking experiences a job seeker can go through. Without the right preparation, phone calls can be awkward, visiting the local coffee shop to meet the manager can turn into a lifetime ban and your cold contact letters might end up back in your mailbox with RTS written all over them. Nevertheless, getting to know people is networking and networking is the best way to get reemployed. Here are some ways to make cold contacting less terrible.

 

First, don’t take it personal. Dealing with the stress of a job search is tough and your emotions can be running high. This is time to put on your “I can do it” hat and get down to business. Would a successful sales person lose their cool after a customer hung up on them? No, they dust off the phone and move onto the next opportunity because persistence becomes success.

 

Develop a strategy. Some ways to cold contact are; phone call, in person, mail (postal and email) and through social media. Begin by determining which is the most effective and appropriate method for your target industry. For example, visiting a restaurant between meal times can be perfectly acceptable whereas swinging into the local hospital HR is not. In either case, is always best to establish a contact through your network before you reach out to a company. This turns the cold contact into a lukewarm contact. If you can’t get an internal contact, don’t get discouraged; your professionalism and courtesy will win out.

 

Research to get prepared. To get ideas for dialogue, review the company’s website, LinkedIn and Facebook page(s) and search for job postings. Focus on industry trends, skills related to the position, their products and other details that interest you. Consider this, you can call a company and say, “I offer an extensive background selling xyz, a product that is similar to yours and I am interested in learning of any openings you may have.” Or, “I am unemployed and I am interested in job opportunities with your company.” The former states what you can do for the company, whereas, the latter asks what can they do for you.

 

Use foresight. An estimated 70% of the time, the HR representative will tell you to apply online. Avoid this hurdle by searching for job openings prior to contacting a company. If you see an opening, apply then make your contact. When you contact the company, explain you have applied to the job, however, you are so interested in the position you did not want to leave your résumé to fate of cyberspace. As a Job Developer, I had many of these conversations for my clients, one of which was with a nationally known home improvement store. During a phone call, I was ensured HR would review all online applications and schedule interviews based on qualifications. After politely requesting alternative methods for increasing my chances, I was invited into the store to speak with a department manager.

 

Practice, practice, practice. I know, “it’s only practice.” But in reality, practicing with someone will break the rust off. Friends and family are always good to embarrass yourself in front of or you can check out a reemployment service provider.

 

Take chances and be assertive. If you want something, use your wit and guts and go get it. Attitude is everything in the job searching world, expect challenges but also expect SUCCESS.

5 Tips: What to Do at the #Interview

When you make it to the interview, you want to be on point. Prepare answers ahead of time that show situations, actions you took, and results to respond to many behavioral questions. Research the company: the company culture, mission, news, and services, can help you relate your skills in a way that shows benefit to the hiring manager. The interview will go even smoother if you follow this advice:

1. Silence your cell phone

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Most people will say to shut off your cell phone or leave it in the car. However, if you use it to schedule appointments, you may want it handy if asked for a follow up appointment or date for a second interview. If your phone does go off, it’s not an immediate “fail.” It all depends on how you recover. Don’t look at who is calling; just shut it down and apologize immediately to continue.

2. Smile

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Sure, interviews make everyone nervous. It may be a combination of nerves and adrenaline, but researching and practice will help build your confidence before the interview. If you’re too worried about how you sound or are constantly wondering if you relayed everything you wanted to say, your face may not read that you’re someone who is excited about the opportunity. Take a moment, breathe, and smile right when you shake hands. If this is a phone interview, smile as you talk as well. Your voice transforms when you’re smiling and makes you sound more enthusiastic and engaged. Plus, everyone likes being around a friendly person. Would you want to work everyday alongside someone who constantly keeps a serious face on?

3. Don’t talk money or benefits

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Unless specifically asked by the interviewer, do not be the first to bring up pay or benefits. Save these questions for the job offer. The interview is a business meeting where you and the employer are trying to see if you will be a quality match for the position. Show that you can do the job and you want to work for the company. It can be a major turn off if a candidate doesn’t use this time well, but rather just asks how much they would make. If the interviewer does bring this information up first, research average salaries from Department of Labor’s Labor Market Information website. Always provide a range for salary to avoid being too expensive or underselling yourself. For more information on Salary Negotiations, see George’s post.

4. Speak clearly and avoid the “Yeahs, Ummms, and Likes”

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If you need to briefly pause and think about your answer before responding, take the time to do it. The interviewer may need you to be a representative of the company, and depending on how you present yourself, speech included, your casual way of speaking may be off-putting. “Umms” and “Like” are fillers that can be reduced by practicing your answers beforehand. I am guilty of the “Yeah” abuse, but in an interview, the answer is always “Yes”.

5. Dress Appropriately

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You can never go wrong with a button-down/blouse and dress pants/conservative skirt. This rule can be modified from company to company. Some company cultures prefer very professional attire. If that’s the case, then suit jackets and ties should be worn. Everyone can benefit from having at least one great suit in their closet. If the office is more casual, perhaps replace the dress pants for some khakis. Research the company and try to match what the manager would be wearing. Ask ahead of time if you think you may be touring any facilities that may require boots, a hardhat, or similar special circumstances. In general, I don’t know of a time where shorts, flipflops, sweatpants, anything low-cut, or anything revealing could be considered acceptable interview attire. Try on your outfit ahead of time to ensure proper fit, and remember: you want to be noticed for what you said, not what you wore. For more on this topic, check out Uriela’s blog post about appropriate interview attire.

If you have questions or concerns about these suggestions or anything related to your upcoming interview, please drop us a line in the comments below!

[All gifs thanks to giphy!]

Different #Generations in the Workplace

generationcomic

What bothers me is that most of these articles take on the tone of “How to deal with ____ generation.”  That tone is the problem.  You’re seeking advice on ways to work with a diverse group of people and the tone of the article is negative from the start.  Our perception of an experience comes from the choices we make, and our mindset going into a situation can define that experience as positive or negative.

image via infinityconcepts.net/

image via infinityconcepts.net

Many times, generations get unfairly labeled.  You can’t label an entire group of people born within X number of years and expect those views to reflect in every workplace.  Stereotypes will always be stereotypes.  A stereotype, by its very definition, is “an oversimplified idea of a particular type of person or thing.”  When we oversimplify each other, we begin to oversimplify the human experience and what it means to really get to know one another.  I don’t think I could morally brush someone off because  I believe I think I know about their work ethic simply because I’ve Googled it.

For example, I saw this picture online that said, “My mom says she’s ‘bad at computers because her generation is bad with them,’ and then I remind her Bill Gates is part of her generation.” There are always exceptions! I feel these articles are creating a passive-aggressive tension between generations and other bloggers and I would like it to stop.

I know anecdotal evidence is a flawed argument but my goal is just to make everyone take all of these “Generational Advice” articles with a grain of salt.  I believe if you like what you do, you work hard, and you develop emotional intelligence to mitigate damage to communications- you will most likely not find difficulty in the workplace.  Humor also has this fantastic way of transcending personal factors. I’ve worked in many offices and everyone has had a great sense of humor… thank goodness. You can’t work with people all day long and not find ways to make one another laugh.  (You physically can’t- don’t try it! It would be bad for your health!)

Please don’t take this post to mean a homogenous workplace could be just as good as a diverse workplace.  Perhaps it could, yes, but I truly believe you need diversity in opinions, levels of experience, and varying specialties for an organization to reach its potential.  When it comes to working in an office with multiple generations, I believe the best advice is to just treat people like people.  If you’re new and looking for advice, here:  take a deep breath, smile, and introduce yourself to your coworkers.  You will get to know everyone in time.

Dealing with Questions during your Holiday #JobSearch

Searching for your next job is tough.  It can be even harder during the holiday season when you are back and forth to various family get-togethers.  Family and events aside, depending on your industry- this is a great time to not slow down the momentum of applications.  Many companies are still scheduling interviews and hiring at the end of November through late December, so don’t think everyone at your dream organizations are gone on vacation.  Keep at it; make sure your application materials are targeted for the open position and that you still keep in contact with your network (even if it is just to drop them a line wishing them a safe and happy holiday season!)  You may be surprised at the response rate you could receive.

As far as dealing with aunts and uncles, grandparents, etc… Assume that everyone means well, and people may just be asking for small talk’s sake and don’t mean any ill will by it.

Topic Switch

If family asks, “How’s the job search going?” and it is the last thing you want to talk about due to stress, you could just state something polite and noncommittal such as, “I’m still waiting to hear back from a few places, but I also had the best time with (insert hobby, trip, reuniting with an old friend, event here) the other day.”  If a family member is just asking to make small talk, the topic change is up to you.  That way, no one feels uncomfortable and if you’re talking about something you love, it will be an easy transition.

Unemployment statistics and the economy are also quite often topics on the news, so these transitions are especially helpful when you want to de-escalate some of your family members; specifically, the ones that wait for these social functions all year long so they finally have a platform for their offensive political and religious beliefs that are piecemeal of the evening news and sensationalist magazines headlines at the checkout lanes of the local grocery store.  Aunt Ellen getting loud again, polarizing the family with her views?  “Cousin Sarah, this stuffing is delicious!  Tell me the recipe?”

Networking

Some family members believe they know everything about the job market, even though they have never had to conduct a serious job search in the 21st century.  As a job seeker, you know a LOT has changed in the last ten years.  You can’t walk in and shake hands with a complete stranger anymore, and many places tell you that they don’t take phone calls- and reroute you to apply online.  Once online, you have to provide personal details for an hour just to register with the site before you even begin the timed application, from which you may or may not hear back.  Yeah, a lot has changed, to say the least.

Some aspects of job search, however, have not changed.  Networking has been the oldest way to job search and to this day, it is still the most successful.  Networking opportunities amongst family may be a beneficial avenue you have yet to pursue.  Just to clarify, I am not advocating you put your cousin Joe as your professional reference, but perhaps Joe has a friend who has a company that could use someone with your skill set.  Joe could set up the phone interview, and you could take it from there.  The key here is that everyone must know you are looking for a job, and understand what you can offer, because you never know who may know who that can help you find your next position.

Time with Family

Whether you choose to discuss your job search or not, it is entirely up to you and what is comfortable for you.  Family tends to give you the hardest time because if you’re a member of a loving group of people, everyone wants the best for one another.  Take this time to see the people you haven’t seen in far too long, and enjoy the time you get to spend with them.  Remember that whether you choose to discuss your job search or not, you always need to keep a portion of time each week just for yourself and your own rejuvenation.  Staying motivated and on top of your search is admirable, but don’t feel guilty for taking one day off to spend with loved ones.  For that, I hope everyone has a safe, happy, and fun holiday season!

#Interview on Skype? 5 Tips to Help You Prepare

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If you’re broadening your job search and open to relocation, you may be applying to places hundreds (or thousands!) of miles away.  In these cases, it is not always financially possible to meet and have an in-person interview.  Skype interviews are becoming more common for long distance candidates.  If you have yet to participate in one, here are a few tips to consider-

1.   Have a professional username– Just like an email address and voice mail greeting; keep your username simple and professional.  If you are embarrassed to share your Skype ID with an employer, create a new registration and change your username.

2.  Ensure your equipment is functioning – Skype has many test features for you to see if your microphone’s quality will be effective during the interview.  Check to see if you can transmit both audio and images.  Test this at least a few days ahead of time with a colleague in case you find out your microphone needs to be replaced, or any various other technical glitches.  You can expect technical glitches during the interview, but preparation and practice ahead of time will save you some of the hassle.

If you are new to Skype, I recommended just getting started and talking to a friend or family member.  Get used to seeing yourself in the corner of your screen if using a webcam is entirely new to you.  It can be distracting, but remember- eye contact still counts!  Practice looking towards the camera lens when you reply to your friend, and not right at their image (or with your eyes down, looking at your own image.)  This way, you will know you can maintain eye contact during the interview.

For the technical aspect of testing the functionality of your equipment and hardware, I recommend browsing WikiHow for most issues.  Skype’s website also has tutorials and FAQ sections for reference.

3.  Close all other programs– Ctrl+Shift+Esc on the keyboard is a quick way to open the Task Manager.  Close unnecessary programs so Skype can smooth and quickly.

4.  Proper lighting and plain surroundings– Nothing is worse than the creepy factor of a low-lit room while you are Skype-ing.  Play with light sources or lamps available to you and see what set up produces the best lighting so the interviewer can see you.  Having plain surroundings will also help them focus on you alone, and not your personal items, posters, or shelves filled with collectibles or family photos.  If you are using a PC and it is too difficult to move these items, try putting up a curtain or backdrop as a quick fix.

“A cluttered background may distract your audience, not to mention send the wrong idea about your organizational skills.  Also, rid the area of personal items- no need to share too much information.  A blank or neutral background is best, with a well-organized desktop.”

-Forbes “7 Ways to Nail a Skype Interview” April 2013

5.  Treat this like an in-person or telephone interview– Schedule a block of time without any distractions and in a quite environment.  Have a glass of water and your company research notes nearby for reference.  Dress professionally and practice your previously prepared interview responses.  Most importantly, take a deep breath, smile, and show your excitement for this potential opportunity!

Success and Progress in #JobSearch

work sucess dictionary

Yesterday I was at home, Netflixing a television show I’ve come to love, and I heard this bit of advice, “Life will knock you down more times than you will ever image, so you can’t knock yourself down.”  It came when a high school junior didn’t want to attend college interviews because she felt she always ruined her good opportunities. What seemed at first like depressing reality ended up being motivating wisdom.  If you don’t believe you can do something, or succeed at something, why would anyone else believe you could?

This ties in to job search and any other career struggles we may face.  If you don’t believe you’re the best person for the job, is that same feeling becoming apparent to your boss or the hiring manager conducting the interview?

With all of the troubles life throws at you, don’t have your own negative self-talk be another obstacle. Success comes from trying.  You can’t fail if you don’t try, and sometimes the greatest successes come after what seems like the biggest failures.  I could share the countless times I’ve felt like I completely messed up in my career- some experiences ranged from being too young to understand professionalism with proper communication, and some have just been downright embarrassing- and although it might make some of you laugh, it would detract from my overall message.  The point is it was during those points that I really began to shape who I was.  We have the freedom to make choices; in how we act, what we say, how we treat others- and those choices influence our opportunities.

Routine means both a regular schedule and unsurprising, predictable, and monotonous.  If everything always runs smoothly, there will never be a reason to change or analyze your actions.  How we recover and progress forward from the obstacles in our lives, professional or otherwise, will shape the course for the rest of our lives.  That is why when you’re job searching, it is most advantageous to keep a routine, but vary the ways you job search every day.  If while you were working, you woke up at 8AM every day, continue to wake up at 8AM every day.  If you went for a run every other day at 2PM, keep doing that.  During your job search hours, switch the activities.  Perhaps one day you can complete applications, and another you can work on your resume.  You could take a free workshop on interviewing techniques at a local job center, and later on attend an industry networking event.  Maybe every Friday you attend a job search club as well.  Keep a routine, but don’t make your job search routine.  You have to vary the ways you market yourself to get results, and part of that comes from trying new things, getting out of your comfort zone a bit, and not being afraid to fail.

If networking in person or writing an email to someone you’ve yet to meet gives you some anxiety, then meet with a career advisor or research best practices so you don’t try to “go in cold.”  Education is one of the biggest ways to gain confidence because the more you know about a topic, the more comfortable it is to approach that topic.  If you’ve had a bad experience at a potential networking opportunity, remember that we consider an experience “embarrassing” when we think we are not meeting our own standards of what is acceptable.  There’s no need to over-apologize for embarrassing moments, but try to learn from it or laugh about it.  We are our harshest critics.

It’s okay to be afraid, and you have to put yourself out there to get noticed.  Just don’t let the fear of something going wrong stop you from doing anything you want to do.  Things will go wrong.  Something always does.  The question is, will a failure set you back from progress, or will you keep trying?  Success is temporary, but it makes all the struggles in between worth it.

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The Art of Revision in an Effective #Resume Summary

“By the time I am nearing the end of a story, the first part will have been reread and altered and corrected at least one hundred and fifty times. I am suspicious of both facility and speed. Good writing is essentially rewriting. I am positive of this.” — Roald Dahl

Part of my job entails training colleagues on resume writing and general career counseling in order to be prepared to take on a competitive resume writing certification exam.  Through this great experience, my team in the office has had a lot of time to develop and revise training for colleagues of various technical and writing skills.  No matter what, the profile section of a resume has always been the most time consuming.  One newer strategy came a few weeks ago, that has worked fairly well for my own purposes for advice to coworkers and job seekers alike.

[As a warning, all that follows is a journey down the dark caverns of my mind- or rather, my thought process as it relates to resume writing and strategies that have proven to be successful.  Excuse my seemingly contradictory blog here, as I detail the benefits of being concise in a long-winded post.]

The profile statement is typically a paragraph section underneath a headline statement on a combination style resume.  Here is where the first sentence has to be an all-encompassing marketing statement, highlighting the most significant selling points of the client that speaks to the employer’s needs.  Every time we write one, I think of my time in a Shakespeare festival playing an evil sister in a reenactment of King Lear.  My close friend Stephanie played the other evil sister and we had to ‘fight’ over the same man.  The first time running through the play quickly, it took an hour.  Then for the audience, the goal was to do the play in a half hour.  Then 10 minutes.  Then 5 minutes…. Then all the way down to 30 seconds.  What started off as a snarky, witty back-and-forth between Stephanie and me became an all-out fight scene.  We literally took each other down on stage, trying to get the essence of the evil sisters relationship conveyed under the time constraints.

And I see you, staring at me right now, thinking, “Land the plane…” Well, consider the full 5-7 sentences of a full paragraph the 10 minute version.  The very first sentence is that 30 second version.  The half hour may be the full resume and its accompanying documents, and the full hour would be the resume accompanied with the interview process until the hiring decision.

Giving the employer piece by piece what they need and no more is another exercise in time constraints.  Giving them too much too soon could dance on the border of being irrelevant and the employer may lose interest or not see the worth amongst the wealth of information.

To avoid resume jargon that doesn’t market a client well, I suggest the following.

When crafting the Summary-

1.      Determine the unique selling points.  3-5 of them would be ideal.  Selling points are what the client has to offer the employer.  Did they make or save money?  Did they manage a successful project? Implement a new program? Just complete a competitive training course?

2.      List the unique selling points in order of significance.  Determine which selling points have the most impact and lead with them.  Those of still impressive but lesser significance can help close the summary.  With all else excluded, the first sentence has to function as a stand-alone sentence, able to market the client well as leading statement in case the employer only skims the resume.

3.      Without using adjectives, articles, and pronouns, write the unique selling points as full sentences.  Describe the selling point in detail without any descriptive words.  This may seem difficult at first, but will be well worth it.  Avoiding the use of adjectives makes writers use only the facts.  By using only the facts, the true selling point is discerned without any “fluff” that could be considered debatable.  Articles are all of our neuter words like “the,” “a/an,” etc.  Removing pronouns helps lead with verbs, providing more impact to each sentence.

Take the example sentence of, “She had a great idea and developed a new marketing program  that beat what most of the local competition was doing.  Customers were prompted to come to the store because seasonal special discount coupons were mailed by her, and the customers gave her lots of positive feedback, they were so happy to have a surprise discount.” 

If we remove the adjectives, articles, and pronouns, it becomes, “Had idea and developed new marketing program that beat what most of local competition was doing.  Customers were prompted to come to store because seasonal special discount coupons were mailed, and customers gave positive feedback, happy to have discounts.”

4.      Use an active voice.  In the active voice, quite simply. the subject does the action.  Example – Jane developed a new marketing program.

If we were to compared this with the passive voice,  the target of the action becomes the subject.

 Example – A new marketing program was developed by Jane.

How do we place the above selling point in the active voice?  We can break it down one line at a time.  The first line, “Had idea and developed new marketing program that beat what most of local competition was doing,” is already active because Jane/She is the understood subject.  We dropped the pronoun in step 3.

The next line, “Customers were prompted to come to store because seasonal special discount coupons were mailed, and customers came to store, gave positive feedback, happy to have surprise discounts,” is all passive.  “Customers were prompted” and “special discount coupons were mailed.”  To change this to the active voice, the sentence can be changed to say “Mailed seasonal special discount coupons to customers, and customers came to store, gave positive feedback, happy to have surprise discounts.”

5.      Be concise but speak the employer’s language.  Now that we have dropped some unnecessary words, have understood subjects in the active voice, and a list of selling points in order of highest impact to lowest, we can edit the sentences further.  On a resume, you want to use as few words as possible to say your point.  Baroque, ornate sentences that flow on and on with continuous dependent clauses have no place on a resume.

Let’s take a look at how our summary line is going.  Now we have,

“Had idea and developed new marketing program that beat what most of local competition was doing.  Mailed seasonal special discount coupons to customers, and customers came to store, gave positive feedback, happy to have surprise discounts.”

35 words for one selling point is far too long.  Having one selling point take more than one sentence is also not the best marketing idea if high-value sentences are to be achieved.

Having a critical eye over what may be deemed necessary is crucial.  The first sentence begins with, “Had idea and…” Had idea?  Do we really need to say someone had an idea before they pursued something?  It is pretty safe to assume that before someone develops something new, they originally had an idea to do it.  Had an idea?  Dropped.

“Developed new marketing program that beat what most of local competition was doing.”  This new marketing program is unique.  No other local stores currently offer this promotion.  The real “meat” of the sentence is that she “Developed (a) new marketing program.”  What can we assume from the fact that it differs from what other stores currently offer?  Although “unique” was used earlier, I would not recommend calling something “unique,” because everyone thinks they are unique.  “Exclusive” perhaps?

“Developed new and exclusive marketing program.”  Now “new and” bothers me.  It may even be safe to assume that when someone develops something, that it will be “new.”  Typically, no one develops something that will not lead to some new change.  “Developed exclusive marketing program.”  There we go.  Next sentence.

“Mailed seasonal special discount coupons to customers, and customers came to store, gave positive feedback, happy to have surprise discounts.” Comma, comma, comma.  Everything about this sentence is dependent.  “and customers came to store, gave positive feedback, happy to have surprise discounts,” is essentially the result of this new sales promotion.

“Came to store” is just kind of, “meh” right?  I did X and customers came.  Since this is a sales-related statement, it may be more marketable to say, “increased traffic.”  From increasing traffic, there may be room for more sales.  Information on sales increases isn’t directly given to us, so we will continue with “increased traffic.”

Similarly, “gave positive feedback, happy to have surprise discounts.”  What we are really talking about here is “customer satisfaction.” 

Revisions in mind, we have now changed this too, “Developed exclusive marketing program. Mailed seasonal special discount coupons to customers that increased traffic and customer satisfaction.”

6.      Make the sentences showcase abilities to offer an employer.  The revision sounds very close to an achievement, which could be further developed into one for this resume.  For the summary section, remove the specific details and save them for the achievements section.  Revise the sentence so it is something they can offer a prospective employer, and the achievements section can become the “proof” section.

“Proven ability to develop exclusive marketing programs

that increase traffic and customer satisfaction.”

Where is it “proven?  In the achievements section below.

7.      Finishing touches: sprinkle in an adjective with a job title/phrase.  As opposed to being adjective heavy and editing them out, we originally removed all or most adjectives in step 3.  It is much more difficult finding the “meat” of an ability/offering when it is flooded by meaningless adjectives, but one adjective at the end of fine tuning the sentence is a great finishing touch.  This adjective can be used to describe the client, but avoid over-assuming or using clichés.  “Self-motivated” or “Results-oriented” may be on a lot of “No” lists, but I think they are safe to use.  It’s just a matter of quality, not quantity, when it comes to choosing these few adjectives.

For the job title/phrase, you can use the client’s current occupation, or a general term for their occupation- as long as it is not completely different from the job they are targeting.  Overall, I would only avoid using the word “professional” as a standalone.  If the person in our example is a manager in sales, we can call her a Sales Manager.

End result:

Results-oriented Sales Manager with proven ability to develop exclusive marketing programs that increase traffic and customer satisfaction.

18 words, one sentence from 35 words and two sentences, with the major change being only an increase in impact.  These steps take some time, but remember, like most writing- it is 20% drafting, and 80% revision.  Taking the time to critically revise makes a great impact on the resume’s marketability.  If this sounds like a lot to handle, feel free to contact me so I can get you in touch with a CPRW from a local job center in your area.

Professional Development, Perspective & Other Tough Topics

My father spent the majority of his professional career in the state, so I know he is happy I pursued the same.  This was not an immediate choice though, but rather came together over years of other great jobs (and not so great jobs.)

While working during college, my retail job went from a lot of fun, to a miserable existence under new management.  Spending 3 years working there, I have seen managers succeed and fail because of their relationships with their team.  10 out of 10 times, engaged, motivated employees work harder than undervalued, miserable ones.

Instead of being a fun techie retail store, it became all that is why I cannot continue to do retail; canned speeches, ridiculous sales demands, and more about tracking how many customers I pitched a product to than social/natural human interaction.  Even though it was an entry level position, and I had no desire to take on more responsibility while trying to maintain my GPA, my dad shared some advice with me.  “If nothing else, a bad manager teaches us how not to act- should you get a management role one day.”  At the beginning of the economy’s downturn, quitting wasn’t an option- although all other staff shared this ongoing need to get out whenever the opportunity struck.

My opportunity came when I got fired on my 21st birthday, the day before I left for a college study abroad trip to Spain.  I won’t get into the mundane details of why I thought this was unfair, because from a business standpoint, I understand why it was done.

Perspective is a funny thing.  If possible, I completely recommend dealing with job loss while in Salamanca, Spain.  (There is nothing like self-reflection while drinking sangria in the Plaza Mayor.)  I knew I got fired for not following the golden rule of the career advice: To succeed at work- show up on time and solve more problems than you create.  This sounds easy, right?  Well, being a disengaged employee in retail, showing up at all was difficult.  Constantly thinking every disagreement was a battle made me create more problems for my manager than it ever did make his life easier.  Comparatively speaking, quitting is the easiest thing you can do.

Yes, there will always be bad managers, and yes those on-call shifts are a nightmare, but turning each difficulty into a learning opportunity as opposed to quitting will help your own professional development.  There are ways I interacted with a manager two years ago that I would never dream of doing now, but everyone makes mistakes.  It’s how you make up for those mistakes and correct your actions to better yourself (and your work environment) that count.