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What “Scrappers” bring to the workplace

Yesterday I saw a Ted Talk that was eye-opening. Regina Hartley, works in HR Management at UPS, and said she prefers to consider the “scrapper” over the “silver spoon” because these people have faced adversity and are more likely to address problems and solve them. She asserts that the scrapper’s secret weapon is passion and purpose.

After watching this Ted Talk, I tallied up the number of jobs I’ve held. I stopped at 80, and this did not include the number of temp jobs I held for staffing agencies  where I went on a lot of assignments over a few years. I would consider myself a “super scrapper.”

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Whiners Need Not Apply

Throughout my 14 years as a professional resume writer, I’ve done quite a bit of volunteer work at various job search clubs and halfway houses. Job search clubs are a great idea because when you’re low on cash and need help honing your job search skills, you can get help there. They do a better job than most One-Stop Centers. That being said, there are some people who show up, but refuse the help. It makes me wonder why they waste their time and mine.

Case in point, on more than one occasion, I have reviewed resumes written by people who have spent time arguing with me as to how a resume should be formatted, or questioning my ability to critique theirs. Mind you, these people have been unemployed for a long time, and when they did have jobs, they were for less than a year at a time. That’s when I know it’s not the resume that’s the problem, it’s the job seeker sitting in front of me. Complaining about previous jobs, bosses, lack of education, you name it. But (according to them) it’s never their fault.

Here’s a reminder. If a professional offers free advice to help you on your journey, be courteous and grateful. Because nothing will shut off the free faucet faster than whining about your situation. Every day is your job interview. When I come across great candidates and great jobs, I do my best to match them up. Unfortunately there have been times I had to overlook those “qualified” candidates because I knew from my encounters with them they would be too much for an employer to handle.

Attitude matters. Is yours in check?

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Don’t Lie About Your Job History on Linkedin

This morning I received my usual email notice from Linkedin telling me what my connections are up to in their career.  I like to know how my friends, clients, and former co-workers are doing and drop them a line when I hear about a promotion or new job.

The note this morning urged me to congratulate “John Doe” on his work anniversary of three years at a well-known company. John was a former supervisor of mine many years ago when I worked in radio, so I went to his profile and started looking through his work history. I found it odd that the station we  both worked at during that time was not even listed. Worse, he listed a different radio station and location altogether! This made me wonder why he would even take that chance. Was it an honest mistake, or did he purposely revise history thinking no one would be the wiser?

Here’s the problem. John had about 50 co-workers during his time at that job so there’s at least 50 people in our industry who could place him there during that time frame and not at the station he listed. Further, he contributed quotes to music publications that linked him to our station. And he was known by competitors in our market, so that adds even more who can refute his Linkedin job history.

Another concern is for those of us who worked with him. Granted, it was 20+ years ago, but if I ever wanted to use him as a reference, Linkedin shows him not working there at all, which brings up the question, “who’s telling the truth?”

You don’t need to list every job on Linkedin, especially those from 20 years ago. But to give the impression you worked elsewhere when you didn’t can easily be challenged. And should his current employer get wind of this, he could seriously jeopardize his job.

Thanks to the Internet, it’s no longer easy to fudge dates or your past. Don’t do it.

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Right from the horse’s mouth….

Part of my job as a career coach is to keep an eye out on burgeoning trends; know when trends become passe; and listen, listen, listen to what hiring authorities want and need to see on a resume to garner their attention. I read a lot of blogs and advice columns on the job search, and two of my favorites are and Allison Greene and Nick Corcodilos are refreshingly candid, on how to land a job, and not end up working for jerks. Both provide insight that is spot on.

That’s why I was excited to stumble across a (new to me) blog, published in 2010. Head Smacking Tips For Jobseekers” which presents, from the manager’s point of view, why your resume is getting overlooked. Starting with “Don’t Name Your Resume, Resume.” I blogged about this very topic in 2007, and yet it’s still a common issue among job seekers. After you learn why it’s a bad idea, come check out this advice on how to best name your resume when sending it electronically that will put you ahead of the pack.


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Don’t Quit Your Day Job

One of the trends that has surfaced in the Great Recession is discrimination against the long-term unemployed. Last summer I noticed vacancy announcements clearly stating “only those currently employed need apply.”

The Department of Justice stepped in to examine this practice and so far has stated it is not illegal. That being said, even if employers remove the stipulation from their ads, who’s to say they wouldn’t discriminate anyway.

Therefore, if you have a job, and even if you hate it, don’t quit yet until you find new employment. Otherwise you’ll have a cross to bear.

If you have been out of work for a very long time, do volunteer work, or take classes, or something to show that you’re are actively staying up to date on your skills and to close the gap to make you more salable to employers.

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Job Hoppers Need Not Apply

I was perusing CraigsList this morning and stumbled upon an ad for a new restaurant that is apparently coming to a town near me. The ad didn’t identify the company, but stated great benefits, distinctive menu, yada, yada, yada. What really caught my eye in the vacancy announcement was the following:

Candidate Criteria:
• Must be employed in the restaurant industry or recently unemployed (1-4) months out
No more than 2 jobs in 5 years, 3 in 9-10 years.

This really floored me, because anyone who has ever worked in the restaurant industry will tell you that these folks tend to move around a lot. Now the hospitality industry is getting picky with its candidates and demanding an impeccable resume with solid company loyalty and no gaps in employment. In other words, those with a history of short-time gigs need not apply.

Six months ago I attended the NRWA annual conference where there was an employer panel to answer our questions. One recruiter blatantly said, “we will not consider any candidates who did not stay in former positions a minimum of 3 years.”

Times are a changin’. I have to wonder how this economy will affect the resumes of today’s job seekers. Many are losing jobs as quickly as they find them through no fault of their own and that can be detrimental to a once perfect background.

The only thing I can suggest is keep networking, choose your next job WISELY, and chase your passion. As long as you’re doing something you love, it won’t matter if your job lasts a month, a year, or a decade. Passion shows and grows, and it’s something you either have or you don’t. You can’t learn it or earn it.

–Susan Geary, 1st Rate Resumes

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Why I don’t write functional resumes anymore…

Functional resumes were all the rage in the early 1990s thanks to resume pioneer Yana Parker. These skills-based resumes helped job seekers transition into new careers, or hide flaws in their background such as a scattered work history, or gaps. I used the functional resume quite a few times myself to land a job.

The problem now is that HR folks see these documents as red flags and they will no longer look at them. Finally, it’s been confirmed in the following article, along with other great tips on how to spruce up a resume. Good information to know!

–Susan Geary, CERW / 1st Rate Resumes