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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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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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I’ll Take Anything…. Not!

Last week I stopped by a fast food restaurant during a slow period. While I was waiting for my order, I overheard the Assistant Manager tell a co-worker he was desperately looking for a new job. I politely interrupted and asked what type of job he was looking for. He replied, “anything, if it gets me out of here.”

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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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I am not a Miracle Worker

Much as I believe that I help open doors for candidates looking for a job, I need to explain that I am limited by what my clients have produced. Those who are most successful using my services are already successful in their career. They just aren’t good at expressing it on paper. That being said, I can only help those with a spotty background so much. As one of my colleagues recently remarked on an egroup, having a nice resume with little content or accomplishments is much like having a shiny new Mercedes without an engine. Sure looks pretty, but it won’t get you very far.

What makes it easy for you to get a new job? Keeping track of your accomplishments, for one. Staying with your company at least 3 years is another. OK, I know that may not be easy in this economy, but here’s a common problem I see a lot: Job seekers jump on the first job that comes along, continue to look for another, quit the new job after 3 months to take the better job, only to hate the culture, supervisor, or get laid off after 6 months. That’s a dent that can’t be quickly removed.

If you want the best looking resume possible, you’ll need to maintain your own career performance. I can’t do that for you. I can only write about what you’ve accomplished.

Susan Geary, CERW / Certified Resume Writer

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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