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Graduating Cum Laude — You May Brag About it Again

When I first starting writing resumes 13 years ago, it was not uncommon for my clients to want tell future employers about how they graduated with honors. The universities use the Latin term “cum laude” on the degree to distinguish these hard working students. However, you may remember that spam emails were rampant early in the new millennium, usually adversiting websites containing adult content or enhancement drugs. Employers began using “spam blockers” to keep sexually explicit messages from ever reaching their company inbox.

This posed a problem for job searchers who were highly qualified and graduated cum laude. That’s because, cum has a different meaning in English than it does Latin, and it became one of those words that triggered the spam blocker. Resumes that listed this phrase never made it to the intended recipient. Instead, the documents were sent directly into spam folders and deleted. Professional resume writers were told not to use the phrase at all, and instead write “with honors.”

As with everything else in the job search, the rules are once again changing. According to chatter this week in resume writer e-groups, the spam blockers from 2004 are no longer relevant, and emails sent back and forth among the members discussing the “cum laude” issue are not being rejected. Perhaps the software has become more context-based, although this is in no way a scientific study.

Does this mean we can go back to using “cum laude” on a resume? Maybe. I always tend to err on the side of caution when it comes to changes like this. However it’s nice to know that students who work hard, and earn top honors are less likely to be ignored anymore because of spam blocking software.

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Can Social Media Derail Your Career?

This blog could also be titled “How to alienate friends, and stay unemployed for a very long time.”

I’ve been involved with Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn for nearly a decade when I joined Linkedin on the advice of a client who was an early adopter. A few years later I found myself exploring Twitter and Facebook and secured my handles while they were still available. Since then, I’ve been an active user of the 3, and learned about the most annoying behaviours, what turns off employers, and causes people to unfriend you or disconnect. If you want to stay happily engaged on social media and keep your prospects open to further your career, learn how to behave in cyberspace.

1. Avoid being preachy, whether it’s your love or hate for the president, or your deep religious faith, there is an extremely good chance you’ve got cyber-friends who don’t feel the same way. Some people have told me “I don’t care, it’s who I am and I won’t hide it.” That’s perfectly fine, however if sometime in the future you’re job hunting, you could be discriminated against for your beliefs without your knowledge. It can freak out future HR Managers who fear of politicking and proselytizing in the workplace. Politics and religions should not be discussed in polite company anyway. The same goes for Facebook.

2. Watch the extreme details about your health issues. I understand if you need prayers for an ailment, just keep the dirty details to yourself. For one, it’s illegal for employers to ask if you have any health issues prior to hiring you. So, why would you want to publicize that information? I’ve had people tell me they only share this type of information with a select few (like 100 others!) and then can’t understand that once it’s public, it’s OK to share, and people do! Employers could become skeptical about whether you’re healthy enough to work.

3. Family squabbles need to be kept in the family. I’ve seen husbands and wives argue on a Facebook page! Or worse, a wife berating her husband about what a lazy ass he is. That shows more about your discretion of private matters than it does your husband’s laziness and that makes companies fear you won’t be discrete with their secrets either. Plus, they don’t like a lot drama in their workplace.

Facebbok Dont 9

4. Don’t critique your job interviews. Better yet, don’t even announce you have a job interview. Doing so not only creates competition, and again, it tells future managers you reveal too much information on meetings that should be kept private, even if you don’t mention names. I’ve seen a few (long term) job seekers continuously bad mouth interviewers, some even mentioning the name of the company, and post it in LinkedIn group forums, Facebook, and on twitter.

 

Facebook DONT

5. Posting long diatribes of your inner most thoughts is another way to derail your career. Some things are just made for a journal.
 

 

 

 

 

Facebook DONT 4

6. Don’t post evidence of drug use. Really do I have to explain it?
 

 

 

7. Guilting your cyber-friends into sharing and posting pictures and memes “even if it’s just for an hour” tends to make some people uncomfortable.  Requests for help with moving followed by “we’ll see who my real friends are” may find themselves extremely disappointed.

8. Gaming. If you spend the majority of your time on Facebook playing games, keep in mind that time is trackable. Employers might get the idea you have an addiction to Candy Crush and wonder about priorities or productivity.

9. Complaining about how broke you are, only to post photos a week later of your new car, recent vacation, a new tattoo, or stylish hair and nails. Regardless of how your acquired these things, the perception is you don’t know how to manage your money.

Anything you post on social media can be used against you. So if you’ve been unemployed for a really long time – perhaps it’s time to either shut down your account altogether or at the very least, go in a remove any offending posts.

 

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Over 10 years of experience or More than — which is correct?

As a journalist, I learned throughout the years about all the idiosyncrasies of the English language. If you write or say anything incorrectly that goes public, the audience will certainly correct you. And it’s something you never forget. Years ago, at a little station in Lafayette, Louisiana, the news anchor kept me on my toes as a writer, always reminding me which was the most correct term. Is it pleaded or plead? Over 5 years or more than 5 years?

I have seen thousands of resumes / cover letters / LinkedIn profiles that summarize their background as “Over X years of experience.” It made me cringe, because the correct term is “more than x years of experience,” not “over” x years . “Over” describes a measurement, as in 10 feet. “More than” has always been the correct way to phrase it when you’re describing years of experience.  Writing over instead of more than has been the #1 most common mistake I’ve seen on amateur resumes over the past 13 years. But all that is about to change.

Poynter is reporting that the phrase “over” will now be accepted as a correct term because of it’s common use. GASP!

So while it’s been commonly misused all these years, it’s now OK to use either phrase.

And by the way, I learned that pleaded is more correct than “plead” <pled>even though plead is becoming more commonplace.

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Gift ideas for New College Graduates

College graduation season will soon be upon us, and that means a new class entering the workforce. After spending tens of thousands of dollars to secure a degree, doesn’t it make sense to pay a few hundred dollars on professional services to get a leg up on the competition? A gift certificate for resumes, cover letters, and job search advice helps the new graduate land a job in their field much more quickly.

Years ago one of my clients purchased a resume package for his sister who was graduating college. A year later he told me it was like giving her a “winning lottery ticket.” Apparently she landed an internship with her dream company that turned into a $68,000 a year job. She was a chemical engineer, mind you. All occupations are different.

That experience helped me realize what a great gift my client gave to his sister. If you know someone graduating soon, let us provide the most up to date advice for job applications, resumes, cover letters, and online job searches. Contact us for details. 623-556-0330.

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An Experienced Job Hunter…

Who would you rather write your resume? Someone who’s been on a lot of job interviews? Or someone who’s been sitting behind a desk for 25 years, writing resumes, but never applying for jobs? This is kind of what gets my craw with a lot of (but not all) college career centers. They only hire those with Master’s degrees. That means not much in the way of real world experience (going out and fetching jobs) but theory only.

I’m a job jumper. There. I admit it. Not because I want to. Because I like the world of work, and that goes for applying for jobs and going on interviews. Every once in a while, I actually take a part-time job for a few years to continue to keep a pulse on today’s workforce.

There’s been tales told of the shoemaker’s kids having the worst shoes? Try writing a resume with a background of 80 or so jobs? Yes, we exist. But who better to help you with your career needs.

I’ve applied for a lot of jobs. There is no shortcut to experience, but you can learn from the experience of others.

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How to Spot a Toxic Co-worker

We’ve all seen them – TOXIC people who have a dark cloud over them, create a lot of drama, and point fingers that everyone else is the problem These people will undermine your career, drain your energy, steal credit for your ideas, and then point the finger that you’re the one with the problem and it was you who screwed them over. If you call them on their B.S. you will be crucified.
Most of the time they will give away their “tells” — so be on the look out for them. Perhaps they’re bragging about how they vilified their ex-spouse in a divorce, or how they screwed over someone else’s chance at getting a job. If you have a co-worker like this, RUN! Do not share anything with them they can later use against you, because they will. After all, if they’d screw over a spouse, they will certainly do the same to you, and feel no remorse whatsoever. They love playing the victim.
WikiHow refers to these types as “Impossible People.” There is nothing you can do about them, except ignore them.  Don’t stoop to conquer. You’ll never win.

Do not worry about the tales they tell about you. For they will continue to tell the world what shit heads they are through their actions alone.

 

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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 AskAManager.org and AskTheHeadhunter.com 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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Practice Makes Perfect

It’s no secret that the more you do a task, the more skilled you will become at it, whether it’s playing the piano, cooking a meal, or applying for a job. It’s easy to assume that if you send out numerous applications you’ll get responses, but that doesn’t always happen, no matter how stellar your resume and cover letter are, or even if your qualifications are an exact match for the employer’s needs. Here’s why:

1. There are some companies that have already decided who to hire before placing an ad. Perhaps it’s someone from within, or a colleague the hiring director knows from a previous company. Due to EEOC regulations, many companies are required by law to post vacancies. Which is why you may see a job open up and 5 days later it’s no longer listed. It’s advertised only to comply with a federal law.

2. Some jobs are just not meant to be, and if you are especially mindful that your higher power is watching out for you, trust that the right job will come along. It just hasn’t happened yet. I’ve been thankful in several cases when I didn’t get a job, later finding out it’s a toxic workplace, or the job was too high-pressure, or the company shut down months later. One never knows. Trust in the process, and try not to get discouraged.

While it’s frustrating to hear nothing after all the hard work of filling out an application, think of it as good practice with online job applications, research, and tweaking your resume. The more you do it, the more proficient you will become at completing these complex forms. That way when the right job does come along, you can put your best work in front of the hiring manager, especially if there is a short window of opportunity and the closing date is fast approaching. Sloppy, incomplete applications, with typos get passed over every time.

Stay focused, don’t give up, and learn all you can about the job search process. There is no shortcut to experience and practice will make you polished, if not perfect in the job search.

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The Science of Resume Writing

Most people don’t consider resume writing as a science, but after writing these documents professionally for nearly a decade, I have come to the conclusion that resume writing is an art, and a science. That’s because there is so much research and strategy involved that the average job seeker is not even aware of. Here’s what every resume has to achieve in order to generate a job interview:

1. Concise and easy to navigate
2. Easy to Understand
3. Conveys candidate value and attributes
4. Packed with pertinent key words
5. No more than two pages
6. Targeted to the position
7. Contains only relevant information
8. Answers the question “why should you hire me?”
9. Aesthetically pleasing
10.ERROR FREE!!!!

If your resume contains these 10 items, your phone should be ringing. That being said, even a perfect resume can’t hide a spotty background or lack of required qualifications. Your resume is snapshot of YOUR performance, and not a work of fiction.

–Susan Geary / 1st Rate Resumes

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The Most Overused Phrases/Words on a Resume

I critique a lot of resumes and I see a common theme. Most look like they were copied out of a book, or are just badly written to begin with. Amateur writers make the mistake of overusing certain words. Here’s my list of words & phrases that WON’T make your document stand out from the rest.

1. SUCCESSFULLY did this or that. Of course you did. Tell me by how much instead and what the end result was.

2. RESPONSIBLE FOR. This is the most boring phrase on your resume. We all have job responsibilities. The question is… were those responsibilities fulfilled? What was the result?

3. DUTIES INCLUDE. See #2.

4. OBJECTIVE. Yes the objective is for you to find a job. But the truth is, no one cares about your needs. The reader cares what you can do for them. Use an attention grabbing headline statement instead.

5. MANAGED. I see this one repeated over and over. Pull out a thesaurus and you’ll find great synonyms including directed, led, supervised, championed, spearheaded, controlled, guided, etc.