Shortening your resume

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It takes me a lot longer to write short pieces than long ones. I’m extremely familiar with  job seeking and write long blogs in minutes. However; these aren’t published. Instead, I edit. I attempt to say the same thing using half the words. They take longer to complete, and end up on Job Seeking Adventures. But why do this?

Readers (including HR reps), scan. It helps to cut extra info and be action-oriented. Clients often bring me long resumes without specifics. Or, they include the same duties under multiple jobs. Or, they share technology, equipment, and duties unrelated to jobs they are applying for. As I share with them, every word on a resume and cover letter should have a reason for being there. If you have similar jobs, set up a “Professional Experience” section to share once what you’ve completed at all positions. In your “Employment” section, list the jobs without general duties, but accomplishments and specifics unique to that position.

Only use past duties in the context of transferable skills. For instance; an RN going for a Customer Service position doesn’t need to share medical equipment and specific healthcare procedures, but should determine and share skills involved with patient care that will be invaluable to helping the company’s customers.

Again; remember more isn’t always better with resumes and cover letters. Say a ton in few words.

Good luck job hunting,

Beth Husom, GCDF

Me or You?

downloadScenario 1: “Dear Human Resources:  I have been a nurse for 10 years, and just got my Nurse Practitioner degree and certification. I saw you had an opening on Indeed, and I really would love to work at a clinic near my house. I have attached my resume, and would love an interview…”

Scenario 2: “Ddownload (1)ear Ms. Johnson: Thank you so much for speaking with me yesterday, and sharing that Allina Health Uptown is seeking a capable and patient-oriented Nurse Practitioner. I also believe in ‘For All the You that’s Possible,’ which is why I’ve served thousands over the last 10 years at Stellis Health in Albertville and North Memorial Health in Golden Valley. It’s also why I recently earned my Master’s and am now a Certified Nurse Practitioner. Please consider furthering our telephone conversation with an official interview and look to the attached resume. I hope both would give a glimpse as to how my background, skills, and personality could make me a fitting, caring addition to the 750 Allina Healthcare Providers who already make lives better for patients and families.”

Some say that just like the rotary phone, resumes and cover letters are obsolete. Don’t listen. They are as relevant as ever. BUT: selfish and generic don’t work. In Scenario 1, it’s all about the job seeker. SHE wants a job. SHE found an anonymous opening on Indeed. SHE wants to work near her house. SHE wants an interview. It’s not an HR rep’s responsibility to ensure you have a short commute time. Our 1st candidate does share she’s been a nurse for 10 years. BUT; we don’t know if she likes it, has worked anywhere, or is any good. Since she just GOT her NP degree, we don’t know if she found it on the sidewalk or in a cereal box….

My company is called Words Matter because what you say is vital. Also vital is personal communication. Enter Scenario 2:

This candidate spoke with someone directly. She used verbs (action words). She used THEIR motto as a reason she earned (not got) an NP degree. She shared specific experience. She gave numbers and referred to patients. She appealed to the HR rep by indicating THEY had started a relationship via their initial phone chat. She showed she researched THEM, and again showed it’s about THEM—not her. Instead, she would like to fit into THEIR clinics.download (2)

In a cover letter, try to eliminate I, MY, ME as much as possible, and instead use words like YOU, WE, YOUR, etc. Think of yourself as a puzzle piece, where a company will pick you up and you’ll perfectly fit.

Good luck job searching,

Beth Husom, GCDF

Job-flavored lemonade

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We’ve all heard the expression, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” This can be used in job-land too. Yesterday, I received a phone call supposedly from a local powder coating company. When I answered, it was an ESL speaker from a loud call center, trying to get personal information. Solicitors are sneaky!

I looked up the powder coating company. It seemed they were sold or merged with a tube bending company—very little knowledge of either industries. But upon viewing the website, it seems the facility is large, located in an industrial area of town. What I dub as a “Small Sign” company; businesses we drive by every day, don’t notice because they aren’t Target, Cub Foods, a bank, clinic, etc., but they can be quite successful, and can be gold mines for job seekers.

I called the powder coating/tube bending facility to say someone stole their name and was using it in a sneaky way. An Account Manager and I had a nice conversation and was thankful I called. I took a picture with my cell phone and emailed it. She also asked what I did for a living.

I saw the facility had many areas, potentials for non-manufacturing/production jobs, and had a couple of job openings posted. However; if I was looking for a new job, my conversation with her would have been a perfect time to ask questions, see if she liked working there, and more. If I learned anything positive, I could see if she knew additional openings and/or get transferred to a hiring manager.

They already were happy with my actions. We were off on a good foot. Remember: Factories don’t just need production workers, hospitals don’t just need doctors, stores don’t just need salespeople, and schools don’t just need teachers. Never assume you’d never fit before asking. In the Bible, God says He can take what’s meant for our harm and turn it into something good.  Use Him. Take a bad phone call, injury, car problem, lost cell phone, problem with a person, etc., and see if there’s a job or great contact in the middle of an annoying, uneasy, or even crisis situation. Many have found a fabulous positions due to a broken leg, cracked tooth,  lawsuit, broken furnace, or even when doing things like helping clean a hoarded house. The stories are cool and they just keep on coming.

Good luck job seeking,

Beth Husom, GCDF

Ask questions

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If you’re being interviewed for a job, who should be doing most of the talking? Hint: it’s not you.

People wonder what I mean; after all, an interview is meant to find out what candidate will best fit a company or organization. Neither shoes nor the person will look good if someone wears one high heel and one sneaker. They need to complement each other. As the interviewee, it’s vital to have a clue what you’d be getting involved with. You will invest more into your employer than visa versa. A full-time employee physically gives 40 plus hours weekly to a job, there’s a big learning curve, refiguring your schedule, and developing new relationships with many people. You’ll often spend numerous hours thinking of them outside of work and represent them 24/7. On the flip side, most companies with more than a few people can function with or without even the best employee. If someone is hired and doesn’t fit well, their employer can fire them or they can quit. It’s normally a hiccup to an organization, but a life changer to an employee.

In a job interview, the hiring entity should be doing about 80% of the talking, via questions and explanations of duties, benefits, atmosphere, values, and needs. When you leave an interview, ensure you have a feel for both the job and organization.

In a typical interview, the candidate normally responds to interview questions. At the end of the interview, after being asked the inevitable, “do you have any questions for us?” they often say “no.” It may sound weird, but this tells interviewers the candidate doesn’t care about them—just getting a job.

A better way—ask questions throughout; don’t interrogate them but use their questions to ask your own, and find out their employee expectations, work environment, products, company challenges, missions, values, and what they are looking at for the future.

Look for future blog posts on an expansion of this topic. For now, if you are going into an interview, keep the following percentage in your brain—80% them, 20% me. If you’re thinking this and realize you’re talking a lot more than that, take time to ask a question.

Good luck job searching.

Beth Husom, GCDF

Interview prep #1

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Job interviews vary from fun (to a small group) to a cause for complete terror. Most people fall somewhere in the middle.

Job seekers tend to think a lot of the interview itself, and don’t pay a ton of attention to prep work. But just like anything, prep work must go on, and the better prepared, the more likely to get a job.

I spoke with an employer many years ago. Their office was on the second floor of a cool, renovated Minneapolis office building that once served as a flour mill. Their office had large windows and overlooked the parking lot. The company hired a lot of outside sales reps; before sales rep job interviews, someone would watch the parking lot, see the candidate as s/he drove in, parked, got out of their vehicle, and came inside. They were looking for professionalism and respect from first point of visibility. Because these people would serve on site at current and potential customers’ places of business, it was imperative the job candidate didn’t smoke as they drove in, and then threw the cigarette on the ground, their vehicles were appropriate, they drove at proper speeds and parked well, music wasn’t blaring, when the door opened, garbage didn’t fall out and/or they didn’t litter a coffee cup, they weren’t on their cell phones when driving and/or didn’t seem to be in a big phone fight with someone when they parked, and they didn’t see the candidate do things like pick their nose, scratch their privates, take a quick sip of a small vodka bottle, throw on a tie or nylons at the last second, had a pet in the vehicle (especially on extremely hot or cold days), and didn’t appear disheveled, unsettled or cranky upon parking or walking in to the office and then walked in with a big smile (all of this happened, by the way). The employer was ensuring these people seemed confident, respectful and professional from the get-go—they wanted to see what their potential clients would see as they waited for the sales appointment.

These potential employers didn’t mind if a vehicle was 20 years old or had rust but were looking for cleanliness and bumper stickers. They were fine if a person changed their shoes, put on lipstick or did a quick adjustment to their hair (but not if they started a 20-minute makeup or other beauty regiment). They didn’t care about a person’s age, weight, body type, style, ethnicity, gender, etc., as long as the person could drive, carry all needed materials.

Some people find this inappropriate or spying. They think if a person is ready and prepared when they walk through a company’s door, all should be well. But employees represent their companies 24/7. The company wouldn’t be with their sales reps when they worked. So company heads know the importance that all parts of the sales experience be positive. Driving up isn’t the only way potential employees should prep for an interview. We will discuss several of these in upcoming blogs.

Good luck job searching,

Beth Husom, GCDF

“What is your greatest weakness?

images (1)“I tend to work too hard.” “I often take on a lot of extra work.” “I am a perfectionist and hard on myself if I am not the best at something.”

What are these? The normal, rehearsed answers to the dreaded “What is your greatest weakness?” interview question. People want to seem that no one will be as amazing as they are. Instead, be you. No one is perfect. Employers hire people who are imperfect but honest, know themselves, recognize their imperfections, try to better themselves, and whose imperfections won’t hinder their performance.

Think of these.  “Looking at instructions, it’s always been hard figuring out how to put products together. For example, my neighbor just saw me with all the pieces for a new bike in the yard, was reading a diagram and looked perplexed. He put it together. I had a great ride that afternoon. On a good note, it brings humor to holiday functions. My family wonders how I can read ingredients and make yummy food when I can’t assemble most toys Santa brings!”

Or, “In the last few years, I’ve found it easier to text, email, and take care of everything possible online. Last year, I looked around a room. Everyone was on their phones. I thought; ‘no more.’ People are more valuable than technology. My phone stays in my purse on public, I call more than text or email, took a recent customer service course in person and even started mailing my electric bills. The Internet is convenient, so I still use it. But I work to maintain a healthy balance and be a good example for those around me.”  

These are real. Of course a construction worker wouldn’t tell interviewers they couldn’t read blueprints. If assembly isn’t needed, interviewers may like to hear a person is neighborly, tested highly in areas, accepts help, is active, and likes their family. Many relate to the overuse of technology. So they may like to know someone recognizes the problem, is working on it, took a recent customer service course, and wants to be a good example.

I just used two examples of my weaknesses. Show interviewers you know where you don’t shine. Recognize it, overcome through yourself or by asking for help, and care for others. These sound more real and ARE more real. Interviewers are hiring a person—not an actor with rehearsed lines.

Good luck job searching,

Beth Husom, GCDF

Career success=tolerance needed

images (1)images (2) images (1)I watched a Packers/Cowboys game. President Bush sitting next to Ellen DeGeneres. They seemed to be enjoying each other. I thought, “Awesome. It’s a perfect example of how people with different beliefs can get along. I bet her fans will be excited.”

I was part right. Her fans did go crazy, but in a completely opposite way. Some said hateful, nasty comments, called her names, a traitor, indicated she was selling her soul to the devil, blah, blah, blah. Ellen addressed this. I saw a subsequent video. She is friends with President Bush. She said we need to be kind to others, even with people with whom we have differences, and should make friendships with them. Thank you Ellen!

Somewhere along the line, Tolerance, which is defined as “The ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with,” lost its meaning. It was replaced with the belief that differences must divide. However, this doesn’t work, especially in one’s career. In a person’s profession, most regularly interact, consult, and depend on people of all different backgrounds.

To experience career success, you need to embrace and follow Ellen’s words. It’s why my son Andrew has a great time playing with both his conservative homeschooled neighbors, as well as the ones with a Pride sign in their yard (and we fittingly live in the middle). They’re all awesome high-class people. So if you find yourself looking at people with differences with disdain, I recommend you do some soul searching. Maybe even see a counselor. Because until you change your beliefs to the core, your career will stall, and you won’t be happy. The good news? Change is possible. The great news? You may be able to fly further than you’ve ever dreamed. The awesomely-wonderful news? Maybe one day, you’ll sit in the middle of a former president and a liberal talk show host at a football game, enjoying everyone’s company.

Good luck job searching,

Beth Husom, GCDF