Career Notes: November



By Elaine Wilder

Finding a job is a job! Think of it as a game – if you know the rules, you can play. Having been in the business of résumé writing and interview coaching since 1989, I have observed many changes in hiring practices and career marketing tools (the résumé, curriculum vitae, cover letter, reference page, salary history page and portfolios). Below are some questions asked by my clients. I believe the answers may be helpful to you if you are a job seeker.

Thoughts become things . . . Choose the good ones!
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Q:        I am confused about the ATS résumé format. What if I submit my résumé in the standard format?

A:        Actually, there is no “standard” résumé format. Recently, I was asked by Jay Block, President of The Jay Block Companies, author and motivational speaker, to address the ATS format. This is Jay’s intro to my comments and his article: “Most everyone understands that an applicant tracking system (ATS) is software that works like a résumé database to help large companies, organizations, and government entities streamline their hiring process and review applications more quickly. And disturbingly enough, in recent years, résumé advice is being grounded in ATS protocols … A BIG MISTAKE!”

And, this is what I wrote: “Résumés are career marketing tools to showcase our clients’ brands. But they must also be documents that help build job seekers’ confidence and excitement so they enthusiastically sell themselves. We do not market these tools to ATS; we market them to Recruiters, Human Resource Managers and Hiring Managers. The majority of our clients do not know what ATS is – but they all want their new résumés to be exciting and professional, in order to get attention and secure interviews. Most definitely an ATS format is useful and not to be discarded. But we need to consider, first and foremost, that our clients’ résumés are motivational and communicate what clients can immediately offer prospective employers.”

Check out Jay’s website – www.jayblock.com – for a wealth of information on strategizing your job search campaign. He has a book – 5 Steps to Rapid Employment – that I highly recommend. You can contact him at jayblock@jayblock.com. Tell him you received his information from Forsyth Woman magazine.

Q:        I am applying for a newly created position at my company. They want a résumé. Since I already work here, why do I have to submit a résumé?

A:        You may not think a résumé would be required, but often, it is. An internal recruiter or a hiring manager in a different part of a big company isn’t going to be familiar with all the aspects of what you do — and even if they have access to the job description for your position, that won’t tell them about the specific contributions that you’ve made in your current role. It’s your job to quantify and document your achievements — and a résumé is a good way to do that, even for an internal position. I ask my clients to keep a folder in a drawer or somewhere handy and place any letters/notes/e-mails from folks praising them for something they did or how they interacted with clients or staff. Also, keep a list of achievements – not just the achievements, but how they were accomplished (think of Challenge – problem or issue; Action – what actions you took to resolve the problem or issue; Result – the positive result of your action. How did you make/save the company money? Keep statistics. Was it a problem with a client, co-worker or management? How did you resolve that with a positive outcome?

Q:        My job search is making me depressed. What can I do?

A:        First, your job search isn’t making you depressed – YOU are making you depressed! Your outlook is what your perception of success (or failure) looks like. It has a big impact on your success. The good news is that if you have a negative mindset, you can change it, and your attitude, to be more positive. Here are seven ways positive thinking is connected to success:

  1. It is proven to help with problem solving. People who think positively are better able to learn new information. This improves your perspective and enables you to tackle problems and obstacles as they happen.
  2. It promotes and enhances your energy level. When you are in a good mood, you tend to laugh more, which boosts your endorphins and your energy level.
  3. Positive thinking helps to give you control by giving you confidence about yourself, your abilities and situations. Successful people control their thought process, turning a negative pattern into a positive pattern as the need arises.
  4. A positive attitude attracts other positive people to you. Successful people often have a large circle of friends and acquaintances. The more people you know, the more doors of opportunity will be opened to you.
  5. Positive thinkers are more likely to set goals and follow through by taking action, which also happens to be one of the keys to success – setting goals and following through.
  6. Positive thinking improves your decision-making ability by opening your mind to broad thinking and creative solutions, while negative thoughts close your mind and narrow your thought process. Successful people are often open-minded, forward thinkers who make good decisions and are good problem solvers.
  7. A positive outlook builds resilience. Successful people often face many failures and mistakes before they succeed. Those with a positive attitude are more resilient and recover quicker when they do fail. Success is more than positive thinking. It requires positive action as well. While positive thinking builds the foundation of success, you have to follow up by taking positive actions.

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