Thursday, March 30, 2006

It’s spring. Do you know where your job search is?

Serious spring fever hasn’t hit yet but it’s pretty close. With temps hovering around 65 and birds singing, the last thing most students want to do today is sit in a library. Even worse, contemplate The Job Hunt, synonomous for many seniors with an identity shift from life long student to professional. Too much to deal with at one time. So head-burying may seem like a better option, fueled by internal phrases like “I’ll find something when I graduate. It shoudn’t be too hard. Something will work out.” Anything other than face the frightening fact that in a few weeks you will no longer be a student.

So if the Big seems to much to handle, how about taking a few baby steps? Consider completing one of the following in the next week.

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Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 03/30 at 01:27 PM
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Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Would You Steal This Job….

I recently came across a site running what I would love to cover—mini stories of actual people from a rather interesting spectrum of jobs. Check out Would You Steal This Job for at least a cursory introduction to jobs like community director, college recruiter and photographer, just to name a few. If you’ve found yourself wondering, as I have, what’s that job like? Well, here’s a place that will provide you with a quick glimpse. Not exactly a day-in-the-life-of, but at least some sites for further research.

And, a closing note for today. Aunt Bonnie will be taking spring break until the last week of March when blogging will resume.

Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 03/15 at 03:04 PM
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Tuesday, March 14, 2006

When to use resume and cover letter templates…

I know of few people who get all geeked about writing their own resume or, much less, constructing a cover letter. So, the quickest way possible to complete this onerous task is to revert to a template—pulled from MS Word if you’re looking for a way to basically fill in the blanks or copied directly from other resources.

There. The job is done and you’ve got something ready for your job search, right? Well, yes and no. Yes in the sense that you’ve got something to distribute but no in the sense that it may not be all that effective.

Here’s what I mean. Suppose you’re an HR specialist who sees literally hundreds of resumes a day. What would grab your attention more, a resume from the very predictable Word template or one where the writer took a bit more care to craft its contents? The answer, I’m sure, is obvious. After a while, it takes effort to get past the same-old same-old template look and really pay attention to the contents, even if it’s great stuff.
So, best use of the template in my personal opinion is as a structure for your initial draft. After that, ditch it in favor of something more distinctive.

On to cover letters. Again, there are samples all over the place. But here’s my suggestion.  Tweak and adjust the standard stuff so that it’s really you who’s coming across.  This is especially true if your particular job search does not match the sample cover letter. For instance, I heard from someone today who ended their cover letter with a phrase saying that she would call in 10 days to check on the possibility of an interview. Good stuff normally. That’s how the sample letter was worded. However, the companies where that person was applying did not provide names or phone numbers, thus rendering the phrase meaningless and inappropriate for that particular employer.

So, take resume and cover letter samples as just that—spring boards for your own creative additions and subtractions.

Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 03/14 at 02:50 PM
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Wednesday, March 08, 2006

What to do after graduation….

Join the lines at job fairs? Meet with on campus recruiters? Post your resume on a job board? Sometimes the post graduation options seem endless and confusing.
If none of the above hits your hot button, let me suggest a book I’ve used in multiple appointments lately, Work Your Way Around the World by Susan Griffith. I pulled it out again this morning with someone who had spent a semester in London and was itching to return. Organized geographically, it was a snap to find pithy and practical information on working in the UK. Everything from variations in visas and employment prospects to pay and working conditions. All good stuff to know before you go.
So take a trip to the bookstore before your trip off shore and make use of leg work someone else has done for you.

Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 03/08 at 05:11 PM
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Thursday, March 02, 2006

Marketing yourself…yuck

I realize that today’s title flies in the face of conventional wisdom. Current job search literature is replete with admonitions to market and brand yourself, the end result being a coherent product ready for employers to pick off the shelf, as it were.

Personally, however, I find the idea mildly repugnant. And a number of Calvin students seem to agree. Modesty rules, putting us at a seeming disadvantage in job search situations.

But, there’s nothing wrong with communicating who you are, right? I mean, how else will an employer know who they’re hiring?

So, in lieu of marketing yourself, may I suggest the following strategy:

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Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 03/02 at 01:30 PM
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