Thursday, April 06, 2006

Random questions about resumes

With the job search ramping up for many seniors, I’m getting a lot of scattered and random questions about resumes, questions about small and subtle details, the sum of which ends up being greater than the individual parts.
So, I thought I’d take today to answer a few of the more common inquiries.

Q: If my resume is two pages, do you staple them together?...


Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 04/06 at 09:02 AM
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Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Getting the most out of your references

Someone recently asked me to fill out a reference for them. Thoughtfully, they provided a brief “cheat sheet” so that I’d be up to date on their past experiences. I thought this was a good idea and felt well prepared to gush over them. Until I took one look at the reference form, that is. As it turned out, I could only fill in 50% of the questions about that particular person. Though I knew them well within one context, the reference form asked for information beyond that bandwidth. Sadly, I was not sure whether I’d be of much help at all.

Resulting advice? Make sure you cover your bases when asking for references. If your reference has not observed you within a certain setting—and here’s where it helps to review the questions on the reference form—prep them. Let them know in detail who you are across the spectrum so that they have an adequate base from which to speak.

Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 04/05 at 12:09 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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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:


Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 03/02 at 01:30 PM
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Monday, February 13, 2006

Hiring for attitude….

I visited a place yesterday where precision counts. Well, okay, I was just getting a haircut but the opening line still applies, right? I mean, who wants a bad haircut. The point is that during our extended one-way conversation (stylist as speaker and me as listener), she went on to talk about who gets hired now days and why. To quote, “We hire for attitude. Technique and skills we can teach but not attitude.”

Attitude in that setting means bending over backwards, doing more than what’s expected. And smiling graciously in the process.

So those summer and part time job experiences? Great forays into the Land of the Great Attitude, where you can perfect your approach and collect stories along the way to demonstrate your successes.

Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 02/13 at 02:10 PM
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Friday, February 10, 2006

MySpace…not just for kids

Looks there are plenty of people finding fascinating material on MySpace this week. That would include local high school administrators who found pics of their students drinking at a weekend party. And there’s no closure yet as some students and parents alike refuse to accept the two week extra-curricular suspension penalty. We’ll see whether or not the issue ends up in court but the issue leaves a divided student body and another illustration of unanticipated MySpace consequences.

A recent issue of Money magazine (February 2006) advises parents to “counsel teens and even post college kids to be aware of the potential long-term consequences…” (Talkin’ ‘bout MySpace Generation, p. 27). But 2 minutes and a very cursory glance at MySpace contributors makes it plain that post college kids aren’t the only ones who need advice. How about 27 year olds who admit that they are the type of person who will wait in the car to drive you away after you, the perpetrator, commit a nasty prank?  Hmmmm. And the employment sector for this person would be…..?

Evidently, removing injurious information may not be enough, as Money mag goes on to talk about search engines, such as Archive.org, designed to cull information assumed to be deleted from the the web.

Best course of action, my 27 year old “friend”, is to change your profile, edit your entry and alter your on-line persona. You’ve got a larger audience than happy stud muffins reading about your meant-to-be-humorous, but nonetheless deviant, predilections.

Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 02/10 at 02:29 PM
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Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Xanga and Facebook aficionados: Beware of what you post…

I googled myself the other day. Not the real me. Just the Aunt-Bonnie me, which turned out to be scary enough. I came up second only to an Aunt Bonnie cookie maker. This blog has evidently increased my web presence, more than I would have wished when I first began the project. Hopefully, I’ll feel comfortable with my writings ten years from now when they’ll still be floating around the Internet.

Which leads me to today’s topic.

Blogging, Facebooking and Xanga-ing. Or Vlogging if you’re on the cutting edge. All open ended venues where self expression rules. But, a word to the wise, as they say. Let’s face it. The Xanga page which looks great to other college students might not have the same appeal to potential/future employers. I mean, who wants to see your room mate posing in a slip? Or pics of last weekend’s party? Or read your innermost thoughts on your latest relationship? It’s all out there, folks, for any and everyone to read and quite possibly to judge you by.

In fact, it’s happening already. Employers as close to home as those hiring for on-campus jobs are researching the above named sites before hiring. Want a job in maintenance sweeping floors and emptying professors’ waste baskets? Well, think twice about trumping your latest dorm prank on your Facebook page.

Fortunately, what’s done can still be undone.  As spring winds blow through campus and graduation looms, consider moving web presence refurbishment to the top of your priority list. 

Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 02/07 at 02:16 PM
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Monday, January 23, 2006

New Years, Aunt Bonnie style….

With all the schedule-destroying intrusions which have happened this past month, my actual Aunt Bonnie’s New Year’s celebration day this year is going to occur on Feb. 1. Yup. The New Years resolutions, fresh starts. All that stuff begins on my very own, personally declared “new year.”

I’ve been known to do this sort of thing in the past. Move a scheduled date to one which works better. So, for instance, if my birthday comes on a Monday, or some other “dull” day, I might move it to a Friday for that year. Given that my birthday falls on Sept. 11, I had a few years where I celebrated on every good day for a whole month.

Okay, so where’s this heading??? It’s actually more than sheer babble, as it has job search implications as well.

If you’re one of those moderately to very frustrated job searchers, someone whose job search is lasting way longer than planned, why not look at the calendar and choose a new DAY ONE? Make it at least a week away to allow yourself time to reassess what you’ve been doing and why you’ve not achieved results (the most common cause being too much time spent on Internet job boards).  Revise your plan and re-launch. Fresh-spirited and enthused.

So Happy New Years…on whichever day you choose.

Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 01/23 at 04:18 PM
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Thursday, December 08, 2005


There’s a little plaque which graces my wall. It’s rather crude and obviously made by hand.  But I picked it up from a street vendor a number of years ago because of the saying, “Do your homework and know your facts. But remember, it’s passion that persuades.”

I’ve posted a number of blogs over the last few months on choosing a major and career decision making but not much about passion, most likely because there’s a part of me that thinks passion, in the sense of “do what you totally love”, is over rated. There are few people indeed who remain passionate about their careers. Reality sets in sooner or later. Hopefully, what they do day to day will hold a core of meaningful activity amidst the minutia of seemingly irrelevant details.

But when you connect passion—defined here as what keeps you up at night; what you long to see righted, fixed or restored; or, more positively perhaps, what brings you joy—with life calling, the two concepts help set life direction which transcends specific jobs or careers. 


Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 12/08 at 10:47 AM
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Thursday, December 01, 2005

Talking turkey at Christmas time….or, some thoughts for parents

So, did “the topic” come up over Thanksgiving break? If you have an underclassman in the family, the question might have run something like this: so, have you decided on a major yet? Taken any courses which look interesting and might lead to something? For parents of seniors, the tactful, roundabout approach may have been abandoned for something more direct like—so, what are you planning on doing after gradutation?

In case your questions ended in a very short conversation, Johnson and Schelhas-Miller in their recent book, Don’t Tell Me What to Do, Just Send Money The Essential Parenting Guide to the College Years, include some very helpful advice.


Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 12/01 at 01:21 PM
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Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Key liberal arts skill hits media coverage

Key Liberal Arts Skill Rates Major Media Coverage. Well, that’s not exactly the intended point of today’s NY Times article on gaming design and academia but it certainly illustrates a crucial point, namely how liberal arts skills build fascile minds, ready to meet present and future challenges over a wide spectrum of issues. Of particular interest to today’s blog—critical thinking skills.

Note the following quote by Bob Kerrey, better known as the former Nebraska senator, who now finds himself in the role of academic president:
“...if you just look at the surface of people playing games, you are missing the point, which is that games are all about managing and manipulating information,” Mr. Kerrey said. “A lot of students that come out of this program may not go to work for Electronic Arts. They may go to Wall Street. Because to me, there is no significant difference - except for clothing preference - between people who are making games and people who are manipulating huge database systems to try to figure out where the markets are headed. It’s largely the same skill set, the critical thinking. Games are becoming a major part of our lives, and there is actually good news in that.”

There you have it. Critical thinking skills. Add that to the rest of what’s mastered at Calvin and you end up with a skill set for life.

Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 11/22 at 04:39 PM
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Thursday, November 10, 2005

Readers’ questions on interviewing

A recent e-newsletter published by the National Association of Colleges and Employers made the following observation: out of all the hoops job seekers jump through, they tend to make the most mistakes during the interviewing process. More than on resumes, cover letters or sceening phone calls.

So with that backdrop, I thought I’d move to some readers’ questions on the subject.


Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 11/10 at 03:23 PM
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Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Both sides of the fence: real life interview tips from an experienced student

Today’s advice comes from someone who’s sat in both chairs—that of the interviewee and the interviewer. After being selected from a pool of internship candidates, Helga was then assigned to travel the state and search for new employees, quickly throwing her into the role of an interviewer herself—even though she’d not yet finished college. Based on her summer experiences, here’s what she has to say…..


Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 11/08 at 11:50 AM
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Friday, November 04, 2005

Crucial conversations

Whether it’s an intimate conversation at home or high stakes discussion at work, everyone eventually needs a bit of advice on handling heated conversations. And that’s what I came across this week in my search for conflict management material, a nifty little web site on
Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High.

You can, of course, purchase the book through this site. But they also offer free material, stuff to launch your self assessment boat as you explore your (conversational) Style Under Stress or fill in a second questionaire designed to help determine how well your family, team, and organization handle crucial confrontations.

In summary, let me close with one of the following maxims. Or rather you can close with the phrase of your own choosing (hey, it’s Friday afternoon when one cannot expect profundity or maybe even lucidity):
—a stitch in time saves nine
—to be forewarned is to be forearmed
—bad choice makers end up as wrong road takers (a rather homey aphorism I just made up upon exiting today’s blog).
Happy weekend!

Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 11/04 at 03:09 PM
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Thursday, November 03, 2005

Employer comment on choosing a major….

With input too lengthy for the comment section, a local employer emailed me directly with her perspective on choosing a major. Read on for her sage advice….


Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 11/03 at 04:26 PM
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