Thursday, April 20, 2006

Resume Objectives—real life examples

I’m looking at a veritable tower of resumes—all real life samples from different colleges and universities—so my desk resembles that of an employer overwhelmed with choices. Lots of competition for perhaps one or two job openings. So since I’ve got this pile of gold here, I thought I’d pass along a number of objectives and let you draw your own conclusions about candidate potential.

Note: Though these objectives are all directed towards education, they highlight typical resume objective foibles.

With no further ado, then, check out the following:


Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 04/20 at 02:19 PM
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Thursday, April 13, 2006

Job Fair Insights: From the mouth of a recruiter

Put yourself in this person’s place. You’re a recruiter for a coveted school district knowing that it will take the person at the end of the line 90 minutes to reach first place. By the end of the day, you will have collected 400 resumes for two open positions. How do you possibly sort through the crowd?

Well, a lunch time conversation did much to demystify the process. According to one recruiter, candidates are rated on three criteria.


Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 04/13 at 12:59 PM
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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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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.


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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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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Friday, February 24, 2006

Keep an open mind about hiring sectors

This may be a topic I’ve addressed before but it’s worth repeating.

If you’re a college senior, chances are you’re being plagued by post graduation questions about the next step. In your search for that next step, by all means, keep an open mind. Allow yourself to be curious and investigate any and all possibilities.

For instance, I was talking with a recruiter for the border patrol at a job fair last week. The job opportunities seemed obvious—border patrol agents to walk the borders. Well, I not only learned that prospective agents can select their area of interest-as in canine, equestrian or even helicopter- but the resulting training will then include a focus where there’s some interest.

So, what else was she looking for? Accountants. Yes, you heard right. Accountants. It makes sense when you think about it. Of course, I thought, the border patrol has to balance the budget and pay the bills, just like any normal business. But at first glance, I would not think of suggesting this government agency to senior accounting majors.

So, keeping an open mind and asking a lot of questions—just two ways to tap into those hidden job opportunities.

Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 02/24 at 10:56 AM
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Friday, February 17, 2006

The Importance of Being Early…

Today’s title take off on Oscar Wilde’s Importance of Being Earnest might be a little thin but it kept running through my head after meeting with my employer friends this morning. Somehow the subject of “new hire’s” came up and it hit a hot button with one manager on the brink of firing a newbie for being late just one too many times.
If you’re a current student, you might be asking….“So what’s the big deal about being late? 10, 15 minutes isn’t going to make that big of a difference over the course of a day.”
That might be true in the long run. Over the course of a day, that’s not much time. Arriving late may even have been your signature in college, sauntering into the classroom using “close to” rather than exact time.
From an employer’s point of view, however, 10-15 minutes is money wasted, money they’re paying you to be at work producing. And as the new person on the block with no well established track record to buffer your mistakes, that’s a expense you can’t afford to rack up.
So, the next time you’re tempted to hit the snooze button and cut yourself a little slack, remember who’s waiting for you on the other side of the office door. “Time is money” might be more than a trite truism.

Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 02/17 at 11:53 AM
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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, 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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Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Readers Question: What should I do about my tattoo?

Our question for today comes from Reuben, a college senior ramping up his final semester job search.
Dear Aunt Bonnie—
I am a business major and would like to work in banking, eventually commercial loans. I can pull off the neat and tidy look with one possible problem. A few years ago I got a tattoo of an eagle on my upper back. At the time I thought it was really cool. Sort of a ‘born to fly’ type of persona I wanted to express. But now I’m totally sick of it and find it comes up higher than a lot of my shirts, or at least the eagle’s head makes it past the t-shirt line. So, here’s my question, how will my potential employer react and will my tattoo nix my chances of being hired?

Dear Reuben-
You raise an excellent question. How do most employers respond to tattoos?


Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 02/01 at 02:23 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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