Archive for December, 2007

New Year’s Networking

2007 draws quickly to a close.  Keppie Careers hopes that a job search and a new career are in your plans for 2008! 

Many new job seekers or people who haven’t looked for a job in a long time may not know about the “Hidden Job Market.”  Sounds sinister, but all it really means is that most (70 – 80% or more!) of jobs aren’t actually filled with people applying to a job posting or announcement; they are filled via personal connections.

Since 70-80% is a huge number of jobs, it’s a good idea to get on this networking bandwagon!  Networking is a huge topic, and I have tons to say on the subject, but since we are coming up on a holiday, let’s leave it at this:

You will probably be out and about this week celebrating the New Year and potentially meeting new people.  Take the opportunity to think about how you can work your career plans and goals into the festive conversations you’ll have. 

How can you introduce yourself with an eye toward seeing if there is a potential career link with your new acquaintance?  Ask someone about their New Year’s Resolution, and then tell them yours:

You hope to use your skills and experiences in _____________ to move into a position doing ______________.  

If they are interested in your field or know something about it, they may ask you for more details.  Consider pre-planning a  a 30-second infomercial for yourself!   What do you have to offer? 

You never know where you’ll meet the professional connection that will link you to a new opportunity.

Stay tuned for more on the crucial topic of networking!  Happy New Year!



When you are writing your resume, don’t be afraid to brag a little bit!  Some may say that there is a fine line between the obnoxious, pretentious job seeker and the applicant who wants to show their stuff.  I think that the difference comes down to proving it!

If you can support accomplishments with cold, hard facts – do it!  Avoid vague, generalized statements touting yourself as a “results oriented achiever” or a “visionary executive” unless you can actually demonstrate that those tags suit you.

Your resume is not a place to be modest.   If you don’t explain to the reader what you have to offer, he or she isn’t going to know, so don’t hold back.  Think about you and what you have to offer.  (Self-assessment is a theme that will run through much advice from Keppie Careers…Take note!)

 Just don’t let your resume drown in unsubstantiated, fuzzy, one-size fits all, over-the-top expressions of grandeur.  Your hiring manager will thank you!


Attractive and Easy to Read Resumes

So, on top of everything else, your resume needs to be attractive and easy to read!  An aesthetically pleasing resume may catch the eye of an overburdened hiring manager and win your resume an extra glance.  When I review resumes, I don’t even bother to read the ones that look disorganized or unprofessional on a first pass. A few tips to consider for a resume that pleases the eye:

Since you are likely to e-mail your resume as an attachment at some point in your job search, choose a font that is easy to read and readily available to all computer users.  If you downloaded or purchased optional fonts, it isn’t likely that your reader will be able to view your resume as you designed it.  Stick to fonts such as: Arial, Book Antiqua, Georgia, Garaomond, Tahoma,  Times New Roman and Verdona.  Avoid Courier (looks like you used your grandmother’s typewriter) and all script or decorative fonts.  Fancy fonts are difficult to read quickly.

Keppie Careers suggests 10-pont font because it is large enough to read, but small enough to fit a lot of material on your document.

Bullet Points
Use bullet points instead of dense paragraphs of information to help the reader zero in on what you have to offer.  Keep the bullet points to the point – you don’t want paragraph-style bullets!

White Space
This is a tricky one…Be sure to use white space, but don’t include so much white space that it looks like you don’t have anything to offer!  When your resume is awash in white space, the reader may assume (maybe correctly!) you don’t have much experience.  Don’t fill every nook and cranny with text, but fill your page.  If you have more than one page (this is  topic for another article) be sure that you have enough to fill at least 3/4 of the second page.  Otherwise (again), you risk looking like you don’t have much experience.

Consider your audience when you format your resume.  If you are sending it to an artistic crowd, feel free to be more creative with your format.  If you are hoping for a job in an investment bank, stick to conservative formatting.  Your research and conversations with professionals in your field will help inform you.

    Name and Contact Information
    Okay – I know that you want to stand out and be different, but do everyone a favor and don’t put your name and contact information on the bottom…Everyone who reads it will automatically assume you’ve left off your name!

      I’ve alluded to this in another article – don’t mis-use or overuse bold!  Bold can help guide the eye from description to description, or it can confuse the eye.  When you read your resume, do the bold words stand out for a good reason?  If not, reformat!

      Your major headings (for example:  Highlights, Accomplishments, Experience, Education) should be well defined and consistently labeled.  (If they are centered, all should be centered…ALL CAPS?  Bolded?  Choose a format that works.  Focus on the reader -what will make it easiest to read?

      If you keep these ideas in mind when designing your resume, you’ll be on your way to a “New Career for a New Year!”


      Keppie Careers can help you transform your resume and advise you about your job search!

      Being Consistent

      As you continue to assess your resume in preparation for “A New Career for a New Year,” a word on consistency.  (If you’ve missed previous posts, be sure to scroll down to read up on how to target your resume, and for tips on producing error-free job search documents.)

      One of my pet resume peeves is inconsistent formatting.  For example, if you have several short-term positions, you list dates as December 2007, Dec. 2007 and 12/07.  There are many opportunities for your resume to miss the mark on consistency. 

      If you are bolding your organization titles, bold ALL of them.  Verbs should be in the past tense unless you currently work at the position.  All of your descriptions should follow the same format.  For example:

      Organization Name                                                       Chicago, IL
      Job Title                                                                           2002 – present

      ALL position descriptions should use the same abbreviated format for states.  Your next job in South Carolina shouldn’t be listed S. Carolina or South Carolina, but as the abbreviated SC.  All future references to “present” in dates should have a lower-case “p.”  (For example, if you list a current organizational affiliation.)

      These points may seem insignificant, but wouldn’t it be ironic to be touting your meticulous, detail oriented abilities in your resume, while your resume demonstrates something less than meticulous?

      With employers and agencies receiving so many applicants for each position, every little bit helps.  Pay attention to how your resume looks and reads.  Dot your “i”s and cross your “t”s.  At least you’ll know that you weren’t passed over for a silly error.

      Stay tuned for more tips for creating attractive and easy-to-read resumes!

      Error Free Resumes

      In keeping with our theme – A New Career for a New Year – I thought it would be appropriate to point out some potential pitfalls to the error-free resume!

      Don’t assume that your spell check is a good editor!  How often are words misspelled only to inadvertently form other words? You don’t want to advertise that you were distinguished as the “best manger of the year.”  (A good example for the holiday season!) 

      Be sure to read through your resume, and have a trusted friend review it as well.  You never know when “public” may become indecent, or you’ve used “suing” instead of “using.”  The list goes on and on: their/there, and/an, faculty/facility, board/bored…

      A tip to consider:  create an “exclusion dictionary” in your Microsoft Office program.  This personalized dictionary will flag a word as misspelled (such as manger), even though the main dictionary knows it as a proper word.

      Stay tuned for more tips on making your resume attractive, consistent and easy to read!

      Targeting Your Audience

      How can you tell if your resume targets your market?  Read it from the prospective employer’s perspective. 

      Ask yourself: 

      • Does it speak their language?  Does it echo lingo, jargon and buzz words found in the job description?
      • Does it focus on what YOU can do for THEM? 
      • Does it emphasize themes and values found on the employer’s website or other written materials?   

      If the answers are “no,” it is NOT targeting your market.

      What can you do?  At the risk of oversimplifying the issue…

      • Incorporate language from the job description and lingo their company favors in your materials.   Take advantage of the fact that job descriptions are lengthy and involved…Someone spent time writing down exactly the skills and experience they seek.  How flattering if you echo their language when you apply!  You’ll look like the perfect candidate. 
      • Think about what you have to offer in the way of accomplishments and skills.  Eliminate any language that suggests that they can do something for you.  For example:  “Seeking experience in a fast-paced, high-tech environment.”  No employer wants to hire someone to give them experience!  They want to know what YOU can do for them. 
      • Your research (via web information, informational interviews, reading industry publications) should uncover the organization’s culture and values.  Do they emphasize volunteerism?  Are they “green?”  Are their employees chained to their PDAs and work 24/7?   Your materials should incorporate how you fit into their culture.  The point is to help them visualize you fitting into their environment.  If you can paint a picture that helps them see you working for them, you are one step closer to an interview!

      Know Yourself to Sell Your Skills

      If you were hired to sell something, an HDTV, for example, do you think that you would sell very many if you couldn’t describe what makes that particular TV special or useful?  The customer doesn’t want to spend a lot of money without knowing what she is going to get in return.  If you couldn’t quickly convince the client that YOUR TV offered the most features and the clearest picture,  customers would nod and smile at you as they moved on to see what the next guy offered.

      You see where I’m going with this?  In a job search, you are selling yourself!  If you don’t know what you have to offer, what makes you special and unique, you aren’t going to get very far. 

      To write a strong, active resume (your job search calling card),  you need to evaluate your skills and make a connection to the employer’s needs.  See my article, “Connect the Dots Resume Writing” for more about this important topic.

      You’re thinking that you don’t have any skills?  Many of my clients underestimate what they have to offer an employer.  I once worked with a woman who spoke several languages fluently, but didn’t think it was worth writing on her resume (which targeted an international position).  She believed that “everyone” was multi-lingual.  As a result, the hiring manager may assume that she was unqualified for the job.

      Don’t underestimate what you have to offer!  Spend some time thinking about your qualifications.   Review a skills list  to get you thinking.  List every word that describes you.  Think in terms of what makes you distinctive.  Think about how you would sell yourself…

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