Career & Coffee

Resume Writing, Job Search, Industry News and Erin’s weekly musings on all things career.

Using the C.A.R. method on your Resume June 2, 2009

Filed under: Resume Writing — erinkennedy @ 12:44 am
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Have you heard me talk about the C.A.R method? If you are a client of mine, you have. It’s a method I use in every single resume. It is, to me, the single most important factor when writing about your accomplishments.

OK, so what does C.A.R. stand for and what does it mean for you?

C.A.R. stands for:   Challenge   Action   Results

When consulting with clients and proceeding with the data mining process, I always ask them about their C.A.R. stories. What were the stories behind their accomplishments? What was going on in the company before they took on the issue? Give the reader some background, not a novel, just a hint of what the environment was like.

So ask yourself, what was the Challenge I faced when either a) I joined the company or B) I took on the new situation or C) I was promoted?  Briefly discuss the Challenge. Again, it doesn’t have to be super lengthy. You  just want to get your message across.

For the Action portion, this is where you can talk about what you did to resolve or change the situation. What action or steps did you take? For some jobs, it might be quite detailed, but I wouldn’t advise talking about every single thing. Summarize as best as you can. Remember, HR people have lots of resumes to review and not a lot of time.

For the Results portion of C.A.R., talk about the results. What was the percentage of production increase? How much did you increase sales or people productivity? Use numbers and percentages whenever possible.

These are the things that stand out and make you more employable as employers want PROOF of what you are capable of doing… it shows them what you can also do for them as well.

C.A.R. is the easiest way to pull out your accomplishments if you are having a hard time thinking of what you did/do.

Good luck!

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Searching the Hidden Job Market May 27, 2009

Filed under: Career & Workplace,Interviewing,Job Search,Networking — erinkennedy @ 12:00 am
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In a climate like the one we are in, it’s easy to feel like we will never find the job we want, or that ‘no one is hiring‘. However, you can increase your chances of landing multiple interviews if you can tap into the “hidden” job market, or, the one that hasn’t been advertising. Contacting the companies/contacts directly makes a much more powerful impact then random online resume posting to (some useless) job sites.

How do you do this? Have a plan! This may take a little longer, but it’s the best way to control your job search, land quality interviews and increase your pay scale.

1)  Get your online presence together. Chances are, if you are going to be Google-ing companies, they will Google you. Create a Google profile or a LinkedIn profile and put your brand out there for the employer to see. Show your stuff.

2)  Make a list of your target information– industry choice, job position, company listings, etc.

3) Do a Google search on your industry and job titles. There may be quite a few, but you can weed through what you like and don’t like. You can also do a local business search with the same requirements and see what you come up with.

4) Send your resume directly to the hiring person. This is usually the person who is 2-4 levels above where you see yourself within the company. Make sure your cover letter is short and concise.

If this method makes you squirm a little, remember that you will see significantly higher results than you would normally. It’s also good to move beyond your comfort zone. Clients who’ve used it report more interviews, quicker interview cycles and less competition. It is more effective than blindly submitting your resume to lots of job search engines AND it reduces your anxiety of not knowing if the person who you want to see it really saw it or not.

In the end, it will give you greater job search confidence and renewed excitement about the process. Try it and see. Then let me know how it went.

 

Tips for Scoring at a Job Fair May 21, 2009

Many of you know that I was at the Detroit “Good Morning America / Women for Hire” job fair the other day. There were about 25 résumé evaluators and approximately 5000 job seekers. They literally were lined up outside the doors at 3:30am. Talk about motivated people. Wow. What a busy, productive and fulfilling day.

It was televised (GMA and local ABC news crew) and there were camera people everywhere. Sort made us feel like movie stars except the cameras really weren’t on us, and we didn’t get paid. But still.

All of us

(This is a group photo of the other resume writers/critiquers who donated their time at the job fair. From L to R:

Deb James, ME (in black), Dee Duff, Karen D’Anna, Kris Plantrich and Lisa Chapman. A smart, generous and fabulous group of women. We had a great time!)


I was really impressed by the amount of professionalism, ambition and previous success that most of the folks had. There were just a few people that could have used a few pointers. So here they are:

1-      DRESS AS IF YOU ARE AT AN INTERVIEW. Appropriate dress is really a MUST at a job fair. I know you already know this, but I thought I’d mention it again. You know the saying, “First Impressions are a Must”, well they really are.  I saw some people that looked gorgeous and really ‘wow’ed’ me. THAT is how you have to look. Not saying you have to go spend a fortune on new clothes. You can put together a new outfit from what you have. Wash your hair, do your nails, trim your nose/ear hair, you know… the usual. And if you have dread-locks, tuck them into your suit.

2-      HAVE A RÉSUMÉ PREPARED. (and if at all possible, have it professionally done). Yes, I saw many, many résumés and only about 5% of them were impressive. Remember, lead with your accomplishments, not your job description duties. The Microsoft Word résumé template was used in about 80% of the cases (yuck) I saw at the job fair. Remember, that is a template that doesn’t allow much give, so you may be cutting some significant info out because it won’t fit into the “template”. DON’T USE IT.

3-      BRING A SMALL BAG, TOTE OR BRIEFCASE. You will be bombarded with giveaways (pens, company trinkets, business cards, candy, brochures, etc.). It will be easier to carry everything and your résumé portfolio.

4-      GET A BUSINESS CARD FROM EVERYONE YOU SPOKE WITH. You might want to follow up with something you talked about. Even better, after you’ve talked with them, write down some key things you spoke about on the back of the card so you will have it to reference when you call, or if they call you!

5-      KNOW THE COMPANIES. Find out what companies will be there and get to know a little about them. Nothing impresses companies more then when you display the knowledge you have about them. Show off a little bit. Impress them!

6-      GET INTO A GOOD MOOD. I had a few folks come sit down with me who were shaking and I wasn’t even the hiring person! People can tell if you are nervous, distracted, moody, having a bad day, etc. That isn’t the best first impression to offer. Instead relax, smile, speak slowly and clearly (vs. rushing through what you want to say), and remember, the HR person knows you are nervous and understands. So try to relax and enjoy yourself. Fake it if you have to.

Job Fairs don’t have to be a bad/scary/nerve wracking thing. Remember, it’s just another avenue to try out in the midst of your job search. You get to meet new people, learn a few things about different companies, and have free coffee.

 

Interview with a Recruiter May 15, 2009

Interview with a Recruiter

Recently, I had the pleasure of having a conversation with a smart, straight-talking recruiter, Peggy McKee.

Peggy McKee is the owner of PHC Consulting. Her firm specializes in matching medical and laboratory sales reps/candidates with companies, and does so with great success. Despite the economic downturn, Peggy’s company has flourished and she’s had to hire additional staff to meet the placement demands. With her strong understanding of the medical sales industry, interviewing and hiring, she’s helped develop teams of top sales talent for laboratory service companies.

Having my clients in mind, I asked Peggy several questions about her recruiting process, what is important to her regarding hiring the right candidates, her thoughts on résumés, and more. I’ve wanted to “officially” interview a recruiter for a while because of the number of questions I get from my clients about what recruiters look for.

Our conversation went something like this:

EK: “Peggy, where do you find your candidates? Do they come looking for you? Do you recruit them? How does it work?”

PM:     “40-50% of candidates come straight to my website (www.phcconsulting.com). The other half is split between referrals, direct soliciting and social networking. “

EK: “Are candidates are expected to pay you?”

PM: “Absolutely not. Candidates should never pay a recruiter. Companies pay the recruiter for the placement. That’s how it works.”

EK: “It seems like I remember way back when some candidates had to pay the recruiter a percentage or a fee for the placement. I’m glad to know it’s not like that anymore… at least not with all recruiters.”

EK: “So you use some of the professional and social network sites to find talent?”

PM: “Definitely. I use LinkedIn and Twitter to find candidates by typing in keywords, names, titles, searches, groups, etc.”

EK: “And you’ve had good luck going that route? I’ve heard LinkedIn is really a great platform to find top talent. I tell my clients about it all the time.”

PM: “Yes, I use it all the time and love it.”

EK: “OK, let’s talk résumés. Do you have any pet peeves? What are your likes and dislikes? What do you like to see or not see?”

PM: “Well, I want to see 3 things:  how can you make me money?… how can you save me money?.. and how can you save me time? This is what the client wants to know, so this is what I look for.  I don’t like to read long paragraphs. I prefer bullets. I like to see experiences and accomplishments. Love to see numbers, rankings, percentages, etc.”

EK: “Just bullets? Ugh. Boring. I tend to stay away from just bullets. It looks like a grocery list. Numbers are great. Especially in sales résumés… definitely a must.”

PM: “No, I like the bullets. Paragraphs are too long. And yes, numbers are great and show me what they are capable of doing. “

EK: “OK. What about cover letters?”

PM: “I don’t like them, but I have to add that if you are going to write one BE BOLD! Don’t worry about “expectations”. Write something interesting!

EK: “I agree. Nothing worse than a canned cover letter. Make it as authentically YOU as possible.”

EK: “Any last thoughts about the résumé or cover letter?”

PM: “Have your references ready. Bring them to the interview. Have a clear and focused objective on your résumé so we don’t have to guess.  Be ready to answer “tough” questions at the interview. Don’t shy away from them. Be honest.”

**************

Peggy was so fun and enlightening to talk to that I look forward to continuing this conversation and bringing you more insight.

In the meantime, if you want to get in touch with Peggy McKee and help her celebrate her 10th year in business, you can go to her website or visit at www.phcconsulting.com.

 

Is your Attitude affecting your Job Search? April 19, 2009

                

How many times this week has the phrase, “this economy stinks” come from your mouth? How many times this week have you thought, “in this economy, I’ll never get a new job”,

or “I better hold onto my job, even though I hate it, and just be grateful I have one!”.

After you think these thoughts, how do you feel? I can guarantee it is not hopeful or positive. What do you think this does to your chances of finding a job? Would YOU want to hire you? Think about it. You are feeling gloomy and decide to cold call a company about a possible position opening. How is the tone of your voice? Upbeat or down? What is your attitude like? Did you know our mind and body transmit energy frequencies that can be felt by other people?

 

When you go to an interview and you are thinking, “I know I am not going to get this job. Why would they hire ME? I just KNOW they aren’t going to call me back”, what do you think the interviewer is feeling? “This person is not the right fit for the company. I won’t be calling them back.”

Think about the times in your life in other situations when this has happened. When things went EXACTLY as you thought they would.

It is very natural to worry about the economy and the job market. Anyone who turns on the news would agree. But what does all this worry do for you? For your health? For your job searching state of mind?  Remember, you can’t change what is happening out there, so worrying does no good. When my Dad passed away unexpectedly, my Mom said, “I worried for 40 years about something happening to him on the road (he traveled for work), and he ended up dying at home.”

We can’t change things that happen to us, but we CAN change how we react to it. It is very easy to stick our heads in the sand and just hope things get better with the economy, OR we can pick ourselves up and create a healthier attitude about it.

 

So what can we do?

 

If you are in a job presently and you’ve put feelers out and opportunities haven’t popped up yet, then focus on your job in a positive way. Do whatever you can to be the very best you can be. Focus on strengthening relationships with co-workers, vendors, etc. Not only do positive relationships perk up our mood, but they also will let you know if a job has opened up somewhere.

 

If you are job searching, stop worrying about the competition or the ‘lack of good jobs’ out there and focus on your brand and what values you offer to an employer and how you will articulate that in an interview. Expand your job search into new areas: go to networking lunches/dinners, freshen up your resume, and get excited about your job search. You are unique. Sell yourself.

 

Take a chance. Try a new career path. You never know if you might be better suited for something else. But most of all, stay positive and hopeful. Don’t be a victim like everyone else. Stand out from the crowd and be confident. Remember, your vibrant energy shines through and is felt by those around you, including hiring managers.

 

Gen Y — getting a bad rap? April 18, 2009

Filed under: Career & Workplace,Erin's Musings,Interviewing — erinkennedy @ 12:44 am
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I’ve had this post tabled in my “draft” box for a while because  it just wasn’t finished. Then today I read Penelope Trunk’s blog, “4 Frequent questions about Gen Y answered” and my brain kicked in.

 

I am wondering if Gen Y is getting a bad rap.

 

For a couple of years now, all I’ve heard about is how the Gen Y generation don’t want to work. They think nothing of quitting a job after a year. Coddled by their parents to the point of complete lack of understanding of the pressures facing them in “the real world”. You have to talk to them gently. They can text, type, talk and listen… all at the same time.

They think it’s OK to come in to work at noon in Berkenstocks and toting an iPod.  And still be the company President in a year.

 

Some employers say it’s frustrating. They are stuck between a rock and a hard place because boatloads of baby boomers are retiring and Gen Y is moving in. They are more technically savvy and can do the work in half the time as their older peers. Their older counterparts are going to have to learn to work with them, if they want to work collaboratively at all.

 

I am seeing it in a different way. I have 4 nieces and nephews (ages 18-22) in college and they are all incredibly hard working (and I’m not just saying that because I adore them). They all held jobs through high school and still in college, while juggling sports, chores, friends, etc. They have turned out to be very respectful young adults and they don’t expect to be given anything. Now perhaps they are in the minority, but judging by their roommates and friends who are doing the same thing, they seem to be in the average.

 

True, Gen Y professionals don’t have the mindset, “stay at your company until retirement”, and rarely will they stay long enough to leave an impact, but in this economy is that such a bad thing? When I was in my teens and early 20’s, my parents kind of gave me the “Oh well, deal with it” shrug if I complained about a job. They also gave me the “You’re not living here if you don’t have a job and are going to college” look/talk. Needless to say I moved out at 21, went to school full time, and worked full time while paying for my own education.  ALL AT THE SAME TIME.

I am so glad I did. What a sense of accomplishment. The kids today are told they can come back to stay. 65% of kids move back home after college and they are OK with it, whereas I would have been mortally embarrassed to face friends AND family if I moved back to Mom and Dad’s. Times are different today. Parents parent differently today and kids expect things from their folks (imagine that!) but that is a whole other story!

 

So, what’s the conclusion to the story? Perhaps we judge too harshly EVERYONE in the Gen Y generation. There are still good, hard working young professionals out there, wanting to find a good job and stay there for many, many years. Not ALL people in their 20’s are “slackers” and reside in the “what’s in it for me?” mentality. Maybe they will help transform the workplace into a more flexible and friendly place to be– while still getting their work done and rescheduling their yoga times to evenings. Who’s to say? Anything is possible.

 

For further reading on Gen Y and what is available in the workforce, go to: http://mashable.com/2009/01/30/generation-y-social-networks/ Dan Schwabel’s Gen Y blog or www.BrazenCareerist.com.

 

Career and Birth Order March 31, 2009

Career & Birth Order

I came across a few articles lately about how our birth order affects our careers and found the answers most interesting. Especially for the youngest born children. Apparently, according to birth order expert, Frederick Leong, we are fun-loving, artistic, and well, not quite as driven as our elder siblings.
In Science Daily, it states, “A child’s place in the family birth order may play a role in the type of occupations that will interest him or her as an adult. First born and only children may be more interested in cognitive pursuits than younger siblings. Whereas later born children are more interested in artistic or outdoor-related careers.”

Rachel Zupek at CareerBuilder.com said there are a few characteristics similar in each role.

Firstborns are more ambitious, rule-followers and confident, while secondborns (or middle) are the easy-going, diplomatic peacemakers. Firstborns are determined to succeed and tend to follow through with higher education. Middleborns tend to lean toward ‘negotiation’ or ‘helping’ professions like nursing, law enforcement and machine operation.

Youngest are charming and creative and are often found in administrative, journalism, sales or athletics.

As the youngest of three daughters, I wasn’t given much responsibility until I was probably nearing my teens, and by then both sisters were in college. As I got older however, I longed to be the ‘dependable’ one. I strove to work hard and prove my worth by working full time through high school and college. I’ve been working hard ever since, juggling marriage, kids, family, a farm, and my career.

So, does our birth order really have anything to do with our success in life? Are we doomed, as middle children, to make a low income every year (as stated)? Or perpetually goofy and non-serious as the youngest? Will firstborn forever fear ‘losing rank’?

I think our success has everything to do with our own thoughts and how we feel about ourselves. I don’t know if my being the youngest made me strive to be successful, or if that was always just my own inner desire. One thing I know for sure is that if we put any sort of ‘label’ on ourselves, it will hold us back from what we really want to do.