Career & Coffee

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

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.


Should you Hire a Resume Writing Service? February 6, 2009

Filed under: Resume Writing — erinkennedy @ 8:52 pm
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If you live in Michigan, or anywhere else in our country, let’s face it. The economy stinks. People are getting laid off and companies are closing down or outsourcing to other countries practically on a daily basis. So, what good would hiring a professional resume service do for you? EVERYTHING.

It’s understandable to be cautious about hiring a resume writer, especially online where you can’t visually shake a hand or see an office full of certificates, awards, books, or anything else that might prove credibility. Here are a few reasons you SHOULD hire a professional resume writer:

1- PROFESSIONALISM – A professional resume writer knows what he/she is doing. I’ve had clients tell me over and over that having it professionally written got them the job. They had sent in the old one previously, and at my urging, resent the new one and got the job!

Make sure whomever you hire is CERTIFIED. If you are unsure whether or not your writer is certified, go to and type in their name. If they are certified, it will come up as such. A certified writer has gone through extensive training and was tested on it, ensuring their work meets the standards of the Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches. If you are going to spend the money, you want the best.

2- BRANDING/PR – A professional resume writer acts as your personal cheerleader, your brander, your public relations firm. You want someone who knows how to present your qualifications in your best light. They will gather the relevant information (career goals, experience, training, etc.) to create a professional image for you. Something you will be proud to hand out to a hiring manager.

3-GHOSTWRITERS- A professional resume writer knows how to craft content that gets people interested. They create a resume that sounds and feels like YOU. A professional resume writer constantly updates their skills and abilities by keeping up with the latest in career news, and attending webinars, teleseminars and conferences.

4- FORMAT – How bored are you when you see a resume that is bullet after bullet of a position description? Would you call that person back? Neither will the hiring person. Professional resume writers are TRAINED in creating unique documents with appealing fonts, borders and styling that is all YOU.

5- RESOURCE CENTER – Your professional resume writer is a career one-stop-shop! Chances are they have a wide range of resources to offer during your job search. Many are also Certified Career Coaches and remain well informed of career events and other services helpful to their clients. Many times employers will contact resume writers for suitable candidates.

Reasons NOT TO HIRE a professional resume writer:

1- They offer you a resume package for $19.95. Most likely this company is a printing or secretarial service that will rewrite everything you gave them, or dump your info into a pre-written template.

2- They tell you they are certified, but you check on the PARW site and they are not. WRONG. Turn around and go back. They are misrepresenting the truth and God knows what they will do with your money.

3- They offer a 30-day guarantee if you don’t get an interview. I know this is a touchy one, because many of my colleagues do it, but here is my beef with that: with each client, I put my heart and soul into the resume. I am already writing a resume that I think will knock the socks off any reader. So how can I possibly offer a rewrite on that? I already wrote a killer resume and I stand behind it. I would rather sit down with the client and go over job search because I guarantee that is where the problems lie.

So, to sum it up, it’s important to find a solid and reputable resume service. Check for memberships to professional career organizations with writers that are certified.

A professionally written resume is a good investment and is worth it’s weight in gold, not to mention it will get you noticed immediately.

Have you hired a resume writing service? What was your experience? I’m interested to know what you thought. Talk to me…


Change January 21, 2009

Filed under: Work/Family Balance — erinkennedy @ 3:05 am
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Today the United States of America made history. We elected the first black President.

In the 1860’s, President Lincoln said it would take 100 years to undo the crimes of slavery and he was right. In the 1960’s Martin Luther King took our country down a new path, a path of change– promoting, no, demanding equal rights for all races. And now, today, 40+ years later, here we are. Our great country proved we could change and we could savor the taste of hope again. Despite our splits, despite our different views, today we made history. I am so very proud to say I live in the U.S. Especially now. Change is a good thing. Sometimes it is painful or uncomfortable, but it also helps us to grow.

What changes have you made in your life lately? Have you left your comfort zone, even a little? For me, it is this blog. It is painful to me to be anything but immensely private about my life, but I have realized that it is in sharing that you build relationships. I have always been very, very private, so believe me when I say that even blogging about this is pretty uncomfortable. This is one of my “Small Attainable Goals” for 2009– to get out of my comfort zone and open up a bit. I know I can grow from it. I know it will create deeper relationships with friends and clients.

Another thing I did, which is equally as big of a deal to me, is I cut my hair. OK, guys you may be groaning here, but for women, IT’S A BIG DEAL. I cut 8 inches off my hair. I’ve always had long hair, but this year felt different. Something was in the air and I kept hearing, “A New Year, A New YOU” in my head. So I did it. It was pretty scary, seeing 38 years of my life floating down, gently drifting toward the floor, but it was also a feeling of, “Ahhhh!”. Now, here is the new me… sassy and stylish. The best part is, I feel really good about it. I walk past a mirror, expecting to see my staticky hair down past the middle of my back, but WHOA! who is that fun-looking person? Oh yea, that’s me!

Think about something you would like to change. It could be as big as quitting smoking or as small as taking a new route to work. Change is good. It helps you grow and learn new things about yourself, “Hey, who knew I would get up my nerve to stand up in front of 22 students and teach a night course in Economics?” Great things can happen when you change. You will meet new people, experience new things, and take a different path perhaps leading you to something new and exciting.

What change would you like to make? I would love to know– and to know how you feel now that you DID IT (or at least made up your mind to do it). Talk to me…


New Year’s Resolutions and other BS January 16, 2009

Filed under: Erin's Musings — erinkennedy @ 5:03 am
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Alright. I’m just going to admit it and put it out there. I hate New Years Resolutions. Just those 3 words make me feel like a failure… I know that I’m going to say I will do something and then after 2 days of effort, quit doing it and be mad at myself. Like dieting, or blogging, or not swearing (my vice). I just know I am going to fail.

This year, I’ve decided to try a different tactic. This year I will set up some SMALL ATTAINABLE GOALS. Now, those are 3 little words I can deal with. Small attainable goals implies that I can really do it. I can meet small goals. Little groupings of goals. Like, instead of “I want to lose 20 pounds by January 31”, I will say, “I will lose a pound or two a week until I like how my jeans are fitting”. Doesn’t that feel better? I like it. I can handle a pound or two a week. I can blog a couple of times a week, versus my “resolution” of every day. That is too much and frankly, feels unattainable deep down. So, I know this now and will take a different route.

People put way too much pressure on themselves this time of year. “I will job search every day and find the perfect job by Jan. 15”. That is a lot of pressure especially if already in a job, and really don’t have the time to search that much. Maybe you could say, “I will do my best to put the word out every few days that I am looking for a new job. I will remember to tell my barber, the people at the coffee shop, the guy in the elevator, and will update my LinkedIn profile and make a huge effort on that site” etc. Don’t you feel better already? In my experience, small attainable goals are the ones I really have achieved. So, sit down and make a “SMALL ATTAINABLE GOALS” list and be happy with yourself.


Resumes vs. CV’s October 1, 2008

Filed under: Resume Writing — erinkennedy @ 4:20 am
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Resumes versus CV’sWhat’s the difference?

I get asked often by clients if they need a CV. Then the next question inevitably is, “What IS a CV?”

A CV is a Curriculum Vitae. It is generally used by college professors, physicians, researchers, lawyers and any profession where lists of information are required. Examples include publications, presentations, conferences, residencies, education, etc. They can even be over 20 pages long in some cases.

Internationally, in some areas of the world resumes are called CVs, but they really are resumes. Other countries require a CV type of a format (lists) from candidates. Those are usually the countries where pictures on resumes are required as well.

If you are planning on staying in the United States and do not plan on going into medicine, law or academia, chances are you will only need a resume.


Olympics & the Job Search August 11, 2008

Filed under: Job Search — erinkennedy @ 12:58 pm
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I was reading this morning through the blog of Adam Kreek, a member of the Canadian Olympic Row team (I’ve been into rowing this year because of my niece who was on Michigan State’s Crew Team last year), when I read about the training that he puts in to get to where he is today.
Here is an excerpt:
“The pain experienced while rowing is similar to middle distance running, biking really hard or speed skating. Your legs burn and scream for oxygen, while your lungs wheeze with your heart struggling to transport renewed blood to the complaining body parts. Suffering is the best word to describe how I feel in a race. The after-effects of competition are exhausting. My body aches and I have depressed energy and drive for weeks after the event.”

Or, the US Boxing Team who leave the comforts of home for 10 months to train at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs in intense preparation for China.

What does this have to do with job search? It is a job. Job search is a full time job. Similar to Olympic training, it has to be your number one focus. A person can’t expect to land a dream job after posting his/her resume on 5 job sites. It has to be worked on daily. The good thing is, there are lots of job search activities you can do without leaving your house, and will keep you busy for hours.

When you get up in the morning, what do you do? Consider putting on nice clothes, not just your sweats. This makes you feel productive and gets you into the job search groove. Check your emails and respond to offers (with you will get hundreds of those that should end up your junk mail). Let all old acquaintances, family and friends know that you are job searching.

Go to companies you’ve thought you’d like to work for and research them online. Most companies offer hoards of company information, press releases, employment opportunities, etc. Get to know the companies well. Create a folder with information on the companies you like and organize it alphabetically, by industry, or however you like. When the time comes that you get invited for an interview, you will be armed with an arsenal of information that will impress even the most straight-faced hiring person. Know your stuff.

Join online networking groups like LinkedIn, Facebook, Plaxo, etc. It is a great opportunity to network with old co-workers, friends and strike up conversations with people from companies you would like to work for. The possibilities on these sites are endless.

And, as always, getting out and going to local business mixers and job fairs are excellent ways of getting your name out there. Be prepared and have your resume, references and any other documentation ready to hand out.

Job search isn’t something you do once a day for a half hour or hour. It’s a full time job. Not only will it keep away the anxiety of not having a job, it will keep you feeling productive while getting your name out there for potential employers to see.

Keep at it, stay the course, be positive, and watch great opportunities come your way!

Until next time,

Erin Kennedy, CPRW


Talking Yourself Up on your Resume June 10, 2008

Filed under: Resume Writing — erinkennedy @ 3:41 am
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Hey Bragger… yeah, I mean YOU! or Why Talking Yourself Up on Your Resume is a Good Thing!

Are you bragging about yourself enough on your resume? I don’t mean bragging in an obnoxious or fictitious sort of way, but in a “look what I can do” sort of way.

One of the main things I notice with my clients and their existing resumes is that they don’t BRAG enough about their accomplishments. They don’t talk enough about what they’ve done above and beyond their daily responsibilities.

My worksheets are very C.A.R.-oriented. The C.A.R. methodology is this Challenge, Action, Results. What Challenge did you face? What Action did you take to rectify it? And lastly, what were the Results? It is a very accomplishment- focused method and works wonderfully every time I have a client who doesn’t talk enough. When I send these out to clients, I am amazed at the achievements that come pouring out. Why did it take sending a worksheet to get this VITAL information out of them? I ask each client. The response is generally the same– either, “I didn’t know how to word it” or “I didn’t want to sound too braggy”. Many of us were raised to be humble about our accomplishments, not to be boastful. I know I was. Not that we couldn’t be PROUD, but it was just kept a little on the quiet side.

Here are a few tips about bragging in a non-braggy way on your resume to get yourself noticed:

1) List your daily responsibilities clearly in your narrative under the job title. Even the ones you think aren’t worth being mentioned. If there are too many for more than a 5 or 6 line paragraph, then summarize.

2) Think of each thing you did in that made a difference, something you were praised for, something that saved the company money. Readers LOVE to hear how you saved the company money or drove revenue by 43%, etc. For example:

** Currently implementing a new sales method that will eliminate 6 trucks from the road and save company $45,000/year.

3) Add the accomplishment, even if it has a negative undertone or you were fighting challenging conditions. For example:

** Despite negative sales growth in Michigan’s harsh economic climate, met the challenge of producing positive topline growth successfully while managing net revenue and contributing to margin gains.

See how this one sounded? Even though my client struggled the last 2 years and saw a -2.2% sales decrease, to her company this was a good thing because of Michigan’s dismal economic climate.

4) Your resume is the place to SELL YOURSELF. Think of yourself as a product. What would you buy? The new ‘OKAY’ car model that has all the basics and does it’s job but has nothing super special about it? Or would you buy the ‘WOW, THIS CAR IS AWESOME’ car that is fully loaded, has a mini fridge in the dash, and wings to automatically make you airborne if traffic looks too heavy? The ‘WOW’ car may cost you a bit more, but isn’t it worth it? The same goes with your salary… but that is an article for another time. You have to sell yourself and turn yourself into the ‘WOW’ car. You have what it takes, you just need to put it on paper.

I hope this helps you rethink that bland little ‘OK’ statement, “streamlined processes and increased productivity” with something more ‘WOW!’. Let’s face it, we all want the WOW! car.

So does the employer.

Until next time,

Erin Kennedy