Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Workin' 9-5!

The weather outside today plummeted to almost 70'F but I can't shake any feeling of summer, especially considering that I have another six weeks before school starts.

With school approaching and my future life flashing before my eyes, I've been really trying to define myself, at least as a professional person. Lately, I've been struggling with the fact that this blog has yet to take on any true sense of identity or self. In other words, this thing is still kind of all over the place and so I want to work on bringing in the focus, both with this and all things in my life. And because I'm working in job recruiting, I've noticed that a lot of people seem to be challenged by this as well, at least when it comes to their career. So, I've decided that today, I will provide a few pointers to fellow job-seekers, especially those who are young, in hopes that I might be able to offer some respite:

1. Pick a good resume layout, one that is different yet still easy to read. Google Docs has some great templates that are great for those of us who are Microsoft XP challenged. (Apple did not endorse me to say that, though I wish.)

2. Most of us will work for others at least one point in our lives. So, meditate on the type of person, people, or company/organization you want to work for. One that is global or local? One that practices safe, sustainable procedures? One that is a start-up or well-established? Depending on your choice, you may enter into a company that offers a lot of growth (big ones) or a chance to really show your stuff and get your hands dirty (small ones). And remember, no matter what the work, you want it to be for a purpose that makes you proud (whether that be to make money, live in San Francisco, or save orphaned guinea pigs).

3. Write your conclusion down. Put this in your "Objective" section of your resume.

4. For the first 2-4 years of your career, list your HIGHER (ie don't list high school) education at the beginning of your resume, because chances are it's still a major selling point of your skills. After you've established yourself and gotten good experience, move this to the bottom.

5. I read that you should not list "References Provided Upon Request" because it might raise an eyebrow to the HR manager or make them think they have to work too hard. I however think you should only provide them when requested, because the references you provide will depend greatly on the job you are applying for and who you are able to give a heads-up to (that an HR person will be calling) and your source of reference-givers will change as you gain more experiences/meet new people.

6. Always list the dates of jobs. Don't put "Retail Associate, 2009-2010." Instead, list the month as well so that the HR department feels assured in the exact amount of time you were actually there. Because it could mean December 2009-February 2010 or it could mean January 2009-December 2010. BIG DIFFERENCE. And they are gonna find out either way. But please, do not list the exact date. It looks weird.

7. DON'T MOVE AROUND. Try to keep as solid of a history as you possibly can. HR people will be suspicious if you've had three jobs in two years, even if it was completely circumstantial. They don't care, and you can't put asterixes all over your resume. So, pick and chose what goes on the resume (like for myself, for example, I decided NOT to list my one-month stint at Ann Taylor b/c it doesn't help me at all, even if I am applying to Gap--it just looks like a red flag). And this being said, be sure about every career/job choice you make. Be conscious of it, because if you don't like it, and leave, it may come back to haunt you. I think a good rule of thumb is: 3-5 months for internships (4 mo is ideal), 1 year for entry-level position, 1.5-2 yrs for next level, so on an so forth. This will show your employer you are focused on advancing and reaching your potential while still paying your dues.

8. Networking is key! Talk to everybody you can, go to events, reach out to adults, use LinkedIn and alumni sites. Big Ten alums especially love other Big Ten alums--milk it for all it's worth! Trust me, I think football and NCAA conferences are just as irrelevant as you do, but it can work wonders when meeting a stranger.

9. Don't do any more than two internships. And if you haven't even done one at all, well then my friend, get your butt on the computer and start making some calls. You need the experience. Check out this site too: The Intern Queen.

10. Buy yourself a proper interview outfit--please make sure that it fits, that it's conservative, and that it shows some of your personality. No cleavage, no butt cracks/boxers, and please, don't wear something too big or too small.

I'm hoping that I can keep giving you guys clues into finding work. Because, yes, people are still working despite the economy. And no, internships shouldn't be a back-up plan because working for free is ridiculous. I have some food blogs that I am going to share with you tomorrow. In the meantime, good luck!

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